Kako Bourjolly is a name associated with laughter. As one of Haiti’s most prominent comedians, Kako has been bringing smiles to the faces in his audiences for over twenty years. In a country like Haiti, these smiles are perhaps worth more than in other places. A history of extreme hardships have challenged the resilience of local communities, but it’s people like Kako who are working to build their own light at the end of the tunnel. Kako uses the universal language of laughter as his primary tool for building togetherness in Haiti. He says,
Comedy brings laughter and laughter brings people together. In a country like Ayiti where there is so much sadness, bringing life to countless people by telling jokes brings me great joy.
While Kako makes headlines for hilarity, his actions outside of the comedy world speak as loudly as his standup jokes. An adamant believer in the importance of education for young people, Kako founded Kako’s Kids, an organization that translates his passion for social change into opportunities for youth. Kako explains,
Kako’s Kids started truly because I wanted to not only give back to Ayiti but to do something that will last for a very long time.
In Kako’s view, this involves working towards providing access to well-rounded education.
If we don’t give the children the tools they need, Ayiti will never change.
Kako’s Kids provides a range of engagement opportunities, including basketball camps, planting seeds in school gardens, and even renovating an orphanage.
There have been so many memorable moments, and actually that’s part of what keeps me going.
He recalls taking the boys from the orphanage to the movies for the first time, and the joy of the young sports enthusiasts who were able to play in a new gymnasium built by Kako’s Kids. Now, Kako is working to build a basketball court in one of Haiti’s oldest schools. He is also the co-host the Empower 2 Play sports diplomacy event in Cite Soleil this September 2016.
According to Kako, the connection between sports, empowerment, and comedy involves providing young people with a platform to grow into their full potentials. Sports, he says, are a framework for developing discipline while at the same time encouraging players to have fun.
There are times where a player might get so excited after making a great shot, that they start dancing or beating their chest like King Kong!
Youth in Haiti tend to have a talent for comedy, Kako says, which is why building outlets for these young people to project their humor is important. Whether on the stage or on the playing field, every young person deserves a chance to develop their creativity.
This is one of my most pressing issues. How do we give them the platform they need to become comedians?
Kako’s passion for helping others find their platforms for empowerment stems in large part from the leadership of his late father, whom Kako says always gave advice about making the world a better place. Whether emphasizing family values and togetherness, to sharing the history of Ayiti with his son, Kako’s father was a key figure in instilling the desire to give back. Today Kako lives these values by promoting unity in Haiti and on a global scale.
I was always taught to respect everyone no matter who they are and to serve others with dignity. It takes a lot of courage and determination to shape your life in Ayiti. My focus remains the same: be a great example to the youth, embrace them, give them the tools they need to succeed; now if all of this and more positive things could happen, I am helping one way or another to bring change.
Whether standing on stage in front of a laughter-filled audience, or hosting sports events for under-represented young people in Haiti, it’s certain that Kako will continue to make an inspirational difference.