Saturday, November 5, 2011

#48- Vodou: The religion of our ancestors

1.  Voodoo

Voodoo was a mysterious thing as a child in Haiti.  Everyone knew of this phenomenon but yet no one cared to explain it to me.  I heard of "lougaoos", "bakas", "zombies" and "djabs".  There were tales of people morphing to animals, cures, curses, and poisons for revenge.  Vodou is the biggest white elephant in Haiti's room.  It was implied and understand that Christians were superior and were to have no dealings with Vodou.  Vodou was of the devil and we were of the Christian God.  In my early years I questioned very little because these were my formative years and was just being introduced to these concepts.  Either way it is rare for Haitian adults to ask children for their views on any matter much less religious ideas.

Haitian Heroes
I started elementary school in Haiti and remember Haitian history starting essential with the invasion of Columbus and the rest of his Christian European marauders.  I vaguely remember the details but as everyone knows by now the Haitian slaves rebelled and drove the French away from Hispaniola.  During that time I don't remember Vodou being given any credit in the freedom of the slaves.

The ceremony before the big rebellion
In 1988 I migrated to the U.S.A.  Times were rough for us but we did our best.  During that time being Haitian was a curse.  People used the word "Haitian" as a curse word.  Haitians were blames for A.I.D.S. and people beat us up all the time.  Parents got kids out of schools because Haitians were jumping Haitian kids that recently came to the US.  I lived in a Jamaican neighborhood and the kids were ruthless on us.  They thought that Haitians ate cats etc.

Later a movie came out that really dealt us a big blow:  The Serpent and the Rainbow.  It was a public relations nightmare for Haitians especially when it came to tourism.  All the news stories about Haiti were negative.

Serpent and the Rainbow put Vodou on the map once again.  It wasn't until I got to my second middle school that I was introduced to new religious ideas.  I learned that Jesus was not a White man, that Christians used the Bible to take over land and enslave people, and finally that Vodou was a critical part of Haitians becoming free.

Vodou is still demonized and misunderstood.  Many Haitians still treated as taboo even though our oppressors forced us to become Christians.  I recently did a podcast where I explained what I learned about Vodou.

Of course the earthquake of 2010 did not help the Haitian cause much.  Christian televangelist Pat Robertson made some questionable comments about Haiti and Vodou.  He blamed the Haitians for the disaster.  His brain is a cesspool that has been decayed with Christianity.  What hurt more is that some Haitians actually agreed with him because they too are Christian and know the story.


F'd up, right?

A picture from Haiti

Erol Josue

Haitian Presidential Palace before the earthquake

Pat Robertson, Christian asshole
Today I have a greater understanding and appreciation for our ancestors and Vodou.  I don't see Vodou as any different from other religions.  I say that if Haiti is going to have a religion it might as well be our own and not from the people who hated and oppressed us for hundreds of years.

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