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25874: Benson: (reply) : Vodou in Haiti (fwd)
From: Legrace Benson <email@example.com>
To Corbett l;ist From LeGrace Benson
Re Posting on the alleged dedication of Haiti to Satan
Subject: Vodou in Haiti
Dear Mr. Allen,
Your posting to Corbett asks for ?facts? about the accusations
by certain people that Haiti?s troubles are due to their having dedicated
their country to Satan. It is not clear from your statements just which
facts you may be seeking. You might do a Google search that would turn up
some scholarly investigations into recent fundamentalist Protestant efforts
along those lines, including the attempt to exorcise the old spirits from
Bois Caiman. You should find something by googling ?Bois Caiman,? or
?fundamentalist Christians in Haiti.? Scholar Elizabeth McAlister has
recently written about this matter.
When I was teaching at a college in Haiti, my students had all heard such
accusations. I suggested that they go to the library section on Haitian
history to read the most documented descriptions. Certain recent historians
doubt that the Oath at Bois Caiman, which certain fundamentalists
incorrectly believe to have been an invocation of Satan, ever in fact took
place. It cannot at this time be proved either way. What is known is that
Satan would not have been invoked, as there is no Satan in Vodou. Satan is
a Hebrew, Christian and Islamic concept that simply is absent from Vodou.
Some Christians, seeing the emblems of a snake in Vodou symbolism
incorrectly believe that to be a sign for Satan. It is not. It is the sign
for the African concept of Danballah, associated with rivers, trees and
rainfall; this cycle is of course the ecological cycle we understand today
as the relationship between trees, water and rainfall. The spiritual force
was thus understood to be a natural and beneficent feature of the earth.
My own impressions of certain people who demonize the Revolution in Haiti
wish to take away from the Haitian nation their heritage of having overcome
slavery at great cost. Another impression, based upon many observations and
much reading is that those who wish to characterize Vodou as ?satanic? would
like to strip Haiti of its several African heritages. You may come to other
conclusions if you do some thoughtful research.
There are many excellent scholarly books on Vodou and on Haitian history
that you should be able to find in many libraries.
Arts of Haiti Research Project