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A Haitian artist fights to preserve the vodou religion
07-09-2019, 07:34 AM
Post: #1
A Haitian artist fights to preserve the vodou religion
Erol Josué is a dancer, a recording artist, a vodou priest, and an expert on the vodou religion's culture and history.

"They beat me in the name of Jesus," Josué sings in one song. "They burn me in the name of Jesus."

The lyrics of this old vodou song date back to slavery days in the 18th Century, but their warning rings true today for some vodou practitioners — or vodouisants — who feel under attack. The old joke goes that Haiti is 70 percent Catholic, 30 percent Protestant and 100 percent Vodou.

For Josué, this is no joking matter. Last year, he took a government job as head of Haiti's National Ethnology Office. He's on a mission to get Haitians to realize that they need to embrace their vodou heritage — whether they agree or not.

Ground zero for the tension is Bwa Kayiman, a site in northern Haiti. A late-night meeting there in 1791 set in motion what would become one of history's most successful slave revolts. It's essentially where the country of "Haiti" was born — as a union of different tribes, faiths and languages.

"It was the moment the slaves said, 'We've become Creoles today; we're no longer African. We won't fight to return to Africa, but for this land,'" Josué said.

These days, Bwa Kayiman is a mess. On a visit with a team of ethnologists, Josué found a handful of historical sites unmarked and decaying. This is supposed to a heritage site, but buildings have been built illegally, including Protestant churches.

Josué is not happy.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-01-21/h...31nwiQmdQ8
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