According to Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald, a historical landmark church inside Haiti’s UNESCO World Heritage site, was gutted by an early morning fire on April 13th which destroyed its wooden dome and much of the interior. Haiti has few fire-fighters and it took the poorly equipped team in Cap Haitien over an hour to arrive, after which it was too late. Preservationists and business leaders had previously called upon the government to protect historical sites, emphasizing that "only these monuments remain testimonies of our history of struggles, suffering and hope.” It may be too late for Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church but it is not too late to better protect Haiti's many historical sites throughout the country. The full article follows.
Today is Halloween, a day when zombies abound. Zombies have their roots in Haiti, specifically in the pain and suffering of slavery. Amy Wilentz reminds us zombies exist throughout the year. As she puts it, “The zombie is devoid of consciousness and unable to critique the system that has entrapped him. He’s labor without grievance. He works free and never goes on strike. You don’t have to feed him much. He’s a Foxconn worker in China; a maquiladora seamstress in Guatemala; a citizen of North Korea…” In zombies, one hears echoes of oppression, in Haiti and elsewhere around the world. Her full article follows.
“Are you a Missionary? What is Your Religion?” Two common enough questions when Haitians are getting to know foreigners. Haiti is a religious country and even the smallest villages have multiple churches if not a library or a clinic. While every imaginable denomination has a presence in Haiti, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Vodoun form an uneasy trinity. Haitian Vodoun is a vibrant, fascinating religion. One need not be a Vodouisant to experience it, appreciate it, and learn from it.
Today is the day of the dead. The day meant to honor those who have come and gone before us. Haitians respect that tradition. They also add to it or adapt it. They pay tribute to Baron Samdi, the father of the crossroads, the crossroads from which Haitians come from physically, Gine/West Africa and spiritually. As of late due to the recent hurricanes Haiti has many dead to honor, approximately 800.
Goats, chickens, cows, and bulls, are very much the sacrificial animals (not Bourik BOS) of Haiti and voodooists. Like turkeys in the United States near Thanksgiving these animals in Haiti get the shakes sometime near July 16th, when Festival Saut d’Eau takes place. Sodo, in Kreyòl, is the site of one of Haiti’s largest religious pilgrimages. Lore has it that the Virgin Mary appeared here long before the death of many the sacrificial fauna.