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#2679: Grey replies to Antoibe on basic charity groups
In a message dated 3/3/2000 9:59:52 AM Pacific Standard Time, Guy Antoine
<< Instead of unfairly casting the missionaries in such a negative light, why
don't you inform us about how the Vodou clergy in Haiti helps the
Vodouisants in their temporal lives and their human and economic
development. Since according to some reports, 90% of Haitians practice
Vodou, I can't help but wish very strongly that all sectors of our society
(including our core religious sector) would promote the well-being of the
Haitian masses. >>
Hey there, Guy! How are you?
Before I get started, have a look at http://www.cornerstoneministries.com.
Click on "Battle Page" (!) and then on "Miracle in Haiti".
How does Vodou promote "the well being of the Haitian masses"? Spiritually,
economically, and culturally.
First, spiritually - we provide religious activities, including dances whic
improve community welfare and morale, healing services, and magical
activities directed toward improving the living conditions of the petitioner.
Our services bond communities together. We even create families where there
were once none - initiates, for example, gain a father and mother (Papa kanzo
and Maman kanzo, if not Papa asson or Maman asson; at least one of which and
usually both are Houngan or Mambo), brothers and sisters, and also godparents
who stand up for the initiate during baptism.
These "relatives" play a very real role. My own godmother, for instance,
watches out for me, comes to my fiance to demand my whereabouts if I have
been out too long on my horse, and even interceded in an extremely rare case
of domestic disaccord between myself and my normally very kind, generous, and
protective fiance. (We quarreled over the availability of grazing for his
cows vs. my horse!) My Houngan "father", with whom I renewed my vows, can be
counted on to come help me no matter WHAT problem I encounter, and promote me
when good fortune comes our way.
Economically, Houngans and Mambos are of course paid for many of our
services. We also create employment - during our last kanzo, for example, I
paid two landlords, one tailor, two cooks, one seamstress, four drummers, one
masseur, one assistant videographer and two chauffeurs. Hounsis kanzo often
do cooperative marketing by pooling their resources and buying commodities
wholesale to be resold at retail rates. We protect congregation members who
run small businesses from extortion by Macoutes, ex-FRAPH, et. al.
We give homeless people a place to sleep, we feed hungry people. This is in
contrast to evangelical pastors, who use food "aid" to leverage congregation
membership! Those closest to the pastor might get a little rice, but if you
are not one of the chosen, you can die of starvation. These pastors even
preach that death from starvation is God's will for those who are not "an
Kris", in Christ!
We do not practice homophobia, by the way, and permit homosexual men and
women to participate in Vodou services and even become clergy. Women, too,
find status, power, and prosperity through Vodou, in an overwhelmingly sexist
culture which provides few other avenues for women.
Culturally, we celebrate the primarily African heritage of Haitian culture,
we do not denigrate blackness, while simultaneously affirming the European
and Native Caribbean contributions to Vodou. This in contrast to the
evangelical pastors I have already discussed, that preach that black skin is
"the mark of Cain", a curse, a sign of divine disfavor. Beyond that, we
create or enrich events including Carnival and Rara and religious pilgrimages
which stimulate creativity and the economy simultaneously! We inspire
popular music which now reaches a worldwide audience through artists like
Wawa, Boukman Eksperyans, RAM, and others.
Above all, we create a sense of self-worth and self-esteem among majority
class Haitians, and a framework for collective work.
This is just Part 1, Guy, I could go on and on! :-)
Peace and love,
Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen
"Se bon ki ra",
Good is rare - Haitian Proverb
The VODOU Page - <A HREF="http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html">http://