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#3495: Culture Vulturism Against Haitians in Philadelphia (fwd)



A "culture vulture" is defined as a person who learns a few salient details 
about an attractive culture, and exploits and deforms that information to 
obtain their own goals, usually financial gain or publicity.  This term was 
never so applicable as in Philadelphia, where an event took place at the "le 
Peristyle Haitian Sanctuary" which the The Philadephia Inquirer reported, in 
part, as follows:

"The altar around which the participants sang and danced contained seven 
small, mushroom-shaped fabric statues, called govis. Each represented one of 
the major loa, or divine forces."

Now, to begin with, govis are not "mushroom-shaped fabric statues", they are 
terra cotta pots about a foot high.  Govis do not represent lwa, they are 
used as repositories of the spirits of departed ancestors, or as channels 
through which to call a lwa.  The govi, however, does not ever represent a 
lwa, it is merely a channel through which a lwa can come.

"While African religions worship a single god, explained George Ware, 
president of the Congress and a priest with Le Peristyle Haitian Sanctuary, 
the god manifests itself though many loas."

The "Le Perisyle Haitian Sanctuary" is a misnomer, since none of the 
inhabitants are Haitian!  In fact, none of the inhabitants even speak Haitian 
Creole, and the presiding wannabeMambo of the establishment, who styles 
herself as "Angela Novanyon idizol", has characterized herself as the "only 
true Mambo in the United States" despite the presence in the USA of literally 
dozens and dozens of Mambos in the USA Haitian diasporan community, with 
which Ms. Novanyon is evidently completely out of touch.

The Inquirer went on to report:
"Ware said the govis on the altar yesterday included Dambala, which 
represented peace, Erusile Freeda, which represented love, Ogun, which was 
for faith, and Mililouise, which invoked destiny. These are the Haitian 
Creole names, he explained."

This passage makes evident the ignorance of the "Haitian Sanctuary" staff 
with regard to the Vodou religion and to the Haitian Creole language.  
Dambalah does not represent "peace", he is the serpent lwa of primal creation 
and is connected with fertility and with rain.  The lwa Erzulie Freda, 
misspelled as "Eruzlie Freeda", is indeed connected with romantic love, but 
also with luxury, games of chance, and material wealth.  Ogoun is not a lwa 
of "faith" but of power, political or military, and is also in charge of all 
things made of metal, particularly iron.  Mililouise is not even a Vodou lwa 
at all!

In this so-called ceremony, apparently those present were divided into 
'participants' and 'spectators', who sat behind a partition.  This is never 
done at a real Vodou ceremony, and admission is never charged at real Vodou 
ceremonies either.

If the "Le Peristyle Haitian Sanctuary" was interested in living up to it's 
name, the wannabeMambo in charge would go to Haiti for REAL ceremonies, spend 
the time required to learn to speak Haitian Creole and to understand the 
practice of Vodou in contemporary Haiti; and then make and maintain strong 
lines of contact to the Haitian diasporan community in Philadelphia and other 
US cities.  They would be attentive to correct spellings and information, 
they would make their ceremonies conform to the accepted practice of Haitian 

Of course priests and priestesses from other traditions can be invited to 
Vodou ceremonies, and can participate!  I myself have even initiated 
Iyalochas, a Babalawo, and several Paleros.  But these ceremonies are 
conducted in congruence with the Vodou tradition, and not as some mish mash 
melange done for profit and notoriety.

This so called priestess Angela Novanyon, Idizol, who claims to be a Mambo of 
Haitian Vodou, is no such thing.  She is not a recognized priestess of our 
tradition anywhere but in her own house, although the Houngan who hoodwinked 
her in Haiti can't tell her so now!  She is in fact an opportunistic 
self-server and self-promoter who doesn't even speak Haitian Creole, and who 
uses appeals to race bias to bolster herself because she actually knows very 
little about the tradition she pretends to represent!  A glance at her web 
site will reveal a great deal of self-aggrandizing pomposity, and several 
transcripts of "possessions by lwa" which are totally inauthentic and 
incongruous with the actual behavior of the lwa, and which would be laughed 
out of any peristyle in Haiti!

Angela does this all the time - she came to Haiti once and wanted to 
"organize all the Houngans and Mambos" (as if no Haitian Houngan or Mambo had 
ever tried this before).  And who do you suppose she wanted to be the great 
leader of this organization?  Herself, of course.

Her choice of name illustrates her ignorance.  "Novanyon" is Angela's 
misspelling of the Haitian Creole words "nom vayan", which means literally 
"valiant name", the sacred name new Houngans, Mambos, and hounsis are given 
upon initiation.  When Angela went to the Houngan who hoodwinked her, not 
only were her ceremonies not done correctly, but she speaks so little Creole 
that when they were telling her what her "nom vayan" is, she misunderstood 
that her name was "nom vayan", which she writes "Novanyon".

"Idizol" is NOT Creole, and it is not African either.  In Haiti, there is a 
phenomenon called "jargon", which is like American "pig latin", you know, 
"ig-pay- atin-lay, ix-nay on the o-fay".  In Haitian jargon, "idizol" means 
"idiot"!  I'm not making this up.

So Angela Novanyon idizol translates as "Angela my sacred name is idiot".  By 
the way, sacred names never include European names like Angela or Thomas or 

Now we have poor old George Ware, Angela's "publicity director" who knows 
pathetically little about the Vodou, who has gotten the same bogus ceremonies 
from God knows where, and is calling himself "my sacred name is idiot" too!

Soon there will be a whole lineage of Those Whose Sacred Name is Idiot, the 
League of Imbeciles or something!  LOL!  Maybe they will learn to speak 
Creole, so they could actually understand what is going on around them at a 
REAL Vodou ceremony.

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://