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#3592: Interview with the lwa Gran Bwa (fwd)


Recently I was in Haiti, and had a chance to have quite a few conversations 
with Met Gran Bwa, Master Big Woods. He always announced himself by booming 
in very brash, masculine tones, "Que lo que paso?" Why he spoke Spanish I 
don't know, but the border of the Dominican Republic is only about 40 miles 
from where I spoke with Met Gran Bwa and the Dominican side of the frontier 
is much more heavily forested, so perhaps that is where Met Gran Bwa has gone 
to live.

 Met Gran Bwa is a very loving, big-hearted lwa, who always has a joke and a 
word of good advice. He personifies vigor and fortitude. Met Gran Bwa often 
informed us that he had a very nice big stiff penis!  (Bwa in Creole, meaning 
'wood', is colloquial expression for the penis). He used to tell us all about 
how life was when people still lived in Guinea. He sometimes talked also 
about the early days of the bitasyon, the family land, where he was served. 
Sometimes it was hard to tell when he was talking about Guinea and when he 
was talking about the bitasyon. One day the members of a kanzo group were 
with me as we listened to Met Gran Bwa in the head of Yabofe Bon Houngan, and 
this is what he said:

"You know those people back then, their lives were good! Back then, the 
banana trees were so plentiful, they would bear right under the bed! The 
mango trees would push up under the bed at night and bear fruit! You didn't 
have to get out of bed to eat breakfast.

 "The sea was full of fish, not poor like it is now. You could throw in your 
net and find it too heavy to pull up, you would have to let it back down and 
let some of the little sardines swim out, so you could take up your net.

"You know what people used to give their children? They used to take banana 
and let it dry, and beat it and make flour. And then they would mix that with 
some milk from a cow, or sometimes with casava. Those children, they were 
never sick! And those people, they used to live to be two hundred years old. 
You don't believe me? Two hundred, even three hundred years old. Those days 
will not come again on this earth."

Met Gran Bwa is a healing presence, and he walks with the lwa Papa Loko. He 
lives in the forest, the deep woods, and he owns the leaves. He is very 
mystical. When Papa Loko gives the asson, he does so in Gran Bwa, in the deep 

Here is a song for Gran Bwa, and an English translation:

M al nan Gran Bwa, al chache fey
Le mwen rive mwen jwen twa zom O!
Al nan Gran Bwa, al chache fey
Le mwen rive mwen jwen twa zom O!
Premye a, yon boutey nwa,
Dezyem nan, yon tet san ko,
Twazyem nan, yon asson nan men!
Se li ke wa, se li kap komande.
 I go to Big Woods, go looking for leaves.
When I get there, I find three men, O!
I go to Big Woods, go looking for leaves.
When I get there, I find three men, O!
The first, a black bottle,
The second, a head without a body,
The third, an asson in hand!
It is king, it commands.
Another says,

Se nan bwa, fey nan bwa ye,
Se nan bwa, fey nan bwa ye,
Se mwen menm Gran Bwa, 
M pap montre moun kay mwen,
Si m pral montre moun kay mwen,
Yap di se nan bwa m rete.
 It's in the woods, the leaves are,
It's in the woods, the leaves are,
It is I Gran Bwa,
I won't show people my house,
If I go and show people my house,
They will say I live in the woods.
 When my initiatory children were doing their kouche kanzo and I was making a 
rekouche, Met Gran Bwa came often to visit in the initiatory djevo, with his 
hearty, encouraging way of talking to us and his entertaining behavior. As 
the day on which some initiates would go suleliye and take the asson drew 
closer, his visits became more frequent. While he sat and talked with us, he 
would share with us herbal infusions in single-distilled rum. He told us 
salty jokes, and then in the next breath he would make for us a sacred 
moment, reveal to those of us with the ears to hear some mystery of Guinea or 
other. He exuded beneficence, energy, and peace.

Gran Bwa got a kick out of Catholics! He thought they were in for a big 
surprise with their modernized rites incorporating traditional drums.

"You see the little fathers talking with their jaws full of kaka? They are 
going to get a shock!", laughed Gran Bwa. "Those drums, each one of them has 
twenty-one different lwa inside it, and one day... they'll COME OUT! That day 
is coming very soon!" And here Gran Bwa laughed uproariously, rocking back on 
his chair. 

Peace and love,

Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen

"Se bon ki ra", 
     Good is rare - Haitian Proverb

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