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#3884: Sodo and Sen Jan Batis-So (fwd)


About Sodo.

I was surprised to read about the spelling of our famous pilgrimage place as 
Saut d'Eau. Considering that Creole is spoken by the majority of our 
population, if Sodo really meant Saut d'Eau, it would be said  Sodlo, such is 
not the case.

In my opinion, So doesn't mean "saut" but rather that specific way of 
wrestling which obeys  its own rules . This sport performed in Haiti by most 
adolescents, reminds one of the contest done ritually by the So people, that 
giant population of Africa.  Anyone who would have had the occasion to watch 
the traditional combats by the Nuba people of the Kordofan plateau (their 
descendants), would know what I mean.

Sodo, I  believe, is a name given to the Haitian locality in reminiscence of 
the famous town of Sodo of southern Ethiopia. This place located by the Omo 
River  is the corridor that leads to the most probable site of the "Cradle of 
Mankind". This region is renown for detaining the remains of our earliest 
ancestors. Dating back almost four million years, that place is famous for 
its spectacular waterfalls and its cliffs that rise hundreds of feet above 
human heads before the river flows serenely through the magical land. 

At Sodo, in Haiti, all the Lwas are celebrated. Not only Ezili Dantò and 
Danballa but the entire escort of Papa So which includes : Sobo, Badè, 
Kebiesou, etc. and also Sen Jan Batis-So. Ezili who, to many, represents the 
mother of humanity coincides perfectly with the vision of the Rift Valley 
where the Omo river is located and also where the famous Lucy was found.

On the subject of  "Saint Jean Baptiste", it seems important to add that I 
have never heard him called that way but rather Sen Jan Batis-So. In my 
understanding, this associates him to two different escorts, the one of Papa 
So and the one of the Nago. Papa So is the head of the deities of thunder and 
lightning and it is well known that in Africa water falls are often 
associated with the thunder because of their noise.   Sen Jan Batis- So is 
also often identified to the Nago Lwa as Ogou Shango He is then connected to 
fire which at first sight looks like the perfect antithesis of water.  That 
is why it becomes then mandatory to explore the content of his song (since 
our Tradition is oral):

"Sen Jan, Sen Jan Batis-So
Di yo nou la é.
Sen Jan, Sen Jan Batis-So.
Di yo nou la é.
Ma pé mandé si nou kabap kenbé
Ma pé mandé si nou kapab kenbé la
Sen Jan o
Sen Jan Batis-So, Sen Jan..."

Of course, this is "langaj" eventhough it appears to be creole and it is vain 
to try to translate it.
In reality the word "mandé" evokes the idea of the Mandeans who were the 
followers of the Biblical Saint John the Baptist . Those who looked upon 
Jesus as a traitor. Isn't it be peculiar that we, Vodouists,  have chosen to 
honor the precursor of Jesus "the Savior" and that there is no Lwa  Jesus in 

Vodoun is very complex. It's teachings are passed from generation to 
generation through a very large collection of songs which are our Bible. It 
is the responsibility of each initiate to comprehend what he has received and 
it is the responsibility of his spiritual father or mother (never both!) to 
validate or reject that understanding.  

To visualize Sen Jan Batis-So meandering the hills of Palestinia with 
Jesus-Christ is far away from the Vodoun teachings and I am very relieved to 
realize once again that knowledge is not simply been given to anyone who 
simply passes by. 

Bébé Pierre Louis