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