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#3927: Sodo and Sen Jan Batis-So : A reply to Hudicourt
To Gilles, I express my gratitude for having explained to me that Saut d'Eau
is a French name.
I had the occasion to visit France, the Alps and the Pyrennées, I have seen
countless cascades, chutes d'eau and even the magnificent cirque of Gavarnie.
None of them was called Saut d'Eau and I was never invited to any excursion
to see a "saut d'eau".
As I looked through your impressive list of the recorded civil acts from the
Archives Nationales, I was also quite surprised to hardly find any African
names from all those descendants of African who had just created a Nation.
What had happened? It seems that practically everybody was GIVEN a French or
a "frenchicized" name and that it was the same for almost all towns,
villages, even the name of the new Republic, Ayiti, which couldn't not have
had any African origin.
May be we ought to look beyond the orthography to find the real essence of
our country. With this kind of indiscriminate vision, I have no difficulty to
understand that certain names like Latibonit which name is also found in
Puerto Rico, Kolumbwa which is the grotto not too far from Camp Perrin, D'lo
Reno aux Cayes or Basen Zim near Hinche (and there are more in our country)
are not names given by the French and that the original name of Saut d'Eau
was plausibly Sodo.
Everybody knows a place that all the maps insist on calling Arcahaie and that
we all the people insist on calling Lakaye. Which one is right? I wonder if
many of us know that "Lákáayé is a praise name for Ògún, meaning - He whose
fame is worldwide -." ( ref. A Portrait of Ogun as Reflected in Ijala Chants
written by Adeboye Babalola, note 8. p.169 in the book Africa's Ogun, ed.
Indiana University Press). I found that quite interesting since we know that
Dessalines, whose name no one was allowed to pronounce until 1846, served
Ogou in Lakaye.
I can give you another story about the name of Nan Souvenans, a lakou like
Ladouse, where is served a pure Danhomen heritage. Some years ago, as I was
reading Herskovitz voluminous book on the Vodun religion in Dahomey, I
noticed a Vodun whose name was "Sovinenge" - described as having the form of
a bird -, the name strucked me as strangely close to Souvenans. Some time
later, as I was assisting the service there, my eyes fell upon the ring one
of the Sevite there was wearing. It was representing a bird. I took the
liberty to ask its owner, Hérard Simon, if the ring had any significance?
Simon explained me that he had it made that way because he remembered having
seen (when he was very young) a flag of the place decorated which such a bird
and that the flag had disappeared during the period of the Rejete.
To-day, probably no Sevite there has any idea about any bird and the younger
generation may very well believe that the name of Nan Souvenans means "in
memory". Does this eradicate the validity of the assumption that whoever
created this lakou was a Sevite of Sovinenge from Danhomen and that with
time, with that will to obliterate anything which might remind us that we are
"pitit Ginen", we should really forget about our origins, our history?
Should we be the "peau noire, masque blanc" of Frantz Fanon, plagued by a
dual personality that we assume instinctively to protect ourselves but which,
at the same time, consumes a large portion of our creative minds?
How much more punishment must we take before we recognize who we really are?
Bébé Pierre Louis