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7367: Islamic influences in Vodou, from Mambo Racine (fwd)
Bebe Pierre-Louis writes:
<<I am going to advance eight points to show Islamic presence in Vodou and let you judge for
Okay, I will. :-)
<<1.Boukman, our fmous hero of Bwa Ka-Iman>>
Oh please. Bois Caiman, Bwa Kayiman in Creole, means "Alligator Woods". Very simple. Why take
simple, easily understood things and attempt to contort them? That's like saying that "Americans" are
bitter people because "Amer-ica" sounds like "amer", bitter, in Creole. Or maybe the dog in my lakou
here tries to sleep in the djevo all the time because "dog" sounds like "dogwe"! It's absurd. Some of
the older Haitian ethnologues used to do this too, torturing Creole words and Vodou terms to
try to make them into Greek derivations, of all things! LOL!
<<The boat of Agwe-ta-oyo is called IMAMOU. >>
Now this interests me. "Imamou" sounds like "imam", maybe that means something. On the other
hand, "Imamou" may be a word from some language in which it means "big boat" for all we know. The
word is written in Roman characters, not Arabic script. It's important not to jump to conclusions.
More intriguing to me, the name of the lwa is Met Agwe Tawoyo, and I have been told that Awoyo is a
place in Nigeria, not to be confused with old Oyo, where the male principle of the sea is served, so
there isn't much mystery about that. I also speculate people from Awoyo newly arrived in Haiti might
have been notable enough to bring the word "awoyo" into the Creole language, just as "Hausa" or
"owsa" has come to mean "pickpocket".
I'm also interested in the origin of the word "Agwe" - is it derived from the Spanish "agua", for
example, or from a Fon word ("gwe"? "gweto"?) or from some other source?
<<There is also the prayer mentioned in a previous post, during which the participants answer: "sala
malekum" as each "Nation" is saluted.>>
"Salam alaykum" is obviously the Arabic "as salaam aleikum", and interestingly in Haitian Vodou these
words appear most frequently in songs for Kongo lwa, who are not in any other way identifiable with
Islam. In Cuba, the Kongo-based Palo tradition uses this phrase, although there is little other Islamic
influence in Palo. I have been told that this is not an African phenomenon but a New World one -
apparently Palo societies adopted the phrase and somehow popularized it, although they themselves
were not Muslims. Who knows?
Peace and love,
Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen
"Se bon ki ra" - Good is rare
The VODOU Page - http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html
(Posting from Jacmel, Haiti)