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8103: A Haitian Tale about God and the Loud Music: A search for other versions (fwd)

From: Tololwa M Mollel <tolo@powersurfr.com>


My name is Tololwa M Mollel. I am a dramatist and author of over fifteen
books for children, based on my African (Tanzanian) heritage and African
storytelling traditions. My current medium-long term project involves
adapting a Haitian folktale into a book for children, and separately into a
theatrical performance a few years down the road. In this tale, during a
festival to honor the ancestors so they can help bring good fortune to a
farmer (Zandolite the lizard) whose crops have repeatedly failed, the loud
drumming and singing keeps God awake. He sends down one of his archangel,
St. Peter, to put a stop to the music so he can get some much needed rest.
The music however is so beautiful and exciting that the archangel ends up
joining in the dance. The same thing happens to the next archangels, St.
Paul and St. Gabriel, that God sends down one after another. They too fail
to stop the music and fall under the spell of it. Finally God, fed up with
the continuing deafening music, decides to go and stop it himself. He too
however ends up falling under the spell of it. The festival goes on for
three days and nights until everyone is exhausted and falls asleep. God and
his archangels quietly go away, having had so much fun and joy. After the
visit of God and the archangels, good fortune smiles upon the farmer. His
crops never again fail. This version of the story is contained in Harold
Courlander's collection of folk stories from Haiti

I have been struck by how, in this particular Haitian version of the story,
God and his divine beings are made to look human and how the Christian
Catholic spirituality is made to exist side by side with a traditional
indigenous 'non-Christian' belief in the ancestors and ancestral worship. It
is a situation that is not confined to Haiti or the Caribbean but applies to
Africa and most possibly other non-European peoples. I am intrigued at how
Christianity has been co-opted into indigenous ancient traditional ancient
or folk beliefs. My interest is to see whether there is more than one
version of this story from different parts of Haiti. I would very much like
to develop my thinking and understanding of the nature of this story and as
many of its versions as possible the better to do a solid job of the
adaptation I am planning. I would very much appreciate to hear from anyone
who might have a version of the story that he or she remembers from
childhood or has come across over the years in scholarly publications and
elsewhere. I would also be interested to hear what this particular, rather
distinctive story, means to different individuals. Please get in touch with
me with any helpful information or insights or with any questions.

Tololwa Mollel (Tolo)