The Truth About Haiti, Voodoo, Christianity, and Poverty
Since the tragic earthquake in Haiti I have read a multitude of hubs that either vaguely or directly imply that Haiti is somehow cursed by supernatural powers. This was supposedly due to a pact with the Devil that allowed the Slaves on what was then known as Saint Dominique to repel the forces of Napoleon and win their independence. These hubs written mostly by Christians bring to mind the racist teachings of the curse of Ham. Therefore, I find it necessary to educate those of you who don’t view the world through stained glass spectacles.
This hub is not intended to be an indictment of all people of the Christian faith but as a lesson in accepting blasphemous statements without self investigation. While I am not a believer in Christianity I am a believer of God and the Trinity. My spiritual relationship is developed by his word and his word only thus leaving me free to view that which is not of my belief without ridicule.
Vodou, wrongly referred to as vodoo and considered to be a form of witchcraft or devil worship by the Christian community is nothing more than a religion of African origin that was practiced by the slaves until banned by the French, later to be combined with the Roman Catholic faith. Vodou shares many of the characteristics of Christianity including angels, spirits, and religious rituals. Surprisingly what Vodou does not include in its religion is a “DEVIL”. The fact that many Christians claim that Haitians made a pact with this entity that didn’t even exist in their religion is nothing short of amazing. The Vodou religion consists of one God “Bondye” similar to Christianity, Judaism, and the Islamic faith. Was it possible that on the faithful day on which legends claim the Haitians got together to summons the power to defeat the army of Napoleon that it was Bondye to which they called for strength?
Most of the rituals and rights of the Vodou faith are not very different than those practiced by people in the Christian faith. The major difference is the belief that one can influence events by physical ritual, a Vodou belief, while Christians believe they can influence events via prayer, but then again hanging a crucifix on the mantle or around your neck for protection is very similar. Other characteristics of the vodou religion are consistent with Christian rituals; animal sacrifice, honoring of spirits, etc… If there is one noteworthy difference between the two – the vodou faith does not promote the symbolic eating of flesh and drinking of blood as a show of faith.
Christians in their effort to demonize the Vodou religion have taken one part of this faith to portray the entire faith as evil and dangerous, the practice of Petro or Congo (Black Magic) which is practiced with about the same frequency as snake handling, child husbandry, or cultism in the Christian community. So why do Christians have such a problem with Haitians practicing their faith? It’s simple, Christianity has a business side just like all religions and Vodou blocks those who peddle Christianity from making inroads into Haiti. A quick comparison of the two religions based of my knowledge of both.
Lwa Angels, Spirits
Petro (Gongo) Cults
Potions Prayer, Prayer items
Animal Sacrifice Historical Christian Ritual, Snake Handling, etc…
The similarities are pretty much obvious and anyone without knowledge of Christianity would probably have the same view of it as Christians paint of Voodoo.
Poverty and the Destruction of Haiti
The failings of this nation have been caused by both internal and external problems. Haiti has been the victim of both the international community and its leadership. To understand the magnitude of this countries demise one must understand the history of Saint Dominique (Haiti) once referred to as The Jewel of the Antilles.
Saint Dominique was once the richest colony in the entire world, wealthier than the United States. The Island was responsible for 50% of Frances Gross National Product. The reason for this wealth was rather obvious, the production of goods were dependent on slave labor. Coffee, cotton, sugar, cocoa, and tobacco were only a few of the agricultural products produced by Haitian slaves.
So why would a country of such wealth and promise fall to the depths of today’s Haiti?
It all began in 1789 when the French gave some Hatians of color “The Rights of Man.” These rights were extended to free blacks and mulattoes. They were received as a tremendous move towards abolishing the slave state. However, two years later the French rescinded these rights due to the anger of slave owners who felt betrayed by France. Those who benefited from these rights had them taken away and were returned to lesser status, prompting the slave revolt of Haiti. The Haitians led by Toussaint L'Ouverture defeated not only the French but both the Spanish and British armies.
The revolution resulted in Haiti becoming the second free country in the Western World (the US being the first) and the first black republic. When the people of Haiti gained their freedom slavery was still practiced in many places including the US. Out of fear that a prosperous Haiti would undermine the slave culture elsewhere an international boycott against the country was put in place. The boycott against Haitian goods and commerce sent the country into an economic tailspin.
In an effort to have the boycott rescinded Haiti agreed to pay France reparations for winning their freedom. This was achieved in 1838, by way of a payment in the amount of 150 million franc. The debt owed France plunged the country into even further economic despair. Haiti, committed to its desire to satisfy France was unable to pay this debt in full until 1920. For over 80 years this financial commitment to France drained the countries resources.
Five years prior to the repayment to France, Woodrow Wilson sent American troops into Haiti in an attempt to colonize the country. The US military took control of every major government function, seized the entire banking system and forced through a new constitution that repealed a provision that banned land ownership by foreigners. During this occupation 40% of the nation’s income was seized and used to pay off debt to American and French banks. The US stronghold on the finances of Haiti continued until 1947. This combined with leadership that was extremely corrupt and normally handpicked by people other than Haitians is the reason Haiti is the poorest country in the world. Haiti’s current government has been handpicked by the US because it is considered to be US friendly, this was done with no consideration of people of Haiti or its future. Today the UN stands guard securing US interest at the cost of Haitian lives. The fear is that without military might present the people will throw the US sympathizing government out of office and reject the desires of the US government and install one chosen by the Haitian people.
The Haitian people have shown over and over throughout their history that they would rather die on their feet than to live on their knees.