Credit: Frances François

This uncritical scapegoating of the Vodou religion (called Santeria in Cuba and Candomblé in Brazil) as the source of Haiti’s problems is typical amongst Catholics and their evangelical Christian counterparts. It implies that Christianity provides you not only with enlightenment from your backwards ways, but financial gains…I guess Italy and Greece just haven’t been praying hard enough!

In my travels around Haiti, I have come across many villages where there is no police presence and nor is there a clinic nearby for basic care, often leaving the Vodou priest or priestess( hougans and manbos) to serve every role from midwife to judge and jury. Yet Langlois and the Catholic Church he represents remain silent on the deeply embedded inequality in Haiti and a Haitian government more interested in attracting foreign tourists by any means than providing basic social services to its people.

Vodou is of the belief system that sustained our ancestors across the Middle Passage, during the brutality of the plantation, and through the victories of slave rebellions. Haiti should never apologize for it.

Christianity and the West’s real problem with Vodou is that, like the Maroons who practiced it, it remains elusive to those who would aim to profit off of it, package it, and control it. Unlike Hinduism or Buddhism, Westerners can’t take a “spiritual journey” to Haiti to “find themselves” in a Vodou temple. Vodou remains a religion steeped in African traditions, for people of African descent, and based on an understanding of the linkages between the natural and spiritual world.

NOTE: There are two primary sorts of Voodoo. Rada: This is a family spirit Voodoo and the Voodoo of the relatively peaceful and happy lwa (various spirits of family members; the spirits of the major forces of the universe.) Petro: (In some areas called Congo.) This is a black magic Voodoo and the Voodoo of angry, mean and nasty lwa. Dangerous things happen in Petro including death curses, the making of zombi and wild sexual orgies SPECIAL NOTE By virtually all scholarly estimates one can find, Rada accounts for about 95% of Voodoo, if not more. Thus the spectacular tales of black magic, while very real, are extremely limited. Petro is not the typical Voodoo, but it does exist.

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