1 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Benjamin Hebblethwaite’s interview with Ongan Michelet Tibosse Alisma Edited by Benjamin Hebblethwaite Transcribed and translated by Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Ben: Bonjou tout moun. Se mwen menm, Benjamin Hebblethwaite. Mwen isit nan onfò Michelet Alisma ki travay kòm ongan pou Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères. Se yon gran onfò isit nan lavil Miyami. Nou gen anpil opòtinite. Se yon bèl okazyon pou nou vini isit fè yon ti pale avèk ongan Michelet Alisma sou tout koze ki gen arevwa avèk relijyon Vodou e avèk sosyete li isit nan Miyami. Mwen travay kòm pwofesè asistan nan Inivèsite Laflorid. Se travay rechèch mwen sou kwayans Vodou, tradisyon Vodou, chante Vodou ki mennen mwen antre pran rechèch sa nan kominote ayisyen an. Kounye a la, nou pral tande de twa ti mo ongan Michelet Alisma pral pataje avèk nou sou li menm. Ongan Alisma: Mwen di bonswa avèk Ben. M trè kontan asavwa ke w kapab deplase w vin fè entèvyou sa avèk nou jodi an. Je suis Michelet Tibosse Alisma. Mwen se yon bòkò, on ongan asogwe andedan Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères k ap fè travay Ginen an Ben: Hello everyone. It is me, Benjamin Hebblethwaite. I am here at the Vodou temple of Michelet Alisma who works as the ongan for Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères. It is an important Vodou temple here in the city of Miami. We are in luck. It is a wonderful occasion for us to be able to come here to speak with ongan Michelet Alisma on everything that has to do with the religion of Vodou and his Vodou society here in Miami. I work as an assistant professor at the Univeristy of Florida. It’s my work on Vodou belief, Vodou tradition, Vodou music that brings me into the Haitian community to conduct this research. At this time, we will hear a few words ongan Michelet Alisma will share with us about himself. Ongan Alisma: Hello Ben, I am very pleased that you were able to conduct this interview with us today. I am Michelet Tibosse Alisma. I am a bòkò, an ongan asogwe inside of Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères that is doing Ginen’s work inside of the city of Miami. I am a 2 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant andedan vil Miyami an. Mwen se yon enjenyè sivil. Mwen se yon kontab. Mwen se yon bòkò-ongan ki kòmanse fè travay sa depi laj sètan arive jodi a. Mwen genyen trantwitan; fè ke mwen genyen tranteyin an, pwofondman, ke m ap prezante entèvyou sa dan lenon Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères. Ben: Mèsi anpil paske ou akòde nou on entèvyou. Mwen ta renmen konnen kèk detay sou ki kote ou soti avèk ki kalite fanmi ou soti ladan. Ongan Alisma: Mwen soti an Ayiti, Latibonit, andedan vil Gonayiv Dekawo. Se la m sòti. Mwen sòti andedan yon fanmi Vodouwizan e relijye an menm tan. Ben: Lè w di relijye, w ap fè referans avèk legliz Katolik, oubyen kisa sa vle di, mè, pè? Ongan Alisma: Mwen genyen matant mwen ki mè. Mwen genyen tonton mwen ki pastè. Mwen genyen prè de nèf tonton mwen ki ongan osi. Ben: Pou mwen menm, m twouve sa enteresan. Gen tout kwayans diferan nan mitan yon sèl fanmi? Èske se nòmal an Ayiti pou tout bòkò, ongan soti nan yon kontèks ki divès konsa? Ongan Alisma: Lè Ginen an ap fè chwa li pa distenge ou limite. Li rantre men l kote ke l vle: kote k fè l plèzi. Ben: Li pa gade sou kwayans lòt moun nan fanmi an? Ongan Alisma: Ditou paske papa mwen civil engineer. I am an accountant. I am a bòkò-ongan who started doing this work at the age of seven until today. I am thirty eight years old; I have been representing Vodou in the name of Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères for thirty-one years. Ben: Thank you very much for sharing an interview with us. I would like to know some details about where you are from and what sort of family you come from. Ongan Alisma: I come from Haiti, the Artibonite, from the city of Gonaïves, Dekawo. That is where I come from. I come from a family that is Vodouist and religious at the same time. Ben: When you say religious, are you referring to the Catholic church? What does that mean—nunns, priests? Ongan Alisma: I have an aunt who is a nunn. I have an uncle who is a pastor. I have close to nine uncles who are ongan. Ben: For me, I find that interesting. There are all sorts of different beliefs within one family? Is that normal in Haiti for all bòkò and ongan to come from such diverse backgrounds? Ongan Alisma: When Ginen is making its decisions, it has no distinctions or limitations. It takes from where it wants: from where it pleases. Ben: It doesn’t take into account the beliefs of others in the family? Ongan Alisma: Not at all because my 3 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant se te yon predikatè avan epi aprè li vin ongan. Ben: Oke! Konsa li chanje chemen kwayans li nan mitan lavi l? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Ou di ou te kòmanse vin ongan a laj de sètan. Ongan Alisma: Bòkò! Ben: Oke ou bòkò a laj de sètan ; ki lè ou te vin ongan? Ongan Alisma: Mwen te vin pran ason a laj de sèz an. Ben: Lè ou te gen sètan kijan ou te konnen pou w travay nan domèn Ginen an? Ongan Alisma: Jan mwen te konnen pou m te travay nan domèn Ginen an se paske lè mwen al lekòl, lwa konn ap pran mwen lekòl. Papa m te gentan ongan, men fò mwen di w byen ke mwen fèt nan peristil. Mwen leve anba peristil. A sèt epòk papa m te predikatè mwen potko fèt. Lè mwen gen setan mwen ale lekòl, lwa ap pran mwen lekòl. Premye fwa sa rive direktè lekòl la te oblije kouri lopital avèk mwen. Lè direktè lekòl la kouri lopital avèk mwen. Lè nou rive doktè konsilte mwen yo di bon yo wè mwen pa gen anyen. Konsa yo vin rele l, papa mwen, nan direksyon lekòl la pou yo eksplike l men kisa k ap pase pitit li. Li fè yo konnen nenpòt lè yo ta wè sa rive ankò, si pa gen posibilite pou yo kapab mennen mwen ba li yo gen dwa rele li vin chèche mwen. Lè sa rive ankò, bon, yo rele misye epi l deplase l vin chèche father was a preacher before and became an ongan after. Ben: Okay! He changed his belief system in the middle of his life? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: You said you became an ongan at seven years old. Ongan Alisdma: Bòkò! Ben: Alright you were a bòkò at seven years old; when did you become an ongan? Ongan Alisma: I took up the ason at the age of sixteen. Ben: When you were seven years old how did you know to work in the Vodou domain? Ongan Alisma: I knew to work in the domain of Vodou because when I would go to school, the lwa would take me. My father was already an ongan but, I have to express that I was born in the peristil. At the time that my father was a preacher I was not yet born. When I was seven I would go to school and lwa would take me at school. The first time that happened the director of the school had to rush me to the hospital. When we arrived the doctor examined me and said that they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. That’s how they came to call him, my father, to the school so they could explain to him what happened to his child. He let them know if ever that were to happen again, if there was no possibility to bring me to him, they could call him to come get me. When it happened again, well, they called him 4 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant m. Li mennen mwen lakay. Lè mwen rive lakay gen moun. Espri a deja ap chèche kliyan pou li menm, pou l travay. Se lè mwen rive lakay kounye a, se travay espri a te vin travay. Li chita li travay pou moun yo. Lè espri a fin travay pou moun yo, li ale. Kounye a zye m klè, mwen wont. Mwen kouri. Ben: Poukisa ou te santi ou wont? Ongan Alisma: Rezon ki koz mwen santi mwen wont paske mwen antre nan yon travay pou mwen menm, m panse m poko gen matirite e konesans pou li paske a sèt epòk si yon moun ta vin kote mwen pou kont mwen san lwa a m pa t ap janm resevwa l e m pa t ap konnen kisa pou m ta di l osi. Ben: Moun te kòmanse chèche w menm lè ou te gen sètan paske lè lwa te montre ou te genyen kapasite geri yo oubyen fè byen pou yo? Ongan Alisma: Wi, paske lepli souvan moun ki vin konsilte mwen se son dè moun ki wè mwen nan revelasyon yo ki gen pwoblèm k ap boulèvèse yo e nan revelasyon yo, yo wè se tèl kote y ale mande pou tèl moun lè yo rive yo jwenn solisyon. Se konsa moun sa yo vin ap chèche mwen. Ben: Lè yon moun gen sètan epi li gen lwa ki monte l kijan kalite òganizasyon sa te mache? Ou te nan peristil lwa te monte w pandan yon tan epi yon kliyan te vini pou chèche èd? Ongan Alisma: Se pa nan peristil. Mwen di w, ankò, mwen te nan sal de klas lekòl and he came and got me. He brought me home. When I arrived home there were people. The spirits were already searching for clients, so they could work. When I arrived at home it was clear that the spirit came to work. He sat and worked for the people. When the spirit was done working for the people, he left. At this moment my eyes were opened; I was ashamed. I ran. Ben: Why did you feel ashamed? Ongan Alisma: I felt ashamed because I took part in a type of work that, for me, I did not possess the maturity or the know-how for. Because, at that time, if a person had come to me by myself, without the lwa, I wouldn’t receive him and I also wouldn’t know what to tell him. Ben: People started searching for you even though you were seven because the lwa showed that you had the capacity to heal them or do well for them? Ongan Alisma: Yes, because oftentimes the people I consulted were people who saw me in their dreams, who had problems that were troubling them and in the dreams they saw that it was a particular place, they went asking for a particular person and when they arrived they found a solution. That’s how these people came to search for me. Ben: When a person is seven years old and he is ridden by lwa how does that work? Were you in a peristil and lwa rode you for a time and a client came to seek aid? Ongan Alisma: It was not in the peristil. I’ll say, again, I was in the classroom one 5 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant yon bon jou tankou jodi an epi lespri vin sou mwen lekòl la. Lekòl pran mwen mennen mwen lopital. Lè doktè konsilte mwen yo wè m pa gen anyen. M pa gen anyen kounye a la yo konvoke papa mwen nan reyinyon ala direksyon lekòl. Yo aprann papa mwen sa k pase. Papa m di oke kèlkeswa lè sa rive, rele m. Rezon ki koz papa m te di rele l se paske papa m te gentan wè gen moun k ap vin mande pou mwen, pou jan de travay sa. Ben: Nan tèt pa m, nan lide pa m, mwen te toujou panse yon timoun ta jwenn kontak avèk lwa pandan yon seremoni. Se ti lide ki nan tèt mwen. Lwa kapab pran yon moun nan nenpòt lè, nenpòt kote? Sa p ap nesesèman anba yon peristil pandan yon seremoni? Ongan Alisma: Lwa ka pran yon moun andedan Vatikan, andedan legliz Pwotestan, andedan yon seminè, andedan yon lekòl, andedan lachanm, andedan yon palè: nan on konferans de près; nan yon miting; nan yon asanble. Ben: Premye fwa ou te wè lwa se nan peristil papa w e nan seremoni sa yo? Ongan Alisma: Mwen leve wè sa menm. M wè sa tout tan. Ben: Donk, nan okazyon familyal, pandan ti fèt familyal, pandan nenpòt moman? Ongan Alisma: Non, m ap pale w de seremoni Vodou andedan peristil papa mwen, lakay mwen menm; kominote kote mwen fèt Gonayiv, Dekawo. Ben: Èske ou ka di gen yon lè ki pi day like today and a spirit came to me at the school. The school took me and brought me to the hospital. When doctors consulted me they saw that there was nothing wrong with me. There was nothing wrong so they summoned my father to a meeting with the director of the school. They told my father what happened. My father said: alright, whenever that happens, call me. My father said to call him because my father already saw that there were people who would come to ask for me for that type of work. Ben: In my head, in my understanding, I always thought a child would come into contact with a lwa during a ceremony. That’s the idea in my head. Lwa can take a person whenever, wherever? It won’t necessarily be under a peristil during a ceremony? Ongan Alisma: Lwa can take a person inside of the Vatican, inside of the Protestant church, inside of a seminar, inside a school, inside of the bedroom, inside of a palace: in a press conference; in a meeting; in an assembly. Ben: Was the first time you saw lwa in your father’s peristil in the ceremonies? Ongan Alisma: I was brought up seeing that. I see that all the time. Ben: Well, in a family occasion, during a family party, at any moment? Ongan Alisma: No, I’m speaking of Vodou ceremonies inside of my father’s peristil, in my very home; in the community where I was born in Gonaïves, Dekawo. Ben: Would you say there is a time that’s 6 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant pwopis, ki pi ankourajan pou lwa vini? Se seremoni men malgre sa yo kapab vini nan lòt...? Ongan Alisma: Nan ka de emèdjensi. Ben: Oke! Nou te pale lòt jou sou diferans ant bòkò avèk ongan. Mwen panse anpil Ameriken epi anpil chèchè nan domèn Vodou pa fin distenge diferans lan byen. Èske w kapab eklere nou sou diferans ant de domèn Vodou sa yo? Ongan Alisma: Diferans ki genyen antre bòkò e ongan: lè ke ou se yon bòkò sèke w se yon moun yon lwa deside pou travay pou li. Lwa a fè apèl avèk ou pou w al travay pou li. Li kòmanse montre w li menm nan dòmi kisa l ka fè, kijan l fonksyone, kiyès li ye. L ap montre w jan de bagay sa yo epi l ap montre w jan de òf ke l ka fè w. Lè mwen pale de òf, kijan de pwomès ke l kapab fè w si w aksepte travay pou li. Konsa, ou pral rekonèt ou se on chwazi. Kay okenn bòkò, oungan ke ou pase y ap toujou di w sa. Y ap di w mwen wè ou se yon chwazi. M wè yo pwotekte w; ou pwisan; yo chwazi w. Yo ta renmen travay avèk ou. Ben: Kijan yo kapab detekte sa? Ongan Alisma: Kèlkeswa kote kay manbo, kay ongan ke w pase a—osi si w ap fè on konsiltasyon de manbo sa oubyen de ongan sa—espri ki chwazi w la l toujou parèt pou l pase mesaj la bay ongan k ap konsilte w la, bay manbo k ap konsilte w la. Konsa li kapab konnen. more convenient, that’s more encouraging for the lwa to come? It’s the ceremony but despite that they can come in other…? Ongan Alisma: In cases of emergency. Ben: Okay! We spoke the other day on the difference between bòkò and ongan. I think that a lot of Americans and a lot of researchers in the Vodou domain don’t quite yet finely distinguish the difference. Could you enlighten us on the difference between those two Vodou domains? Ongan Alisma: The difference that exists between bòkò and ongan: when you are a bòkò you are a person a lwa chose to work for him. The lwa called you to work for him. He begins to show you himself, in sleep, what he can do, how he functions, who he is. He’ll show you those sorts of things and he’ll show you the type of offerings he can make you. When I say offerings, what type of promises he can make you if you accept to work for it. This way you will recognize that you are chosen. Any bòkò, ongan’s house you visit, they will tell you that you are chosen. They will tell you they see you are a chosen one. I see that they protect you; you are powerful; they chose you. They would like to work with you. Ben: How can they detect this? Ongan Alisma: Any manbo, ongan’s house you visit—especially if you are doing a consultation with the manbo or ongan—the spirit that has chosen you will always appear to deliver the message to the ongan or manbo who’s consulting you. That is how he’ll know. 7 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Mwen vle konnen plis sou nan dòmi—sètadi nan rèv—pou aprann plis detay sou ki lwa li ye, kisa li vle, kisa li ka fè pou nou. Èske gen yon tradisyon pale tou: tankou papa w, tout lòt bòkò, lòt ongan ki vin di w men plis enfòmasyon sou lwa ki chwazi la? Ongan Alisma: Lè ke ou wè nan yon revelasyon, nan yon rèv jan de espri sa yo ki vin pale avèk ou, se tou nòmal lè w leve demen, si Dye ve—si papa w oubyen, tonton w oubyen, granpapa w oubyen, kouzen oubyen, kouzin ou pa t manbo, pa t ongan—se pou w deplase al chèche konnen, si w vle. Lè w al chèche konnen, l ap eksplike w, wi men kisa mwen wè pou ou. Ou gen on lwa ki fè apèl avèk ou pou w vin travay avèk li. Ben: Se nan demen ou kapab chache plis konfimasyon, plis detay sou idantite lwa a? Ongan Alisma: Wi ou kapab chèche idantite lwa a, e on lòt manbo oubyen on lòt ongan si w pa gen on gran paran pa w ki deja nan domèn nan deja. Ben: Mwen ta renmen konnen plis sou kèk senbòl, oubyen kote nan peristil la tankou potomitan. Tout moun ki etidye Vodou konnen byen vit potomitan se yon senbòl nan sant kwayans Vodou. Ou ka pale sou wòl li e pou kisa moun toujou vire otou li kont zegui mont Ongan Alisma: Kèlkeswa mezon an, kèlkeswa chèn kay ke li ye a se potomitan an ki pou kenbe l. Lè nou pale de potomitan se menm jan nou kapab di Ben: I would like to know more about sleep—that is to say, in dreams—to learn more details about which lwa it is, what he wants, what he can do for you. Is there also a speaking tradition: like your father, other bòkò, other ongan who come and tell you more information on the lwa that chose you? Ongan Alisma: When you see in a revelation, in a dream, these types of spirits that come and speak with you, it’s perfectly normal, when you wake up in the morning, God willing—if your father, or your uncle, or your granfather, or your cousin, aren’t manbo, aren’t ongan—to go and seek to learn, if you want. When you seek to learn, he will explain what you need to do. You have a lwa that has called on you to work with it. Ben: Is it the next day you can search for more confirmation, more details on the identity of the lwa? Ongan Alisma: Yes you can search for the identity of the lwa or another manbo, another ongan if you don’t have a parent who is already in the domain. Ben: I would like to know more on some symbols, or places in the peristil like the potomitan (center post). Everyone who studies Vodou knows very well that the potomitan is a central symbol in the Vodou belief. Can you speak on its role and why people always rotate around it counter-clockwise? Ongan Alisma: Whatever house, whatever house it might be, the potomitan will hold it up. When we speak of the potomitan, similarly, if we 8 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ou menm nan fwaye lakay ou se on potomitan. Paske ou chèf fwaye a, se ou menm ki pou fè, ede fè. Se ou k plis lonje men bay madan m ou ke madan m ou lonje men ba ou pou w kapab pran swen fwaye a. La ou se yon potomitan. Si w pa ta la, nan egzistans fwaye sa, sèke se on fwaye ki paralize. Se wòl potomitan an sa andedan sektè Vodou a. Se potomitan an ki reprezante lè kat pwen kadino ki pou pèmèt on onsi kanzo, manbo, ongan yo konnen kote yo dwe kanpe pou yo soryante [to orient themselves] lè y ap fè salitasyon avèk lwa yo. Ben: Poukisa yo toujou ansèkle potomitan an nan yon sèl direksyon? Yo toujou fè direksyon sa; yo pa janm fè direksyon sa. Èske gen yon sans dèyè sa? Ongan Alisma: Vodou a genyen yon sèl plan strikti de potomitan yo. Kèlkeswa kote w pase ou wè yon potomitan se pou w jwenn li kare oubyen ou jwenn li won. Se menm jan kèlkeswa lopital ou pase a, kèlkeswa nasyon an w ap wè lopital la gen menm sin. Kèlkeswa kote w pase ki gen on lakwa wouj, depi w parèt ou wè se on lakwa wouj. M gen dwa rive kay la kounye a m pa konn pale lang chinwa yo men depi m rive m ap wè sa se yon lopital paske li di sa se lopital e sin nan pa chanje pou kèlkeswa nasyon. Ben: Tout Vodouwizan ki sèvi ak potomitan, yo tout sèvi avèk li menm jan? Yo tout respekte l menm jan? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Tout Vodou? were to say that you, yourself, are a potomitan in your marriage. Because you are the head of the marriage, it’s you who has to do, help do. It’s you who extends a hand to your wife rather than your wife extending a hand to you so you can take care of the marriage. Here, you are a potomitan. If you weren’t here, in the existence of the marriage, it would be a paralyzed marriage. That is the role of the potomitan within the Vodou sector. It’s the potomitan that represents the four cardinal points that allows the onsi kanzo, manbo, ongan know where they need to stand to orient themselves when they are saluting the lwa. Ben: Why do they always circle around the potomitan in the same direction? They always do that direction; they never do this direction. Is there a reason behind this? Ongan Alisma: Vodou has one strict plan for the potomitan. Wherever you go and you find a potomitan it’s either square or round. Similarly wherever you pass a hospital, in whatever nation, you’ll see that the hospital has the same sign. Wherever you go that has a red cross, upon arriving, you see that it’s a red cross. I could arrive at the house and not know how to speak the Chinese language, but upon arriving, I’ll see that it’s a hospital because it says that is a hospital and the sign never changes, no matter the country. Ben: All the Vodouists who use the potomitan, do they all use it the same way? They all treat it the same? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: All Vodou? 9 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Nan anpil seremoni ou wè moun fè salitasyon. Se youn nan eleman pratik Vodou. Ou wè anpil nan seremoni se salitasyon lwa yo. Pandan y ap salye yon lwa tankou Danbala oubyen Loko oubyen Ezili yo konn vizite menm kote nan peristil la a chak fwa yo kòmanse on nouvo wòn salitasyon? Tankou: yo salye potomitan. Yo salye ountògi, moun ki bat tanbou. Yo salye pòt djèvo. Youn salye lòt, tankou lòt ounsi yo. Yo salye odyans. Èske se an menm tan tou on bagay ki menm nan tout Vodou? Ongan Alisma: Sa se senp. Mwen rete kwè ke si w deplase, ou vin lakay mwen jodi an premye bagay ou fè lè w antre lakay mwen se ou dwe salye mwen. Enbyen se de menm. Seremoni an ap fèt. Yo pral rantre. Se mwen menm yo leve pou mwen salye lwa Loko. Se on lwa m renmen salye anpil. Yo leve mwen pou mwen salye lwa Loko. Premye bagay m dwe fè se prezante mwen a loryan loksidan, ki vle di lekat pwen kadino nan langaj mistik la epwi pou mwen fè konesans avèk yo epi jodi a se li menm ki la pou mwen salye l, pou mwen desèvi l nan seremoni sa. Ben: Sa se otou potomitan an? Ongan Alisma: Anhan e w a pral wè avan tou ke mwen tèmine salitasyon an, si l apresye mwen li tou vin sou mwen. Se konsa tou, si se pa mwen menm li te vle nan moman sa, se ou menm li te vle epi se sou ou l vini pandan mwen menm m ap salye l. Se konsa l gen dwa vini sou ongan Makis. Li gen dwa vini sou Ongan Emmanuel. Li kapab vini sou yon lòt osi. Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: In a lot of ceremonies you’ll see people saluting. It’s one of the practical elements of Vodou. You’ll see a large portion of the ceremonies is saluting the lwa. While they are saluting a lwa, like Danbala or Loko or Ezili, do they visit the same place in the peristil every time they start a new round of salutations? For instance, they salute the potomitan. They salute the ountògi, the people who drum. They salute the door of the djèvo. They salute each other, like the ounsi. They salute the audience. Is this also something that is the same in all Vodou? Ongan Alisma: It’s simple. I believe that if you leave to come to my house today, the first thing you do when you enter my home is greet me. Well, it’s the same. The ceremony is happening. They are about to enter. It’s me they ask to greet Loko. It’s a lwa I really like to greet. They ask me to greet Loko. The first thing I need to do is to present myself to the east, to the west, which is to say to the four cardinal points in the mystical language and for me to acknowledge them. And, today he’s the one here, I have to greet him. I have to serve him in that ceremony. Ben: That is around the potomitan? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh, and you’ll see that before I finish the salutation, if he appreciates me he will come to me. Also if it wasn’t me he wanted in that moment, if it’s you he wanted he will come to you as I am saluting him. That is how he can come on ongan Marcus. It could come on ongan Emmanuel. It could come on another also. 10 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Lè ou pral prezante tèt nou devan ontògi, moun k ap bat tanbou yo, anpil fwa w wè ongan avèk manbo yo pral mete atè. Yo pral beze tè kòmsi yo pral fè yon reverans devan ontògi. Ki sans ki genyen dèyè sa, paske nou pa fè sa devan potomitan menm jan? Ongan Alisma: Nou fè l devan potomitan menm jan. Ben: Menm jan? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ou met ajenou devan potomitan an epi w bo l pou w salye l. An nou retounen nan menm kesyon an. De menm ou rantre nan kay la; ou fin salye papa w, ou dwe al salye manman. Sa di osito ke w fin salye potomitan ou dwe al salye ountògi paske ountògi se poto kwen kay la ki pou soutni potomitan an anvè de sistèm nan e ke san ountògi potomitan an ap febli. Si pa egzanp, si madanm ou ta tonbe l mouri, timoun yo rete nan men w sèlman, w ap bezwen on lòt èd, pa vrè? Sèke ou pa kapab fè travay la ou menm sèl. Se de menm tou, si ou pa ta la, ankò, madanm ou ap bezwen on lòt moun ki pou ede l pote chaj la. Se menm jan ontògi a la pou l sipòte potomitan an anvè de tout sa k ap fèt de seremoni lwa yo. Ben: Se pati entegral sistèm nan. Ongan Alisma: Sa p ap deranje w si m di w on bagay? Ben: Non! Ben: When you are presenting yourselves in front of the ontògi, the people who beat the drums, many times you’ll see ongan and manbo place their heads on the ground. They will kiss the ground as if they’re revering the ontògi. What is the meaning of this, because you don’t do this in front of the potomitan the same way? Ongan Alisma: We do it in front of the potomitan the same way. Ben: The same way? Ongan Alisma: Yes! You place your knees on the ground before the potomitan and you kiss it to salute it. Let us to return to the question. When you enter into the house and you finish greeting your father, you need to greet your mother. That means the minute you finish saluting the potomitan, you need to salute the ontògi because the ontògi are the corners of the house that supports the potomitan relative to the system and without the ontògi the potomitan would be weak. If for example, your wife fell ill and died, the children are left with you, won’t you need help? You can’t do the work by yourself. In the same sense, if you weren’t here, your wife would need another person to help her bear the burden. The ontògi is here for the same reason, to support the potomitan relative to all that occurs in the ceremonies of the lwa. Ben: It’s an integral part of the system. Ongan Alisma: Will it disturb you if I tell you something? Ben: No! 11 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Nou genyen dezyèm ongan sosyete a ki prezan. Lè w fin avèk mwen si w gen kèlke kesyon pou ta poze li, li prè pou l ta reponn ou. Ben: Wi, avèk plezi. Mèsi! Donk, nou pale sou potomitan ; nou pale sou ountògi. Anpil fwa ou wè ongan pral salye djèvo a, oubyen pòt djèvo a. Anpil moun ta renmen konnen poukisa yo salye djèvo a. Ki sans li genyen; ki senbolis li genyen? Ongan Alisma: Pou w pale mwen de djèvo ou pral pale m de on inisyason kanzo. Lè n ap pale de seremoni, nan kad seremoni an se tou nòmal pou Lakou salye pòt onfò. Rezon pou salye pòt onfò: sa se on kesyon trè fasil. Menm ou menm ou kapab reponn li. Se chanm lwa yo. Se la lwa yo repoze yo lè yo la. Se la ki biwo yo pou yo chita pou yo fè konsiltasyon pou kelkeswa moun ki bezwen yo e pou yo fè travay pa yo osi. Alò pandan m ap fè salitasyon mwen dwe salye pòt onfò a pou m vin fè yo konnen mwen nan kay la. Ben: Nou nan biwo lwa yo menm menm kounye a la? Ongan Alisma: Wi, kounye a la. Sa di se andedan biwo lwa yo menm ke nou ye; ke nou chita sou biwo yo menm. Ben: Se la yo repoze? Lwa onfò sa repoze isi lè pa g en seremoni oubyen? Ongan Alisma: Non! Lwa a la lè l bezwen la oubyen lè ou rele l. Lè mwen rele l, Ongan Alisma: We have here the second ongan of the society. When you are finished with me, if you have a few questions for him, he’s ready to answer you. Ben: Yes, with pleasure. Thank you! Well, we spoke of the potomitan; we spoke of the ountògi. Many times you’ll see ongan saluting the djèvo, or the door of the djèvo. A lot of people would like to know why they salute the djèvo. What does it mean; what symbolism does it have? Ongan Alisma: To speak of the djèvo, you have to speak of the kanzo initiation. When we are speaking of the ceremony, in the context of the ceremony it’s normal to salute the door of the onfò. The reason to salute the door of the onfò: that is a really easy question. Even you can answer it. It is the room of the lwa. That’s where the lwa rest when they’re here. That is their office where they sit and perform consultations for anyone who needs them, and to do their work as well. So, when I’m doing salutations I have to salute the door of the onfò to let them know that I’m in the house. Ben: We’re really in the office of the lwa right now? Ongan Alisma: Yes, right now. That means that we’re really inside the office of the lwa; we are really sitting in their office. Ben: This is where they rest? Do the lwa of this onfò rest here whenever there is no ceremony? Ongan Alisma: No! The lwa is here when it needs to be here, or when you call it. 12 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant mwen bezwen l. Mwen fè apèl avèk li, li vin la. Men lwa a patou. Ben: Oke, li tout kote? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Sa ap mennen mwen nan yon dezyèm kesyon. Gen moun ki pale sou lwa ki nan dlo, lwa ki nan pyebwa, pyebwa repozwa. Yo pale sou lwa nan syèl, anba tè, lwa danse nan tèt moun. Donk pou Vodouwizan lwa a viv nan lanati prensipalman. Èske yo viv sou lòt planèt? Èske yo nan lòt inivè? Ki kote yo ye? Ongan Alisma: Nou pa kapab di lwa a ni isi, ni lòtbò; ni devan, ni dèyè. Sèlman lwa a pami nou. Lwa a ap viv pami nou tout. Ben: Genyen moun tou ki pale sou lwa. Chak moun gen yon lwa. Lòt jou nou te pale sou jan chak moun gen yon lwa k pwotektè. Sa vle di chak moun gen yon kalite lwa k ap veye egzistans moun li jwenn, moun ki resevwa l. Èske chak moun gen yon lwa ki viv nan tèt li, nan kè li, oubyen se on lwa ki viwonen l? Ki kalite rapò li genyen avèk moun? Ongan Alisma: Si se pa on lwa ki ta fè yon chwa de ou menm pou w fè travay sa w ap fè a, ou t ap gen lòt bagay pou w ta fè. Se on lwa kanmenm ki fè apèl avèk ou ki pèmèt pou w sakrifye tan w pou w fè sakrifis de ou menm pou w fè rechèch sou lwa. Sèke gen yon bagay ki atire w de lwa a oubyen se sa k rele apèl. Sèke gen yon chwa anvè de ou menm. When I call it, I need it. I call upon it, and it comes here. But, the lwa are everywhere. Ben: Okay, they’re everywhere? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: That brings me to a second question. There are people who speak of lwa that are in the water, lwa that are in the trees, resting trees. They speak of lwa in the sky, in the ground, lwa dancing in people’s heads. So for Vodouist the lwa live, principally, in nature. Do they live on other planets? Do they live in other universes? Where are they? Ongan Alisma: We can’t say the lwa are either here nor there; neither in front, neither behind. Only, the lwa are among us all. Ben: There are also people who speak of the lwa. Each person has a lwa. The other day we spoke on how each person has lwa that protect. That means each person has a kind of lwa that’s watching over the people it finds, the people who receive it. Does each person have a lwa that lives in his head, in his heart, or is it a lwa that lives all around him? What kind of relationship does it have with people? Ongan Alisma: If it wasn’t a lwa who chose you to do the work that you’re doing, you’d have something else to do. It’s indeed a lwa that called on you that allows for you to sacrifice your time, to sacrifice yourself, to do research on lwa. That means there is something that attracts you to the lwa or that is called a calling. That means there is a choice 13 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Èske w ta di gen yon bann tip apèl diferan nan Vodou? Ongan Alisma: Anpil! Ben: Dapre moun nan; dapre destine l? Ongan Alisma: Lwa a gen dwa fè apèl avèk ou. Men pandansetan [at the same time] l fè apèl avèk ou, li ta renmen w se on doktè ki pral travay nan yon lopital ki pral pran swen de moun pou bay moun lavi. Se nan branch sa li vle w ye. Li gen dwa fè apèl avèk ou, li ta renmen ou se on enjenyè ki la pou egzekite plan, pou konstwi wout, kay, tout bagay. Se pou sa ke l chwazi w. Li gen dwa chwazi w tou se pou w avoka. Li gen dwa chwazi w. Li gen dwa chwazi w tou li voye w pou w ale andedan Pwotestantis pou w al aprann de sistèm nan. Se on fason lè l vini sou ou menm talan sa l voye w al kapte a l itilize l epi pou l pibliye l, pou l konpare l a pa l la e pou l moutre w tout sa ki pa bon andedan l e li menm tout sa ki bon andedan l. Se sa fè si w pran on Bib avèk mwen la m ap di w andedan Nouvo Tèstaman men sa ki bon yo ke yo pa janm preche andan legliz: tout sa k bon yo si yo preche andan legliz tout fidèl ap vire do yo kite legliz la. Paske y ap wè se on kesyon de Pyè pèsonèl k ap defann andedan legliz. Ben: Donk, sètadi lwa gen yon pakèt misyon diferan pou l voye moun fè? Ongan Alisma: Lwa a chwazi w. Li vle w s on prezidan. Lè lè a rive pou w prezidan pa gen anyen k ap fè w pa prezidan. relative to you. Ben: Would you say there are different kinds of callings in Vodou? Ongan Alisma: Many! Ben: Based on the person; based on their destiny? Ongan Alisma: The lwa can call on you. But at the same time, it would like you to be a doctor who will work in a hospital who would care for people to give people life. That’s the field it wants you to be in. It can call on you. I would like you to be an engineer to be there to execute plans, to construct roads, houses, all sorts of things. That’s what he chose you for. It can choose you, also, to be a lawyer. It can choose you. It can choose you, also, to send you inside of Protestantism to learn about the system. That way, when it rides you, it’ll use that talent it sent you to capture to publicize it, to compare it with its own [religion] so it can show you all that’s bad in it and all that’s good in it. That’s why if you take up the Bible with me, I’ll tell you inside of the New testament here is the good that they never preach inside of the church: if they preach all the good things, all the loyals will turn their backs and leave the church. Because, they will see it’s a question of personal interests that are being defended inside of the church. Ben: So, that means the lwa sends people on a bunch of different missions? Ongan Alisma: The lwa chooses you. It wants you to be a president. When the time comes for you to be president, there’s nothing that stop you from being president. 14 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Èske ou panse gen prezidan Ayisyen lwa mete yo la? Tankou anpil moun di Aristid se yon moun ki te gen kontak avèk lwa. Sa w wè nan sa? Ongan Alisma: Mwen p ap di w wi lwa mete yon prezidan la paske mwen vle di w on bagay ke mwen ka pwouve. Men, majorite prezidan dan lemond mistik. Se pa Ayiti non, men majorite prezidan dan le mond mistik. [...] ke li te pran pouvwa a dlo [....] apre lè l fin chita sou chèz la, li wè li jije de bon, ilfoke l fè on deplase [he has to make an effort]. Li toujou gen on demach pou l mete deyò, chèche ki kote ki bon an pou l wè se andedan Sosyete Linto ki bon e pou l mande Sosyete Linto yon konsiltasyon an prive. Ben: Moun ki gen pouvwa chèche konsiltasyon sa yo? Ongan Alisma: Epi kounye a prezidan an mete sou li ke l konnen. Li asire li. Non sèlman li genyen bòdigad—de sekirite pou okenn delenkan pa arive tire sou li—men li genyen yon bòdigad nan li menm ke pèsonn pa kapab wè kontre tout lòt malvèzasyon yo. Ben: Mwen ta renmen konnen sa ou kapab di sou wòl disiplin avèk lòd nan Vodou. Pa egzanp, mwen wè ou se on ongan ki apresye, ki mande on jan disiplin avèk lòd. Èske se tipik avèk ongan, manbo yo? Part II Ben: Nou t ap pale sou wòl disiplin avèk lòd nan Vodou epi nan jan ou menm ou Ben: Do you think there are Haitian presidents who were placed by the lwa? For instance, people say Aristide is a person who was in contact with the lwa. What do you think of this? Ongan Alisma: I won’t tell you yes Lwa placed a president because I want to tell you things I can prove. But, the majority of presidents in the world are mystical. Not just Haiti but, the majority of presidents in the world are mystical. [...] whether he took power by water [....] after he’s sat in the chair, he sees that he’ll judge well if he makes an effort. He always has a process to go through. He’ll look for a good place and he’ll see that it’s inside of Société Linto; he’ll ask Société Linto for a private consultation. Ben: People in power search for these consultations? Ongan Alisma: And then, the president puts on as if he knows. He’s assured. Not only does he have bodyguards—security so no delinquent comes to shoot at him—but he has a bodyguard inside of himself that no one can see who can keep an eye out regarding all misconduct. Ben: I would like to know what you can say on the role that discipline and order in Vodou. For example, I see that you are an ongan who appreciates, who asks for a certain type of discipline and order. Is that typical of the ongan, the manbo? Part II Ben: We were speaking on the role of discipline and order in Vodou and on 15 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant fè seremoni. Ki kote kilti disiplin pa w la soti? M pa wè sa tout kote. Lòt kote kòmanse nenpòt lè. Yo kòmanse ta, nan nwit. Men sanble isit ou kòmanse nan yon lè presi epi w kontinye solidman. Ongan Alisma: Anba peristil kote ke mwen leve, m leve jwenn disiplin, prensip, respè. Lè ke yon moun ap deplase kite lakay li, li konnen l ap deplase a tèl lè pou l retounen a tèl lè. Ou dwe respekte sa paske moun nan li deplase sot lakay li a se yon sakrifis ke l fè pou l asiste seremoni an epi se lè sa l pral vin chita fè de twazèdtan san anyen. Li pa posib. Konsa gen yon moun ki kapab deplase l di oke l ap vin kouvri inèdtan de seremoni an epi lè l vini seremoni an pral deplase nan katrèdtan. Ou te di l ap kòmanse a tèl lè; ou dwe respekte lè a. Lè sa lwa a ba ou plis respè. Tout kote ou wè ki manke respè, prensip, disiplin pou lwa a, yo menm yo rann tèt yo ap soufri. Yo rann tèt yo ap trennen. Jan w sèvi lwa w se konsa lwa w sèvi avèk ou. Ou sèvi lwa w pwòp, li sèvi w pwòp. Ou sèvi lwa w an grandyoz, li sèvi avè w an grandyoz. Ou sèvi avèk li san disiplin, li sèvi avè w san disiplin. Pa etone tou, moun sa pral gen on pwoblèm e se lwa ki kapab ede li. Nan moman an, lwa a an reta. Ben: Ou soti kilti sa nan fanmi pa w, nan men papa w? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Nan Gonayiv ou kapab jwenn peristil ki pral kenbe prensip sa avèk lòt how you yourself perform ceremonies. Where does your culture of discipline come from? I don’t see that everywhere. Other places start at anytime. They start late, at night. But, it appears that here you start at a specific time and you solidly continue. Ongan Alisma: Under the peristil, where I was raised with discipline, principles, respect. When someone leaves their home, they know they’ll leave at a certain time to return at a certain time. You have to respect that because the person sacrificed and left home to attend the ceremony and that’s when he’ll come and sit for three hours needlessly. It’s not possible. Also, a person can come and say he’ll stay for an hour of the ceremony and then when he comes, the ceremony starts in four hours. You said it would start at a particular time; you have to respect that. This way you are more respected by the lwa. Everywhere you see that lacks respect, principle, discipline for the lwa, they cause themselves suffering. They cause themselves to drag behind. How you serve your lwa is how the lwa function with you. You serve your lwa cleanly, it’ll serve you cleanly. You serve your lwa grandiosely; it’ll serve you grandiosely. You serve it without discipline; it’ll serve you without discipline. Also don’t be surprised that this person will have a problem and it’s the lwa that can help him. In the moment, the lwa is tardy. Ben: You got this culture from your family, your father? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: In Gonaïves can you find peristil that hold this principal along with others 16 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ki pa kenbe l tou depan de ongan ki responsab li? Ongan Alisma: Wi, tou depan de ongan ki responsab li. Ben: M vle poze kèk ti kesyon sou rit Vodouwizan yo. Tankou ou konn fè rit Rada isit. Ou konn genyen rit Petwo, Kongo e gen lòt ankò tankou rit Gede. Gen kèk moun ki di Gede fè pati on rit pou kont li. Èske ou wè l menm jan? Èske gen lòt rit ankò ki fè pati sistèm pa w? Ongan Alisma: Wi, genyen rit, aprè Rada: Petwo, Kongo, Nago, Dawomen, Banda, Yanvalou. Tout sòti andedan sistèm nan. Ben: Chak genyen yon seremoni ki pou yo? Ongan Alisma: Diferan! Ben: Nan onfò pa w la w kenbe yo tout? Ongan Alisma: Tout! Ben: Èske gen lòt onfò ki genyen lòt rit ki pa fè pati rit ou itilize yo? Ongan Alisma: Wi, paske andedan abitasyon Gonayiv [kote ke] nou genyen gran Lakou Souvnans, gran Lakou Soukri Danach, gran Lakou Badjo Kidi, gran Lakou Dewonvil. Andedan Dewonvil ou jwenn Banda, andedan Zantray. Andedan Mapou ou jwenn Lakou Badjo [...]. Andedan Soukri Danach ou jwenn nasyon Kongo. Andedan lakou Souvnans ou jwenn nasyon Dawomen. Tout that don’t, depending on the ongan responsible for it? Ongan Alisma: Wi, it all depends on the ongan who’s responsible for it. Ben: I would like to ask some questions on the rites of the Vodouists. For instance, you hold the Rada rite here. You sometimes hold the Petwo rite, Kongo and there are others like Gede. There are some peopel who say Gede is part of its own rite. Do you see it the same way? Are there other rites that are part of your system? Ongan Alisma: Yes, there are rites, after Rada: Petwo, Kongo, Nago, Dawomen, Banda, and Yanvalou. All come from inside of the system. Ben: Each has its own ceremony? Ongan Alisma: Different! Ben: In your onfò do you observe them all? Ongan Alisma: All! Ben: Are there other onfò that have other rites that do not belong to the rites you utilize? Ongan Alisma: Yes, because inside of the Gonayiv communities we have the great Lakou Souvnans, the great Lakou Soukri Danach, the great Lakou Badjo Kidi, the great Lakou Dewonvil. Inside of Dewonvil you find Banda, within the Zantray organization. Inside Mapou you find Lakou Badjo [...]. Inside Soukri Danach you find the Kongo mation. Inside Lakou Souvnans, you find the 17 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ozalantou yo ou jwenn yon Petwo ki woule sou Rada ke yo rele li Ti Joslin. Se Vodou sa ki pi dous. Ben: Lè ou di se yon Petwo ki woule sou Rada? Ongan Alisma: Marye avèk Rada, yo rele l ti Joslin. Lè ou menm ki konn danse Petwo, mwen menm ki konn danse Rada, avèk ongan Makis ki konn danse Petwo, ki konn danse Rada, sèke se de bagay diferan. Ben: Lè moun ki fè pati tradisyon Ti Joslin pral òganize yon seremoni, èske yo pral kanmenm kenbe pati Rada separe avèk Petwo? Ongan Alisma: Vodou a pa gen distenksyon; youn ede lòt. Ben: Men sa m te vle mande se depi nou kòmanse sou rit Rada èske sa dire pou yon bon ti moman avan kòmansman rit Petwo a oubyen èske moun sa yo konbine rit Petwo avèk Rada an menm tan? Tankou yon lwa Rada epi yon lwa Petwo... Ongan Alisma: Non, w ap wè moun sa yo pa ale pa òd. Li pa ale pa òd, esansyèlman yo djès kòmanse seremoni an. Yo salye gran chemen. Yo salye kafou epi yo antre nan Papa Legba. Yo salye Marasa, lè yo soti nan Marasa kote yo tonbe yo tonbe. Ben: Pa egzanp ou di Souvans se yon peristil ki sèvi avèk rit Dawomen. Èske moun ki sèvi avèk rit Banda, pa egzanp, èske yo kapab sèvi avèk kèk rit Dawomen nation. All around you find a Petwo that is rolled up with Rada that they call Ti Joslin. That is the sweetest Vodou. Ben: What do you mean when you say a Petwo that rolled up with Rada? Ongan Alisma: Married with Rada, they call it Ti Joslin. You, who knows how to dance Petwo, and me, who knows how to dance Rada, and ongan Marcus who knows how to dance Petwo and Rada— so it is two different things. Ben: When the people who participate in the Ti Joslin tradition are going to organize a ceremony, do they indeed keep the Rada part separate from Petwo. Ongan Alisma: Vodou has no distinctions; one helps the other. Ben: But what I wanted to ask was, when you start on the Rada rite does that last for a good moment before the commencement of the Petwo rite or do those people combine the Petwo rite with the Rada at the same time. For instance, one lwa Rada and one lwa Petwo.... Ongan Alisma: No, you’ll see those people don’t go in order. It’s not in order; essentially they just start the ceremony. They salute the great pathway. They salute the crossroad and they enter into Papa Legba. They salute Marasa. When they leave Marasa they’ll end wherever they end. Ben: For example, you say Souvnans is a peristil that uses the Dawomen rite. Do the people who use the Banda rite, for example, use the Dawomen rite when 18 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Dawomen lè yo fè seremoni oubyen èske yo toujou fè Banda san yo pa melanje avèk Dawomen? Ongan Alisma: W ap jwenn moun nan lakou Banda ki danse andedan Dawomen. W ap jwenn moun andedan Dawomen ki danse andedan Banda ki sèvi tout lwa sa yo ansanm. W ap wè moun sa fè plizyè abiman pou lè fèt Souvnans lan e l fè plizyè abiman pou lè fèt Banda a. Ou gen dwa on sèl moun nan sèvi tout Lakou yo alafwa. Dat fèt yo pa tonbe menm lè. Chak lwa sa yo jwenn yon wòl nan lavi nou. Ben: M konprann, men rit Dawomen pa t deplase al nan peristil ki konn sèvi avèk rit Banda? Se moun ki fè pati peristil Souvnans yo pral...? Ongan Alisma: Se pa rit la ki deplase non. Se nou menm, eleman k ap sèvi lwa yo ki deplase al ede on lòt frè, yon lòt sè. De menm ou wè l isit Ozetazini. Ou ka wè plizyè seremoni w pase w wè mwen. Se paske yo envite mwen al sipòte yo. Rezon poukisa yo envite mwen: nan moman an yo fin depanse kòb yo vre, menm si se lwa ki te bay kòb la pou yo fè seremoni, yo ta renmen lwa a byen resevwa. Ou gen dwa wè nan moman seremoni sa lwa a y ap fè fèt la pou li a se sou mwen l vini l resevwa. Se konsa l gen dwa vin sou ou tou li resevwa. Li gen dwa vin sou Ongan Emanyèl li resevwa. Li gen dwa vin sou Ongan Makis li resevwa. Sèke yo bezwen tout moun. Se sa k fè yo pa fè distenksyon andedan Vodou. Ben: Depi mwen fè lekti nan liv ki pale they have ceremonies or do they always do Banda without mixing it with Dawomen? Ongan Alisma: You’ll find people in the Banda yards who dance inside of Dawomen. You’ll find people inside of Dawomen who danse inside of Banda who serve all of those lwa together. You’ll see that that person has multiple outfits for the Souvnans party and multiple outfits for the Banda party. There can be one person serving all the yards at the same time. The celebrations don’t occur on the same dates. Each of these lwa have a role in our lives. Ben: I understand, but the Dawomen rite doesn’t leave and go to the peristil that uses the Banda rite? Is it the people who participate in the Souvnans peristil who will....? Ongan Alisma: It isn’t the rite that leaves. It is us: the people serving the lwa who leave to assist another brother, another sister. It’s the same here in the United Sates. You’ll see me at multiple ceremonies. This is because they invite me to come support them. The reason why they invite me is because when they finish spending their money, even if it’s the lwa that provided the money for the ceremony, they would like the lwa to be well received. You could see that during this ceremony, the lwa they are throwing the party for come on me to be received. It could also come on you to be received. It could come on ongan Emmanuel to be received. It could come on ongan Marcus to be received. So, they need everyone. That is the reason why they don’t differentiate in Vodou. Ben: When I read books that discuss 19 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant sou Vodou ayisyen, depi ou mache nan lari nan Ayiti oubyen nan Dyaspora w kòmanse tande moun pale mal sou fenomèn Bizango avèk Chanpwèl. Poukisa gen yon polemik konsa pou Bizango? Kisa yo fè ki atire tout atansyon sa? Ongan Alisma: Polemik ki kapab genyen antre Vodouwizan avèk Bizango, se sa w vle di mwen? Ben: Chèchè pafwa konn di, oubyen moun nan lari—kapab Ayisyen, kapab pa Vodouwizan, yo kapab Pwotestan, yo kapab pa sèvi lwa—men, gen yon sèten repitasyon Bizango genyen. Ongan Alisma: Oke, Pwotestan yo gen yon chaj yo lage sou do Bizango ki kapab pèmèt pou yo wè si yo kapab diskalifye Bizango a. Men se pa tout ongan e tout bòkò ki fè pati Bizango a. Bizango se yon sektè andedan rit mistik la men ki distansye l avèk on sèten de Ongan, on sèten de manbo, on sèten de bòkò osi. Yon moun vle antre nan rit Bizango a, ou antre. Ou pa vle antre, ou pa antre. Se menm jan, andedan Pwotestan. Ou jwenn Batis, Advantis, Temwenn Jewova, Mòrmon... Ben: Se jis on lòt kalite chemen disponib. Ongan Alisma: Alò yo rele tout Pwotestan. Yo rele tout Levanjil. Men èske Advantis se Legliz de Dye? Èske Mòrmon se legliz Batis? Y ap sèvi menm Bondye a wi, men yo diferansye tèt pa yo e yo pa fè zafè yo menm jan. Haitian Vodou, when you walk in the streets of Haiti or in the diaspora you start to hear people speak ill of the Bizango and Chanpwèl phenomenon. Why is there such a polemic against Bizango? What do they do that to attract all this attention? Ongan Alisma: The polemic that exists between Vodouwizan and Bizango, is that what you mean to say? Ben: Researchers sometimes say, or people in the streets—Haitians, non Vodouists, they may be Protestants, people who don’t serve the lwa— Bizango has a certain reputation. Ongan Alisma: Okay, the Protestants have an accusation burden that they place on the back of Bizango that allows for them to disqualify Bizango. But, it isn’t all ongan and all bòkò who participate in Bizango. Bizango is a sector in the mystical rite, but it’s distant from certain ongan, certain manbo, and also certain bòkò. If a person wants to enter into the Bizango rite, they can enter. If you don’t want to enter, you don’t have to enter. It’s the same inside of Protestantism. You’ll find Baptists, Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons. Ben: It’s just another available path. Ongan Alisma: Consequently they call them all Protestants. They call them all Evangelists. But, is Adventism the Church of God? Is Mormonism the Baptist Church? Yes, they are serving the same God but they differentiate themselves and they don’t handle their affairs in the same way. 20 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Èske w konnen kèk detay sou jijman Bizango konn fè? Tankou, Rachèl Bovwa te ekri yon liv ki rele Savalou E e nan liv sa—se yon liv kreyòl sou Vodou ki enteresan tout bon—li di lontan kòm pa te gen bon sistèm jistis an Ayiti, oubyen te manke tribinal, sitou andeyò nan zòn riral, Bizango te gen travay jije moun ki fè krim oubyen moun ki fè adiltè oubyen moun ki vòlò kabrit, eksetera. Moun gen dwa ale devan jij Bizango pou akize moun sa depi li sispèk li te fè yon krim. Ou konn tande pale de fonksyon Bizango jijman sa jounen jodi oubyen èske w panse se on bagay ki fini? Ongan Alisma: Oke, pa presizeman Bizango: sa a lakay tout Vodouwizan. Se pa on kesyon ni Bizango, ni Sanpwèl. Si, pa egzanp, ou posede yon sèl bèf ou mare bèf la nan yon jaden. Se jaden pa w. Depi dizan w ap gade bèf ou se la w toujou mare yo. Yon bon jou w leve w al nan jaden an. W al chanje bèf ou epi w retire l kote k pa gen manje mete l lòt kote k gen manje. Ou mennen l al bwè dlo osi epi w pa wè bèf la. Lè w gade li pa kase kòd la. Sèke yo pran n. Ou fè rechèch patou ou pa jwenn bèf la. W al kote chèf seksyon zòn nan, oubyen jij de pè zòn nan. Yo fè konsta pou ou; yo pa wè bèf la. Men ki jistis yon jij de pè ka mete pou ou anvèr de on afè konsa? Paske, yo pa wè pèsonn ki pran bèf la e w pa jwenn bèf la. Men si w se Vodouwizan ou toujou gen on wòch oubyen yon pyebwa kote w sispèk lwa w la pou w al fè on demann pou w di bèf mwen an Ben: Do you know any details on judgements passed by Bizango? For instance, Rachel Beauvoir wrote a book called Savalou E and in that book—it’s a Creole book on Vodou that is thoroughly interesting—she says that, in the past, since there wasn’t a good judicial system in Haiti, or there were no tribunals, especially in the country in rural areas, Bizango was responsible for judging people who’d committed crimes or people who’d committed adultery or people who’d stolen goats, etcetera. People could go before the Bizango judge to accuse a person when they suspected they’d committed a crime. Do you hear talk of this judicial function of the Bizango nowadays or do you think that’s something of the past? Ongan Alisma: Okay, not precisely Bizango: that is at the heart of all Vodou. It’s not a question of Bizango or Sanpwèl. If, for example, you own a single cow and you tie the cow in a field. It’s your field. For ten years you’ve been watching your cow, you’ve always tied him here. One particular day you wake and go to the field. You go to change your cow and you remove it from where there is no food and place it somewhere else with food. You bring it to drink water and you don’t see the cow. When you look it didn’t break the cord. So they took it. You search all around and you don’t find the cow. You go to the section chief of the area, or the judge of the area. They conduct an investigation for you; they don’t see the cow. But, what justice can a judge of peace give to you relative to something like this? Because they couldn’t find the person who took the cow and you didn’t find the cow. But, if you are a Vodouist, you always have a rock or a tree where 21 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant mwen redi anpil pou li pou mwen posede l. Mwen kite l la an ka de emèdjensi si pitit mwen malad pou m vann li pou m jwenn, pou m peye doktè. Si madanm mwen malad, e mwen menm osi si youn ta tonbe mouri pou m jwenn li. Depi m gen bèf la yon vwazinaj p ap pè prete mwen de twasan dola. Men si m pa gen bèf kòman m ap fè remèt li? Yo pa fye pou yo ta prete m. Osito ke w al pote lwa a plent de bèf ou a ke w pèdi a yo prè pou yo chèche moun ki pran bèf la. Men moun sa ki gentan vann bèf la, kòb sa pa egziste ankò. Kòman lwa a pral satisfè w? Pou lwa a satisfè w, li atake moun nan epi pou moun nan di o gade se mwen menm ki te pran bèf Benn nan, m vann li gad kòman m ap mouri pou bèf la. Pou tout paran w konnen rezon ki koz ou mouri: pou yo pa an dout. Se jistis sa ki genyen andedan Vodou. Ben: Donk moun ki viktim yon vòl, pa egzanp, li kapab al chèche.... Ongan Alisma: Se pa sèlman vòl. Ben: Nenpòt krim, enjistis? Ongan Alisma: Tankou yon bagay yo vin moutre Ayisyen tou dènyèman la sou gouvènman Aristid la yo vin moutre Ayisyen fè kidnaping. Lè m ap gade, m gen on moun mwen yo pran n; yo kidnape l. Yo mande mwen senksanmil dola pou mwen peye. Mwen pa gen senksanmil dola pou mwen peye. Y arive tiye moun nan. M t ap travay depi ventan, depi trantan pou mwen pouse on timoun lekòl epi kounye a la li fin tèmine etid li mwen voye l a inivèsite epi se lemoman on moun pran n li kidnape l pou li mande m senksanmil dola you suspect your lwa resides to make a request: to say I worked hard for my cow, to own it. I left it here in case of emergency, if my child is sick for me to sell it in order to pay the doctor. If my wife is sick, and me also, if one fell ill for me to have the cow ready. If I have the cow, a neighbor won’t hesitate to loan me two or three hundred dollars. But, if I don’t have a cow, how will I repay it? They’re not confident to lend me money. Upon reporting your lost cow to the authorities, they’re ready to search for the person who took the cow. But, this person who already sold the cow, that money no longer exists. How will the lwa satisfy you? For the lwa to satisfy you they will attack the person and the person will say “oh it was I who took Ben’s cow, I sold it, look how I am dying for it.” Your parents will know the cause of your death; they won’t be in doubt. That’s the justice that exists in Vodou. Ben: So people who become victims of a theft, for example, they can look… Ongan Alisma: It’s not only theft. Ben: Any crime, injustice? Ongan Alisma: For instance, they were recently showing Haitians, during the Aristide administration, Haitians who were kidnaping. When I was watching, there was a friend of mine taken; they kidnapped him. They asked me to pay five hundred thousand dollars. I don’t have five hundred thousand dollars. They wound up killing the person. I’ve been working for twenty years, for thirty years to send a child to school and now that he’s finished his studies, I send him to university and that’s the moment when a person takes him and kidnaps 22 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant tandiske m pa kapab jwenn senksan goud pou m ta peye. Yo ban m yon dèle pou mwen bay kòb sa. Mwen pa gen kòb la; yo tiye pitit mwen. Sèke yo kraze tout kouraj mwen. Yo elimine tout travay mwen te fè pandan trantan an nan on fraksyon d segond. Kounye a èske m ap gade sa konsa? Ki jij de pè, komisè, oubyen ki enstans ki ka ba w jistis anvèr on dosye konsa? Yo pa konn kidnapè a. Yo pa jwenn li. Yo pa konn ki moun. Men lè m al devan lwa m yo, lwa m y ap chèche konn ki moun. Ben: Ongan tou? Pa egzanp, on moun ki pa ongan, ou pral chèche èd ongan ki pral konsilte avèk lwa l yo pou chèche moun ki te fè krim nan? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Non sèlman sa, si pa egzanp ou vin kote m, on pitit pa w sa rive oubyen on pwoblèm ki rive w, lwa m yo konsilte lwa pa w. Ou pa an konesans pou lwa ou yo eksplike w men sa k pase a men pa rapò de kominikasyon spiritwèl yo, yo menm yo pral jwenn jistis pa w la epi yo pote l ba ou. Ben: Gen ka kote yo pral konnen ki moun ki te fè krim nan epi Vodouwizan pral chèche moun ki te fè krim nan pou jije l? Ongan Alisma: Lè se lwa a gen de jijman lwa a tou fè l pou ou. Li pa al chèche moun nan l vin fè l li tou fè jijman an paske lè li lage zen l nan dlo pwason ki antò a se li k ap pran. Lè yo lage zen y ap peche nan dlo. Se pa tout pwason k ap pran nan zen sa. Pwason k ne pou l pran nan jou a se li k ap pran. Sa k pa ne pou yo pran nan jou sa ap pati lwen. Men yo him and asks me for five hundred thousand dollars while I can’t pay five hundred dollars. They give me a deadline to come up with the money. I don’t have the money; they kill my child. They destroyed all my courage. They destroyed all the work I did over thirty years in a fraction of a second. Now, am I to do nothing? What judge, prosecutors, or what instance will be able to give you justice relative to such a case? They don’t know the kidnapper. They can’t find him. They don’t know the person. But, when I go before my lwa, my lwa will search for the person. Ben: Ongan also? For example, a person who’s not an ongan, will you search for the help of an ongan who’ll consult his lwa to find the person who committed the crime? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Not only that, if for example you come to me because that happened to a child of yours, my lwa will consult your lwa. You aren’t conscious for your lwa to explain to you what happened but by reports of spiritual communication, they themselves will find your justice and they will bring it to you. Ben: Are there cases where they’ll find out who committed the crime and then Vodouists will search for the person who committed the crime to put him to trial? Ongan Alisma: When it’s the lwa: there are judgements the lwa mete out for you. It doesn’t search for the person to do it, it just passes judgement because when it drops the hook in the water the guilty fish is the one caught. When they drop the hook they’re fishing in water. Not every fish will be caught in this hook. The fish that’s born to be caught that day 23 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant p ap janm pran nan zen sa. Ebyen andedan sektè Vodou a ankò gen on lòt bagay ki rele lwil maskreti. Lwil maskreti a yo fè l avèk grenn maskreti. Lwil sa, depi yo poze l tou, l ap ba w jistis ou. Ben: Se on lwil yo sèvi avèk li nan kalite jijman sa yo oubyen...? Ongan Alisma: Lwil sa tout moun sèvi avèk li. Pastè, Levanjil—tout moun sèvi avè l. Lontan se avèk li yo te konn penyen timoun pou voye yo lekòl. Ou grese cheve timoun nan pou w penyen li pou w voye l lekòl. Lwil sa se on lwil jistis. Ben: M toujou tande moun an Ayiti pale de li. Ongan Alisma: Jistis sa pa gen parèy. Jistis sa se pi meyè jistis ki te ka egziste dan lemond. Pa bliye, pa janm gen on peyi, pa janm gen on nasyon ki gen on jistis sanpousan. Ou ka demanti m sou w vle. Pa gen on peyi dan lemond ki gen yon jistis sanpousan. Se on kesyon de la rezon pifò e toujou meyè. Pa etone m pral gen jijman avèk yon milyadè epi m pral gen rezon sou li, kèlkeswa peyi a. Y ap fè on jan kanmenm. Olye pou m ta gen rezon yo prefere di m kite sa. Men a lwil la trilyadè, bilyadè, milyadè m ap frape pòt ou a kanmenm pou l di jistis rantre lakay ou jodi a pou l pote jistis la bay nenpòt malere a. Ben: Pou w jwenn rezilta sa, kijan yo pral sèvi avèk lwil la? will be the one caught. Those that aren’t born to be caught that day will go far off. They will not be caught in that hook. Well inside of the Vodou sector there is something else called castor oil [oil of Palma Christi]. They make oil of Palma Christi with castor seeds. This oil, if they also place it, it’ll give you justice. Ben: Is it an oil they use in that type of judgement or....? Ongan Alisma: This oil everybody uses it. Preachers, evangelicals—everybody uses it. Long ago they used it to groom children’s hair to send them to school. You grease the hair of the child in order to comb it to send them to school. This oil is justice oil. Ben: I always hear people in Haiti speak of it. Ongan Alisma: This justice has no equal. This justice is the best justice that exists in the world. Don’t forget, there has never been a country; there has never been a nation that has perfect justice. You can deny it if you want. There isn’t a country in the world that has a hundred percent justice. It’s a matter of the opinion of the strongest which is the best. Don’t be surprised if I go to trial with a millionaire and it’s ruled in my favor, whichever country. They’ll find a way nonetheless. Rather than let me be right they’d prefer to tell me to let it go. But with the oil trillionaire, billionaire, millionaire, I’m knocking on your door anyway for justice to come in your home today to bring justice to any poor person. Ben: To get this result, how will they use the oil? 24 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Lwil sa yo gen moun pou sa menm, ki fè lwil la. Li pran lwil la—jan li konpoze li— li mete l nan yon ti chodyè epi pou l mete men sou li pou l limen li. Li dòmi devan l. Li pran de sèt a disèt jou pou l kondwi li. Tankou l fè on penitans sou pèt sa ki fèt la. Ben: Sou pèt sa ki fèt la? Ongan Alisma: Pou l jwenn jistis! Ben: Sa kapab pran disèt jou. Oke, sa se on gwo devouman li bezwen montre tou pou l jwenn rezilta. Ongan Alisma: Lè w fini w al ranvwaye l nan yon rivyè dlo k ap desann epi pou dlo ede w chèche jwenn jistis la. Ben: Pou ou menm kijan w wè Vodou ap evolye nan lemond? Ki kote l prale? Ki kote l soti? Èske l ap monte? Èske l ap desann? Kijan w wè tradisyon an? Ongan Alisma: Evolisyon Vodou ap monte chak jou. De jou an jou l ap monte pi plis. L ap monte pi wo e l ap fè chemen. Ben: Si ou konpare epòk lè ou te timoun avèk jounen jodi a an Ayiti—mwen mande sa paske anpil chèchè konn di Pwotestantis anpil an Ayiti epi gen kèk moun ki panse gen mwens Vodouwizan. Pa gen moun ki al fè sondaj. Konsa se estimasyon moun ap fè. Ongan Alisma: Se on bagay mwen ta renmen k pou fèt. Mwen rete kwè sondaj maten Vodouwizan genyen, sondaj a midi Vodouwizan genyen, sondaj aswè Ongan Alisma: They have people who do this oil especially. He takes the oil—the way he composes it—he places it in a small boiler and then he puts hands on it and lights it. He sleeps in front of it. It takes from seven to seventeen days for him to guide it. As if he was doing penance for this loss that occured. Ben: On this loss that occured? Ongan Alisma: For him to find justice! Ben: That can take seventeen days. Okay, he has to show great dedication to get results. Ongan Alisma: When you’re finished you’ll expel it in a river that’s descending and the water will search and find justice. Ben: For you, how do you see Vodou evolving in the world? Where is it going? Where does it come from? Is it growing? Is it decreasing? How do you see the tradition? Ongan Alisma: The evolution of Vodou is growing everyday. Each day it grows more. It’s growing higher and it’s making pathways. Ben: If you compare the era of when you were a child with today in Haiti—I ask this because a lot of researchers say Protestantism is big in Haiti and there are some people who think there are less Vodouists. No one has done a survey. So people are estimating. Ongan Alisma: It’s something I would like to happen. I believe that Vodouists win morning surveys, Vodouists win afternoon surveys, Vodouists win 25 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Vodouwizan genyen. Kiyès ki Pwotestan? Pa bliye Vodou se kilti nou e relijyon nou an menm tan. Paske pa bliye nou se desandan Afriken. Nou ne nan Vodou. Pwotestan se yon bagay ki vin antre an dizwitsankenz. Blan an pote ba nou. Yo ba nou ble pou nou aksepte l. Yo ba nou sinistre [food aid] pou nou aksepte l. Yo ba nou pèpè pou nou aksepte l. Alò ou kwè ke pèsonn ka retire san w pou yo di w met dlo ranplase l? Non, mwen bezwen dlo w la pou m sèvi. Mwen bezwen dlo w la pou m bwè. Mwen oblije pran l nan men w. Men, m p ap janm retire san m vrèman. M a lave men m avèk li. M a lave vizaj mwen avèk li. Mwen gen dwa itilize l pou mwen benyen paske m bezwen l. Asavwa ke m bezwen l, pou m jwenn li nan men w m oblije koube anba w de tout sa ke pou di m yo. M aksepte yo pou mwen jwenn dlo sa pou m sèvi asavwa ke kò a pa ka viv san li menm. Men san m nan ap rete a mwen menm. Ositou ke m retire san sèke m pa viv ankò. M pa nan lavi ankò. Vodou a se san nou. Ben: Nan sans sa, nan anpil legliz Pwotestan ou gen fo konvèti. Se sa w ap di? Ongan Alisma: Lè w ap pale de fo konvèti, mo sa m pa t ap di l non. Se ou ki di li. Fo konvèti pa a sanpousan. De menm pastè a k ap anrichi tèt li andedan legliz la—osito ke l gen yon maladi ki deplase konpetans li—li mache kay tout doktè pa ka jwenn solisyon pou li. L ap di manman m, gade, fò m viv. Ou konprann? Yon bon jou a minwi yo pran li, y al chèche solisyon. Yo kase fèy kouvri sa. Sa rete la. evening surveys Vodouists. Who are Protestants? Do not forget Vodou is our culture and our religion at the same time. Don’t forget we are descendents of Africans. We’re born in Vodou. Protestantism is something that entered in eighteen fifteen. The foreigners brought it to us. They gave us food aid so we could accept it. They gave us used clothes so we could accept it. Thus do you believe that anyone could remove your blood and tell you to replace it with water? No, I need your water to use. I need your water to drink. I’m obliged to take to from you. But, I will never really remove my blood. I’ll wash my hands with the water. I wash my face with it. I have the right to use it to shower because I need it. Seeing as how I need it, to get it from you I have to bow down to all that you tell me. I accept them so I can have this water to use because the body cannot live without it. But, my blood will stay with me. The minute I remove my blood I will stop living. I will no longer be alive. Vodou is our blood. Ben: In that sense, in a lot of Protestant churches you have false converts. Is that what you’re saying? Ongan Alisma: When you say false convert, I wouldn’t say that. You’re the one who said it. False converts are not at a hundred percent. The same pastor who’s enriching himself in the church— the minute he has an illness that surpasses his capabilities—he visits all the doctors and can’t find a solution. He’ll say my mother, look, I have to live. Do you understand? One day at midnight they take him, they go in search of a solution. They break leaves and cover this. This stays hidden. 26 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Li pral chèche èd Vodouwizan, on ongan ? Ongan Alisma: Se menm jan an tou w ap jwenn anpil moun ki swadizan Vodouwizan. Men ki pa Vodouwizan pwòp, ki Vodouwizan sal; ki fè dè zak, dè krim malonèt e k ap chèche kouvèti tou k al konvèti. Osito ke yo aksepte Jezi kòm sovè yo, peche yo padone. Se sa fè w ap wè andedan legliz se anpil ti gran moun ki genyen. Majorite andan legliz se granmoun. Ben: Sa mwen wè nan Fèsbouk, pa egzanp, m wè gen anpil moun ki vin zanmi avèk mwen. Moun mwen pa konnen. Se moun mwen kontre sou li epi mwen wè ke yo pratike Vodou. Se moun ki pa soti Ayiti. Se moun ki pa soti Lafrik, sa kapab blan ameriken ki vin kòmanse bati peristil yo. Yo vin pran fòmansyon avèk manbo e ongan Ayiti epi yo retounen avèk yon grad nòmal ongan oubyen manbo epi yo kòmanse bati sosyete pa yo. Ou gade tout foto yo mete sou Fèsbouk, yo chaje avèk blan, prèske majorite moun blan. Ou gen peristil nan Filadèlfi ki swasanndi pousan blan. Manbo a blan. Kòm Ayisyen, kijan w wè transfòmasyon epi chanjman kiltirèl rasyal k ap fèt kounye a? Ongan Alisma: Sa se on kesyon trè senp. Vodou pa di Ayisyen. Vodou di lemond. Sèlman l gen dwa devlope lakay Ayisyen plis ke lòt peyi yo. Se de menm ou wè foutbòl la evolye andedan Brezil plis ke Etazini: andedan Ajantin plis ke a Pari. Ebyen ou bezwen prepare pitit ou kounye a pou l vin soti on bon jwè Ben: He’ll find the help of a Vodouwist, an ongan? Ongan Alisma: Similarly you’ll find a lot of people who are so-called Vodouists. But they aren’t proper Vodouists, who are dirty Vodouists; who commit certain acts, certain unkind crimes and who are looking to convert, who go and convert. The moment they accept Jesus as their savior, their sins are forgiven. That’s why you’ll see a lot of little old people inside of the church. The majority in the church are old people. Ben: I see on Facebook, for example, there are a lot of people who become friends with me. People I don’t know. They are people I come across and I see that they practice Vodou. They are people who don’t come from Haiti. They are people who don’t come from Africa; this could be white Americans who start to build peristil. They are formed by manbo or ongan in Haiti and they return with a normal ongan or manbo rank and they start to build their own societies. When you look at all the pictures they put on Facebook, they’re filled with whites. Almost the majority of the people are white. There are peristil in Philadelphia that are seventy percent white. The manbo is white. As a Haitian, how do you see the transformation and cultural-racial change that’s currently happening? Ongan Alisma: This is a very simple question. Vodou does not mean Haitian. Vodou means the world. Only it is developed in the home of Haitians more than the other countries. It’s the same as when you see soccer evolving more in Brazil than in the United States: inside of Argentina more than Paris. Well you 27 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant foutbòl epi w voye li al etidye foutbòl an Ajantin, o Brezil epi li retounen on bon foutbòlè. De menm, etranje a, blan an gen dwa vle soti on bon ongan, on bon manbo li deplase l al nan baz. Kilti Vodou a se an Ayiti l al pran konesans lan epi li vin mete l an aplikasyon nan peyi a epi pou l epapiye patou pou l fè travay Ginen an. Sonje mwen di w, Ginen an rele moun ke l vle. Ginen an pa konn afè nwa, afè ras blan, ras jòn. Pa gen ras nan Vodou a. Vodou a se nou tout ki se Vodou. Kèlkeswa moun nan, Vodou a nan somèy, depi yo bat tanbou fòl souke kò l. Li mèt pa konnen. Plizyè fwa m wè Vodou a ap bat, m wè w souke ti tèt ou. Ou gen dwa pa danse; ou konprann? Gen de jou w ap danse paske w se Vodouwizan. Ben: Peristil blan sa yo, y ap pwodwi ongan tou men kounye a la se yon moun, petèt, ki pa metrize kreyòl èske sa enpòtan pou yon ongan blan ki pral pwodwi nouvo ongan? Ki baz li genyen? Se jis koneksyon avèk lespri? Ongan Alisma: Pa bliye mwen di w Vodou a pa gen on kesyon de nasyon, de ras. Pa gen on kesyon de lang. Vodou a pa gen kontèks sa. Kèlkeswa langaj ou, ou se yon Vodouwizan. E w ap pèfòme antanke Vodouwizan e lè lwa a vin sou ou w ap kominike a kèlkeswa nasyon ke ou vle. Pa gen on kesyon de lang. Ben: Èske ou panse pifò ongan wè l menm jan avèk ou oubyen èske gen need to prepare your child now so he can become a good soccer player and you’ll send him to study soccer in Argentina, Brazil and he’ll return a good soccer player. The same: the foreigner, the foreigner can want to become a good ongan, a good manbo and he or she goes to the base. He goes to learn the Vodou culture in Haiti and he’ll apply it in the country and it will spread all over so he or she can do Ginen’s work. Remeber I told you, Ginen calls whomever it wants. Ginen doesn’t know this business of black, business of white race, yellow race. There is no race in Vodou. We are all Vodou. Whoever the person, Vodou is in sleep, if they beat the drum he has to shake his body even if he doesn’t know. Multiple times the Vodou is beating I see you shake your head a little. You may not danse; you understand? There are days you danse because you are a Vodouist. Ben: The peristil of these foreigners, they’re producing ongan also but then it’s a person, perhaps, who hasn’t mastered Creole. Is that important for a foreign ongan who’s producing new ongan? What is the basis? Is it just connecting with spirits? Ongan Alisma: Don’t forget I told you Vodou has no question of nations, of race. There is no question of language. Vodou does not have this perspective. No matter your language, you are a Vodouist. And, you’re performing as a Vodouist and when the lwa come to you, you’ll communicate with whichever nation you want. There is no question of language. Ben: Do you think that most ongan see it the same way you do or are there ongan 28 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ongan ki gen yon lespri pito rasyal, lengwistik? Ongan Alisma: Mwen rete kwè majorite ongan, manbo yo wè l menm jan avèk mwen. Se pa yon langaj m ap fòme ; se yon bagay ke m leve jwenn. Sistèm nan pa gen rasis ladan l. Se on sistèm klin e transparan. Se sa k fè, w ap wè lè y ap pale yo pale de lapirite. W ap wè lè w vin nan seremoni an ou wè tout moun se tou de blan. Ki vle di l ap pi, transparan. Pa gen kachotri la. Se sa ou gen dwa andedan legliz Pwotestan, ou gen dwa genyen on chwa pa w ou pa kapab devwale. Fò l rete kache. Andedan Vodou eksprime w. Kiyès ou ye? Paske, nou gen plas pou tout sektè. Pòt nou ouvri pou tout san distenge. Ben: Gen anpil moun, pa egzanp Ameriken ki soti kilti isit, depi yo gade nan Vodou yo pa wè anpil liv sakre jiska prezan. Tankou yo pral di, nou menm nou gen Koran, nou gen Bib la oubyen nou gen liv sakre sa. Yo pral di se liv sa, tankou Bib la oubyen Koran an, k gen tout règ moralite epi yo pale de dis lòd Bondye epi mwen rete sèten Vodou gen bon jan apresyason epi pèspèktif sou moralite, sou konpòtman yon moun. Kijan Vodou kominike vizyon moralite li nan mitan Vodouwizan yo? Ongan Alisma: Lè w pale de dis kòmandman, se pa pou Levanjil sèlman. Dis kòmandman an se pou tout moun k ap viv sou planèt sa, kèlkeswa relijyon an. Ou dwe respekte dis kòmandman asavwa ke w ka etidye, w ka pale, w ka wè, w ka tande, w ka manje. Respekte dis kòmandman. Li pa pou on sektè. On who have a rather racial, linguistic way of thinking? Ongan Alisma: I believe that the majority of ongan, manbo see it the same way I do. It’s not a language I’m forming; it’s something I grew up knowing. The system has no racism in it. It’s a clean and transparent system. That’s why when they are speaking you’ll see that they speak of purity. You’ll see that when you come to the ceremony you see all the people are in white. Which means it’ll be pure and transparent. There’s no secrecy. You could be in the Protestant church and you have a choice of your own you can’t reveal. It has to remain hidden. Inside of Vodou, express yourself. Who are you? Because, we have room for all sectors. Ben: There are a lot of people, for example Americans who come from the culture here, when they look at Vodou they don’t see a sacred book to this day. For instance, they will say, we ourselves have the Qur’an, we have the Bible or we have this sacred book. They will say it’s this book, like the Bible or the Qur’an, that has all the moral rules and they speak of the Ten Commandments of God. I am sure that Vodou has a good appreciation and perspective on morality, on the behavior of a person. How does Vodou communicate its moral vision amidst the Vodouists? Ongan Alisma: When you speak of the Ten Commandments, it’s not only for the Evangelists. The Ten Commandments are for everyone living on this planet, whatever the religion. You are supposed to respect the Ten Commandments if you can study, if you can speak, if you can see, if you can hear, if you can eat. 29 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant sektè gen dwa vle kidnap li pou l di sa se nan Bib la l sòti. Non! Se chèchè ki jwenn li menm jan w ap vin chita avèk mwen pou w jwenn kèlkechoz, sèke l te la. Li apati a nou tout. Si l se byen, li se byen pa nou tout. Li p ap lage nou a destinasyon de li menm e nou tout gen chwa pa nou pou nou eksprime lafwa nou sou kèlkeswa fòm ke nou vle asavwa ke l ap bon pou nou. Sèke nou fè sa k ap bon pou nou. M retounen avèk kesyon an pou moralite. Vodou a pa aksepte imoral. Vodou a aksepte respè, linyon, pwogrè, lapè. Nou vle lapè etabli kay chak moun. Nou vle tout moun ka onetete pou nou viv ansanm. Nou vle respè youn pou lòt depi kòmanse ti bebe en jouk a rive granmoun sanvennsetan an. Se travay sa n ap fè, preche labòn nouvèl, pote gerizon bay maladi, pote solisyon nan pwoblèm yo. Ede w solisyone pwoblèm ou an ansanm pou w sòti nan sikonstans w ap viv ki pèmèt strès, ki pèmèt cheve w ap grennen. Ou pa ka viv. Ou vin pèdi gwosè w. Ou vin malatris. Se travay sa pou n fè—aprann moun viv ansanm. Se sa k fè lè w vin la w ap wè kòman nou viv ansanm. Lè m di w nou viv ansanm se tout nasyon. Sosyete Linto pa genyen sèlman Ayisyen. Li gen Ameriken. Li gen Jamoken. Li genyen Fransè. Li genyen Italyen. Li genyen Brezilyen. Li gen Spanich ki soti Kiba ki andedan sosyete a. Sèke nou tout mete tèt nou ansanm. Nou se moun; nou dwe viv ansanm. Se sa Ginen an bezwen. Inite! Ben: Sa eksplike on seri moun. Youn nan egzanp ki vini nan lespri m jounen jodi a se David Brooks paske se yon moun ki te Respect the Ten Commandments. It’s not for one sector. A sector can want to kidnap it to say this comes from the Bible. No! Researchers found it the same way you’re sitting here with me to find certain things; it’s here. It’s a part of us all. If it’s good, it’s good for us all. It won’t release us to its destination and we all have a choice to express our faith in any form we want as long as it’s good for us. That we do what is good for us. I return to the question of morality. Vodou does not accept immorality. Vodou accepts respect, union, progress, and peace. We want peace to be established in the home of everyone. We want everyone to be honest so we can live together. We want respect for one another starting from little babies to the one hundred and twenty seven year old person. This is the work we’re doing, preaching the good news, bringing remedies to the sick, bringing solutions to problems. We help you solve your problems together so you can leave your circumstances of living that allows for stress: that makes your hair fall out. You can’t live. You have lost weight. You’ve become malnourished. This is the work we have to do—teach people to live together. This is why when you come here you’ll see that we live together. When I say we live together, it’s all nations. Société Linto does not only have Haitians. It has Americans. It has Jamaicans. It has French people. It has Italians. It has Brazilians. It has Spanish people from Cuba who are inside of the society. So we all put our heads together. We are people. We need to live together. This is what Ginen needs. Unity! Ben: That explains a series of people. One example that comes to mind today is David Brooks because he’s a person who 30 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ekri yon atik nan New York Times kote li akize Vodou. Se de jou aprè tranbleman d tè a. Li vini avèk yon atik ki di Vodou anti-pwogresis. Mwen konnen se pa vre. Ou konnen se pa vre men ki kote on moun ki pa konnen anyen sou Ayiti jwenn lide sa pou l mete nan New York Times, yon jounal ki pibliye nan yon milyon kopi ki anfliyanse on pakèt moun? Yo pa janm di sa sou Krisyanis. Ongan Alisma: Vodou a pa gen okenn gwo patwon dèyè l k ap finanse l, k ap epone l, k ap monopolize l. Se nou menm ti malere, malerèz yo k ap fè efò pou nou eksprime lafwa nou. Men Pwotestan an pa bliye se yon gwo bwa ki kreye l e l rete dèyè l pou l finanse l pou l pèmèt tout moun vin koube anba l. Si m te gen yon gwo bwa dèyè m tou osi ke on moun ki genyen on pozisyon èkstraòdinè ki kapab pouswiv kèlken a nenpòt kèl movèz enfòmasyon ke pou elanse, yo pa t ap fè l. Si Vodou anti-pwogresis kisa k kenbe peyi d’Ayiti? Kiyès ki travay tè yo? Kiyès ki abitan an? Kiyès ki gade kabrit, kochon, poul, kodèn, tout bèt yo? Kiyès ki plante diri, mayi, pitimi, pwa, yanm, bannann, tayo, malanga, patat, manyòk? Se pa Vodouwizan yo? Se Vodouwizan yo ki pou pran alakanpay pou pote lavi. Ti Ayiti ou wè k rete a, si se pa Vodou li pa la ankò. Lepli souvan depi nèg la al lekòl teyoloji, li fin pastè se yon sèl vizyon li gen nan tèt li se vin viv aletranje. wrote an article in the New York Times where he accused Vodou. It was two days after the earthquake. He wrote an article that said Vodou was anti- progressive. I know it’s not true. You know it’s not true but, where can a person who doesn’t know anything about Haiti find this idea to put in the New York Times: a newspaper that publishes a million copies that influences a bunch of people? They never say this about Christianity. Ongan Alisma: Vodou doesn’t have any big patrons behind it who are financing it, who are shouldering it, who are monopolizing it. It’s us the little poor guys and poor gals who are making an effort to express our faith. But, the Protestant can’t forget that it’s a great power that created it and it stayed behind it to finance it to allow everyone to bow down to it. If I had a great power behind me, too, as well as a person who has an extraordinary position that can pursue someone with whatever bad information that is thrown out, he wouldn’t do it. If Vodou is anti-progressive, what is maintaining the country of Haiti? Who works the land? Who are the peasants? Who watches the goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, all the animals? Who plants the rice, the corn, the millet, the beans, the yams, the plantains, the taro, the malanga, the potatoes, the yucca? Is it not the Vodouists? It’s the Vodouists who take the countryside in order to bring life. The little Haiti you see left, if not for Vodou it would no longer be here. For the most part as soon as the guy goes to theological school and ends up a pastor, he has one vision in his head: to come live abroad. 31 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Part III & IV Ben: Oke, mwen ta renmen kontinye avèk yon kesyon sou kisa lwa fè pou moun. Ou deja pale anpil sou pwoteksyon yo bay, gerizon yo pote bay moun, wòl yo genyen nan seremoni. Èske w kapab ajoute on lòt eksplikasyon sou sa yo fè pou moun yo? Ongan Alisma: Lwa fè anpil bagay pou moun ki kwè nan lwa yo. Yo fè tou pou moun ki pa kwè. Egzanp mwen sot di w, ou konn wè anpil moun ki malad ki ale lopital doktè pa wè anyen pou yo. Okontrè l voye yo vin chita lakay yo pou yo mouri, pou yo tann lamò yo epi lwa ba yo lavi. Kisa w panse ka fè sa? Ben: Mwen menm m ka enspire […] pou yo kreyatif si sa posib. Pa egzanp, yon atis. Ongan Alisma: Ou ka enspire moun pou yo tout bagay nan lemond. Lwa a fè sa. Lwa a kapab ede w sòti nan sikonstans terib. Ke w inosan ladan l: lwa a ka ede w sòti. Ben: Si w inosan, ou di? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Si w koupab? Ongan Alisma: Yo pa pran plezi nan sa. Ben: Gen moun ki konn di, pa egzanp lwa konn pini moun. Èske fenomèn sa egziste? Ongan Alisma: Se menm bagay mwen t Part III & IV Ben: Okay, I would like to continue with a question on what lwa do for people. You already spoke on the protection they give, the healing they bring to people, the role they have in the ceremony. Can you add another explanation about what they do for the people? Ongan Alisma: Lwa do a lot of things for people who believe in the lwa. They also do things for people who don’t believe. I just told you an example; you see the people who are sick, who go to hospital and doctors can’t help them. On the contrary he sends them home to sit and die, for them to wait for their death and the lwa give them life. What do you think can do that? Ben: Myself I would hope [....] for them to be creative if that’s possible. For example, an artist. Ongan Alisma: You can hope for people to be everything in the world. The lwa do that. The lwa can help you leave terrible circumstances. If you’re innocent in it: the lwa can help you leave it. Ben: If you’re innocent, you say? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: If you’re guilty? Ongan Alisma: They don’t take pleasure in that. Ben: There are people who say, for example, lwa sometimes punish people. Does this phenomenon exist? Ongan Alisma: It’s the same thing I was 32 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ap di w la, le di kòmandman an. Lepè, Lefis, e Lesentespri—Lesentespri se lwa yo. Ou wè kot lwa yo ye? Ou wè kote yo sòti? Dis kòmandman an ou dwe respekte l. Ou dwe l respè. Ou dwe koube anba l. Ou rekoveyi anba l. Osito ke ou pa obeyi anba l, sèke ou vyole lalwa. Osito ke w vyole lalwa, lwa a pa pran plezi nan sa. Li ka pini w pou w pa janm fè sa ankò. Pou on lòt pa l rekòmanse nan on chèz […]. Ben: Lè ou di obeyi anba l, sètadi obeyi anba lwa a? Sa sa a vle di? Ongan Alisma: Sa vle di sa ou dwe fè, ak sa ou pa dwe fè. Ou konnen mwen dwe tout moun respè. Se sa lwa a vle. M dwe tout moun respè. Lwa a pa aksepte pou m vin nan on seremoni la pou mwen pete tapaj pou m goumen. M dwe respekte sa. Lwa a pa gen dwa la, l ap pale. Nan moman l ap pèfòme se lè sa mwen menm m ap anmède on lòt moun. Pou m ap distèb on lòt moun ki vle aprann; mwen menm, m pa sou sa epi m ap anmède on lòt. Lwa a pa pran plezi nan sa. Lwa a pa aksepte tou pou w pran pitit entèl l ap redi, podyab, pou l wè— paske an Ayiti tout pitit se byen pòv malere e malerèz osi—ou voye timoun ou lekòl pou l sòti demen, si Dye vle. Alò ou konnnen menm si w te fè vi w, ou te fè trant an, karant an, w ap manje mizè men osito timoun ou an vin nan on bon pozisyon sèke mizè w fini. Sa a pral soulaje mizè w. Pou wè on moun pran l li tiye l sanzatann. Ou fè apèl avèk lwa ke w kwè ladan l lan, fò l ba w jistis. Tout bagay sa yo lwa a fè pou ou olye ke w t al pran on zam ou fizye moun nan w konnen an epi pou w t al nan prizon. telling you, the Ten Commandments. The Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost—the Holy Ghost is the lwa. Do you see where the lwa are? Do you see where they come from? You need to respect the Ten Commandments. You owe it respect. You need to bow down to it. You cower beneath it. The moment you don’t obey it, it’s like you violate the law. The moment you violate the law, the lwa don’t take pleasure in that. It can punish you so you never do that again. For another of it’s own to restart in a chair [...]. Ben: When you say obey it, that is to say obey the lwa? What does that mean? Ongan Alisma: That means what you should and shouldn’t do. You know I owe everyone respect. That is what the lwa wants. I owe everyone respect. The lwa won’t accept for me to come in a ceremony to start a brawl and to fight. I need to respect that. The lwa don’t have a right here, he will speak. In the moment he’s performing, that’s when I’m bothering another person; disturbing someone else who wants to learn; I am not paying attention to that but i’m bothering another person. The lwa won’t take pleasure in that. The lwa also don’t accept for you to take someone’s child he’s struggling, poor thing to see— because in Haiti all children are blessings to the poor—you send your child to school for him to come out in the future, if God is willing (well you know that even if you spend your life; if you spend thirty, forty years suffering, the moment your child is in a good position, it’s like your suffering is over and to see someone take him and suddenly kill him. You call upon the lwa you believe in, it has to give you justice. The lwa do all of 33 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Sèke w vin gen de pèn alafwa. Men lwa a li menm li pa fè l konsa. Li al vanje pou ou pito. Li ba w jistis. Lwa a fè pou ou. Se menm jan w gen dwa ap fè on biznis la epi w fè demann a lwa a pou biznis lan pwogrese. Se konsa w gade ou wè biznis lan ap pwogrese. Sèlman lwa a ba w kondisyon pa l. Ou aksepte pou mwen fè biznis lan pwogrese pou ou pa vann moun yo bagay yo pri yo pa vo. Pa vann moun yo bagay ki pa bon. Lè moun yo vin kote w pa ekspilse [expulse] yo. Ou dwe pran ka yo an konsiderasyon. Ou dwe apresye kliyan k ap vin lakay on wa. Ou dwe kenbe biznis lan pwòp pou l pa genyen okenn imidite. Tout tan w ap fè tout bagay sa yo lwa a mande w la sèke w ap byen mennen. Osito ke w wè w kòmanse fè lajan, ou wè boutèy dlo sa ki te kote on dola kounye a w wè se pou w vann li twa dola. Ou vin pa koube anba kòmandman lwa a. Lwa a vire do l. Ben: Kijan ou pral jwenn enstriksyon lwa konsa? Èske se ongan ki pral entèprete mesaj lwa a oubyen w ap jwenn li nan dòmi? Ongan Alisma: Sa depan, ou gen dwa se kote ongan ou vini ou vin rele on lwa epi pou w prezante l pwojè ke w vle fè a pou l ede w. Se konsa tou ou gen dwa pran balèn ou, ou pran lwil ou, ou fè demann ou avèk lwa a epi l vin ba ou tout enstriksyon sa yo nan revelasyon nan rèv ou. Ben: Si w pran pa egzanp san moun ki these things for you; rather than you take a gun for you to shoot the person you know and for you to go to prison. It’s like you have two woes at one time. But, the lwa do not do it this way. It prefers to avenge for you. It gives you justice. The lwa do for you. Similarly you could be conducting a business and you make a request of the lwa for the business to progress. You’ll see the business progressing. Only, the lwa will give you its conditions. If you accept my help to progress the business for you, don’t sell people the items for prices they aren’t worth. Don’t sell the people damaged things. When the people come to you don’t expel them. You have to take care of their needs. You need to appreciate the clients who come to you. You need to keep the business clean so it doesn’t have any moisture. All the while you’re doing all these things the lwa ask you, you will do well. The moment you see you’re making money, you see the bottle of water that cost a dollar now you see you have to sell it for three dollars. You no longer bow down to the the commandment of the lwa. The lwa will turn its back. Ben: How will you find those types of instructions of the lwa? Is it the ongan who’ll interpret the message of the lwa or will you get it in sleep? Ongan Alisma: That depends, it could be that you came to the ongan to call on a lwa and to present the project you want to do for it to help you. Similarly you can take your candle, you take your oil, you make a request of the lwa and it gives you all these instructions in revelations in your dreams. Ben: If you take for example the one 34 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant pral vini konsilte avèk ou nan biwo pa ou a, èske w kapab di nou youn nan rezon prensipal ki fè yo vin konsilte avèk ou menm ? Ongan Alisma: Rezon prensipal ki koz kèlke moun konsilte lwa lakay mwen, pafwa moun nan konn genyen malad doktè pa wè anyen. Pafwa moun nan konn pèdi travay li. Se espwa ti travay la l te genyen pou l peye bil li e gen on bòs ki apenn monte nan travay la, bòs la voye l ale. Moun yo konn konsilte mwen pou jan de ka sa yo epi mwen ede yo pou yo retounen nan travay la. Konsa tou, w konn wè gen fwaye tou ki kraze. Madanm ki gen pwoblèm a mesye; mesye gen pwoblèm a madanm. Mesye a ta toujou renmen rete a madanm nan men madanm nan gen on lòt moun k ap jwe nan tèt li e k koz li pa vle rete. Mesye a osi: li vin kote w, ou rele lwa a pou li. Lwa a al gade èske se pa mizè mesye sa t ap fè dam nan pase ki koz dam nan pa vle rete ankò. Èske l viv a dam nan byen? Yo rele sa jijman spiritwèl. Lè jijman sa fin fèt yo wè oke mesye a t ap trete dam nan byen e dam nan t ap toujou renmen rete a mari l men li gen on lòt moun k ap jwe nan tèt li. Lwa ede mari sa retounen a madanm nan, ede madanm nan tou retounen avèk mesye. Pafwa tou moun nan konn nan on travay depi lontan l ap travay nan pozisyon l ye a. Gen on lòt moun ki vin nan menm pozisyon an se li menm ki antrene moun nan, aprann moun nan travay la. Aprè twa mwa, li menm li t ap travay di dola lè, yo monte moun nan kenz dola oubyen yo monte moun nan douz dola epi li menm li toujou rete a di dola. Li gen dwa vin kote mwen pou mwen ede l, rele lwa pou li. Lwa ede l pou yo mete l a kenz dola tou. Lwa al touche kè bòs la epi l fè l ba l rez tou. Lwa a fè dòt e dòt bagay toujou. hundred people who consult with you in your office, can you tell us a principal reason that makes them come to consult with you? Ongan Alisma: The principal reason that causes people to consult lwa at my house is because at times they have an illness and doctors don’t see anything. At times the person could have lost their job. He had the hope of the little work to pay his bills and there’s a boss that has just started at the job and the boss let him go. The people consult me for these types of cases and I help them return to the job. Similarly, you can see also that there are marriages that are destroyed. Women who have problems with men; men who have problems with women. The man would always like to stay with the woman but the woman has another person who’s playing in her head that causes her not stay. The man also: he comes to you and you call the lwa for him. The lwa looks to see if this man was mistreating the woman to cause her not to want to stay. Does he live well with the woman? They call that spiritual judgement. When this judgment is finished they see, okay, the man was treating the woman well and the woman would always like to stay with her husband but she has another person playing with her head. The lwa help this husband return with the wife, helps the wife also return with the man. Also at times the person could be at a job for a long time working in the same position. There’s another person who comes to the same position and it’s him who trains this person, teaches the person the job. After three months, he was working ten dollars an hour, they raise the person to fifteen dollars or they raise the person to twelve dollars and he himself stays at 35 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Si yon moun vini konsilte li bezwen yon sèvis konsa—ogmantasyon, li bezwen ansyen mennaj li oubyen, li vle rete avèk madanm li oubyen, kèlkeswa sitiyasyon an— si lwa di li pa vle ede èske ou pral di moun nan m pa kapab ede w? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Gen fenomèn konsa? Gen moman kote ou konnen lwa p ap ede moun nan epi ou bezwen voye moun nan ale? Ongan Alisma: Sosyete lakay nou se konsa l fonksyone menm. Depi lwa a pa aksepte l di w ou pa merite travay ou mande a, yo voye w ale. Sèke w pa kalifye pou li. Ben: Depi ou di ou dakò, ou si e sèten sa lwa a pwomèt li pral fè a pral pase? Pa gen moun ki retounen di bon m pa jwenn ogmantasyon an? Ongan Alisma: M pa di ou p ap jwenn non men, de tranteyin an m poko jwenn sa. Se sa k fè mwen fè ongan an ouvèt. Se sa fè m pa pè pou m fè l lakay mwen, kote m abite a. M pa pè. W ap wè tout machin mwen, vit yo klè. Tout kote m pase tout moun rekonèt mwen. Mwen kwè nan lwa yo, sa yo fè yo paske sa m viv deja yo, yo bon. ten dollars. He can come to me so I can help him, call the lwa for him. The lwa help him so they can put him at fifteen dollars also. The lwa go and touch the heart of the boss and make him give him a raise, too. The lwa do more and more things still. Ben: If a person comes to consult and he needs a service like that— a raise, he needs an old girlfriend or, he wants to stay with his wife or, whatever the situation—if the lwa say they don’t want to help are you going to tell the person you can’t help them? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: There are such phenomena? Are there moments where you know the lwa won’t help the person and you need to send the person away? Ongan Alisma: That is exactly how societies function in our understanding. If the lwa don’t accept it and it says you don’t deserve the work you ask for, they send you away. It’s because you don’t qualify for it. Ben: If you say yes you agree, are you sure and certain what the lwa promises, it will make sure that it happen? There aren’t people who come back and say, well, I didn’t get a raise? Ongan Alisma: I’m not saying you won’t find any, but, in thirty one years I haven’t found that. That’s why I am an open ongan. That’s why I’m not afraid to do it in my house, where I live. I’m not afraid. You’ll see the windows of all my cars are clear. Everywhere I go, everyone recognizes me. I believe in the lwa, in what they do because of what I’ve 36 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Se vre ou gen on onfò nan kay ou. Èske sa se yon sitiyasyon ki nòmal nan kilti Vodou a? Èske li tipik mete onfò lakay ongan oubyen èske gen lòt ki pito mete sa on lòt kote? Ongan Alisma: Si w pa gen konfyans nan lwa anvèr de eksperyans ke w fè avèk li deja ou pa oblije fè sa paske yo ka vide w atè a nenpòt moman. Lè moun nan fin depanse lajan l, li pa reyisi sa l bezwen an epi l wè pwoblèm nan nan kò l toujou li p ap vle gade w konsa. Men lè l pa konn kay ou, li ka difisil pou l jwenn ou. Ben: Ou pran on ongan mwen konnen andeyò an Ayiti ; li pale de desan senkanteyen li sèvi. Ou gade nan Max Beauvoir li pale de katsan senkanteyen lwa. Èske ou menm tou ou genyen yon nimewo delimite, yon nimewo espesifik ki se tout lwa ou sèvi oubyen èske ou gen on sistèm kote lwa antre, kèk lwa soti, ou jwenn nouvo lwa pafwa epi yo vini nan rèv? Kijan sa mache? Kijan yon ongan gen desan senkanteyen, yon lòt gen katsan senkanteyen. Ongan Alisma: Mwen pa kont sa ditou lè ke on ongan genyen on ansanm dè lwa ke l sèvi. Men mwen menm, m pa ka enimere kantite lwa ke mwen sèvi. Lakay mwen w ap wè mèt Michelet papa venteyen nasyon. Lè w ap analize venteyen nasyon, andedan on sèl nasyon ou gen dwa jwenn san en ou gen dwa jwenn sètsan en ou gen dwa jwenn milsèt san en. M pa kapab enimere [enumerate] kantite de lwa ke mwen sèvi. Sèlman mwen se yon ongan ki ouvè a tou lè lwa. Sèlman sosyete m genyen already lived, they’re good. Ben: It’s true you have an onfò in your house. Is this a normal occurence in Vodou? Is it typical to place onfò in the homes of ongan or are there others who’d prefer to place it somewhere else? Ongan Alisma: If you aren’t confident in the lwa relative to the experience you’ve had with it already, you don’t have to do this because they can throw you to the ground at any moment. When the person has spent their money and he doesn’t get what he wants and he sees that the problem is still with him he won’t take that lightly. Ben: Take an ongan I know in the Haitian countryside; he speaks of the two hundred fifty one lwa he serves. You look in Max Beauvoir, he speaks of four hundred and fifty one lwa. Do you, yourself, have a definite number, a specific number for all the lwa you serve or do you have a system where lwa enter, some lwa leave, you get new lwa sometimes and they come in dreams? How does an ongan have two hundred fifty one and another has four hundred fifty one. Ongan Alisma: I am not al all against an ongan having an assembly of lwa that he serves. But myself, I can’t enumerate the quantity of lwa I serve. In my house you’ll see boss Michelet is the father of twenty one nations. When you are analyzing twenty one nations, inside of a single nation you could find one hundred and one, you could find seven hundred and one, you could find one thousand seven hundred and one. I cannot enumerate on the number of lwa I serve. Except to say that I am an ongan who’s 37 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant yon lwa ki bòs li. Ben: Gen yon sèl lwa ki lwa prensipal sosyete a? Ongan Alisma: Non ki mèt, fonde sosyete a. Andan sosyete a w ap jwenn anpil lòt lwa paske lè w ap analize, Sosyete Linto a gen swasannsèt pitit. Analize w, swasannsèt pitit, bon, si chak pitit gen san en lwa oubyen kèlke ka gen twasan en, sa ta gen sètsan en. Lè ou gade, nou gen anpil ongan andan sosyete a, yo chaje anpil lwa. Lè m di w anpil lwa plis ke twasan konbyen, katsan konbyen. Si w jwenn yon ongan katsan en lwa ou byen katsan swasanndisèt lwa sèke l fè on ti pati andedan Sosyete Linto. Ben: Se on bagay ki fasine mwen anpil. Depi mwen gade sistèm Vodou mwen wè kijan li pwodwi anpil ongan pa rapò avèk yon sistèm tankou Katolik kote ou gen yon grenn pè epi yon lòt pè vini chak sizan. Pè yo bezwen monte anpil nivo nan lekòl pou yo vin pè. Yo manke sa. Men nan Vodou sanble se yon sistèm ki pwodwi anpil ongan, anpil manbo. Ki sa ou kapab di sou sa? Ki motivasyon w? Èske pou w gaye Vodou? Èske pou w bay tout moun chans pou yo vin nan nivo ki pi wo a, nivo ongan an? Ki eksplikasyon tout pwodiktivite ongan sa a? Ongan Alisma: Pwodiktivite ki koz andedan sistèm Vodou a genyen tout inisyason sa yo, moun yo ap swiv kilti yo open to all the lwa. Except to say my society has a lwa who’s the boss of it. Ben: Is there a single lwa who’s the principal lwa of the society? Ongan Alisma: The name who is the boss, founded the society. Inside of the society you’ll find a lot of other lwa because when you are analyzing, Société Linto has sixty seven initiates. Think about it, sixty seven initiates; well if each initiate has one hundred and one lwa or some could have three hundred and one, that [person] could have seven hundred and one. When you look, we have a lot of ongan inside the society, they have a lot of lwa. When I say a lot of lwa, more than three hundred and something, four hundred and something. If you find an ongan with four hundred and one lwa or four hundred and seventy seven lwa, it’s like he makes a small part inside Société Linto. Ben: It’s something that really fascinates me. When I look at the Vodou system I see that it produces a lot of ongan relative to a system like Catholicism where you have one single priest and another priest comes every six years.The priests have to attain a lot of levels in school before they become priests. They lack this. But, in Vodou it appears to be a system that produces a lot ongan, a lot of manbo. What can you say about this? What’s your motivation? Is it to spread Vodou? Is it to give everyone a chance to get to the highest level, the ongan level? What is the explanation for the productivty of these ongan. Ongan Alisma: The productivity that causes all these initiations inside the system of Vodou is that the people are 38 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ki se Vodou. Anpil ladan yo se andan Pwotestan yo sòti. Sa vle di yo te fè kenz an, vent an, trant an andedan Pwotestan. Yo t ap tande pawòl Bondye ki andedan Labib la. Men kounye a Ginen an di nou te la pou nou te aprann yo. Nou fin aprann yo, vin lakay nou. Yo retounen lakay yo andedan Vodou. Kounye a yo vin chita ti pòsyon sa yo pran andedan Pwotestan an yo fin konnen l kounye a gen on pwovèb an Ayisyen yo di chat konnen, rat konnen, barik mayi a rete la. M fin konn sa k lakay ou a, se pa anyen ki serye pase lakay mwen ban m al chita lakay mwen pou m viv. Ben: Konben ongan ou fòme ou menm? Ou di w gen swasannsèt pitit men yo pa tout ongan? Kèk se sèlman onsi? Ongan Alisma: Nan swasannsèt pitit, mwen genyen trèz ongan. Ben: Trèz, epi manbo? Ongan Alisma: Rès yo se manbo. Ben: Epi onsi ki pa ongan oubyen ki pa manbo... ? Ongan Alisma: Tout ongan se onsi. Ben: Men èske tout onsi ongan tou? Ongan Alisma: Tout ongan se onsi; tout manbo se onsi. Alò ou konnen gen klas. Ou gen dwa nan senp, sou pwen, ale nèt. Lè ou senp: ou antre nan sistèm nan, ou kòmanse aprann de sistèm nan, ou fin kòmanse konnen de sistèm nan, epi ou gen de tès pou w pase ki pou pèmèt ou following their culture. A lot of them come from Protestantism. That means they spent fifteen years, twenty years, thristy years in Protestantism. They were listening to the word of God which is in the Bible. But Ginen says we’re here to teach them. We get through teaching them, they come to our place. They return to their homes in Vodou. Then they come sit, the small portion they learned in Protestantism, they already know it, and now there’s a Haitian proverb: the cat knows, the rat knows; the barrel of corn stays undisturbed. I know what’s in your home, and it’s nothing more serious than what is in my house; so let me establish myself at home so I can live. Ben: How many ongan have you trained yourself? You say you have sixty seven initiates but they aren’t all ongan? Some are only onsi? Ongan Alisma: Of sixty seven initiates, I have thirteen ongan. Ben: Thirteen, and manbo? Ongan Alisma: The rest are manbo. Ben: And onsi who aren’t ongan or who aren’t manbo...? Ongan Alisma: All ongan are onsi. Ben: But, are all onsi also ongan? Ongan Alisma: All ongan are onsi; all manbo are onsi. Well, you know, there are classes. You could be a “simple” initiate, an “under the point” initiate, or all the way [ongan or manbo]. When you are simple: you enter into the system, you start learning the system, you start 39 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ret sou kwen epi gen de tès ankò pou w pase nan lekòl. Ou soti nan medòlskoul, ou fin fè on karyè nan medòlskoul, ou pral fè on karye nan ayskoul. Ou sot fè on karyè nan Ayskoul, ou pral antre nan inivèsite pou w fè on lòt karyè. Ben: Èske w ta di on moun ki senp, ki fè kanzo inisyason kanzo, li soti senp, èske se toujou ongan li ye? Ongan Alisma: Wi, se ongan li ye pase pa gen limit pou li. Li andedan peristil li lè l vle. Li antre andan onfò l lè l vle. Lè lwa ap pale li ka parèt, li salye lwa epi l chita. Pa gen pèsonn k a di l leve paske l se on ongan. Li fè chemen an. Li benefisye pasaj li deja. [15:57] Ben: Donk, li ka kenbe ason? Li kapab salye lwa? Ongan Alisma: Lè w sou pwen, ou pa ka salye lwa avèk ason men w ka kenbe balèn. Ou ka kenbe yon gode dlo. Nòmal pou pa kenbe ason pou nou kapab idantifye diferans ki genyen antre senp, sou pwen, e asogwe. Ben: Oke, se sèlman asogwe ki gen dwa kenbe ason an. Pou Vodou, ason an se pi gwo senbòl otorite? Ongan Alisma: Wi, pa etone on sou pwen [Yes, don’t be surprised if a sou pwen uses...] gen dwa kenbe ason tou nan peristil lakay li asavwa ke se lwa l sèvi a menm ke l ap salye. knowing the system and then, you have two tests to pass that will allow to attain “under the point” and then there are again two tests for you to pass in school. You come from middle school you finish a class in middle school, you’re going to do a class in high school. You finish the high school class, you’re going to enter university to do another class. Ben: Would you say people who are simple, who do the kanzo initiation, he leaves simple, is he still an ongan? Ongan Alisma: Yes, he’s an ongan because there are no limits for him. He’s inside of the peristil when he wants to be. He enters the onfò when he wants. When the lwa are speaking he can appear and greet the lwa and then sit down. There isn’t anyone who can tell him to get up because he is an ongan. He did the journey. He benefited from the passage already. Ben: So, he can use the ason? He can greet the lwa? Ongan Alisma: When you’re under the point you can’t greet the lwa with the ason but you can hold a candle. You can hold a cup of water. It’s normal not to be able to use the ason so we can tell the difference between simple, under the point, and asogwe. Ben: Okay, it’s only asogwe who have the right to hold the ason. For Vodou, the ason is the biggest symbol of authority? Ongan Alisma: Yes, don’t be surprised if an “under the point” uses the ason in his home peristil, seeing as how it’s his own lwa he serves that he’s greeting. 40 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Li ka fè on seremoni domestik avèk fanmi li. Li gen dwa kenbe ason nan kontèks sa? Ongan Alisma: An nou di nou genyen ongan Ben ki sou pwen andedan Sosyete Linto epi fèt Loko rive e se nan tèt li Loko toujou vini; se li Loko renmen. Nan moman sa ou ka ba l ason pou l salye Loko. Pa etone, si Loko vin sou li, Loko pran ason epi w pral di Loko pa kenbe ason an paske sèvitè w se sou pwen l ye. Ou pa gen dwa sa. Loko se on bòs. Se on gwo chèf. Ou pa gen pale devan l. Li ka fè sa l vle. Ben: Genyen moun ki leve nan Vodou, petèt yo pa fè Ongan. Yo pa kanzo men yo leve nan yon kilti Vodou epi tout fanmi yo fè l. Yo menm tou yo konnen yo soti nan fanmi ongan menm si yo pa sou pwen, yo pa senp, yo pa asogwe ofisyèlman ; nan sistèm ongan ou kapab pèmèt yo salye Loko si yo soti nan bon baz Vodou? Ongan Alisma: L ap salye Loko avèk on po dlo. Ou ka ba l on gòde dlo, on balèn pou l salye Loko men w pa oblije ba l ason an paske l pa konn regleman ason an. Ben: Èske ou gen lwa ki pale plis sou kisa ki regleman ason an? Ongan Alimsa: Non, paske lè ou genyen ason—nou pale de senp, de sou pwen, de asogwe. Asogwe a li se lè w fin pran dezyèm etap la ki di inivèsite sèke ou fin Ben: He can do a domestic ceremony with his family. Can he use the ason in that context? Ongan Alisma: Let us say we have ongan Ben who’s “under the point” in Société Linto and it’s Loko’s party and Loko always comes in his head; Loko likes him. In that moment you can give him the ason to greet Loko. Don’t be surprised if Loko comes on him, Loko takes the ason and you’re going to tell Loko he can’t hold the ason because the servant is “under the point.” You don’t have that right. Loko is a boss. He’s a big chief. You have no authority over him. He can do what he wants. Ben: There are people who are raised in Vodou, perhaps they aren’t ongan. They’re not kanzo but they were raised in a Vodou culture and their whole family does it. They themselves know that they come from ongan families even if they’re not under the point, simple, or officially asogwe; in the ongan system can you allow them to greet Loko if they are from a good Vodou base? Ongan Alisma: He’ll greet Loko with a pitcher of water. You can give him a cup of water, a candle for him to greet Loko but you don’t have to give him the ason because he does know the requirements of the ason. Ben: Do you have lwa who speak more on what the requirements of the ason are? Ongan Alisma: No, because when you have an ason—we speak of simple, of under the point, of asogwe. Asogwe is when you’ve finished taking the second 41 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant gradye inivèsite ou sòti avèk yon diploma. Lè w fin sòti avèk yon diploma, kounye a ou pral fè pratik. W al degaje w pou w pran bachlerye w pou al degaje w, ou remèt on doktoral. Sèke w aprann. Lè ke ou pa fè pasaj la, ou pa antre nan djèvo ou benefisye pasaj la nan on pakèt ki limite. Ben: Menm si w leve nan yon kay Vodouwizan? Ongan Alisma: Menm si w leve nan yon kay Vodouwizan. Men, pa pou otan ou se Vodouwizan epi presizeman se sa ou vle pou pitit ou. Sistèm Vodou a pa fonksyone konsa. Vodou a li menm li toujou ta renmen mwen se yon ongan pou piti mwen ta pastè, pou pitit mwen ta enjenyè, pou pitit mwen ta doktè, pou pitit mwen ta avoka, pou pitit mwen ta on lòt bagay—pou nou agrandi fonksyonman fanmi an. Ben: Sètadi ou kite timoun ou yo fè karyè yo vle? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Ou pa fòse yo? Ou pa egzije yo? Ou pa menm ankouraje yo? Ongan Alisma: Ditou! Ben: Men, an menm tan tou ou kapab kontre; pa egzanp, m kontre kèk ongan yo di, “m ta renmen pou pitit mwen swiv chemen mwen men li pa vle fè sa.” Gen kèk ongan ki kapab gen atidid sa. Se on kesyon pèsonèl? step which is the university and you finish and graduate and you leave with a diploma. When you leave with a diploma, now you’re going to practice. You try and get your bachelor and then you try to get a doctorate. So that you learn. When you don’t do the passage, you don’t enter into the djèvo, you experience the the passage with a bunch of limitations. Ben: Even if you were brought up in the home of a Vodouist? Ongan Alisma: Even if you are brought up in the home of a Vodouist. But, just because you’re a Vodouist doesn’t precisely mean that’s what you want for your child. The Vodou system doesn’t function like that. Vodou itself would always like for me to be an ongan, for my child to be a pastor, for my child to be an engineer, for my child to be a doctor, for my child to be a lawyer, for my child to be something else—so we can enlarge the functionality of the family. Ben: In other words you let your children do the careers they want? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: You don’t force them? You don’t require them? You don’t even encourage them? Ongan Alisma: Not at all! Ben: But, at the same time also you can encounter, for example, I encounter some ongan who say, “I would like for my child to follow in my path but he doesn’t want to do that.” There are some ongan who can have this attitude. Is it a personal matter? 42 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Mwen pa di sa mwen menm. M p ap janm di li. Chak moun gen chwa pa yo nan lavi. Mwen fè pitit la, mwen pa kapab fè opinyon l, desizyon l. Li ka fè sa l vle. Wòl mwen andedan Vodou a ke mwen kapab mande lwa a pou l bay pitit mwen an pwoteksyon pou mwen pou l pa tonbe avan lè l. Pitit mwen dwe fè chwa l, di pitit la, wi, se pou w ongan. Non li pa posib. Pitit mwen ou ka fè sa ke w vle. Si se pou ranplase m ta bezwen yon moun ranplase m, si se pou sa m t ap plis bezwen pitit mwen an vin on ongan, m gen anpil lòt pitit spiritwèl ki ka ranplase m. Sèke m pa gen pwoblèm. M gen dwa fòse pou pitit mwen an vin devni on ongan e poutan se pa chwa lwa yo. Men pitit spiritwèl mwen yo deja chwazi yo menm. Lwa a deja aksepte yo. Asavwa ke lwa aksepte yo poukisa m pral fòje on lòt pitit pou l vin sèvi lwa yo pandansetan ke lwa yo pa aksepte l ? Ben: Ban m poze kesyon an, petèt moun pral bezwen fè sa pou rezon eritaj, byen? Ongan Alisma: Se sa m ap di w. Eritaj byen, kondisyon mistik la pa gen sèlfich ladan l, pa gen on afè de byen pèsonèl. Se tout plèzi si mwen pa la ankò pou on pitit spiritwèl mwen jere sosyete m, jere peristil la. Li pa la ankò, pou on lòt pitit jere peristil la, jere sosyete l. Se byen lwa yo e lwa yo pou ou. Ben: Ou se ongan prensipal Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères men, ou gen plizyè ongan ki konn travay avèk ou, ki konn asiste seremoni, ki toujou tou prè onfò a. Èske nou gen wòl diferan nan sosyete a? Ongan Alisma: I don’t say this myself. I would never say it. Each person has their own choices in life. I had the child; I can’t make his opinions, his decisions. He can do what he wants. My role in Vodou is that I can ask the lwa to give my children protection for me so he doesn’t fall before his time. My children have the right to their own choices, I won’t tell the child, yes, you have to be an ongan. No it’s not possible. My child you can do what you want. If I needed someone to replace me, if this is why I would need my child to become an ongan, I have a lot of other spiritual children who can replace me. So I don’t have a problem. I could force my child to become an ongan and it’s not the choice of the lwa, however. But, my spiritual children are already chosen. The lwa have already accepted them. As long as the lwa accepts them why would I forge another child to come serve the lwa when the lwa don’t accept him? Ben: Let me ask the question, perhaps people want to do that for reasons of inheritance, wealth? Ongan Alisma: That’s what I’m telling you. The inheritance of wealth, the mystical condition is not selfish. There’s no concept of personal wealth. It’s my pleasure if i’m no longer here for my spiritual child to handle the peristil, the society. It’s the wealth of the lwa and the lwa are for you. Ben: You are the principal ongan of Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères but, you have multiple ongan who work with you, who assist at ceremonies, who are always close to the onfò. Do you have different roles in the society? 43 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Wi, mwen genyen Emanyèl Lwi ki se premye ongan soyete a. Mwen menm mwen se ongan konseyè, fondatè sosyete a. Gen on lòt ongan ki prezidan sosyete a. Gen on ongan ki trezòrye. Gen on ongan ki trezòrye adjwen. Gen on ongan ki sekretè jeneral. Gen on ongan ki sekretè adjwen sosyete a. Ben: Yo tout gen wòl pa yo byen defini? Ongan Alisma: Gen on ongan ki chèf egzekitif sosyete a. Yo antre mele. Lè m di w antre mele a gen ongan e manbo. Gen chèf de disiplin osi. Gen chèf de dyalòg osi. Lè mwen di chèf de dyalòg an nou di on manb andedan Vodou a gen dwa gen pwoblèm nan fwaye l, ilfoke l jwenn kèlke manb de dyalòg ki pou al chita nan fwaye a k pou mete lapè san ke l pa bezwen al chèche deyò yon konsolè. Ben: Èske ou pa jwenn ongan aspire pou yo fonde onfò pa yo? Tankou, anpil moun nan lòt relijyon yo gen misyonè yo voye pou fonde legliz oubyen pou yo mete mòske pou moun ki Mizilman. Èske ou menm tou, ou gen lòt ongan ki fondatè peristil? Yo gen yon vizyon plase oubyen mete ongan nan plizyè kote pou yo kapab fè travay an inite? Tankou Fort Lauderdale, li lwen, petèt on onfò ki asosye avèk Linto a ka bon la? Èske w gen aspirasyon sa? Ongan Alisma: Mwen genyen ongan ki konekte avèk nou ki se piti sosyete a Ongan Alisma: Yes, I have Emmanuel Louis who is the first ongan of the society. I, myself, am the consulting ongan, the founder of the society. There is another ongan who is the president of the society. There is an ongan who is the treasurer. There is an ongan who’s the deputy treasurer. There’s an ongan who’s the general secretary. There’s an ongan who’s the deputy secretary of the society. Ben: Do they each have well defined roles? Ongan Alisma: There’s an ongan who’s the executive chief of the society. They are intermingled. When I say intermingled, there are ongan and manbo. There are also officers of discipline. There are also communication officers. When I say communication officers, let’s say a member in Vodou has a problem in his marriage, he can find a member of communication who can go sit with them to establish peace, without him having to search for an outside consoler. Ben: Are there ongan who aspire to build their own onfò? For instance, a lot of people in other religions have missionaries they send to establish churches or to establish mosques for Muslim people. Do you also have other ongan who establish peristil? Do they have a vision to place ongan in multiple locations so that they can work in unity? For instance, Fort Lauderdale, it’s far, perhaps an onfò that is associated with Linto would be good there? Do you have these aspirations? Ongan Alisma: I have ongan who are connected with us, who are children of 44 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant andedan Nouyòk. Nou gen manbo andedan Kanada. Nou gen ongan andedan Òlando. Nou gen manbo andedan Fòtlodèdel. Nou gen manbo nan West Palm Beach. Nou gen on ongan an Ayiti. Nou genyen on ongan Owayo. Nou gen on manbo a Pari, on ongan a Pari. Ben: Moun sa yo toujou pral konsidere ou menm kòm yon papa? Ongan Alisma: Tout, m se papa spiritwèl yo. Ben: Tradisyon onfò sa mete kote yo enstale kò yo? Yo gen dwa trese nouvo tradisyon ladan l, oubyen ki libète yo genyen? Ongan Alisma: Yo ka fè sa ke yo vle nan onfò pa yo a asavwa ke yo respekte prensip disiplin lwa yo. Ben: Di mwen, sa ki pi difisil nan ongan an? Gen anpil chante ki pale sou difikilte yon ongan kapab genyen nan travay l ap fè. Ongan Alisma: Gen de maladi ki vin devan w. Depan de maladi a ou wè se on traji—difilkiti pou w jwenn solisyon an pote lakay li. Ou dwe jwenn li. Li di. Yon kouve kanzo se trè di. Ben: Yon kouve kanzo, sa sa ye? Ongan Alisma: Yon pwomosyon kanzo. Ben: Li difisil, tout travay li mande? Ongan Alisma: Vrèman fatigan malgre w gen anpil moun k ap ede w. the society in New York. We have manbo in Canada. We have ongan in Orlando. We have manbo in Fort Lauderdale. We have manbo in West Palm Beach. We have an ongan in Haiti. We have an ongan Ohio. We have an manbo in Paris, an ongan in Paris. Ben: Will this person always consider you a father? Ongan Alisma: All of them, I’m their spiritual father. Ben: The traditions of this onfò are in place where they establish themselves? Do they trace new traditions in it, or what liberty do they have? Ongan Alisma: They can do what they want in their own onfò as long as they respect the principle of the discipline of the lwa. Ben: Tell me, what is the most difficult part of being an ongan? There are a lot of songs that speak about the difficulties an ongan can have in the work he does. Ongan Alisma: There are some illnesses that come before you. Depending on the sick person, you see it’s a tragedy— it is difficult to find a solution for the person. You have to find it. It’s hard. A kanzo hatching is very difficult. Ben: A kanzo hatching, what is that? Ongan Alisma: A kanzo promotion. Ben: It’s difficult, all the work it requires? Ongan Alisma: It’s very difficult, despite having a lot of people helping you. 45 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Oke, paske se travay, sa rete. Ongan Alisma: Anhan! Li vrèman di. Non sèlman w jwenn anpil moun ap ede, e anpil moun tou ap travay pou lajan yo. Li toujou di toujou. Sèke li vrèman difisil, e fò l fèt. Se travay Ginen an. Si Ginen an di w al preche labòn nouvèl ou pa gen lechwa. Ou oblije preche labòn nouvèl paske se wòl pa w. Si w p al preche labònn nouvèl ki moun ki prale pou ou ? Wòch yo pa preche l pou ou. Pyebwa yo pa preche l pou ou. Dlo yo pa preche l pou ou. Bòn nouvèl pa nou se ouvri de men nou byen laj pou nou aksepte pitit yo k ap fè chemen lakay yo antre. Ben: Sa w pi renmen? Kisa ki ba w kouraj, ki ba ou anvi kontinye fè travay ongan? Ongan Alisma: Sa ki ban mwen anvi e ankouraje mwen se lè ke mwen fin pran tout tan mwen pou mwen fè fòmasyon yon pitit epi rekò pitit sa vin ap remèt mwen aprè. Sa fè m santi m viv. M santi m kontan tan mwen an pa t gaspiye pou granmesi. Kouraj mwen an pa t envèsti pou granmèsi. Travay la te bon. Sa ankouraje m pou m kontinye. Ben: Jan Vodou genyen enpak nan lavi yo? Ongan Alisma: Anhan paske lè w ap gade yon maladi vin lakay ou se sou kabann yo pote l epi w ap voye l al lakay li sou de pye l epi plita l ap retounen vin bò kote w pou l ap vin remèsye w. Sa fè m plezi. Ben: Pou ou menm ki kalite kontribisyon Ben: Okay, because it’s work, that remains. Ongan Alisma: Uh huh! It’s really hard. Not only do you have a lot of people helping you, a lot of people are working for their money too. So, it’s very difficult and it has to be done. It’s the Ginen’s work. If Ginen tells you to go preach the good news, you don’t have a choice. You are obliged to preach the good news because that is your role. If you don’t go preach the good news who will go for you? The rocks won’t preach for you. The waters won’t preach it for you. Our good news is to open our two hands real wide to accept our children who are on their way home. Ben: You like this the best? What gives you courage, gives you the desire to want to continue the work of an ongan? Ongan Alisma: What gives me desire and encourages me, is when an initiate I’ve spent all my time to form repays me afterwards with their record. That makes me feel alive. I feel content that my time was not needlessly wasted. My courage was not needlessly invested. The work was good. This encourages me to continue. Ben: In the way Vodou impacts their lives? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh, because when you’re looking at a sick person who’s come to you carried on a bed and you send them home on their two feet and later he returns to you to thank you. That pleases me. Ben: For you what kind of intellectual 46 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant onivo entelektyèl tankou liv ou kapab wè nan lavni w? Èske w ta renmen fè liv sou Vodou oubyen sèlman liv pou sosyete a? Ki wòl ou wè nan pibikasyon liv Vodouwizan chante oubyen lapriyè? Ongan Alisma: Mwen fè liv deja. Li rete andedan sosyete a. Se on liv de fòmasyon sosyete a. Lè ou gen on pitit w ap prepare l fò ke w ba li yon liv pou l kapab gade kòman bagay yo ye pou l aprann yo pou l mete yo an pratik epi pou w ba l yon tès pou w pèmèt li tonbe nan kategori li pral tonbe andedan sistèm nan. Nou pa pibliye liv men nou gen liv n ap travay sou yo la pou nou kapab pibliye. Ben: Pou w mete devan piblik la? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Ou panse sa kapab gen on wòl pozitif sou kijan etranje jije Vodou? Ongan Alisma: Jan etranje jije Vodou, liv sa ka montre yo sa w prevwa de Vodou a se pa vrè. Vodou a se yon mistè l ye. Si ou enterese aprann, ou dwe antre andedan n pou w vin aprann kèlke choz k ap bon pou avni w. Ben: Dapre sa ki nan lide m, pifò onfò p ap ofri liv edikatif bay moun ki pral fè kanzo. Ki kote ou vini avèk lide sa? Lè ou te vin ongan èske ou te gen liv tou nan men moun ki te fòme w? Ongan Alisma: Mwen pa t gen liv nan men moun ki te fòme mwen. Lè ke pou w inisye ou pa gen on liv. Sèke ou pa gen on contributions, like books, do you see in your life? Would you like to write books on Vodou or only books for the society? What is your role in the publication of Vodouist song books or prayers? Ongan Alisma: I’ve already written books. It stays in the society. It’s a book of training for the society. When you have children you’re preparing, you have to give him a book. So that he can see how the things are; so he can learn to put them in practice and then you’ll give him a test to allow him to fall into the category he’s going to fall into in the system. We don’t publish books but we have books we’re working on in order to publish. Ben: For you to place before the public? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: Do you think that can have a positive effect on how foreigners perceive Vodou? Ongan Alisma: The way foreigners judge Vodou, this book will show them that what they thought of Vodou is not true. Vodou is a mystery. If you’re interested in learning, you need to enter into it to learn a few things that will be beneficial for your future. Ben: According to what I know, most onfò don’t offer educational books to people who will undergo kanzo. Where did you come up with this idea? When you became an ongan did you also have books from the person who trained you? Ongan Alisma: I didn’t have books from the person who trained me. When you’re being initiated, you don’t have a book. So 47 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant mach a swiv men, lè ke w gen on mach a swiv travay la ale pi vit. Sa fasilite konesans. Ou kapte konesans ritwèl Ginen an pi vit. Sa pèmèt ou vanse pi vit andedan sistèm nan. Se sa k fè w ap wè m gen dwa fin kanzo on pitit la aprè twa kat senk si mwa li ka fè kanzo pa l li menm paske l deja prepare. Tout sa l manke, l ap wè andedan liv li a. Ben: Lè ou di fòme on kanzo e sa pran si mwa nou konnen se seremoni antre kanzo avèk leve kanzo se yon semèn. Men dapre sa mwen detekte nan sa ou di an reyalite se yon fòmasyon ki pi gran pase sa. Se tout on si mwa, se ennan etid pou w pèmèt moun sa vin kandida kanzo. Donk, se pa jis on semèn? Gen anpil tan preparasyon pou moun nan fèt. Ongan Alisma: Anhan! Si w pran moun nan mwen de on semèn ou mete andan djèvo a, se yon mechanste. Ben: Poukisa, paske li pa prepare? Ongan Alisma: Li pa prepare. Ou pa ede l anrichi konesans li. Se pou w aprann li de sistèm nan. Ben: Menm avan li antre nan djèvo a? Ongan Alisma: Avan menm. Ben: Pou l konnen sa li pral fè? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Pou w ongan menm, konbyen tan you don’t have steps to follow but, when you have steps to follow the work goes by much faster. This facilitates knowledge. You grasp the knowledge of the Ginen rituals much faster. This allows you to advance much faster in the system. That’s why you’ll see I’ll finish promoting a child and after three, four, five, six months he can do his own kanzo promotions because he’s already prepared. Anything he’s missing, he’ll find in the book. Ben: When you say training a kanzo and that takes six months we know the kanzo entry and kanzo completion ceremonies take one week. But, according to what I detect in what you’re saying, in reality it’s training that takes longer than that. It’s six months; it’s one year of study to permit this person to become a kanzo candidate. So, is it not just one week? There’s a lot of time for preparation for the person to do? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh! If you take the person and in less than a week you place them in the djèvo, it’s a cruelty. Ben: Why, because he isn’t ready? Ongan Alisma: He is not ready. You didn’t help him enrich his knowledge. You have to teach him of the system. Ben: Even before he enters into the djèvo? Ongan Alisma: Even before! Ben: So he can know what to do? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: For you to even be an ongan, how 48 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ou panse etranje kòm mwen, si mwen vle vin ongan, si lwa yo rele m pou m fè sa, konbyen tan sa kapab pran yon moun ki pa leve nan kreyòl, ki pa leve nan sistèm Vodou a? Ongan Alisma: Li depan de jan ke w aprann. Li kapab pran ou katran, sètan, dizan, disètan, ventan. Tou depan de jan ke w aprann paske gen moun ki aprann vit; gen moun ki aprann dousman. Ben: Youn nan travay ongan yo se evalye ki kote moun nan ye sou chemen konesans lan? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Avèk tès? Ongan Alisma: Anhan! Ben: Se tès oral oubyen ou pral mande moun nan ekri tou? Ongan Alisma: Menm tès sa ou ka pran l aloral, ou ka pral a lekri. Sa depan ke jan ke w vle. Ou k mande tès la jan ke w vle. Ben: Nan anpil seremoni Vodou, prèske tout mwen te temwanye, mwen wè n ap bat tanbou, n ap chante, n ap danse, nou gen rit n ap swiv, regleman ongan ou. Èske w ka pale plis sou wòl chante? Dapre sa m wè, pa gen yon moman kot ongan pral kanpe preche. Gen kèk moman li kapab pale avèk piblik la, avèk onsi yo, men sanble se plis on sistèm ki baze nan chante. Sa ou kapab di nan sa? Ki wòl chante yo? much time do you think a foreigner like me, if I want to become an ongan, if the lwa call me to do that, how much time would that take a person who didn’t grow up in Creole, who didn’t grown up in the Vodou system? Ongan Alisma: It depends on how you learn. It can take you four years, seven years, ten years, seventeen years, or twenty years. It all depends on how you learn because there are people who learn fast; there are people who learn slowly. Ben: Is one of the jobs of the ongan to evaluate where the person is on this learning path? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: With tests? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh! Ben: Is it an oral test or will you ask the person to write as well? Ongan Alisma: You can take the same test written or orally. That depends on how you want it. You can ask for the test in the way you want it. Ben: In a lot of Vodou ceremonies, almost all of the ones I observed, I see that you all are beating drums, you all are singing, you all have rites that you’re following, the requirements of the ongan. Can speak more on the role of songs? From what I have seen, there isn’t a moment when an ongan will stand and preach. There are moments when he’ll speak to the public, with the onsi, but it seems as if it’s a system that’s mostly based on song. What can you say to that? 49 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Gen anpil mesaj ki pase anvèr de chante yo. Gen anpil lwa tou ki vini anvèr de chante. Ben: Oke, sa atire yo? Ongan Alisma: Anhan! Ben: Sa k fè ongan, manbo pa kanpe pou yo preche pandan trant minit, inèdtan? Èske se jis sa pa fè pratik kilti a, tradisyon an oubyen li mwens efikas? Ongan Alisma: Andedan Sosyete Linto e dòt sosyete ankò ongan an kanpe li preche plis ke trant minit. Non sèlman ongan an ka fè sa, gen lwa ki vini ki kanpe epi li fè plis ke sa. Ben: Lwa a gen dwa monte ongan pou l bay on kalite mesaj, prèch, konsèy? Sa ka pran anpil tan si li vle? Donk sa egziste ? Ongan Alisma: Wi li fèt; li egziste. Li fèt souvan. Ben: Pou yon moun ki pa fè pati onfò w, pa egzanp, mwen menm m konn vini nan seremoni, men apre konvèsasyon nou gentan fè yo mwen vin konprann se yon peristil ki aktiv anpil. Ou gen rankont defwa pa semèn, oubyen twa fwa. Ou gen tout on seri de aktivite ki fèt. Pale plis sou sa nou ka wè. Dèyè seremoni ki kalite reyinyon nou fè ? Ki rezon nou fè yo? Ongan Alisma: Nou fè reyinyon de What is the role of the songs? Ongan Alisma: There are alot of messages passed through the songs. There are also a lot of lwa who come through songs. Ben: Okay, that attracts them? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh! Ben: How come ongan, manbo don’t stand and preach for thrity minutes, an hour? Is it just that that’s not part of the culture, the tradition or is it least effective? Ongan Alisma: Inside Societe Linto and other societies the ongan stands and preaches for more than thirty minutes. Not only does the ongan preach, there are lwa who come and do more than that. Ben: The lwa can ride an ongan to give a sort of message, sermon, advice? Can this take a long time if he wants? So, this exists? Ongan Alisma: Yes it happens; it exists. It happenes often. Ben: For someone who isn’t a member of your onfò, for example, I sometimes come to the ceremonies, but after the conversations we’ve already had I have come to understand it’s a very active peristil. You have meetings two times per week, or three times. You have a series of activities that occur. Speak more on what we could see. After the ceremony what kind of meetings do you do? Why do you do them? Ongan Alisma: We have training 50 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant fòmasyon. Reyinyon de fòmasyon kote ke n ap fè fòmasyon pitit yo. Nou aprann yo plis ke sa yo konnen. Tankou, nou gen on reyinyon lendi fèt avèk on ongan, manbo ki ale nèt. Sa w mete yo chita pou w montre yo kòman yo kapab diferansye on tèt fè mal natirèl avèk yon tèt fè mal fetich. Tèt fè mal fetich se sa doktè pa ka wè a. Tèt fè mal natirèl se sa doktè kapab wè. Lè on malad vin devan yo, yo dwe kapab fè diferans sa: fetich e natirèl. Si se fetich pou yo trete l men kisa pou yo fè. Sou kèlkeswa fòm li vini an, fò yo trete l. Si l se natirèl tou, pou yo aji avèk konsyans deswa pou yo voye l al wè doktè san yo pa defann lajan avèk li. Si moun nan ta genyen yon èdèk, tèt fè mal, pou w kapab fè diferans lan menm jan pou w konn sa pou w fè. Si moun nan ta gen yon maladi gwo vant, menm jan. Si moun nan ta gen bagay k ap mache nan tout kò l pou w kapab idantifye kisa sa ye e kisa w ka fè pou w pote solisyon lakay moun sa a. Dòt e dòt toujou. Se reyinyon sa nou fè lè lendi. Lemèkredi nou fè on reyinyon a tout sosyete a. Reyinyon nou fè avèk yo nou pale yo de lwa yo: eksplike yo lwa yo, ki wòl yo andedan sistèm nan. Kisa tèl lwa ka fè; kisa tèl lwa pa ka fè. Lè w fè demann a tèl lwa men poukisa w dwe fè demann avèk li. Paske nan pati sa li bon. Sa men nan lòt pati li bon, ou ka fè demann avèk li de sa. Si m konnen w bon nan chapant, m fè demann de chapant. Si m konnen w bon nan ferayèl, m fè demann de ferayèl. Si m konnen w bon nan medsin, m fè demann avè w de medsin. Tout branch ke w bon yo. Menm lè gen plizyè kalite medsin, gen plizyè kalite lwa tou ki la pou w bagay yo. Se sa nou fè nan reyinyon mèkredi epi nou montre w chante lwa yo. Lè w se on manbo, ou se on ongan, ou se on Vodouwizan fò w konnen chante yo. Menm lè w pa ka konn tout, men fò w meetings. Meetings for training where we form the children (initiates). We teach them more than they know. For instance, we have a meeting on Mondays with an ongan and a manbo who have gone all the way. You sit them down and you show them how they can differentiate a natural headache with a fetish headache. A fetish headache is what the doctors can’t see. Doctors can see a natural headache. When a sick person comes before them they need to be able to tell the difference: fetish and natural. If it’s fetish requiring treatment, this is what they do. If it’s natural they have to be aware of this to send them to see the doctor without discussing money with him. If the person had a headache, you have to be able to tell the difference the same way you have to know what to do. If the person had a large stomach illness, same thing. If the person had things crawling throughout their bodies you have to able to identify what that is and what you can do to bring this person a solution. More and more still. That’s the meeting we have on Mondays. On Wednesdays we have a meeting with the whole society. At this meeting we tell them about the lwa: explain the lwa, what their roles are in the system, what this lwa can do, what that lwa can’t do. When you make a request with this lwa here is why you’re supposed to make a request of him. Because, in this area he’s skilled. This one here, this other area it’s skilled at, you can make requests of him in this. If I know you’re skilled in carpentry, I make carpentry requests. If I know you’re skilled in ironworking, I’ll make ironworking requests. If I know you’re good at medicine, I’ll make medicine requests. All the areas you’re good at. Even though there are multiple types of medicine, there are multiple 51 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant konnen enpe. Reyinyon samdi, nou fè l anvèr de strikti de baz de sosyete a e fòmasyon de moralite sosyete a: strikti sosyete a, de preparasyon, de prezantasyon seremoni yo. Ben: Donk, chak reyinyon pandan semèn nan gen objektif li? Ongan Alisma: Li gen wòl pa l. Ben: Mwen se on moun ki renmen chante anpil. Mwen te toujou mande tèt mwen kijan onsi yo te konnen tout chante sa yo e kounye a la m wè se youn nan eleman edikatif onfò sa genyen. Ongan Alisma: Se sa k fè w ap wè andedan sosyete Linto, nou prepare pòt drapo pa nou ki pou pote drapo. Nou prepare laplas [master of ceremonies], ki pou kondwi seremoni an. Nou prepare yon manbo ki kapab kouri Ayizan. Nou prepare dè manbo ki kapab kouri Alesina, ki vle di lè w wè tout kòlye yo nan kou moun nan. Nou prepare tout sa. Ben: Donk chak moun avèk wòl yo? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Sa ki enterese mwen nan koze chante; ou gen chante ki soti nan nasyon peyi d Ayiti. Se ansyen chante, tout onfò konnen yo. Men an menm tan tou mwen toujou frape—depi m vini nan seremoni types of lwa that are there for you to utilize. This is what we do in the Wednesday meeting and we show you the songs of the lwa. When you are a manbo, an ongan, a Vodouist, you have to know the songs of the lwa. Even when you don’t know all of them, you have to know some of them. The Saturday meeting is on the fundamental structures of the society and the moral formation of the society: the structure of the society, of the preparations, of the presentations of the ceremony. Ben: So, each meeting during the week has its own objective? Ongan Alisma: It has its own role. Ben: I am a person who really likes music. I always asked myself how do the onsi know all of these songs and now I see it’s one of the educational elements of this onfò. Ongan Alisma: That’s why you’ll see inside of Société Linto, we prepare our own flag bearers to hold the flag. We prepare a master of ceremonies, to conduct the ceremony. We prepare a manbo who can run with palm fronds. We prepare manbo who can run with Alesina, which refers to when you see all the necklaces around the person’s neck. We prepare all of this. Ben: So each person has their own role? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: I’m interested in this discussion of songs; there are songs that come from the nation of Haiti. They are ancient songs, all onfò know them. But at the same time also, I am always stunned— 52 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant oubyen mwen li liv sou chante—mwen toujou jwenn nouvo chante. Se kòmsi pa gen kote ki sèvi ak menm chante oubyen èske se pa sa? Ongan Alisma: Vodou a genyen on kontinyite alenfini. L ap vanse jiska lenfini. Ki lè lenfinite sa ka rive? Nou pa konnen. Lè w pale de enfini se on bagay ki p ap janm fini. Yo vini chak jou, chak è, chak segond, chak minit. Ben: Sètadi genyen yon kilti kreyasyon chante nan Vodou? Nou ankouraje moun ki vini avèk nouvo chante? Ongan Alisma: Wi, asavwa ke chante a genyen yon sinyifikasyon. Sinyifikasyon sa vyen de lwa yo. Li gen on wòl. Ben: Donk pou ou menm, pou Vodouwizan, se lwa ki voye chante? Se pa moun ki kreye yo? Ongan Alisma: Moun kreye chante yo alimaj de lwa yo. Lwa yo kreye chante osi. Ben: Èske gen de pafwa ou bezwen di non sa pa on chante ki rekonesab dapre sistèm nan, ou bezwen korije moun ki nouvo nan domèn nan ki vini avèk chante? Ongan Alisma: Wi ou gen dwa vin avèk yon chante, li pa abòdab nan sistèm nan. M ap di w sa a pa bon. Avan ke mwen di w sa, m ap di w esplike m chante sa. Chante a dwe genyen yon esplikasyon korèk a li menm ki kapab dedye sa ke w vle di a. Lè w bwote sou on fèy papye w ap ekri yon ti mennaj. Depi ti mennaj la wè lèt ke w ekri l la sèke li deja wè kòman ou eksprime w de li menm. Si w when I come to the ceremony or when I read books on songs—I always find new songs. It’s like there are no places that use the same songs or is that not it? Ongan Alisma: Vodou has an infinite continuity. It will advanse until the end of time. When will this end of time come? We don’t know. When we speak of infinity, it’s something that will never end. They come every day, every hour, every second, every minute. Ben: Which is to say there is a culture of song creation in Vodou? You encourage people who come up with new songs? Ongan Alisma: Yes, as long as the songs have significance. This significance comes from the lwa. They have a role. Ben: So for you, for Vodouists, the lwa send the songs? People don’t create them? Ongan Alisma: People create the songs with the inspiration of the lwa. The lwa create songs also. Ben: Do you sometimes have to say no that isn’t a song that is recognizable according to the system? Do you have to correct people who are new in the domain who come up with songs? Ongan Alisma: Yes you can come up with a new song and have it not be approachable in the system. Before I tell you this, I’ll ask you to explain this song to me. The song has to have a correct explanation within it that can detect what you want to say. When you bring it on a sheet of paper, you’re writing a girlfriend. When the girlfriend sees the letter you wrote it’s like she already 53 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ap chante pou on lwa, fò chante w chante a ka eksprime w paske tout sa ou pa kapab di lwa a an palan se li ou di l an chantan. Fò yo gen sinyifikasyon; ou pa ka djès rete pou w voye monte. Li pa fèt konsa. Ben: Gen on chante, Azor chante ki di Bondye asogwe. Se on ti pawòl ki enterese mwen. Sa ou kapab di sou sa, Bondye asogwe? Ki sans ti pawòl sa genyen? Ongan Alisma: Lè l di Bondye asogwe, kiyès? Èske se Jezi oubyen se gran Dye de Jewova ki di Dye de lòm (? 41:43). Ben: M panse se gran Dye. Ongan Alisma: M pa kwè paske li pa kapab di Bondye asogwe paske li konnen kisa Bondye fè men li pa ka viv yo de menm jan Jezi fè. Li kapab di w Jezi asogwe paske tout sa Jezi ap fè yo se zak asogwe. Se sa k fè l kapab di w Jezi genyen on konesans d Asogwe. Li pa ka di pè Olowoum asogwe [Yoruba term for God, write Olorun in English]. Pè Olowoum fè nou. Avan l fè nou li fè dlo a. Li fè tè a. Li fè syèl la. Li kreye è a, e l fè nou epi l kreye dife. Li kreye tout bèt yo. La nou kapab di men sa yo di li te fè men nou pa t wè avèk sa Jezi fè nou viv se de bagay diferan. Ou kapab di Jezi; ou kapab di l asavwa li travay de limaj de asogwe. Tout sa asogwe fè se li menm pou w ap wè Jezi fè. W ap wè lè Jezi te monte ti batiman avèk Pyè li travèse pa lotbò letan an e l te jwenn mesye malad la ki t ap rakle soufri anba on kokenn chèn maladi. W ap wè movè zespri sa ki te sou mesye a ki te di Jezi pitit David la gen knows how you express yourself for her. If you’re singing for a lwa the song you’re singing has to express your feelings because all that you can’t tell the lwa with words, you tell it in song. They have to have meaning. You can’t just senselessly promote. It doesn’t work that way. Ben: There is a song, an Azor song that says God is asogwe. It’s a statement that interests me. What can you say about this, God is asogwe? What meaning does this statement have? Ongan Alisma: When it says God is asogwe, who is asogwe? Is it Jesus or great God Jehovah who is the God of man? Ben: I think it is great God. Ongan Alisma: I don’t think so because, it can’t say God is asogwe because he knows what God does but he can’t experience them in the same way Jesus does. He can say Jesus because all the things Jesus does are things asogwe do. That’s why it can say Jesus has the knowledge of an asogwe. It can’t say father Olorun is asogwe. Father Olorun created us. Before he created us, he created the water. He made the Earth. He made the sky. He made the air, and he created us and then he created fire. He created all the animals. What they said he did that we couldn’t see and what Jesus made us experience are two different things. You can say Jesus; you say that he works in the image of an asogwe. Jesus does everything that asogwe do. You’ll see when Jesus climbed on the little boat with Pierre, he crossed the little pond and he found the sick man who was greatly suffering 54 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant pitye pou mwen pa lage m nan gwo tou san fon sa non. Voye m pami kochon yo. W ap wè gen gadye kochon yo ki parèt ki di ale, pa rete isi a. Vye bòkò, ale pa rete isi a bòkò ke w ye. Ale nou pa bezwen w bò isi a. Sa montre w wi Jezi se te yon bòkò. Tout ak Jezi yo ou deja wè se ak bòkò. Ben: Mwen te kontre yon ongan an Ayiti ki te di mwen lè gen moun k ap manje wòch, moun k ap poze danje pou lasosyete pafwa fanmi moun ki danjere sa, moun ki malad mantalman, yo konn desann lakay ongan pou li menm trete moun ki malad sa, moun k ap manje wòch. Èske gen plas pou moun ki sikolojikman malad nan trètman w ofri? Pa egzanp, li menm li pral mare moun nan sou yon pyebwa. Li pral benyen moun nan ba li manje. Li pral rann li dous nan sistèm pa l an Ayiti. Donk, yon lòt sosyete, lòt fason pou l trete moun mantalman malad, moun ki poze danje. Kijan ou ta reyaji si ou gen yon manb oubyen yon fanmi ki pwòch avèk onfò a ki vini avèk yon moun ki vrèman deranje mantalman? Ongan Alisma: Moun ki vrèman deranje mantalman se menm jan nou genyen yon pitit nou la ki deranje mantalman ki soti a Pari ki vin sibi on inisyason isit. De lè l fin sibi inisyason an a jodi a se de bagay diferan. Ben: Konsa kanzo kapab yon fason ou trete moun ki deranje? Ongan Alisma: Wi kanzo ka ede w nan anpil bagay epi lwa yo ka ede w san under an incredibe illness. You’ll see the bad spirit that was on the man—who told Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me, don’t leave me in this deep large hole. Send me among the pigs. You’ll see there are the guardians of the pigs who appeared and said go away, don’t stay here. Awful bòkò, go, don’t stay here, bòkò that you are. Go we don’t want you here. This shows you that Jesus was a bòkò. You already see that all the acts of Jesus were the acts of a bòkò. Ben: I encountered an ongan in Haiti who told me when there are people who are eating rocks, people who are dangerous to society, at times the family of this dangerous person, this mentally ill person, go to an ongan to treat this sick person, this person who’s eating rocks. Is there a place for people who are psychologically ill in treatments you offer? For example, he would tie the person to a tree. He’ll bathe the person and feed him. He’ll calm him down in his own system in Haiti. So, it’s another society, another way of treating mentally ill people, people who pose dangers. How would you react if you had a member or a family member who is close to the onfò who comes with a person who is really mentally deranged? Ongan Alisma: We have a initiate here who is mentally disturbed from Paris who underwent an initiation here. From the time he underwent the initiation and now are two different things. Ben: So kanzo can be a way to treat disturbed people? Ongan Alisma: Yes, kanzo can help you with a lot of things and the lwa can help 55 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant kanzo. Part V Ben: Konbyen sosyete Vodou ki kapab genyen nan lavil Miyami? Ongan Alisma: Genyen anpil soyete Vodou nan lavil Miyami. Lè mwen di genyen anpil, ka genyen prè de yon santèn sosyete andedan vil Miyami. M p ap ka site tout. M ap di w ou jwenn Sosyete Linto, Sosyete Ti Pa Ti Pa, Sosyete Sansiro. Oke Sosyete Linto, ou deja konnen l deja, se ongan Michelet de ongan Emanyèl. Ou jwenn Sosyete Ti Pa Ti Pa ki se manmi Toye. Sosyete Sansiro ki se manbo Marikamèl. Ou jwenn sosyete Makaya ki se manbo Mikla. Ou jwenn Sosyete Mach a Swiv ki se manbo madanm Jan Jak. Ou jwenn Soyete Zila ki se manbo Madona. Ou jwenn Sosyete Trankil ki se manbo Kalin, de Òlando. Ou jwenn Sosyete An Ka Bezwen ki se manbo Elizabèt d Ayiti. Ou jwenn Sosyete Sen Jak ki se ongan Jowèl. Ou jwenn Sosyete Ginen ki se manbo Mari Lidi. Ou jwenn Sosyete Sobo ki se manbo Jèmèn, nan Bwawòd. Ou jwenn Sosyete Dereyal ki se manbo Patrisya. Ou jwenn Sosyete Jan Simon Britis ki se manbo Jèmèn Katrevende. Ou jwenn Sosyete Trase Fouye ki se manbo Amalya. Ou jwenn Sosyete Vyèj Mirak e Sentiv ki se manbo Èlsi. Pou nou pa al pi lwen, aprè sa gen dòt e dòt sosyete k ap pèfòme andedan sant Florida. Lè yo di on sosyete, on sosyete konbine pa sis pèsonn. Depi w gen on sosyete ou dwe gen on manbo oubyen on ongan. Ou dwe genyen laplas. Ou dwe genyen pòt drapo [flag-bearers]. Ou dwe genyen andjenikon [choir leaders]. Ou dwe genyen prezidan sosyete a. Ou dwe genyen sekretè jeneral sosyete a. Tout you without kanzo. Part V Ben: How many Vodou societies are there in the city of Miami? Ongan Alisma: There are a lot of Vodou societies in the city of Miami. When I say there are a lot there could be close to one hundred societies in the city of Miami. I won’t be able to cite them all. I’ll tell you you’ll find Société Linto, Sosyete Ti Pa Ti Pa, Sosyete Sansiro. Okay, Societe Linto, you know it already, it’s ongan Michelet and ongan Emmanuel. You’ll find Sosyete Ti Pa Ti Pa run by manmi Toye. Sosyete Sansiro that’s run by manbo Marie Carmel. You’ll find Sosyete Makaya that’s run by manbo Mikla. You’ll find Sosyete Mach a Swiv [Walk and Follow] that’s run by manbo Jean-Jack. You’ll find Sosyete Zila that’s run by manbo Madona. You’ll find Sosyete trankil [Tranquille Society] that’s run by manbo Carline of Orlando. You’ll find Sosyete An Ka Bezwen [In case of need] that’s run by manbo Elisabeth d Ayiti. You’ll find Sosyete Sen Jak that’s run by ongan Joel. You’ll find Sosyete Ginen that’s run by manbo Marie Liddy. You’ll find Sosyete Sobo that’s run by manbo Jèmèn in Broward. You’ll find Sosyete Dereyal that’s run by manbo Patricia. You’ll find Sosyete Jan Simon Britis that’s run by manbo Jèmèn Katrevende. You’ll find Sosyete Trase Fouye [trace and dig] that’s run by manbo Amalya. You’ll find Sosyete Vyèj Mirak and Sentiv that’s run by manbo Èlsi. Not to go any further but after that there are more and more societies that are performing in the center of Florida. When they say a society, a society is comprised of six people. If you have a 56 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant sosyete m ap di w yo se sosyete ki genyen yon baz a reyini. Sosyete ki gen yon kote yo kapab reyini nan sant Florida. Ben: Isi w panse se lakay manbo a oubyen ongan an oubyen se toujou sa depan de kouraj li? Ongan Alisma: Si li pa genyen peristil li kapab genyen yon pozisyon nan botanika li oubyen lakay li. Ben: Konbyen seremoni Société Linto Roi Twa Mystères òganize chak lane? Ongan Alisma: Chak lane Société Linto Roi Twa Mystères òganize twa seremoni an absans de kanzo. Kanzo pa konte. Si kanzo pa konte sosyete Linto òganize twa seremoni chak lane. Premye seremoni an se mwa d septanm. Nou gen yon seremoni ki pral tonbe la leventwit a ventnèf septanm ki òganize pa premye ongan ki de Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères, ki se Emanyèl Lwi, alyas bon ongan, ki tonbe ventnèf septanm. Kenz desanm pral genyen seremoni Legba ki fèt pa manbo Janin Bwalo. Tranteyen desanm ou pral jwenn fèt sosyete Linto. Sa vle di fèt kay la menm ki kòmanse tranteyen desanm, premye janvye, de janvye, twa janvye, kat janvye. Ben: Kòm mwen swiv ou menm nan society, you need to have a manbo or an ongan. You need to have a master of ceremonies. You need to have flag- bearers. You need to have a choir leader. You need to have a president. You need to have a general secretary. All the societies I’m telling you about are societies that have a location to meet at. Societies that have a place where they can meet in the center of Florida. Ben: Here do you think it’s at the home of the manbo or the ongan or is it still depending on his courage? Ongan Alisma: If he doesn’t have a peristil he can have a position in his Botanica Vodou shop or at his house. Ben: How many ceremonies does Société Linto Roi Twa Mystères organize each year? Ongan Alisma: Each year Société Linto Roi Twa Mystères organizes three ceremonies, not including the kanzo. Kanzo does not count. If kanzo isn’t counted Société Linto organizes three ceremonies each year. The first ceremony is the month of September. We have a ceremony that falls on the twenty-eighth and the twenty-ninth of September that is organized by the first ongan of Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères, who’s Emmanuel Louis, alias good ongan. December fifteen is the Legba ceremony that is done by manbo Janin Bwalo. December thirtieth is the party of Sosyete Linto. That means the actual party of the house that starts December thirtieth, January first, January second, January third, and January fourth. Ben: Since I follow you on Facebook, I 57 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Fèsbouk, mwen te wè ou te gen yon seremoni pou Danbala nan ane sa. Èske sa pral fèt ane pwochen? Ongan Alisma: Li ap fèt chak ane. Ben: Oke, men se twa fèt sa yo prensipalman ou genyen? Ongan Alisma: Nou gen kat fèt prensipal men se twa ki aktif. Ben: Sa k fè nou deside pou nou mete seremoni sa yo espesifikman? Ongan Alisma: Komite a! Ben: An menm tan tou ou te gen aktivite lè nou t ap selebre Èzili Dantò. Èske ou pa konte sa ki te nan peristil la kòm yon fèt prensipal? Ongan Alisma: Non! Ben: Oke, poukisa? Ongan Alisma: Èzili Dantò se on lwa inivèsèl. Ou jwenn Èzili Dantò andedan tout nasyon. Sèke kèlkeswa fèt k ap fèt la, li apatyen. Se menm jan kèlkeswa fèt k ap fèt la, ou wè Legba apatyen. Kèlkeswa fèt k ap fèt la, Marasa apatyen. Se la nou pa pran inisyatif pou nou di gen yon fèt spesyal, on seremoni spesyal anvèr de Èzili Dantò. Ben: Sa pa bezwen fèt chak lane? Ongan Alisma: Non! Ben: Oke men kat lòt yo? Ongan Alisma: Ou jwenn Èzili Dantò nan see that you had a ceremony for Danbala this year. Will this happen next year? Ongan Alisma: It’ll happen each year. Ben: Okay, but you have these three principal parties? Ongan Alisma: We have four principal parties but only three are active. Ben: What made you all decide to have these specific ceremonies? Ongan Alisma: The committee! Ben: At the same time also you had an event when you celebrated Èzili Dantò. Do you not count what was in the peristil as a principal party? Ongan Alisma: No! Ben: Okay, why? Ongan Alisma: Èzili Dantò is a universal lwa. You’ll find Èzili Dantò in ever nation. So that she will be a part of whatever party is being done. Similarly Legba is a part of whatever party is being done. Marasa is a part of whatever party is being done. This is why we don’t take the initiative to say we have a special party, a special ceremony relative to Èzili Dantò. Ben: That doesn’t have to happen each year? Ongan Alisma: No! Ben: Okay but the other four? Ongan Alisma: You find Èzili Dantò in all 58 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant tout de menm kòm Gede. Ben: Si popilasyon Ayiti a se dis milyon moun konbyen nan yo sèvi lwa yo? Ongan Alisma: Si popilasyon Ayisyen an di milyon mwen rete kwè wi milyon sèvi lwa yo. Lòt de milyon ki pa sèvi lwa yo se moun ki aje k ap chèche kouvèti andedan Pwotestan. Tout jèn ou wè k ale nan legliz yo, y ale pou on rezon plita y ap vini nan seremoni an. W ap wè lepli souvan tou yo konvèti Jeremi epi lè seremoni Latibonit yo vini men yo pa al nan seremoni Jeremi. Sa Latibonit lan tou. L konvèti Gonayiv—li aksepte Jezi kòm sovè li—epi l al nan seremoni Jeremi kote pou moun leliz li pa wè l. Konsa zafè tout moun ap regle. Ben: Ou konstate fenomèn sa? Ongan Alisma: Depi lè m te kòmanse a jodi a. Ben: Yon bagay ki enpòtan tou se koze rapò legliz Katolik avèk Vodou. Kijan w wè sa? Èske w wè legliz Katolik kòm yon bagay ki sòti nan Vodou oubyen on bagay ki anba Vodou, ki anwo Vodou, yon bagay paralèl? Ongan Alisma: Legliz Katolik vyen de Vodou epi legliz Katolik ta renmen anglobe Vodou anba l pou l anlè. Sa a pa kapab fèt, menm jan tankou yon manman ki fin fè yon pitit epi pitit la t ap wè se li menm ki pou vin manman an. Ou rete kwè sa ka fèt? L ap difisil. of them, just like Gede. Ben: If the population of Haiti is ten million people, how many of them serve the lwa? Ongan Alisma: If the population of Haiti is ten million I believe that eight million serve the lwa. The other two million are older people who are searching for cover inside Protestantism. All the young people you see who go to the churches, they go for one reason, later they’ll be in the ceremony. You’ll often see they’re converted in Jérémie and when there’s a ceremony in the Artibonite, they go but they don’t attend ceremonies in Jérémie. This is in Artibonite also. He converts in Gonaïves—he accepts Jesus as his savior—and then he goes to the ceremony in Jérémie where his church people won’t see him. This way everyone’s business will be resolved. Ben: You’ve observed this phenomenon? Ongan Alisma: Since I started until now. Ben: The relationship of the Catholic church and Vodou is also very important. How do you see this? Do you see the Catholic church as something that comes from Vodou or something that is beneath Vodou, that’s above Vodou, something parallel? Ongan Alisma: The Catholic church comes from Vodou and the Catholic church would like to encompass Vodou within it so it can be on top. That can’t happen, like a mother who’s had a child and then the child feels as if he can be the mother. Do you believe that can happen? It’ll be difficult. 59 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Menm pèspèktiv sa ou genyen l pou Bib la? Kòmsi Bib la sòti nan Vodou? Tankou gen anpil koze nan Bib la ki gen aparans Vodouwizan depi ou konnen sistèm Vodou ou tcheke Bib la. Tankou koulèv Moyiz mete sou poto. Ongan Alisma: Tout bagay vyen de Vodou, menm Pak la. Ou pa wè l gen on baton nan men l? Ki senbòl baton sa, baton Moyiz la? Baton Moyiz la kisa li ye? Si w konnen l ou mèt di l. Ben: Sa kapab baton Legba. Ongan Alisma: On koulèv... Ben: Lè li fè sa devan Farawon sa vin on koulèv, pou Vodouwizan se Danbala. Ongan Alisma: Legliz nan Vodou pa bon. Depi gen moun gen Vodou; depi gen moun ki ka pale, ki ka respire, ki ka eksprime yo, Vodou a. kèlkeswa nasyon an. Nasyonalite pa gen distans. Ben: Kite mwen pran yon ti moman pou remèsye w pou tout tan w pataje jenerèzman jodi a. Se on kokennchenn plezi pale avèk ou. Ou gen yon dènye bagay ou ta renmen di piblik la oubyen mwen menm? Ongan Alisma: Vodou a se nou; nou se Vodou a. Plas nou tout rezève andedan Vodou a. Pa gen pèsonn ki kapab pran plas yon lòt andedan Vodou a. Tout otan ke w poko vini, plas ou a rete disponib a ou menm. Sa vle di ki l pe, ki l tòn, fò w Ben: Do you have this same perspective on the Bible. For example, does the Bible come from Vodou? For instance there are a lot of stories in the Bible that have a Vodouist appearance. If you know the Vodou system and you check within the Bible. For instance, the snake Moses put on a pole. Ongan Alisma: Everything comes from Vodou, even Easter Sunday. Don’t you see he has a staff in his hand? What does this staff symbolize, the staff of Moses? What is Moses’ staff? If you know it you can say it. Ben: It could be Legba’s staff. Ongan Alisma: A snake... Ben: When he did that in front of the Pharaoh it turned into a snake, for Vodouists it’s Danbala. Ongan Alisma: The church in Vodou is not good. If there are people who have Vodou; if there people who can speak, who can breathe, who can express themselves, the Vodou. Whatever the nation, nationality has no distance. Ben: Let me take a moment to thank you for all this generous time you shared today. It was an incredible pleasure to speak with you. Do you have one last thing you’d like to say to the public or me? Ongan Alisma: The Vodou is us; we are the Vodou. We each have a spot reserved in Vodou. No one can take someone else’s place in Vodou. Your place will remain available to you until you return. Whether sooner or later, if you love 60 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste Copyright © 2013, University of Florida, the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant retounen pou w vin swiv kilti ou si ke w renmen tèt ou. Nou tout se Vodouwizan. Se la ke nou viv transparan, lib e libè e nou rete nou fè apèl ke nou ouvè bra nou pou nou resevwa tout pitit nou yo k ap retounen lakay yo. Lè mwen di lakay ou, Vodou a se lakay ou. Depi w gen san, ou se Vodouwizan. Ben: Mèsi anpil Ongan Michelet Alisma. Ongan Alisma: Se on plèzi Ben e mwen ta swete on lòt fwa pou n pale plis. yourself you have to return to follow your culture. We are all Vodouists. This is where we live transparently, totally free and we appeal to, we open our arms to receive, all our children who are returning to their homes. When I say your home, Vodou is your home. If you have blood, you are a Vodouist. Ben: Thank you very much Michelet Alisma. Ongan Alisma: It was a pleasure Ben and I hope we speak some more at another time.
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