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16598: (Hermantin)Miami-Herald-Vodou asserts its claim to respect (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Posted on Sun, Aug. 31, 2003
Vodou asserts its claim to respect
Reenactment hails its part in revolution
BY MICHAEL VASQUEZ
Past the beating drums and burning flames that greeted you at the door,
beneath the mysterious painted symbols and objects that reinforced
everything you thought you knew, was Vodou.
Begging to be taken seriously.
International painter/drum maker/recording artist Papaloko took a break from
his usual identity Saturday night and became the image of 19th century
Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture. The Vodou images that adorn
much of Papaloko's work wanted a fresh start as well.
No more references to B-movie zombie tales and witchcraft. No more stigma,
shame or snickers.
This was Vodou as respectable religion and way of life. No, it was more than
that, it was Vodou as political player.
ART GALLERY SETTING
This metamorphosis took place at Papaloko's Jakmel Art Gallery, 2301
The evening honored Vodou's contribution to Haitian independence, a 1791
ceremony known as Bwakayiman held in secret by runaway slaves.
Haitian tradition credits the spiritual offerings made that night -- which
included a sacrificed pig -- as sparking the 13-year war of independence
Papaloko is no revolutionary, but he is frustrated. Nearly 200 years after
his ancestors vanquished their colonial foes, Haiti remains a study in
''The leaders, they love money so much,'' Papaloko complained. ``They love
power. They don't love their country.''
Maybe the money Papaloko raised from his event -- some of which would go to
help children living in Haiti -- would help. There would be no pig's blood
shed tonight, however.
''We're sacrificing ourselves,'' Papaloko explained. ``For the kids.''
And in the process, Vodou's contributions could be recognized.
Kwame Awoyo was among the patrons who felt some respect for Vodou was long
''Every day, in the mass media, they're putting down this culture,'' said
Awoyo, who is of Haitian-American descent.
DJ Mari, who would keep hips shaking on a rear dance floor after a
reenactment of the 1791 ceremony had ended, also spoke of Vodou's ``negative
'My father always used to say, `Stay away from that,' '' said Mari, whose
family hails from Panama.
The DJ's attention turned to a black-and-white pet rabbit sitting in a
cardboard box. Moments earlier, the animal's 5-year-old owner grew tired of
cuddling the creature and had walked away.
''You haven't heard what they're going to do with that bunny, have you?''
Mari asked, with only a slight hint of nervousness.
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