Today is Halloween, a day when zombies abound. Zombies have their roots in Haiti, specifically in the pain and suffering of slavery. Amy Wilentz reminds us zombies exist throughout the year. As she puts it, “The zombie is devoid of consciousness and unable to critique the system that has entrapped him. He’s labor without grievance. He works free and never goes on strike. You don’t have to feed him much. He’s a Foxconn worker in China; a maquiladora seamstress in Guatemala; a citizen of North Korea…” In zombies, one hears echoes of oppression, in Haiti and elsewhere around the world. Her full article follows.
Below is a New York Times article, a reminiscence really, by Madison Smartt Bell on a simple house he once owned in rural Haiti. He recalls that one can do nothing alone in Haiti, which can make it very difficult and very special at the same time. His description of the lakou and the importance of community will resonate with anyone who has lived in rural Haiti before.
The Grand Rue Sculptors will hold the second Ghetto Biennale Art Festival from the end of November through early December. Film-makers, academics, photographers, musicians, architects, and writers will converge on Grand Rue to make and display Vodoun infused art with themes of survival, resistance, and redemption. If you cannot attend, check out the individual artists and their work online. Details and a draft schedule below.
I finally got around to watching the No Reservations episode in which Anthony Bourdain travels to Port au Prince. While it is a shame that he did not visit Haiti’s secondary cities or countryside, he and his team were able to capture some of the beauty, the tragedy, and the potential of Haiti. He comes away understanding Haitians are trying their best to get their lives, communities, and country back on track. You can catch the entire episode (in three parts) on Youtube.
“Are you a Missionary? What is Your Religion?” Two common enough questions when Haitians are getting to know foreigners. Haiti is a religious country and even the smallest villages have multiple churches if not a library or a clinic. While every imaginable denomination has a presence in Haiti, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Vodoun form an uneasy trinity. Haitian Vodoun is a vibrant, fascinating religion. One need not be a Vodouisant to experience it, appreciate it, and learn from it.
- Don't just read about Haiti, see it! Matt has uploaded a number of interesting new photos to the Haiti Innovation Flickr Site. They include shots of a Vodoun ceremony, Port au Prince's fragile but beautiful gingerbread houses, coastal life, and grafitti art in Port au Prince.