Saturday, March 26, 2022
The country mourns the death of Euvonie Georges Auguste, an eminent voodoo priestess and secretary-general of Haiti’s National Conference of Vodouists.
Voodoo high priest Carl-Henry Désmornes informed the Le Nouvelliste newspaper that Auguste died Wednesday of unidentified health complications.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry tweeted condolences to family and friends who mourn the death of Auguste, saying, “I salute the memory of this leader, committed and dedicated to the defense and promotion of Voodoo.”
Auguste was outspoken on political issues, she would attend meetings held by the Organization of American States and participate in the successful campaign to make voodoo an official religion in Haiti in the early 2000s.
Voodoo is portrayed in zombie movies and popular books as dark and evil, a cult of devil worship dominated by black magic, human sacrifice, and pin-stuck voodoo dolls—none of which exist in the voodoo practices that originated in Benin.
In Haiti, voodoo began as an underground activity. During the 1700s, thousands of West-African slaves were shipped to Haiti to work on French plantations.
The slaves were baptized as Roman Catholics upon their arrival in the West Indies. Their traditional African religious practices were viewed as a threat to the colonial system and were forbidden. Practitioners were imprisoned, whipped, or hung.
But the slaves continued to practice in secret while attending masses. What emerged was a religion that the colonialists thought was Catholicism—but they were outfoxed.
The foundations of this practice evolved from Tribal religions in West Africa. The word ‘Voodoo’ derives from the word ‘voodoo’ in the Fon language of Dahomey, which means ‘spirit’, ‘god’. Voodoo was brought to Haiti by slaves being captured from the Dahomey Kingdom. The Dahomey Kingdom is located in southern Benin.
During the seventeenth century, this area was very isolated which allowed the practice to rapidly evolve and develop. The population consisted of different tribes and enslaved Africans. These tribes shared several beliefs such as the worship of the spirits of family ancestors and the belief that followers were possessed by immortal spirits. They also used singing, drumming, and dancing in religious rituals. Once living in Haiti, the slaves created a new religion based on their shared beliefs and those of the tribes. The practice of these traditions allowed slaves to feel free and get passed their hardships.
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Saturday, March 26, 2022