Chapter 9. Interview with oungan Nelson Marcenat by Hebblethwaite and Kulstad


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Chapter 9. Interview with oungan Nelson Marcenat by Hebblethwaite and Kulstad
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Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
Bartley, Joanne
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Chapter 9. Hebblethwaite and Kulstad's interview with oungan

Nelson Marcenat

Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Joanne Bartley

This Chapter gives the transcribed and translated interviews with a Vodou priest, Nelson Marcenat.

The recording was made in 2008 in Belle-Riviere, Haiti, at the home of the oungan Ginen 'hereditary

priest' Nelson Marcenat. The interviews cover a wide range of matters relating to Vodou. At 65

years of age at the time of the interview, Nelson had been working as a Vodou priest for 43 years.

His main occupations are midwifery, plant and tree-based medicine and psychotherapeutic

treatments. He is a farmer and sharecropper, too. As a midwife who has delivered hundreds of

babies, oungan Marcenat invites the parents of the children he delivers to visit him a few weeks after

the birth to receive a Vodou blessing which he calls the andwaye. The andwaye is apnye batem 'a Vodou

baptism prayer' during which parents publicly name their child.

The interview explores the pivotal role his parents and grandparents had in his calling.

Topics of discussion include the kanzo initiation ritual, the forms of psychotherapeutic treatments

and services he provides, acceptable and unacceptable possessions by the lwa and his annual Vodou

ceremony on December 24th. Nelson discusses the legacy of the anti-superstition campaign of the

1940s and the links Vodou has with politics in Haiti. He points out, with some reservations, that

homosexuals have an important role in Vodou; he also suggests that a lwa, Jeneral Piman 'the Hot

Pepper General,' turns people gay. He reveals some of the differences and disagreements which

divide the oungan Ginen (Rada rite) and boko (Kongo-Petwo rite). He talks at length about the proper

ways to serve the lwa and he provides insight into the structure and dynamics of the Vodou

ceremonies he presides over. As a piket liv or p savann 'un-ordained Catholic priest,' Nelson also

addresses how Vodou priests like himself combine Catholic traditions with Vodou ones. Chapter 10

provides some mystical Catholic texts which many oungan, including oungan Marcenat, employ.

Oungan Marcenat read several passages to me out of his copy and he informed me that many Vodou

priests are using it.

Oungan Marcenat also asked me to include here the 'Sator square' which is a Latin

palindrome that allows one to read the same words top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right and

right-to-left. The earliest known source of the Sator square is from Pompeii, 79 AD, the year when

Mount Vesuvius erupted and smothered-and preserved-Pompeii in ashes. It has also been found

in England, Syria, France and Portugal. The words, rotas opera tenet arepo sator, might mean, 'The

farmer Arepo has works wheels [a plough]' which is supposed to mean, 'the farmer uses his plough

as his form of work.' The Sator square is also associated with magic (see Griffiths 1971 and






9. Entevyou Nelson Masena ak

Hebblethwaite epi Kulstad

B. Depi ki Ie ou nan domen Vodou a?

N: O! Mwen nan domen sila, ane sa fe m

karanntwazan (43). Se manman mwen, se te

yon manbo Ginen ke 1 te ye. Grann mwen te

yon manbo, li kite 1 pou manman m. Epi

manman m mouri. Anvan 1 mouri, m kanzo

mwen menm. Li kite 1 pou mwen. Grann papa

m se t on gangan Ginen 1 te ye toujou, li mouri

kite pou papa m, papa m te rejete, konsa 1 pa

vile fe 1; epui se li. M gen je b6 manman, je sou

b6 papa.

B. Le nou di 'je b6 manman, je b6 papa,' sa sa

vile di?

N. Nasyon an, nasyon ki kouv ou. Nasyon

Ginen ki kouv ou.

9. Oungan Nelson Marcenat's interview

with Hebblethwaite and Kulstad

B. For how long have you been involved in the

field of Vodou?

N: Oh! I have been in this domain, this year

makes forty-three years. It was my mother, she

was a manbo Ginen. My grandmother was a

manbo, she left it for my mother. And my

mother died. Before she died, I was kanzo

myself. She left it for me. The granny of my

father was also a Ginen Vodou priest, she died

and left it for my father, my father rejected it,

like that, he didn't want to do it; and that was it.

I have eyes on my mother's side, eyes on my

father's side.

B. When you say 'eyes on my mother's side,

eyes on my father's side,' what does that mean?

N. The nation, the nation that hatches you. The

Ginen nation that hatches you.

B. What is the kanzo?

N. Kanzo a, setadikeu, lI on moun bezwen

kanzo, w ap jene, san manje, san bwe. Yo gen

dwa femen ou nan on kay la, yo fe ou fe set

jou, san manje, san bwe. Epi anmenmtan, yo

pa leve ou pou set jou sa a. Epi yo gen set

pelerinaj, yo pral fe ou fe; ranpli set bagay sa

yo, sa di ou kanzo. Epi mistik la pral konpare

sou ou, li pral danse sou ou, en, yo gen dwa

limen nenp6t flanbo dife, ou pran men ou pou

ou nan dife sa, ou brase nenp6t ch6dye mayi

moule k ap kwit, ou brase men ou lan ch6dye

cho, ou p ap boule, en. Sa di ou kanzo. Ou

pran on ti dife, ou koule 1 sou moun nan, li p

ap boule.

B. Gen moun nan zon nan ki pase seremoni

kanzo a?

N. The kanzo, that is to say, when a person

needs to be kanzo, you are fasting, without

food, without drink. They have the right to

close you in a house there, they make you

endure seven days, without food, without drink.

And at the same time, they don't wake you for

those seven days. And they have seven

pilgrimages, they will make you do; fulfill those

seven things, that makes you kanzo. And the

mystical will take a hold of you, he will dance

on you, uh, they have the right to light any fire

torch, or take your hand so that you're in this

fire, or stir any pot of ground cornmeal that is

cooking, or stir your hand in a hot pot, you

won't get burned, you know. That means you

are a kanzo. You take a little fire, you pour it on

the person, he or she won't get burned.

B. Are there people in the area that have passed

the kanzo ceremony?

B. Kisa ki kanzo a?

N. Kanzo, wi. Bon, gade m gen yon dam la a, li

fi Eliyad, li te fe 24 desanm ki te la, gen on

moun la ki w6y la ... dam nan gen yon Iwa k

antre sou li ki rele Ti Jan. L antre nan dife sa, 1

ponpe tout moun we 1, li pran on tizon dife, li

an kontak ak tout po 1, li rale dife a li al chita

de pye li lonje nan dife a, li pa gen ti mak! Li pa

boule ditou. Moun sa se madanm mwen.

B. Madan ou ki kanzo konsa?

N. Wi, li pa boule, alo setadikeu, mistik la li

gen yon pouvwa, apre Bondye, li gen yon

pouvwa li menm. Setadikeu gen moun, kek

moun, ki di pa genyen. Eh? Se paske ou poko

touve, ou nan on bagay, ou poko konnen

bagay, eh? Se kan w ap pran nan on pyej, ou

konn ou pa gen, se le w a konn genyen, he?

Depi ou pa cheche moun kont, eh, se di, la ou

pa konn ti ga, men depi ou cheche on moun

N. Kanzo, yes. Well then, look I have a woman

here, she is the daughter of Eliyad, she

participated in my ceremony this past

December 24th, there was a person here who,

oh my goodness... the woman had a lwa that

possessed her called Ti Jan. She entered in the

fire, she jumped, everyone saw her, she took an

ember of fire, it was in contact with all of her

skin, she pulled the fire, she sat, her feet

stretched out into the fire, she didn't have a

little mark! She was not burned at all. That

woman is my wife.

B. Your wife is kanzo like that?

N. Yes, she was not burned, that is to say, the

mystical has a power; after God, it has its own

power. That is to say that there are people,

some people, who say it doesn't have any. Huh?

It's because you haven't found it yet, or, in a

sense, you don't know things yet, get it? It's like

you're taken into a trap; you think you don't

have it, that's when you'll start to have it, right?

As long as you don't stir up trouble with

kont w ap konnen genyen. Nou menm nou pa

maji nwa isi, se maji blan ke nou f&, konprann

mwen, maji nwa sa pemet li fe ou fe mal, anpil

mal. Maji blan li menm li pa nan mal, li pa

fonde nan mal, konprann, pase 1 ap sove vi e

lebyen. Konprann? Se pou sela ki f& mwen

menm chak kote m rive, mwen f& zanmi ak

tout oungan, men depi m we se nan kot mal la

ou kanpe, m f& bak sou ou, ou we, men depi m

we ou s on moun dosilite ki sevi ak tout moun

epi ou renmen fe charite, en, epui se sa ou ye,

pase ou gen lafwa. Moun nan malad la li vin b6

kote ou, setadikeu, moun Iwa achte a li made

li 20, 30, 50 mil dola, moun li menm ki rasin

nan direkteman, se yon rasin charite li ye, li di

ban m mil dola, eh.

people, um, which means, here you don't know

a little fellow, but once you bother a person,

you'll start having trouble. You see, we aren't

into black magic here, it's white magic that we

do; understand me, this black magic allows you

to do bad, a lot of bad. White magic itself, it's

not bad, it's not created from bad, understand,

because it saves lives and goods. Understand? It

is for this that wherever I go, I make friends

with all oungan, but as soon as I see that you

stand on the side of evil, I back away from you,

you see, but when I see that you're a docile

person who serves all people and that you like

to do charity, you see, and, that is who you are,

because you have faith. The person, the sick

one, goes to you; that is to say, the person who

buys and sells lwa, he asks for 20, 30, 50

thousand Haitian dollars, the person who is

specifically into the roots, is a root of charity,

he says, hey, give me one thousand Haitian

dollars, you know.

B. Pou yon tretman?

B. For a treatment?

N. Pou yon tretman, yon soulajman, pou

gerizon, epui li di ou mwenpagenyen Inon. Se

500 dola m genyen; li di 1, ban mwen 1 non, li

pran 1, wi. Li vie moun sa fe de jou toujou,

men 16ot la pal a moun de 30 mil dola li made

a, moun nan devyen mouri. Men wi, paske li pa

pran swen 1, pase 1 pa gen lajan. Le yon gwo

rich pou antre se moun sa li pran ka 1 an

konsiderasyon, en, men malere a p ap ka ale.

Men mwen s on nonm ki fe tout pwofesyon,

en, mwen dokte, mwen oungan, mwen met sa,

mwen matw6n, m tout pyes net net net, m pa

gen anyen m pa fe.

B. Kisa ou fe k6m matwon?

N. Se tankou moun nan ansent la, epui moun

nan souf li ap etenn, an plenn... li met annik

voye rele mwen epui m annik fe 1 mete chita

epui m rale limye mwen epi m fe sa m fe, m

debouch timoun nan k6msadwafet. Fe 1 f& 1. F&

li k6msadwat&t.

N. For a treatment, comfort, for healing, and

he tells you, no, I don't have it. I only have 500

Haitian dollars; he tells him, give it to me then,

he takes it, yes. He wants this person to live

two more days, but the other speaks to the

person of the 30 thousand dollars he asks for,

the person will die. Indeed, because he doesn't

take care of him, because he doesn't have

money. When a big wealthy person is coming

in, it's that person's problems that he takes into

consideration, but the poor can't go. As for me,

I am a man who does every profession, you

know, I am a doctor, I am an oungan, I can do

that, I am a male midwife, I do all types

completely, there's nothing I don't do.

B.What do you do as a male midwife?

N. It's like when a person is pregnant here, and

the person is short of breath, fully pregnant...

she can just send for me and I just have her sit

and I grab my light and I do what I do, I birth

the child appropriately. What needs to get done

gets done. I do it correctly.

B. Eske ou ka pale yon ti kras sou manman ou,

papa ou, e grann e granpe ou, sou ki kote yo te

jwenn konesans yo?

N. Nan ansyen Ginen, Ginen ki te kite pou yo.

Ginen toujou kite kite pou yo. Ginen kite pou

yo epi yo jwenn yo kite pou manman m,

manman m kite pou mwen. Grann papa m se

yon fanm li te fe, ki te Filomen Lwisen, alo

Lwisen li menm, li menm se granpapa mwen,

li fe Filomen Lwisen; Filomen Lwisen kite pou

Asonen Masena, Asonen Masena se papa m.

Papa m pa vie, li rejete, li kite pou mwen, tout

sa k sou li vin jwenn mwen, bagay la se mwen


B. Li sote yon jenerasyon?

N. Wi. Yon jenerasyon. E manman m menm

menm, li menm li te on manbo li ye, men papa

m, msye pa t dak6 a manman m. Yo toutan yo

B. Can you speak a little bit about your mother,

your father, and your grandmother and

grandfather, where did they get their


N. In ancient Ginen, Ginen gave it to them.

Ginen always gave them what they needed.

Ginen gave it to them, and they found it and

gave it to my mother, my mother left it for me.

My grandfather, he fathered a woman who was

Filomen Lwisen, thus Lwisen himself, he was

my grandfather, he made Filomen Lwisen;

Filomen Lwisen left it for Asonen Masena,

Asonen Masena was my father. My father didn't

want it, he rejected it; he left it for me, all that

was for him came to me, the tradition came to


B. It skipped a generation?

N. Yes. One generation. And my mother,

herself, she was a manbo, but my father, he

didn't agree with my mother. They were always

nan batay, nan goumen, poutet mistik ki danse

sou manman m, a, epi li menm, sa k pase la,

manman m pral mouri, li w& se mwen menm ki

an sante, li kanzo.

B. Sa vie di se li menm ki te ba ou lwa li yo?

N. Wi, li ban mwen yo.

B. Kisa ki diferans ant manbo ak oungan ann

Ayiti? Eiske yo gen menm nivo oubyen eske

moun yo we yo yon jan diferan?

N. Bon, menm nivo yo ye, men li make nivo

sa ki lak6z depi ou gen lwa achte, ou takine, ou

taking. W ap mache sonde moun ki gen lwa

rasin nan. Epi toujou ou fe f6t men ou pral

tonbe, se ou menm ki viktim, moun ki gen lwa

achte a. Li pa viktim, rasin nan gen f6s. Li gen

f6s. Sa k gen Iwa achte a, li menm li

g on lwa ki touye 1, oubyen Iwa a pati kite 1, la li

achte ank6, Iwa a ap touye 1, epi 1 achte ank6,

lwa a pati kite 1, li touye 1, se konsa, ou we?

fighting, in dispute, because of the mysticism

that danced in my mother, and she herself,

what happened then, my mother was going to

die, she saw that I was healthy, she was kanzo.

B. That is to say that she gave you her Iwa?

N. Yes, she gave them to me.

B. What is the difference between a manbo and

an oungan in Haiti? Are they at the same level

or do people see them in a different way?

N. Well, they are on the same level, but he lacks

the level whenever you have a purchased lwa;

you kid around, you are a kidder. You are

walking and challenging people who have

hereditary lwa. And you always make mistakes,

but you will fall, it is you who is the victim, the

person who has the purchased lwa. He who has

the strength of the roots is not a victim. It has

strength. He who has the purchased lwa, he has

a lwa that kills him, or the lwa leaves him, then

he buys again; the lwa will kill him, and he buys

it again, the Iwa leaves him, it kills him, it's like

that, you see?

B. And the lwa kills what?

N. Li touye chwal la, moun k achte li a.

B. Lwa achte konn fe mechanste sa yo?

N. Wi, mechanste a, epi e li menm li al pake

oungan rasin nan, oungan rasin nan pa fe

anyen pou li...

B. Poukisa yon moun ta achte yon lwa ki pral

touye tet li?

N. Bon, enben, lI w rive kote a, yo p ap ba w

sa bon non. Depi ou rive la se chen k konn

manje kabrit la... Chen kapab m6de on tret; li p

ap janm m6d on bon bagay li. Chen k pou gad

ou nan lakou a li p ap ba ou, non; se chen k

pou devaste ou, eh, se li k pou 1 ba w. Je nou se

nan rasin nan nou menm, setadikeu rasin nan li

N. It kills the horse, the person that purchases

B. Do purchased lwa do those mean things?

N. Yes, mean things, then he goes to get

charms from the roots oungan, the oungan of

the roots doesn't do anything for him...

B. Why would someone buy a lwa that is going

to kill him or her?

N. Well, you see, when you arrive at the place,

they won't tell it to you straight. Once you

arrive there, it's the dog that usually eats the

goat... The dog can bite a traitor; it will never

bite a good thing. The dog that is on watch in

the yard will not bite the owner; no, it is the

dog that will destroy you, um, it is he that will

B. E lwa a touye kisa?

menm. Sa ki lak6z ki f& ou toujou respekte

rasin nan, nanpwen sak vid pa konn kanpe, li

gen 1~ li pou fonksyone avek li, pou f& ti

okipasyon bagay sa yo pou 1... sa k ap manje

pou 1 manje, eh? E setadikeu si ou ta sispek

gen youn ladan yo ki ta on lwa mechan k ap

manje on moun, ou f& on fason avek li, eh, ou

depataje 1 an pami sa ki bon yo pou chache on

pozisyon pou ou we 1, ou bezwen on kote.

Pase depi se on bet ki tw6 mechan, sa yo f&?

Yo fe on gwo pak, yo fe on chenn, yo

anchennen 1! He? Ou we, paske, ou konnen, yo

pote yo sere li, konprann, pou 1 pa...

B. Kou on tig?

give it to you. Our eyes are in the root within

ourselves, that is to say the root itself. What

makes us always respect the root, there is no

empty bag which can stand up, there is a time

to function with it, to do these small

occupational things so that the one who needs

to eat will eat, you see? And that is to say that if

you would suspect that there is one of them

who is a mean lwa, who will eat a person, you

make a way with him, you know, you split him

among those who are good in order to look for

a position to watch him, you need a place.

Because once there is an animal that is too

mean, what do they do? They make a great pen,

they make a chain, they tie him up! Huh? You

see, because, you know, they carry him off and

tie him up, understand, so that he won't...

B. Like a tiger

N. Wi, anchennen, pase lwa rasin nan s on

bon, gen lwa rasin ou pa bezwen... li p ap

kenbe ou. Li kenbe ou, pase lI ou konn sa 1

gen bezwen, yo gen ti af& korekteman, 1 ap

N. Yes, chained, because the lwa of the roots is

good, there are lwa of the roots that you don't

need to... he or she won't hold you. He or she

holds you, because when you know what he or

travay, f6k li manje. Depi on nonm ap travay,

depi ou pa manje, se pou manje. Bon manje...

Mwen menm 24 desanm, se chak ane; ane sa fe

35 an; de chak ane m ap fete, le 24 desanm.

B. Ki b6 ou fete konsa?

N. Isi a. Nan lakou a isi a.

B. Gen anpil moun ki vini patisipe?

N. Ou met pedi on moun e cheche pou cheche

1. Le konsa ou rive isi a yofoul! Se yon fet, yo fe

tout pep la vin manje, vin bwe, eh, bwe sou,

manje, otan batay, pa goumen, pase ou ap pran

anpil baton.

B. Si ou goumen, w ap pran anpil baton?

she has need of, they have little matters of

correctness, he or she will work, he or she has

to eat. Once a man is working, once you don't

eat, it's time to eat. Good food... Me, myself,

December 24th, it's every year; this year makes

35 years; each year I'm celebrating, the 24th of


B. Where do you celebrate like this?

N. Here. In the courtyard here.

B. Are there a lot of people who come to


N. You may lose a person and have to search to

find him or her. By the time you arrive here,

they're overflonng! It's a party, they send for all

the masses to come eat, to come drink, and,

drink until drunk, eat, except for fighting, don't

fight, because you'll take a big beating.

B. If you fight, you'll take a big beating?

N. Anpil baton. M konn voye baton m red

mwen menm!

B. Ki moun ki f& manje? Eske se madanm ou?

N. Non, se mwen menm menm ki f& tout

preparasyon pou tout moun. Touye bef, touye

kochon, touye kabrit, bagay sa yo, kwit manje

pou moun manje, moun yo tout ak on kwi nan

men. Kwi ou, gwo kwi, plen, manje vale ou vie,

jete res la.

B. Eske manje nan yon kwi enp6tan?

N. Se rasin nan; se ak kwi 1 s&vi ak rasin nan.

Rasin nan, rasin nan, tout moun gen yon kwi

nan men yo.

B. Kwi avek rasin nan gen yon koneksyon?

N. Se menm bagay, se yon koneksyon yo ye.

Rasin nan se kwi, he, yo sevi. Fet la sa se bagay

ki f6midab anpil paske lezane si m pa ka f& fet

N. A lot of beating. As for me, I throw a hard


B. Who fixes the food? Is it your wife?

N. No, it's only me who makes all the

preparations for everyone. Killing cows, killing

pigs, killing goats, those things, I cook food for

people to eat, the people all have a calabash

bowl in their hands. Your bowl, large bowl, full,

eat as much food as you want, throw the rest


B. Is the food in a calabash bowl important?

N. It's the roots; it's with their bowl that they

serve the roots. The roots, the roots, everyone

has a bowl in their hand.

B. The bowl and the root have a connection?

N. They are the same thing, they are a

connection. The roots are the bowl they use,

you see. The celebration is a very incredible

sa a mwen menm, pou sa m pral moun malad.

F6k mwen fe 1 kanmenm k6m dabitid pase

tout pep la konnen ke 24 desanm yo lakay


B. Tout moun nan zon nan?

N. Non, pa nan zon nan, toupatou, moun s6ti

lwen vini wi,ju. '.'Epi akodeyon ap jwe, eh,

akodeyon, se pou sela mwen menm m sevi ak

akodeyon, m ap f& yon konmann de yon


B. E pou z6n sa, konben gangan pratike nan

z6n Bel Rivye a?

N. Bel Rivye, bon, z6n Bel Rivye a gen anpil

gangan, men gen maf&tou tou ki we gangan ap

f&, li di 1 a f& tou.

B. Moun ki imite gangan?

N. Wi, yo pa f6, gen anpil yo menm; anpil

thing because the years that I can't do this

celebration myself, for this, I'll be a sick person.

I have to do it no matter what as a custom

because all of the people know that on

December 24th they are at my house.

B. Everyone in the neighborhood?

N. No, not in the neighborhood, all over,

people travel from far to come, yes, crowds!

And accordions are playing, you know, an

accordion, it's for that reason that I use the


B. And in this neighborhood, how many gangan

practice in the Bel Rivye area?

N. Bel Rivye, well, the Bel Rivye area has a lot

of gangan, but there are impersonators who see

what the gangan does, they say they'll do it too.

B. People who imitate the gangan?

N. Yes, they aren't strong, there are a lot of

maladi konn mouri lakay yo tou.

B. Le yon maladi mouri lakay gangan eske

kominote a pa vin rekonnet gangan sa pa bon?

N. Bon, se si yo, gangan afekte, si yo afekte

gangan an. Si yo pa afekte gangan, yo pa janm

fe ka 1, eh? Isi a m konn gen, yo made ankre

moun fou, ankre moun fou, ankre ak k6d; yo

mechan, mwen bay tout gaya. Tout bagay. Le

maten m gen on patat, yo nan k6d, larivye m

benyen yo, kouwe paket chwal mwen, epi m

vin ak yo. Li jouke anko, jiskas yo gaya epi m

met k6d sou yo; tou gaya net, net, n&t.

B. Li vin kal?

N. Gade, li te met fou ap manje w6ch, se pou

m fe 1 vin on moun swa. Gen pa m ki wete rad

them; many sick people die in their homes as


B. When a sick person dies in a gangan's house,

does the community come to recognize that the

gangan is not good?

N. Well, it's if they, the affecting gangan, if they

affect being a gangan. If they don't affect being

gangan, they never trouble him, you see? Right

here, I sometimes have, they ask me to tie

down crazy people, tie down with rope; they're

mean, I return them fully recovered.

Everything. In the morning I have a sweet

potato, they are tied up with rope, at the river I

bathe them, like all of my horses, and I come

with them. He gets fastened again, until they're

fully restored and I put the rope around them;

all fully recovered, entirely, entirely, entirely.

B. He becomes calm?

N. Look, he may be crazy and eating rocks, I

have to make him into an easy person. There

sou yo, yo te toutouni, se Ie m pral nan dlo ak

yo, se dam fanm yo ye; m annik pran yon twal

mouye pou m al lave yo, epui le m vini m

remare yo ank6 k6msadw&et jiskas ou gaya. M

genyen pasyans; m toujou g on pasyas avek yo

tou. Mwen ka bat yo men mwen toujou pran

swen yo. Mwen ba yo manje, yo k ap manje,

mwen ba yo ti gou yo pou ka reprann f6s, epi

pou medikaman pou yo.

B. Eske se yon moun ki nan fanmi moun fou a

ki pral vini avek li?

N. Wi. Se yo menm ki mennen 1. Depi moun

nan fou yo toujou mennen 1 nan yon tretman;

yo vin mete li. Kelkanswa lech6z moun fou,

chen an fou ka m6de, m ka trete 1, wi.

B. Pwen dare, esplike sa.

are some of mine who remove their clothes,

they were naked, it is when I am going to the

water with them, they are women and wives; I

just take a wet cloth to wash them, and when I

come I tie them again correctly until you're fully

recovered. I have patience; I always have

patience with them, too. I can beat them but I

always take care of them. I give them food,

those who are eating, I give them their small

tastes so that they can regain strength, and for

their medication.

B. Is it a person in the crazy person's family

who will come with him?

N. Yes. It's them who bring him. Once the

person is crazy they always bring him to a

treatment; they come and put him in it.

Whatever the type of crazy person, the crazy

dog can bite, I can treat him, yes.

B. Healing charm, explain this.

N. Pwen dare a li menm se 16 w fin trete moun

nan, he, epi ou ba 1 on bagay k6m on pwen

dare, gwo priye sou li, pou pesikisyon toujou

pa tounen anko; pase mwen menm m poko

met k6d sou moun, se priye, m ekri priye, m

boule 1 ba 1 bw&e. M ekri priye met sou li, he,

setadi moun sa gen yon gad sou li, yon gad di


N. Gen lwa poze, gen Iwa batize, men gen Iwa

fou k konn moute sou moun tou wi.

B. Lwa batiZe?

N. Wi, lwa batize, lwa sa batize, Iwa rasin se

lwa batize 1 ye; men depi ou we se yon lwa k ap

rele anmwey nan on peyi, se Iwa fou li ye, he?

Pase la ou gen dwa par&et b6 lakay pa m, m met

ap travay, ou ap rele anmwey, m reste kal. Men

lot la ap vini rele anmwey, anmwey, kraze ko 1,

non, sa se lwa fou.

N. The healing charm is when you finish

treating the person, you see, and you give him

something like a healing charm, a lengthy

prayer over him, so that persecution won't

come back again; because me, I haven't yet put

ropes on people, it's prayer, you know, I write

prayers, I burn them and let him drink it. I

write the prayer, put it on him, huh, that is to

say the person has a guard on him, a body


N. There are calm lwa, there are baptized lwa,

but there are crazy lwa that possess people too,


B. Baptized lwa?

N.Yes, baptized lwa, this lwa is baptized, the

root lwa is the baptized lwa; but as soon as you

see there is a lwa that is calling for help in some

place, he really is a crazy lwa, hey? Because here

you might appear near my house, I can be

working, you're calling for help, I stay calm. But

the other will come crying help, help, breaking

his body, no, that is the crazy Iwa.

B. Enben, si pa egzanp ou gen yon fet Vodou

epi gen yon moun ki vini nan fet la, epi se fet

pa ou a, epi li gen yon Iwa ki fou, ki reyaksyon

ou pral genyen fas a moun sa a?

N. Si se moun nan, si moun nan apw6ch

mwen, an menm tan m tou batize Iwa a, m

toujou batize Iwa, si se yo k ap rale ate, m fe 1

kanpe. M fe 1 kanpe. Lwa a m ka sikse on Iwa

fou net. Lwa a prale, k6m m vin manyen 1, li

prale, li p ap rete, li kite chwal li.... M batize Iwa

epi m fe Iwa vin on Iwa batize, epi lI sa a se

kal, epi 1 ap tonbe 1 ap danse, men lot Iwa fou

kale k6 frap ate, m annik part la epi Iwa sa a

ale. Li kite chwal la. Se yon mal ou vin pou fe.

B. Ou we sa k6m on f6t lwa a, pa moun nan?

Sa rive ou? Ou te bezwen bloke lwa sa a?

B. Well, if for example you have a Vodou feast

and there is a person who comes to the feast,

and it's your feast, and he has a crazy lwa, what

reaction will you have towards this person?

N. If it is the person, if the person approaches

me, at the same time I baptize the lwa, I always

baptize the lwa, if it is the kind that pulls to the

ground, I make it stand. I make it stand. I can

be successful over a completely crazy lwa. The

lwa is coming, once I touch it, it will leave, it

won't stay, it leaves its horse... I baptize lwa

and I make lwa become baptized lwa, and, at

that time, it is calm, and they start dancing, but

other crazy lwa dance wildly and throw

themselves onto the ground, I just appear there

and this lwa leaves. It leaves the horse. It's a

bad thing you came to do.

B. Do you see this as the lwa's fault, not the

person? What happened to you? Did you need

to block that lwa?

N. Wi, bloke, pase ou konn kisa 1 ap vin f&. Ou

konn se yon eskandal 1 ap vin konm&et; ou tou

bloke 1, ou pare li. Fe dez6d, kraze bagay, gen k

enterese pran boutey ak tout kola, manje

boutey, manje boutey ak tout kola.

B. Ou pa penm&et sa pase?

N. Non, sa pa ka f&t.

B. Granparan nou tou, yo te gen menm

prensip sa a?

N. Wi, prensip sa a. Nou te gen sistem toujou

nan granparan pa nou, si granparan pa n t ap f&

yon sevis on kote, se alep6k sa a, I~ ta, te

toujou ap vin arete sevis Iwa, lapolis toujou ap

vini arete sevis lwa; epi granpapa m te konn f&

yo f& twa jou d6mi, d6mi kouche la, he? Fin f&

sevis li, 1~ fini li reveye yo f& yo manje pou yo

pral mouri la epi met tout kwi yo kont t&et yo;

epi tout sevis kraze, touye dife, bale, al lakay

N. Yes, block, because you know what it is

coming to do. You know it's coming to stir up

a ruckus; you just block it, you ward it. It causes

disorder, breaks things, there are some who are

interested in taking bottles filled with soda, and

eating bottles, eating bottles filled with soda.

B. You don't allow this to happen?

N. No, this cannot happen.

B. Your grandparents as well, did they follow

this same principle?

N. Yes, this principle. We always had this

system with our grandparents; if our

grandparents were having a service at some

place, at this time, at a late hour, they always

came to stop the lwa service, the police always

came to stop the lwa service; and my grandpa

was known to make them spend three days

sleeping, sleeping laying here, huh? After

finishing his service, he woke them up and

yo, epi Ie chef yo reveye, yo jwenn manje kote

yo, yo manje, li f& yo chita, ap kalkile, y ale, yo

di yo pa jwenn moun ki t ap f& sevis. Yo di se

tanpet ki f& y ap d6mi, se Ginen an; e Ginen.

B. Setadi lapolis te gentan debake, men ou

jwenn on jan pou f& yo domi?

N. Yo f& sevis korekteman, tout moun al fin

manje al lakay yo, epi la ou pou reveye, e 1 ap

reveye, eh.

B. Nan istwa peyi d Ayiti, m gentan etidye

koze kanpay anti-sipestisye, koze rejte; sa te

pase isit tou?

made them eat so that they would pass out and

even put the calabash bowls against their heads;

and when all of the services ended, they killed

the fires, swept up, and everybody went home,

and when the authorities woke up, they found

food where they were, they ate, it made them

sit, and wonder, they left, they said they didn't

find the people conducting a service. They said

that it was the wind that made them sleep, it's

the Ginen; it's Ginen.

B. That is to say that the police had already

landed, but you found a way to make them


N. They have their regular service, everyone

finishes their food and goes home, and there,

you have to wake him up, and he will wake up,


B. In Haiti's history, I have already studied the

issue of the anti-superstition campaigns, this

matter of being forced to reject Vodou; did it

happen here as well?

N. 0 wi, yo te mele ak gangan anpil, anpil,

anpil; alep6k se mache arete gangan k ap f&

sevis, pinga sevis f&t, se an kachet, en, yo pa ka

fouye, se bouyi pou yo bouyi tout bagay, yo pa

ka fouye. Y a vin arete ou. Pa gen baay sa yo.

Kounyeya moun sevi yon jan lib. Fe sa ou pito,


B. Le sa a te gen lapolis oubyen moun nan

legliz ki te patisipe?

N. Wi, wi, se sa ki lak6z ki f& nou poko janm

jwenn ka bon paste ki pa gen on chans pou 1

prezidan. Se sa k f& paste yo, yo toujou rejte

yo, yo pa prezidan... yon paste p ap ka

prezidan, depi gen lepap, on paste pa ka

prezidan; yon pe ka prezidan, men yon paste p

ap prezidan.

B. Ou panse pep ayisyen p ap vote on paste

pou rezon sa?

N. Oh yes, , they really, really, really fought

with gangan; at the time they walked around

arresting gangan who were having services,

services were forbidden, they were done in

secret, huh, they could not hide, they had to get

rid of everything, they could not hide. They

would come and arrest you. There were no

such things. Now people serve freely. Do what

you prefer, huh?

B. At the time were there police or people in

the churches who participated?

N. Yes, yes, this is the reason why we never

found a good pastor who had the chance to be

president. This is why the pastors were always

rejected, they were not president... a pastor

can't be president; as long as there is a pope, a

pastor cannot be president; a priest can be

president, but a pastor will not be president.

B. Do you think Haitian people won't vote for

a pastor for that reason?

N. Wi, Levanjil pa 1 se li k ap vote 1, men

Katolik la plis, Katolik la p ap vote 1. Katolik la

plis pase Pwotestan.

B. Ou panse Ayiti pare pou yon prezidan


N. Vodwizan, se sa, lI yo pral f& prezidan,

Vodwizan, li vin ba 1 plis vale paske li menm

Aristid, Jan-Betran Aristid li menm, li te

Vodwizan ' Anpil, w6y, msye s on mistik

net li te ye. On mistik msye te ye. Se te on

mistik li te ye; se te toutan voye voye leve tout

metsen, tout dokte, tout matwon, depi ou

konn pase on fey, li te konn fe ou fet kote ki

rele sou z6n sa yo rele Madjadeya, pou nou ale,

al fe fet pou nou. Rive la pou ou rakonte tout

sa ou konn f&, mache ak sa ou konn fe a yo. M

f& siwo a bwe, siwo feyay, m f& tout, m f& yo

nan bwa, m konn pete yo, epi m konpoze yo,

m mete yo bouyi epi m tire ji a, epi m fini. M

travay, m pito fe siwo.

N. Yes, his Protestant friends will vote for him,

but there are more Catholics, the Catholics will

not vote for him. There are more Catholics

than Protestants.

B. Do you think Haiti is ready for a Vodouist


N. The Vodouists, that's it, when they run for

president, the Vodouists give him more value

because he, Aristide, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

himself, he was very Vodouist! Greatly, whoa,

that man was a mystic all the way. That man

was a mystic. He was a mystic; it was always

send, send for all the herb doctors, all doctors,

all male nurses, as long as you knew how to use

a leaf, he was known to have a party at a place

in this area, they call Madjadeya, so that we

would go, go and have a party for us. You

arrive there and tell everything that you know

about, you go with what you know how to do. I

make syrup drinks, leaf syrup, I make them all,

I make them in the woods, I usually pop the

bark, and I compose them, I boil them and I

draw out the juice, and I finish. I work, I would

rather make syrup.

B. E sa ou fe ak siwo sa?

N. Siwo sa pou maladi. Pou maladi, nenp6t ke

maladi ou soufri, nou genyen medikaman pou


B. A bon?

N. Avek siwo, bon, ave mwen menm, m pa

janm al lopital. Sel doule m se sel doule senti,

epi apre m pa soufri anyen pase se fey nan bwa

selman k trete mwen, fey nan bwa ki trete

mwen, fey nan bwa k pitit mwen, fey nan bwa

k trete madanm mwen, fey nan bwa k trete

tout fanmi, se vre wi pase m konnen kijan m ye

pou m itilize 1, sa k pou m fe ave 1.

B. Se nan granme oubyen nan granpe ou te

B. And what do you do with this syrup?

N. This syrup is for illnesses. For illnesses, no

matter what illness you suffer from, we have

medication for you.

B. Oh really?

N. With the syrup, well, with regard to myself,

I've never been to the hospital. My only pain, is

pain in my waist, and I don't suffer anything

else because its the leaves from the woods

alone which treat me, the leaves from the

woods treat me, the leaves from the woods for

my children, the leaves from the woods that

treat my wife, the leaves from the woods that

treat my entire family, it's true indeed because I

know how to use it, what to do with it.

B. Is it from your grandmother or your

pran tout konesans fey nan bwa.

N. Nan granme mwen, nan granpe m; toude se

metsen yo te ye.

T. Ou gen pitit? Eske ou pral ba pitit ou menm

konesans ou genyen?

N. Wi, m gen pitit. Mwen genyen yonn la.

Mwen konmanse prepare yo, mwen gen yon fi,

sila, fi a telman paresez, se yon fi ki te

kounyeya se pou te konmanse ap vire t&t li;

kou 1 konmanse ap fe bagay... men m ap fe ti

gason pito. M ap f& 1 ak ti gason pito epi pou

m we si sila pran konesans lan pou m ka kite li

oke, yo pou itil.

B. Se yon dispozisyon w ap chache nan pitit la?

N. Wi, m ap cheche youn, vreman. M pral

moutre msye f& sa, moutre 1 f& sa; si sila pa t

grandfather that you received knowledge about

the leaves from the woods?

N. From my grandmother and from my

grandfather; both of them were herb doctors.

T. Do you have children? Will you give your

children the same knowledge that you have?

N. Yes, I have children. I have one here. I have

started to prepare them, I have a girl, here, she

is so lazy, she is a girl who, right now, was

supposed to start getting active; suddenly she

started being promiscuous... but I will prepare

the boy instead. I will prepare the boy instead,

to see if he will take the knowledge so that I

can leave him in good stead, they are supposed

to be useful.

B. Are you looking for a disposition from the


N. Yes, I am truly looking for one. I will show

the boy how to do this, show him how to do

paresez, kounye la se yon metsen pou 1 te ye,

pou 1 te metsen apre tout travay li, eh? Men

pito ou f& paresez...

B. Setadike pitit yo gen dwa chwazi metye a yo

menm? Yo pa oblije suiv metye gangan oubyen


N. Bon, eh, gen pitit mwen yo, espesyalman m

gen ki di yo ka pral f& paste, gen ki di yo ka al

fe oungan, gen ki di ka al fe dokte, eh? Yo tout

chwazi sa yo vle a, men sa ki di li pral f&

oungan an, li menm m ap prepare 1. M ap

prepare 1 pou m ba 1 tout konesans mwen yo,

eh, epi pou 1 ka double.

B. E pou seremoni yo rele kanzo a, eske yo

pral f& sa nan on peristil oubyen ki kalite kote

yo pral f& sa?

that; if that one wasn't a lazy girl, now she

would have been a doctor, she would be a

doctor after all of her work, huh? But you'd

rather be lazy...

B. That is to say that children have the right to

chose their professions themselves? They aren't

obligated to follow the profession of gangan or


N. Well, um, in the case of my children,

specifically, I have some who might say they

will become pastors, there are those who might

say they will become oungan, there are those

who might say they will become doctors, you

see? They all chose what they want, but the one

who says he wants to become an oungan, I will

prepare him. I will prepare him so that I can

give him all of my knowledge, you know, and

so that he can double up.

B. And for the ceremony that they call the

kanzo, will they do this in a peristil or in what

kind of place will they do this?

N. Non, e, kanzo a li menm, ou f& kanzo a

nenp6t kote ou vle, ou g on chanm


B. Selman sa?

N. No, um, the kanzo itself, you conduct the

kanzo wherever you want, you have your own


B. Only that?

N. Wi, ou g on chanm direkteman, ou f& ti

pewon ou, ti bagay, ti bato, gad... w ap f&

kanzo a, epi ou rive la, men se s&et jou, san

manje, san bwe, en? Epi ou abiye tou de blan,

net, ou kouvri anba dra blan, en, epi w ap veye,

setadi w ap kanzo.

B. Ou pa ka menm bwe dlo?

N. Non monche, se kanzo w ap kanzo, kanzo

w ap kanzo.

B. Mezanmi, se yon gwo grad?

N. W ap jwenn tout w ap jwenn nan. Tout sa

N. Yes, you have your own room, you set up

your small altar, small things, small boat,

charms... you will do the kanzo, and you have

arrived here, but it's seven days, without food,

without drink, huh? And you dress in all white,

completely, you're covered under white sheets,

and you are watching, that is to say you are

becoming a kanzo.

B. You can't even drink water?

N. No sir, you are going to be a kanzo, you are

going to be a kanzo.

B. My goodness, it's a high level?

N. You'll find all you're going to find. All that

w ap jwenn, w ap jwenn tout. Kote w ap kanzo

a, w ap ranpli ak tout sa k ap vini ou lan.

B. Pa gen moun ki mouri nan kanzo paske yo

telman swatP

N. Non. W ap jwenn, wi. E lany k ap vin ba w

bwe, e lanj k ap vin ba w bwe. G on lanj wi ki

ba w bwe w, wi. G on lanj, wi.

B. Men pa gangan an?

N. Non, pa manje, pa bwe, ou g on lanj k ap

dirije ou.

B. Apre kanzo ki 16ot grad ki pi wo pase sa?

N. Enben, yo pa gen grad ki pi wo pase 1. Pase

ounsi badagi, ounsi badagi, setadi ounsi k ap

sevi, ak oungan, setadi bata oungan, lI ou

you are going to find, you will fill yourself with

it. Where you go to become a kanzo, you will

find everything that is coming to you.

B. Has anyone died in kanzo because they were

so thirsty?

N. No. You will receive, yes indeed. It is the

angel who will give you a drink, it's the angel

who will give you a drink. There is an angel,

yes, who gives you your drink, indeed. There's

an angel, yes.

B. But not the gangan?

N. No, no food, no drink, you have an angel

who is guiding you.

B. After the kanzo what other levels are higher

than that?

N. Well, there are no other levels higher than

that. Because ounsi badagi, ounsi badagi, that is

to say an ounsi that serves with an oungan, that

ounsi badagi, se ounsi bata oungan ke ou ye,

pase si oungan pa ka al nan tretman, 1 ap voye


B. A oke, ou poko gangan men ou preske la?

N. Ou bata oungan.

B. Sa vie di asistan?

N. Wi, ou ounsi badagi, sa di ou menm se ou k

ap sevi ave oungan sa; oungan gen dwa plim

nan ou, eh, alo ou g on f6s; ou gen dwa pa ka

al nan yon maladi, li voye ou, eh.

B. Pou koze veve, ki kote yon oungan oubyen

yon manbo pral aprann tradisyon veve?

N. E bon, tradisyon veve li menm, se anive nan

on kafou, tankou la nan kafou kay mwen, epui

se on bagay ke m ap fe, ou gen on sevis; f6 m

is to say an apprentice oungan, when you are an

ounsi badagi, you are an ounsi that is nearly an

oungan, because if an oungan cannot perform a

treatment, he will send you.

B. Oh okay, you are not a gangan yet, but you

are almost there?

N. You are nearly an oungan.

B. That means an assistant?

N. Yes, you are an ounsi badagi, it is you who

serves with the oungan; the oungan can have

feathers in you, and, then you have a power;

you might not be able to visit a sick person, he

sends you, understand.

B. Regarding veve, where is an oungan or a

manbo going to learn the veve tradition?

N. Well, the veve tradition itself, it starts at the

crossroads, like here at the crossroads by my

house, and it's something that I do, you have a

konmanse trase veve m nan kafou a. La nan

kafou a.

B. Poukisa se la ou dwe konmanse?

N. Trase veve a se li menm ki kafou; men,

gade baye la; se pou trase veve a nan kafou a

anvan. Se li menm pou ou sevi anvan, se gran

chemen ki mennen kafou, epi kafou mennen

pa gad barye sa, li ak Legba.

B. Se premye veve ou sanse trase?

N. Wi, nan kafou, epi mennen pa Legba, epi se

ak Legba sa pou antre la pou ou vin la a, eh?

B. Konben veve konsa genyen pou Legba?

Yon grenn oubyen eske Legba gen plizye veve

ki asosye ave 1?

N. Non, men koute, g anpil veve piske tout

service. I have to start tracing the signs at the

crossroads. Here at the crossroads.

B. Why is it here that you have to start?

N. Tracing the veve is the crossroads itself;

over there, look at the gate. It is necessary to

trace the veve in the crossroads before. You

should use this first, it is the great path that

leads to the crossroads, and the crossroads are

controled by the guardian of that barrier, he

and Legba.

B. Is it the first veve you are supposed to trace?

N. Yes, at the crossroads, and led by Legba,

and it is with this Legba for entry that you

come here, huh?

B. Roughly how many veve are there for

Legba? Only one or does Legba have many

veve that are associated with him?

N. No, but listen, there are a lot of veve since

lwa yo se set yo ye. Tout Iwa yo se set yo ye.

Legba se set Legba k genyen yo. Tout, yo

mache pa set. Ogou, set, Ezili, set, Legba, s&t,

Danbala, set, Bawon, set, Azaka Mede, s&et, eh?

Kouzen Zaka Mede, s&et, tout se set net. An set

yo mache. Le ou entepele yon sel Ogou, si se

pou sela ou oblije ou f& set mech koton. Ou

gen Iwa w ap f& sevis, premye devwa ou ke pou

f& se on ch6dye manje lezanj pou fe, se li ki

manje, se li ki rele Marasa a, on ch6dye manje

lezanj. Ou al depoze manje Marasa sa yo, pase

Marasa sa dwe manje anvan tout granmoun.

Timoun li ye, 16 timoun ap kriye nan pye ou, sa

pou f&, ou rekokiye, men depi vant timoun

plen, epi timoun vie ret on kote 1 ap f& jw&t,

epi w ap plen ou, timoun p ap vin gade ki jan

granmoun nan ye, pase m te ba ou manje.

B. Le ou di sevi lezany sa vie di ofri yon ti

manje ba yo?

almost all of the Iwa come in seven. All of the

lwa come in seven. Legba, there are seven

Legba. All of them walk in seven. Ogou, seven,

Ezili, seven, Legba, seven, Danbala, seven,

Bawon, seven, Azaka Mede, seven, you see?

Cousin Zaka Mede, seven, they are entirely

seven. They walk in seven. When you call a

single Ogou, if it's for this, you are obligated to

make seven cotton wicks. You have lwa that

you are serving, your first task is to make a pot

of food for the angels, it's that food which is

called the Marasa, that pot of food for the

angels. You go and set down that food for the

Marasa, because the Marasa need to eat before

all of the adults. They are children, and when a

child is crying at your feet, what to do, you get

moving to help them, but once the child's

stomach is full, and the child wants to play, and

you are filling yourself, children won't come to

see how the adult is, because I gave you food.

B. When you say serve angels that means offer

some food to them?

N. Wi, Marasa yo, bon, I~ fini ou g on kesyon

de bagay ki rele tab, tab anivese 1. Tab anivese 1

la se bagay ou pral ofri on tab ak tout bwason

ladann, gwo gato, gwo biskit, gwo bagay, gwo

chanpay, epi ou pral chante on bagay ki rele

aksyon de gras, w ap prale Lanj kondikth; ou

pral pal anpil laten sou tab sa, epui lI fini pou

rele Iwa ke ou bezwen pou tab la, epi pou tout

Iwa kouvri tab la, ou chita, ou bagay, lI w ap

bezwen, gen Iwa b6 tab la. Li telman gwo neg,

f6 ou gen gwo savon w, f6 ou gen on kiv&et, f6

ou gen pafen, f6 ou gen sevyet beny. Lwa sa,

anvan 1 manje, se pou ou kite 1, ou kite 1 lave

figi 1, lave tout k6 li, savonnen 1, epi cheche 1,

flite 1 ak pafen. W ap toujou nan avantaj, depi y

ap manje, tout Iwa kanpe kote ou.

H.C. Kiyes ki chef la nan mitan yo?

N. Yes, the Marasa, well, and then you have a

question about things that are called tables, his

birthday tables. His birthday table is a thing you

will offer, a table with drinks all over it, a large

cake, large biscuits, great things, large amounts

of champagne, and you will sing something

called a thanksgiving song; you will employ the

text, L'ange conducteur, you will speak a lot of

Latin at this table, and at the end, to call the lwa

you need the table, and for all the lwa to cover

the table, you sit, you do your thing, when you

need them there are lwa near the table. The lwa

is such an important man, you have to have

your large soap, you have to have a tub, you

have to have perfume, you have to have a

bathing towel. This lwa, before he eats, you

must let him, you let him wash his face, wash

his entire body, soap and dry himself, spray

himself with perfume. You will always have the

advantage, as long as they are eating, all of the

lwa stand beside you.

H.C. Who is the leader among them?

N. The white lwa?

B. Who is the white lwa?

N. Se non li, granmoun yo f& lwa a, wi, lwa

blan li menm se yon Iwa ki pa manje menm

kote ak tout lwa; sevis met fet, laksyon de gras

se pou 1 manje e apre sa se on mouton, ave

poul blan e pijon pou pral manje apre sevis

fini, eh? Ou prepare sevis li apre. Pase 1 pa

manje anpami moun, li menm pase tout lwa

m&t ap manje, li menm, blan rete ap gade.

B. Le n ap fe yon sevis eske n ap fe li pou yon

grenn lwa oubyen eske n ap f& li pou plizye

oubyen eske sa depann de jou a?

N. Non, se on sevis anivese, se pou tout net ou

f& 1; ou pa f& eksepsyon. Ou met yo pre, pase w

ape manje yo, en, Iwa pa manje yo; eh, w ap

pral manje. Si Iwa a monte sou mwen, li p ap

goute manje pou ou, li p ap goute manje, non,

N. That is his name, the adults made the Iwa,

yes, the white Iwa himself is a lwa who doesn't

eat in the same place as the other lwa; a service

may be in session, the thanksgiving is for him

to eat; and after this there is a sheep, along with

white chicken and pigeon to eat after the

service ends, get it? You prepare his service

after. He doesn't eat among people, as for him,

because all the lwa may be eating, he, the white

stays watching.

B. When you are having a service are you doing

it for a single lwa or are you doing it for many

or does it depend on the day?

N. No, it is an anniversary service, you do it for

all of them; you don't make exceptions. You

put them close, because you're eating the food

offerings, you know, lwa don't eat them; rather,

you're going to eat. If the lwa mounts me, he or

B. Kiyes ki Iwa blan?

N. Lwa blan an?

li pa goute pou ou; se manje pep la.

B. Pou fet sa a ou prepare pou tout moun?

N. Tout moun!

B. Avek lwa yo?

N. Wi, tout moun, chak vennkat (24) desanm.

B. Gen moun ki vin bat tanbou ak chante?

N. Wi bat tanbou, chante. Y ape voye chante;

n ape chante, y ape voye chante, n ape chante,

sa k bezwen chante li gendwa chante-moun

sa a-li chante dis chante, lo6t la bezwen

chante, li chante senk, lo6t la vle chante, li

chante senk, lo6t la vle chante li chante senk,

eh? L ap mache, 1 ap moute anpil.

she won't taste the food for you, he or she

won't taste the food, no, he or she doesn't taste

for you; it's the people's food.

B. Do you prepare this party for everyone?

N. Everyone!

B. With the Iwa?

N. Yes, everyone, every twenty-fourth (24) of


B. Are there people who come to beat drums

and sing?

N. Yes beat drums, sing. They are singing

songs; we are singing, they are singing songs,

we are singing, he or she who needs to sing, he

or she may sing - this person - she sings ten

songs, the other needs to sing, he sings five, the

other one wants to sing, she sings five, the

other one wants to sing, she sings five, huh? It

works out well, it soars high.

B. Kijan moun nan konnen li gen dwa

konmanse chante pa 1 yo?

H.C. Lwa a ba 1 yo; Iwa a ap di 1 ki chante pou

li chante.

N. Wi, enhen, Iwa a di 1 ki chante; avek tou, si 1

bon e li konn chante, li di m ap voye tel

chante; li toujou chante yo, Iwa a kontan ak

chante a, li menm li konn di; n ap voye chante.

N. Tout moun ap chante.

B. E pou nit la? Gen anpil rit ki deye chante


N. Baget, baget, si se akodeyon, se akodeyon, e

rit Vodou an gendwa nan yon kote, akodeyon

nan yon kote, konprann?

B. Le ou pale de rit la, tankou yanvalou oubyen

B. How does a person know that he has the

right to start his own songs?

H.C. The lwa gives it to them; the Iwa will tell

him which song to sing.

N. Yes, yeah, the lwa tells him which song; and

also, if he is good and he knows the song, he

says I will sing this song; he always sings them,

the lwa is happy with the song; he himself, he

usually says it; we're singing the songs.

N. Everyone is singing.

B. And for the drum rhythms? Are there many

rhythms that go with the songs?

N. Drum sticks, drum sticks, if it is an

accordion, it's the accordion, and the Vodou

rhythm can be in a place, the accordion in a

place, understand?

B. When you speak of rhythm, like yanvalou or

kata, oubyen kongo, ibo, nago?

N. Yo voye tout net, net, n&t.

B. Le yon moun tande yon chante eske li

konnen trapde oke chante sa bezwen kata,

oubyen chante sa bezwen kongo?

N. Wi, depi ou tande, depi kongo ap bagay li

yo gentan derape chante kongo a anvan, eh, yo

gendwa chante kongo a epi le fini baget

dekannte, eh, bag&t li pa menm jan ak tout

bagay [...].

B. Pou nou menm, chante yo se belte, se

selebrasyon, sa bay bon anbyans, men yo gen

yon mesaj ladan yo. Pale mwen de mesaj yo;

eske se yo menm ki gen enf6masyon sou Iwa


N. Wi, wi, paske ou kapab Ogou, yo voye

chante Ogou pou ou, yo ka voye yon lot

chanson pou ou tou, ki pa chante Ogou, yo

kapab voye yon chanson Eizili pou ou. Men le

N. They play them all, entirely, completely.

B. When a person hears a song do they know

immediately that the song needs kata, or if the

song needs kongo rhythms?

N. Yes, once you hear, once the kongo is doing

its thing, they've already started the kongo song

in advance, and, they can sing the kongo and

next the drum sticks start rolling, you know, the

drum sticks aren't like anything else [...].

B. For us, the songs are beauty, they are

celebration, it makes good ambiance, but they

have a message. Talk to me about their

message; is it those songs that have information

about the lwa in them?

N. Yes, yes, because you can be an Ogou, they

sing Ogou songs for you, they can sing you

another song too, that is not an Ogou song,

they can sing you an Ezili song. But when the

kata, or kongo, ibo, nago?

chanted yo we yo pa chante chanson Ezili, bon,

yo resevwa, yo danse ladan selon rit la ye. Ou

danse ladann, alo6 pou Iwa yo, ou voye chante

Danbala, enben, gen on lot, on chante ka vini,

li pa pou Danbala, Danbala gen danse ladan. Li

se yon bal ke li ye, alo6 yo patisipe nan tout, alo6

tout Iwa yo, men se pa chanson yo yo selman

bezwen chante pou 1 danse, ou voye nenp6t

chante, li danse, konprann mwen? Men 1 f& ou

konnen se Ogou ki te part; Ezili f6 ou konnen

se Ezili ki te part, Ibo fe ou konnen se Ibo ki

te par&et, Azaka Mede f6 ou konnen se Azaka

Mede ki part, Bawon par&et, li di ou se Bawon

ki part, men se pa selman chante Bawon pou

ou we selman, gen lo6t chante, ou ka chante

pou Bawon ka danse ladann.

B. Si w ap chante mizik ki dedye a Danbala,

gen on bon chans Danbala pral monte chwal


N. Wi, li p ap pe monte y.

singers see that they aren't singing Eizili's songs,

well, they grasp it, they dance according to the

rhythm. You dance in it, then for the Iwa, you

sing songs of Danbala, well then, there are

others, a song can come, it's not for Danbala,

Danbala has dances. It is a dance, thus they

participate in all of them, thus all of the lwa, it's

not only their songs they need to make him

dance, sing any song, he dances, understand

me? But he lets you know it's Ogou who has

appeared; Ezili, lets you know it's Ezili who has

appeared, Ibo lets you know it's Ibo who has

appeared, Azaka Mede lets you to know it's

Azaka Mede who has appeared, Bawon

appears, he tells you it's Bawon who appears,

but it's not only Bawon's songs that you

encounter alone, there are other songs, you can

sing for Bawon to dance to.

B. If you are singing music that is dedicated to

Danbala, is there a good chance that Danbala

will mount his horse?

N. Yes, he will not be afraid to mount it.

B. Oubyen w ap chante pou Bawon, se Bawon

ki pral part.

N. Bawon pral part.

B. Or you are singing for Bawon, it is Bawon

who will appear.

N. Bawon will appear.

B. Men li posib si w ap chante pou Danbala

men Legba part oubyen Ezil part pandan

yon chante pou Ogoun?

N. Bon, koute mwen, Ie mizik, lI kout baget

mare, manman pase b6 pitit, pitit pase b6 papa

1; le kout baget mare, pase tout lwa yo vini nan

Ie a, pase baget mare, e lwa k ap tonbe, se lI sa

a ou pral di m ki lwa ou yo. E lI sa yo pral di m

ki lwa nou ye; setadi, m konnen Ezili te part,

Ogou te par&et, Danbala te part, Ibo te part,

Bawon te part, Alegba te part, Gran Bwa te

par&et, sa vle di tout lwa di m ki lwa yo ye. se

lwa k ap mete devan anvan m chante chante li.

Epui pou Bawon kapab, si se Ogou obyen

Bawon, se on wonm m t ap bay Bawon, m pral

bay Bawon wonm ni, eh, epi yo f& yon chan

pou Bawon, li f& bagay li, epi fini ou fini 1, tout

B. But is it possible, if you are singing for

Danbala that Legba appears or Eizili appears

during a song for Ogoun?

N. Well, listen to me, when the music, when

the beat of the drum sticks mingle, mothers go

to their children, children go to their fathers;

when the beat of the drum mingles, it's for all

of the lwa to come at times like that. It's at this

time they will tell me which lwa they are; that is

to say, I know Ezili appeared, Ogou appeared,

Danbala appeared, Ibo appeared, Bawon

appeared, Alegba appeared, Gran Bwa

appeared, that is to say that all of the lwa tell

me which lwa they are. It's the lwa who will be

in front of me before I sing their song. And for

Bawon to be able to, if it is Ogou or the

Bawon, it is a rum I would give the Bawon, I

16t lwa yo, yo vini yo fe yo fe yon chan pou yo;

sa k part la, si se yon gout gwog yo, si se yon

kola w ap ba yo, ba yo, yo fe yon chan pou

tout, konnya tout Iwa tonbe nan won. A16 Iwa

yo mele kounyeya. Enben ou fini respekte tout,

ou fe yon chan pou yo, ou respekte tout, 16 ou

fini respekte tout epi Ie sa tout Iwa f6me nan

won, pou kounyeya la Iwa ap danse ak tout, ou


B. Yon lot bagay ki fe m kirye anpil se

konp6tman Iwa yo oubyen chwal yo. Eske

chak Iwa gen yon konp6tman diferan 1e li antre

nan chwal li? Dapre jan on moun ap danse

oubyen jan on moun ap aji, eske moun ki

Vodwizan ka konnen san yo pa janm bay non

lwa a; eske yo ka di, oke, sa se Ezili, lI yo gade

mouvman li, jes li?

N. Non, se li k pou di ki lwa li ye. Pase f6 m

will give Bawon his rum, you see, and they sing

a song for Bawon, he does what he has to do,

and as soon as you finish, all of the other lwa,

they come and they make them make songs for

them. Those that appear there, if it's a taste of

their grog, if it's a cola you're giving them, give

it to them, they make a song for all, now all the

lwa start dancing. Then the lwa mix. When you

finish respecting all, you make a song for them,

you respect them all, when you are finished

respecting all of them, at that time all of the lwa

form a circle, for now the lwa are dancing with

all the others, you see?

B. Another thing that makes me very curious is

the lwa's behavior or that of their horses. Does

each lwa have a different behavior when he or

she enters his or her horse? Based on how a

person dances or acts, can a Vodouist tell

without giving the name of the lwa? Can they

say, okay, this is Ezili, when they watch his or

her movements, his or her gestures?

N. No, he or she has to say which lwa he or she

poze w yon kesyon, ou tonbe lakay mwen, f6

ou di m ki moun ou ye. F6 ou di m se tel lwa

m ye. Epi m ba w on chanson pou tout tanbou

yo reponn mwen epi pou yo frape pou li. Yo

konn ki rit pou frape.

B. Konsa chak Iwa pral anonse ki lwa li ye?

N. Wi. Ki lwa li ye, yo fe ochan pou li epi 1

pran ochan li e selon ochan ni sa n ap ba li a

nou ba li, li resevwa mizik serye. Fini m fini, m

pral poze yon lot Iwa kesyon. Pase se pa yon

sel lwa ki sou kont mwen, epi lwa a part la, li

di se tel Iwa 1 ye epi mwen fe yo fe yon ochan

pou li; kenbe la, lI fini, lI m fin resevwa tout

lwa yo tout moun tonbe nan won, epi sevis la

ap mannivre.

B. Gen moun ki pa janm bwe pa egzanp gwog

is. Now I have to ask you a question, you come

to my house, you have to tell me who you are.

You have to tell me I am such and such lwa.

And I give you a song so that all of the drums

answer me and beat a rhythm for her or him.

They know which rhythm to strike.

B. So every lwa's horse will announce which

lwa it is?

N. Yes. Which lwa it is, they make a song for

him or her and he or she takes his or her song

and, according to the song, we give him or her

what we give him or her, he or she receives

serious music. As soon as I am done, I will ask

another lwa questions. Because I am not only

responsible for one lwa, and the lwa appears

here and says he or she is such lwa and I make

them make a song for him or her; hold on for a

bit, then, when I finish receiving all of the lwa,

everyone starts dancing, and the service is going


B. Are there people who never drink grog or

oubyen kleren ki toujou monte tou.

N. Bon, gen tafya, sa ap ban m traka; m ba 1 on

gw6g plis epi li sou, m a mennen 1 kouche.

B. Konsa ou menm ou pa telman apresye si

yon moun tw6 sou epi li gen yon Iwa?

N. Non! Non, non, non, m ap mete yo kouche,

kite moun ki djanm; depi k6 ou pa djanm, al

repoze ou, I~ w refer w a vini, en? Le ou refer w

a vini. Kounye a ou sou, m p ap kite ou al nan

sa, non; m kwe, ou sou! Se tafya ou bwe.

B. Men yon ti gout p ap anpeche yon moun

gen Iwa?

N. Non, non, non. Wi, wi, wi.

B. Gen yon fim sou omoseksyel ki pratike

white rum, for example, who are still mounted

as well?

N. Well, there is alcohol, that gives me trouble;

I give him some more grog and he is drunk, I

will lead him aside to sleep.

B. So you yourself, you don't really appreciate it

if a person is too drunk and he has a lwa?

N. No! No, no, no, I will put them to rest, let

people who are strong dance; once your body is

not strong, go and rest, when you are better,

you'll come back, right? When you are better

you'll come back. Right now you are drunk, I

will not let you go into this, no; I believe, you

are drunk! You drank alcohol.

B. But a small taste won't hinder a person from

having a lwa?

N. No, no, no. Yes, yes, yes.

B. There is a film on homosexuals who practice

Vodou; gen kek moun ki di Vodou pi toleran

pase lot relijyon, sa ou we nan koze sa?

N. Se moun sa yo ki gen Iwa ki rele Jeneral

Piman sou yo. Lwa sou yo a rele Jeneral

Piman, setadi lwa sa, se yon Iwa dezaltarab ke

lwa sa ye. Pase se yon Iwa ki ka rive la li f& san

made; Iwa sa gen dwa sou chwal li, li f& sa san

made sou gason parey li; li se on gason, li gen

lwa a sou li, li f& san made sou gason parey li


B. San made?

N. Wi 1 met men sou li.

B. Se yon lwa ki f& 1 fe sa?

N. Yon lwa. Lwa sa a rele Jeneral Piman.

Enben li k sou menm f6m madivinez yo tou.

Enben, se yo menm tou ki gen yon f6s gangan

sou yo; si yo part la menm on bouldog

Vodou; there are several people who say that

Vodou is more tolerant than other religions,

what do you see in this issue?

N. It's these people who have the lwa General

Piman on them. The lwa on them is called

General Piman, that is to say this lwa is a

changing lwa. Because it's a lwa that can arrive

here, he acts without permission; this lwa has

control of his horse, he does this without

asking his male counterparts; it is a boy, he is

possessed by a lwa, he does it without the

permission of the guy he has mounted.

B. Without asking?

N. Yes he puts his hands on him.

B. Is it a lwa that makes him do that?

N. A lwa. That lwa is called General Piman.

Well, it's in the same form for lesbians too.

Well, it's they too who have the power of the

Vodou priesthood on them; if they appear here,

gendwa pa vile s6ti, pase se masisi sa yo. Pase Ie

ou rive nan Fetan, Vilbone, bagay sa deye a,

Fetan, Ti Sentan, ey, se masisi selman ou we ak

manbo ak divinez, se yo menm. Pase ou we, yo

danse pase tout moun, en, yo chante pase tout

moun, yo bay pi gwo jes pase tout moun, yo

menm, Ie y ap fe jes pa yo, se laray pou ou we

bagay sa, en, epi tet yo mare, yo fe perik, yo fe

ke 1, ou we cheve yo bat li pou yo mete 1 kako,

ou pa konn si se gason tounen fanm, fanm

tounen gason. Si yon fanm yo mete kalson,

tout gason yo tou yo mete kako. Men sa di ke

se masisi yo tout met kako, tout, tout fanm ki

madivinez la yo met pantalon, sa di li pa mete

kako li menm, se pantalon li ye; se fanm li ye, li

tounen gason; se gason li ye, se madivinez li ye.

even a bulldog wouldn't want to come out,

because of those gays. Because when you arrive

at places like Fetan, Vilbone, those places back

there, Fetan, Ti Sentan, hey, it's only gays that

you see and Vodou priestesses and lesbians, it is

them. Because you see, they dance better than

everyone else, you know, they sing better than

everyone else, they give bigger gestures than

everyone else, they themselves, when they are

making their own gestures, it is out of this

world for you to see that stuff, you know, and

their heads are covered with headscarves, they

put on wigs, they make a pony tail, you see their

hair, they straighten it so that they can wear it

attractively, you don't know if it's a male who

turned into a female, or a female who turned

into a male. If a woman puts on male

underwear, all males will also put on dresses.

But this means that the gays all put on dresses,

all the women who are lesbians wear pants, this

means they don't wear dresses themselves, it's

pants. She is a woman, she turns into a boy. He

is a male, he turns into a lesbian.

B. Are there gays in the entire country?

N. Nan tout b6 sa, Miragwan nan. Miragwan

chaje, Miragwan chaje! O! Se al yon kote ki rele

Ti Ch6dye sou Bele! Si ou we madivinez avek

masisi byen la; madivinez bati kay, li mete

fanm nan kay la, li marye ak fanm. Masisi a

met gason nan kay la, li marye ak gason an. La

Ti Ch6dye nan Miragwan.

B. Si mwen konprann byen, w ap di yo menm

yo gen ti kominote pa yo?

N. Pase kote ki rele Ti Ch6dye a li menm, depi

ou part la, sa pou ou jwenn la, se masisi pou

jwenn la, madivin pou ou jwenn la, avek

oungan k ret la, si 1 masisi li pral ret la, pase m

byen di ou pi gwo oungan ki te lan Miragwan

se li k pi gwo masisi.

B. Pou kantite Iwa ki nan tradisyon pa ou, eske

gen yon vale oubyen eske se jis yon gwo

kantite ou pa ka konte yo?

N. In this entire area, Miragwan. Miragwan is

full of them, Miragwan is packed! Oh! Go to a

place called Ti Ch6dye sou Bele! If you see

lesbians and gays, they are comfortable there;

lesbians build houses, she puts women in her

house, she marries a woman. Gays put a male

in their house, he marries the man. There in Ti

Ch6dye in Miragwan.

B. If I understand well, you are saying that they

have their own community?

N. Because the place called Ti Ch6dye, once

you get there, what you will find there, you will

find gays, you will find lesbians, and the oungan

who lives there, if he is a gay, he will stay there,

because I tell you accurately that the greatest

oungan in Miragwan, he is the biggest gay.

B. Regarding the number of lwa in your

tradition, is there a number or is it such a great

quantity that you can't count them?

B. Gen masisi nan tout peyi a?

N. 251 nasyon rasin Ginen ki la nan kan mwen

an. B6 manman, b6 papa.

B. Ki jan ou konnen se nimewo sa yo? Ou te

ekri non yo epi konte yo?

N. Sa rele twoup. E, Ie ou tolere Iwa sa pemet

lwa fe ou fe tenten, en, epi 1 pa konn manje

pitit moun, 1 ap manje pitit ou, pase si ou tolere

1 tw6p, Iwa, ou gen on mezi pou ou pran ave 1.

Ou boukannen on patat, se pou boukannen de,

ou manje youn, repoze youn la, le 1 fwet pita

ou manje 1. Li kite ou manje 1, en. Ou bouyi de

grenn bannann, ou bezwen bouyi senk grenn,

ou toujou rezeve yon grenn; li te nan wout la, 1

ap pase 1 ap pran on bout, sa di la li ap manje

tout tan, sa vie di li pa janm grangou, en, k6m

ou pa fe 1 visye, li p ap fe visye. Ou toujou kite

pou li, en? Men depi ou pa ba li, on Ie li pran

tonbe nan ola.

N. 251 nations of the roots of Ginen who are

here on my side. On my mother's side, on my

father's side.

B. How do you know these numbers? Did you

write their names down and count them?

N. They are called a troupe. And, when you

tolerate lwa this allows the lwa to make you act

stupidly, you see, and even if he or she isn't

known to eat people's children, he or she will

eat your children, because if you tolerate him or

her excessively, the Iwa, you have a measure to

take with him or her. You baked a sweet

potato, you must bake two, you eat one, lay one

there, when it's cold later you eat it. He or she

lets you eat it, you know. You boil a few

plantains, you need to boil only five; you always

reserve only one, he or she was in the path, he

or she will pass, it will take a bit, that means he

or she will eat at all times, that is to say, he or

she is never hungry, you see, as you aren't mean

to him or her, he or she won't be mean. You

always leave something for her or him, you see?

But once you don't give to him or her, at some

point he or she will be fed up.

T.K. Si mwen vle konmanse an Vodou, kisa m

bezwen fe?

N. Bon, pou koumanse, apenn de koumanse,

eske ou ta retouve yon je mistik? Si ou bezwen

konmanse, apre ou fin konmanse, ou pral

twouve ou resevwa yon je mistik. Se ta grese, o

premye moman, ou fe yon pwomes. Apre ou

fin f& pwomes ou pral fe yon bagay ki rele

resevwa, sa se lI w ou f& yon bagay, epi ou

depoze nan yon pozisyon epi ou ankadre yo,

en, epi ou f& yon bwat ki rele ogatwa; w ap

mete ogatwa ou on kote. W al f& ch6dye pa ou,

kit Majou, kit Ma Sen Jak, gen Ma Ezili ou, ou

mete ladann ni epi ou achte yon kivet blan,

asyet blan ou, gwo savon ou, pou met la, pou

ou mete 1 la epi toujou gen dlo la. Aprezan

kounyeya ou prale f& yon ti lanp letenel, ou

pral mete kote ou ape resevwa a epi moun ki

konn priye, bagay sa yo, 1 ap priye ou, liv yo epi

T.K. If I want to begin practicing Vodou, what

do I need to do?

N. Well, to start, just after starting, would you

find mystical abilities? If you need to start, after

you finish starting, you will find that you

receive mystical abilities. It would be greased, at

the first moment, if you would make a promise.

After you finish making a promise you will do

something called receiving, that is when you

make something, and you lay it in a position

and you frame it, you see, and you make a box

called the ogatwa; you will put your ogatwa in a

place. You will make your pot, whether it is

Majou, whether it is Ma Sen Jak, there is your

Ma Ezili, you put them inside of it and you buy

a white tub, your white plates, your big bar of

soap, to put there, for you to put there and

always have water there. After this now, you

will light a small eternal lamp, put it where you

priye lanj. Kou ou al d6mi epi mistik ou

bezwen pral vin pal ave ou. Landmendijou Ie

ou leve epi tab sa a, ou te f& resevwa, se ou

menm ki pral konn sa w ap f& si w ap sevi,

konprann mwen, w ap bwe, w ap simen, w ap

pran yon ti simay, w ap remet men ou nan on

asyet pou f& on ti simay epi lI fini ou ap

resevwa bagay sa yo. Sa di ou gentan we tout

bagay. Yo gen Iwa k ap vin di ou mesi, wi m

we w f& tout bagay, mwen renmen ou, m

kontan e m di ou mesi epi m we tel bagay ou

bezwen epi mwen menm m nan plas la, nenpot

le ou bezwen m w a rele m. Ou annik al nan

ogatwa a, ou fe sa w ap f& a vreman, men

toujou depoze yon boutey wonm nan ogatwa

ou, on boutey chanpay, bagay sa yo, nenp6t le

mistik la bezwen reklame bagay yo.

B. E tout moun ki nan mistik yo gen ogatwa?

are receiving and the person who knows how

to pray, and those things, he will pray on you,

the books and angel prayers. Once you go to

sleep, the mystical forces you need will come to

talk to you. On the next day, when you get up,

this table that you made and received, you will

know what you are doing if you are serving,

understand me, you will drink, you will scatter,

you will take a small sowing, you will put your

hands onto a plate to make a small sowing and

when you are done you will receive these

things. This means that you have already seen

everything; there are some lwa that will come

and thank you, yes I see you've done all the

things, I like you, I am happy and I tell you

thank you and I see such things that you need

and I myself am in the place, any time you need

me, you'll call me. You just go in the ogatwa,

you do what you are doing, but always place a

bottle of rum in your ogatwa, a bottle of

champagne, those things, any time the mystical

force needs to demand those things.

B. And all of the mystic people, do they have

an ogatwa?

N. Wi.

N. Yes.

H.C. Ou menm, ou gen ogatwa?

N. Non, mwen menm mwen gen pewon. M

dan lefon mistik; se moun ki poko nan nivo sa

ki gen ogatwa, se rale yo poko rale. Bon, mwen

menm, m gentan prepare onz divine. M gentan

prepare onz oungan, m prepare onz oungan. M

prepare yo, m fe yo.

B. Kounyeya yo nan peyi a, y ap pratike?

N. Y ap travay, mwen k prepare yo, mwen k fe

yo. Yo vini m fonksyonnen ave yo, li gen

konsiy mwen, epi yo prepare ak mwen. M ba

yo yon pyes al sou tel maladi, pran sa, fe sa,

pran sa, fe sa, epi lI ou vini maladi a pa pi mal.

Maladi a vin kote m, m made si ou an sante,

maladi a di li pa pi mal. Epi m made yo, bay

maladi a yon beny la pou mwen; li bay maladi a

H.C. You yourself, do you have an ogatwa?

N. No, I myself I have an altar. I am in the

mystical depths; it is the people who are not at

this level yet who have an ogatwa, they don't

even crawl yet. Well, me myself, I have already

prepared eleven oungan. I prepared eleven

oungan. I prepared them, I made them.

B. Right now, are they in the country, are they


N. They are working, I prepared them, I made

them. They came and I worked with them, they

have my counsel, and they prepared with me. I

gave them a job to go to this sick person, take

this, do that, take this, do that, and when you

come the illness isn't that bad. The ill come to

me, I ask if you're in good health, the sick says

he isn't that bad. And I ask them to give the

yon beny. M gen moun ki relbete, aprezan ke

yo we liv la, si se yon bet ki m6de 1, ki koupe f&

o! Le m pran liv mwen, m f& sa pou m fe sou

maladi a. Setadi ke mwen pran liv mwen, m f&

priye sou li; le fini m fini, si se priye m ap ekri,

m boule bwa 1 bw&, m met men sou li epi fin

m fini, m di bon kounyeya ou menm se ou k

ap priye tretman ou. Alo6 pou ankouraje li, li f&

priye tretman li. Yo ba li ti k6b li, li degaje li; sa

di 1 konmanse pran lajan oungan gou. Le 1 ap

kontinye 1 plis, pou 1 f& pi gwo tretman toujou,

se konsa m prepare yo. Men mwen menm,

mwen dispoze mwen, depi moun nan se pa on

moun ki oungan, se on manbo ki prepare ou.

B. Konben tan sa pran pou yon moun pran

fomasyon oungan? Eske sa depann de moun


N. Non, sa depann konesans ou menm nan.

sick a bath here for me; he gives the sick a bath.

I have people who are out of their mind, at the

moment they see the book, if it is an animal

that bit them, oh that cuts iron! When I take my

book, I do what I have to do on the sick. That

is to say that I take my book, I pray on the sick;

when I am done, if I am writing prayers, I burn

wood, he drinks, I put my hand on him and

once I am done, I say, well, now you will pray

for your own treatment. Then, to encourage

him, he makes a prayer for the patient's

treatment. They give him some money, he

makes his way. That means he's getting an

appetite for the oungan's pay. When he

continues it further, to make an even bigger

treatment, this is how I prepare them. But me

myself, I am available, if the person is not an

oungan, it's a manbo who prepares you.

B. How much time does it take for a person to

become an oungan? Does this depend on the


N. No, this depends on what you know.

B. Alo w ap tann pou nenp6t moun ki pran

antrenman nan men ou pou 1 gen bon

konesans nan menm nivo ave ou?

N. Wi, paske etan Iwa m ap toujou ba ou on ti

fos epi ou al eseye fe yon kou. Kou a mache.

Kou 1 fe on 16ot kou, li mache, jiska m pral

kanpo a epi m pral diplome ou tou. M pral

konmanse diplome ou pou ou konprann ke ou

gen f6s ou, pou ou degaje ou puiske mwen di

ou. Mwen toujou di ou, I~ ou rive on kote, ou

we oungan sou maladi, yo rele yo sou li, li p ap

arete, pa sou maladi a. Si yo gen m6 vandredi a

yo pral mete 1 lakay ba w. W a trete 1 lakay ou.

Pinga ou janm we on oungan se yon maladi li

pral adres ou. De k6k pa konn mare nan yon

sel pik&t.

B. Eske gangan konn pataje konesans yo ak lot


B. Then you are waiting for any person who

takes training from you to have good

knowledge at your same level?

N. Yes, because of the lwa I am always giving

you a little power and you go to have a try. It

works. When he tries another time, it works,

until I'm relaxed and I'm going to graduate you,

too. I will start your graduation so that you can

understand that you have a power on you, so

that you can try your best once I tell you. I

always tell you, when you arrive at a place, if

you see an oungan working with a sick person,

they call him to the patient; he won't stop, not

on the sick. If they have a death on Friday they

will put him at your home. You will treat him at

your home. You should never think that an

oungan will make you sick. You can't tie two

roosters on one stake.

B. Are gangan known to share their knowledge

with other gangan?

N. Mwen konn pataje konesans mwen ba

moun. Men oungan yo telman konprann af&

lajan yo. Mwen menm m renmen pou yon bout

m manje, m ta renmen yo manje tou; se sa ki

lak6z ki f& le yon moun made m e m toujou

montre ou li. Demen, si Bondye vie, sa va itil

mwen. Se ak konesans sa ou al sove fanm nan.

Men lot la pa konn sa li menm, li bezwen li

menm se li k sel grenn ki pou viv, men bouch

pe pa f& anyen. M pa konsa. Se sa ki lakoz

mwen menm mwen deja pi mal pase yo, de jou

yo gen machine, yo gen gwo milet yo men

mwen m ap mache a pye. Men an reyalite, apye

pa m nan pa di anyen. M ap pati, m ap rive,

men yo menm, nan kouri rive, yo tonbe.

B. Kote ou te jwenn lespri pataj sa a?

N. Enben lespri pataj sa a li menm se depi sou

zanset mwen yo, pase manman m li menm te

konn rive kek kote, moun ap kriye de kriye,

moun grangou li pral mennen manje pou bay

N. I usually share my knowledge with people.

But the oungan know their money business

well. Me myself, I like to eat a bit of food, I

would like them to eat as well; this is what

makes a person ask me and I always show it to

you. Tomorrow, if God wants this, it will be

useful to me. It's with this knowledge that you

will save the family. But others don't know this

at all, he needs himself to be the only one who

will live, but sealed lips don't do anything. I am

not like that. This is the reason, as for myself, I

am already worse off than them; after two days

they have a car, they have their large mules but

me, I am walking on foot. But in reality,

however, my pedestrian lifestyle doesn't mean

anything. I leave, I arrive, but they, in their rush

to arrive, they fall.

B. Where did you find this sharing spirit?

N. Well this sharing spirit was from my

ancestors, because my mother herself, she

arrived at some places, people were weeping

and gnashing their teeth, people were hungry,

timoun nan manje. Li malad, yo pa gen anyen a

goute. Papa m li menm, li te konn gen yon se 1

ki manje lakay li, pou manman 1 gen dis pitit li

pa ka bay yo manje. Papa m te gen dis tou. Li

pataje manje ave 1. Ou we, zanset mwen yo, se

konsa yo te viv.

B. Eske mouvman rasin nan vin pi laj oubyen

pi piti an Ayiti?

N. Laj non, rasin nan vin pi laj. Sa k f& rasin

nan vin pi laj, gen houngan, gen maf&tou, gen

malfekte, tout moun vie oungan kounyeya.

B. M konn tande pale de jan Vodwizan konn

sevi avek imaj Sen yo, Sen Jak, Sen Gregwa,

elatriye, kote sa soti?

N. Sa di ke p6tre imaj sa yo soti pa anj! Pa anj

piske ou we gen imaj ki Sent An, gen k Sent

Ridas, gen yon pak&et, ou pa janm we 1 nan

she was going to bring some food to share with

the children. Someone was sick, they didn't

have anything to eat. My father himself, he had

a sister who ate at his house, his mother had ten

children who she could not feed. My father had

ten, too. He shared food with them. You see,

my ancestors, that is how they lived.

B. Has the roots movement become larger or

smaller in Haiti?

N. Larger indeed, the roots movement has

become larger. What made the roots movement

grow, there are oungan, there are imitation

oungan, there are criminals, everyone wants to

be an oungan now.

B. I have heard about how Vodouists serve

with images of the Saints, Saint James, Saint

Gregory, etc., where does this come from?

N. This means that these portrait images come

from angels! From angels since you see there

are images of Saint Anne, there are those of

legliz, ou we 1 sou bwat ogatwa yon moun, ah!

B. Men imaj sa yo soti nan legliz, petet lontan,

e pet&t legliz katolik an Ayiti pa vle mete imaj

sa yo sou mi legliz pase yo pa vle moun ki nan

legliz panse legliz ap ankouraje sa.

N. Men isi se lanj; isit se lanj ki reklame imaj sa

yo, se Sent An, se Sent Iridas, se N6tre Dam

de Pep&tyel Sekou, N6tre Dam de Loud, se yo

menm ki nan imaj sa yo ki sou otel isit.

B. Le yon moun we yon imaj ak Sen Jak Maje

sou chwal li avek tout nepe li, yo w& Sen Jak

oubyen yo we Ogou oubyen yo we toulede?

N. Bon, tout. Koute, Sen Jak la li menm, se on

Ogou li ye, men li reprezante yon m&et, sa k fe

Saint Ridas, there are many, you never see them

in Church, you see them on the ogatwa box a

person has, ha!

B. But these images come from the Church,

maybe from long ago, and maybe the Catholic

Church in Haiti doesn't want to put these

images on the walls of the Church because they

don't want people who are in the Church to

think the Church is encouraging this.

N. But here they are angels; here it is angels

who claim these images, it is Saint Anne, it is

Saint Iridas, it is Our Lady of Perpetual

Support, Our Lady of Lourdes, it is they who

are in these images on the altar here.

B. When a person sees a picture of Saint James

the Major on his horse with his sword, do they

see Saint James or do they see Ogou, or do they

see both?

N. Well, all. Listen, Saint James himself, he is

an Ogou, but he represents a master, what

sa se li k konmande Ogou yo, li gen plis f6s,

Sen Jak la gen plis f6s.

B. Li konmande Ogou yo?

N. Wi, se li ki konmande Ogou yo, sa se chef

latwoup, se chef latwoup li ye li menm. Sa di,

bann al deye do li epi raso 1 nan men li, 1 ap

pote bann li, se li k do a, se li k chef.

B. Le ou di Ogou yo, w ap pale de set yo. E set

Ogou yo, yo chak genyen kalite diferan?

N. Diferan, wi. Gen Ogoun Kafou wi, gen

Ogou Badagi, gen Ogou Feray, gen Ogou

Chango, gen Ogoun Balize, gen Ogou Fe, gen

Sen Jak Maje ki fe set Ogou.

B. Ou konnen tout s&t Iwa yo ki mache ak

chak Sen?

makes this is that he commands the Ogou, he

has more power, Saint James has more power.

B. He commands the Ogou?

N. Yes, it is he who commands the Ogou, this

is the head of the troupe; he is the very head of

the band. That means that his group follows

him and his whip is in his hand, he is carrying

his group, it is he who is in charge, he is the


B. When you say the Ogou, you are talking

about the seven? And the seven Ogou, are they

each different kinds?

N. Different, yes. There is indeed Ogoun

Kafou, there is Ogou Badagi, there is Ogou

Feray, there is Ogou Chango, there is Ogoun

Balize, there is Ogou Fe, and there is Saint

James the Major which makes seven Ogou.

B. Do you know all the seven lwa which

correspond with every Saint?

N. I know them, by heart.

B. E ou konnen relasyon yo?

N. M konn relasyon yo, wi, yo marye, yo mele

ak lot, pwason kraze nan bouyon. Lwa sa yo

menm, se Iwa ki toujou la.

B. Lwa kapab marye epi fe yon fanmi tou?

Tankou eske Danbala kapab marye?

N. Wi, puiske, Danbala li menm, madanm li se

Ren Siyet. Ren Siyet se yon Iwa k maje wi. Ren

Siyet se yon Iwa ki majez anpil, anpil, anpil. Ou

we Jezabel, se li. Se li ki rele granmet wa late a.

B. "Granmet" tankou mo yo sevi pou Bondye

nan Legliz la?

N. Non, Bondye li menm o pli o degre, eh.

B. And do you know their relationships?

N. I know their relationships, yes, they are

married, they mix with one another, they are

very good friends. These very Iwa, are Iwa who

are always here.

B. Lwa can marry and have a family too? Like,

can Danbala marry?

N. Yes, since, Danbala is himself, his wife is

Ren Siyet. Ren Siyet is indeed a major lwa. Ren

Siyet is a really, really, really major lwa. You see

Jezabel, it's her. It is she who is called the great

ruler of the earth.

B. "Granmet" like the word they use for God

in the Church?

N. No, God himself is at the highest level, you


N. M konnen yo, pa ke.

B. Pou ou menm, Bondye konmande tout lwa B. For you, does God command all of the Iwa?


N. 0 pli o degre, konprann, nonm sa a, li

menm, wa lat& a, li di ou li rele granmet, eh?

Men li menm, Bondye li menm, li gen on lot

non li menm, eh? Sa se Pe Seles li rele li menm.

Al6, moun sa yo yo lage on non ba yo. Yo rele

tet yo granmet, se granmet yo ye, y ap

konmande te yo, puiske se li menm ki te rejete

yo, pa de Akanj, Akanj Michel ak Akanj de

Limye. Akanj Michel ak Akanj de Limye, se de

Akanj sa yo ki t ap kondi de twoup, e 1 t ap

kondi de twoup anle a, epi chak maten, Akanj

Michel di, twoup pare a, se pou tout Bondye a

vin salwe 1 kote 1 chita. Akanj de Limye di 1

non, se Bondye li pral salwe li menm, epi li di,

bon, nou menm nou p ap rete la, li pran twoup

pa 1 la, li al bati yon ti kay sou tet Bondye.

Bondye voye Akanj de Lumye li di 1 al kraze ti

kay nonm sa a fe anle a menm. Li pran on ti

poto 1 rekraze li epi anmenmtan li ba misye sa

yo yon bourad lage ate. [...]

N. At the highest level, understand, this man,

he himself, the king of the Earth, he tells you

he is called great master, you know? But he

himself, God himself, he has another name, you

know? He is called Celestial Father. Then, these

people they let loose a name on themselves.

They call themselves great master, they are

great masters, they command their lands,

because it was he who rejected them, not the

Archangels, Archangel Michael and the

Archangel of Light. Archangel Michael and the

Archangel of the Light were two Archangels

who were leading two troupes, when he was

leading two troupes up there, and every

morning, Archangel Michael said, troupe be

ready, it is necessary for God to come and greet

him where he sat. The Archangel of the Light

told him no, it was God he would greet himself,

and he said, well, as for us, we will not stay

here, he took his troupe, he went and built a

house above the head of God. God sent for the

Archangel of Light, he told him go and break

the house that this man has made right above.

He took his wood post and he broke it again

and at the same time he gave those misters a

shove to the earth. [...]