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1 Copyright 2013 Hebblethwaite, Buteau, JeanBaptiste and Raitano F unded by the NEH Collaborative Grant Interview with Ati Max Beauvoir, part 3 Edited by Benjamin Hebblethwaite Transcribed by Joane Buteau and Benjamin Hebblethwaite Translated by Megan Raitano, Tahiri Jean Baptiste and Benjamin Hebblethwaite http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPAr8nqeTec Valery: Medam e msye, telespektat, nou de retou avk yon gwo potorik gason, yon poto mitan nan zaf Vodou an; se day Chf Siprm Vodou an, msye Max Beauvoir, ki avk nou. De retou fwa sa nou te anons e ke nou t apral pale de Vodou an, asp negatif Vodou an si gen youn, men pou anpil moun nou konnen ke depi nou tande Vodou se wanga. Max Beauvoir : Sa f moun p. Valery: Sa f moun p, pa slman f moun p, men se tiye moun, se zonbifye moun, se itil ize de konpoze pou bay moun gwo pye, eksetera, eksetera. Se yon oungan oubyen yon bk, nou pral f definisyon de mo sa yo ki f travay sa e ki f yon ekspedisyon dy yon moun pa ekzamp pou tiye li, f li mal, eksetera. Se yon realite ke Ayisyen viv chak jou nou menm isit o Zetzini. Nou viv li menm isit nan lakou Nou Yk, gen moun ki konnen ke yo ka al kay yon ou n gan oubyen yon bk pou li al regle yon lt Valery: Ladies and gentlemen, television vie wers, we are returning with a great and honorable man, a center post in Vodou affairs; he i s moreover the Supreme Leader of Vodou, Mr. Max Beauvoir, who is with us. When we return that time we announced that we are going to talk about Vodou, negative aspects of Vodou, if there is one but for many people we know that since we hear Vodou is spell making Max Beauvoir: That makes people scared. Valery: That makes people scared, not only scares them but kills people, zombifies people, it uses compounds to give people big feet, etcetera, etcetera. It is a n oungan or a bk, we are going to define those words that makes that work and that makes an expedition behind a person s back, for example, to kill him, make him sick, etcetera. It is a reality that Haitians live with each day even here in the United States. We live it even here in the area of New York ; there are people who know that they can
2 Copyright 2013 Hebblethwaite, Buteau, JeanBaptiste and Raitano F unded by the NEH Collaborative Grant moun pou li al f li mal. Ki jan ou snen kesyon sa a? E ontman, nan Vodou an eske li genyen l vrm an? Anvan nou vin sou zonbifikasyon an antanketl pett yon lt sij ase pwofon men e asp Vodou an ki ap f moun mal, wanga tout bagay sa yo; kisa w ka di sou sa ? Max Beauvoir: Mwen panse ke vrman li pa ekziste. Valery: Li pa egziste Max Beauvoi r: Li pa egziste, evidaman, l w ap pale de sosyete Vodou an, ou pale de anpil moun e tout moun pa nesesman bon moun, e nan tout sosyete day. Valery: Wi se vre, evidaman. Max Beauvoir: Ke ou pran sosyete etranj, se menm bagay, l w mete yon bann moun ansanm, ebyen tout moun p ap gen bon entansyon pou f bon bagay pou ale an avan, f pwogr. Se pou sa ou genyen tout kalite krim ki ft nan tout peyi nan mond lan. E lakay nou tou, nou gen moun ki mechan. E kesyon mechanste a li touche sten moun e lakay nou, an Ayiti, li mwens. Mwen panse ke pp Aysiyen an, sa ki kalifye l, se bon li bon, se yon bon pp. Se yon pp ki gen yon bon karakt, se yon pp ki pa mechan e se yon pp ki vrman eseye ede moun. Se sa ki karakterize nou. Ou w ke nou chak gen yon ima j de sa nou f de pp nou. Yon imaj kolektif, men mwen panse ke pp nou an se yon bon pp. Men sa pa vle di ke mechanste pa egziste, ke jalouzi pa egziste, ke moun pa ta renmen gen djb lt pa egziste, men sa egziste. An sm, gen de mwayen ki espirityl ke sten moun anplwaye afen ke yo asouvi bezwen sa ; yo vle go to the house of a n oungan or a bk for he is going to judge another person for him and is going to make it worse. How do you approach that question? And honestly, in Vodou is there really an answer? Bef ore we come to zombification itself perhaps another sufficiently deep subject and an aspect of Vodou that is making people sick, spellmaking and all of those things ; what can you say about that? Max Beauvoir: I think that really it doesnt exist. Valer y: It doesnt exist. Max Beauvoir: It doesnt exist, obviously when you are talking about Vodou society, you talk of a lot of people and everyone is not necessarily a good person, and in every society moreover Valery: Yes it is true, obviously Max Beauvoir: You take a foreign society, its the same thing, when you put a group of people together, then not everyone has good intentions for making a good thing for going forward, making progress. Its because of that you have all types of crime that hap pen in every country in the world. And in our country too, we have people who are mean. And the question of meanness affect s certain people and in our home, in Haiti, it is less. I think that the Haitian people, those who can describe it, is good, they are a good people. They are a people with a good character, they are a people that arent mean and they are a people who truly try to help people. That is what characterizes us. We see that we each have an image of what we make of our people. A collective ima ge, but I think that our people are a good people. But that doesnt mean that violence doesnt exist, that jealousy doesnt exist, that people wouldnt like to have other
3 Copyright 2013 Hebblethwaite, Buteau, JeanBaptiste and Raitano F unded by the NEH Collaborative Grant santi ke yo genyen an. Men o fon pa bliye ke nou te soti nan Bwa Kayiman an 1804, a nou te slman 450 mil Ayisyen. Pa t gen plis. Fk nou pa bliye ke 200 zan pita nou 9 milyon edmi. Nou prske osi gr an ke Lawoland, pe yi sa yo ak 9 milyon edmi dabitan. Si nou t ap plede tiye moun jan nou ap tiye yo an, jan yo di an, ske nou ta kapab grandi nan fason sa kote nou ta 9 milyon edmi jodi a? Youn ap tiye lt, nou t ap desann. Donk yo se betiz; sa f pati de anpil betiz ke mwen tande moun di sitou msye Potestan yo e Katolik yo tou. Yo di de betiz afenke repouse moun de Vodou an, afenke yo gen koleksyon moun yo lakay yo e y ap f plis kob; sa pi bon pou yo. Valery: Men kan menm, nan Vodou an, jan ou s t di an tal an nan tout relijyon day nou jwenn bon ak move, se nati imen. Men nan Vodouwizan nou jwenn de moun ki svi kal kay boko, kal kay oun gan. Avan n al pli lwen, f diferans ak bk ak ou ngan pou mwen. Max Beauvoir: Oungan se yon moun ki adopt e yon ritm patikilye. V alery: Yon rit? Max Beauvoir: W i yon ritm nan Vodou an patikilye e yo rele ri t R ada. Rada a st nan peyi Alada Daoumen. Al ou konnen ke msye Afriken yo pale sou lang sitou pou r yo, yo di rada lada. E se konsa yo gen R ada lakay no u, se Alada, kapital kote Tousen Louveti te soti, pa pa Tousen Louveti eksetera. Se waym spesyal yo rele Alada Dawo men, ki vin ba w rit Rada a. E la li suiv rit sa a ki vin ba w tout kalite lwa yo, m wa yen pou yo rele, metrize yo, jobs doesnt exist; but that does exist In sum there are spiritual means that certain people employ in order that they satisfy that; they want to feel as though they have it. But at the bottom of it all, do not forget that we were came from Bwa Kayiman in 1804, and we were only 450 thousand Haitians. We didnt have more. We must not forg et that 200 years later we are 9 and a half million. We are almost as big as Holland, those countries with 9 and a half million inhabitants. If we kept on killing people, as they say we do could we grow in a way where we would have 9 and a half million pe ople today? If one wa s killing another, we would be going down. So they are mocking; that belongs to the mockery that I hear a lot of people saying, especially the Protestants and the Catholics. They tell idiocies so that they repel people from Vodou, so t hat they have people gathering in their house and they are making more money ; that is better for them. Valery: But when, in Vodou, the way you talked quickly about all religions also having good and bad, it is human nature. But in Vodouists we find peopl e who serve, who go to the bks house, who go to the oungan s house. Before we go further define the difference between bk and oungan for me. Max Beauvoir: A n oungan is a person who adopts a particular rite Valery: A rite ? Max Beauvoir: Yes, a r ite in Vodou is particular and they call the R ada rite Rada comes from the country of Alada Dahomey. So you know that Africans spoke language s known mainly for their r they say R ada A lada. And tha t is how they established R ada here, it is Alada, the ca pital where Toussaint Louverture was from, papa Toussaint Louverture, etcetera. It is a special kingdom they call Alada Dahomey, that comes to give
4 Copyright 2013 Hebblethwaite, Buteau, JeanBaptiste and Raitano F unded by the NEH Collaborative Grant nou pale avk yo, voye ale ekse tera. Donk se sa ke ougan an f. Valery: O k. Ougan an se yon prt al ou konpare li ak yon prt M ax Beauvoir: Esansylman. Tandis ke ou gen lt moun, tout moun vle svi Vodou pa prtr, yo pa nesesman ougan. Ou genyen sa yo rele ougan makout. Ou gan makout la se yon ng ki genyen yon makout ; evidanman avk kesyon Divalye a yo vin asosye l ak tonton makout. Men o fon se yon ng ki te gen yon makout sou do li e se tout sa li te genyen. Li sti Jeremi l ap monte Pdep oubyen KapAyisyen a pye. Epi l li st Kap Aysiyen l ap redesan Jeremi ank. E sou tout wout la, li gen kliyan l toupatou; l ap gen anpil fonksyon enptan paske vrman se yon ng ki mobil ; li mache pratikman a pye sou tout wout sa yo e li gen kliyan sou tout wout sa e l ap projte ste n imaj de Vodou an. Yo rele li o ug an makout li pa gen anyen li pa gen ranf, tout afl nan sak li an, nan makout li an e se sak f yo relel ougan makout, li anbilan. Men ou gen yon lt moun ki la slman pou li f leson. Sa vle di kman pou li aprann moun pou li sonde yon espri patikilye ke nan lang Vodou an nou rele l sk poli. Souvan nou rele l la poliso men sk poli. Men fk nou di ke Bondye nan Vodou yo di Hou kankou ougan Houfon Housi. Yo tout komanse ak Hou, men lespri nan Bondye sa nan moun nan ou ba li yon lt non ou rele li Se E sa k f nou gen se medo, se lido. Nou gen ehu se sa se lespri Bondye nan moun nan. Donk youn nan espri sa yo, k man mwen ka di w, li tankou destine. Li tankou yon gwo kalbas, imajine w yon gwo kalbas ki ranpli ak tout evnman ki pral rive w you the Rada rite And there it followed that rite that came to give you all kinds of lwa, a means for them to call, master them, we talk with them, send them away, etcetera. So that is what the oungan does Valery: Ok ay A oungan is a priest, then you compare him with a priest. Max Beauvoir: Essentially. Whereas you have other people, ever yone wants to prac tice Vodou through a priest, they are not necessarily oungan. You have those called oungan makout An oungan makout is a man that a makout bag; obviously with the Duvalier question, they came to associate them with the tonton makout [Duvaliers domesti c militia]. But at a deep level he is a man who had a bag on his back and it is all that he had. He came from Jrmie he went to Port de Paix or Cap Haitia n on foot. And when he leaves Cap Haitian, he go es down to Jrmie again. And on all the routes, he has his clients everywhere; he has an important function because he is a man on the move; he walks practically on foot on every route and he is projecting a certain image of Vodou. They call him o ungan makout he doesnt have anything, he doesnt have rei nforcements, everything he has is in his sack, in his bag and that sack makes them to call him oungan makout, he is wandering. But you have another person that is only there to make lessons. That means how to teach people how he contacts a particular spi rit that in the language of Vodou we call sk poli. Often we call it la poliso but sk poli But we must say that Bondye [God] in Vodou they say Hou like H oungan Hounf, Housi. They all started with Hou, but the spirits in Bondye that are in peopl e, you give it another name you call it Se And what we have is medo, it is a lido We have ehu se that is the spirit of Bondye in people. So one of those spirits, how can I explain it to you is like destiny. It is like a big calabash, imagine a big
5 Copyright 2013 Hebblethwaite, Buteau, JeanBaptiste and Raitano F unded by the NEH Collaborative Grant nan vi w. E kalbas la debouche pa anba epi l ap soti donk evnman ap soti youn dy lt donk se konsa vi w pral ye. Donk an st l ou al w ng sa ou rele l bk, li sonde, li sonde kalbas ou a e se la li pral defini kisa ki rive w ye kisa ki rive w ane pase, kisa ki pral rive w demen, kisa ki pral rive w ane prochn eksetera. Li ka li kalbas la pou ou. Sa yo di souke kalbas la paske vrman tw op move bagay ap rantre e ke vrman si ou souke li pral gen anpil bon bagay ki pral vini. Se pa kreye li pral kreye yon bagay ke l ap ba ou l paske ou pa t gen dwa li. Non tout se pa ou li ye, li te nan kalbas ou deja. Men sa ki pral soti l li souke li a, ou pral gen chans genyen kk bon bagay ki pral soti. Yon la f de lt, moun an apre sye li. E sa se yon vye teknik tr afriken ke nou gen lakay nou. Sa se li menm ke nou r ele bknon nan lang Vodouwizan; nan lang Vodouwizan Da women nen pt moun ap rekont non bknon an. Men lakay nou, nou rele li bk paske se li ki konn sonde kalbas, se li ki konn sonde destine moun; e se pa ke li chanje destine w men li envti d bagay yo e li ba ou yon pe bon bagay ki pmt ou soufle respire afin de jan sa, l tout move bagay ap suiv youn dy lt. Donk se sa ke bk a ye. Evidaman li vin gen yon move non. Anpil moun pa renmen l ; yo di ke bk a se yon ng ki pa gen atach piske li pa gen yon fr, li pa gen pye at E ke li menm, se kat l ap f, li f kat li f leson. Yo rele sa leson e nan f kat la. E yo di ke se li ki f zonbi tou eksetera. Se pa vr e, se pa li ki f zonbi a. An s m, zonbi a se yon bagay ki fet nan yon gwoup sosyal tr pat ikilye Vodou ki tr enptan ke yo rele le Sanpwl epi Biz ango. Yo rele yo S anpwl epi Biz ango. Men kisa sa vle cala bash that is filled with all of the good things that will happen in your life. And the calabash leaks from the bottom and it is leaking out so the events are coming one after another ; so thats how your life will be. So wh en you see guys who you call bk, he examines, he examines your calabash and that is where he is going to define what happens to you what happened to you last year, what is going to happen to you tomorrow, what is going to happen to you next year, etcetera. He can read the calabash for y ou. What they say is shake the calabash because really too much bad stuff is entering and that really if you shake it there are lots of good things that are going to come. He is not going to create something that hell give you because you dont have a ri ght to it. No, all of it is yours, it was already in your calabash. But what will happen when you shake it, youre going to have the chance to have some good things come from it. And that is one very old African technique that we have in our country That is precisely what we call bknon in the Vodouist language; in the Dahomey Vodouist language any person recognizes the name bknon. But in our country w e call him bk because he knows how to read the calabash it is he who often examines peoples destiny ; and it is not that he changes your destiny but he inverts the order of things and he gives you a few good things that allow you to inhale and exhale in case one bad thing is following another. So that is what a bk is. Obviously he has come to h ave a bad name. Many people dont like him; they say that a bk is a man who isnt attached since he doesnt have a temple he doesnt have feet on the ground. And that he, its card reading that preoccupies him he is doing consultations They call that a lesson and card reading And they say that he makes zombies too, etcetera. Its not true, he doesnt make the zombie. In sum the zombie is something that happens in a very particular
6 Copyright 2013 Hebblethwaite, Buteau, JeanBaptiste and Raitano F unded by the NEH Collaborative Grant di s e yon sosyete sekr. Men sosyete sa kisa sa vle d i ? Moun ki pa renmen yo, yo rele yo sosyete sekr men lakay nou, yo relel sosyete sakre. Kils Sanpwl la ye? E byen se msye endyen yo, Tayino ak A wawak. Se tout tradisyon Tayino ak Awawak ki antre nan Vodou an tou ki f pati nan Vodou an tou paske Vo dou an te f pou devwal e pou li re y ini tout tradisyon ki te genyen yo e se sa Vodou an ye. Ke li te soti nan n, ke li te soti nan Kongo, toupatou, tout tradisyon yo la. Donk an sm msye Sanpwl yo, se S anpwala yo te rele sou tan Espa g nol yo e ou te jwenn yo pa slman an Ayiti men nan p e yi Kiba tou. Yo te jwe yon gwo wl nan peyi Meksik tou. An sm yo rakonte w k man se yo menm ki te opoze yo a lenvazyon de Korts ; ki te panyl la ki t ap rantre pou li al kolonize peyi yo. Se yo menm ki te bay Kortes anpi l pwoblm. Se sa Sanpwl, donk an sm se, yo f pati de Vodou an tou. Men bi yo se pa yon kesyon de sevi Bondye, se pwotej e la sosyete. Lakay nou, pa ekzan p, fk ou konnen k e ng gason, se yo ki travay la t a. Nou plante diri, nou plante patat nou plante tout st de bagay men se pa janm nou ki al vann li. Se madanm nou ki al vann li, se yon menm ki pran gwo panye a sou tt yo epi ou w y ap desann sou Kenskf, yo al va nn legim oubyen y ap soti Fon de Ng y ap pral nan mache anba a. Se f tout vwayaj la sanzar kontinulman; se konsa distribisyon ekonomik lan ft lakay nou. E donk moun sa yo ap transpte lajan yo nan men yo men ou poko janm tande youn ap rele anmray paske yo gen sosyete a k ap proteje yo. E se pou sa yo ka f tout wout sa yo a pye, nan mitan nwit lan. Yo si y ap r ive a sis z di matin kote yo gen dwa rive nan mache pou yo achte yon bl tt chou, yon bl legim afin de jan sa. Ou konpran, paske yo pwoteje, yo pran kb la, Vodou social group that is very important; they call it Sanpwl and B iz an go. They call them Sanpwl and Biz ango. But what that means is a secret society. But that society, what does that mean? People who dont like them, they call them a secret society but in our house, we call it a sacred society. What is a Sanpwl? So it is the Indian people Tai no and Arawak. It is a ll Taino and Arawak traditions that entered in to Vodou that belong to Vodou too because Vodou was made to unveil all traditions that the y had and that is what Vodou is Whether it came out of the north, wheth er it came from the Kongo, from all over all those traditions are here. So in sum, the Sanpwl people they were called the Sanpwala during Spanish times and you found them not only in Haiti but in Cuba too. They played a big role in Mexico too. In sum they tell you how it was them who opposed the invasion of Cortez; who were Spanish who were coming in to colonize their country. It was them who gave Cortez many problems. That is Sanpwl, so in sum they belong to Vodou too. But their purpose wasnt a question of serving Bondye they protect the society. In our country, for example, you must know that men are working the land. We plant rice, we plant sweet potatos, we plant all sor ts of things but it is never us who will sell it. It is our wife who goes to sell it, they are the ones who take big baskets on their heads and you see them down in Kenscoff, they go to sell vegetables or they come from Fon de Ng, they go i ng to the market below. It involves making nonstop trips continuously ; that is how econo mic distribution happens in our country And so those people are transporting money in their hands but you do not even hear one calling out for help because they have a society that is protecting them. And it is because of that they can take all those rout es on foot, in the middle of the night. They are sure that they re going to arrive at six oclock in the morning where they plan arrive
7 Copyright 2013 Hebblethwaite, Buteau, JeanBaptiste and Raitano F unded by the NEH Collaborative Grant yo rantre lakay yo. Valery: N ap f yon rete sou sosyete sekr sa. Nou pral pran yon poz epi n ap tounen sou sosyete sekr sa ki tr enptan pou nou nan kk enstan ak msye Max Beauvoir. in the markey so they can buy a beautiful head of cabbage, a beautiful vegetable, in that way You understand, because t hey are protect ed they take the money, they go home Valery: We are making a stay talking about that secret society. We are going to take a break and we will return to that secret society which is very important for us in a few instants with Mr. Max Be auvoir.