Interview with Ongan Michelet Tibosse Alisma by Benjamin Hebblethwaite

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Title:
Interview with Ongan Michelet Tibosse Alisma by Benjamin Hebblethwaite
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Haitian Creole and English
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Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
Jean-Baptiste, Tahiri
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Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri Jean-Baptiste
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Gainesville, Florida
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Caribbean Area, Haitian Creole, interview with a Vodou priest, Miami Vodou   ( lcsh )

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Abstract:
This is the Haitian Creole transcription and English translation of Benjamin Hebblethwaite's interview with Ongan Michelet Tibosse Alisma. The interview took place in July, 2012, at Ongan Alisma's home and Vodou temple, Société Linto Roi Trois Mystères. I thank Michelet for sharing his time and knowledge with us. This work was completed thanks to funding from the UF-Duke NEH Collaborative Grant. Ayibobo!

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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1 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Benjamin Hebblethwaites i nterview with Ongan Michelet Tibosse Alisma Edited by Benjamin Hebblethwaite Transcribed and translated by Tahiri JeanBaptiste Ben: Bonjou tout moun. Se mwen menm, Benjamin Hebble thwaite. Mwen isit nan onf Michelet Alisma ki travay km ongan pou So ci t Linto Roi Trois Mystres. Se yon gran onf isit nan lavil Miyami. Nou gen anpil optinite. Se yon bl okazyon pou nou vini isit f yon ti pale avk ongan Michelet Alisma sou tout k oze ki gen arevwa avk relijyon Vodou e avk sosyete li isit nan Miyami. Mwen travay km pwofes asistan nan Inivsite Laflorid. Se travay rechch mwen sou kwayans Vodou, tradisyon Vodou, chante Vodou ki mennen mwen antre pran rechch sa nan kominote ayisy en an. Kounye a la, nou pral tande de twa ti mo ongan Michelet Alisma pral pataje avk nou sou li menm. Ongan Alisma: Mwen di bonswa avk Ben. M tr kontan asavwa ke w kapab deplase w vin f entvyou sa avk nou jodi an. Je suis Michelet Tibosse Alisma. Mwen se yon bk, on ongan asogwe andedan Soci t Linto Roi Trois Mystres k ap f travay Ginen an Ben: Hello everyone. It is me, Benjamin Hebblethwaite. I am here at the Vodou temple of Michelet Alisma who works as the ongan for Soci t Linto Roi Trois Mystres It is an important Vodou temple here in the city of Miami. We are in l uck. It is a wonderful occasion for us to be able to come here to speak with ongan Michelet Alisma on everything that has to do with the religio n of Vodou and his Vodou society here in Miami. I work as an assistant professor at the Univeristy of Florida. Its my work on Vodou belief, Vodou tradition, Vodou music that brings me into the Haitian community to conduct this research. At this time, we w ill hear a few words ongan Michelet Alisma will share with us about himself. Ongan Alisma: Hello Ben, I am very pleased that you were able to conduct this interview with us today. I am Michelet Tibosse Alisma. I am a bk, an ongan asogwe inside of Soci t Linto Roi Trois Mystres that is doing Ginens work inside of the city of Miami. I am a

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2 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant andedan vil Miyami an. Mwen se yon enjeny sivil. Mwen se yon kontab. Mwen se yon bk ongan ki kmanse f travay sa depi laj stan arive jodi a. Mwen genyen trantwitan; f ke mwen genyen tranteyin an, pwofondman, ke m ap prezante entvyou sa dan lenon Socit Linto Roi Trois Mystres. Ben: Msi anpil paske ou akde nou on entvyou. Mwen ta renmen konnen kk detay sou ki kote ou soti avk ki kalite fanmi ou s oti ladan. Ongan Alisma: Mwen soti an Ayiti, Latibonit, andedan vil Gonayiv Dekawo. Se la m sti. Mwen sti andedan yon fanmi Vodouwizan e relijye an menm tan. Ben: L w di relijye, w ap f referans avk legliz Katolik, oubyen kisa sa vle di, m, p? O ngan Alisma: Mwen genyen matant mwen ki m. Mwen genyen tonton mwen ki past. Mwen genyen pr de nf tonton mwen ki ongan osi. Ben: Pou mwen menm, m twouve sa enteresan. Gen tout kwayans diferan nan mitan yon sl fanmi? ske se nm al an Ayiti pou tout b k, ongan soti nan yon kontks ki divs konsa? Ongan Alisma: L Ginen an ap f chwa li pa distenge ou limite. Li rantre men l kote ke l vle: kote k f l plzi. Ben: Li pa gade sou kwayans lt moun nan fanmi an? Ongan Alisma: Ditou paske papa mwen civil engineer. I am an accountant. I am a b k ongan who started d oing thi s work at the age of seven until today. I am thirty eight years old; I have been representing Vodou in the name of Socit Linto Roi Trois Mystres for thirty one years. Ben: Thank you very much for sharing an interview with us I would like to know some detail s about where you are from and wh at sort of family you come from. Ongan Alisma: I come from Haiti, the Artibonite, from the city of Gonaves Dekawo. That is where I come from. I come from a family that is Vodouist and religious at the same time. Ben: When you say religious, are you referring to the Catholic church? W hat does that meannunns, priests ? Ongan Alisma: I have an aunt who is a nunn. I have an uncle who is a pastor. I have close to nine uncles who are ongan. Ben: For me, I find that interesting. There are all sorts of different beliefs wi thin one family? Is that normal in Haiti for all bk and ongan to come from such diverse backgrounds? Ongan Alisma: When Ginen is making its decisions it has no dis tinctions or limitations. It takes from where it wants: from where it pleases. Ben: It doesnt take into account the beliefs of others in the family? Ongan Alisma: Not at all because my

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3 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant se t e yon predikat avan epi apr li vin ongan. Ben: Oke! Konsa li chanje chemen kwayans li nan mitan lavi l? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Ou di ou te kmanse vin ongan a laj de stan. Ongan Alisma: Bk! Ben: Oke ou bk a laj de stan ; ki l ou te vin ongan? Ongan Alisma: Mwen te vin pran ason a laj de sz an. Ben: L ou te gen stan kijan ou te konnen pou w travay nan domn Ginen an? Ongan Alisma: Jan mwen te konnen pou m te travay nan domn Ginen an se paske l mwen al lekl, lwa konn ap pran mwen lek l. Papa m te gentan ongan, men f mwen di w byen ke mwen ft nan peristil. Mwen leve anba peristil. A st epk papa m te predikat mwen potko ft. L mwen gen setan mwen ale lekl, lwa ap pran mwen lekl. Premye fwa sa rive direkt lekl la te oblije kour i lopital avk mwen. L direkt lekl la kouri lopital avk m wen. L nou rive dokt konsilte mwen yo di bon yo w mwen pa gen anyen. Konsa yo vin rele l, papa mwen, nan direksyon lekl la pou yo eksplike l men kisa k ap pase pitit li. Li f yo konnen nenp t l yo ta w sa rive ank, si pa gen posibilite pou yo kapab mennen mwen ba li yo gen dwa rele li vin chche mwen. L sa rive ank, bon, yo rele misye epi l deplase l vin chche father was a preacher before and became an ongan after. Ben: Okay! He changed his belief system in the middle of his life? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: You said you became an ongan at seven years old. Ongan Alisdma: Bk! Ben: Alright you were a bk at seven years old; when did you become an ongan? Ongan Alisma: I took up the ason at the age of sixteen. Ben: When you were seven years old how did you know to work in the Vodou domain? Ongan Alisma: I knew to work in the domain of Vodou because when I would go to school, the lwa would take me. My father was already an ongan but I have to express that I was born in the peristil. At the time that my father was a preacher I was not yet born. When I was seven I would go to school and lwa would take me at school. The first time that happened the director of the school had to rush me to the hospital. When we arrived the doctor examined me and said that they couldnt find anything wrong with me. Thats how they came to call him, my father, to the school so they c ould e xplain to him what happened to his child. He let them know if ever that were to happen again, if there was no possibility to bring me to him, they could call him to come get me. When it happened again, well, they called him

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4 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant m. Li mennen mwen lakay. L mwen rive lakay gen moun E spri a deja ap chche kliyan pou li menm, pou l travay. Se l mwen rive lakay kounye a, se travay espri a te vin travay. Li chita li travay pou moun yo. L espri a fin travay pou moun yo, li ale. Kounye a zye m kl, mwen wont. Mwen kouri. Ben: Poukisa ou te santi ou w ont? Ongan Alisma: R ezon ki koz mwen santi mwen wont paske mwen antre nan yon travay pou mwen menm, m panse m poko gen matirite e konesans pou li paske a st epk si yon moun ta vin kote mwen pou kont mwen san lwa a m pa t ap janm resevwa l e m pa t ap k onnen kisa pou m ta di l osi. Ben: Moun te kmanse chche w menm l ou te gen stan paske l lwa te montre ou te genyen kapasite geri yo oubyen f byen pou yo? Ongan Alisma: Wi, paske lepli souvan moun ki vin konsilte mwen se son d moun ki w mwen nan revelasyon yo ki gen pwoblm k ap boulvse yo e nan revelasyon yo, yo w se tl kote y ale mande pou tl moun l yo rive yo jwenn solisyon. Se konsa moun sa yo vin ap chche mwen. Ben: L yon moun gen stan epi li gen lwa ki monte l kijan kalite ganiz asyon sa te mache? Ou te nan peristil lwa te monte w pandan yon tan epi yon kliyan te vini pou chche d? Ongan Alisma: Se pa nan peristil. M wen di w, ank, mwen te nan sal de klas lekl and he came and got me. He brough t me home. When I arrived home there we re people The spirits were already searching for clients, so they could work. When I arrived at home it was clear that the spirit came to work. He sat and worked for the people. When the spirit was done working for the people, he left. At this moment my eyes were opened; I was ashamed. I ran. Ben: Why did you feel ashamed? Ongan Alisma: I felt ashamed because I took part in a type of work that, for me, I did not possess the maturity or the knowhow for. B ecause, at that time, if a person had come to me by myself, without the lwa, I wouldnt receive him and I also wouldnt know what to tell h im. Ben: People started searching for you even though you were seven because the lwa showed that you had the capacity to heal them or do well for them? Ongan Alisma: Yes because oftentimes the people I consulted were people who saw me in their dreams who had problems that were troubling them and in the dreams they saw that it was a particular place, they went asking for a particular person and when they arrived they found a solution. Thats how these people came to search for me. Ben: When a person is s even years old and he is ridden by lwa how does that work? Were you in a peristil and lwa rode you for a time and a client came to seek aid? Ongan Alisma: It was not in the peristil. Ill say, again, I was in the classroom one

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5 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant yon bon jou tankou jodi an epi lespri vin sou mwen lekl la. Lekl p ran mwen mennen mwen lopital. L dokt konsilte mwen yo w m pa gen anyen. M pa gen anyen kounye a la yo konvoke papa mwen nan reyinyon ala direksyon lekl. Yo aprann papa mwen sa k pase. P apa m di oke klkeswa l sa rive, rele m. Rezon ki koz papa m te di rele l se paske papa m te gentan w gen moun k ap vin mande pou mwen, pou jan de travay sa. Ben: Nan tt pa m, nan lide pa m, mwen te toujou panse yon timoun ta jwenn kont ak avk lwa pandan yon seremoni. S e ti lide ki nan tt mwen. Lwa kapab p ran yon moun nan nenpt l, nenpt kote? Sa p ap nesesman anba yon peristil pandan yon seremoni? Ongan Alisma: Lwa ka pran yon moun andedan Vatikan, andedan legliz Pwotestan, andedan yon semin, andedan yon lekl, andedan lachanm, andedan yon pal: nan on konferans de prs; nan yon miting; nan yon asanble. Ben: Premye fwa ou te w lwa se nan peristil papa w e nan seremoni sa yo? Ongan Alisma: M wen leve w sa menm. M w sa tout tan. Ben: Donk, nan okazyon familyal, pandan ti ft familyal, pandan n enpt moman? Ongan Alisma: Non, m ap pale w de seremoni Vodou andedan peristil papa mwen, lakay mwen menm ; k ominote kote mwen ft Gonayiv Dekawo. Ben: ske ou ka di gen yon l ki pi day like today and a spiri t came to me at the school. The school took me and brought me to the hospital. When doctors consulted me they saw that there was nothing wrong with me. There was nothing wrong so they summoned my father to a meeting with the director of the school. They told my father what happened. My father said: alright, whenever that happens, call me. My father said to call him because my father already saw that there were people who would come to ask for me for that type of work. Ben: In my head, in m y understanding, I always thought a child would come into contac t with a lwa during a ceremony Thats the idea in my head. Lwa can take a person whenever, wherever? I t wont necessarily be under a peristil during a ceremony ? Ongan Alism a: Lwa can take a person inside of the Vatican, inside of the Protestant church, inside of a seminar, inside a school, inside of the bedroom, inside of a palace: in a press conference; in a meeting; in an assembly Ben: Was the first time you saw lwa in your fathers peristil in the c eremonies? Ongan Alisma: I was brought up seeing that. I see that all the time. Ben: Well, in a family occasion, during a family party, at any moment? Ongan Alisma: No, Im speaking of Vodou ceremonies inside o f my father s peristil, in my very home ; in the community where I was born in Gonaves Dekawo. Ben: Would you say there is a time thats

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6 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant pwopis, ki pi ankourajan pou lwa vini? Se seremoni men malgre sa yo k apab vini nan lt...? Ongan Alisma: Nan ka de emdjensi. Ben: Oke! Nou t e pale lt jou sou diferans ant bk avk ongan. Mwen panse anpil Ameriken epi anpil chch nan domn Vodou pa fin distenge diferans lan byen. ske w kapab eklere nou sou diferans a nt de domn Vodou sa yo? Ongan Alisma: Diferans ki genyen antre bk e ongan: l ke ou se yon bk ske w se yon moun yon lwa deside pou travay pou li. Lwa a f apl avk ou pou w al travay pou li. Li kmanse montre w li menm nan dmi kisa l ka f, kij an l fonksyone, kiys li ye. L ap montre w jan de bagay sa yo epi l ap montre w jan de f ke l ka f w. L mwen pale de f, kijan de pwoms ke l kapab f w si w aksepte travay pou li. Konsa, ou pral rekont ou se on chwazi. Kay okenn bk, oungan ke ou pas e y ap toujou di w sa. Y ap di w mwen w ou se yon chwazi. M w yo pwotekte w; ou pwisan; yo chwazi w. Yo ta renmen travay avk ou. Ben: Kijan yo kapab detekte sa? Ongan Alisma: Klkeswa kote kay manbo, kay ongan ke w pase aosi si w ap f on konsiltasyon de manbo sa oubyen de ongan saespri ki chwazi w la l toujou part pou l pase mesaj la bay ongan k ap konsilte w la, bay manbo k ap konsilte w la. K onsa li kapab konnen. more convenient thats more encouraging for the lwa to come? Its the ceremony but despite that they can c ome in other? Ongan Alisma: In cases of emergency. Ben: Okay! We spoke the other day on the difference between bk and ongan. I think that a lot of Americans and a lot of researchers in the Vodou domain dont quite yet finely distinguish the diffe renc e. Could you enl ighten us on the difference between those two Vodou domains? Ongan Alisma: The difference that exists between bk and o ngan: when yo u are a bk you are a person a lwa chose to work for him. The lwa called you to work for him. He begins to show you himself, in sleep, what he can do, how he functions, who he is. Hell show you those sort s of things and hell show you the type of offerings he can make you. When I say offerings, what type of promises he can make you if you accept to work for it. This way you will recognize that you are chosen. Any bk, ongans house you visit, they will tell you that you are chosen. They will tell you they see you are a chosen one. I see that they protect you; you are powerful; they chose you. They would like to work with you. Ben: How can they detect this? Ongan Alisma: Any manbo, ongans house you visit especially if you are doing a consultation with the manbo or onganthe spirit that has chosen you will always appear to deliver the message to the ong an or manbo whos consulting you. That is how hell know.

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7 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Mwen vle konnen plis sou nan dmi stadi nan rv pou aprann plis detay sou ki lwa li ye, kisa li vle, kisa li ka f pou nou. ske gen yon tradisyon pale tou: t ankou papa w, tout lt bk, lt ongan ki vin di w men plis enfmasyon sou lwa ki chwazi la? Ongan Alisma: L ke ou w nan yon revelasyon, nan yon rv jan de espri sa yo ki vin pale avk ou, se tou nmal l w leve demen, si Dye vesi papa w oubyen tonton w oubyen, granpapa w oubyen kouzen oubyen, kouzin ou pa t manbo, pa t onganse pou w deplase al chche konnen, si w vle. L w al chche konnen, l ap eksplike w, wi men kisa mwen w pou ou. Ou gen on lwa ki f apl avk ou pou w vin travay avk li. Ben: Se nan demen ou kapab chache plis konfimasyon, plis detay sou idantite lwa a? Ongan Alisma: Wi ou kapab chche idantite lwa a, e on lt manbo oubyen on lt ongan s i w pa gen on gran paran pa w ki deja nan domn nan deja. Ben: Mwen ta renmen konnen plis sou kk senb l, oubyen kote nan peristil la tankou potomitan. Tout moun ki etidye Vodou konnen byen vit potomitan se yon senbl nan sant kwayans Vodou. Ou ka pale sou wl li e pou kisa moun toujou vire otou li kont zegui mont Ongan Alisma: Klkeswa mezon an, klkeswa chn kay ke li ye a se potomitan an ki pou kenbe l. L nou pale de potomitan se menm jan nou kapab di Ben: I would like to know more about sleep that is to say in dr e ams to learn more details about which lwa it is, what he wants, what he can do for you. Is there also a s peaking tradition: like your father, other bk, other ongan who come and tell you more information on the lwa that chose you? Ongan Alisma: When you see in a revelation, in a dream these type s of spirits that come and speak with you, its perfectly normal when you wake up in the morning God willing if your father, or your uncle, or your granfather, or your cousin, arent manbo arent onganto go and seek to learn, if you want. When you seek to learn, he will explain what you need to do. You have a lwa that has called on you to work with it. Ben: Is it the next day you can search for more confirmation, more details on the identity of the lwa? Ongan Alisma: Yes you can search for the identity of the lwa or another manbo, another ongan if you dont have a parent who is already in the domain. Ben: I would like to know more on some symbols, or places in the peristil like the potomitan (center post) Everyone who studies Vodo u knows very well that the potomitan is a central symbol in the Vodou belie f. Can you speak on its role and why people always rotate around it counter clockwise? Ongan Alisma: Whatever house, wh atever house it might be, the potomitan will hold it up When we speak of the potomitan similarly if we

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8 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ou menm nan fwaye lakay ou se on potomitan. Paske ou chf fwaye a, se ou menm ki pou f, ede f. S e ou k plis lonje men bay madan m ou ke madan m ou lonje men ba ou pou w kapab pran swen fwaye a. La ou se yon potomitan. Si w pa ta la, nan egzistans fwaye sa, ske se on fwaye ki paralize. Se wl potomitan an sa andedan sekt Vodou a. Se potomitan an ki reprezante l kat pwen kadino ki pou pmt on onsi kanzo, manb o, ongan yo konnen kote yo dwe kanpe pou yo soryante [to orient themselves] l y ap f salitasyon avk lwa yo. Ben: Poukisa yo toujou anskle potomitan an nan yon sl direksyon? Yo to ujou f direksyon sa; yo pa janm f direksyon sa. ske gen yon sans dy sa? Ongan Alisma: Vodou a genyen yon sl plan strikti de potomitan yo. Klkeswa kote w pase ou w yon potomitan se pou w jwenn li kare ouby en ou jwenn li won. Se menm jan klkeswa lopital ou pase a, klkeswa nasyon an w ap w lopital la gen menm sin. Klkeswa kote w pase ki gen on lakwa wouj, depi w part ou w se on lakwa wouj. M gen dwa rive kay la kounye a m pa konn pale lang chinwa yo men depi m rive m ap w sa se yon lopital paske li di sa se lopital e sin nan pa chanje pou klkeswa nasyon. Ben: Tout Vodouwizan ki svi ak potomitan, yo tout svi avk li menm jan? Yo tout respekte l menm jan? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Tout Vodou? were to say that you, yo urself, are a potomitan in your marriage. Be c a u s e you are the head of the marriage, its you who has to do, help do. Its you who extends a hand to your wife rather than your wife extend ing a hand to you so you can take care of the marriage. Here, you ar e a potomitan. If you werent here, in the existence of the marriage, it would be a paralyzed marriage. That is the role of the potomitan within the Vodou sector. Its the potomitan that represents the four cardinal points that allows the onsi k anzo, manbo ongan know where they need to stand to orient themselves when they are saluting the lwa. Ben: Why do they always ci rcle around the potomitan in the same direction? They always do that direction; they never do this direction. Is there a reason behind this? Ongan Alisma: Vodou has one strict plan for the potomitan. Wherever you go and you find a potomitan its either square or round. Similarly wherever you pass a hospital, in whatever nation, youll see that the hospital has the same sign. Wherever you go that has a red cross, upon arriving you see that its a red cross. I could arrive at the house and not know how t o speak the C hinese language, but upon arriving I ll see that its a hospital because it says that is a hospital and the sign never changes, no matter the country. Ben: All the Vodou ists who use the potomitan, do they all use it the same way? They all treat it the same? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: All Vodou?

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9 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Nan anpil seremoni ou w moun f salitasyon. Se youn nan eleman pratik Vodou O u w anpil nan seremoni se salitasyon lwa yo. Pandan y ap salye yon lwa tankou Danbala oubyen Loko oubyen Ezili yo konn vizite menm kote nan peristil la a chak fwa yo kmanse on nouvo wn salitasyon? Tank ou: yo salye potomitan. Y o saly e ountgi, moun ki bat tanbou. Yo salye pt djvo. Y oun s alye lt, tankou lt ounsi yo. Y o salye odyans. ske se an menm tan tou on bagay ki menm nan tout Vodou? Ongan Alisma: S a se senp. Mwen rete kw ke si w deplase, ou vin lakay mwen jodi an premye bagay ou f l w antre lakay mwen se ou dwe salye mwen. Enbyen se de menm. Seremoni an ap ft. Yo pral rantre. S e mwen menm yo leve pou mwen salye lwa Loko. Se on lwa m renmen salye anpil. Yo leve mwen pou mwen salye lwa Loko. Premye bagay m dwe f se prezante mwen a loryan loksidan, ki vle di lekat pwen kadino nan langaj mistik la epwi pou mwen f konesans avk yo epi jodi a se li menm ki la pou mwen salye l, pou mwen desvi l nan seremoni sa. Ben: Sa se otou potomitan an? Ongan Alisma: Anhan e w a pral w avan tou ke mwen tmine salitasyon an, si l apresye mwen li tou vin sou mwen. Se konsa tou, si se pa mwen menm li te vle nan moman sa, se ou menm li te vle epi se sou ou l vini pandan mwen menm m ap salye l. Se konsa l gen dwa vini sou ongan Makis. Li gen dwa vini sou Ongan Emmanuel. Li kapab vini sou yon lt osi. Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: In a lot of ceremonies youll see people saluting. I ts one of the practical elements of Vodou. Youll see a large portion of the ceremonies is saluting the lwa. While they are saluting a lwa, like Danbala or Loko or Ezili do they visit the same place in the peristil every time they start a new round of salutations? For instance they salute the potomitan. They salute the ountgi, the people who drum. They salute the door of the djvo. They salute each other, like the ounsi. They salute the audience. Is this also something that is the same in all Vodou? On gan Alisma: Its simple. I believe that if you leave to come to my house today, the first thing you do when you enter my home is greet me. Well, its the same. The c eremony is happening. They ar e about to enter. Its me they ask to greet Loko. Its a lwa I really like to greet. They ask me to greet Loko. The first thing I need to do is to present myself to the east, to the west which is to say to the four cardinal points in the mystical language and for me to acknowledge them And to day he s the one here I have to greet him. I have to serve him in th at c eremony Ben: That is around the potomitan? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh and youll see that before I finish the salutation, if he appreciates me he will come to me. Also if it wasnt m e he wanted in that moment, if its you he wanted he will come to you as I am saluting him. That is how he can come on ongan Marcus. It could come on ongan Emmanuel. It could come on another also.

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10 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: L ou pral prezante tt nou devan ontgi, moun k ap bat tanbou yo, anpil fwa w w ongan avk manbo yo pral mete at. Yo pral beze t kmsi yo pral f yon reverans devan ontgi. Ki sans ki genyen dy sa, paske nou pa f sa devan potomitan menm jan? Ongan Alisma: Nou f l devan potomitan menm jan. Ben: Menm jan? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ou m et ajenou devan potomitan an epi w bo l pou w salye l. An nou retounen nan menm kesyon an. De menm ou rantre nan kay la; ou fin salye papa w, ou dwe al salye manman. Sa di osito ke w fin salye potomitan ou dwe al salye ountgi paske ountgi se poto kwen kay la ki pou soutni potomitan an anv de sistm nan e ke san ountgi potomitan an ap febli. Si pa egzanp, si madanm ou ta tonbe l mouri, timoun yo rete nan men w slman, w ap bezwen on lt d, pa vr? Ske ou pa kapab f travay la ou menm sl. Se de menm tou, si ou pa ta la, ank, madanm ou ap bezwen on lt moun ki pou ede l pote chaj la. Se menm jan o ntgi a la pou l sipte potomitan an anv de tout sa k ap ft de seremoni lwa yo. Ben: S e pati entegral sistm nan. Ongan Alisma: Sa p ap deranje w si m di w on bagay? Ben: Non! Ben: When you are presenting yourselves in front of the ontgi the people who beat the drums, many times youll see ongan and manbo place their heads on the ground. They will kiss the ground as if theyre revering the ontgi. What is the meaning of this, because you dont do this in front of the potomitan the same way? Ongan Alisma: We do it in front of the potomitan the same way. Ben: The same way? Ongan Alisma: Yes! You place your knees on the ground before the potomitan and you kiss it to salute it. Let us to return to the question. Wh en yo u enter into the house and you finish greeting your father, you need to greet your mother. That means the minute you finish saluting the potomitan, you need to salute the ontgi because the ontgi are the corners of the house that supports the potomitan relative to the system and without the ontgi the potomitan would be weak. If for example, your wife fell ill and died, the children are left with you, wont you need help? You cant do the work by yourself. In the same sense, if you werent here, your wif e would need another person to help her bear the burden. The ontgi is here for the same reason, to support the potomitan relative to all that occurs in the ceremonies of the lwa. Ben: Its an integral part of the system. Ongan Alisma: Will it disturb yo u if I tell you something? Ben: No!

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11 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Nou genyen dezym ongan sosyete a ki prezan. L w fin avk mwen si w gen klke kesyon pou ta poze li li pr pou l ta reponn ou. Ben: Wi, avk plezi. Ms i! Donk, nou pale sou potomitan ; nou pale sou ountgi. Anpi l fwa ou w ongan pral salye djvo a, oubyen pt djvo a. Anpil moun ta renmen konnen poukisa yo salye djvo a. Ki sans li genyen; ki senbolis li genyen? Ongan Alisma: Pou w pale mwen de djvo ou pral pale m de on inisyason kanzo. L n ap pale de seremo ni, nan kad seremoni an se tou nmal pou Lakou salye pt onf Rezon pou salye pt onf: sa se on kesyon tr fasil. Menm ou menm ou kapab reponn li. Se chanm lwa yo. Se la lwa yo repoze yo l yo la. Se la ki biwo yo pou yo chita pou yo f konsiltasyon pou kelkeswa moun ki bezwen yo e pou yo f travay pa yo osi. Al pandan m ap f salitasyon mwen d w e salye pt onf a pou m vin f yo konnen mwen nan kay la. Ben: Nou nan biwo lwa yo menm menm kounye a la? Ongan Alisma: Wi, kounye a la. S a di se andedan biw o lwa yo menm ke nou ye; ke nou chita sou biwo yo menm. Ben: Se la yo repoze? Lwa onf sa repoze isi l pa g en seremoni oubyen? Ongan Alisma : Non! Lwa a la l l bezwen la oubyen l ou rele l. L mwen rele l, Ongan Alisma: We have here the second ongan of the society. When you are finished with me, if you have a few questions for him hes ready to answer you. Ben: Yes, with pleasure. Thank you! Well, we spoke of the potom itan; we spoke of the ountgi. Many times youll see ongan saluting the djvo, or the door of the djvo. A lot of people would like to know why they salute the djvo. What does it mean; what symbolism does it have? Ongan Alisma: To speak of the djvo, you have to speak of the kanzo initiation. When we are speaking of the ceremony, in the context of the ceremony its normal to salute the door of the onf. The reason to salute the door of the onf: that is a really easy question. Even you can answer it. It is the room of the lwa. Thats where the lwa rest when theyre here. That is their office where they sit and perform consultations for anyone who needs them, and to do their work as well. S o, when Im doing salutations I have to salute the door of the onf to let them know that I m in the house. Ben: Were really in the office of the lwa right now? Ongan Alisma: Yes right now. That means that were really inside the office of the lwa; we are really sitting in their office. Ben: This is where they rest? Do the lwa of this onf rest here wheneve r there is no ceremony? Ongan Alisma: No! The lwa is here when it needs to be here, or when you call it.

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12 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant mwen bezwen l. M wen f apl avk li, li vi n la. Men lwa a patou. Ben: Oke, li tout kote? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Sa ap mennen mwen nan yon dezym kesyon. Gen moun ki pale sou lwa ki nan dlo, lwa ki nan pyebwa, pyebwa repozwa. Y o pale sou lwa nan syl, anba t, lwa danse nan tt moun. Donk pou Vodouwizan lwa a viv nan lanati prensipalman. ske yo viv sou lt plant? ske yo nan lt iniv? Ki kote yo ye? Ongan Alisma: Nou pa kapab di lwa a ni isi, ni ltb; ni devan, ni dy. Slman lwa a pami nou. Lwa a ap viv pami nou tout. Ben: Genyen moun tou ki pale sou lwa. Chak moun gen yon lwa. Lt jou nou te pale sou jan chak moun gen yon lwa k pwotekt. Sa vle di chak moun gen yon kalite lwa k ap veye egzistans moun li jwenn, moun ki resevwa l. ske chak moun gen yon lwa ki viv nan tt li, nan k li, oubyen se on lwa ki viwonen l? Ki kalite rap li genyen avk moun? Ongan Alisma: Si se pa on lwa ki ta f yon chwa de ou menm pou w f travay sa w ap f a, ou t ap gen lt bagay pou w ta f. Se on lwa kanmenm ki f apl avk ou ki pmt pou w sakrifye tan w pou w f sakrifis de ou menm pou w f rechch sou lwa. Ske gen yon bagay ki atire w de lwa a oubyen se sa k rele apl. Ske gen yon chwa anv de ou menm. When I call it, I need it. I call upon it and it comes here. But, the lwa are everywhere. Ben: Okay, they re everywhere? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: That brings me to a second question. There are people who speak of lwa that are in the water, lwa that ar e in the trees, resting trees. T hey speak of lwa in the sky, in the ground, lwa dancing in peoples heads. So for Vodouist the lwa live, principally, in nature. Do they live on other planets? Do they live in other universes? Where are they? Ongan Alisma: We cant say the lwa are either here n or there; neither in front, neither behind. Only, the lwa are among us a ll. Ben: There are also people who speak of the lwa. Each person has a lwa. The other day we spoke on how each person has lwa that protect. That means each person has a kind of lwa thats watching over the people it finds, the people who receive it. Does each person have a lwa that lives in his head, in his heart, or is it a lwa that lives all around him? What kind of relationship does it have with people? Ongan Alisma: If it wasnt a lwa who chose you to do the work that youre doing youd have something else to do. Its indeed a lwa that called on you that allows for you to sacrifice your time to sacrifice yourself to do research on lwa. That means there is something that attracts you to the lwa or that is called a calling. That means there is a cho ice

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13 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: ske w ta di gen yon bann tip apl diferan nan Vodou? Ongan Alisma: Anpil! Ben: Dapre moun nan; dapre destine l? Ongan Alisma: Lwa a gen dwa f apl avk ou. Men pandansetan [at the same time] l f apl avk ou, li ta renmen w se on dokt ki pral travay nan yon lopital ki pral pran swen de moun pou bay moun lavi. Se nan branch sa li vle w ye. Li gen dwa f apl avk ou, li ta renmen ou se on enjeny ki la pou egzekite plan, pou konstwi wout, kay, tout bagay. Se pou sa ke l chwazi w. Li gen dwa chwazi w tou se pou w avoka. Li gen dwa chwazi w Li gen dwa chwazi w tou li voye w pou w ale andedan Pwotestantis pou w al aprann de sistm nan. Se on fason l l vi ni sou ou menm talan sa l voye w al kapte a l itilize l epi pou l pibliye l, pou l konpare l a pa l la e pou l moutre w tout sa ki pa bon andedan l e li menm tout sa ki bon andedan l. Se sa f si w pran on Bib avk mwen la m ap di w andedan Nouvo Tstaman men sa ki bon yo ke yo pa janm preche andan legliz: tout sa k bon yo si yo preche andan legliz tout fidl ap vire do yo kite legliz la. Paske y ap w se on kesyon de Py p sonl k ap defann andedan legliz. Ben: Donk, stadi lwa gen yon pakt misyon diferan pou l voye moun f? Ongan Alisma: Lwa a chwazi w. L i vle w s on prezidan. L l a rive pou w prezidan pa gen anyen k ap f w pa prezidan. relative to you. Ben: Would you say there are different kinds of callings in Vodou? Ongan Alisma: Many! Ben: Based on the person; based on their destiny? Ongan Alisma: The lwa can call on you. But at the same time, it would like you to be a doctor who will work in a hospital who would care for people to give people life. Th a t s the field it wants you to be in. It can call on you. I would like you to be an engineer to be there to execute plans, to construct roads, houses, all sorts of things. Thats what he chose you for. It can choose you, also, to be a lawyer. It can choose you It can choose you, also, to send you inside of Protestantism to learn about the system. That way, when it rides you itll use that talent it sent you to capture to publicize it, to compare it with its own [religion] so it can show you all thats bad i n it and all thats good in it. Thats why if you take up the Bible with me, I ll tell you inside of the New testament here is the good that they never preach inside of the church: if they preach all the good things all the loyals will turn their backs and leave the church. Because, they will see its a question of personal interests that are being defend ed inside of the church. Ben: So, that means the lwa sends people on a bunch of different missions? Ongan Alisma: The lwa chooses you. It wants you to be a president. When the time comes for you to be president, theres nothing that stop you from being president.

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14 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: ske ou panse gen p rezidan Ayisyen lwa mete yo la? Tankou anpil moun di Aristid se yon moun ki te gen kontak avk lwa. S a w w nan sa? Ongan Alisma: Mwen p ap di w wi lwa mete yon prezidan la paske mwen vle di w on bagay ke mwen ka pwouve Men, majorite prezidan dan lemon d mistik. Se pa Ayiti non, men majorite prezidan dan le mond mistik. [...] ke li te pran pouvwa a dlo [....] apre l l fin chita sou chz la li w li jije de bon, ilfoke l f on deplase [he has to make an effort]. Li toujou gen on demach pou l mete dey chche ki kote ki bon an pou l w se andedan Sosyete Linto ki bon e pou l mande Sosyete Linto yon konsiltasyon an prive. Ben: Moun ki gen pouvwa chche konsiltasyon sa yo? Ongan Alisma: Epi kounye a prezid an an mete sou li ke l konnen. L i asire li. Non slman li genyen bdigad de sekirite pou okenn delenkan pa arive tire sou li men li genyen yon bdigad nan li menm ke psonn pa kapab w kontre tout lt malvzasyon yo Ben: Mwen ta renmen konnen sa ou kapab di sou w l disiplin avk ld nan Vodou. P a egzanp, mwen w ou se on ongan ki apresye, ki mande on jan disiplin avk ld. ske se tipik avk ongan, manbo yo? Part II Ben: Nou t ap pale sou wl disiplin avk ld nan Vodou epi nan jan ou menm ou Ben: Do you think there are H aitian presidents who were placed by the lwa? For instance, people say Aristide is a person who was in contact with the lwa. What do you think of this? Ongan Alisma: I wont tell you yes Lwa placed a president because I want to tell you things I can pro ve. But, the majority of presidents in the world are mystical Not just Haiti but the majority of presidents in the world are mystical [...] whether he took power by water [....] after hes sat in the chair he sees that he ll judg e well if he makes an effort. He always has a process to go through. Hell look for a good place and hell see that its inside of Socit Linto ; hell ask Socit Linto for a private consultation. Ben: People in power search for these consultations ? Ongan Alisma: And then, the president puts on as if he knows. Hes assured. Not only does he have bodyguards security so no delinquent comes to shoot at himbut he has a bodyguard inside of himself that no one can see who can keep an eye out regarding all misconduct. Ben: I would like to know what you can say on the role that discipline and order in Vodou. For example, I see that you are an ongan who appreciates, who asks for a certain type of discipline and order. Is that typical of the ongan, the manbo? Part II Ben: We were speaking on the role of discipline and order in Vodou and on

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15 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant f seremoni. Ki kote kilti disiplin pa w la soti? M pa w sa tout kote. Lt kote kmanse nenpt l. Yo kmanse ta, nan nwit. Men sanble isit ou kmanse nan yon l presi epi w kontinye solidman. Ongan Alisma: Anba peristil kote ke mwen leve, m leve jwenn d isiplin, prensip, resp. L ke yon moun ap deplase kite lakay li, li konnen l ap deplase a tl l pou l retounen a tl l. Ou dwe respekte sa paske moun nan li deplase sot lakay li a se yon sakrifis ke l f pou l asiste seremoni an epi se l sa l pral vin chita f de twazdtan san anyen. Li pa posib. Konsa gen yon moun ki kapab deplase l di oke l ap vin kouvri indtan de seremoni an epi l l vini seremoni an pral deplase nan katrdtan. Ou te di l ap kmanse a tl l; ou dwe respekte l a. L sa lwa a ba ou plis resp. Tout kote ou w ki manke resp, prensip, disiplin pou lwa a, yo menm yo rann tt yo ap soufri. Yo rann tt yo ap trennen. Jan w svi lwa w se konsa lwa w svi avk ou. Ou svi lwa w pwp, li svi w pwp. Ou svi lwa w an grandyoz, li svi av w an grandyoz. Ou svi avk li san disiplin, li svi av w san disiplin. Pa etone tou, moun sa pral gen on pwoblm e se lwa ki kapab ede li. Nan moman an, lwa a an reta. Ben: Ou soti kilti sa nan fanmi pa w, nan men papa w? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Na n Gonayiv ou kapab jwenn peristil ki pral kenbe prensip sa avk lt how you yourself perform ceremonies. Where does your culture of discipline come from? I dont see that everywhere. Other places start at anytime. They start late, at night. But, it appears that here you start at a specific time and you solidly continue. Ongan Alisma: Under the peristil, where I was raised with discipline, princip les respect. When someone leaves their home, they know theyll leave at a certain time to return at a certain time. You have to respect that because the person sacrificed and left home to attend the ceremony and thats when hell come and sit for three hours needlessly Its not possible. Also, a person can come and say hell stay for an hour of the ceremony and then when he comes the ceremony starts in four hours. You said it would start at a particular time; you have to respect that. This way you are more respected by the lwa. Everywhere you see that lack s respect, princ iple, discip line for the lwa, they cause themselves suffering They cause themselves to drag behind How you serve your lwa is how the lwa function with you. You serve your lwa cleanly, itll serve you cleanly. You serve your lwa grandiosely; i tll serve you grandiosely. You serve it without discipline; itll serve you without discipline. Also dont be surprised that this person will have a problem and its the lwa that can help him. In the moment, the lwa is tardy. Ben: You got this culture fr om your family, your father? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: In Gonaves can you find peristil that hold this principal along with others

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16 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ki pa kenbe l tou depan de ongan ki responsab li? Ongan Alisma: Wi, tou depan de ongan ki responsab li. Ben: M vle poze kk ti kesyon sou rit Vodouwizan yo. Tankou ou konn f rit Rada isit. Ou konn genyen rit Petwo, Kongo e gen lt ank tankou rit Gede. Gen kk moun ki di Gede f pati on rit pou kont li. ske ou w l menm jan? ske gen lt rit ank ki f pati sistm pa w? Ongan Al isma: Wi, genyen rit, apr Rada: Petwo, Kongo, Nago, Dawomen, Banda, Yanvalou. Tout sti andedan sistm nan. Ben: Chak genyen yon seremoni ki pou yo? Ongan Alisma: Diferan! Ben: Nan onf pa w la w kenbe yo tout? Ongan Alisma: Tout! Ben: ske gen lt onf ki genyen lt rit ki pa f pati rit ou itiliz e yo? Ongan Alisma: Wi, paske andedan abitasyon Gonayiv [kote ke ] nou genyen gran Lakou Souvnans, gran Lakou Soukri Danach, gran Lakou Badjo Kidi gran Lakou Dewonvil. Andedan Dewonvil ou jwenn Banda, andedan Zantray. Andedan Mapou ou jwenn Lakou Badjo [ ...]. Andedan Soukri Danach ou jwenn nasyon Kongo. Andedan lakou Souvnans ou jwenn nasyon Dawomen. Tout that dont, depending on the ongan responsible for it ? Ongan Alisma: Wi, it all depends on the ongan w hos responsible for it. Ben: I would like to ask some questions on th e rites of the Vodouists. For instance, you hold the Rada rite here. You sometimes h old the Petwo rite, Kongo and there are others like Gede. There are some peopel who say Gede is part of its own rite. Do you see it the same way? Are there other rites that are part of your system? Ongan Alisma: Yes, there are rites, after Rada: Petwo, Kongo, Nago, Dawomen, Banda, and Yanvalou. All come from inside of the system. Ben: Each has its own ceremony? Ongan Alisma: Different! Ben: In your onf do you observe them all? Ongan Alisma: All! Ben: Are there other onf that have other rites that do not belong to the rites you utilize? Ongan Alisma: Yes, bec ause inside of the Gonayiv communities we have the great L akou Souvnans, the great Lakou Soukri Danach, the great Lakou Badjo Kidi the great Lakou Dewonvil. Inside of Dewonvil you find Banda, within the Zantray organization. Inside Mapou you find Lakou Badjo [...]. Inside Soukri Danach you find the Kongo mation. Inside Lakou Souvnans you find the

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17 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ozalantou yo ou jwenn yon Petwo ki woule sou Rada ke yo rele li Ti Joslin. Se Vodou sa ki pi dous. Ben: L ou di se yon Petwo ki woule sou Rada? Ong an Alisma: Marye avk Rada, y o rele l ti Joslin. L ou menm ki konn danse Petwo, mwen menm ki konn danse Rada, avk ongan Makis ki konn danse Petwo, ki konn danse Rada, ske se de bagay diferan. Ben: L moun ki f pati tradisyon Ti Joslin pral ganize y on seremoni, ske yo pral kanmenm kenbe pati Rada separe avk Petwo? Ongan Alisma: Vodou a pa gen distenksyon; y oun ede lt. Ben: Men sa m te vle mande se depi nou kmanse sou rit Rada ske sa dire pou yon bon ti moman avan kmansman rit Petwo a oubyen ske moun sa yo konbine rit Petwo avk Rada an menm tan? Tankou yon lwa Rada epi yon lwa Petwo... Ongan Alisma: Non, w ap w moun sa yo pa ale pa d. Li pa ale pa d, esansylman yo djs kmanse seremoni an. Yo salye gran chemen. Yo salye kafou epi yo antre nan Papa Legba. Yo salye Marasa, l yo soti nan Marasa kote yo tonbe yo tonbe. Ben: Pa egzanp ou di Souvans se yon peristil ki svi avk rit Dawomen. ske moun ki svi avk rit Banda pa egzanp, ske yo kapab svi avk kk rit Dawomen nation. All around you find a Petwo that is rolled up with Ra da that they call Ti Joslin. That is the sweetest Vodou. Ben: What do you mean when you say a Petwo that rolled up with Rada? Ongan Alisma: Married with Rada, they call it Ti Joslin. You, who knows how to danc e Petwo, and me, who knows how to danc e Rada, and ongan Mar cus who knows how to danc e Petwo and Rada so it is two different things. Ben: When the people who participate in the Ti Joslin tradition are going to organize a ceremony, do they indeed keep the Rada part separate from Petwo. Ongan Alisma: Vodou has no distinctions; one helps the other. Ben: But what I wanted to ask was, when you start on the Rada rite does that last for a good moment before the commencement of the Petwo rite or do those people combine the Petwo rite with the Rada at the same time. For instance, one lwa Rada and one lwa Petwo.... Ongan Alisma: No, youll see those people dont go in order. Its not in order; essentially they just start the ceremony. They salute the great pathway. They salute the cr ossroad and they enter into Papa Legba. They salute Marasa. When they leave Marasa theyll end wherever they end. Ben: For example, you say Souvnans is a peristil that uses the Dawomen rite. Do the people who use the Banda rite, for example, use the Dawom en rite when

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18 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Dawomen l yo f ser emoni oubyen ske yo toujou f Banda san yo pa melanje avk Dawomen? Ongan Alisma: W ap jwenn moun nan l akou Banda ki danse andedan Dawomen. W ap jwenn moun andedan Dawomen ki danse andedan Banda ki svi tout l wa sa yo ansanm. W ap w moun sa f plizy abiman pou l ft Souvnans lan e l f plizy abiman pou l ft Banda a. Ou gen dwa on sl moun nan svi tout Lakou yo alafwa. Dat ft yo pa tonbe menm l. Chak lwa sa yo jwenn yon wl nan lavi nou. Ben: M konprann, men rit Dawomen pa t deplase al nan per istil ki konn svi avk rit Banda? Se moun ki f pati peristil Souvnans yo pral...? Ongan Alisma: Se pa rit la ki deplase non. Se nou menm, eleman k ap svi lwa yo ki deplase al ede on lt fr, yon lt s. De menm ou w l isit Ozetazini. Ou ka w plizy seremoni w pase w w mwen. Se paske yo envite mwen al sipte yo. Rezon poukisa yo envite mwen: nan moman an yo fin depanse kb yo vre, menm si se lwa ki te bay kb la pou yo f seremoni, yo ta renmen lwa a byen resevwa. Ou gen dwa w nan moman seremoni sa lwa a y ap f ft la pou li a se sou mwen l vini l resevwa. Se konsa l gen dwa vin sou ou tou li resevwa. Li gen dwa vin sou O ngan Emanyl li resevwa. Li gen dwa vin sou Ongan Makis li resevwa. Ske yo bezwen tout moun. Se sa k f yo pa f distenksyon andedan Vodou. Ben: Depi mwen f lekti nan liv ki pale they have ceremonies or do they always do Banda without mixing it with Dawomen? Ongan Alisma: Youll find people in the Banda yards who dance inside of Dawomen. Youll find people inside of Dawomen who danse inside of Banda who serve all of t hose lwa together. Youll see that that person has multiple outfits for the Souvnans party and multiple outfits for the Banda party. There can be one person serving all the yards at the same time. The celebrations dont occur on the same dates. Each of these lwa have a role in our lives. Ben: I understand but the Dawomen rite doesnt leave and go to the peristil that uses the Banda rite? Is it the people who participate in the Souvnans peristil who will....? Ongan Alisma: It isnt the rite that leaves. It is us: the people serving the lwa who leave to assist another brother, another sister. Its the same here in the United Sates. Youll see me at multiple ceremonies. This is because they invite me to come support them. The reason why they invite me is because when they finish spending their money, even if its the lwa that provided the money for the ceremony, they would like the lwa to be well received. You could see that during this ceremony the lwa they are throwing the party for come on me to be received. It could also come on you to be received. It could come on ongan Emmanuel to be received. It could come on ongan Marcus to be received. So, they need everyone. That is the reason why they dont differentiate in Vodou. Ben: When I read books that discuss

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19 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant sou Vodou ayisyen depi ou mache nan lari nan Ayiti oubyen nan Dyaspora w kmanse tande moun pale mal sou fenomn Bizango avk Chanpwl. Poukisa gen yon polemik konsa pou Bizango? Kisa yo f ki atire tou t atansyon sa? Ongan Alisma: Polemik ki kapab genyen antre Vodouwizan avk Bizango, se sa w vle di mwen? Ben: Chch pafwa konn di, oubyen moun nan larikapab Ayisyen, kapab pa Vodouwizan, yo kapab Pwotestan, yo kapab pa svi lwamen, gen yon sten repitasyon Bizango genyen. Ongan Alisma: Oke, Pwotestan yo gen yon chaj yo lage sou do Bizango ki kapab pmt pou yo w si yo kapab diskalifye Bizango a. Men se pa tout ongan e tout bk ki f pati Bizango a. Bizango se yon sekt andedan rit mistik la men ki distansye l avk on sten de Ongan, on sten de manbo, on sten de bk osi. Yon moun vle antre nan rit Bizango a, ou antre. Ou pa vle antre, ou pa antre. Se menm jan, andedan Pwotestan. O u jwenn Batis, Advantis, Temwenn Jewova, Mrmon... Ben: Se jis on lt kalite chemen disponib. Ongan Alisma: Al yo rele tout Pwotestan. Yo rele tout Levanjil. Men ske Advantis se Legliz de Dye? ske Mrmon se legliz Batis? Y ap svi menm Bondye a wi, men yo diferansye tt pa yo e yo pa f zaf yo menm jan. Haitian Vodou when you walk in the streets of Haiti or in the diaspora you start to hear people speak ill of the Bizango and Chanpwl phenomenon. Why is there such a polemic against Bizango? What do they do that to attract all this attention? Ongan Alisma: The polemic that exists between Vodouwizan and Bizango, is that what you mean to say? Ben: Researchers sometimes say, or people in the streets Haitians, non Vodou ists they may be Protestants, pe ople who dont serve the lwa Bizango has a certain reputation. Ongan Alisma: Okay, the Protestants have an accusation burden that they place on the back of Bizango that allows for them to disqualify Bizango. But, it isnt all ongan and all bk who par ticipate in Bizango. Bizango is a sector in the mystical rite, but its distant from certain ongan, certain manbo, and also certain bk. If a person wants to enter into the Bizango rite, they can enter. If you dont want to enter, you dont have to enter. Its the same inside of Protestantism. Youll find Baptists, Adventist, Jehovahs Witnesses, and Mormons. Ben: Its just another available path. Ongan Alisma: Consequently they call them all Protestants. They call them all Evangel ists. But, is Adventism the Church of God? Is Mormonism the Baptist Church? Yes, they are serving the same God but they differentiate themselves and they dont handle their affairs in the same way.

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20 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: ske w konne n kk det ay sou jijman Bizango konn f? T ankou Rachl Bovwa te ekri yon liv ki rele Savalou E e nan liv sase yon liv kreyl sou Vodou ki enteresan tout bon li di lontan km pa te gen bon sistm jistis an Ayiti, oubyen te manke tribin al, sitou andey nan zn riral, Bizango te gen travay jije moun ki f krim oubyen moun ki f adilt oubyen moun ki vl kabrit, eksetera. Moun gen dwa ale devan jij Bizango pou akize moun sa depi li sispk li te f yon krim. Ou konn tande pale de fonksyon Bizango jijman sa jounen jodi oubyen ske w panse se on bagay ki fini? Ongan Alis ma: Oke, pa presizeman Bizango: s a a lakay tout Vodouwizan. Se pa on kesyon ni Bizango, ni Sanpwl. Si, pa egzanp, ou posede yon sl bf o u mare bf la nan yon jaden. Se jaden pa w. Depi dizan w ap gade bf ou se la w toujou mare yo. Yon bon jou w leve w al nan jaden an W al chanje bf ou epi w retire l kote k pa gen manje mete l lt kote k gen manje. Ou mennen l al bw dlo osi epi w pa w bf la. L w gade li pa kase kd la. Ske yo pran n. Ou f rechch patou ou pa jwenn bf la. W al kote chf seksyon zn nan, oubyen jij de p zn nan. Yo f konsta pou ou; yo pa w bf la. Men ki jistis yon jij de p ka mete pou ou anvr de on af konsa? Paske, yo pa w psonn ki pran bf la e w pa jwenn bf la. Men si w se Vodouwizan ou toujou gen on wch oubyen yon pyebwa kote w sispk lwa w la pou w al f on demann pou w di bf mwen an Ben: Do you know any details on judgements passed by Biz ango? For instance, Rachel Beauvoir wrote a book called Savalou E and in that book it s a Creole book on Vodou that is thoroughly interesting she says that in the past, since there wasnt a good judicial system in Haiti, or there were no tribunals, especially in the country in rural areas, Bizango was responsible for judging people whod committed crimes or people whod committed adultery or people whod stolen goats, etcetera. People could go before the Bizango judge to accuse a person wh en they suspected theyd committed a crime. Do you hear talk of this judicial function of the Bizango nowadays or do you think thats something of the past? Ongan Alisma: Okay, not precisely Bizango: that is at the heart of all Vodou Its not a question of Bizango or Sanpwl. If, for example, you own a single cow and you tie the cow in a field. Its your field. For ten years youve been watching your cow, youve always tied him here. One particular day you wake and go to the field. Yo u go to change your cow and you remove it from where there is no food and place it somewhere else with food. You bring it to drink water and you dont see the cow. When you look it didnt break the cord. So they took it. You search all around and you dont find the cow. You go to the section chief of the area, or the judge of the area. They conduct an investigation for you; they dont see the cow. But, what justice can a judge of p eace give to you relative to something like this? Because they couldnt find the person who took the cow and you didnt find the cow. But, if you are a Vodouist you always have a rock or a tree where

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21 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant mwen redi anpil pou li pou mwen posede l. Mwen kite l la an ka de emdjensi si pitit mwen mal ad pou m vann li pou m jwenn, pou m peye dokt. Si madanm mwen malad, e mwen menm osi si youn ta tonbe mouri pou m jwenn li. Depi m gen bf la yon vwazinaj p ap p prete mwen de twasan dola. Men si m pa gen bf kman m ap f remt li? Yo pa fye pou yo ta prete m. Osito ke w al pote lwa a plent de bf ou a ke w pdi a yo pr pou yo chche moun ki pran bf la. Men moun sa ki gentan vann bf la, kb sa pa egziste ank. Kman lwa a pral satisf w? Pou lwa a satisf w, li atake moun nan epi pou moun nan di o gade se mwen menm ki te pran bf Benn nan, m vann li gad kman m ap mouri pou bf la. Pou tout paran w konnen rezon ki koz ou mouri: pou yo pa an dout. Se jistis sa ki genyen andedan Vodou. Ben: Donk moun ki viktim yon vl, pa egzanp, li kapab al ch che.... Ongan Alisma: Se pa slman vl. Ben: Nenpt krim, enjistis? Ongan Alisma: Tankou yon bagay yo vin moutre Ayisyen tou dnyman la sou gouvnman Aristid la yo vin moutre Ayisyen f kidnaping. L m ap gade, m gen on moun mwen yo pran n; yo kidnap e l. Yo mande mwen senksanmil dola pou mwen peye. Mwen pa gen senksanmil dola pou mwen peye. Y arive tiye moun nan. M t ap travay depi ventan, depi trantan pou mwen pouse on timoun lekl epi kounye a la li fin tmine etid li mwen voye l a inivsite epi se lemoman on moun pran n li kidnape l pou li mande m senksanmil dola you suspect your lwa resides to make a request : t o say I worked hard for my cow, to own it I left it here in c ase of emergency, if my child is sick for me to sell it in order to pay the doctor. If my wife is sick, and me also, if one fell ill for me to have the cow ready If I have the cow a neighbor wont hesitate to loan me two or three hundred dollar s. But, if I dont have a cow how will I repay it? Theyre not confident to lend me money Upon reporting your lost cow to the authorities, theyre ready to search for the person who took the cow. But, this person who already sold the cow, that money no longer exists. How will the lwa satisfy you? For the lwa to satisfy you they will attack the person and the person will say oh it was I who took Bens cow, I sold it, look how I am dying for it Your parents will know the cause of your death; they won t be in doubt. Thats the justice that exists in Vodou. Ben: So people who become victims of a theft, for example, they can look Ongan Alisma: Its not only theft. Ben: Any crime, injustice? Ongan Alisma: For instance, they were recently showing Haitians, during the Aristide administration, Haitians who were kidnaping. When I was watching, there was a friend of mine taken; they kidnapped him. They asked me to pay five hundred thousand dollars. I dont have five hundred thousand dollars. They wound up killing the person. Iv e been working for twenty years, for thirty years to send a child to school and now that hes finished his studies I send him to university and thats the moment when a person takes him and kidnaps

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22 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant tandiske m pa kapab jwenn senksan goud pou m ta peye. Yo ban m yon dle pou mwen bay kb sa. Mwen pa gen kb la; yo tiye pitit mwen. Ske yo kraze tout kouraj mwen. Yo elimine tout travay m wen te f pandan trantan an nan on fraksyon d segond. Kounye a ske m ap gade sa konsa? Ki jij de p, komis, oubyen ki enstans ki ka ba w jistis anvr on dosye konsa? Yo pa konn kidnap a. Yo pa jwenn li. Yo pa konn ki moun. Men l m al devan lwa m yo, l wa m y ap chche konn ki moun. Ben: Ongan tou? Pa egzanp, on moun ki pa ongan, ou pral chche d ongan ki pral konsilte avk lwa l yo pou chche moun ki te f krim nan? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Non slman s a, si pa egzanp ou vin kote m, o n pitit pa w sa ri ve oubyen on pwoblm ki rive w, lwa m yo konsilte lwa pa w. Ou pa an konesans pou lwa ou yo eksplike w men sa k pase a men pa rap de kominikasyon spiritwl yo, yo menm yo pral jwenn jistis pa w la epi yo pote l ba ou. Ben: Gen ka kote yo pral konnen ki moun ki te f krim nan epi Vodouwizan pral chche moun ki te f krim nan pou jije l? Ongan Alisma: L se lwa a gen de jijman lwa a tou f l pou ou. Li pa al chche moun nan l vin f l li tou f jijman an paske l li lage zen l nan dlo pwason ki ant a se li k ap pran. L yo lage zen y ap peche nan dlo. Se pa tout pwason k ap pran nan zen sa. Pwason k ne pou l pran nan jou a se li k ap pran. Sa k pa ne pou yo pran nan jou sa ap pati lwen. Men yo him and asks me for five hundred thousand dollars while I cant pay five hundred dollars. They give me a deadline to come up with the money. I dont have the money; they kill my child. They destroyed all my courage. They destroyed all the work I did over thirty years in a fractio n of a second. Now, am I to do nothing? What judge, prosecutors, or what instance will be able to give you justice relative to such a case? They dont know the kidnapper. They cant find him. They dont know the person. But, when I go before my lwa, my lwa will search for the person. Ben: Ongan also? For example, a person whos not an ongan, will you search for the help of an ongan wholl consult his lwa to find the person who committed the crime? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Not only that, if for example you come to me because that happened to a child of yours, my lwa will consult your lwa. You arent conscious for your lwa to explain to you what happened but by reports of spiritual communication, they themselves will find your justice and they will bring it to you. Ben: Are there cases where theyll find out who committed the crime and then Vodou ists will search for the person who committed the crime to put him to trial? Ongan Alisma: When its the lwa: there are judge ments the lwa mete out for you. It doesnt search for the person to do it, it just passes judgement because when it drops the hook in the water the guilty fish is the one caught. When they drop the hook theyre fishing in water. Not every fish will be caught in this hook. The fish thats b orn to be caught that day

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23 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant p ap janm pran nan zen sa. Ebyen andedan sekt Vodou a ank gen on lt bagay ki rele lwil maskreti. Lwil maskreti a yo f l avk grenn maskreti. Lwil sa, depi yo poze l tou, l ap ba w jistis ou. Ben: Se on lwil yo svi avk li nan kalite jijman sa yo oubyen...? Ongan Alisma: Lwil sa tout moun svi avk li. Pas t, Levanjil tout moun svi av l. Lontan se avk li yo te konn penyen timoun pou voye yo lekl. Ou grese cheve timoun nan pou w penyen li pou w voye l lekl. Lwil sa se on lwil jistis. Ben: M toujou tande moun an Ayiti pale de li. Ongan Alisma: Jistis sa pa gen pary. Jistis sa se pi mey jistis ki te ka egziste dan lemond. Pa bliye, pa janm gen on peyi, pa janm gen on nasyon ki gen on jistis san pousan Ou ka demanti m sou w vle. Pa gen on peyi dan lemond ki gen yon jistis sanpous an. Se on kesyon de la rezon pif e toujou mey. Pa etone m pral gen jijman avk yon milyad epi m pral gen rezon sou li, k lkeswa peyi a. Y ap f on jan kanmenm. Olye pou m ta gen rezon yo prefere di m kite sa. Men a lwil la trilyad, bilyad, milyad m ap frape pt ou a kanmenm pou l di jistis rantre lakay ou jodi a pou l pote jistis la bay nenpt malere a. Ben: Pou w jwenn rezilta sa, kijan yo pral svi avk lwil la? will be the one caught. Those that arent born to be caught that day will go far off. They will not be caught in that hook. Well inside of the Vodou sector there is something else called castor oil [oil of P alma C hristi]. They ma ke oil of Palma Christi with castor seeds. This oil, if they also place it, itll give you justice. Ben: Is it an oil they use in that type of judgement or....? Ongan Alisma: This oil everybody uses it. Pre a chers, evangelicals everybody u ses it. Long ago they used it to groom childrens hair to send them to school. You grease the hair of the child in order to comb it to send them to school. This oil is justice oil. Ben: I always hear people in Haiti speak of it. Ongan Alisma: This justic e has no equal. This justice is the best justice that exists in the world. Dont forget, there has never been a country; there has never been a nation that has perfect justice. You can deny it if you want. There isnt a country in the world that has a hundred percent justice. Its a matter of the opinion of the strongest which is the best Don t be surprised if I go to trial with a millionaire and i ts ruled in my favor, whichever coun try. Theyll find a way nonetheless. Rather than let me be right theyd prefer to tell me to let it go. But with the oil trillionaire, billionaire, millionaire, I m knocking on your door anyway for justice to come in your home today to bring justice to any poor person Ben: To get this result, how will they use the oil?

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24 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Lwil sa yo gen moun pou sa menm, ki f lwil la. Li pr an lwil la jan li konpoze li l i mete l nan yon ti chody epi pou l mete men sou li pou l limen li. Li dmi devan l L i pran de st a dist jou pou l kondwi li. Tankou l f on penitans sou pt sa ki ft la. Ben: Sou pt sa ki ft la? O ngan Alisma: Pou l jwenn jistis! Ben: Sa kapab pran dist jou. Oke, sa se on gwo devouman li bezwen montre tou pou l jwenn rezilta. Ongan Alisma: L w fini w al ranvwaye l nan yon rivy dlo k ap desann epi pou dlo ede w chche jwenn jistis la. B en: Pou ou menm kijan w w Vodou ap evolye nan lemond? Ki kote l prale? Ki kote l soti? ske l ap monte? ske l ap desann? Kijan w w tradisyon an? Ongan Alisma: Evolisyon Vodou ap monte chak jou. De jou an jou l ap monte pi plis. L ap monte pi wo e l ap f chemen. Ben: Si ou konpare epk l ou te timoun avk jounen jodi a an Ayitimwen mande sa paske anpil chch konn di Pwotestantis anpil an Ayiti epi gen kk moun ki panse gen mwens Vodouwizan. Pa gen moun ki al f sondaj. Konsa se estimasyon moun ap f. Ongan Alisma: Se on bagay mw en ta renmen k pou ft. Mwen rete kw s ondaj maten Vodouwizan genyen, s ondaj a midi Vodouwizan genyen, s ondaj asw Ongan Alisma: They have people who do this oil especially. He takes the oil the way he composes it he places it in a small boiler and then he puts hands on it and lights it. He sleeps in front of it. It takes from seven to seventeen days for him to guide it. As if he was doing penance for this loss that occured. Ben: On this loss that occured? Ongan Alisma: For him to find justice! Ben: That can take seventeen days. Ok ay, he has to show great dedication to get results. Ongan Alisma: When youre finished youll expel it in a river thats descending and the water will search and find justice. Ben: For you, how do you see Vodou evolving in the world? Where is it going? W here does it come from? Is it growing? Is it decreasing? How do you see the tradition? Ongan Alisma: The evolution of Vodou is growing everyday. Each day it grows more. Its growing higher and its making pathways. Ben: If you compare the era of when you were a child with today in HaitiI ask this because a lot of researchers say P rotestantism is big in Haiti and there are som e people who think there are less Vodouists. No one has done a survey. So people are estimating. Ongan Alisma: Its something I would like to happen. I believe that Vodouists win morning surveys Vodouists win afternoon surveys Vodouists win

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25 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Vodouwizan genyen. Kiys ki Pwotestan? Pa bliye Vodou se kilti nou e relijyon nou an menm tan. Paske pa bliye nou se desandan Afriken. Nou ne nan Vodou. Pwotestan se yon bagay ki vin antre an dizwitsankenz. Blan an pote ba nou. Yo ba nou ble pou nou aksepte l. Yo ba nou sinistre [food aid] pou nou aksepte l. Yo ba nou pp pou nou aksepte l. Al ou kw ke psonn ka retire san w pou yo di w met dlo ranplase l? Non, mwen bezwen dlo w la pou m svi. Mwen bezwen dlo w la pou m bw. M wen oblije pran l nan men w. Men, m p ap janm retire san m vrman. M a lave men m avk li. M a lave vizaj mwen avk li. Mwen gen dwa itilize l pou mwen benyen paske m b ezwen l. Asavwa ke m bezwen l, pou m jwenn li nan men w m oblije koube anba w de tout sa ke pou di m yo. M aksepte yo pou mwen jwenn dlo sa pou m svi asavwa ke k a pa ka viv san li menm. Men san m nan ap rete a mwen menm. Ositou ke m retire san ske m pa viv ank. M pa nan lavi ank. Vodou a se san nou. Ben: Nan sans sa, nan anpil legliz Pwotestan ou gen fo konvti. Se sa w ap di? Ongan Alisma: L w ap pale de fo konvti, mo sa m pa t ap di l non. Se ou ki di li. Fo konvti pa a sanpousan. De menm past a k ap anrichi tt li andedan legliz la osito ke l gen yon maladi ki deplase konpetans lili mache kay tout dokt pa ka jwenn solisyon pou li. L ap di manman m gade f m viv. O u konprann? Yon bon jou a minwi yo pran li, y al chche solisyon. Yo kase fy kouvri sa. Sa rete la. evening surveys Vodouists Who are Protestant s ? Do not forget Vodou is our culture and our religion at the same time. Dont forget we are descendents of Africans. We re born in Vodou. Protestantism is something that entered in eighteen fifteen. The foreigners brought it to us. They gave us food aid so we could accept it. T hey gave us used clothes so we could accept it. Thus do you believe that anyone could remove your blood and tell you to replace it with water? No, I need your water to use. I need your water to drink. Im obliged to take to from you. But, I will never real ly remove my blood I ll was h my hands with the water I wash my face with it. I have the right to use it to shower be cause I need it. Seeing as how I need it, to get it from you I have to bow down to all that you tell me. I accept them so I can have th is water to use because the body cannot live without it. But, my blood will stay with me. The minute I remove my blood I will stop living. I will no longer be alive. Vodou is our blood. Ben: In that sense, in a lot of Protestant churches you have fa lse converts. Is that what youre saying? Ongan Alisma: When you say false convert, I wouldnt say that. Youre the one who said it. False converts are not at a hundred percent. The same pastor whos enriching himself in the church the minute he has an illness that surpasses his capabilities he visits all the doc tors and cant find a solution. Hell say my mother look I have to live. Do you understand? One day at midnight they take him, they go in search of a solution. The y break leaves and cover this. This stays hidden

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26 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Li pral chche d Vodouwizan, on ongan ? Ongan Alisma: Se menm jan an tou w ap jwenn anpil moun ki swadizan Vodouwizan. Men ki pa Vodouwizan pwp, ki Vodouwizan sal; ki f d zak, d krim malont e k ap chche kouv ti tou k al konvti. Osito ke yo aksepte Jezi km sov yo, peche yo padone. Se sa f w ap w andedan legliz se anpil ti gran moun ki genyen. Majorite andan legliz se granmoun. Ben: Sa mwen w nan Fsbouk, pa egzanp, m w gen anpil moun ki vin zanmi avk mwen. Moun mwen pa konnen. Se moun mwen kontre sou li epi mwen w ke yo pratike Vodou. Se moun ki pa soti Ayiti. Se moun ki pa soti Lafrik, sa kapab blan ameriken ki vin kmanse bati peristil yo. Yo vin pran fmansyon avk manbo e ongan Ayiti epi yo reto unen avk yon grad nmal ongan oubyen manbo epi yo kmanse bati sosyete pa yo. Ou gade tout foto yo mete sou Fsbouk, yo chaje avk blan, prske majorite moun blan. Ou gen peristil nan Filadlfi ki swasanndi pousan blan. Manbo a blan. Km Ayisyen, kijan w w transfmasyon epi chanjman kiltirl rasyal k ap ft kounye a? Ongan Alisma: Sa se on kesyon tr senp. Vodou pa di Ayisyen. Vodou di lemond. Slman l gen dwa devlope lakay Ayisyen plis ke lt peyi yo. Se de menm ou w foutbl la evolye a ndedan Brezil plis ke Etazini: andedan Ajantin plis ke a Pari. Ebyen ou bezwen prepare pitit ou kounye a pou l vin soti on bon jw Ben : Hell find the help of a Vodouwist, an ongan? Ongan Alisma: Similarly youll find a lot of people who are so called Vodouists. But they arent proper Vodouists, who are dirty Vodouists; who commit certain acts, certain unkind crimes and who are looking to convert who go and convert. The moment they accept Jesus as their savior, their sins are forgiven. Thats why youll see a lot of little old people inside of the church. The majority in the church are o ld people. Ben: I see on Facebook, for example, there are a lot of people who become friends with me. People I dont know. They are people I come across and I see that they practice Vodou. They are people who dont come from Haiti. They are people who don t come from Africa; this could be w hite Americans who start to build peristil. They are formed by manbo or ongan in Haiti and they return with a normal ongan or manbo rank and they start to build their own societies. W hen y ou look at all the pictures they put on Facebook, theyre filled with whites. Almost the majority of the people are white. There are peristil in Philadelphia that are seventy percent white. The manbo is white. As a Haitian, how do you see the transformation and c ultural racial change thats currently happening ? Ongan Alisma: This is a very simple question. Vodou does not mean Haitian. Vodou means the world. Only it is developed in the home of Haitians more than the other countries. Its the same as when you see soccer evolving more in Brazil than in the United States: inside of Argentina more than Paris. Well you

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27 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant foutbl epi w voye li al etidye foutbl an Ajantin, o Brezil epi li retounen on bon foutbl. De menm, etranje a, blan an gen dwa vle soti on bon ongan, on bon manbo li deplase l al nan baz. Kilti Vodou a se an Ayiti l al pran konesans lan epi li vin mete l an aplikasyon nan peyi a epi pou l epapiye patou pou l f travay Ginen an. Sonje mwen di w, Ginen an rele moun ke l vle. Ginen an pa konn af nwa, af ras blan, ras jn. Pa gen ras nan Vodou a. Vodou a se nou tout ki se Vodou. Klkeswa moun nan, Vodou a nan somy, depi yo bat tanbou fl souke k l. Li mt pa konnen. Plizy fwa m w Vodou a ap bat, m w w souke ti tt ou. Ou gen d wa pa danse; ou konprann? Gen de jou w ap danse paske w se Vodouwizan. Ben: Peristil bl an sa yo, y ap pwodwi ongan tou men kounye a la se yon moun, pett, ki pa metrize kreyl ske sa enptan pou yon ongan blan ki pral pwodwi nouvo ongan? Ki baz li genyen? S e jis koneksyon avk lespri? Ongan Alisma: Pa bliye mwen di w Vodou a pa gen on kesyon de nasyon, de ras. P a gen on kesyon de lang. Vodou a pa gen kontks sa. Klkeswa langaj ou, ou se yon Vodouwizan. E w ap pfme antanke Vodouwizan e l lwa a vin sou ou w ap kominike a klkeswa nasyon ke ou vle. Pa gen on kesyon de lang. Ben: ske ou panse pif ongan w l menm jan avk ou oubyen ske gen need to prepare your child now so he can become a good soccer player and youll send him to study soccer in Argentina, Brazil and hell return a good soccer p layer. The same: the foreigner, the foreigner can want to become a good ongan, a good manbo and he or she goes to the base. He goes to learn the Vodou culture in Haiti and hell apply it in the country and it will spread all ove r so he or she can do Ginens w ork. Re meber I told you, Ginen calls whomever it wants. Ginen doesnt know this business of black, business of white race, yellow race. There is no race in Vodou. We are all Vodou. Whoever the person, Vodou is in sl eep, if they beat the drum he has to shake his body even if he doesnt know. Multiple times the Vodou is beating I see you shake your head a little. You may not danse; you understand? There are days you danse because you are a Vodouist. Ben: The p eristil of these foreigners theyre producing ongan also but then its a person, perhaps, who hasnt mastered Creole. Is that important for a foreign ongan whos producing new ongan? What is the basis? Is it just connecting with spirits? Onga n Alisma: Dont forget I told you Vodou has no question of nations, of race. There is no question of language. Vodou does not have this perspective. No matter your language, you are a Vodouist. And, youre performing as a Vodouist and when the lwa come to you, youll communicate with whichever nation you want. There is no question of language. Ben: Do you think that most ongan see it the same way you do or are there ongan

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28 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ongan ki gen yon lespri pito rasyal, lengwistik? Ongan Alisma: Mwen rete kw majorite ongan, manbo yo w l menm jan avk mwen. Se pa yon langaj m ap fme ; se yon bagay ke m leve jwenn. Sistm nan pa gen rasis ladan l. Se on sistm klin e transparan. Se sa k f, w ap w l y ap pale yo pale de lapirite. W ap w l w vin nan seremoni an ou w tout moun se tou de blan. Ki vle di l ap pi, transparan. Pa gen kachotri la. Se sa ou gen dwa andedan legliz Pwotestan, ou gen dwa genyen on chwa pa w ou pa kapab devwale. F l rete kache. Andedan Vodou eksprime w. Kiys ou ye? Paske, nou gen plas pou tout sekt. Pt no u ouvri pou tout san distenge. Ben: Gen anpil moun, pa egzanp Ameriken ki soti kilti isit, depi yo gade nan Vodou yo pa w anpil liv sakre jiska prezan. Tankou yo pral di, nou menm nou gen Koran, nou gen Bib la oubyen nou gen liv sakre sa. Yo pral di se liv sa, tankou Bib la oubyen Koran an, k gen tout rg moralite epi yo pale de dis ld Bondye epi mwen rete sten Vodou gen bon jan apresyason epi pspktif sou moralite, sou konptman yon moun. Kijan Vodou kominike vizyon moralite li nan mitan Vodouwizan yo? Ongan Alisma: L w pale de dis kmandman, se pa pou Levanjil slman. Dis kmandman an se pou tou t moun k ap viv sou plant sa, k lkeswa relijyon an. Ou dwe respekte dis kmandman asavwa ke w ka etidye, w ka pale w ka w w ka tande w ka manje. Re spekte dis kmandman. Li pa pou on sekt. On who have a rather racial, linguistic way of thinking ? Ongan Alisma: I believ e that the majority of ongan, manbo see it the same way I do. Its not a language I m forming; its something I grew up knowing. The system has no racism in it. Its a clean a nd transparent system. Thats why when they are speaking youll see that they sp eak of purity. Youll see that when you come to the ceremony you see all the people are in white. Which means itll be pure and transparent. Theres no secrecy. You cou ld be in the Protestant church and you have a choice of your own you cant reveal. It has to remain hidden. Inside of Vodou express yourself. Who are you? Because, we have room for all sectors. Ben: There are a lot of people, for example Americans who come from the culture here, when they look at Vodou they dont see a sacred book to this d ay. For instance, they will say, we ourselves have the Qu r an, we have the Bible or we have this sacred book. They will say its this book, like the Bible or the Qur an, that has all the mor al rules and they speak of the Ten C ommandme nts of God I am sure that Vodou has a good appre c iation and perspective on morality, on the behavior of a person. How does Vodou communicate its moral vision amid st the Vodouists? Ongan Alisma: When you speak of the Ten Commandments, its not only for the Evangelis ts. The Ten Commandments are for everyone living on this planet, whatever the religion. You are supposed to respect the Ten Commandments if you can study, if you can speak, if you can see, if you can hear, if you can eat.

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29 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant sekt gen dwa vle kidnap li pou l di sa se nan Bib la l sti. Non! Se chch ki jwenn li menm jan w ap vin chita avk mwen pou w jwenn klkechoz, ske l te la. Li apati a nou tout. Si l se byen, li se byen pa no u tout. Li p ap lage nou a destinasyon de li menm e nou tout gen chwa pa nou pou nou eksprime lafwa nou sou klkeswa fm ke nou vle asavwa ke l ap bon pou nou. Ske nou f sa k ap bon pou nou. M retounen avk kesyon an pou moralite. Vodou a pa aksepte imo ral. Vodou a aksepte resp, linyon, pwogr, lap. Nou vle lap etabli kay chak moun. Nou vle tout moun ka onetete pou nou viv ansanm. Nou vle resp youn pou lt depi kmanse ti bebe en jou k a rive granmoun sanvenns etan an. Se travay sa n ap f, p reche labn nouvl, pote gerizon bay maladi, p ote solisyon nan pwoblm yo. Ede w solisyone pwoblm ou an ansanm pou w sti nan sikonstans w ap viv ki pmt strs, ki pmt cheve w ap grennen. Ou pa ka viv. Ou vin pdi gwos w. Ou vin malatris. Se travay sa pou n f a prann moun viv ansanm. Se sa k f l w vin la w ap w kman nou viv ansanm. L m di w nou viv ansanm se tout nasyon. Sosyete Linto pa genyen slman Ayisyen. Li gen Ameriken. Li gen Jamoken. Li genyen Frans. Li genyen Italyen. Li genyen Brezilyen. Li gen S panich ki soti Kiba ki andedan s osyete a. Ske nou tout mete tt nou ansanm. Nou se moun; nou dwe viv ansanm. Se sa Ginen an bezwen. Inite! Ben: Sa eksplike on seri moun. Y oun nan egzanp ki vini nan lespri m jounen jodi a se David Brooks paske se y on moun ki te Respect the Ten Commandments. Its not for one sector. A sector can want to kidnap it to say this comes from the Bible. No! Researchers found it the same way youre sitting here with me to find certain things; its here. Its a part of us all. If its good, its good for us all. It wont r elease us to its destination and we all have a choice to express our faith in any form we want as long as its good for us. That we do what is good for us. I return to the question of morality. Vodou does not accept immorality. Vodou accepts respect, union progress, and peace. We want peace to be established in the home of everyone. We want everyone to be honest so we can live together. We want respect for one another starting from little babies to the one hundred and twenty seven year old person. This is the work were doing, preaching the good news, bringing remedies to th e sick, bringing solutions to problems. W e h elp you solve your problems together so you can leave your circumstances of living that allows for stress: that makes your hair fall out. You cant live. You have lost weight. Youve become malnourished. This is the work we have to do teach people to live together. This is why when you come here youll see that we live together. When I say we live together, its all nations. Socit Li nto does not only have Haitians. It has Americans. It has Jamaicans. It has French people. It has Italians. It has Brazilians. It has Spanish people from Cuba who are inside of the society. So we all put our heads together We are people We need to live together. This is what Ginen needs. Unity! Ben: That explains a series of people. One example that comes to mind today is David Brooks because hes a person who

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30 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ekri yon atik nan New York Times kote li akize Vodou. Se de jou apr tranbleman d t a. Li vini avk yon atik ki di Vodou antipwogresis. Mwen konnen se pa vre. Ou konnen se pa vre men ki kote on moun ki pa konnen anyen sou Ayiti jwenn lide s a pou l mete nan New York Times yon jounal ki pibliye nan yon milyon kopi ki anfliyanse on pakt moun? Yo pa janm di sa sou Krisyanis. Ongan Alisma: Vodou a pa gen okenn gwo patwon dy l k ap finanse l, k ap epone l, k ap monopolize l. Se nou menm t i malere, malerz yo k ap f ef pou nou eksprime lafwa nou. Men Pwotestan an pa bliye se yon gwo bwa ki kreye l e l rete dy l pou l finanse l pou l pmt tout moun vin koube anba l. Si m te gen yon gwo bwa dy m tou osi ke on moun ki genyen on pozisyon kstradin ki kapab pouswiv klken a nenpt kl movz enfmasyon ke pou elanse, yo pa t ap f l. Si Vodou antipwogresis kisa k kenbe peyi dAyiti? Kiys ki travay t yo? Kiys ki abitan an? Kiys ki gade kabrit, kochon, poul, kodn, tout bt yo? Kiy s ki plante diri, mayi, pitimi, pwa, yanm, bannann, tayo, malanga, patat, manyk? Se pa Vodouwizan yo? Se Vodouwizan yo ki pou pran alakanpay pou pote lavi. Ti Ayiti ou w k rete a, si se pa Vodou li pa la ank. Lepli souvan depi ng la al lekl teyoloji, li fin past se yon sl vizyon li gen nan tt li se vin viv aletranje. wrote an article in the New York Times where he accused Vodou. It was two da ys after the earthquake. He wrote an article that said Vodou was antiprogressive. I know its not true. You know its not true but, where can a person who doesnt know anything about Haiti find this idea to put in the New York Times: a newspaper that publishes a million copies that influences a bunch of people? They never say this about Christianity. Ongan Alisma: Vodou doesnt have any big patrons behind it who are financing it, who are shouldering it, who are monopolizing it. Its us the little poor guys and poor gals who are making an effort to express our faith. But, the Protestant cant forget that its a great power that created it and it stayed behind it to finance it to allow everyone to bow down to it. If I had a great power behind me, too, as well as a person who has an extraordinary position that can pursue someone with whatever bad information that is thrown out he wouldnt do it. If Vodou is antiprogressive, what is maintaining the c ountry of Haiti? Who works the land? Who are the peasants? Who watches the goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, all the animals? Who plants the rice, the corn, the millet, the beans, the yams, the plantains, the tar o, the malanga, the potatoes, the yucca? Is it not the Vodouists? Its the Vodouists who take the countryside in order to bring life. The l ittle Haiti you see left, if not for Vodou it would no longer be here. For the most part as soon as the guy goes to theological school and e nds up a pastor, he has one vision in his head: to come live abroad.

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31 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Part III & IV Ben: Oke, mwen ta renmen kontinye avk yon kesyon sou kisa lwa f pou moun. Ou deja pale anpil sou pwoteksyon yo bay, gerizon yo pote bay moun, wl yo genyen nan seremoni. ske w kapab ajoute on lt eksplikasyon sou sa yo f pou moun yo? Ongan Alisma: Lwa f anpil bagay pou moun ki kw nan lwa yo. Yo f tou pou moun ki pa kw. Egzanp mwen sot di w, ou konn w anpil moun ki malad ki ale lopital dokt pa w anyen pou yo. Okontr l voye yo vin chita lakay yo pou yo mouri, pou yo tann lam yo epi lwa ba yo lavi. Kisa w panse ka f sa? Ben: Mwen menm m ka enspire [] pou yo kreyatif si sa posib. Pa egzanp yon atis. Ongan Alisma: Ou ka enspire moun pou yo tout bagay nan lemond. Lwa a f sa. Lwa a kapab ede w sti nan sikonstans terib. Ke w inosan ladan l: lwa a ka ede w sti. Ben: Si w inosan, ou di? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Si w koupab? Ongan Alisma: Yo pa pran plezi nan sa. Ben: Gen moun ki konn di, pa egzanp lwa konn pini moun. ske fenomn sa egziste? Ongan Alisma: Se menm bagay mwen t Part III & IV Ben: Okay, I would like to continue with a question on what lwa do for people. You already spoke on the protection they gi v e, the healing they bring to people, the role th ey have in the ceremony. Can you add another explanation about what they do for the people? Ongan Alisma: Lwa do a lot of things for people who believe in the lwa. They also do things for people who dont believe. I just told you an example; you see the people who are sick who go to hospital and doctors cant help them. On the contrary he sends them home to sit and die, for them to wait for their death and the lwa give them life. What do you think can do that? Ben: Myself I would hop e [....] for them to be creative if thats possible. For example, an artist. Ongan Alisma: You can hope for people to be everything in the world. The lwa do that. The lwa can help you leave terrible circumstances. If youre innocent in it: the lwa can hel p you leave it. Ben: If youre innocent, you say? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: If youre guilty? Ongan Alisma: They dont take pleasure in that. Ben: There are people who say, for example, lwa sometimes punish people. Does this phenomenon exist? Ongan Alisma: Its the same thing I was

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32 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ap di w la, le di kmandman an. L ep, Lefis, e Lesentespri Lesentespri se lwa yo. Ou w kot lwa yo ye? Ou w kote yo sti? Dis k mandman an ou dwe respekte l. O u dwe l resp. Ou dwe koube anba l. Ou rekoveyi anba l. Osito ke ou pa obeyi anba l, ske ou vyole lalwa. Osito ke w vyole lalwa, lwa a pa pran plezi nan sa. Li ka pini w pou w pa janm f sa ank. Pou on lt pa l rekmanse nan on chz []. Ben: L ou di obeyi anba l stadi obeyi anba lwa a? Sa sa a vle di? Ongan Alisma: Sa vle di sa ou dwe f, ak sa ou pa dwe f. Ou konnen mwen dwe tout moun resp. Se sa lwa a vle. M dwe tout moun resp. Lwa a pa aksepte pou m vin nan on seremoni la pou mwen pete tapaj pou m goumen. M dwe respekte sa. Lwa a pa gen dwa la, l ap pale. Nan moman l ap pfme se l sa mwen menm m ap anmde on lt moun. Pou m ap distb on lt moun ki vle aprann; mwen menm m pa sou sa epi m ap anmde on lt. Lwa a pa pran plezi nan sa. Lwa a pa aksepte to u pou w pran pitit entl l ap redi, podyab, pou l w paske an Ayiti tout pitit se byen pv malere e malerz osiou voye timoun ou lekl pou l sti demen, si Dye v l e. Al ou konnnen menm si w te f vi w, ou te f trant an, karant an, w ap manje miz men osito timoun ou an vin nan on bon pozisyon ske miz w fini. Sa a pral soulaje miz w. Pou w on moun pran l li tiye l sanzatann. Ou f apl avk lwa ke w kw ladan l lan, f l ba w jistis. Tou t bagay sa yo lwa a f pou ou o lye ke w t al pran on zam ou fizye moun nan w konnen an epi pou w t al nan prizon. telling you, the Ten Commandment s. The Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost the Holy Ghost is the lwa. Do you see where the lwa are? Do you see where they come from? You need to respect the Ten Commandment s. You owe it respect. You need to bow down to it. You cower beneath it. The moment you dont obey it, its like you violate the law. The moment you violate the law, the lwa dont take pleasure in that. It can punish you so you never do that again. For another of its o wn to restart in a chair [...]. Ben: When you say obey it, that is to say obey the lwa? What does that mean? Ongan Alisma: That means what you should and shouldnt do. You know I owe everyone respect. That is what the lwa wants. I owe everyone respect. T he lwa wont accept for me to come in a ceremony to start a brawl and to fight. I need to respect that. The lwa dont have a right here, he will speak. In the moment hes performing thats when I m bothering another person ; disturbing someone else who wants to learn; I am not paying attention to that but im bothering another person. The lwa wont take pleasure in that. The lwa also dont accept for you to take someones child hes struggling, poor thing to see because in Haiti all children are blessings to the poor you send your child to school for him to come ou t in the future if God is willing (w ell you know th at even if you spend your life; if you spend thirty, forty years suffering the moment your child is in a good position, it s like your suffering is over and to see someone take him and suddenly kill him. You call upon the lwa you believe in, it has to give you justice. The lwa do all of

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33 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ske w vin gen de pn alafwa. Men lwa a li menm li pa f l konsa. Li al vanje pou ou pito. Li ba w jistis. Lwa a f pou ou. Se menm jan w gen dwa ap f on biznis la epi w f demann a lwa a pou biznis lan pwogrese. Se konsa w gade ou w biznis lan ap pwogrese. Slman lwa a ba w kondisyon pa l. Ou aksepte pou mwen f biznis lan pwogrese pou ou pa vann moun yo bagay yo pri yo pa vo. Pa vann moun yo bagay ki pa bon. L moun yo vin kote w pa ekspilse [expulse] yo. Ou dwe pran ka yo an konsiderasyon. Ou dwe apresye kliyan k ap vin lakay on wa. Ou dwe kenbe biznis lan pwp pou l pa genyen okenn imidite. Tout tan w ap f tout bagay sa yo lwa a mande w la ske w ap byen mennen. Osito ke w w w kmanse f lajan, ou w bo uty dlo sa ki te kote on dola kounye a w w se pou w vann li twa dola. Ou vin pa koube anba kmandman lwa a. Lwa a vire do l. Ben: Kijan ou pral jwenn enstriksyon lwa konsa? ske se ongan ki pral entprete mesaj lwa a oubyen w ap jwenn li nan dm i? Ongan Alisma: Sa depan, ou gen dwa se kote ongan ou vini ou vin rele on lwa epi pou w prezante l pwoj ke w vle f a pou l ede w. Se konsa tou ou gen dwa pran baln ou, ou pran lwil ou, ou f demann ou avk lwa a epi l vin ba ou tout enstriksyon sa yo nan revelasyon nan rv ou. Ben: Si w pran pa egzanp san moun ki these things for you ; rather than you take a gun for you to shoot the person you know and for you to go to prison. It s like you have two woes at one time. But, the lwa do not do it this way. It prefers to avenge for you. It gives you justice. The lwa do for you. Similarly you could be conducting a business and you make a request of the lwa for the business to progress. Youll see the business progressing. Only, the lwa will give you its conditions. If you accept my help to progress the business for you dont sell people the items for prices they arent worth. Dont sell the peo ple damaged things. When the people come to you dont expel them. You have to take care of their needs You need to appreciate the clients who come to you. You need to keep the business clean so it doesnt have any moisture. All the wh ile youre doing all these things the lwa ask you, you will do well. The moment you see youre making money, you see the bottle of water that cost a dollar now you see you have to sell it for three dollars. You no longer bow down to the the commandment of the lwa. The lwa will turn its back. Ben: How will you find those types of instructions of the lwa? Is it the ongan wholl interpret the message of the lwa or will you get it in sleep? Ongan Alisma: That depends, it could be that you came to the ongan to call on a lwa and to present the project you want to do for it to help you. Similarly you can take your candle, you take your oil, you make a request of the lwa and it gives you all these instructions in revelations in your dreams. Ben: If you take for example the one

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34 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant pral vini konsilte avk ou nan biwo pa ou a, ske w kapab di nou youn nan rezon prensipal ki f yo vin konsilte avk ou menm ? Ongan Alisma: Rezon prensipal ki koz klke moun konsilte lwa l akay mwen, pafwa moun nan konn genyen malad dokt pa w anyen. Pafwa moun nan konn pdi travay li. S e espwa ti travay la l te genyen pou l peye bil li e gen on bs ki apenn monte nan travay la, bs la voye l ale. Moun yo konn konsilte mwen pou jan de ka sa yo epi mwen ede yo pou yo retounen nan travay la. Konsa tou, w konn w gen fwaye tou ki kraze. Madanm ki gen pwoblm a mesye; mesye gen pwoblm a madanm. Mesye a ta toujou renmen rete a madanm nan men madanm nan gen on lt moun k ap jwe nan tt li e k ko z li pa vle rete. Mesye a osi: l i vin kote w, ou rele lwa a pou li. Lwa a al gade ske se pa miz mesye sa t ap f dam nan pase ki koz dam nan pa vle rete ank. ske l viv a dam nan byen? Yo rele sa jijman spiritwl. L jijman sa fin ft yo w oke mesye a t ap trete dam nan byen e dam nan t ap toujou renmen rete a mari l men li gen on lt moun k ap jwe nan tt li L wa ede mari sa retounen a madanm nan, ede madanm nan tou retounen avk mesye. Pafwa tou moun nan konn nan on travay depi lontan l ap travay nan pozisyon l ye a G en on lt moun ki vin nan menm pozisyon an se li menm ki antrene moun nan, aprann moun nan travay la. A pr twa mwa li menm li t ap travay di dola l, yo monte moun nan kenz dola oubyen yo monte moun nan douz dola epi li menm li toujou re te a di dola. Li gen dwa vin kote mwen pou mwen ede l, rele lwa pou li. Lwa ede l pou yo mete l a kenz dola tou. Lwa al touche k bs la epi l f l b a l rez tou Lwa a f dt e dt bagay toujou. hundred people who consult with you in your office, can you tell us a principal reason that makes them come to consult with you? Ongan Alisma: The principal reason that causes people to consult lwa at my house is because at times they have an illness and doctors dont see anything. At times the perso n could have lost their job H e had the hope of the little work to pay his bills and theres a boss that has just started at the job and the boss let him go. The people consult me for these types of cases and I help them return to the job. Similarly, you can see also that there are marriages that are destroyed. Women who h ave problems with men; men wh o have problems with women. The man would always like to stay with the woman but the woman has another person whos playing in her head that causes her not stay. The man also: he comes to you and you call the lwa for him. The lwa looks to see if this man was mistreating th e woman to cause her not to want to stay Does he live well with the woma n? They call that sp iritual judgement. When this judgment is finished they see, okay, the man was treating the woman well and the woman would always like to stay with her husband but she has another person playing with her head. The lwa help this husband return with the wife, helps the wife also return with the man. Also at times the person could be at a job for a long ti me working in the same position. Theres another person who comes to the same position and its him who trains this person, teaches the p erson the job. After three months, he was working ten dollars an hour, they raise the person to fifteen dollars or they raise the person to twelve dollars and he himself stays at

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35 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Si yon moun vini kons ilte li bezwen yon svis ko nsa ogmantasyon, li bezwen ansyen mennaj li oubyen, li vle rete avk madanm li oubyen, klkeswa sitiyasyon an si lwa di li pa vle ede ske ou pral di moun nan m pa kapab ede w? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Gen fenomn konsa? Gen moman kote ou konnen lwa p ap ede moun nan epi ou bezwen voye moun nan ale? Ongan Alisma: Sosyete lakay nou se konsa l fonksyone menm. Depi lwa a pa aksepte l di w ou pa merite travay ou mande a, yo voye w ale. Ske w pa kalifye pou li. Ben: Depi ou di ou dak, ou si e sten sa lwa a pwomt li pral f a pral pase? Pa gen moun ki retounen di bon m pa jwenn ogmantasyon an? Ongan Al isma: M pa di ou p ap jwenn non men de tranteyin an m poko jwenn sa. Se sa k f mwen f ongan an ouvt. Se sa f m pa p pou m f l lakay mwen, kote m abite a. M pa p. W ap w tout machin mwen, vit yo kl. Tout kote m pase tout moun rekont mwen. Mwen kw nan lwa yo, sa yo f yo paske sa m viv deja yo, yo bon. ten dollars. He can come to me so I can help him, call the lwa for him. The l wa help him so they can put him at fif teen dollars also. The lwa go and touch the heart of the boss and make him give him a raise, too. The lwa do more and more things still. Ben: If a person comes to consult and he needs a service like that a raise, he needs an old girlfriend or, he wants to stay with his wife or, whatever the situationif the lwa say they dont want to help are you going to tell the person you cant help them? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: There are such phenomena? Are there m oments where you know the lwa wont help the person and you need to send the person away? Ongan Alisma: That is exactl y how societies function in our understanding If the lwa dont accept it and it says you dont deserve the work you ask for, th ey send you away. Its because you dont qualify for it. Ben: If you say yes you agree, are you sure and certain what the lwa promises it will make sure that it happen? There arent people who come back and say well I didnt get a raise ? Ongan Alisma: Im not saying you wont find any but, in thirty one years I havent found that. Thats why I am an open ongan. Thats why I m not afraid to do it in my house, where I live. Im not afraid. Youll see the windows of all my ca rs are clear. Everywhere I go everyone recognizes me. I believe in the lwa, in what they do because of what I ve

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36 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Se vre ou gen on onf nan kay ou. ske sa se yon sitiyasyon ki nmal nan kilti Vodou a? ske li tipik mete onf lakay ongan oubyen ske gen lt ki pito mete sa on lt kote? Ongan Alisma: Si w pa gen konfyans nan lwa anvr de eksperyans ke w f avk li deja ou pa oblije f sa paske yo ka vide w at a nenpt moman. L moun nan fin depanse lajan l, li pa reyisi sa l bezwen an epi l w pwoblm nan nan k l toujou li p ap vle gade w konsa. Men l l pa konn kay ou, li ka difisil pou l jwenn ou. Ben: Ou pran on ongan mwen konnen andey an Ayiti ; li pale de desan senkanteyen li svi. Ou gade nan Max Beauvoir li pale de katsan senkanteyen lwa ske ou menm tou ou genyen yon nimewo delimite, yon nimewo espesifik ki se tout lwa ou svi oubyen ske ou gen on sistm kote lwa antre, kk lwa soti, ou jwenn nouvo lwa pafwa epi yo vini nan rv? Kijan s a mache? Kijan yon ongan gen desan senkanteyen, yon lt gen katsan senkanteyen. Ongan Alisma: Mwen pa kont sa ditou l ke on ongan genyen on ansanm d lwa ke l svi. Men mwen menm, m pa ka enimere kantite lwa ke mwen svi. Lakay mwen w ap w mt Michelet papa venteyen nasyon. L w ap analize venteyen nasyon, andedan on sl nasyon ou gen dwa jwenn san en ou gen dwa jwenn stsan en ou gen dwa jwenn milst san en. M pa kapab enimere [enumerate] kantite de lwa ke mwen svi. Slman mwen se yon ongan ki ouv a tou l lwa. Slman s osyete m genyen already lived, theyre good. Ben: Its true you have an onf in your house. Is this a normal occurence in Vodou? Is it typical to place onf in the homes of ongan or are there others whod prefer to place it somewhere else? Ongan Alisma: If you arent confident in the lwa relative to the experience you ve had with it already you dont have to do this because they can throw you to the ground at any moment. When the person has spent their money and he doesnt get what he wants and he sees that the problem is still with him he wont take that lightly. Ben: Take an ongan I know in the Haitian countryside; he speaks of the two hundred fifty one lwa he serves. You look in Max Beauvoir, he speak s of four hundred and fifty one lwa. Do you, yourself, have a definite number, a specific number for all the lwa you serve or do you have a system where lwa enter, some lwa leave, you get new lwa som etimes and they come in dreams? How does an ongan have two hundred fifty one and another has four hundred fifty one. Ongan Alisma: I am not al all against an ongan having an assembly of lwa that he serves. But myself, I cant enumerate the quantity of lwa I serve. In my house youll see boss Michelet is the father of twenty one nations. When you are analyzing twenty one nations, inside of a single nation you could find one hundred and one, you could find seven hundred and one, you could find one tho usand seven hundred and one. I cannot enumerate on the number of lwa I serve. Except to say that I am an ongan whos

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37 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant yon lwa ki bs li. Ben: Ge n yon sl lwa ki lwa prensipal sosyete a? Ongan Alisma: Non ki mt, fonde sosyete a. A ndan sosyete a w ap jwenn anpil lt lwa paske l w ap analize, Sosyete Linto a gen swasannst pitit. A nalize w swasannst pitit, bon si chak pitit gen san en lwa oubyen klke ka gen twasan en, sa ta gen stsan en. L ou gade, nou gen anpil ongan andan sosyete a, yo chaje anpil lwa. L m di w anpil lwa plis ke twasan konbyen, katsan konbyen. Si w jwenn yo n ongan katsan en lwa ou byen katsan swasanndist lwa ske l f on ti pati andedan Sosyete Linto. Ben: Se on bagay ki fasine mwen anpil D epi mwen gade sistm Vodou mwen w kijan li pwodwi anpil ongan pa rap avk yon sistm tankou Katolik kote ou g en yon grenn p epi yon lt p vini chak sizan. P yo bezwen monte anpil nivo nan lekl pou yo vin p. Yo manke sa. Men nan Vodou sanble se yon sistm ki pwodwi anpil ongan, anpil manbo. Ki sa ou kapab di sou sa? Ki motivasyon w? ske pou w gaye Vodou? ske pou w bay tout moun chans pou yo vin nan nivo ki pi wo a, nivo ongan an? Ki eksplikasyon tout pwodiktivite ongan sa a? Ongan Alisma: Pwodiktivite ki koz andedan sistm Vodou a genyen tout inisyason sa yo, moun yo ap swiv kilti yo open to all the lwa. Except to say my society has a lwa whos the boss of it. Ben: Is there a single lwa whos the principal lwa of the society? Ongan Alisma: The name who is th e boss, founded the society. Inside of the society youll find a lot of other lwa because when you are analyzing Socit Linto has sixty seven initiates Think about it, sixty seven initiates ; well if each initiate has one hundred and one lwa or some could have three hundred and one, that [person] could have seven hundred and one. When you look we have a lot of ongan inside the society, they have a lot of lwa. When I say a lot of lwa more than three hundred and something, four hundred and something. If you find an ongan with four hundred and one lwa or four hundred and seventy seven lwa, its like he makes a small part inside Socit Linto. Ben: Its something that really fascinates me. When I look at the Vodou system I see that it produces a lot of ongan relative to a system like Catholicism where you have one single priest and another priest comes every six years.The priests have to attain a lo t of levels in school before t hey become priests. They lack this. But, in Vodou it appears to be a system that produces a lot ongan, a lot of manbo. What can you say about this? Whats your motivation? Is it to spread Vodou? Is it to give everyone a c hance to get to the highest level, the ongan level? What is the explanation for the produ ctivty of these ongan. Ongan Alisma: The productivity that causes all these initiations inside the system of Vodou is that the people are

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38 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ki se Vodou. Anpil l adan yo se andan Pwotestan yo sti. Sa vle di yo te f kenz an, vent an, trant an andedan Pwotestan. Yo t ap tande pawl Bondye ki andedan Labib la. Men kounye a Ginen an di nou te la pou nou te aprann yo. Nou fin aprann yo, vin lakay nou. Yo retounen laka y yo andedan Vodou. Kounye a yo vin chita ti psyon sa yo pran andedan Pwotestan an yo fin konnen l kounye a gen on pwovb an Ayisyen yo di chat konnen, rat konnen, barik mayi a rete la. M fin konn sa k lakay ou a, se pa an yen ki serye pase lakay mwen ban m al chita lakay mwen pou m viv. Ben: Konben ongan ou fme ou menm? Ou di w gen swasannst pitit men yo pa tout ongan? Kk se slman onsi? Ongan Alisma: Nan swasannst pitit, mwen genyen trz ongan. Ben: Trz, epi manbo? Ongan Alisma: Rs yo se manbo. Ben: Epi onsi ki pa ongan oubyen ki pa manbo... ? Ongan Alisma: Tout ongan se onsi. Ben: Men ske tout onsi ongan tou? Ongan Alisma: Tout ongan se onsi; tout manbo se onsi. Al ou konnen gen klas. Ou gen dwa nan senp, sou pwen, ale nt. L ou senp : ou antre nan sistm nan ou kmanse aprann de sistm nan, ou fin kmanse konnen de sistm nan epi ou gen de ts pou w pase ki pou pmt ou following their cul ture. A lot of them come from Protestantism. That means they spent fifteen years, twenty years thristy years in Protestantism. They were listening to the word of God which is in the Bible. But Ginen says were here to teach them. We get throu g h teac hing them, they come to our place They return to their homes in Vodou. Then they come sit the small portion they learned in Pro testantism they already know it and now theres a Haitian p roverb : t he c at knows, the rat knows ; t he b arrel of corn stays undisturbed I know whats in your home and its nothin g more serious than what is in my house ; so let me establish myself at home so I can live. Ben: How many ongan have you trained yourself ? You say you have sixty s even initiates but they arent all ongan? Some are only onsi? Ongan Alisma: Of sixty seven initiates I have thirteen ongan. Ben: Thirteen, and manbo? Ongan Alisma: The rest are manbo. Ben: And onsi who arent ongan or who arent m anbo...? Ongan Alisma: All ongan are onsi. Ben: But, are all onsi also ongan? Ongan Alisma: All ongan are onsi; all manbo are onsi. Well you know, there are classes. You could be a simple initiate, an under the point initiate or all the way [ongan or manbo] When you are simple : you enter into the system you start learning the system you start

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39 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ret sou kwen epi gen de ts ank pou w pase nan lekl. Ou soti nan medlskoul ou fin f on kary nan medlskoul, ou pral f on karye nan ayskoul. Ou sot f on kary nan Ayskoul ou pral antre nan inivsite pou w f on lt kary. Ben: ske w ta di on moun ki senp, ki f kanzo inisyason kanzo, li soti senp, ske se toujou ongan li ye? Ongan Alisma: Wi, se ongan li ye pase pa gen limit pou li. Li andedan peristil li l l vle. Li antre andan onf l l l vle. L lwa ap pale li ka part, li salye lwa epi l chita. P a gen psonn k a di l leve paske l se on ongan. Li f chemen an. Li benefisye pasaj li deja [15:57] Ben: Donk, li ka kenbe ason? Li kapab salye lwa? Ongan Alisma: L w sou pwen, ou pa ka salye lwa avk ason men w ka kenbe baln. Ou ka kenbe yon gode dlo. Nmal pou pa kenbe ason pou nou kapab idantifye diferans ki genyen antre senp, sou pwe n, e asogwe. Ben: Oke, se slman asogwe ki gen dwa kenbe ason an. Pou Vodou, ason an se pi gwo senbl otorite? Ongan Alisma: Wi, pa etone on sou pwen [Yes, dont be surprised if a sou pwen uses...] gen dwa kenbe ason tou nan peristil lakay li asavwa ke se lwa l svi a menm ke l ap salye. knowing the system and then you have two tests to pass that will allow to attain under the point and then there are again two tests for you to pass in school. You come from middle school you finish a class in middle school, youre going to do a class in high school. You finish the high school class youre going to enter university to do another class. Ben: Would you say people who are simpl e, who do the kanzo initiation, he leaves simple, is he still an ongan? Ongan Alisma: Yes, hes an ongan b e cause there are no limits for him. Hes inside of the peristil when he wants to be He enters the onf when he wants. When the lwa are speaking he can appear and greet the lwa and then sit down. There isnt anyone who can tell him to get up because he is an ongan. He did the journey. He benefited from the passage already. Ben: So, he can use the ason? He can greet the lwa? Ongan Alisma: When you re under the point you cant greet the lwa with the ason but you can hold a candle. You can hold a cup of water. It s normal not to be able to use the ason so we can tell th e difference between simple, under the point, and asogwe. Ben: Okay, i ts only asogwe who have the right to hold the ason. For Vodou, the ason is the biggest symbol of authority? Ongan Alisma: Yes, dont be surprised if a n under the point uses the ason in his home peristil seeing as how its his own lwa he serves that hes greeting.

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40 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Li ka f on seremoni domestik avk fanmi li. Li gen dwa kenbe ason nan kontks sa? Ongan Alisma: An nou di nou genyen ongan Ben ki sou pwen andedan Sosyete Linto epi ft Loko rive e se nan tt li Loko toujou vin i ; se li Loko renmen. Nan moman sa ou ka ba l ason pou l salye Loko. Pa etone, si Loko vin sou li, Loko pran ason epi w pral di Loko pa kenbe ason an paske svit w se sou pwen l ye. Ou pa gen dwa sa. Loko se on bs. Se on gwo chf O u pa gen pale devan l Li ka f sa l vle. Ben: Genyen moun ki leve nan Vodou, pett yo pa f Ongan. Y o pa kanzo men yo leve nan yon kilti Vodou epi tout fanmi yo f l. Yo menm tou yo konnen yo soti nan fanmi ongan menm si yo pa sou pwen, yo pa senp, yo pa asogwe ofisylman ; nan sistm ongan ou kapab pmt yo salye Loko si yo soti nan bon baz Vodou? Ongan Alisma: L ap salye Loko avk on po dlo. Ou ka ba l on gde dlo, on baln pou l salye Loko men w pa oblije ba l ason an paske l pa konn regleman ason an. Ben: ske ou gen lwa ki pale plis sou kisa ki regleman ason an? Ongan Alimsa: Non, paske l ou genyen ason nou pale de senp, de sou pwen, de asogwe. Asogwe a li se l w fin pran dezym etap la ki di inivsite ske ou fin Ben: He can do a domestic ceremony with his family. Can he use the ason in th at context? Ongan Alisma: Let us say we have ongan Ben whos under the point in Soci t Linto and its Lokos party and Loko always comes i n his head ; Loko likes him. In that moment you can give him the ason to greet Loko. Dont be surprised if Loko comes on him, Loko takes the ason and youre goin g to tell Loko he cant hold the ason because the servant is under the point. You dont have that right. Loko is a boss. Hes a big chief. You have no authority over him. He can do what he wants. Ben: There are people who are rais ed in Vodou, perhaps they arent ongan. Theyre not kanzo but they were raised in a Vodou culture and their whole family does it. They themselves know that they come from ongan families even if theyre not under the point, simple, or officially asogwe ; in the ongan system can you allow them to greet Loko if they are from a good Vodou base? Ongan Alisma: Hell greet Loko with a pitcher of water. You can give him a cup of water, a candle for him to greet Loko but you dont have to give him the ason because he does know the requirements of the ason. Ben: Do you have lwa who speak more on what the requireme nts of the ason are ? Ongan Alisma: No, because when you have an asonwe speak of simple, of under the point, of asogwe. Asogwe is when youve finished taking the second

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41 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant gradye inivsite ou sti avk yon diploma. L w fin sti avk yon diploma, kounye a ou pral f pratik. W al degaje w pou w pran bachlerye w pou al degaje w, ou remt on doktoral. Ske w aprann. L ke ou pa f pasaj la, ou pa antre nan djvo ou benefisye pasaj la nan on pakt ki limite. Ben: Menm si w leve nan yon kay Vodouwizan? Ongan Alisma: Menm si w leve nan yon kay Vodouwizan. Men, pa pou otan ou se Vodouwizan epi presizeman se sa ou vle pou pitit ou. Sistm Vodou a pa fonksyone konsa. Vodou a li menm li toujou ta renmen mwen se yon ongan pou piti mwen ta past, pou pitit mwen ta enjeny, pou pitit mwen ta dokt, pou pitit mwen ta avoka, pou pitit mwen ta on lt bagay pou nou agrandi fonksyonman fanmi an. Ben: Stadi ou kite timoun ou yo f kary yo vle? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Ou pa fse yo? Ou pa egzije yo? Ou pa menm ankouraje yo? Ongan Alisma: Ditou! Ben: Men, an menm tan tou ou kapab kontre; pa egzanp, m kontre kk ongan yo di m ta renmen pou pitit mwen swiv chemen mwen men li pa vle f sa. Gen kk ongan ki kapab gen atidid sa. Se on kesyon psonl? step which i s the university and you finish and graduate an d you leave with a diploma When you leave with a diploma now youre going to practice. You try and get your bachelor and then you try to get a doctorate. So that you learn. When you dont do the passage, you dont enter into the djvo, you experience the the passage with a bunch of limitations. Ben: Even if you were brought up in the home of a Vodouist? Ongan Alisma: Even if you are brought up in the home of a Vodouist. But, just because youre a Vodouist doesnt precisely mean thats what you want for your child. The Vodou system doesnt function like that. Vodou itself would always like for me to be an ongan, for my child to be a pastor, for my child to be an engineer, for my child to be a doctor, for my child to be a lawyer, for my child to be something elseso we ca n enlarge the functionality of the family. Ben: In other words you let your children do the careers they want? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: You dont force them? You dont require them? You dont even encourage them? Ongan Alisma: Not at all! Ben: But, at the same time also you can encounter for example, I encounter some ongan who say I would like for my child to follow in my path but he doesnt want to do that. There are some ongan who can have this attitude. Is it a personal matter?

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42 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Mwen pa di sa mwen menm. M p ap janm di li. Chak moun gen chwa pa yo nan lavi. Mwen f pitit la, mwen pa kapab f opinyon l, desizyon l. Li ka f sa l vle. Wl mwen andedan Vodou a ke mwen kapab mande lwa a pou l bay pitit mwen an pwoteksyon pou mwen pou l pa tonbe avan l l. Piti t mwen dwe f chwa l, di pitit la wi se pou w ongan. Non li pa posib. Pitit mwen ou ka f sa ke w vle. Si se pou ranplase m ta bezwen yon moun ranplase m, si se pou sa m t ap plis bezwen pitit mwen an vin on ongan, m gen anpil lt pitit spiritwl ki ka ranplase m. Ske m pa gen pwoblm. M gen dwa fse pou pitit mwen an vin devni on ongan e poutan se pa chwa lwa yo. Men pitit spiritwl mwen yo deja chwazi yo menm. Lwa a deja aksepte yo. Asavw a ke lwa aksepte yo poukisa m pral fje on lt pitit pou l vin svi lwa yo pandansetan ke lwa yo pa aksepte l ? Ben: Ban m poze kesyon an, pett moun pral bezwen f sa pou rezon eritaj, byen? Ongan Alisma: Se sa m ap di w. Eritaj byen, kondisyon mistik la pa gen slfich ladan l, pa gen on af de byen psonl. Se tout plzi si mwen pa la ank pou on pitit spiritwl mwen jere sosyete m, jere peristil la. Li pa la ank, pou on lt pitit jere peristil la, jere sosyete l. Se byen lwa yo e lwa yo pou ou. Be n: Ou se ongan prensipal Socit Linto Roi Trois Mystres men, ou gen plizy ongan ki konn travay avk ou, ki konn asiste seremoni, ki toujou tou pr onf a. ske nou gen wl diferan nan sosyete a? Ongan Alisma: I dont say this myself. I would never say it. Each person has their own choices in life. I had the child; I cant make his opinions, his decisions. He can do what he wants. My role in Vodou is that I can ask the lwa to give my children protection for me so he doesnt fall before his time. My children have the right to their own choices, I wont tell the child yes you have to be an ongan. No its not possible. My child you can do what you want. If I needed someone to replace me, if this is why I would need my child to become an ongan, I have a lot of other spiritual children who can replace me. S o I dont have a problem. I could force my child to become an ongan and its not the choice of the lwa, however. But, my spiri tual children are already chosen. The lwa have already accepted them. As long as the lwa accepts them why would I forge another child to come serve the lwa when the lwa dont accept him? Ben: Let me ask the question, perhaps people want to do that for reasons of inheritance, wealth? Ongan Alisma: Thats what I m telling you. The i nheritance of wealth, the mystical condition is not selfish. Theres no concept of personal wealth. Its my pleasure if im no longer here for my spiritual child to handle th e peristil, the society. Its th e wealth of the lwa and the lwa are for you. Ben: You are the principal ongan of Socit Linto Roi Trois Mystres but, you have multiple ongan who work with you, who as sist at ceremon ies who are always close to the onf. Do y ou have different roles in the society?

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43 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Wi, mwen genyen Emanyl Lwi ki se premye ongan soyete a. Mwen menm mwen se ongan konsey, fondat sosyete a. Gen on lt ongan ki prezidan sosyete a. Gen on ongan ki trezrye. Gen on ongan ki trezrye adjwen. Gen on ongan ki sekret jeneral. Gen on ongan ki sekret adjwen sosyete a. Ben: Yo to ut gen wl pa yo byen defini? Ongan Alisma: Gen on ongan ki chf egzekitif sosyete a. Yo antre mele. L m di w antre mele a gen ongan e manbo. Gen chf de disiplin osi. Gen chf de dyalg osi. L mwen di chf de dyalg an nou di on manb andedan Vodou a g en dwa gen pwoblm nan fwaye l, ilfoke l jwenn klke manb de dyalg ki pou al chita nan fwaye a k pou mete lap san ke l pa bezwen al chche dey yon konsol. Ben: ske ou pa jwenn ongan aspire pou yo fonde onf pa yo? Tankou, anpil moun nan lt relijyon yo gen misyon yo voye pou fonde legliz oubyen pou yo mete mske pou moun ki Mizilman. ske ou menm tou, ou gen lt ongan ki fondat peristil? Yo gen yon vizyon plase oubyen mete ongan nan plizy kote pou yo kapab f travay an inite? Tankou Fort Laude rdale, li lwen, pett on onf ki asosye avk Linto a ka bon la? ske w gen aspirasyon sa? Ongan Alisma: Mwen genyen ongan ki konekte avk nou ki se piti sosyete a Ongan Alisma: Yes, I have Emmanuel Louis who is the first ongan of the society. I, myself, am the consulting ongan, the founder of the society. There is another ongan who is the president of the society. There is an ongan who is the treasurer. There is an ongan whos the deputy treasurer. Theres an ongan whos the general secretary. Theres an ongan whos the deputy secretary of th e society. Ben: Do they each have well defined roles? Ongan Alisma: Theres an ongan whos the executive chief of the society. They are intermingled. When I say intermingled there are ongan and manbo. There are also officers of discipline. There are also communication officers. When I say communication officers, lets say a member in Vodou h as a problem in his marriage, he can find a member of communication who can go sit with them to establish peace, w ith out him having to search for an outside consoler Ben: Are there ongan who aspire to build their own onf? For instance, a lot of people in other religions have missionaries they send to establish churches or to establish mosques for Muslim people Do you also have other ongan who establish peristil? Do t hey have a vision to place ongan in multiple loca tions so that they can work in unity? For instance, Fort Lauderdale, its far, perhaps an onf that is associated with Linto would be good there? Do you have these aspirations? Ongan Alisma: I have ongan who are connected with us, who are children of

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44 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant andedan Nouyk. Nou gen manbo andedan Kanada. Nou gen ongan andedan lando. Nou gen manbo a ndedan Ftloddel. Nou gen manbo nan West Palm Beach. Nou gen on ongan an Ayiti. Nou genyen on ongan Owayo. Nou gen on manbo a Pari, on ongan a Pari. Ben: Moun sa yo toujou pral konsidere ou menm km yon papa? Ongan Alisma: Tout, m se papa spiritwl yo Ben: Tradisyon onf sa mete kote yo enstale k yo? Yo gen dwa trese nouvo tradisyon ladan l, oubyen ki libte yo genyen? Ongan Alisma: Yo ka f sa ke yo vle nan onf pa yo a asavwa ke yo respekte prensip disiplin lwa yo. Ben: Di mwen, sa ki pi dif isil nan ongan an? Gen anpil chante ki pale sou difikilte yon ongan kapab genyen nan travay l ap f. Ongan Alisma: Gen de maladi ki vin devan w. D epan de maladi a ou w se on trajidifilkiti pou w jw enn solisyon an pote lakay li. O u dwe jwenn li. Li di. Y on kouve kanzo se tr di. Ben: Yon kouve kanzo, sa sa ye? Ongan Alisma: Yon pwomosyon kanzo. Ben: Li difisil, tout travay li mande? Ongan Alisma: Vrman fatigan malgre w gen anpil moun k ap ede w. the society in New York. We have manbo in Canada. We have ongan in Orlando. We have manbo in Fort Lauderdale. We have manbo in West Palm Beach. We have an ongan in H aiti. We have an ongan Ohio. We have an manbo in Paris, an ongan in Paris. Ben: Will this person always consider you a father? Ongan Alisma: All of them, Im their spiritual father. Ben: The traditions of this onf are in place where they establish themselves? Do they trace new traditions in it, or what liberty do they have? Onga n Alisma: They can do what they want in their own onf as long as they respect the princip le of the discipline of the lwa. Ben: Tell me, what is the most difficult part of being an ongan? There are a lot of songs that speak about the difficulties an o ngan can have in the work he does. Ongan Alisma: There are some illnesses that come before you. Depending on the sick person you see its a tragedy it is difficult to find a solution for the person. You have t o find it. Its hard. A kanzo hatching is v ery difficult. Ben: A kanzo hatching what is that? Ongan Alisma: A kanzo promotion. Ben: Its difficult, all the work it requires? Ongan Alisma: Its very difficult, despite having a lot of people helping you.

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45 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Oke, paske se travay sa rete. Ongan Alisma: Anhan! Li vrman di. Non slman w jwenn anpil moun ap ede, e anpil moun tou ap travay pou lajan yo. Li toujou di toujou. Ske li vrman difisil, e f l ft S e travay Ginen an. Si Ginen an di w al preche labn nouvl ou pa gen lechwa O u oblije preche la bn nouvl paske se wl pa w. Si w p al preche labnn nouvl ki moun ki prale pou ou ? Wch yo pa preche l pou ou. Pyebwa yo pa preche l pou ou. Dlo yo pa preche l pou ou. Bn nouvl pa nou se ouvri de men nou byen laj pou nou aksepte pitit yo k ap f chem en lakay yo antre. Ben: Sa w pi renmen? Kisa ki ba w kouraj, ki ba ou anvi kontinye f travay ongan? Ongan Alisma: Sa ki ban mwen anvi e ankouraje mwen se l ke mwen fin pran tout tan mwen pou mwen f fmasyon yon pitit epi rek pitit sa vin ap remt mwen apr. Sa f m santi m viv. M santi m kontan tan mwen an pa t gaspiye pou granmesi. Kouraj mwen an pa t envsti pou granmsi. Travay la te bon. Sa ankouraje m pou m kontinye. Ben: Jan Vodou genyen enpak nan lavi yo? Ongan Alisma: Anhan paske l w ap gade yon maladi vin lakay ou se sou kabann yo pote l epi w ap voye l al lakay li sou de pye l epi plita l ap retounen vin b kote w pou l ap vin remsye w. Sa f m plezi. Ben: Pou ou menm ki kalite kontribisyon Ben: Okay, because its work that remains. Ongan Alisma: Uh huh! Its really hard. Not only do you have a lot of people helping you, a lot of people are working for their money too. So its very difficult and it has to be done. Its the Ginens work. If Ginen tells you to go preach the good news you dont have a choice. You are obliged to preach the good news because that is your role. If you dont go preach the good news who will go for you? The rocks wont preach for you. The waters wont preach it for you. Our good news is to open our two hands real wide to accept our children who are on their way home. Ben: You like this the best? What gives you courage, gives you the desire to want to continue the work of an ongan? Ongan Alisma: What gives me desire and encourages me, i s when an initiate I ve spent all my time to form repays me afterwards with their record. That makes me feel alive. I feel content that my time was not needlessly wasted. My courage was not needlessly invested. The work was good. This encourages me to continue. Ben: In the way Vodou impacts their lives? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh, because when youre looking at a sick person whos come to you carried on a bed and you send them home on their two feet and later he returns to you to thank you. That pleases me. Ben: For you what kind of intellectual

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46 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant onivo entelektyl tankou liv ou kapab w nan lavni w? ske w ta renmen f liv sou Vodou oubyen slman liv pou sosyete a? Ki wl ou w nan pibikasyon liv Vodouwizan chante oubyen lapriy? Ongan Alisma: Mwen f liv deja. Li rete andedan sosyete a. Se on liv de fmasyon sosyete a. L ou gen on pitit w ap prepare l f ke w ba li yon liv pou l kapab gade kman bagay yo ye pou l aprann yo pou l mete yo an pratik epi pou w ba l yon ts pou w pmt li tonbe nan kategori li pral tonbe andedan sistm nan. Nou pa pibliye liv men nou gen liv n ap travay sou yo la pou nou kapab pibliye. Ben: Pou w mete devan piblik la? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Ou panse sa kapab gen on wl pozitif sou kijan etranje jije Vodou? O ngan Alisma: Jan etranje jije V od o u, liv sa ka montre yo sa w prevwa de Vodou a se pa vr. Vodo u a se yon mist l ye. Si ou enterese aprann, ou dwe antre andedan n pou w vin aprann klke choz k ap bon pou avni w. Ben: Dapre sa ki nan lide m, pif onf p ap ofri liv edikatif bay moun ki pral f kanzo. Ki kote ou vini avk lide sa? L ou te vin ong an ske ou te gen liv tou nan men moun ki te fme w? Ongan Alisma: Mwen pa t gen liv nan men moun ki te fme mwen. L ke pou w inisye ou pa gen on liv Ske ou pa gen on contributions, like books, do you see in your life? Would you like to write books on Vodou or only books for the society? What is your role in the publication of Vodouist song books or prayers? Ongan Alisma: Ive already written books. It stays in the society. Its a book of training for the society. When you have children youre preparing you have to give him a book S o that he can see how the things are; so he can learn to put them in practice and then youll give him a test to allow him to fall into the category hes going to fall into in the system. We dont publish books but we have books were working on in order to publish. Ben: For you to place before the public? Ongan Alisma: Yes Ben: Do you think that can have a positive effect on how foreigners perceive Vodou? Ongan Alisma: The way foreigners judge Vodou, this book will show them that what they thought of Vodou is not true. Vodou is a mystery. If youre interested in learning, you need to enter into it to learn a few things that will be beneficial for your future. Ben: According to what I know, most onf dont offer educational books to people who will undergo kanzo. Where di d you come up with thi s idea? When you became an ongan did you also have books from the person who trained you? Ongan Alisma: I didnt have books from the person who trained me. When youre being initiated, you dont have a book. So

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47 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant mach a swiv m en l ke w gen on mach a swiv travay la ale pi vit. Sa fasilite kones ans. Ou kapte konesans ritwl Ginen an pi vit. Sa pmt ou vanse pi vit andedan sistm nan. Se sa k f w ap w m gen dwa fin kanzo on pitit la apr twa kat senk si mwa li ka f kanzo pa l li menm paske l deja prepare. Tout sa l manke, l ap w andedan liv l i a. Ben: L ou di fme on kanzo e sa pran si mwa nou konnen se seremoni antre kanzo avk leve kanzo se yon semn. Men dapre sa mwen detekte nan sa ou di an reyalite se yon fmasyon ki pi gran pase sa. Se tout on si mwa, se ennan etid pou w pmt moun sa vin kandida kanzo. Donk, se pa jis on semn? Gen anpil tan preparasyon pou moun nan ft. Ongan Alisma: Anhan! Si w pran moun nan mwen de on semn ou mete andan djvo a se yon mechanste. Ben: Poukisa, paske li pa prepare? Ongan Alisma: Li pa prepare. Ou pa ede l anrichi konesans li. Se pou w aprann li de sistm nan. Ben: Menm avan li antre nan djvo a? Ongan Alisma: Avan menm. Ben: Pou l konnen sa li pral f? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Pou w ongan menm, konbyen tan you dont have steps to follow but, when you have steps to follow the work goes by much faster. This facilitates knowledge. You grasp the knowledge of the Ginen rituals much faster. This allows you to advance much faster in the system. Thats why youll see I ll finish promotin g a child and after three, four, five, six months he can do his own kanzo promotions because hes already prepared. Anything hes missing hell find in the book. Ben: When you say training a kanzo and that takes six months we know the kanzo entry and kanzo completion ceremon ies take one week. But, according to what I detect in what youre saying in reality its training that takes longer than that. Its six months; its one year of study to permit this person to become a kanzo candidate. So, is it not just one week? Theres a lot of time for preparation for the person to do ? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh! If you take the person and in less than a week you place them in the djvo its a cruelty. Be n: Why, because he isnt ready? Ongan Alisma: He is not ready. You didnt help him enrich his knowledge. You have to teach him of the system. Ben: Even before he enters into th e djvo? Ongan Alisma: Even before! Ben: So he can know what to do? O n gan Alisma: Yes! Ben: For you to even be an ongan, how

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48 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ou panse etranje km mwen, s i mwen vle vin ongan, si lwa yo rele m pou m f sa, konbyen tan sa kapab pran yon moun ki pa leve nan kreyl, ki pa leve nan sistm Vodou a? Ongan Alisma: Li depan de jan ke w aprann. Li kapab pran ou katran, stan, dizan, distan, ventan. Tou depan de j an ke w aprann paske gen moun ki aprann vit; gen moun ki aprann dousman. Ben: Youn nan travay ongan yo se evalye ki kote moun nan ye sou chemen konesans lan? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Avk ts? Ongan Alisma: Anhan! Ben: Se ts oral oubyen ou pral mand e moun nan ekri tou? Ongan Alisma: Menm ts sa ou ka pran l aloral, ou ka pral a lekri. Sa depan ke jan ke w vle. Ou k mande ts la jan ke w vle. Ben: Nan anpil seremoni Vodou, prske tout mwen te temwanye, mwen w n ap bat tanbou, n ap chante, n ap danse, nou gen rit n ap swiv, regleman ongan ou. ske w ka pale plis sou wl chante? Dapre sa m w, pa gen yon moman kot ongan pral kanpe preche. Gen kk moman li kapab pale avk piblik la, avk onsi yo, men sanble se plis on sistm ki baze nan chante. Sa ou kapab di nan sa? Ki wl chante yo? much time do you think a foreigner like me, if I wan t to become an ongan, if the lwa call me to do that, how much time would that take a person who didnt grow up in Creole, who didnt grown up in the Vodou system? Ongan Alisma: It depends on how you learn. I t can take you four years, seven years, ten years, seventeen years, or twenty years. It all depends on how you learn because there are people who learn fast; there are people who learn slowly. B en: Is one of the jobs of the ongan to evaluate where the person is on this learning path ? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: With tests? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh! Ben: Is it an oral test or will you ask the person to write as well? Ongan Alisma: You can take the same test written or orally. That depends on how you want it. You can ask for the test in the way you want it. Ben: In a lot of Vodou ceremonies, almost all of the ones I observed, I see that you all are beating drums, you all are singing, you all have rites that youre following, the requirements of the ongan. Can speak more on the role of songs? From what I have seen, there isnt a moment when an ongan will stand and preach. There are moments when hell speak to the public, with the onsi, but it seems as if its a system thats mostly based on song. What can you say to that?

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49 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ongan Alisma: Gen anpil mesaj ki pase anvr de chante yo. Gen anpil lwa tou ki vini anvr de chante. Ben: Oke, sa atire yo? Ongan Alisma: Anhan! Ben: Sa k f ongan, manbo pa kanpe pou yo preche pandan trant minit, indtan? ske se jis sa pa f pratik kilti a, tradisyon an oubyen li mwens efikas? Ongan Alisma: Andedan S osyete Linto e dt sosyete ank ongan an kanpe li preche plis ke trant minit. Non slman ongan an ka f sa, gen lwa ki vini ki kanpe epi li f plis ke sa. Ben: Lwa a gen dwa monte ongan pou l bay on kalite mesaj, prch, konsy? Sa ka pran anpil tan si li vle? Donk sa egziste ? Ongan Alisma: Wi li ft; li egziste. Li ft souvan. Ben: Pou yon moun ki pa f pati onf w, pa egzanp mwen m enm m konn vini nan seremoni, men apre konvsasyon nou gentan f yo mwen vin konprann se yon peristil ki aktiv anpil. Ou gen rankont defwa pa semn, oubyen twa fwa. Ou gen tout on seri de aktivite ki f t. Pale plis sou sa nou ka w. D y serem oni ki kalite reyinyon nou f ? K i rezon nou f yo? Ongan Alisma: Nou f reyinyon de What is the role of the songs? Ongan Alisma: There are alot of messages passed through the songs. There are also a lot of lwa who come through songs. Ben: Okay, that attracts them? Ongan Alisma: Uh huh! Ben: How come ongan, manbo dont stand and preach for thrity minutes, an hour? Is it just that thats not part of the culture, the tradition or is it least effective? Ongan Alisma: Inside Societe Linto and other societies the ongan stands and pre a ches for more than thirty minutes. Not only does the ongan preach, there are lwa who come and do more than that. Ben: The lwa can ride an ongan to give a sort of message, sermon, advice? Can this take a long time if he wants? So, this exists? Ongan Alisma: Yes it happens; it exists. It happenes often. Ben: For someone who isnt a member of your onf, for example I sometimes come to the ceremonies, but after th e conversations weve already had I have come to understand its a very active peristil. You have meetings two times per week, or three times. You have a series of activities that occur. Speak more on what we could see. After the ceremony what kind of meetings do you do? Why do you do them? Ongan Alisma: We have training

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50 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant fmasyon. Reyinyon de fmasyon kote ke n ap f fmasyon pitit yo. Nou aprann yo plis ke sa yo konnen. Tankou, nou gen on reyinyon lendi ft avk on ongan, manbo ki ale nt. Sa w mete yo chita pou w montre yo kman yo kapab diferansye on tt f mal natirl avk yon tt f mal fetich. Tt f mal fetich se sa dokt pa ka w a. Tt f mal natirl se sa dokt kapab w. L on malad vin devan yo, yo dwe kapab f diferans sa: fetich e natirl Si se fetich pou yo trete l men kisa pou yo f. Sou klkeswa fm li vini an, f yo trete l. Si l se natirl tou, pou yo aji avk konsyans deswa pou yo voye l al w dokt s a n yo pa defann lajan avk li. Si moun nan ta genyen yon dk, tt f mal, pou w ka pab f diferans lan menm jan pou w konn sa pou w f. Si moun nan ta gen yon maladi gwo vant, menm jan. Si moun nan ta gen bagay k ap mache nan tout k l pou w kapab idantifye kisa sa ye e kisa w ka f pou w pote solisyon lakay moun sa a. Dt e dt toujou. Se reyinyon sa nou f l lendi. Lemkredi nou f on reyinyon a tout sos yete a. Reyinyon nou f avk yo nou pale yo de lwa yo: eksplike yo lwa yo, ki wl yo andedan sistm nan. Kisa tl lwa ka f; kisa tl lwa pa ka f. L w f demann a tl lwa men poukisa w dwe f demann avk li. P as k e nan pati sa li bon. Sa men nan lt pati li bon, ou ka f demann avk li de sa. Si m konnen w bon nan chapant, m f demann de chapant. Si m konnen w bon nan feray l, m f demann de feray l. Si m konnen w bon nan medsin, m f demann av w de medsin. Tout branch ke w bon yo. Menm l gen plizy kalite medsin, gen plizy kalite lwa tou ki la pou w bagay yo. Se sa nou f nan reyinyon mkredi epi nou montre w chante lwa yo. L w se on manbo, ou se on ongan, ou se on Vodouwizan f w konnen chante yo. Menm l w pa ka konn tout, men f w meetings Meetings for training where we form the children (initiates) We teach them more than they know. For instance, we have a meeting on Mon days with an ongan and a manbo who have gone all the way. You sit them down and you show them how they can differentiate a natural headache with a fetish headache. A fetish headache is what the doctors cant see. Doctors can see a natur al headache. When a sick person comes before them they need to be able to tell the difference: fetish and natural. If its fetish requiring treatment, this is what they do. If its natural they have to be aware of this to send them to see the d octor without discussing money with him. If t h e person had a headache, you have to be able to tell the difference the same way you have to know what to do. If the person had a large stomach illness, same thing. If the person had things crawling t hroughout their bodies you have to able to identify what that is and what you can do to bring this person a solution. More and more still. Thats the meeting we have on Mondays. On Wednesdays we have a meeting with the whole society. At this meeting we tell them about the lwa: explain the lwa, what their roles are in the system, what this lwa can do, what that lwa cant do. When you make a request with this lwa here is why youre supposed to make a request of him. Because, in this area hes skilled. This one here, this other area its skilled at, you can make requests of him in this. If I know youre skilled in carpentry I make carpentry requests. If I know youre skilled in ironworking, Ill make ironworking requests If I know you re good at medicine, I ll make medicine requests All the areas youre good at. Even though there are multiple types of medicine, there are multiple

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51 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant konnen enpe. Reyinyon samdi, nou f l anvr de strikti de baz de sosyete a e fmasyon de moralite sosyete a: strikti sosyete a, de preparasyon, de prezantasyon seremoni yo. Ben: Donk, chak reyinyon pandan semn nan gen objektif li? Ongan Alisma: Li gen wl pa l. Ben: Mwen se on moun ki renmen chante anpil. Mwen te toujou mande tt mwen kijan onsi yo te konnen tout chante sa yo e kounye a la m w se youn nan eleman edikatif onf sa genyen. Ongan Alisma: Se sa k f w ap w andedan sosyete Linto nou prepare pt drapo pa nou ki pou pote drapo. Nou prepare laplas [master of ceremonies], ki pou kondwi seremoni an. Nou prepare yon manbo ki kapab kouri Ayizan. Nou prepare d manbo ki kapab kour i Alesina, ki vle di l w w tout klye yo nan kou moun nan. Nou prepare tout sa. Ben: Donk chak moun avk wl yo? Ongan Alisma: Wi! Ben: Sa ki enterese mwen nan koze chante; ou gen chante ki soti nan nasyon peyi d Ayiti. S e ansyen chante, tout onf konnen yo. Men an menm tan tou mwen toujou frape depi m vini nan seremoni types of lwa that are there for you to utilize. This is what we do in the Wednesday meeting and we show you the songs of the lwa. When you are a manbo, an ongan, a Vodouist you have to know the songs of the lwa. Even when you dont know all of them, you have to know some of them. The Saturday meeting is on the fundamental structure s of the society and the moral formation of the society: the structure of the society, of the preparations, of the presentations of the ceremony. Ben: So, each meeting during the week has its own objective? Ongan Alisma: It has its own role. Ben: I am a person who really likes music. I always asked myself how do the onsi know all of these songs and now I see its one of the educational elements of this onf. Ongan Alisma: Thats why you ll see inside of Soci t Linto we prepare our own flag bearers to hold th e flag. We prepare a master of ceremonies, to conduct the ceremony. We prepare a manbo who can run with palm fronds. We prepare manbo who can run with A lesina, which refe rs to when you see all the necklaces around the persons neck. We prepare all of this. Ben: So each person has their own role? Ongan Alisma: Yes! Ben: Im interested in this discussion of songs ; there are songs that come from the nation of Haiti. They are ancient songs, all onf know them. But at the same time also, I am always stunned

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52 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant oubyen mwen li liv sou chante mwen toujou jwenn nouvo chante. Se kmsi pa gen kote ki svi ak menm chante oubyen ske se pa sa? Ongan Alisma: Vodou a genyen on kontinyite alenfini. L ap vanse jiska lenfini. Ki l lenfinite sa ka rive? Nou pa konnen. L w pale de enfini se on bagay ki p ap janm f ini. Y o vini chak jou, chak chak segond, chak minit. Ben: Stadi genyen yon kilti kreyasyon chante nan Vodou? Nou ankouraje moun ki vin i avk nouvo chante? Ongan Alisma: Wi, asavwa ke chante a genyen yon sinyifikasyon. Sinyifikasyon sa vyen de lwa yo. Li gen on wl. Ben: Donk pou ou menm, pou Vodouwizan, se lwa ki voye chante? Se pa moun ki kreye yo? Ongan Alisma: Moun kreye chante yo alimaj de lwa yo. Lwa yo kreye chante osi. Ben: ske gen de pafwa ou bezwen di non sa pa on chante ki rekonesab dapre sistm nan, ou bezwen korije moun ki nouvo nan domn nan ki vini avk chante? Ongan Alisma: Wi ou gen dwa vin avk yon chante, li pa abdab nan sistm nan. M ap di w sa a pa bon. Avan ke mwen di w sa, m ap di w esplike m chante sa. Chante a dwe genyen yon esplikasyon kork a li menm ki kapab dedye sa ke w vle di a. L w bwote sou on fy papye w ap ekri yon ti mennaj. D epi ti mennaj la w lt ke w ekri l la ske li deja w kman ou eksprime w de li menm. Si w when I come to the ceremony or when I read books on songs I always find new songs. Its like there are no places that use t he same songs or is that not it? Ongan Alisma: Vodou has an infinite continuity. It will advanse until the end of time. When will th is end o f time come? We dont know. When we speak of infinity its something that will never end. They come every day, every hour, every second, every minute. Ben: Which is to say there is a culture of song creation in Vodou? You encourage people who come up with new songs? Ongan Alisma: Yes, as long as the songs have significance. This significance comes from the lwa. T hey have a role. Ben: So for you, for Vodouists, the lwa send the songs? People dont create them? Ongan Alisma: People create the songs with the inspiration of the lwa. The lwa create songs also. Ben: Do you sometimes have to say no that isnt a song that is recognizable according to the system? Do you have to correct people who are new in the domain who come up with songs? Ongan Alisma: Yes you can come up with a new song and have it not be approachable in the system. Before I tell y ou this, Ill ask you to explain this song to me. The song has to have a correct explanation with in it that can detect what you want to say. When you bring it on a sheet of paper youre writing a girlfriend. When t h e girlfri e nd see s th e letter you wrote its like she already

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53 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant ap chante pou on lwa, f chante w chante a ka eksprime w paske tout sa ou pa kapab di lwa a an palan se li ou di l an chantan. F yo gen sinyifikasyon; ou pa ka djs rete pou w voye monte. Li pa ft konsa. Ben: Gen on chante, Azo r chante ki di Bondye asogwe. Se on ti pawl ki enterese mwen. Sa ou kapab di sou sa, Bondye asogwe? Ki sans ti pawl sa genyen? Ongan Alisma: L l di Bondye asogwe, kiys? ske se Jezi oubyen se gran Dy e de Jewova ki di Dye de lm (? 41:43) Ben: M panse se gran Dye. Ongan Alisma: M pa kw paske li pa kapab di Bondye asogwe paske li konnen kisa Bondye f men li pa ka viv yo de menm jan Jezi f. Li kapab di w Jezi asogwe paske tout sa J ezi ap f yo se zak asogwe. Se sa k f l kapab di w Jezi genyen on konesans d Asogwe. Li pa ka di p Olowoum a sogwe [Yoruba term for God, write Olorun in English]. P Olowoum f nou. Avan l f nou li f dlo a. Li f t a. Li f syl la. Li kreye a, e l f nou epi l kreye dife. Li kreye tout bt yo. La nou kapab di men sa yo di li te f men nou p a t w avk sa Jezi f nou viv se de bagay diferan. Ou kapab di Jezi; ou kapab di l asavwa li travay de limaj de asogwe. Tout sa asogwe f se li menm pou w ap w Jezi f. W ap w l Jezi te monte ti batiman avk Py li travse pa lotb letan an e l te jwenn mesye malad la ki t ap rakle soufri anba on kokenn chn maladi. W ap w mov zespri sa ki te sou mesye a ki te di Jezi pitit David la gen knows how you express yourself for her. If youre singing for a lwa the song youre singing has to express your feelings because all that you cant tell t he lwa with words you tell it in song. They have to have meaning You cant just senselessly promote. It doesnt work that way. Ben: There is a song, an Azor song that says God is asogwe. Its a statement that interests me. What can you say about this, God is asogwe? What meaning does this s tatement have? Ongan Alisma: When it says God is asogwe, who is asogwe ? Is it Jesus or great God Jehovah who is the God of man? Ben: I think it is great God. Ongan Alisma: I dont think so because, it cant say God is asogwe because he knows what G od does but he cant experience them in the same way Jesus does. He can say Jesus because all the things Jesus does are things asogwe do. Thats why it can say Jesus has the knowledge of an asogwe. It cant say father Olorun is asogwe Father Olorun c reated us. Before he created us, he created the water. He made the Earth. He made the sky. He made the air, and he created us and then he created fire. He created all the animals. What they said he did that we couldnt see and what Jesus made us experience are two different things. You can say Jesus; you say that he works in the image of an asogwe. Jesus does everything that asogwe do. Youll see when J esus climbed on the little boat with Pierre, he crossed the little pond and he found the sick man who was greatly suffering

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54 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant pitye pou mwen pa lage m nan gwo tou s an fon sa non. Voye m pami kochon yo. W ap w gen gadye kochon yo ki part ki di ale, pa rete isi a. Vye bk, ale pa rete isi a bk ke w ye. Ale nou pa bezwen w b isi a. Sa montre w wi Jezi se te yon bk. Tout ak Jezi yo ou deja w se ak bk. Be n: Mwen te kontre yon ongan an Ayiti ki te di mwen l gen moun k ap manje wch, moun k ap poze danje pou lasosyete pafwa fanmi moun ki danjere sa, moun ki malad mantalman, yo konn desann lakay ongan pou li menm trete moun ki malad sa, moun k ap manje wch. ske gen plas pou moun ki sikolojikman malad nan trtman w ofri? Pa egzanp li menm li pral mare moun nan sou yon pyebwa. L i pral benyen moun nan ba li manje L i pral rann li dous nan sistm pa l an Ayiti. Donk, yon lt sosyete, lt fason pou l trete moun mantalman malad, moun ki poze danje. Kijan ou ta reyaji si ou gen yon manb oubyen yon fanmi ki pwch avk onf a ki vini avk yon moun ki vrman deranje mantalman? Ongan Alisma: Moun ki vrman deranje mantalman se menm jan nou genyen yon pitit nou la ki deranje mantalman ki soti a Pari ki vin sibi on inisyason isit. De l l fin sibi inisyason an a jodi a se de bagay diferan. Ben: Konsa kanzo kapab yon fason ou trete moun ki deranje? Ongan Alisma: Wi kanzo ka ede w nan anpil bagay epi lwa yo ka ede w s an under an incredibe illness. Youll see the bad spirit that was on the man who told Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me dont leave me in this deep large hole. Send me among the pigs. Youll see there are th e guardians of the pigs who appeared and said go away, dont stay here. Awful bk, go dont stay here, bk that you are. Go we dont want you here. This shows you that Jesus was a bk. You already see that all the acts of Jesus were the acts of a bk. Ben: I encou ntered an ongan in Haiti who told me when there are people who are eating rocks, people who are dangerous to society at times the family of this dangerous person, this mentally ill person, go to an ongan to treat this sick person, this person whos eating rocks. Is t here a place for people who are psychologically ill in treatments you offer? For example he would tie the person to a tree. Hell bathe the person and feed him. Hell calm him down in his own system in Haiti. So, its another society, another way o f treating mentally ill people, people who pose dangers. How would you react if you had a member or a family member who i s close to the onf who comes with a person who is really mentally deranged? Ongan Alisma: We have a initiate here who is mentally disturbed from Paris who unde rwent an initiation here. From t he time he underwent the initiation and now are two different things. Ben: So kanzo can be a way to treat disturbed people? Ongan Alisma: Yes kanzo can help you w ith a lot of things and the lwa can help

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55 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant kanzo. Part V Ben: Konbyen sosyete Vodou ki kapab genyen nan lavil Miyami? Ongan Alisma: Genyen anpil soyete Vodou nan lavil Miyami. L mwen di genyen anpil, ka genyen pr de yon santn sosyete andedan vil Miyami. M p ap ka site tout. M ap di w ou jwenn Sosyete Linto, Sosyete Ti Pa Ti Pa, Sosyete Sansiro. Oke Sosyete Linto, ou deja konnen l deja, se ongan Michelet de ongan Emanyl. Ou jwenn Sosyete Ti Pa Ti P a ki se manmi Toye. Sosyete Sansiro ki se manbo Marikaml Ou jwenn sosyete Makaya ki se manbo M ikla Ou jwenn Sosyete Mach a Swiv ki se manbo madanm Jan Jak. Ou jwenn Soyete Zila ki se manbo Madona. Ou jwenn Sosyete Trankil ki se manbo Kalin, de lando. Ou jwenn Sosyete An Ka Bezwen ki se manbo Elizabt d Ayiti. O u jwenn Sos yete Sen Jak ki se ongan Jowl Ou jwenn Sosyete Ginen ki se manbo Mari Lidi. Ou jwenn Sosyete Sobo ki se manbo Jmn, nan Bwawd. Ou jwenn Sosyete Dereyal ki se manbo Patrisya. Ou jwenn S osyete Jan Simon Britis ki se manbo Jmn Katrevende. Ou jwenn S osyete Trase Fouy e ki se manbo Amalya. Ou jwenn S osyete Vyj Mirak e Sentiv ki se manbo lsi. Pou nou pa al pi lwen, apr sa gen dt e dt sosyete k ap pfme andedan sant Florida. L yo di on sosyete, on sosyete konbine pa sis psonn. Depi w gen on sosyete ou dwe gen on manbo oub yen on ongan. Ou dwe genyen laplas. Ou dwe genyen pt drapo [flag bearers]. Ou dwe genyen andjenikon [choir leaders]. Ou dwe genyen prezidan sosyete a. Ou dwe genyen sekret jeneral sosyete a. Tout you without kanzo. Part V Ben: How many Vodou societies are there in the city of Miami? Ongan Alisma: There are a lot of Vodou societies in the city of Miami. When I say there are a lot there could be close to on e hundred societies in the city of Miami. I wont be able to cite them all. Ill tell you youll find Soci t Linto, Sosyete Ti Pa Ti Pa, Sosyete Sansiro. Okay, Societe Linto, you know it already, its ongan Michelet and ongan Emmanuel. Youll find Sosye te Ti Pa Ti Pa run by manmi Toye. Sosyete Sansiro thats run by manbo Marie Ca r mel. Youll find Sosyete Makaya thats run by manbo Mikla. Youll find Sosyete Mach a Swiv [Walk and Follow] thats run by manbo JeanJack. Youll find Sosyete Zila thats run b y manbo Madona. Youll find Sosyete trankil [Tranquille Society] thats run by manbo Carline of Orlando. Youll find Sosyete An Ka Bezwen [In case of need] thats run by manbo Elisabeth d Ayiti. You ll find Sosyete Sen J ak thats run by ong an Joel. Youll find Sosyete Ginen thats run by manbo Marie Liddy. Youll find Sosyete Sobo thats run by manbo Jmn in Broward. Youll find Sosyete Dereyal thats run by manbo Patricia. Youll find Sosyete Jan Simon Britis thats run by manbo Jmn Katr evende. Youll find Sosyete Trase Fouye [trace and dig] thats run by manbo Amalya. Youll find Sosyete Vyj Mirak and Sentiv thats run by manbo lsi. Not to go any further but after that there are more and more societies that are performing in th e cen ter of Florida. When they say a society, a society is comprise d o f six people. If you have a

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56 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant sosyete m ap di w yo se so s yete ki genyen yon baz a reyini Sosyete ki gen yon kote yo kapab reyini nan sant Florida. Ben: Isi w panse se lakay manbo a oubyen ongan an oubyen se toujou sa depan de kouraj li? Ongan Alisma: Si li pa genyen peristil li kapab genyen yon pozisyon nan botanika li oubyen lakay li. Ben: Konbyen seremoni Socit Linto Roi Twa Mystres ganize chak lane? Ongan Alisma: Chak lane Socit Linto Roi Twa Mystres ganize twa seremoni an absans de kanzo. Kanzo pa konte. Si kanzo pa konte sosyete Linto ganize twa seremoni chak lane. Premye seremoni an se mwa d septanm. Nou gen yon seremoni ki pral tonbe la leventwit a ventnf septanm ki ganize pa premye ongan ki de Socit Linto Roi Trois Mystres, ki se Emanyl Lwi, alyas bon ongan, ki tonbe ventnf septanm. Kenz desanm pral genyen seremoni Legba ki ft pa manbo Janin Bwalo. Tranteyen desanm ou pral jwenn ft sosyete Linto. Sa vle di ft kay la menm ki kmanse tranteyen desanm, premye janvye, de janvye, twa janvy e kat janvye. Ben: Km mwen swiv ou menm nan society you need to have a manbo or an ongan. You need to have a master of ceremonies. You need to have flag bearers. You need to have a choir leader. You need to have a president. You need to have a general secretary. All the societies I m telling you about are societies that have a location to meet at Societies that have a place where th ey can meet in the center of Florida. Ben: Here do you think its at the home of the manbo or the ongan or is it still depending on his courage? Ongan Alisma: If he doesnt have a peristil he can have a position in his Botanica Vodou shop or at his house. Ben: How many ceremonies does Socit Linto Roi Twa Mystres organize each year? Ongan Alisma: Each year Socit Linto Roi Twa Mystres organizes three ceremonies not including the kanzo. Kanzo does not count. If kanzo isnt counted S oci t Linto organizes th ree ceremonies each year. Th e first ceremony is th e month of September. We have a ceremony that falls on the twenty eighth and the twenty ninth of September that is organized by the first ongan of Socit Linto Roi Trois Mystres, whos Emmanuel Lou i s, alias good ongan. December fif teen is the Legba ceremony that is done by manbo Janin Bwalo. December thirtieth is the party of S osyete Linto. That means the actual party of the house that starts December thirtieth, January first, January second, January third, and January fourth. Ben: Since I follow you on Facebook, I

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57 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Fsbouk, mwen te w ou te gen yon seremoni pou Danbala nan ane sa. ske sa pral ft ane pwochen? Ongan Alisma: Li ap ft chak ane. Ben: Oke, men se twa ft sa yo prensipalman ou genyen? Ongan Alisma: Nou gen kat ft prensipal men se twa ki aktif. Ben: Sa k f nou desid e pou nou mete seremoni sa yo espesifikman? Ongan Alisma: Komite a! Ben: An menm tan tou ou te gen aktivite l nou t ap selebre zili Dant ske ou pa konte sa ki te nan peristil la km yon ft prensipal? Ongan Alisma: Non! Ben: Oke, poukisa? Ongan Alisma: zili Dant se on lwa inivsl. Ou jwenn zili Dant andedan tout nasyon. Ske klkeswa ft k ap ft la, li apatyen. Se menm jan klkeswa ft k ap ft la, ou w Legba apatyen. Klkeswa ft k ap ft la, Marasa apatyen. Se la nou pa pran inisyatif p ou nou di gen yon ft spesyal, on seremoni spesyal anvr de zili Dant. Ben: Sa pa bezwen ft chak lane? Ongan Alisma: Non! Ben: Oke men kat lt yo? Ongan Alisma: O u jwenn zili Dant nan see that you had a ceremony for Danbala this year. Will this happen next year? Ongan Alisma: Itll happen each year. Ben: Okay, but you have these three principal parties? Ongan Alisma: We have four principal part ies but only three are active. Ben: What made you all decide to have these specific ceremonies? Ongan Alisma: The committee! Ben: At the same time also you had an event when you celebrated zili Dant Do you not count what was in the peristil as a principal party? Ongan Alisma: No! Ben: Okay, why? Ongan Alisma: zili Dant is a universal lwa. Youll find zili Dant in ever nation. So that she will be a part of whatever party is being done. Similarly Legba is a part of whatever party is being done. Marasa is a part of whatever party is being done. This is why we dont take the initiative to say we have a special party, a special ceremony relative to zili Dant. Ben: That doesnt have to happen each year? Ongan Alisma: No! Ben: Okay but th e other four? Ongan Alisma: You find zili Dant in all

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58 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant tout de menm km Gede. Ben: Si popilasyon Ayiti a se dis milyon moun konbyen nan yo svi lwa yo? Ongan Alisma: Si popilasyon Ayisyen an di milyon mwen rete kw wi milyon svi lwa yo. Lt de milyon ki pa svi lwa yo se moun ki aje k ap chche kouvti andedan Pwotestan. Tout jn ou w k ale nan legliz yo, y ale pou on rezon plita y ap vini nan seremoni an. W ap w lepli souvan tou yo konvti Jeremi epi l seremoni Latibonit yo vini men yo pa al nan seremoni Jeremi. Sa Latib onit lan tou. L konvti Gonayiv li aksepte Jezi km sov li epi l al nan seremoni Jeremi kote pou moun leliz li pa w l. Konsa zaf tout moun ap regle. Ben: Ou konstate fenomn sa? Ongan Alisma: Depi l m te kmanse a jodi a. Ben: Yon bagay ki enptan tou se koze rap legliz Katolik avk Vodou. Kijan w w sa? ske w w legliz Katolik km y on bagay ki sti nan Vodou oubyen on bagay ki anba Vodou, ki anwo Vodou, yon bagay parall? Ongan Alisma: Legliz Katolik vyen de Vodou epi legliz Katolik ta renmen anglobe Vodou anba l pou l anl. Sa a pa kapab ft, m enm jan tankou yon manman ki fin f y on pitit epi pitit la t ap w se li menm ki pou vin manman an. Ou rete kw sa ka ft? L ap difisil. of them just like Gede. Ben: If the population of Haiti is ten million people how many of them serve the lwa? Ongan Alisma: If the population of Haiti is ten million I believe th at eight million serve the lwa. The other two million are older people who are searching for cover inside Protestantism. All the young people you see who go to the churches, they go for one reason, later theyll be in t h e ceremony. Youll often see theyre converted in Jrmie and when theres a ceremony in the Artibonite, they go but they dont attend ceremonies in Jrmie. This is in Artibonite also. He converts in Gonaves he accepts Jesus as his savior and then he goes to th e ceremony in Jrmie where his church people wont see him. This way everyones business will be resolved. Ben: Youve observed this phenomenon? Ongan Alisma: Since I started until now. Ben: The relationship of the Catholic church and Vodou is also very important. How do you see this? Do you see the Catholic church as something that comes from Vodou or something that is beneath Vodou, thats above Vodou, something parallel? Ongan Alisma: The Catholic church comes from Vodou and the Catholic church would like to encompass Vodou within it so it can be on top. That cant happen, like a mother whos had a child and then the child feels as if he can be the mother. Do you believe that can happen? Itll be difficult.

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59 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant Ben: Menm pspktiv sa ou genyen l pou Bib la? Kmsi Bib la sti nan Vodou? Tankou gen anpil koze nan Bib la ki gen aparans Vodouwizan depi ou konnen sistm Vodou ou tcheke Bib la. Tankou koulv Moyiz mete sou poto. Ongan Alisma: Tout bagay vyen de Vodou, m enm Pak la. O u pa w l gen on baton nan men l? Ki senbl baton sa, baton Moyiz la? Baton Moyiz la kisa li ye? Si w konnen l ou mt di l. Ben: Sa k apab baton Legba. Ongan Alisma: On koulv. .. Ben: L li f sa devan Farawon sa vin on koulv, p ou Vodouwizan se Danbala. Ongan Alisma: Legliz nan Vo d o u pa bon. Depi gen moun gen Vod ou; depi gen moun ki ka pale, ki ka respire, ki ka eksprime yo, Vodou a. klkeswa nasyon an. Nasyonalite pa gen distans. Ben: Kite mwen pran yon ti moman pou remsye w pou tout tan w pataje jenerzman jodi a. Se on kokennchenn plezi pale avk ou. Ou gen yon dnye bagay ou ta renmen di piblik la oubyen mwen menm? Ongan Alisma: Vodou a se nou; nou se Vodou a. Plas nou tout rezve andedan Vodou a P a gen psonn ki kapab pran plas yon lt andedan Vodou a. Tout otan ke w poko vini, plas ou a rete disponib a ou menm. Sa vle di ki l pe, ki l tn f w Ben: Do you have this same perspec tive on the Bible. For example does the Bible come from Vodou? For instance there are a lot of stories in the Bible that have a Vodouist appearance. If you know the Vodou system and you check within the Bible. For instance, the snake Moses put on a pole. Ongan Alisma: Everything comes from Vodou, even Easter Sunday. Dont you see he has a staff in his hand? What does this staff symbolize, the staff of Moses? What is Moses staff? If you know it you can say it. Ben: It could be Legba s staff. Ongan Alisma: A snake... Ben: When he did that in front of the Pharaoh it turned into a snake, for Vodouists its Danbala. Ongan Alisma: The church in Vodou is not good. If there are people who have Vodou; if there people who can speak, who can breathe, who can express themselves, the Vodou. Whatever the nation, nationality has no distance. Ben: Let me take a moment to thank you for all this generous time you shared today. It was an incredibl e pleasure to speak with you. Do you have one last t hing youd like to say to the public or me? Ongan Alisma: The Vodou is us; we are the Vodou. We each have a spot reserved in Vodou. No one can take someone else s place in Vodou. Your place will remain available to you until you return. Whether s ooner or later, if you love

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60 Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Tahiri JeanBaptiste Copyright 2013, University of Florida, the UF Duke NEH Collaborative Grant retounen pou w vin swiv kilt i ou si ke w renmen tt ou. Nou tout se Vodouwizan. Se la ke nou viv transparan, lib e lib e nou rete nou f apl ke nou ouv bra nou pou nou resevwa tout pitit nou yo k ap retounen lakay yo. L mwen di lakay ou, Vodou a se lakay ou. Depi w gen san, ou se Vodouwizan. Ben: Msi anpil Ongan Michelet Alisma. Ongan Alisma: Se on plzi Ben e mwen ta swete on lt fwa pou n pale plis. yourself you have to return to follow your culture. We are all Vodouists. This is where we live transparently, totally free and we appeal to, we open our arms to receive, all our children who are returning to their homes. When I say your home, Vodou is your home. If you have blood, you are a Vodouist. Ben: Thank you very much Michelet Alisma. Ongan Alisma: It was a pleasure Ben and I hope we speak some more at another time.