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1 Oral History hrough Song Samantha Howcroft University of Florida If there werent lwa as for us, wed all drown! If there werent lwa as for us, oh wed all perish In foreign countries. We come from Ginen, Hand bound to hand, foot bound to foo t Well go to a place, when we arrive, well own it! In the hold of the slave ship, were going Somewhere, All bathed and powdered with the G reat L wa Were sailing! Refer ring to the origins of Haitian V odou, this song praises the lwa and the protection they offered on the slave ships from Africa. Haitian V odou is rooted in western Africa ( the former Dahomey region ) and the Kongo; both regions combined when slaves from these areas were brought to Haiti and were subjugated by the French The Vodouists vividly sing of their ancestors voyage from foreign countries in the hold of the slave ship , their arms and feet bound together. This voyage was immensely danger ous, and this song praises the lwa for keeping the people from drowning and dying. They believe that their ancestors arrived in the colony because the Great Lwa guarded them. The structure of the song is vital, as it stresse s the importance of the l wa to V odouists and makes the song easier to remember. The first two lines are parallel, praising the lwa ; the final phrase sings of the presence of the Great Lwa . Starting and finishing the song with reference to the lwa keeps the l wa in the participants minds during the song and after the song has been sung. The history of the ancestors is explained in a series of short phrases, sometimes parallel in structu re ( lines 1 2 and 5 ) allowing for easy memorization and repetition of the song as a group. Having an easily remembered song ripe with history allows V odou practitioners to praise the lwa and pass on their history simultaneously


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Oral History through Song, Samantha Howcroft
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00001362/00014
 Material Information
Title: Oral History through Song, Samantha Howcroft
Series Title: HAI3930, ANT3930, LAS3930, REL3938
Physical Description: Course Material
Creator: Raitano, Megan
Publisher: Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
Raitano, Megan
Felima, Crystal
Place of Publication: University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
 Notes
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Megan Raitano.
Publication Status: Unpublished
General Note: This is a collection of student essays from the Haitian Vodou class offered at the Universtiy of Florida. These essays are the results of a combination of in class material and independent research on individually chosen topics. The writing styles, citation styles, and views expressed in the essays are established by the students and do not necessarily reflect those of the professor or the Archive.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID: IR00001362:00014

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Oral History through Song
Samantha Howcroft, University of Florida

If there weren 't lwa, as for us, we'd all drown!
If there weren't lwa, as for us, oh we'd allperish
In foreign countries.
We come from Ginen,
Hand bound to hand, foot bound to foot!
We 'll go to a place, when we arrive, we 'll own it!
In the hold of the slave ship, we're going
Somewhere,
All bathed andpowdered ii ith the Great Lwa,
We 're sailing!

Referring to the origins of Haitian Vodou, this song praises the Iwa and the protection
they offered on the slave ships from Africa. Haitian Vodou is rooted in western Africa (the
former Dahomey region) and the Kongo; both regions combined when slaves from these areas
were brought to Haiti and were subjugated by the French. The Vodouists vividly sing of their
ancestors' voyage from "foreign countries" in the "hold of the slave ship," their arms and feet
bound together. This voyage was immensely dangerous, and this song praises the Iwa for
keeping the people from drowning and dying. They believe that their ancestors arrived in the
colony because the "Great L i", guarded them.
The structure of the song is vital, as it stresses the importance of the Iwa to Vodouists and
makes the song easier to remember. The first two lines are parallel, praising the Iwa; the final
phrase sings of the presence of the "Great Lwa." Starting and finishing the song with reference to
the Iwa keeps the Iwa in the participant's minds during the song and after the song has been
sung. The history of the ancestors is explained in a series of short phrases, sometimes parallel in
structure (lines 1, 2 and 5) allowing for easy memorization and repetition of the song as a group.
Having an easily remembered song ripe with history allows Vodou practitioners to praise the Iwa
and pass on their history simultaneously.