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1 Azaka and Kouzin Cassandra Thorla, University of Florida Azaka, the lwa of agriculture and peasant farmers, is known to sport a blue ensemble of denim, a broad straw hat, and a jug of rum mixed with herbs (McCarthy Brown 1991: 36) His nicknames include Papa Zaka and Azaka Mede, but he is more commonly called Kouzen, or cousin, because he reminds the people of the importance of their family roots and the land from which those roots originated. Unlike the family definitions in the Uni ted States where a cousin is known as the daughter or son of an aunt or uncle, a cousin in Haiti is any person with whom another shares a family like bond (McCarthy Brown 1991: 36). He is celebrated in the Djouba, Kongo, Matinik, and Rada rites. Days set aside for Azaka include Wednesday, Friday, and Satur day (Hebblethwaite 2012: 213). H is female counterpart is Kouzin, a model of the me rchant woman. Her characteri stics are similar to that of a m achann (merchant woman) who is known for her loud voice and bargaining skills Initiates of Vodou celebrate Azaka s birthday around the date of May 26th each year. His altar for this celebration is d ecorated in his favorite colors blue and red and topped with his chromolithograph, an assortment of candles, various gifts, candy, cake, fruit, cassava bread, sugarcane, and countless other foods and drinks (Hebblethwaite 2012: 213) Furthermore, his v v may be drawn in cornmeal, one of his favorite foods (Hebblethwaite 2012: 213). Papa Zakas p reference for t hese foods, specifically the cassava bread, sugarcane, and cornmeal are a reflection of the common foods available and preferred by Haitian farmers In many ways, he embodies the description of the everyday Haitian farmer through his amusement in gossip intrusion in personal business m anner of speaking attitude, and a t t ire This makes him relatable to the people and explains the family bond felt between himself and the people. He also loves to play bargaini ng games (McCarthy Brown 1991) and may spend hours at his birthday celebration selling his gifts from the altar to the crowd for money. The people know he can act very childish and even chastise him by singing, Adults dont fool around, its children who fool around here/ Azaka Mede be more serious about your business (Hebblethwaite 2012: 213). Kouzin, Azakas female counterpart, is modeled after the wom e n in the markets. In Haitian households, women are usually the ones who deal wi th money. In the case of Kouzin, she handles the money transactions for Azaka. At his birthday celebration, he will usually lend out money to the initiates and also collect the debts of those who borrowed the year before. While he drives a hard bargain with high interest rates, many people j ump on the opportunity to borrow his money as it is said to be blessed and will bring benefits for those who use it (McCarthy Brown 1991 : 67). U sually when this is done Kouzin will also ride a chwal ( the person who is possessed) and keep track of these transactions. The significance of this pair of lwa Azaka and Kouzin, is that a parallel can be drawn between their relationship and the relationships of men and their wives as farmers and merchants. In the case of this pair of lw a, Azak a harvests the food, and Kouzin is in charge of selling it at the market. The predominant view in Haiti is that men are the center of the family unit and head of the household; however, wome n can gain some financial power depending on how they barga in in the marketplace. This is due to the fact that when woman are sent to the market with their products and money, whatever money is left over is considered their property. This is very important power for women since a man who may have several wives or mistresses could use the profits to support his other families and/or personal wants (Bond 1994: 48)

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2 Therefore, if a woman can find a decent strategy for bargaining she can save up her money. Many of these women will sell wherev er they go. If they are visiting a friend, they may bring the candy they had just made or the baby clothes they had just sewn in hopes of making a sale ; these women possess both persistence and smart wit for bargaining (McCarthy Brown 2012: 3738) A woman may carry other financial responsibilities as well. For e xample, in Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn McCarthy Brown (2012) states that usually when Azaka comes to collect his dues on the money he has lent out to the people it is often handled by Kouzin rather than by A zaka. Although women in Haiti may be subjected to patriarch al households they m aintain a sense of financial i ndependence : the embodiment of Kouzin. Kouzen Azaka is, to many initiates, an extended family member and a lwa of hard work. He is the reminder of the family who came before and the land f rom which this family came. Both he and his female counterpart, Kouzin, model the relations of the common husband and wife of a farming class family. While Azaka depicts the ever yday farmer in his denim and straw hat, Kouzin models the average market woman with her loud voice and smart bargaining skills. Both lwa represent the attitudes, speech, costumes, and will of the people.

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3 Works Cited Bond, George Clemont, and Angela Gilliam. Social Construction of the Past: Representation as Power London: Routledge, 1994. Print. Brown, Karen McCarthy. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of California, 1991. Print. Hebblethwaite, Benjamin, and Joanne Bartley Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2012. Print. Landry, Timothy R. "Moving to Learn: Performance and Learning in Haitian Vodou." Anthropology and Humanism 33.1 (2008): 12. Web. 6 Mar. 2012 < http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.15481409.2008.00005.x/full>. O'Connor, John Bonaventure. "St. Isidore of Seville." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Web. 6 Mar. 2012 < http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08186a.htm>.


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Title: Azaka and Kouzin, Cassandra Thorla
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
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Subjects / Keywords: Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
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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.
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Azaka and Kouzin
Cassandra Thorla, University of Florida

Azaka, the Iwa of agriculture and peasant farmers, is known to sport a blue ensemble of
denim, a broad straw hat, and a jug of rum mixed with herbs (McCarthy Brown 1991: 36). His
nicknames include Papa Zaka and Azaka Mede, but he is more commonly called Kouzen, or
cousin, because he reminds the people of the importance of their family roots and the land from
which those roots originated. Unlike the family definitions in the United States where a cousin is
known as the daughter or son of an aunt or uncle, a cousin in Haiti is any person with whom
another shares a family-like bond (McCarthy Brown 1991: 36). He is celebrated in the Djouba,
Kongo, Matinik, and Rada rites. Days set aside for Azaka include Wednesday, Friday, and
Saturday (Hebblethwaite 2012: 213). His female counterpart is Kouzin, a model of the merchant
woman. Her characteristics are similar to that of a machann (merchant woman) who is known for
her loud voice and bargaining skills.
Initiates of Vodou celebrate Azaka's birthday around the date of May 26t each year. His
altar for this celebration is decorated in his favorite colors, blue and red, and topped with his
chromolithograph, an assortment of candles, various gifts, candy, cake, fruit, cassava bread,
sugarcane, and countless other foods and drinks (Hebblethwaite 2012: 213). Furthermore, his
veve may be drawn in cornmeal, one of his favorite foods (Hebblethwaite 2012: 213). Papa
Zaka's preference for these foods, specifically the cassava bread, sugarcane, and cornmeal, are a
reflection of the common foods available and preferred by Haitian farmers. In many ways, he
embodies the description of the everyday Haitian farmer through his amusement in gossip,
intrusion in personal business, manner of speaking, attitude, and attire. This makes him relatable
to the people and explains the family bond felt between himself and the people. He also loves to
play bargaining games (McCarthy Brown 1991) and may spend hours at his birthday celebration
selling his gifts from the altar to the crowd for money. The people know he can act very childish
and even chastise him by singing, "Adults don't fool around, it's children who fool around here/
Azaka Mede be more serious about your business" (Hebblethwaite 2012: 213).

Kouzin, Azaka's female counterpart, is modeled after the women in the markets. In
Haitian households, women are usually the ones who deal with money. In the case of Kouzin,
she handles the money transactions for Azaka. At his birthday celebration, he will usually lend
out money to the initiates and also collect the debts of those who borrowed the year before.
While he drives a hard bargain with high interest rates, many people jump on the opportunity to
borrow his money as it is said to be blessed and will bring benefits for those who use it
(McCarthy Brown 1991: 67). Usually when this is done Kouzin will also ride a chwal (the
person who is possessed) and keep track of these transactions.

The significance of this pair of Iwa, Azaka and Kouzin, is that a parallel can be drawn
between their relationship and the relationships of men and their wives as farmers and
merchants. In the case of this pair of Iwa, Azaka harvests the food, and Kouzin is in charge of
selling it at the market. The predominant view in Haiti is that men are the center of the family
unit and head of the household; however, women can gain some financial power depending on
how they bargain in the marketplace. This is due to the fact that when woman are sent to the
market with their products and money, whatever money is left over is considered their property.
This is very important power for women since a man who may have several wives or mistresses
could use the profits to support his other families and/or personal wants (Bond 1994: 48).









Therefore, if a woman can find a decent strategy for bargaining she can save up her money.
Many of these women will sell wherever they go. If they are visiting a friend, they may bring the
candy they had just made or the baby clothes they had just sewn in hopes of making a sale; these
women possess both persistence and smart wit for bargaining (McCarthy Brown 2012: 37-38). A
woman may carry other financial responsibilities as well. For example, in Mama Lola: A Vodou
Priestess in Brooklyn, McCarthy Brown (2012) states that usually when Azaka comes to collect
his dues on the money he has lent out to the people, it is often handled by Kouzin rather than by
Azaka. Although women in Haiti may be subjected to patriarchal households, they maintain a
sense of financial independence: the embodiment of Kouzin.

Kouzen Azaka is, to many initiates, an extended family member and a lwa of hard work.
He is the reminder of the family who came before and the land from which this family came.
Both he and his female counterpart, Kouzin, model the relations of the common husband and
wife of a farming class family. While Azaka depicts the everyday farmer in his denim and straw
hat, Kouzin models the average market woman with her loud voice and smart bargaining skills.
Both Iwa represent the attitudes, speech, costumes, and will of the people.









Works Cited


Bond, George Clemont, and Angela Gilliam. Social Construction of the Past: Representation as
Power. London: Routledge, 1994. Print.

Brown, Karen McCarthy. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of
California, 1991. Print.

Hebblethwaite, Benjamin, and Joanne Bartley. Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English.
Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2012. Print.

Landry, Timothy R. "Moving to Learn: Performance and Learning in Haitian Vodou."
Anthropology and Humanism. 33.1 (2008): 1-2. Web. 6 Mar. 2012
.

O'Connor, John Bonaventure. "St. Isidore of Seville." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New
York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Web. 6 Mar. 2012
.