A Synopsis of the book REMEMBRANCE: Roots, Rituals and Reverence in Vodou
Sharing Heritage Remembrance: Roots, Rituals, and Reverence in Vodou
This book is a 401 page tribute to Haiti's Ginen heritage. The book provides a detailed review of African history enabling the reader to appreciate the continuation of West African traditions in Haiti and in the the Americas. Rada and Petwo spirits (Lwas) are presented and attention is given to their roles in various African creation stories. The contributions of various West African ethnic groups like the Ewe, Mede, Adya, Gedevi, Ibo, Nago, Kongo are examined along with the influence of leaders from these societies. Readers come face to face with such heroes as Larèn Kongo, Don Petwo, Odoudouwa, Lemiso, Adyahounto, Toni Malo, and numerous others whose legacies are honored by their descendants in Haiti today.
The book anchors itself in the history and in the religious philosophy of the Haitian people. That philosophy reveals how the crossroad or Kafou represents an intersection between two worlds- that of the Living and that of the Ancestors. This is commonly referred to as the point (pwen an) the intersection of the visibles with the invisibles. In the Kongo, circles representing the sun are added to the Kafou symbol to help encapsulate the Kongo concepts of the universe. In Haiti, this Kongo sketch is called Kafou Kongo or simply Kafou and is widely used in the Haitian Spiritual writing known as Vèvè.
The book is rich in sources. Over 100 traditional songs are explained in their historical context. More than 300 African words- obtained from various Nago, Ewe, Adya and Kongo dictionaries- in use in Haiti today, are defined in the accompanying vocabulary list. The authors’ interviews with individuals of various African ethnicities provide further insight into the origins of these African words and customs in Haiti. Additionally, the book is supported with documents from leading journals on religion, social science, African history, Haitian history and Archaeology.
The book ends with the Priyè Dyò, also called Priyè Ginen – a prayer in which the names of many former kings, queens, and Ancestors from Africa are cited and honored.
It is a must read for anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of Haitian culture and of human spirituality. The book shows how Vodou philosophy is part of the mainstream of human religious thoughts. The universality of various religious principles may date back to when people first migrated out of Africa. For this reason, the authors postulate that all the world’s religions may share a common origin.