Sunday, October 9, 2016

“Haiti has been cursed by the Devil: A Reminder by The Weather Channel Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro”

“Haiti has been cursed by the Devil: 
A Reminder by The Weather Channel Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro” by Celucien L. Joseph

Below is the haunting and devilish image of Hurricane Matthew which The Weather Channel has constructed. This image has gone viral in the social media. The image is a very scary human skull with only 3 top teeth–no bottom teeth are noted; it is nothing less than the angry devil, with a terrific one red eye starring at the miserable people in Haiti. Its colors are red (eye), gray, and black.


What is the significance of this caricature?

What is the significance of this devilish image and that one red eye looking down upon Haiti–from the top?

The Weather Channel Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro, who claimed to have taken the Satellite shot, decided he was going to make Hurricane Matthew look like a skull. Chiefly, it is the devil’s image on that skull that best shows Haiti’s spiritual warfare and theodicy. Mr. Ostro has also decided this is a fair representation of Haiti as a country that has been cursed by the Devil himself. He is unapologetic about this ideological representation, which tells a pseudo-narrative about the Haitian people: the demonization of Haitian history, and American media’s projection about the plight and spiritual crisis of the Haitian people.

Interestingly, this same Meteorologist did not represent (equally) visually the destructive intervention of Hurricane Matthew in Cuba, Jamaica, Miami, the Florida Treasure Coast, St. Augustine, Georgia, and South Carolina–which have also been affected by the same Tropical Storm. Why Haiti?
Seven words summarize Mr. Ostro’s racist attitude toward Haiti: Haiti has been cursed by the Devil!
This is another example of American media and scientific racism which shows no empathy to black tragedy and the suffering of the Haitian people.

*Interestingly, Paul Meyer, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Earth Science Office, told CNN that the skull’s “teeth” are cold convective clouds.”…/05/health/hurricane-matthew-skull-trnd/

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Post-Hurricane Matthew Reliefs Efforts for Haitian Victims

 Post-Hurricane Matthew Reliefs Efforts for Haitian Victims
by Celucien L. Joseph

Haiti Then and Now is soliciting Post-Hurricane Reliefs Efforts to provide temporary aids to the victims in the areas of Port Salut, Jeremie, Les Cayes, and the neighboring areas and cities.

If you want to make a donation to those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, please send your donations to the address listed below:

Hope for Today Outreach (HTO)
P.O. Box 7353
Port Saint Lucie, FL 34985

Or you contact us below:

By Phone


• By Email


Among the other items we're taking to the Hurricane Matthew Victims in Southern Haiti (i.e. Les Cayes: Chardonniere), we just purchased 300 "185Lumens Waterproof Portable Outdoor Camping Lantern solar Lamp Rechargeable Emergency Tent Light with USB Hook" for $ 1374.00 at Our goal is to purchase 1000 of them to distribute to  1000 Haitian families.

If you want to make a donation toward this goal, please click on the link below for further instructions:…/post-hurricane-matthew-…/

* We're sorry that we will not take to Haiti any items that are already available in Haiti or American goods that will weaken Haiti's agriculture, economy, and market.

* To donate to other trustworthy organizations, please see the article below by Dr. Bertin Louis 
How to help Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti 

Thank you.

Dr. Celucien L. Joseph
Curator of Haiti Then and Now (HTN)
Founder of Hope for Today Outreach  (HOP)

How to help Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti by Dr. Bertin Louis, Jr.

How to help Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti 
by Dr. Bertin Louis, Jr. 

" Some people have asked me about Haiti and what you can do in light of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew.

Here’s what you SHOULD NOT DO:

Here’s a quote from a recent article about the Red Cross’s “efforts” in Haiti:
“Since the 2010 Haiti earthquake NPR and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and found a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success, according to a review of hundreds of pages of the charity's internal documents and emails, as well as interviews with a dozen current and former officials.
The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six.”


Lessons learned from 2004 (Hurricane Jeanne) and 2010 (earthquake) is that these in-kind donations:

a) Destroy the local economy and destabilize the communities. Despite the media portrayals of Haiti, many of the goods you find here in the US can be found in Haiti. Merchants sell rice, canned goods, clothing, etc. So, how can they compete with free?

b) Cause logistical and financial problems. You will need to collect/ package the goods, get them through customs in US and Haiti, and have a mechanism for distribution inside the country. Many groups in 2010 were stuck with a stockpile of goods that never made it to the intended people. Use your money, time and energy wisely.

c) Lead to an overabundance of some goods and a short supply of others. We see a number of well-intentioned organizations, churches, politicians hosting collection drives but without an official assessment of what is needed on the ground, the collections may end up being futile and leading to same problems as mentioned above. So, if a decision is made to take in-kind donations, the advice given is to wait for the official assessment of needed items.


Donate. Preferably to an organization on the ground with a solid reputation of delivering on its mission.  Here’s a list of Haitian NGOs that you can donate to.  I list Haitian NGOs here because, as the Haitian Embassy has mentioned in a previous Tweet sent out after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti:
“Hold off on clothes & food drives until assessments have been completed by those on the ground to avoid past mistakes”.

Those “past mistakes” refers to donating to international aid organizations like Red Cross.  If you donate to a Haitian NGO, that aid will get to those affected on the ground.


Lambi Fund of Haiti (
Sowaseed (
Haiti Communitere (
Sakala Haiti (
SOIL Haiti (
Konbit Solèy Leve (
Volontariat pour le Développement d'Haïti (
Fondation Aquin Solidarité (
Hope for Today Outreach (
If there are any other Haitian organizations that you know of, please tag them and/or add them to this list and share with others.  If you know of any Haitian NGOs that are in Jeremie, Port-à-Piment, Les Cayes, Port Salut, Dame Marie, Pestel, Aquin, St Louis de Sud, and Leogane, please post links for them so people can direct funds to places where aid is needed and can get in the hands of those who need it most.
Here are some non-Haitian organizations with proven track records of helping and partnering with Haitians:


Doctors without Borders (
Roots of Development (
Partners in Health (
Border of Lights (
Nova Hope for Haiti (
Thank you for your time and attention. My hope is that whatever aid that is intended for helping Haitians in this dire time will get directly to my people.
Keep Haiti and others in the path of Hurricane Matthew in your thoughts."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Please help us! Do not humiliate us! by Celucien L. Joseph

Please help us! Do not humiliate us!
by Celucien L. Joseph 

The Haitian people in Haiti are experiencing a devastating tropical storm named Matthew. It has already caused severe damages in many parts in Haiti. In the process of recovery, we are soliciting your prayers and assistance. Allow me to offer a few words of advise and caution to those who are helping the Haitian people in the transition.

Just help us!

We do not want war.

We do not want more US occupation of Haiti and in Haiti.

Do not humiliate us while helping us.

Do not demonize us while providing temporary relief.

Do not remind us we are the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Do not remind us we are devil's worshippers.

Do not exploit this moment of weakness and vulnerability for forced Christian evangelization and conversion.

Just help us while maintaining our dignity and humanity!

Pray with us and pray for us!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

On the Deportation of Illegal Haitian Immigrants and Importance of Haiti in Human History by Celucien L. Joseph

On the Deportation of Illegal Haitian Immigrants and Importance of Haiti in Human History
by Celucien L. Joseph
​If we were given a chance to live in our country with dignity and peace, be allowed to chart a new course for our collective destiny and the future generation of Haitian Youths, prosper our country, and grow both materially and spiritually, we would not come to the U.S.A. to be humiliated, dehumanized, die like dogs, and ultimately be deported back to our homeland, our Ayiti Cheri.
The color of our skin is not our shame nor is it our ancestral heritage and identity. We are a people who refuse to surrender our rights and sovereignty, and bow down before the Almighty Empire of Greed, Conquest, and Death. 

The Haitian people are not dogs. Our ancestors are people who died in dignity and pride.

We changed the world in 1804.We lost our brave sons and soldiers in the American War for Independence for America to be the first free Republic in the Western World.
We helped America abolish slavery. We also helped America acquire New Orleans from France. Our ancestor Jean-Baptiste Du Sable even founded one of your landmark cities: Chicago. We gave you the gift of music, our Jazz, the gift of Creole culture, and our gift of song.

We helped liberate Latin America and other Caribbean countries from the yoke of slavery. We helped Greece in its journey toward freedom. We hosted European Jews in our small island when they had not a home in Europe.We were the first country in the Western world to say No to Slavery, No to colonization, No to white supremacy, and No to state-holding slaves!

We transformed the human condition in 1804 and beyond. We refused to be dehumanized and treated like animals by the U.S. government and Immigration!
We gave the world the gift of freedom and the gift of human rights!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Indian River State College (IRSC) Reads: Edwidge Danticat

Indian River State College (IRSC) Reads: Edwidge Danticat
by Celucien L. Joseph 
As part of the BIG READ program, my college, Indian River State College (#IRSC), has selected Edwidge Danticat's memoir: "Brother, I'm Dying" (BID) for the academic year 2016-2017. The entire school is reading Danticat. My students in my literature class are reading BID. The school has scheduled seven sessions on the Memoir this fall semester alone. In the Spring semester, 2017, we will have several other sessions and exchanges on BID including a discussion panel composing of Faculty and students, exhibitions about Haitian arts and history. We are lucky that Edwidge Danticat will deliver the keynote in March, 2017. 

On Thursday, September 8, I was privileged to open this important event with a talk on "Edwidge Danticat and the Haitian Experience Through Diasporic Literature." It was well-attended by our faculty and staff. The Q & A moment was quite engaging and dynamic. This is a big deal, folks--the fact that Indian River State College has devoted an entire academic year to reading a major work by a major Haitian-American writer, and discussing the Haitian experience in Haiti and the human condition in the Haitian Diaspora. The work of our Haitian writers and thinkers are being appreciated in American higher education. (#edwidgedanticat, #brotherImdying, #theimmigrantexperience,#Haitianrefugees, #celebratinghaitianwriters, #celebratinghaiti, #mysoulinhaiti, #freethehaitianrefugees, #freedomforallrefugees)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Recommended Reading Lists: Haiti (The Haitian Revolution), the Caribbean, and Black Internationalism

Recommended Reading Lists: Haiti (The Haitian Revolution), the Caribbean, and Black Internationalism by Celucien L. Joseph

The following recommended list below contains (100 books in total) some of the most important texts on three broad areas of study: Haiti, the Caribbean, and Black Internationalism. The list is not intended to be exhaustive. For example, I include few books on religion because I believe this should be a different category of interest and by itself. Another example is that I did not include "The Black Jacobins" (1938) by C. L. R. James on the list since it is the classic text on the Haitian Revolution; hence, I assume everyone should not about it. 

I.  Haitian History (i.e. Intellectual History) and the Haitian Revolution (Its International Impact)

1. Haiti, History, and the Gods by Colin Dayan
2. Haiti: State Against Nation by Michel-Rolph Trouilot
3. The World of the Haitian Revolution by David Patrick Geggus and Norman Fiering
4. Freedom's Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution by Ada Ferrer
5. Tree of Liberty: Cultural Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World by Doris L. Garraway
6. Haitian Revolutionary Studies by David Patrick Geggus
7. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World by David P. Geggus
8. The Making of Haiti: Saint Domingue Revolution From Below by Carolyn E. Fick
9. A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean by David Barry Gaspar and David Patrick Geggus
10. Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution by Deborah Jenson
11. Toussaint Louverture and the American Civil War: The Promise and Peril of a Second Haitian Revolution by Matthew J. Clavin
12. Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution by Sibylle Fischer
13. Haiti: The Aftershocks of History by Laurent Dubois
14. Universal Emancipation: The Haitian Revolution and the Radical Enlightenment by Nick Nesbitt
15. Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History by Susan Buck-Morss
16. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot
17. The Fear of French Negroes: Transcolonial Collaboration in the Revolutionary Americas by Sara E. Johnson
18. The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History by David Geggus
19. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution by Laurent Dubois
20. Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue by John Garrigus
21. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution & Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 by Laurent Duboi
22. Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic by Gerald Horne
23. Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865 by Marlene L. Daut
24. The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti Hardcover by Kate Ramsey (University of Chicago Press, 2011)
25. Ainsi parla l'Oncle (1928) (Thus Spoke the Uncle) by Jean Price-Mars
26. Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon by Kiama L. Glover
27. The Idea of Haiti: Rethinking Crisis and Development edited by Millery Polyne
28. The Colonial System Unveiled by Baron de Vastey (Author), Chris Bongie (Translator)
29. Encountering Revolution: Haiti and the Making of the Early Republic by Ashli White

II. Caribbean Intellectual History and Black Internationalism

30. Caribbean Critique: Antillean Critical Theory from Toussaint to Glissant by Nick Nesbitt
31. Caribbean Critique: Antillean Critical Theory from Toussaint to Glissant by Nick Nesbitt
32. Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World by Gary Wilder
33. The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the Two World Wars by Gary Wilder
34. Discourse on Colonialism by Aimé Césaire (Author), Joan Pinkham (Translator)
35. The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective (Post-Contemporary Interventions) by Antonio Benitze-Rojo
36. An Intellectual History of the Caribbean by S. Torres-Saillant
37. The Caribbean: An Intellectual History, 1774-2003 by Denis Benn
38. Origins of the Black Atlantic by Laurent Dubois and Julius S. Scott
39. In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939 by Minkah Makalani
40. Imagining Home: Class, Culture and Nationalism in the African Diaspora by Sidney Lemelle and Robin D. G. Kelley
41. From Toussaint to Tupac: The Black International since the Age of Revolution by Michael O. West (Editor), William G. Martin (Editor), Fanon Che Wilkins (Editor)
42. From Harlem to Paris: Black American Writers in France, 1840-1980 by Michel Fabre
43. Negritude Women by Tracy Whitin
44. Beyond Negritude: Essays from Woman in the City by Paulette Nardal and T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
45. The Negritude Movement: W.E.B. Du Bois, Leon Damas, Aime Cesaire, Leopold Senghor, Frantz Fanon, and the Evolution of an Insurgent Idea (Critical Africana Studies)
by Reiland Rabaka
46. The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism
by Brent Hayes Edwards
47. Poetics of Relation by Edouard Glissant (Author), Betsy Wing (Translator)
48. The End of White World Supremacy: Black Internationalism and the Problem of the Color Line by Roderick Bush
49. Black Europe and the African Diaspora by Darlene Clark Hine and Trica Danielle Keaton
50. The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black Diaspora
by F. Abiola Irele
51. Forms of Fanonism: Frantz Fanon's Critical Theory and the Dialectics of Decolonization
by Reiland Rabaka
52. Africana Critical Theory: Reconstructing The Black Radical Tradition, From W. E. B. Du Bois and C. L. R. James... by Reiland Rabaka
53. Black Writers in French: A Literary History by Lilyan Kesteloot
54. Caribbean Political Thought: The Colonial State to Caribbean Internationalism
by Aaron Kamugisha and Paget Henry
55. Caribbean Political Thought: The Colonial State to Caribbean Internationalism by Aaron Kamugisha (Editor),
56. Caliban's Reason: Introducing Afro-Caribbean Philosophy by Paget Henry
57. The Negritude Moment: Explorations in Francophone African and Caribbean Literature and Thought by F. Abiola Irele
58. Main Currents in Caribbean Thought: The Historical Evolution of Caribbean Society in its Ideological Aspects by Professor Gordon Lewis
59. A History of Pan-African Revolt by C. L. R. James (Author), Robin D. G. Kelley
60. Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment by David Scott
61. Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination by Robin D.G. Kelley
62. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition by Cedric J. Robinson
63. Black, Brown, & Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora by Franklin Rosemont and Robin D.G. Kelley
64. Black Empire: The Masculine Global Imaginary of Caribbean Intellectuals in the United States, 1914-1962 by Michelle Ann Stephens
65. The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade by Christopher L. Miller
66. From Toussaint to Price-Mars: Rhetoric, Race, and Religion in Haitian Thought by Celucien L. Joseph
67.Haitian Modernity and Liberative Interruptions: Discourse on Race, Religion, and Freedom by Celucien Joseph
68.The Vodou Ethic and the Spirit of Communism: The Practical Consciousness of the African People of Haiti by Paul C. Mocombe
69.The African-Americanization of the Black Diaspora in Globalization or the Contemporary Capitalist World-System by Paul C. Mocombe
70.Existentia Africana: Understanding Africana Existential Thought by Lewis R. Gordon
71. An Introduction to Africana Philosophy by Lewis R. Lewis Gordon
72.Freedom as Marronage by Neil Roberts

III.  Haiti, and the International Community

1. Haiti: Trapped in the Outer Periphery by Robert Fatton Jr.
2. Haiti In The New World Order: The Limits Of The Democratic Revolution by Alex Dupuy
3. From Sugar to Revolution: Women’s Visions of Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic by Myriam J.A. Chancy
4. Haiti and the Americas Edited by Carla Calarge, Raphael Dalleo, Luis Duno-Gottberg, and Clevis Headley
5. Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy [Paperback] (Author) Robert Fatton
6. Haiti and the United States: The Psychological Moment by Brenda Gayle Plummer
7. Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti by Jeb Sprague
8. Haiti and the Great Powers, 1902—1915 by Brenda Gayle Plummer
9. Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition after Revolution by Julia Gaffield
10. Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915-1940Jun 18, 2001 by Mary A. Renda
11. The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934Mar 1, 1995 by Hans Schmidt
12. Clash of Cultures: America's Educational Strategies in Occupied Haiti, 1915-1934 by Leon D. Pamphile
13. Jean Price-Mars, the Haitian Elite and the American Occupation, 1915-1935 by Magdaline W. Shannon
14. Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy by Robert Fatton
15. Haiti: Trapped in the Outer Periphery by Fatton, Robert, J
16. Roots of Haitian Despotism by Robert and Jr. Fatton
17. Haitians and African Americans: A Heritage of Tragedy and Hope by Leon D. Pamphile
18. The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community, and Haiti by Alex Dupuy
19. Haiti: From Revolutionary Slaves to Powerless Citizens: Essays on the Politics and Economics of Underdevelopment by Alex Dupuy
20. Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment by Peter Hallward
21. From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour and National Independence in Haiti by David Nicholls
22. The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti, 1776-1891 by Rayford W. Logan
23. From Douglass to Duvalier: U.S. African Americans, Haiti, and Pan Americanism, 1870–1964 by Millery Polyné
24. The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier by Amy Wilentz
25. Haiti: The Duvaliers & Their Legacy by Elizabeth Abbott
26. Contrary Destinies: A Century of America's Occupation, Deoccupation, and Reoccupation of Haiti by Leon D. Pamphile
27. Race, Reality, and Realpolitik: U.S.-Haiti Relations in the Lead Up to the 1915 Occupation by Patrick Delices and Jeffrey Sommers. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Plea for Consistent Haitian Solidarity and Social Activism in the Haitian Diaspora

A Plea for Consistent Haitian Solidarity and Social Activism in the Haitian Diaspora
by Celucien L. Joseph

One of the contributing factors to Haiti's continual abject poverty, economic dilemma, and the decline of Haiti's civil and political societies lies in the lack of active financial and intellectual investments in Haiti's educational programs, as well as development projects--from the most resourceful Haitian professionals and thinkers in the Haitian Diaspora.

Whenever Haitians do not take ownership of the resources of their country and are hesitant to participate in the reconstruction and development processes of Haiti, we make a way for the infiltration of NGOs, neocolonization, imperial abuse, as well as for more foreign private sectors or foreign-government-supported programs and investors--both religious and non-religious-- that land in the country to exploit and abuse the Haitian people and the underclass majority. Some of these individuals and organizations come to Haiti under the banner and mask of humanitarian and Christian organizations; they are the tools of the empire and the devil himself to subdue, oppress, and rule over our people, and block our collective agency and emancipation.

It has been proven by scientific research and empirical studies that most foreign aids have not worked in Haiti and are still not working effectively to alleviate poverty, create jobs, and radically transform Haiti's dying and malfunctioning educational system. This is chiefly due to the intentions, goals, and strategic methods of dispensing those foreign supports and aids.

We need to change our collective attitude of waiting on the white man, white missionaries, and foreign interventions to come to save us from our misery and predicament. I'm just tired of waiting. I'm tired of receiving and expecting foreign aids that do not heal or repair our wounds, but rather prolong our suffering and keep us in a state of consistent dependency. Are you too not tired? This colonial mindset needs to go so we can make room for the deliberate decolonization of our minds and actions.

Ladies and Gentlemen in the Haitian Diaspora: We ought to be a people of a cause and a community known for its unrelenting service, giving, and investment in Haiti's present and future.

Join a cause Today to make the children, and young men and women in Haiti proud of themselves and dream of a different world and a more promising future. Let's join our hands together with men and women of good will to renew the Haitian society and foster optimistic future possibilities in the best interest of our people and for the proud of our beloved Ayiti Cherie.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Between History and Myth: Three Perspectives on the Role of Religion in Haiti’s National History and the Haitian Revolution

Between History and Myth: Three Perspectives on the Role of Religion in Haiti’s National History and the Haitian Revolution
by Celucien L. Joseph 

Generally, there are three main interpretations of Haiti’s national history and the watershed historical moment of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), in which the dynamics between religion, myth, and history became a scholarly and intellectual investigation and curiosity.  The three perspectives of the unfolding events leading to the Haitian Revolution and the successful birth of the Haitian state and concurrently the ultimate abolition of slavery in Saint-Domingue include the Protestant version of Haitian History, the Vodouist version of Haitian History, and the Secular (non-theistic) version of the Haitian History. The goal of this short essay is to briefly recapitulate these three ideological approaches, and to articulate an alternative view.
First, the Protestant (Christian) version of Haitian history states that in August 14, 1791, a group of enslaved Africans gathered in a secret Vodou meeting at Bois Caiman (a little place outside of the city of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, and about two to three miles from the entrance gate of Plaine du Nord), sacrificed a pig as part of their religious-Vodou ritual, and dedicated the country of Haiti to the Devil so they could be free from the tyranny of slavery and French colonization. Protestant Haitian Christians have interpreted this historic meeting as a demonic pact. From that point on, Haiti has been cursed because of that (1) historical pact their African ancestors made with the Devil, and (2) that the Vodou religion to which Haitian ancestors committed themselves is an evil religion. Consequently, many Haitian Christians and Church leaders, both in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, equate Vodou with devil worshipping and directly associated the Afro-Haitian religion with stricken-poverty characterized Haiti’s contemporary society and the plight of the majority of Haitian population. Vodou does not truly liberate people; rather, it keeps its adherents in in profound spiritual bondage and material poverty.
Second, the Vodouist perspective of Haitian history argues that in August 14, 1791, a group of enslaved Africans, many of whom were Vodou priests and Vodouizan, gathered in a secret Vodou meeting in a plantation plain called Bois Caiman, made a pact among themselves—not with the Devil as the Protestants claim—and swore to be free or die. Vodouizan also contend  that most of the military leaders and commanders of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1803) were also Vodou priests who not only mobilized the rancorous enslaved population to freedom and independence, they provided encouragement, spiritual comfort, and eventually led Haiti to become the first independent Black-Republic in the Western world.  As a result, in the Vodouist interpretation of the Haitian history, the Vodou religion is interpreted as the catalyst that empowered the slaves toward freedom out of slavery and independence from French colonialism. Vodou is both Haiti’s (ancestral) spiritual and cultural heritage which all Haitians should promote and preserve. People in this tradition also maintain that Vodou is the religion of the Haitian majority, and it is the faith that sustains the Haitian people from the beginning to the present.
            Finally, the Secular (non-theistic) version of Haitian History affirms that Bois Caiman is a fabrication and national myth in Haitian History. It never happened because there were no contemporary eyewitness accounts that attested to the historical credibility and accuracy of that nocturnal meeting, and that it is difficult to know exactly what really transpired in the night of August 14, 1791, if it even happened. The written accounts of the historic night should be understood as pseudo historiographies which were written many years after the actual event took place by travel writers and historians who fabricated the story of the Bois Caiman event. These written accounts should be seen as embroidered accounts of an acceptable national myth. The alternative idea advanced by proponents of this school of thought is that generous number (about 30 to 40 %?)  of the African slaves, who were transported to the Saint-Domingue island in the period of the Haitian Revolution—that is at the end of eighteenth century—came from the kingdom of Kongo; they were prominent soldiers and men of war who possessed incredible military skills and strategies, and knew how to win a war. The success of the Haitian Revolution of 1804 can only be attributed to African military genius—not to religious piety or dependence to a Supreme Being/God.

Toward a More Inclusive Interpretation of Haitian History: An Alternative View

Both Protestant and Vodouist interpretations of Haiti’s national History and the Haitian Revolution acknowledge the theistic or divine element of Haitian History.  The non-theistic secular interpretation rejects the doctrine of divine providence in human history because, in a sense, it contradicts the critical nature and study of human history and the clear delineation between observable historical facts and myth-making/fiction. The Vodouist version of Haitian history champions ancestral cultural traditions and practices, and see Africa as the center piece of Haitian cultural and religious identity.  By contrast, the Protestant version of Haitian history undermines the ancestral religious traditions and spirituality of the Haitian people because it contradicts Christian morality and the belief in the only Triune God. In fact, the Protestant narrative attests that when an individual is converted to the Christian faith, his/her national identity and racial identity do not matter anymore because in Christ, God is creating one race, one people, and one collective Christian identity. Protestant Haitian Christians also stress that Jesus is the substance of Haitian identity because in him, God is also creating a new Haiti in contemporary Haitian society. Vodou is the antithesis of Christianity. Haitian Protestant Christians unapologetically affirm that Christianity is the only true religion of the living God and the true religion of human liberation. Finally, the Protestant perspective maintains the idea that Haiti is cursed because at its beginning, the founders failed to dedicate the country to God, but did so to the Devil.
            Beyond the explored three multiple viewpoints of Haitian history, as highlighted in the aforementioned paragraphs, the Islamic version of Haitian history and the Haitian Revolution has been neglected by both Haitian and Haitianist historians and thinkers. Recent studies on the Haitian Revolution and the religious culture of the Africans in the time of the Haitian Revolution have demonstrated the Islamic element of the Haitian Revolution, and the fact of Islamic piety in the colonial life in Saint-Domingue. However, the Islamic interpretation of the Haitian history is not a new perspective; proponents of this school of thought maintain that a large number of the enslaved population at Saint-Domingue and iconic leaders of the pre-revolutionary era (i.e. Francois Makandal) and the Haitian Revolution (i.e. Dutty Boukman) were fervent adherents (i.e. Fatima) to Islam. Some of these slaves came from countries that had enjoyed an incredibly Islamic influence and political rule and peace such as Senegal (i.e. the Askia dynasty of Sudan), Ghana (i.e.The Mossi Empire of modern-day Ghana), Nigeria (i.e. the Bornu Empire), etc. In contemporary Haitian society, the Islamic perspective of the Haitian Revolution has attracted a new cadre of Haitian intellectuals who rejected both the Vodouist and Christian interpretations of Haiti’s national history and the Haitian Revolution. This attitude is also due to a reinterpretation of Haitian history in the light of the Islamic past of the Caribbean nation, and that Islam continues to spread progressively its wings in various parts of the country.
            In all of the four perspectives discussed above, there’s a high level of hermeneutical exaggeration of Haitian history, the historical data, and the Haitian Revolution, which is presented to us as “historical certainty.” The individuals who prefer a religious interpretation of Haiti’s national history and the Haitian Revolution emphasize the importance of their own religion in the success of the unfolding events of the Haitian Revolution and the triumph of human freedom, and human rights and dignity in global history.  They also accentuate the functional role of religion in the process of social and political transformation, and the reversal of human oppression and political tyranny. It is impossible for the champions of this view to conceive the human experience and human history without the divine imprint and God’s direct intervention in gearing human actions and modifying certain historical events toward his desired goal in the best interest and good of all people. On the other hand, the secular approach of the Haitian Revolution counters the theistic thesis.
            In addition, first of all, the Africans who gathered in the night of August 14, 1791 to plan their freedom and independence from white rule and the labyrinth of slavery did not make a pact with the devil. It is an “evangelistic strategy” that right-wing Haitian Protestants promulgated to win converts and create collective fear among the Haitian people. The Protestant Haitian narrative seeks to foster a new national consciousness in the Caribbean nation in order that Protestant Haitian Christianity might win Haiti for Christ and transform Haiti into a (Protestant) Christian nation. (Interestingly, from the founding moment of the new Haitian state, in the first Haiti’s Constitution, Catholic Christianity was declared the official religion of the Haitian state; technically, Haiti began as a Christian nation—not by individual confession or commitment to the Christian faith and values—but for political expediency and affiliation with the so-called “Christian nations” in the Western world). White American and European missionaries created this tragic narrative to demonize the Vodou religion, disvalue the African element of the Haitian culture, and Christianize and westernize the Haitian people. Haitian Protestant Christians unashamedly believe this discourse; they even own it and now boldly proclaim this peculiar narrative about the ambivalent role of religion and history in Haitian history. This attitude is such a terrible strategy to proselytize people to Protestant Christianity.  There are more effective and biblical ways to win the “lost Haitian soul” for the Kingdom of God and its Christ. We reject the Protestant interpretation of Haitian history; it is pseudo-history. Haitian Christians do not have to lie about or exaggerate the religious history of Haiti to magnify God and validate the truthfulness of the Gospel message to their fellow Haitians. God is bigger than human history and religion, which we have created.
            Secondly, the meeting that took place in Bois Caiman in August 14, 1791, was not strictly a “religious gathering;” rather, it was a “political meeting” that was inspired by various religious forces: African traditional religions, Christianity, and Islam.  The summit did happen although it is impossible to demarcate with accuracy the precise historical elements and details of this historic event. This is where history and fiction meets.
            Finally, we should embrace a more inclusive interpretation of Haiti’s national history and the Haitian Revolution, which would affirm the remarkable contributions of both enslaved and free African Christians, Muslims, and African Vodouists to the freedom and independence of the Haitian people from colonial bondage, political totalitarianism, and the institution of slavery. The faith of the Africans who were brought to Saint-Domingue was not monolithic nor have the Africans subscribed to a homogeneous interpretation of religion. A lot of countries, which Haitian ancestors came from, were already Islamized and Christianized—such as Kongo, Gabon, Angola, Senegal, Sudan, Ghana, Nigeria, etc. The enslaved population that was compulsorily transported to the island of Saint-Domingue to work in the New World’s agricultural plantation system were ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse. They were fervent Christians, Muslims, and Vodouists.  Some were even non-religious for since the beginning of creation and time men and women have challenged the social construct of religion and even rebelled against God their Creator.

*To learn more about this important topic, I recommend two important articles: “The Rhetoric of Prayer: Dutty Boukman, The Discourse of “Freedom from Below,” and the Politics of God,” Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion 2:9 (June 2011):1-33, and “Rethinking Cultural, National, and Religious Identity: The Christian-Vodouist Dialogue?” ( forthcoming in September 2016, Theology Today).  Both articles are written by the same author.