Peace! Paz! Tau!
Today's mathematics is 'culture'. La matematica de hoy es "cultura".
As I reflect upon 'culture' I think about it in regards to the culture and cultures of Original people. Culture is the medium through which a people's knowledge and wisdom continue through space and time. It has been our culture that has served as the drive behind our struggle against colonialism, racism and the continuance of our people into this day and time. As Amilcar Cabral states in his work "National Liberation and Culture"- "Whatever may be the ideological or idealistic characteristics of cultural expression, culture is an essential element of the history of a people."
It is the elements of culture that serve as the catapult for freedom. For within the Nation of Gods and Earths we understand that we can never expel the devilishment and influence of the oppressor and have freedom in our cipher unless we bring culture into the cipher and continue to add on to that culture with the world we are looking to bring about. Your culture will empower you and will foster the drive and ability to change and control our destinies. As our people understood, it was and never will be our destiny to be subserviant to external forces. As Cabral further states," The value of culture as an element of resistance to foreign domination, lies in the fact that culture is the vigorous manifestation on the ideological or idealist plane of the physical and historical reality of the society that is dominated or to be dominated. Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history and a determinant of history, by the positive or negative influence which it exerts on the evolution of relationships between man and his environment, among men or groups of men within a society, as well as among different societies."
We have many examples of resistance in our culture. The culture given to us by Allah is in this same vein of resistance because we have and continue to resist the reality that's dictated to us by authority. We resist by taking our lives out of the systems hands and into our own. By not being products of our environment but producers of environment and by redirecting the power of words by redefining them. Indigenous cultures in general provide many examples and inspiration of the resistance that flows through our cellular memory. It is who we are.
Below is an article written by a Taino Elder and my brother, Ni Bon Te Ban. The title is pretty self-explanatory, as it examines the culture of the Taino as it persists in the Haitian people and the power to reclaim the sovereignty over themselves via the Haitian Revolution. For my brothers and sisters within the Nation of Gods and Earths whom may be a little abject to the concept of 'spirit'- you must understand the culture of Native peoples. Indigenous people of the Americas have a lot of natural symbolism in our cultures. Before 1492, we had no concept of religion, spirituality or even 'science'. The aspects of these disciplines were apart and totally inseparable from our way of life. So spirit is not used in the same manner as Western religion. "Spirit" in my understanding, refers to the intelligence and life that animates all living things. "Spirit" can also be used synomously with a energy or 'power' in many Native cultures. To be mindful of this is to be effective in communicating with Indigenous people, without them tuning you out because of your opposition to the terminology many of us use. Learn more about Native culture so you can understand how Indigenous people percieve the world and what parallels with the principles we espose rather than trying to understand their culture on face value, like the Europeans, and overlooking the knowledge, wisdom and understanding to be gained.
With that said, I invite you to 'do the knowledge' to the follwing article and take the best part for yourself. It is a wonderful article and full of information and insight.
Hatuey, Vodou and the Haitian Revolution
The Spirit of Hatuey has continued to make his presence known not only within his homeland of Haiti but across the Caribbean. We call him the Father of the Resurgence or more precisely the Father of the Resistance!
Hatuey was a great Casike, whose name means “Certainty of the Sun”. He had been engaging guerilla warfare in Cuba against the invading Spanish and warning the Taino people of Cuba about the evil nature of the Christian invaders. He warned his people of the cruel and wicked nature of these Christians telling of their loyalty and love for THEIR god, Gold and Jewels (money), making a clear distinction between the object of the Christian’s worship and the Taino understanding of their own “Deities”.
The Christians captured Hatuey (possibly it is said through a betrayal from one of his own), tied him to a stake and prepared to burn him alive. A monk attempted to convert Hatuey to Christianity, and told him that if he believed in Christianity he (Hatuey) would go to “heaven” where there would be glory and eternal rest or if he did not believe in Christianity he (Hatuey) would go to hell, where he would suffer torments and punishment. Hatuey was silent for a short time, then he asked the monk if the Christians went to heaven, and the monk said that the good Christians went to heaven. Hatuey immediately answered that he did not want to go to heaven, but would rather go to hell so as to not be in the same place as the cruel Christians. Hatuey was subsequently burnt at the stake and it is said that his Soul flew immediately to the Sun.
Hatuey refused to submit to entrapment by the Christians, he maintained the integrity of his Soul and Spirit by refusing at a moment of intense torture to compromise with the Christian god whom he knew to be evil based on the actions of this god’s followers. Remember Hatuey had been witness to mass murder, genocide, rape, murder of unborn children and the total desecration of the sacredness of his Yukayekes by these Christians who said that they came in the name of God and Christ. He understood the true deity that these people were worshiping and refused any deals with this evil entity (the beast).
After Hatuey’s death, the war between the Taino and the Spaniards continued. When the Spaniards began to import Africans in the chains of slavery they began with Black Muslims from Spain itself. These Muslims immediately rebelled escaping to the mountains and hills joining with the Taino and forming the first Maroon People. After this the Spainards became afraid to import more Muslims and began bringing Africans directly from Africa, most of whom were following various African Spiritual Traditions, these people also rebelled, many finding their ways to Maroon communities and also developing the tradition of Vodou within the communities and in secret upon the plantations.
As the French gained control of Haiti they launched a massive exploitation of the Land itself and the people of the land, Haiti is still recovering from this exploitation, as well as more modern exploitations of the elite.
Within the tradition of Vodou the Rada Cult is Dahomeyan in nature, more peaceful and sedate due to the influence from the nations of Africa which had solid social structures, cities, centralized authority and stable, peaceful (for the most part) kingdoms. However, the more violent and explosive Petro Cult is born from the synthesis of the tradition of the Taino-Arawak people and the traditions of the Congo and other African peoples. It was the Petro cult that was more rebellious and gave rise directly to the Haitian Revolution that put Fear in the heart of every slave-owner across the planet!
Maya Derens a woman who in her researches into Haitian Vodou becomes an initiate and directly experienced the tradition, writes in her book “Divine Horsemen, the living gods of Haiti” concerning the Petro Cult:
“It led me, further, to sense, for instance, that the Petro dance and drumming were not merely another ritual- not merely a more violent canvas by the same painter- but that they were of a different character- a canvas by another painter altogether. This distinction arrested my attention and I began to observe the difference in major forms, which eventually led me to look for the possible interpolation of another culture, to investigate the history of the Spanish and Indian period of the islands, and finally, to the determination of the Indian influence as elaborated in the Appendix to this book. What emerges from this research is the fact that the African culture in Haiti was saved by the Indian culture which, in the Petro cult, provided the Negroes with divinities sufficiently aggressive (as was not true of the divinities of the generally stabilized African Kingdoms) to be the moral force behind the revolution. In a sense the Indians took their revenge on the white man through the Negro.”
The photo above shows Negre Marron a statue of the African who broke free from Slavery, armed with a Machete, and calling forth rebellion and revolution with a Conch shell (not only a musical instrument but an important Spiritual instrument and Symbol to the Taino).
We can continue to trace the footsteps of the Spirit of Hatuey as he makes his way through history, inciting rebellion and revolution, calling forth for the abandonment of Christianity and the building of independence from colonial powers.
Francis Macandal (a Guinea born man) was a slave on the Lenormand plantation, through an accident he lost his arm in a sugar press, and some time subsequently he escaped and became a Maroon. In 1757 he organized a conspiracy to poison all the whites across St.Dominique (the colonial name for Haiti at that time). Some 6,000 deaths were attributed to him (perhaps exaggerated) before he was captured in 1758 through a betrayal from within (by one of his own). Francis Macandal was a muslim Marabout, meaning he was a medicine man in his own right, he could predict the future and have revelations and had skill at making amulets. He was called the Old man from the Mountains.
When Francis Macandal was captured he was tied to the pole and prepared to be burned January 20th, 1758. However the pole snapped tossing him out of the flames of the fire. This was seen as a sign of immortality by the onlookers. He told the onlookers at his death as he was dying that he was going to turn into a fly and fly away. Eventually the colonists tied him to a plank and threw him into the fire.
In Macandal’s story we can see the trail of Hatuey in the whole incident with the fire, the statement of flying away and the fact that Macandal was a muslim, in opposition to Christianity and that he had the skills of a Bohitu (Marabout in his culture). We see the threads of FIRE, FLIGHT, IMMORTALITY, understanding of the nature of Christianity and the skills of the BOHITU.
Now we come to perhaps the most critical turning point for Haiti, the Vodou ceremony conducted by the Houngan Boukmann at the very same Lenormand plantation, which is historically agreed upon as the moment that began the Haitian Revolution.Boukmann Dutty was a field slave imported from Jamaica. He was conducting a Vodou ceremony on August 14, 1971. During the ceremony “a great storm arose, and there appeared a Negress whose body was trembling violently and who danced a wild dance holding a large knife over her head. As a climax of the dance she sacrificed a black pig. All the participants drank of the blood of the pig, and swore to follow Boukman. A week later the revolution was in swing…. The description of the ceremony makes it clear that it was a Petro ceremony since those are distinguished by pig sacrifices. It is possible that the woman was Marinette, or was possessed by Marinette, the major and violent female of the Petro Nation.” (Quote from Maya Derens book “Divine Horsemen”).
Remember that the Taino had a very intimate relationship with the “Deities” powers and forces of the storm, and a very powerful feminine deity, Guabancex, connected with snakes, the storm and embodying all feminine attributes.
Boukmann stated in Kreyole during the ceremony:“The god who created the Sun which gives us light, who rouses the waves and rules the storm, though hidden in the clouds, he watches us. He sees all that the white man does. The god of the white man inspires him with crime, but our god calls upon us to do good works. Our god who is good to us orders us to revenge our wrongs. He will direct our arms and aid us. Throw away the symbol of the god of the whites who has so often caused us to weep and listen to the voice of liberty, which speaks in the hearts of us all.”
The symbol that Boukmann was referring to was the crosses that slaves would wear around their necks. Here we can hear Hatuey’s voice echoing in Boukmann’s words; The reference to Sun, and the clear distinction between the Deity and Divine Concepts of the African, African-Taino, and the white man. Both men, hundreds of years apart in time were speaking of the same thing, both knowing the manipulation and evil inherent within the Christianity of the colonizers. We also see that the Spirit itself (a female deity of the Petro Cult) performed the sacrifice herself, making it clear that the impulse that brought about the Haitian Revolution came directly from the Spirit itself! And not only the Spirit itself but the Taino Spirit who found an ally and Guaitiou in the African Spirit and together they became the Spirits of retribution that not only eradicated slavery from Haiti but opened the door for the abolishing of slavery over the entire continent and the development of a movement of solidarity across the Caribbean and South, Central America.
A week after this on August 22, 1791 100,000 field hands revolted burning plantations and killing the owners and overseers. Led by the houngans and mambos (female vodou priestess) the field hands were armed by nothing more than machetes and other tools and began what was ultimately a very successful revolution. Boukmann was killed a few months later and his head was placed on a pole in a square in order to intimidate the population. However his spirit, joined with Hatuey continued the struggle.
This revolution lasted until its successful outcome in 1804. A towering figure within the revolution was an African man called Louverture Toussaint Breda. He was the descendent of Arada kings, his father Gaou Guinou through power struggles in Africa was enslaved and shipped to the Caribbean. His father’s name “Gaou Guinou” means minister of war who is always on the battle field, for his father was also a powerful warrior. Toussaint was born on all souls day (November 1) in the Caribbean, and grew up to be a skilled medical practitioner, herbalist, horse rider and African healer. His Vodou name was “Fatara Bato” meaning “he who leads well the ceremonies”, clearly indicating that he was a houngan of some skill. Toussaint became the leading African general inside of the revolution and developed a plan to destroy the slave trade at its roots in Africa and abolish slavery world wide. Through trickery he was captured by the French and died in a French prison in April 1803 but not before he told his captors:
“In overthrowing me, you have cut down in Haiti only the tree of Liberty. It will spring up again by the roots for they are numerous and deep.”
Not long after this the Haitian revolutionaries completely defeated Napoleon’s army, sending only 4,000 out of an initial 30,000 men running back to France. Napoleon had planned to wipe out all the African Haitian men, women and children over the age of 12 and restock with new slaves imported from Africa, because he knew that the revolutionary Spirit was so powerful in Haiti. Along with the remaining 4,000 French soldiers, 4,000 remaining French colonials also evacuated in a hurry to Jamaica. Dessalines the Haitian leader at this point returned the Indigenous Taino name of HAITI to the country, acknowledging (consciously or unconsciously) the Taino roots of the Revolution! Haiti is the FIRST BLACK INDEPENDENT NATION post-colonialism in the world.
The Haitian revolution spread Terror throughout slaveholders across the Americas. The country itself continues to war against the powers of colonialism which continue to attack it on every level. It is also very important to note that Simon Bolivar came to Haiti to seek financial support for his Bolivarian revolution of independence for Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru at a point when Bolivar himself was very low on resources. The then leader of Haiti, Alexandre Petion gave Bolivar weapons, ammunition, money and Haitian volunteers for his fight for liberty for Venezuela and asked only in return for the abolition of slavery in all countries that Bolivar would liberate.
The Spirit of Hatuey and his refusal to bow to the god of the Christian conquistadors has rippled through this whole continent continually throughout the last 500 years. We can see that at the root of this story is a profound understanding and knowledge of Spirituality and Medicine! We continue to honor the Spirit of Hatuey and his Spirit of Resistance and we continue to look for his trail among the events, wars, battles that have occurred since his time right up to the present.
May the power and blessing of Hatuey continue to expand, influence and speak within our Present! And may we continue to recognize the Spirit of Hatuey in our Brothers and Sisters wherever we may find it! And may the blessings and power of the Cemis, Ancestors, Nkisi, Mpungo continue to be manifest in our lives! Blessings and gratitude for all that they have brought about!
Suggested Reading: Maya Derens “Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti”