Holy Shift

Djaloki’s trail through the fulfillment of the Ancient Prophecies.

The Postmodern Ayiti

Posted by djaloki on April 8, 2008

April 2004; Ayiti‘s Independence Bicentennial Year

Partially published in the Black Arts Quarterly, Winter 2005 issue : http://www.stanford.edu/group/CBPA/BAQ.html

downloadable PDF version: http://www.stanford.edu/group/CBPA/BAQwinter05.pdf

Available at https://djaloki.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/the-postmodern-ayiti/ and http://djaloki.blog.com/78539/

(For words in italics, refer to the glossary at the end of the text.)

A – First Word

A.1- A historical window of opportunity

Ayiti may be facing one of her most decisive historical windows of opportunity to heal, grow and shine since her independence in 1804. The current tensions and confusion – in April 2004 -, both in Ayiti and in the world, hold a tremendous potential for change. There is fear and anger in the air and in many hearts. The status quo has been challenged.  Depending on our individual and collective choices, we may sink into that fear and anger and eventually almost institutionalize the rampant cultural apartheid of our society, leading to a temporary false peace and order preceding the explosion of the social volcano, with all the violence and horror that will accompany it.  This first (and worst) case scenario is the one we will spontaneously create unless we make conscious mature choices intended to avoid it. It is the direction we are already following right now.

Nevertheless, we can still choose to take advantage of this time of necessary reaction and change to awaken to solidarity, pacification and healing which will bring that long dreamed of unity and magnificence of the Ayitian People reconciled with themselves and the external world. This best-case scenario requires difficult choices and deep changes in some of our attitudes and behaviors. At the collective level, we have not made those choices yet, but some people are already making them at the individual level.

A.2- No quick fix

Ayitian society is obviously suffering from a multiple fracture. Worse: the several parts forming Ayitian society may not have yet been unified as a Nation. They were certainly not unified during the Independence war, although they were allied. But they quickly re-severed themselves from each other soon after 1804. The social gap has been widening exponentially for the last few decades, to a point of acute tension, ripe for implosion.

As this essay will demonstrate, the current efforts being made, mainly addressing the political and economical aspects of the multiple fracture, have been proven and will continue to prove ineffective, or at best incomplete to put the unrealized Ayitian Nation on the road to unification and reconciliation with herself and the rest of the world. The political actors and experts in “development” are busy addressing the short-term emergencies and the terrible symptoms of our social dis-ease. There is nothing wrong with this, and someone should take care of these burning and painful issues, but this shouldn’t prevent the rest of us from remaining aware of the need for deep rebalancing and reprogramming: a thorough healing process that won’t be triggered by any quick fix type of approach. And then, potential actors and experts in “development” should remain aware that by addressing symptoms, as they have done and are continuing to do in Ayiti, although out of necessity and often the only thing they can do, these actions sometimes only worsen the dis-ease and push possible healing further into the distant future.

B – REMEMBRANCE: AYITI BORN WOUNDED, FRAGMENTED, OSTRACIZED

B.1- A fragmented society since its origins

For three centuries in St-Domingue (Ayiti‘s French colonial name), four centuries in the rest of the Americas, the slave-driven colonial society thrived and flourished.

For the European People and their heirs, it was the most profitable form of business and economy ever known up to the present. It propelled Europe from the Middle Ages, through the Renaissance, to the Industrial Age. In North America, it allowed the creation and swift expansion of the powerful United States. Most of the richest and most powerful countries of the 21st century are former colonial powers of the slavery days.

For the Amerindians and African People and their heirs, it is still the most horrific catastrophe of all times remembered: two continents subject to genocide, deportation, torture, humiliation, and bondage during generations and generations. It abruptly brought Africa and the Americas from abundance and magnificence to the status of despoiled victims. It has been declared the biggest (in scale) crime against Humanity. Most of the so-called “Third World” countries are former colonies of the slavery days.

Since the early days in St-Domingue, the status, prerogatives and duty of an individual were clear from birth to death: one was either a Black (or Mulatto) Slave, or a White Kolon (actual or potential Slave “owner”). Soon, a new class of people arose: the Afranchi, or freed Slaves, mostly Mulattoes, often children of Black Slave women raped by their White male “owners”. The Kolon would sometimes emancipate their Mulatto children, while they continued raping the mothers, still kept in slavery.

So, during the colonial era in St-Domingue, the Kolon were White and rich, remembered Nantes, La Rochelle and Paris, spoke French at home and were raised and lived by a European worldview and paradigm, including Christianity. On the other hand, the Slaves were Black or Mulatto, had no or few possessions, remembered Guinea, Dahomey and Ayiti Kiskeya, spoke Creole and lived by an Afro-Amerindian worldview and paradigm, namely: Vodou. For the Afranchi, social ascension and success was directly and proportionally dependant on their ability to erase or hide the visible cultural marks of Africa within them and replace or cover them with European manners, “memories” and values. The more White, rich, French and Christian they managed to appear, the more social rewards they would receive. Those who were lucky enough to be sent to France to be further educated were the most fortunate. They came back as almost accomplished French citizens; the lighter their skin, the more complete the transformation.

B.2-  Cultural Apartheid 

One of the strongest and most resilient values of the colonial system was the system of cultural apartheid establishing a vertical moral hierarchy that defined the worth of individuals in society and in God’s eyes. From the evil Bosal (untamed, un-baptized, newly arrived African Slave, close to the beast and Black Satan), to the good Kolon (close to the White male God), going through all the intermediate strata, the closer to the top, the better in moral terms, hence the prouder. In other terms, the closer to the bottom, the more shameful.

This cultural apartheid was, and still is to a great extent, collectively and publicly accepted as righteous. It was the politically correct social structure. It is important for the reader to understand that, at the individual level, even the Slaves of the bottom of the scale accepted it, once they had been broken. Those who did not accept the hierarchy were unlikely to survive the breaking process. The boldness and impudence expressed by the most rebellious ones was often, and still is, a distorted manifestation of their acceptance of the inferiority that they were trying to hide. It was, and is, rarely an expression of freedom from the conditioning of the colonial system, as if they were saying: “I know I am inferior to you, but by impressing and scaring you, I will eventually make you believe otherwise”. The great majority of the Slaves and the Afranchi were thus in a condition of extreme self-hatred, with disdain for their peers or “inferiors”, and with admiration/resentment for their “superiors”, especially the Kolon.

This does not mean that all Slaves were completely broken and accepted the moral hierarchy with no sense of inner freedom, self-esteem and dignity. This is proved by the countless numbers that tried escape again and again (despite incredibly brutal treatments reserved for “runaways”), until they went to swell the ranks of the resistant Mawon, rebuilding humane communities outside of the colonial system where respect was a key value, and preferring to die rather than going back to slavery.

B.3- The endemic schizophrenic double personality of the Slave

Most Slaves and Afranchi had to manufacture an artificial personality to be able to survive in the colonial society. The personality that they had to adopt in public produced two main psychological problems:

  • it was intrinsically unhealthy because it forced admiration for the otherwise abhorred oppressive Master,
  • it came in strong value conflict with the real inner personality of the Slave; many of the core values of the superimposed personality came in direct opposition to Afro-Amerindian values that were part of the core personality of the Slave.

The obedient, well tamed Slave had to be distrustful of his peers, servile to his oppressor, unattached to his loved ones (who could get sold separately at any time), willing to suffer physical and psychological abuse for no reason, accept meaningless names which changed with every new Master, could not be in touch with nature as he wanted and needed, could not speak his Ancestors language or even honor them properly, could not send his children to initiation rites to have them learn the traditional ways, arts and secrets, could not live in a tribal environment, could not honor the Spirits, had to look like a good Christian, etc. All those constraints collided violently with their precise opposite within the Afro-Amerindian self of the Slave.

The result was the emergence of a double personality: the Slave self, more or less obedient or rebellious and the Afro-Amerindian self, completely unadapted to the colonial society. This latter self had to retreat into a mental hiding place, away from the official life of the Slave, creating a double fracture:

  • The individual inner fracture between the Slave self and the Afro-Amerindian self, each with their own different paradigms (double personality),
  • The social outer fracture between the Slave, unable to become fully Europeanized (hence socially correct), and the rest of society, notably all its European aspects, and the European-minded individuals (schizophrenia).

That is the origin of the psychosocial mawonaj of the individuals forced to survive in an oppressive and culturally foreign society. Initially, it was aimed at producing a minimal social functionability for Slaves in an enemy system to which they could not or would not comply completely, and that they could not destroy. It later produced the underground, informal and “unformalizable” Ayitian culture, invisible and inaccessible from the official social system based on modern western (foreign?) values. In a social system supposedly formed and run by Ayitians, with Ayitians and for Ayitians, it looks like a systematically self-sabotaging mentality with lots of counterproductive aspects.

We will come back to this, later in this essay. What we want to stress here is the double fracture, already existing at the individual level, within the Slave psyche: the 2 antagonistic personalities (double personality), one of these being considered antisocial (schizophrenia) and gone into mental hiding. These two individual fractures are at the root of the collective multiple fractures of the Ayitian society.

B.4- Back to Africa in the Caribbean

In Ayiti, physical mawonaj and resistance can be traced back to the very beginning of slavery itself. It is reported that some Africans brought to the island as Slaves in the early 1500’s went directly into hiding in the mountains. There, they certainly met with Taino People, themselves in hiding too, survivors of the forced labor and genocide perpetrated by the Spanish. From the Spanish Masters to the French Masters, more and more Africans were brought in, and many Creole Slaves were born in the plantations. Many of them were able to reach the mountains where they joined Mawon camps and communities. The first generations of Mawon had received a friendly welcome from the Taino already living there. From the Taino, the African and Creole Mawon learned how to survive in their new environment, partly unknown to them, but also partly familiar due to the similarities with the fauna, flora and climate in some places in Africa. In the camps, the Mawon recreated communities with African values. Humans, families, tribes, trees, rivers, birds, snakes, fire, water, wind, earth, drums, Ancestors and Spirits recovered their legitimate place within a rebalanced Afro-Amerindian world that made sense and was fit for its new home. The future Ayitian Mawon culture and social substructure, Afro-Amerindian in essence, was in gestation.

Down in the plains, the colony flourished so much that loads and loads of additional “Ebony”, fresh from Africa, was brought in. In the last fifty years before the revolution, more Africans were brought to St-Domingue than during the three preceding centuries altogether! In this case, it is correct to say that the population, which launched and won the revolution, and then created a new Nation, was culturally African (composed of African born people and re-Africanized Mawons), with elements of Amerindian and Creole Slave cultures.

B.5- The alliance of the Negroes and the Mulattoes

The Afranchi, mostly Mulattoes, were not Slaves. Neither were they Slave Masters in the full sense, although several of them owned a few Slaves. Despite their relative freedom, they were still marked with the moral (and pigmentary) stains of their origins. The White Kolon looked down at them with little difference from the way they looked at Slaves. In addition, the Afranchi did not have much decision-making or political power in the colonial society.

When the Slave revolt turned into a war for independence, many Mulattoes joined the side of the Slaves, with the obvious, logical and understandable intention of getting rid of the social and political domination of the Kolon and the French metropolitan colonial administration. The population who went to the battlefield was roughly composed (in decreasing numerical order) of:

  • Africans
  • Creoles (lots of them with the double personality psyche)
  • Mawons (culturally Afro-Amerindian)
  • Mulattoes (lots of them culturally Europeans) 

The Independence war was won by an alliance of several very different Nations, with very different cultural backgrounds, but the alliance was effective and its unbelievable success inspired our national motto: “Union creates strength”.

B.6- Independence: What Nation? Whose state?

The heat and excitation of the war had occulted a strong heritage of the colonial era: the cultural apartheid system in which the different coexisting Nations were strictly classified on a vertical ladder. Those on the top of the ladder were the minority, but their values were indeed chosen to establish the basis of the new society. That’s how Ayiti ended up with a western model of state governance, a western legal model, a western economic model, a western religion, a western language and, most notably, a western education system ensuring the perennity of the whole system for generations to come. It is a miracle, or an abnormality, that the name chosen for the newborn state was not western as well. The state system was, in most aspects, the direct heir of the colonial system, designed to promote the prosperity of the western-minded minority and keep the Afro-Amerindian majority in bondage and labor.

The Ayitian state quickly became the first enemy of the Ayitian People, who went back into hiding, physically and psychologically. The andeyò country was created. Viewed from andeyò, the state and the elite living “inside” it were of a foreign culture and spoke a foreign language: the language of the “Kolon”. This state has since been the ideal tool for foreign imperialistic powers to keep the Ayitian People under control and neo-colonial rule.

C – HERE AND NOW: COMPLEXES AND DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

C.1- 2004: a 200-year-old dysfunctional family relationship

For the last two centuries, we have been trying to heal from our historical scars and create a prosperous Nation, against the will of the powerful at home and abroad. We have not achieved that goal so far. We have not even been able to liberate ourselves from the colonial cultural apartheid system, despite our political independence from the colonial power.

The upper classes of society continue to think, live and educate their children in a western fashion, oriented toward Paris and New York. The lower classes raise their children in an Afro-Amerindian fashion rooted in Ouidah and Yagwana, and the middle classes are selling off body and soul to uproot their children out of the andeyò hell to replant them into the Brooklyn heaven, via the Port-au-Prince purgatory. Any resemblance to the “Kolon”, the Slaves and the Afranchi may be purely fortuitous…

We are like a peculiar dysfunctional family. The western-minded father sees himself as the paragon of perfection, thinks he is intrinsically and morally superior, acts with arrogance and paternalism, and keeps and manages 90% of the resources and means of production of the household. When he needs to take a break, he goes to Miami, where his cousins are.

The Afro-Amerindian minded mother has a double life. She really lives in the backyard, where she tries desperately to survive on the meagre garden she is maintaining. She does not understand the father’s language or logic, but she needs to go inside the house to exchange products she grows in the backyard for goods the father brings in from outside the homestead. The house is a foreign world to which she has to adapt whenever she goes in there. Every rule in the house is set by the father. Most important communications are made in his language. It is usually considered improper to speak the mother’s language, or use her natural medicines, inside the house. Everybody must dress, eat, pray, sing, talk and behave as the father does. The mother feels very uncomfortable and helpless inside. She goes there only when it is necessary for survival, or when the father summons her in. She is not allowed to leave the homestead. When she needs to take a break, she plays her drums in the backyard and travels in Spirit to Guinea, where her Ancestors are.

The child, born in the house, is a little confused. She was raised by the mother in the backyard, but she was schooled in the house, where she could observe the father and learn some of his language and ways. At school, she was taught to be ashamed of the mother and to idealize the father and identify with him. She dreams of becoming just as he is and of being able to do everything the way he does them. She learns by mimicking and tries hard to copy the father in every detail. When she does not understand or cannot afford the father’s ways, she fakes them, even against her own well-being and health. She is in awe of the father, but resents his arrogance and indifference. She thinks she is intrinsically and morally inferior, but tries to hide it by being bold and impudent. She would like to be allowed to use all the facilities of the house, but the father lets her only have access to a limited number of them. She rarely takes a break. She would like to join her sister in Little Haiti in Miami, Florida and stay there forever, but she has not managed to get the authorization to leave the homestead yet. Meanwhile, she sometimes joins the mother in the backyard, awaiting better days.

C.2- A question of relationships

The fracture of the Ayitian society is essentially a cultural one. It is exacerbated by cultural apartheid in which Euro-North American is good and Afro-Amerindian is bad (or evil). The famous “Question of Color” is a direct historical corollary of this system. It is not basic to the social gap in Ayiti and, after hundreds of generations and the cultural conversion-ascension of several Black people, it is slowly beginning to be challenged. However, the essential problem remains unaltered.
I am now ready to present a thesis that may shock more than a few and that, if proven true, will require a thorough rethinking and redesigning of the “development” strategies in Ayiti.

The economical gap is not essential to the social fracture in Ayiti! It is a symptom of the system of cultural apartheid.   Better said: it is the result of the material sanctions of cultural apartheid. Fluency in the Euro-North American culture is materially rewarded in the Ayitian society, while Afro-Amerindian behavior is materially punished. Besides that, a bourgeois, francophone and culturally a westerner, may be broke, but he will remain high on the social ladder and he will keep many of his privileges (even if his skin is black). On the other hand, a peasant (with black or light skin) or a inner-city youth, undereducated in western standards and hardly able to speak French, may win the lottery, but social privileges reserved to the upper class will remain impossible or difficult for him to get. The wall between the two is a result of their cultural differences, their different languages and their different native communities.

In Ayiti, the common schisms (racism, classism, sexism), although present and strong, are surpassed by the “culturocism”, or cultural apartheid. Countless development projects, systemic reforms, financial aid plans and, most of all, the schooling system, are designed and applied from a Euro-North American cultural perspective and often contribute to worsen the unbalance and injustice. Schools basically teach Afro-Amerindian Ayitian kids to be ashamed of their origins, their parents and their culture, to repress their native cultural habits and to fake fluency and ease in a foreign oppressive system with more or less efficiency, while leaving them absolutely ignorant and unprepared in their own culture and environment.

During the last few decades, even taking in account the different embargoes and aid suspensions, Ayiti has seen the flow of financial aid significantly grow. In the same period, the gap between the Haves (mostly Euro-North American minded) and the Have-nots has widened in even larger proportions. It just does not work because the root of the problem is not addressed. It is not a question of money; it is a question of relationships to start with, and then a question of education (not only in western terms).

C.3- The peaceful way

The Revolution of 1804 was violent and bloody. Perhaps, there was no other way because everybody’s position was fixed, irrevocable and irreconcilable:

  • Liberty or Death for the Slaves and their allies;
  • Restoration of the Slave-fuelled colony at all costs for the Kolon.

Circumstances and Spirits had to choose a winner and a loser, but peace was no longer a possibility.

Despite much confusion and cosmetic talk of development, democracy, rule of law, human rights, disarming and non-violence, the current situation in Ayiti is similar in many aspects to that of the late 1700’s. More than a few are preparing for the final bloody confrontation between classes, with the secret hope that their own class will be the chosen winner. Pernicious fear and anger are building up.
There is an obvious need for deep transformation in the Ayitian society. Another revolution is on its way, whether we like it or not, and however foreign powers try to postpone it. It is a vital necessity and it will happen, eventually. The question is not about how to avoid it. The question is: “Can Ayiti make her new revolution (relatively) peacefully?”

And the answer is: Yes!
With conditions.

As exposed earlier, the root of social tension in Ayiti is not the economic disparity between classes, although the acuteness of that disparity reinforces and complicates the tension. The primary cause of the tension is the unbalance created by cultural apartheid expressed through destructive (and self-destructive) class behaviors. The upper classes and the whole state formal structure function in an arrogant paternalistic way that is humiliating and demeaning to the other classes. The lower classes function in an outsider underground and fiercely resistant way that scares and irritates the upper class. The middle classes function in one way or another, depending on who is watching, trying to become (or to be taken for) upper class, but nurturing a love-hate relationship toward that class. The middle and lower classes suffer from a severe complex of inferiority. The relationships between classes are basically marked by distrust, deceit, mystification and, above all, profound misunderstanding.

Nevertheless, the class dynamics in Ayiti, although multifaceted, are not very difficult to understand for someone willing to embrace the different viewpoints. Unfortunately, the leaders, thinkers and the elite, almost all exclusively thinking and operating within a modern western (Euro-North American) paradigm, seem to have failed in efficiently interpreting the indicators of acute widening of the social fracture. The Ancients taught that what counts is not what is being done; the intention behind what is being done is what ultimately counts. Your true deep inner intention (sometimes not clearly conscious) will determine the orientation and result of your deeds. Only an analysis of intentions will shed light on behaviors and situations we want to understand and transform.

Let me suggest a very simple scenario of intentions that may help one understand social dynamics in Ayiti, maybe from an unusual perspective. This over-simplified model should not, of course, be taken too literally. It is just a tool, hopefully helpful though incomplete, to be used for a first analysis.

The modern western-minded upper class is bothered by the harassment and impudence of the other classes. Its intention is to stop being harassed and targeted. To achieve that, it tries to put as much separation and distance between itself and the other classes as possible.

The Creole and Afro-Amerindian middle and lower classes feel disrespected, disdained and rejected by the upper class. Their intention is to get acknowledgement and respect from the upper class. To achieve that, they annoy, pressure and eventually threaten the upper class to force it into acts of sharing, not primarily for the material benefits but for the psycho-emotional ones. They evidently need to get and stay physically close to the upper class.

So, the more the lower side is trying to force the upper side to share, the less the upper side will actually want to share, and the more it will want to mark the separation. This will cause more pressure from the lower side, which will lead to an increased repression and self-protection from the upper side, etc. It looks like a vicious circle, a “Catch 22” situation.

But it is not.
There is an exit.

It should be said, at this point that we are aware that such generalized statements about vague groups of people don’t do complete justice to the real situation in that they don’t apply to countless individuals within the mentioned groups. There are many Ayitians, and maybe a few institutions, which are not under the spells of their class pathologies and are able to reach out of their class ghettoes. Many of those people have been instrumental in limiting the increase of the social gap and in decreasing the risks and occurrence of violence. If their examples are promoted and widely followed, systemically and systematically, we may perhaps reverse the current trend and actually progress toward reconciliation and healing.

C.4- “Bay kou bliye; pote mak sonje!”

The One who hits forgets; the One who carries the scar remembers! –Ayitian proverb
The conflictive class dynamic in Ayiti is a historical legacy, and except for maybe a few months before (and perhaps a few months after as well) the day of Independence, power as always been the domain of the same western-minded upper class, be it political, economic, social, religious, military, linguistic, legal, or educational. It is hence the responsibility of the upper class, from its position of power, to make the first move heading out of the vicious circle, intended at bridging the gap by behaving in a less arrogant fashion. The difficulty resides in the fact that the superiority complex underlying the arrogance has become so ingrained in the self-righteous western worldview and education that we are often not even aware of our arrogant behaviors, while they are observed and felt, remembered and resented by the people they affect.

I purposefully say “we” because a great number of Ayitians, although not identifying themselves as “upper class” people, will have more than occasional arrogant behavior with other people they view (or want to make feel) as “inferior”. If social power is the privilege of the upper class on the collective level, arrogant behavior is not exclusive to that class on the individual level.  Although I do suggest that the upper class as a group should let go of its arrogance if we want to see a social change in Ayiti, I do not ignore the arrogance frequently showed by people from lower classes in presence of people from even lower classes than them.  At the individual level, virtually every Ayitian is concerned.

C.5- The pacification and defragmentation spiral

Let us consider this little piece of wisdom about power, respect and arrogance, borrowed from the Traditional Way of the Ginen.

“Power gives you choice.
You choose to use your power with respect or with arrogance.
 
If you choose respect,
respect brings forth relationships.
Relationships bring forth knowledge.
Knowledge brings forth inner power (non apparent) and appreciation.
This power is yours to choose how to use it,
but appreciation usually brings forth more respect.
And if you keep choosing respect,
you are on the Way of the Inner Power,
or the ascending Spiral of the Fran Ginen toward Oneness.
 
If you choose arrogance instead,
arrogance brings forth separation.
Separation brings forth ignorance.
Ignorance brings forth fear.
Fear brings forth more separation and violence.
Violence brings forth outer power (apparent).
Outer power usually brings forth more arrogance.
And if you keep choosing arrogance,
you are on the Way of the Outer Power,
or the descending Spiral of Fragmentation toward Chaos.”

Respect calls forth Respect. Anyone who has spent a few days in Ayiti knows that the defiant, sometimes aggressive look on the face of Ayitian People in the streets, loaded with 500 years of abuse, oppression, rape, deceit and exploitation, will often easily fade in a matter of minutes to be replaced by a large sincere smile, after a warm greeting and a few words or signs of care and respect. And the vicious circle is broken. This does not mean that the wounds are healed. It will take much more than that, but the healing process is launched and it will feed itself in an accelerated fashion.

Of course, it is not always that easy in reality. There are risks, but that is the cost of the reversing of the current trend, if we want to launch a pacification and defragmentation process. Others would call those risks “collaterals”… One should start by transforming already existing close relationships, not so charged in potential violent conflict, but in a state of unbalance. New relationships should be started with the new awareness of potential arrogance and with respect for non-western paradigms.
In brief, if we want to achieve our peaceful revolution, it is required from each of us that we hunt down the arrogance in our thoughts, words and actions, and replace it with respect. We are all concerned, but the more privileged or powerful we are in society, the more responsibility we bear in transforming our behaviors, especially in relationships where expressions of the Western culture are interacting with expressions of the Afro-Amerindian culture, or with the Creole alienated Slave culture.

D – THE DREAM: A BICULTURAL POST-MODERN AYITI RECONCILED WITH HERSELF AND WITH THE WORLD

D.1- The bilingual/bicultural post-modern society

If a common view of an ideal Ayiti can be shared by almost everyone, once enough individuals are able to hold the vision as the ultimate goal of all their endeavors, we can legitimately hope that the vision will materially manifest and establish itself against any obstacle and difficulty. That is how our Ancestors made the modern Ayiti in 1804, and that is how we will make the post-modern Ayiti, starting from 2004, if we decide so. And our inner light will shine once again for the great grand children of our great grand children.

Let us envision a healthy Ayiti, healed, reintegrated, reconciled with all parts and all aspects of herself, with all Nations and with the respectful states of the world; a powerful unified Ayiti with her inner native potential strengths and beauties fully developed. I suggest that our post-modern Ayiti is bilingual and bicultural. All post-modern Ayitians are fluent in the two languages (Ayitian Creole and French) and in the two cultural systems (Euro-North American, i.e. Western, and Afro-Amerindian, i.e. Primordial), but everyone is rooted in his own community cultural system and a Master in it. Individuals and groups are healthy, free from complexes or lack of self-esteem. There is a systemic equal respect and admiration for the two systems, notably in the educational programs and of course in the state structure. These two cultural systems peacefully cohabit within the society without any moral classification imposing a vertical hierarchy between them. Both systems have their own areas of relevance and competence and are accessible to all Ayitians, although most citizens are rooted in one of the two systems, by origin, by personal history, by choice, or otherwise. In some social spaces, public or private, the two systems intersect and interact, but in other social areas, one system is predominant while the other is intentionally and consciously limited or kept away.

The educational system is based on a set of positive values taken from both systems. All children are raised in a perfect bilingualism, but can choose at some point to specialize more and deepen their expertise in Ayitian Creole or in French.

D.2- Primordial + Modern = Post-modern

We call “Primordial” the Afro-Amerindian creolophone system, and “Modern” the Euro-North American francophone one. The Post-modern Ayiti is the harmonious complementary connection and interaction between the Primordial Ayiti and the Modern Ayiti. Let us look at some of the functions, aspects and strengths of the two systems and their conjunction.

 PRIMORDIAL

MODERN

 

POST-MODERN 

 Ayitian Creole

French

Bilingualism, Polyglotism

National Cultural Identity

Window on international communication and integration

Strong culture firmly grounded and open to the world

Vodou

Afro-Amerindian worldview

Christianity

Western worldview

Multiple cosmology

Respect for all worldviews

Relations with Primordial Ancestors and National Guardian Spirits

Relations with European Ancestors and Western social values of reference

Multiple heritage and value systems

Management of spiritual resources and energies

Management of material resources and energies

Multidimensional management of resources and energies

Spoken Word for reference

Written Word for reference

Multi-level communications and references

Advanced psychology

Advanced physiology

Holistic health

Collective mind

Individual mind

Multidimensional mind

Community as the Human body

Individual as the Human body

Individual and collective Human bodies

Traditional natural medicine

Modern allopathic medicine

Holistic medicine

Spirit

Body

Soul

Land, nature

Territory, infrastructures

Country

Inner technology

(adaptation to environment)

Outer technology

(transformation of environment)

Holistic inner and outer technology

Magical mode

Cartesian mode

Holistic mode

Consensus

Majority

Multi-system of decision taking

Spiritual laws

Human laws

Spiritual and Human laws

Collective rights

Individual rights

Nation rights

Non linear time

Linear time

Multi-system of time

Inner power management

Outer power management

Total power management

Long term cosmic scale

Short term local scale

Multi temporal and spatial scales

Being

Doing, having

Growing

Gate to traditional Africa and America

Gate to Europe and modern North America

Gate to the world

Gate to other Creole, African and Amerindian languages

Gate to English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and other European languages

Gate to Human languages

African and Native American citizenry

European citizenry

Global World citizenry

 
D.3- Four national post-modern values

The core value system in the unified post-modern Ayiti is different from the one in the fragmented modern Ayiti. Here is a suggestion of four core values among those underlying the post-modern way of thinking and behaving.
The first three values are rooted in the Primordial culture. The fourth is inspired from the Ecological movement of the modern Western culture. These four values have guided the elaboration of this essay since its first paragraph. They can serve to test and evaluate the relevance and appropriateness of projects, programs or interventions allegedly intended at improving the well-being of the Ayitian People, as offered by NGO’s, churches, armies, international institutions, aid and cooperation agencies, organizations, private businesses, political parties, individuals, laws and regulations, etc.

D.3.1- Respect

In Ayiti, paying respect is a sine qua non prerequisite condition to any efficient endeavour, especially in human relationships. The Primordial conception of Respect seems to be slightly different from the Western one. In Primordial terms, Respect means fusion, “walking in the same shoes”, closeness, acceptance, embrace, connectedness and, most of all, sharing. Translated into Western terms, it is perhaps more akin to “Love” than to the English term “Respect”. It does not convey ideas of vital space, distance (leaving the other in peace, or alone), or fear.
Even in English or in French the etymological meaning of “re-spect” is “to look again”, from “re”: again, and “spectare” (from “specere”): to look at. Respect implies an intentional movement toward what is being looked at, in order to look again, better and deeper. Respect means to hold judgement until a better knowledge and understanding is established. It means a willingness to change one’s previous, and maybe prejudiced, opinion on someone or something. Respect is often the beginning of a new relationship and the guarantee of its continuation.
In the Primordial Ayiti, as well as in the Post-modern Ayiti, Respect guides relationships with everything:

  • With Humans (individuals, communities, Nations, different genders, Elders, children, foreigners, different religions, handicapped people, different people, etc.);
  • With Nature (the Earth, animals, plants, natural cycles and processes, ecosystems, the cosmos, etc.);
  • With Spirits (spiritual laws, the Lwa, Ancestors, the Dead, unborn people, energies, the Spoken Word, etc.)

The Western aspect of Respect implying cautious humility is applied to the unknown. “Sa ou pa konnen pi gran pase w.” (What you do not know is greater than you are. – Ayitian proverb).
Directly out of the Respect value, comes the rule of no harm to what is not harming. Which implies to refrain from any attempts to destroy, deform, change, or even “develop”, “help”, or “convert”, without request, what comes from a different perspective. The other side of the coin is the right to be different and to remain undisturbed in one’s customs, the right to define dignity and success in one’s own terms.

D.3.2- Balance

Balance is one of the main driving forces of the universe. It is the underlying concept behind the human values of Justice and Peace. It is also the first principle in dealing with duality. It eventually brings about dynamic equilibrium between opposed or complementary forces (Life and Death, hot and cold, sweet and bitter, water and fire, woman and man, day and night, unification and fragmentation, Primordial and Western, The Yin and Yang of the Tao from China…)
Balance is also the underlying principle behind the Primordial sustainable economy and development. An important Primordial energy management tool is derived from the value of Balance. The Creole word for it is bòne to which the closest term in English is probably “binding”, conveying both the meanings of tying up and confining, or restricting. It is applied with great proficiency to energies, processes or mechanisms lacking self-regulation, with a tendency to reach extremes and to become harmful if they are left unattended. When the art of bòne is well mastered, it allows dealing with potentially destructive forces and channelling them in a constructive fashion. The result is that such destructive forces need not to be completely rejected, which proves impossible in lots of cases anyway, and the value of Respect is fully honored.

D.3.3- Relationships

In Ayiti, even presently, virtually nothing meaningful can be achieved with people without a manifest intention of a long-term respectful balanced relationship. The Afro-Amerindian Ayitians are described by modern psychologists as “people oriented people”, as opposed to “things oriented people” from other cultures. In a sincere relationship, the health of the relationship itself counts more than its tangible outcome. However, sound long-term tangible outcomes are only achievable through sincere relationships. The essential difference between the Post-modern Ayiti and the Modern one is that, in the former, intra-social intercultural relationships are healed, sustainable, harmonious and productive, in an inter-dependant collaborative fashion.
This value is at the root of all processes of social inclusion and integration. It is a primary factor in public security matters.  Relationships should be maintained and nurtured even with undesirable or disruptive elements of the society. Without relationships, there can be no respect – hence no dignity, hence no balance and no justice – and social peace is in jeopardy.
The Relationship value is also concerned with interactions with non-human elements of the environment, like animals, plants, minerals and subtle energies, including an important category: the Ancestors. In the Primordial worldview, we are all related, and we could gain great advantages in remaining wholly related in the post-modern worldview as well.

D.3.4- Think globally, act locally

Borrowed from the ecological “Green” Western movement, this value is crucial for the sustainability and efficiency of all our endeavors. Another big difference between the Modern and Post-modern Ayiti is that in the latter, thought processes are reconnected with planetary and cosmic contexts, while actions are firmly anchored in the reality of their local human scale environment.
A Ayitian post-modern variant of this value is “Community thinking, individual commitment to action”. This attitude draws from both Primordial and Western abilities. The community or collective thinking is typically Primordial. Modern Western-minded people sometimes have trouble understanding it. They may not even suspect its existence in human communities or Nations. From a Modern Western perspective, collective thinking seems to be akin to the way ants, bees, sheep herds and flocks of birds function. From the Primordial perspective though, it is just one attribute of the egregor (or group Spirit) of a collectivity, with its own personality, processes, logic, consciousness and intentions, sometimes different from those of any individual in that collectivity. Most Ayitians are functionally familiar with collective Spirits.
The “individual commitment to action” complements collective thinking by integrating the “power of One”. It is driven by an acute individual awareness in which Modern Western-minded people often excel, and that many Ayitians could develop with much benefit. It must be firmly bòne (bound) though to counter its natural tendency to produce selfishness and eventually arrogance.

E – LAST WORD

The suffering of Ayiti and her apparent inability to take care of herself come partly from deep historical wounds and ills, both both in Ayiti and elsewhere in the world, that have never been attended. Profound healing treatments are necessary. These treatments, and the sustainability of their results, will require drastic changes in attitudes and behaviors from Ayitians and from foreigners who claim they want to help.
A lot of energy has been spent to appoint very western-minded and sometimes arrogant individuals at the reins of our Nation, with the “help” of completely western and extremely arrogant, though clumsy, foreign military forces. The most genuine and altruistic efforts of those individuals and forces may give a temporary impression of control and improvement, but they are unlikely to launch the necessary peaceful revolution of the intercultural conciliation and mutual respect which is perhaps the only sustainable option for the Ayitian Nation, and for Humanity. But it would presently be very difficult and quite unwise to expect a movement in that direction with the current actors in (or fighting for) power, in the forefront or in the background. The system of cultural apartheid, establishing a moral hierarchy between the modern western paradigm and the primordial paradigm is what we have to change, at all levels of society. Let us not fool ourselves by hoping that this change will happen with a few cosmetic adjustments in the political arena, enforcing our (western-oriented) laws, and building a few roads, schools and hospitals. We will just be covering up the mouth of the volcano for a while, only to postpone an ever more violent eruption a few years down the road… Unless the commonly shared irritation and indignation caused by the attitude of the foreign military power, familiarly reminding us of some abhorred arrogant imperialistic colonization and occupation, force us to unite once again, this time for cultural survival, freedom and dignity.
We are all concerned, from the top to the bottom of our present society. Down with the arrogance of our condescending western mind, and up with the dignity of our zombified mind! Peacefully, but firmly and steadily. And the more socially privileged (i.e. the more modern western our social image is), the more responsibility to make the first moves. We can and must create a mature bilingual bicultural post-modern Ayiti free from cultural apartheid and where not only human rights of individuals are respected (from a multicultural point of view, not only from a western one), but also community and Nation rights.

As long as she is kept fragmented, Ayiti will remain a “problem” in a world dominated by the modern western culture and in process of globalization. When she starts healing though, she will reveal herself as a key actor and facilitator in the healing of Humanity and the world, in desperate need of sustainable respectful balanced intercultural relationships… or war.
 
GLOSSARY

For most Ayitian words, the Creole spelling has been chosen in the text.
The glossary gives the French and English translations, or closest equivalents, when available. In some cases, an explanation is added.

Afranchi – Fr: Affranchi – Eng: emancipated Slave

andeyò – Fr: en-dehors – Eng: outside – Used to design rural areas and the people living there, considered as being outside of the Western World.

Ayibobo! – Expression used in Vodou ceremonies (Rada rite) to express complete agreement and utmost respect, sometimes translated into “Amen!” or “Alleluia!”

Ayiti – Fr: Haïti – Eng: Haiti

Ayitian – Fr: Haïtien – Eng: Haitian –  “Free spelling” of the derivatives of “Haiti” following its native Creole spelling: Ayiti

bòne – Fr: borner – Eng: to bind

Bosal – Fr: Bossale – In the colonial vocabulary: unbaptized, untamed, rebellious Slave; the very “lowest” and “worst” individual in society.
– In the modern Ayitian vocabulary: an individual with no or very little apparent Western culture; considered potentially anti-social and violent.
– In the post-modern Ayitian vocabulary: a rebellious Primordial individual committed to “Liberty or Death” in the (neo-) colonial society.
 
Boujwa – Fr & Eng: Bourgeois – In Ayiti, Bourgeois refers to the upper class, not to the middle class as in France, in the 18th century.

bouziye – Fr: bousillée – A traditional construction technique for rural houses using dirt on the walls; from the old obsolete French definition, not the modern one available in a recent French dictionary.

cheve grenn – Fr: cheveux crépus – Eng: frizzed or kinky hair, typically black People’s hair.

Dawome – Fr & Eng: Dahomey – Historical West African kingdom; the cradle of Vodou in Africa; one Vodou rite among others in Ayiti.

Fran Ginen – A Human Being who has attained the ultimate stage of spiritual realization.

Ginen – Fr: Guinée – Eng: Guinea – West African country where many Slaves were taken to be sold in St-Domingue (the name of Ayiti during the colony).
– In Vodou: African Spirit.
– According to context, may convey an idea of purity.

Kiskeya – Fr & Eng: Quisqueya – One of the Taino names of the island also named Ayiti, sometimes called Hispaniola by Europeans. Two countries are presently sharing space on the island: Ayiti and the Dominican Republic.

Kolon – Fr: Colon – Eng: Slave Master – In the modern vocabulary: anyone with an exploitative, abusive, arrogant, racist or paternalistic attitude, especially toward lower or middle class Ayitians.

Kreyòl – Fr: Créole – Eng: Creole – In the colonial vocabulary: born in the islands, referring to people, language, Spirits or else.
– In the modern Ayitian vocabulary: the Ayitian language; anything, or anyone typically Ayitian.
– In the post-modern vocabulary: something or someone of mixed origins, from Europe, Africa and the Americas, more specifically someone in a state of confusion due to a double personality syndrome.

Lwa – Fr: Loa – Spirits, archetypal energies. 

Mawon – Fr: Marron – Eng: Maroon – In the colonial vocabulary: “run-away” Slave.
– In the Modern Ayitian vocabulary: individual with double personality trying to hide his illicit activities and his lack of skills in the Western World, and secretly sabotaging the social order; considered harmful for society.
– In the Primordial Ayitian vocabulary: an individual forced to hide for his security and survival.
– In the Post-modern Ayitian vocabulary: a freedom fighter able to operate successfully within the neo-colonial society without getting caught by the oppressive system.
 
Mawonaj – Fr: Marronnage – Eng: Marooning, going into hiding; the condition (or art) of the “Mawon”.
 
Medsen fèy – Fr: Médecin-feuilles, guérisseur – Eng: Herbal healer (“Bush Doctor” or “Witch Doctor”), traditional healer using natural remedies.

Ouidah (see Wida)

plasaj – Fr: plaçage – The condition of a life partner not officially married; concubinage.
 
plase – Fr: plassé/e – The life partner not officially married; concubine.
 
tafya – Fr: tafia, eau de vie de canne à sucre – Eng: Sugar cane aqua vitae; rhum lightening.
 
Vodou – Fr: Vaudou – Eng: Voodoo – The Creole spelling marks the differentiation from the Hollywood negative and sensationalistic version of Voodoo. Vodou is sometimes spelled Vodoun to better respect the African pronunciation.
 
Wida – Fr & Eng: Ouidah (sometimes Wydah or Whydah in Eng.) – A city in Dahomey.
 
Yagwana – Fr & Eng: Yaguana – The capital city of the Xaragua, one of the 5 Taino kingdoms of the island of Kiskeya when the Europeans arrived in the 15th century. The name of the town of Leogane is derived from Yagwana, and Leogane is located near or on the ancient site of Yagwana.
 
Completed in Port-au-Prince, on the 104th day of the Independence Bicentennial Year of Ayiti,
and the 47th day of foreign military occupation,
April 13, 2004.
 
~ Djalòki ~ 

“In the abundance of water the fool is thirsty” – Bob Marley –

“We are all related” – Primordial Word of Wisdom – 

Djalòki N.J.L.B. Dessables is a post-modern seeker of ancient wisdom integrating his multicultural Ayitian roots (African, Native, European) and translating primordial vision and spirituality into today’s context with the intention to help create a sustainable multicultural post-modern society in balance with herself, Nature and the Cosmos, and practicing reverence for the unity of Life by respecting its manifest diversity.  He is a member of DOA/BN (www.haititravels.org, raising cross-cultural awareness and respect), co-founder of the “N a Sonje/We Will Remember” Foundation (reawakening and re-enacting the memory of historical cultures around the Atlantic Ocean), co-founder of “Chimen Memwa/Memory Lane” (an alternative historical/cultural radio show in Ayiti) and founder of “21 Jenerasyon/21 Generations” (international public speaking on cross-cultural and cross-spiritual awareness and respect).

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: