[Originally produced and aired in 2019]
Vodun, Voodoo, racialization into Black Magic as currently understood is a distorted figment of a Western imagination. Voodoo is narrated as a sensationalized ‘pop-culture’ caricature of voudon, which is an Afro-Caribbean spiritual system that was brought with enslaved Africans forced onto the plantations in Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, the United States and elsewhere. The fictitious associations with drinking blood sacrifices, voodoo dolls or zombies are directly a result of the same dehumanization processes innate in a system of chattel slavery, the lifeblood of racial capitalism.
To be clear at the onset, Voudon is "an assortment of cultural elements: personal creeds and practices, including an elaborate system of folk medical practices; a system of ethics transmitted across generations [including] proverbs, stories, songs, and folklore... voudon is more than belief; it is a way of life," wrote Leslie Desmangles, a Haitian professor at Hartford's Trinity College in "The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal" (Prometheus Books, 1996).
Voudon teaches belief in a supreme being called Bondye, an unknowable and uninvolved creator god. Voudon practitioners recognize many ancestral spirits (called loa), each one of whom is responsible for a specific domain or part of life.
Followers of voudon see a universal energy and a soul that can leave the body during dreams and spirit possession. In Western Christian theology, spiritual possession is usually considered to be an act of evil, either Satan or some demonic entity trying to enter an unwilling human vessel, unless of course you go to black worship services. This is in contrast to the fact that in voudon, possession by loa is desired. In a ceremony guided by a priest or priestess, this possession is considered a valuable, first-hand spiritual experience and connection with the spirit world.
In 1685, variations of a practice to forbid the practice of African religions and required all masters to Christianize their slaves within eight days of their arrival—which codified into various laws. Slavery was condoned by the Catholic Church as a tool for converting Africans to morally upright Christians.
Furthermore, one Haitian scholar notes, "Many of the African spirits were adapted to their new environment in the New World. Ogun, for instance, the Nigerian spirit of iron-smiths, hunting and warfare took on a new persona... He became Ogou, the military leader who has led phalanxes into battle against oppression. In Haiti today, Ogou inspires many political revolutions that oust undesirable oppressive regimes."
The practices of dehumanization and hiding Africans histories (it is a misunderstanding to say African histories are lost)…has contributed much to the survival of racist logics that promotes false notions and ideas of racial white supremacy. These practices were applied to Africana total existence.
Nevertheless, the spiritual practices of the various peoples who were forced across the oceans have ancient origins. In fact, we can see ancient links between the Yoruba peoples and ancient Egypt….
Today, we are pleased to have filmmaker Onuora Anthony Abuah back with us to talk about another one his films, a two-part documentary that explores the Danhomé Kingdom. Part 1 is titled, Danhomé & Vodun and Part 2 is titled, Voodoo in Togo.
As a filmmaker and under the banner of AEA Films UK, his projects include MONA, Catching a Thief, Woodfalls, Woolwhich Boys.
Our show was produced today in solidarity with the Native/Indigenous, African, and Afro Descendant communities at Standing Rock; Venezuela; Cooperation Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi; Brazil; the Avalon Village in Detroit; Colombia; Kenya; Palestine; South Africa; and Ghana and other places who are fighting for the protection of our land for the benefit of all peoples!
- Religion & Spirituality