Dutty Boukman

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Dutty Boukman
Born
Died7 November 1791
Other namesBoukman Dutty
Known forCatalyst to the Haitian Revolution

Dutty Boukman (Also known as "Boukman Dutty") (died 7 November 1791) was an early leader of the Haitian Revolution. Originally born in Senegambia (present-day Senegal and Gambia), he was captured, enslaved and transported to Jamaica. [1] He eventually ended up in Haiti, where he became a leader of the Maroons and a vodou hougan (priest). [2]

Haitian Revolution Slave revolt in the French colony of Saint-Domingue

The Haitian Revolution was a successful anti-slavery and anti-colonial insurrection by self-liberated slaves against French colonial rule in Saint-Domingue, now the sovereign nation of Haiti. It began on 22 August 1791, and ended in 1804 with the former colony's independence. It involved blacks, mulattoes, French, Spanish, and British participants—with the ex-slave Toussaint L'Ouverture emerging as Haiti's most charismatic hero. It was the only slave uprising that led to the founding of a state which was both free from slavery, and ruled by non-whites and former captives. It is now widely seen as a defining moment in the history of racism in the Atlantic World.

The Senegambia is, in the narrow sense, a historical name for a geographical region in West Africa, which lies between the Senegal River in the north and the Gambia River in the south. However, there are also text sources which state that Senegambia is understood in a broader sense and equated with the term the Western region. This refers to the coastal areas between Senegal and Sierra Leone, where the inland border in the east were not further defined.

Senegal republic in Western Africa

Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal also borders The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal's southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country. Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde. Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar.

Contents

According to some contemporary accounts, Boukman, alongside Cécile Fatiman, a Vodou mambo, presided over the religious ceremony at Bois Caïman, in August 1791, that served as the catalyst to the 1791 slave revolt which is usually considered the beginning of the Haitian Revolution.

Cécile Fatiman Haitian Vodou practitioner

Cécile Fatiman, was a Haitian vodou priestess, a mambo (Voodoo). She is famous for her participation in the vodou ceremony at Bois Caïman, which is considered to be one of the starting points of the Haitian Revolution.

Mambo (Vodou) female priest in Haitian Vodou

A mambo is a female priestess in the Haitian Vodou religion. Haitian Vodou's conceptions of priesthood stem from the religious traditions of enslaved people from Dahomey, in what is today Benin. For instance, the term mambo derives from the Fon word nanbo. Like its West African counterpart, Haitian mambos are female leaders in Vodou temples who perform healing work and guide others during complex rituals. This form of female leadership is prevalent in urban centers such as Port-au-Prince. Typically, there is no hierarchy among mambos and houngans. These priestesses and priests serve as the heads of autonomous religious groups and exert their authority over the devotees or spiritual servants in their hounfo (temples). Mambos and houngans are called into power via spirit possession or the revelations in a dream. They become qualified after completing several initiation rituals and technical trainings where they learn the Vodou spirits by their names, attributes, and symbols. The first step in initiation is lave tèt, which is aimed at the spirits housed in an individual's head. The second step is known as kouche, which is when the initiate enters a period of seclusion. Typically, the final step is the possession of the ason, which enables the mambo or houngan to begin their work. One of the main goals of Vodou initiation ceremonies is to strengthen the mambo's konesans—knowledge that determines priestly power.

Bois Caïman was the site of the Vodou ceremony during which the first major slave insurrection of the Haitian Revolution was planned.

Boukman was a key leader of the slave revolt in the Le Cap‑Français region in the north of the colony. He was killed by the French planters and colonial troops on 7 November 1791, [3] [4] just a few months after the beginning of the uprising. The French then publicly displayed Boukman's head in an attempt to dispel the aura of invincibility that Boukman had cultivated. The fact that French authorities had to do this illustrates the impact Boukman made on the views of Haitian people during this time.[ according to whom? ]

Background

Dutty Boukman was born in the region of Senegambia (present-day Senegal and Gambia), where he was a Muslim cleric. He was captured in Senegambia, and transported as a slave to the Caribbean, first to the island of Jamaica, then Saint-Domingue, and then Haiti, where he became a Haitian Vodou houngan priest. [1] After he attempted to teach other slaves how to read, he was sold to a French plantation owner and placed as a commandeur (slave driver) and, later, a coach driver. His French name came from his English nickname, "Book Man," which some scholars have interpreted as having Islamic origins, since in many Muslim regions the term "man of the book" is a synonym for an adherent of the Islamic faith. According to historians Sylviane Anna Diouf and Sylviane Kamara, Boukman "was a Jamaican Muslim who had a Quran, and that he got his nickname from this." [5] Laurent Dubois argues that Boukman may have practiced a syncretic blend of traditional African religion and a form of Abrahamic religion. [6] Boukman was killed by the French in November 1791. [7]

Caribbean Region to the center-east of America composed of many islands / coastal regions surrounding the Caribbean Sea

The Caribbean is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

Jamaica Country in the Caribbean

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola ; the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands lies some 215 kilometres (134 mi) to the north-west.

Saint-Domingue Former French colony on the isle of Hispaniola

Saint-Domingue was a French colony on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola from 1659 to 1804, in what is now Haiti.

Ceremony at the Bois Caïman

According to some contemporaneous accounts, on or about 14 August 1791 Boukman presided over a ceremony at the Bois Caïman in the role of houngan (priest) together with priestess Cécile Fatiman. Boukman prophesied that the slaves Jean François, Biassou, and Jeannot would be leaders of a resistance movement and revolt that would free the slaves of Saint-Domingue. An animal was sacrificed, an oath was taken, and Boukman and the priestess exhorted the listeners to take revenge against their French oppressors and cast aside the image of the God of the oppressors." [8] He gave the following speech:

Houngan is the term for a male priest in Haitian Vodou. The term is derived from the Fon word "Hounnongan. There are two ranks of houngan: houngan asogwe and houngan sur pwen. A houngan asogwe is the highest member of clergy in voodoo and the only one with authority to ordain other priests.

Jean-François Papillon was one of the principal leaders in the Haitian Revolution against slavery and French rule. He led the initial uprising of enslaved workers and later allied with Spain against the French.

Jeannot was a leader of the 1791 slave rising that began the Haitian Revolution. With Biassou and Jean François, he was prophesied by Dutty Boukman to lead the revolution, and fought with the Spanish royalists against the French Revolutionary authorities in colonial Haiti.

The Good Lord who created the sun which gives us light from above, who rouses the sea and makes the thunder roar–listen well, all of you–this god, hidden in the clouds, watches us. He sees all that the white people do. The god of the white people demands from them crimes; our god asks for good deeds. But this god who is so good demands vengeance! He will direct our hands; he will aid us. Throw away the image of the god of the whites who thirsts for our tears, and listen to the voice of liberty which speaks in the hearts of all of us.

Dutty Boukman [1]

According to Gothenburg University researcher Markel Thylefors, "The event of the Bois Caïman ceremony forms an important part of Haitian national identity as it relates to the very genesis of Haiti." [9] This ceremony came to be characterized by various Christian sources as a "pact with the devil" that began the Haitian Revolution. [10]

According to the Encyclopedia of African Religion, "Blood from the animal was given in a drink to the attendees to seal their fates in loyalty to the cause of liberation of Saint-Domingue." [11] A week later, 1800 plantations had been destroyed and 1000 slaveholders killed. [12] [13] Boukman was not the first to attempt a slave uprising in Saint-Domingue, as he was preceded by others, such as Padrejean in 1676, and François Mackandal in 1757. However, his large size, warrior-like appearance, and fearsome temper made him an effective leader and helped spark the Haitian Revolution. [14]

Related Research Articles

History of Haiti aspect of history

The recorded written history of Haiti began on 5 December 1492 when the European navigator Christopher Columbus happened upon a large island in the region of the western Atlantic Ocean that later came to be known as the Caribbean. It was inhabited by the Taíno, and Arawakan people, who variously called their island Ayiti, Bohio, or Kiskeya(Quisqueya). Columbus promptly claimed the island for the Spanish Crown, naming it La Isla Española, later Latinized to Hispaniola. French influence began in 1625, and French control of what was called Saint-Domingue—modern-day Haiti—began in 1660. From 1697 on, the western part of the island was French and the eastern part was Spanish. Haiti became one of the wealthiest of France's colonies, producing vast quantities of sugar and coffee and depended on a brutal slave system for the necessary labor. Inspired by the message of the French Revolution, Haitian slaves rose up in revolt in 1791 and after decades of struggle the independent republic of Haiti was officially proclaimed in 1804.

Cap-Haïtien Commune in Nord, Haiti

Cap-Haïtien often referred to as Le Cap or Au Cap, is a commune of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti and capital of the department of Nord. Previously named Cap‑Français and Cap‑Henri, it was historically nicknamed the Paris of the Antilles, because of its wealth and sophistication, expressed through its architecture and artistic life. It was an important city during the colonial period, serving as the capital of the French Colony of Saint-Domingue from the city's formal foundation in 1711 until 1770 when the capital was moved to Port-au-Prince. After the Haitian Revolution, it became the capital of the Kingdom of Northern Haiti under King Henri Christophe until 1820.

Haitian mythology

Haitian Vodou is a syncretic mixture of Roman Catholic rituals developed during the French colonial period, based on traditional African beliefs, with roots in Dahomey, Kongo and Yoruba traditions, and folkloric influence from the indigenous Taino peoples of Haiti. The Loa, or spirits with whom Vodouisants work and practice, are not gods but servants of the Supreme Creator Bondye. In keeping with the French-Catholic influence of the faith, vodousaints are for the most part monotheists, believing that the Loa are great and powerful forces in the world with whom humans interact and vice versa, resulting in a symbiotic relationship intended to bring both humans and the Loa back to Bondye. "Vodou is a religious practice, a faith that points toward an intimate knowledge of God, and offers its practitioners a means to come into communion with the Divine, through an ever evolving paradigm of dance, song and prayers."

Boukman Eksperyans

Boukman Eksperyans is a mizik rasin band from the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Grammy nominated for their debut album Vodou Adjae. The band derives its name from Dutty Boukman, a vodou priest who led a religious ceremony in 1791 that is widely considered the start of the Haitian Revolution. The other half of the band's name, "Eksperyans", is the Haitian Creole word for "experience", and was inspired by the band's appreciation of the music of Jimi Hendrix. The band was at the height of its popularity in 1991 when the presidency of Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a military coup d'etat. Like many other artists and performers, Boukman Eksperyans fled the country to live in exile. During their time abroad, the band performed and spoke out against the military dictatorship of Raoul Cédras. In 1994, after Aristide was restored to power, the band returned to Haiti, where they continued to play concerts, record albums, and perform at the Carnival celebrations.

François Mackandal Haitian Maroon leader

François Mackandal was a Haitian Maroon leader in Haiti. He is sometimes described as a Haitian vodou priest, or houngan. Some sources describe him as a Muslim, leading some scholars to speculate that he was from Senegal, Mali, or Guinea, though this assertion is tenuous given the lack of biographical information from this era, and is highly contested. Haitian historian Thomas Madiou states that Mackandal "had instruction and possessed the Arabic language very well." But given the predominance of Haitian Vodou on the island, most assume Mackandal to be associated with this faith instead. In the book "Open door to Liberty," Mackandal was mentioned, talking about his life as a vodou priest and joining Maroons to kill whites in Saint Domingue, till he was captured and burned alive by French colonial authorities. Although the historical accuracy of Mackandal's life has been debated, his significance as a leader in the fight for Haitian independence has been immortalized through Haitian currency.

Georges Biassou Georges Biassou was an early leader of the 1791 slave rising in Saint-Domingue that began the Haïtian Revolution.

Georges Biassou was an early leader of the 1791 slave rising in Saint-Domingue that began the Haitian Revolution. With Jean François and Jeannot, he was prophesied by the vodou priest, Dutty Boukman, to lead the revolution.

Vodou Adjae is the first album of the Haitian music group Boukman Eksperyans. It is distributed in the United States and Canada by Mango, a division of Island Records. All of the songs are in Haitian Creole.

Sylviane Anna Diouf is an award-winning historian of the African Diaspora. She gave the keynote address to the United Nations General Assembly on March 25, 2015, during the commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Islam in Haiti

Islam in Haiti is a small minority of Muslims forming less than 1% of the total population. The Muslims are composed of some locals and foreign immigrants. A number of Mosques and Islamic organizations are present in the country. There are both Sunni and Ahmadi Muslims, with their own point of views.

Haitian Vodou Syncretic religion practised chiefly in Haiti and among the Haitian diaspora

Haitian Vodou is a syncretic religion practiced chiefly in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. Practitioners are called "vodouists" or "servants of the spirits".

PhilippeFrançois Rouxel, viscount de Blanchelande was a French general. He was serving as Governor of Saint-Domingue at the start of the Haitian Revolution.

Black Power in the Caribbean refers to political and social movements in the Caribbean region from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s that focused on overturning the existing racist power structure. Guyanese academic Walter Rodney famously defined the movement as follows: “Black Power in the West Indies means three closely related things”:

  1. the break with imperialism which is historically white racist
  2. the assumption of power by the black masses in the islands
  3. the cultural reconstruction of the society in the image of the blacks
Armée indigène

The Indigenous Army, also known as the Army of Saint-Domingue, was the group of gens de couleur, free blacks; affranchi, mullatos; and basal slaves that fought in the Haitian Revolution [6]. They were not officially called the Armée Indigène until January 1803, under the leadership of Dessalines [3]. Led by famous leaders such as Vincent Ogé, Toussaint Louverture, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the Armée Indigène would consolidate their power and fight using guerilla tactics to make the Haitian Revolution the first successful revolution of its kind.

During the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), Haitian women of all social positions participated in the revolt that successfully ousted French colonial power from the island. In spite of their various important roles in the Haitian Revolution, women revolutionaries have rarely been included within historical and literary narratives of the slave revolts. However, in recent years extensive academic research has been dedicated to their part in the revolution.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Tickner, Arlene B.; Blaney, David L. (2013). Claiming the International. Routledge. p. 147. ISBN   9781135016982.
  2. Edmonds, Ennis B.; Gonzalez, Michelle A. (1 June 2010). Caribbean Religious History: An Introduction. NYU Press. ISBN   9780814722503.
  3. Girard, Philippe R. (2010). "Haitian Revolution". In Leslie, Alexander (ed.). Encyclopedia of African American History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN   9781851097692.
  4. Poujol-Oriol, Paulette (2005). "Boukman". In Appiah, Kwame Antony; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (eds.). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780195170559.
  5. Diouf, Sylviane Anna; Kamara, Sylviane (1998). Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. New York University Press. p. 153. ISBN   0-8147-1904-X.
  6. Dubois, Laurent (2004). Avengers of the New World : The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press. p. 101. ISBN   0-674-01304-2.
  7. Sylviane Anna Diouf, Servants of Allah p.152
  8. Charles Arthur and Michael Dash (eds.) Libète: A Haiti Anthology (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 1999), 36.
  9. Thylefors, Markel (March 2009) "'Our Government is in Bwa Kayiman:' a Vodou Ceremony in 1791 and its Contemporary Signifcations" Archived 22 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine Stockholm Review of Latin American Studies, Issue No. 4
  10. Lowell Ponte Haiti: Victim of Clinton's Old Black Magic FrontPage Magazine 20 February 2004
  11. Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama. Encyclopedia of African religion, Volume 1 Sage Publications, p. 131.
  12. Sylviane Anna Diouf, Servants of Allah p. 152
  13. John Mason. African Religions in The Caribbean: Continuity and Change
  14. John K. Thornton. I Am the Subject of the King of Congo: African Political Ideology and the Haitian Revolution. Millersville University of Pennsylvania
  15. Haitian Bicentennial Committee Archived 26 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine (2004)
  16. Orr, Niela. Critic's Notebook: Hollywood, Obama and the Boxing-In of Black Achievers ‘‘The Hollywood Reporter’’. December 18, 2014.

Further reading