5/9/06

Kevin Sites Watch - 2

Moulin Sur Mer, Western Department, Haiti
Last week I wrote the following in response to a quote inaugurating Kevin Site's newly announced coverage of Haiti:

Okay then Kevin, about your voodoo comment ["I've heard so much about this island nation awash in voodoo"], we might have used a bit more context seeing as how many (if not most) in your audience think that when you are talking about voodoo, you are talking about putting pins in a doll to get rid of someone. If there was ever an area that needed more context and merits a video, it would be that one.

Today I checked the HotZones site, and waddayaknow, Kevin indeed has a story offering context on Voodoo and maybe even making up for that initial comment he made. I asked for context and I think we got context. See for yourself:

Kevin Sites Blog: Zombies Not Welcome



Please chime in and let me know what you think. (I am still chewing on his "mud pie" story and will have to get back to you after I've thought it over some more.) For now, the watch seems to be yielding some results.

Kevin, you can continue differentiating yourself from incomplete, unethical coverage of Haiti by showing some of the social and ethnic diversity in Haiti as well some of the country's beauty. Hopefully you won't disappoint. There are plenty of beautiful spots in the country, the capital included, that you can immortalize. Again, make sure you let the world see those sites that Haitians hold dear but that are consistently ignored by many mainstream journalists looking to cover only the sensational. See you soon as the Watch continues.

Pictured above: Moulin Sur Mer, Western Department, Haiti.



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4 comments:

Markus said...

Thanks for sharing this Alice...

My initial reaction to the Kevin Sites "Zombies Not Welcome" article is that I have seen much worse... but the article leaves a lot to be desired. I credit the author, and more importantly the Houngan Sergo who was interviewed, for making the clear case for Vodou being a monotheistic, healing practise.

However, two things that jumped out at me from reading the article through one time:

1. Why the term "black magic" ??
When speaking of divisions between Rada and Petwo branches of Haitian Vodou, it can be useful to classify them as "cool" and 'hot" respectively. "Maji" as its referred to in Haiti (magic) is actually somewhat separate from formal/pure (called "fran") Vodou worship altogether. The term "black magic" has a decidedly rascist connotation... and ironically the colors associated with Petwo and also "Maji" in Haiti is usually RED.... not black! Even more ironically, a large portion of the magical rites performed in Haiti actually come from European traditions, not Africa!! Many are associated with Masonic practices, and/or also taken from 18th century French Spiritualism traditions.

2. " Voodoo has much in common with traditional religions, including the belief in a supreme being"

This quote shows the ignorance and bias of the author with regards to his subject matter. The roots of Vodou can be clearly traced back to West African traditions - especially the "Rada" aspects of Vodou, which have their roots in ancient Dahomey - which encompassed areas of modern day Benin/Togo/Ghana. The traditions of Vodou go back many hundreds of years, even predating the Judeo/Christian/Islam religions according to their own oral history... so how can it not be a "traditional" religion?

Alice B. said...

Hi again Markus! Thanks for these clarifications. My expertise on the topic is very limited and I am glad that people like you who know lots more about the topic are chiming in.

I'm glad we agree that his article is still a vast improvement on the "pins-in-a-doll" 1950s Hollywood style treatment.

markus said...

My pleasure!

Its not the 1950s anymore... but people still use the word "voodoo" to mean either evil spiritual practices or anything "weirdly unexplainable". Time for that to change.

Ironically, a large amount of Vodou healing work (like most other indigenous religions) is based in science - the study and use of the elements, and herbalistic knowlege - medicinal uses and characteristics of plants, roots etc.

Did you know that the 1950's dime-store novel-turned-bad B movie tradition of zombies and voodoo doll plots are a result of the 19 year U.S. occupation of Haiti in the early 1900's? Yes - many Marines came home and published these racist and fictional accounts of their time in Haiti, and the cheap novels became bad movies.

Tilili said...

I have lived in Haiti for 20 years and have some comments to make. About the "mud pies", I've never had one, but they look like clay to me. That might also come from a European idea that the ingestion of clay is good for the digestive system. See the section about digestive.
http://www.asinerie.net/elevage/conseil/sante/p04.html