Bois Caïman

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Bwa Kayiman ceremony - Brooklyn, NY.
Bois Caïman (lit. Cayman 1 Woods; Kreyòl: Bwa Kayiman ) is the site of the vodou ceremony presided over by Boukman Dutty and Cecile Fatiman on August 14, 1791. It is widely accepted as the starting point for the Haitian Revolution. Participants at Bois Caïman were also Georges Biassou, Jeannot Bullet and Jean François Papillon, all of which were leaders of the early Haitian Revolution.

Bois Caïman is located in the northern Morne Rouge region of Haiti, southwest of Cap Haïtien.

Most of the trees of Bois Caïman have long since been felled -- gone, like so much of the other magnificent timber in Haiti, to meet the immediate fuel, housing and trading needs of the often-desperate Haitians. Protestants have also been alleged to remove trees in their zeal to combat vodou and there have been frequent attempts to hinder the annual remembrance of the event.

Boukman's prayer

Traditionally in Haiti the following prayer has been attributed to Boukman at the vodou ceremony:

"The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man's god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It's He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It's He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men's god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that speaks in all our hearts."


N. and R. Heinl, in their book Written in Blood, give the following translation of the Bwa Kayiman prayer:

Good Lord who hath made the sun that shines upon us, that riseth from the sea, who maketh the storm to roar; and governeth the thunders, The Lord is hidden in the heavens, and there He watcheth over us. The Lord seeth what the blancs have done. Their god commandeth crimes, ours giveth blessings upon us. The Good Lord hath ordained vengeance. He will give strength to our arms and courage to our hearts. He shall sustain us. Cast down the image of the god of the blancs, because he maketh the tears to flow from our eyes. Hearken unto Liberty that speaketh now in all your hearts. (Heinl p. 43)

Note 1: The caiman is a distant, smaller cousin of the alligator, with an average length of about 6-1/2 to 8-1/2 feet (2-2.5 meters). Caimans are even more distantly related to crocodiles. At least six species of caiman exist. Their habitat ranges from North to South America, including Saint-Domingue and other Caribbean islands.

See Also

References:


External links