(Original and complete Ezili Dantò, 1791 bio page is here)
The Revolution which created the nation of Haiti was inspired by the divine decree of the warrior love goddess known as Ezili Dantò who danced in the head of the great Haitian priestess, Cecile Fatiman, on that famous Haitian night in 1791, on a red hilltop, at a forest thicket in Haiti called Bwa Kayiman.
Led by the powerful warrior spirit of Ezili Dantò, Cecile Fatiman crowned the African warrior Boukman with her royal red Petwo scepter, ushering in the Haitian war which forever slashed the chains of European slavery in Haiti to create Africa’s sacred trust, Manman Ayiti – the first Black nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Ezili Dantò is the symbol of the irreducible essence of that ancient Black mother, mother of all the races, who holds Haiti’s umbilical chord back to Africa, back to Anba Dlo*. Calling on her essence, breath, vision and cosmic power brought forth Haiti’s release from 300-hundred years of brutal European enslavement.
Ezili Dantò is the spiritual mother of Haiti and the preeminent cosmic symbol of Black independence, unity, self-determination, justice, equality and freedom.
The Ginen root – Haitian identity – forged at Bwa Kayiman is THE UNITY that’s never wavered in Haiti. One people, one African culture, one language, one Vodun spiritual imperative – to live free or die. That’s the consensus, the- “Linyon Fè la Fòs” – Haitian union, that’s never wavered.
One of Joseph Campbell’s most famous quotes is that “If you want to change the world, you have to change the metaphor.” The power of myth, metaphor and archetypal psychology are no longer disputed. If we were to look upon Ezili Dantò as a major African-Haitian archetype, myth, metaphor or narrative and note Vodun’s major role in the Haitian revolution and that during the Haitian revolution, this archetype was the only spirit principle or hero who was injured, who actually lost her voice, then it would be easier to understand why our work at Ezili’s HLLN has used Vodun lexicon to describe modern pathologies and given the great mother Goddess, Ezili Dantò, her tongue back. Supposedly, after Bwa Kay Iman, in the course of the war for liberation and freedom, Ezili Dantò was the only higher spirit and the only female symbol of love and nurture that was mutilated. Her tongue was cut out. And thus, in some sections of Haiti when this intangible, invisible, untouchable and eternal energy manifests into form through a living Haitian being, it can’t talk. This generation of Haitians at Ezili’s HLLN are not willing to continue putting life into that particular neocolonial metaphor. At Ezili’s HLLN, our work intends to change the world, Haiti’s world, by changing the metaphors and colonial narratives and uplift the warrior mother Goddess Ezili Dantò’s spirit, Dessalines’ three Ideals and the Haitian paradigm for universal freedom. We understand the psychological warfare, neocolonialism, racism and paternalism that would silence the feminine warrior, Ezili Dantò and the role archetypes and archetypal psychology plays in the liberation, life, values and culture of a people. Haiti doesn’t have superman, batman, Tarzan or any vampire heroes in its cultural narrative or popular folklore. But there’s Jean Jacques Dessalines, Toya, Sanit Belè, Defile, Kapwa Lamò, Ezili Dantò, Danbala, Ayida Wedo, Papa Legba, Simbi, Ogou Feray, Gede yo, et al. To witness to the African-Haitian ancestors’ original and untrammeled inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the collective past African experience is to counter the distasteful, inferior, neocolonial patterns inculcated, over two centuries of colonial/French ecclesiastic and other re-education, present in the individual conscious and unconscious of many modern Haitians.
There’s much work to done to counter the colonial narrative. Ezili Dantò’s HLLN focuses mainly on two archetypes – Ezili Dantò and the historical Papa Jan Jak. There’s nothing more important than putting our life force behind the re-MEMBERment of Ezili Dantò and Jean Jacques Dessalines to counter our African/Haitian dismemberment. Just as, there is also a move to not use the pictures of the white Catholic saints to stand for the African principles, values and irreducible Vodun essences – Lwa yo. The twenty-one nations who gathered at Bwa Kay Iman in 1791, the amalgamated African tribes who became African-Ayisyen in the land of the Taino-Ayisyen formed the only nation in the Americas not named by the white settlers and not founded upon colonial imperatives and values. Our imperative, their descendants, is to extend the universal freedom they fought for, live free or die.
The powerful nations’ constant attack on Haiti’s poor has not changed much. Haiti’s is still an international crime scene where the Haitian Oligarchs/mercenary families act for the neocolonialists. But Haitian resistance is deep with too many creative and spititual roots for capitulation to be a factor. Haitians use the power of the enemy to bend the enemy, never living by the values of the enemy. For, there are some things worst than death. Haiti’s masses refuse to submit to the colonizing nations’ mindset. What does it profit a (wo)/man to gain the whole world but to lose her/his soul. Nature recycles all form, including the tyrant’s form and profits, back to source even as the universal energy warehoused in all form is eternal and always safe, so why lose virtue or bother assist these others fearful and small enough to wish to shatter you for earthly profit.
During the Haitian Revolutionary War, this was the white nations’ “enlightenment” mindset Haitians faced:
“It is not everything to have removed Toussaint, there are two thousand other chiefs here to have taken away…Here is my opinion of this country. It is necessary to destroy all the negroes of the mountains, men and women, sparing only children under the age of twelve, and destroy half of those of the plain, without leaving a single colored man in the colony who ever wore an epaulette. Without that, the colony will never be at peace.” —French General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc
The Haitian revolution helped the United States double its size and gain 15 extra States through the Louisiana Purchase. The Haitian people got rid of physical enslavement but were forced, after the assassination of Haiti’s founding father, into the Independence Debt. Today, economic enslavement reigns unfettered with the UN occupation, endless debt, free trade, privatization and wage slavery.
But, to the colonizing nations’ everlasting dismay, the great triumph of Ezili Dantò’s Haitian warriors, where Dessalines did what Spartacus couldn’t, cannot be equaled or erased in world history. No matter the tyranny imposed over the last two centuries of Haiti’s existence, Haiti’s invisible essence still cannot be colonized.
During the great Haitian war of liberation, the old Haitian ancestors burnt down all the port cities and retreated INLAND, knowing that if they valued any property, family, children or valuables above their freedom and liberty, that that would be used by the more powerful white tribes and their enforcers to re-enslave Africa’s masses. The African warrior Henri Christophe burnt his great mansion down first and then went to meet Lerclerc’s 50,000 French soldiers come to commit genocide and re-enslave the African masses. That courage, that single-minded focus, that ultimate Haitian sacrifice, after 300-years of Euro-enslavement, allowed for the eventual freedom for all the Blacks in the Americas and ended racial slavery. It is evidence that living from the unseen center where Haitians meet the primordial energy that has always been and is behind everything, where they stand together with the vital African Ancestors and Ezili Dantò, the warrior mother’s invisible but tangible and eternal love – is and has always been the core protection, faith and sustenance of the Haitian people. It used to be “Grenadye alaso, sa ki mouri zafè ya yo, nanpren manman, nanpren papa, sa ki mouri zafè ya yo. The revolutionary song, because African-Haitians are still here despite all powerful efforts to silence Ezili Dantò and her warriors, is updated: Grenadye alaso, sa ki mouri na vanje yo!
The Goddess Remembered at Bwa Kayiman
There was a time when women were the primary religious figures on this planet. A pre-historical time, long ago. (See Ezili Dantò/Aset/Isis (photos) and Ezili, Aset, Isis -Mother God and Black Woman: Mother of All the Races.)
Haiti, the first Black nation in the Western Hemisphere, is the pioneer in ushering back the reign of the goddess and of women as religious figures equal with men in performing religious ceremonies.
On August 14, 1791 Haitians remembered their dark, African mothers and honored Her culture. August 14, 1791 Boukman remembered Mother Africa. Cecil Fatiman remembered Mother Africa. All the “Feys” – leafs – at Bwa Kayiman remembered Mother Africa. Then, the amalgamated African tribes, in Haiti, found and took hold of Ezili Dantò who said, “Kanga Mundele” – Kill the stranger amongst us, meaning both the brutal enslavers as well as mental colonization. Over two hundred delegations of Blacks from various plantations throughout the North of Haiti where present.
The Haitians had stretched their heart, nerve and sinew way back to call on this authentic pagan (or the pre-Judeo-Christian, pre-Muslim described) spirits of ancient and pre-colonial Africa – they called on – Ezili Dantò (along with Danbala, Atibon Legba, Ogou Feray, Manman Lasirene, ect). But Ezili Dantò appeared first at that Petwo ceremony on August 14, 1791 day on that red clay hilltop in Haiti.
All the Africans at Bwa Kayiman, all, be they Muslim or Christians converts, went HOME that day, back to Vodun and, that, has been the road less traveled by any African nation to date. That Movement has made ALL the difference to Africans in the New World and around the world, globally, for it initiated and propelled forward universal human rights as well as initiating the first sparks for Pan-Americanism and Pan-Africanism in modern world history. For, the Haitian people were the first Blacks and enslaved workers taken in shackles out of Africa to the “New World”, the first treated as savages and as subhumans and the first to respond to this treatment definitively and forever, by validating themselves as human beings entitled to equality, self-defense and entitled to their own African religious beliefs. For those days, as well as for today, that was REVOLUTIONARY. (See Video excerpt of Bwa Kayiman play and the Bwa Kayiman performance texts).
But a Black nation inspired by an African goddess/liberator was a bad omen for the white European settlers who claimed themselves superior to Blacks and certainly to free Black women. Yet, the Haitian people, without arms, allies or financial resources where so inspired by their Vodun gods and goddesses and the powers of their Ancestors that, led by the warrior goddess, Ezili Dantò, and after 300-years of Christian-based enslavement in the Americas and over one thousand years of Islamic conquest and enslavement incursions all over Africa, they decided to “live free or die” – liberte ou lamò! and set themselves free in Haiti, defeating all the mighty European powers of that time – France, Spanish and British, in combat.
Today, Haitian women and men follow the long legacy of the warriors of Haitian independence. They are tireless fighters, beholden to no-one – heroic leaders on the cutting edge of the human rights struggle.
Ezili Dantò of HLLN
(See also info on: Ezili Dantò/Aset/Isis (photos) and Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791 and Ezili, Aset, Isis and Black Woman: Mother of All the Races and Vodun: The Light and Beauty of Haiti.)
Ezili Dantò performs the banda dance as Gede for Breaking Sea Chain. See also Intro to Breaking Sea Chains and RBM Video Reel
The Haitian struggle – the greatest David vs. Goliath battle being played ou on this planet
*Anba Dlo literally means “beneath the ocean, the waters.” It is that primordial, cosmic space where all potentiality lives. It’s the mythological “Haitian Heaven” (to use a non-African point of reference). It’s where all that ever lived, will live and is living will end up. It is, to the African warriors who founded Haiti, the road back to Manman “Africa” – Nan Guinen, that cosmic space where the world began with “Lè Marasa, lè Mò e lè Mistè.”
Anba Dlo to the Haitian is where the great African Ancestors’, where our sacred energies, our strengths and force – the “Lwa yo,” – those sacred irreducible essences of the Haitian/African/Black soul – reside. Anba Dlo is the sacred stillness, cosmic place, where life sources issue from and return to.
Performance poet, Ezili Dantò of HLLN (in RBM) onstage as Ezili Dantò performs Anba Dlo, Nan Guinen (See also Bwa Kayiman (texts) and PhotoGallery)
More info on the sacred energies, light and beauty of Haiti and Haitian culture and on the Haitian Lwa – Gods and Goddesses, the irreducible essences.