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BACK Bwa KayimanKayiman PlayPerformance ritual ending Bwa Kayiman celebrationE


"Ayida Wèdo se bon, se bon. Danbala Wèdo, se bon, se bon. Lè ma monte chwal mwen gen moun ka kriye."

Grann mwen held my soul, for five hundred years in sanctuaries beyond your reach Prozac-man, in living shrines within her mound, safe from the dark vicissitudes of this protracted nightmare. That's why i'm strong enough today to make this call. No, that's why all we Ayisyen have made THE CALL. Before, it took 300 years to reach Anba Dlo. But now, 2004 approaches. The coming forth of the dead is at hand. I feel lè Marasa, lè Mòr e lè Mystères...We are at the dawn of another Bwa Kayiman Petwo ceremony.

Look, some are wearing straw hats. Carrying loaded up satchels. Their faces covered in white paint, daggers in hand. The Gedes are here, eternally in black, governing life and death dancing away, erasing misery. Their sunglasses are glinting. Lifting our heavy mist, and turning those orbs from pulsating white to purple to black; forcing people off their crosses...

Protectors of our heirs, the Gedes, they are our history. In those satchels they carry the knowledge of the dead and the experience from which the living learn.

Whoah! A Gede lwa just gave me something from his satchel. This old umbilical chord m ap kenbe la a, i'm holding, goes way back to Anacaona and the Ethiopian Kentakes. Now take your new eyes off the rearview mirror. Look high in this land of mountains and even you will see. See. These daggers sting. Stab me. My blood pours. But Ezili Dantò and Manbo Marinette and Grann Guiton are here. I will not be so easily destroyed.

"Ban m sèt kout kouto. Ban m sèt kout ponya. San m ap koule. Men ou pa kab touye m."

There's a glimmer beyond this heavy mist embracing my people in Haiti and across the entire African Diaspora. That's no beggar. That's Baron Samdi. That's no mosquito. It's Makandal. And you already know those Black butterflies....

Those whips slicing this midnight air. Those whistles blowing the cobwebs of despair to smithereens. That cacophony of sound. Music only Lasirèn can hear. Makes no sense to you, right? Well, it's Kreyol. It's multiculturalism personified. It's all that diversity you've been thirsting for.

Back at the first Bwa Kayiman ceremony, in 1791 where I'm entering, those who spoke different languages, those who herald from different African cultures and experiences, made themselves understood....with body language, in song, dance, or, by tracing, with coffee grounds and cornflower, ancient diagrams - hieroglyphics in dirt as sacred as strips of DNA. Others spoke by stamping bare feet. Drinking dark rum. Listening to heartbeats beat - wielding justice with a cultivator's machete.

Today, look, we are making ourselves heard in just as many diverse manners. Some within the system. Some outside. Some within the periphery of both. But Lasirèn, the mistress of the sea and music, she hears all our different tongues. She will carry these tears into the Abyss like she did before to make the oceans change their course, inner ears hear, eyelids open. And then a mountain carpeted in clay red earth will again part her forest legs. Haiti will again be full of avocado green hills - peppered with yellow roses, cherry blossom trees and pearly stone edges. Her living hills abroad will spill their inner cave's messages into the stony night sky. A silvery moon will transport these calls to clear lakes, entering it anba dlo - beneath primordial waters, into that cosmological space occupied by the unseen: my granpapa's Jamais Vu.

Oh, oh, he's here: Rwa Wangol.

Rwa Wangol was a Maroon man who was never auctioned at your papa's Kwa Bosal market. He's back with Cecile Fatiman, Defile, Toya and today's Haitian women. Look, that rainbow lining the sky is him, Danbala my father. He's entwined see, him and my mama. He never left my mama's mama, no matter what history says. Her life ain't been no crystal stairs. But still she carries that Kannari high on her head - that clay water vessel holding my soul safe since before this New World's time began. She's Ibo; our safe haven and refuge. I feel myself returning, looking for father's straw hat, Papa's straw satchel, singing: "All violins and chuckles aside, this earth is my element. This culture, my sword. I'm a wild Kreyòl seed. Haiti's children are my libation and they're expanding, reparenting themselves."...in these new caves and hills of Haiti, living in Brooklyn tenements, in Manhattan's high riser, in Montreal apartments, in these sacred living trusts all over the Diaspora and in Haiti, there is a place Ayisyen know, where no statistics, clocks or calendars can enter. Where grace lives, dancing Yanvalou; swinging between time; cutting Petwo's rhymes; doing Rada's parigol, its fast-paced Zepol; fireballing like a burning comet - buck wild in Banda's life and death falls; coursing beneath La-La-Land's realms - leading from source.

In that place the second Bwa Kayiman that's coming has come. We looked outwards together. That motion carried a sound so pure, it broke through time. Waking up the dead in corporate-land, in La-La-Land, in academia and at the State Department. It woke the dead in Haiti's dirt streets and palmed beaches and resorts. Once again, all Africa that had lived and was yet to live, responded; rising up as one thunderous wave, way up, a rainbow touching the sky. A voice beyond the ozone, forcing mind activity back to earth; arching the human tribes' technicolored rainbow back into the sky; tearing that ol' boy's WORLD WAVE apart.

In that place, in that place, Ibo Lele chatters on. Making jazz out of pain, sewing Catherine Fon's cloth, suturing up our more than 200-years of containment in poverty, lifting it as a cleansed mirror where Zèb Ginen can come to behold and validate each other.

In that place, in that place, we-connected-to-our-umbilical-chords Ayisyens know, no dollar diplomacy or new Cold War politics or US/European semantics will ever put Humpty Dumpty back together again.


(c) 2000 Ezili Dantò. Excerpted from The Red, Black & Moonlight monologue series, based on Kenbe La! Crossings of a Vodun-Roots Woman by Ezili Dantò. All rights reserved.

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