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The still mistaken view about Vodou

Frater Vameri

Part of our effort here on the OTOA-LCN Brazil website involves discussing Haitian Vodou in a solid way. This usually involves revealing aspects of theology, rites and even discussions from the very particular points of view of either researcher. One of the objectives of this work is also to make clear what Vodou is not, but, unfortunately, there is still a lot to be done in this context, as it was revealed by a meme that has been circulating on Brazilian social networks.

Vodou (this one being the most accepeted spelling currently) or Voodoo or Voodoo is a term strongly associated with evil magic and a series of superstitions. This is rooted in the occupation of Haiti by American forces in the early 20th century (1915-1934). At that time, several Americans, ill-equipped to deal with otherness took Haitian spiritual practices as barbaric and backward. In fact, this idea came from even before. Haiti itself tried to erase the Vodou of its history in an attempt to enter the hall of civilized nations before finally making peace with their culture and declarin Vodou as a national asset.

We also have to talk about Hollywood. Films like "White Zombie " and later "The Serpent and the Rainbow" did nothing to help elucidate Vodou. The Baron Samedi , an exotic figure that put fear in many foreigners (and also mesmerized them, let 's be honest ) became a film villain to the James Bond and appeared even in video games. All of this transformed Haitian spirituality and culture into a material for debauchery and helped to endure mistake after mistake about Vodou .

In these last days, this ignorance shows that it is still very much alive. In a country like Brazil, in which Candomblé terreiros and Umbanda centers are attacked daily and in which the black heritage is frequently disrespected, the meme I speak of does not arise with astonishment. It is a " Virtual Voodoo " to "take down" an enemy. For that, it would be enough to place a photo of the person next to a photo of the TV presenter Luciano Huck - because Huck has shared pics with almost all the public figures involved in scandals in Brazil.

What this meme reinforces is the idea that Vodou is: 1) Something evil - thus ignoring that Vodou is a complex religiosity that encompasses all human and nature expressions. 2 ) A magic tool only - Vodou would only serve to achieve immediate and gross objectives, thus leaving aside all the subtle interaction with the invisible that exists in this religiosity. 3 ) A practice without credit - since it is relegated to an absurd joke without any space for proportional and solid discussion. And the worst - 4) that Vodou is just that - and here we have the main question. We don't see much concern in showing anything beyond.

With that I do not mean to say that Vodou cannot be explored in fiction or in any narrative way or even that the meme in question is the problem of the century. Or even less that nothing can be built on by having Vodou as a foundation. The issue here is not purism or foolish protection. I just take the opportunity to remind you that there's a lot about Vodou that just isn't said. For this reason, I believe that this meme is a good reminder of why the texts of OTOA-LCN have been so relevant to the interested public.

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