Water

Frater Vameri


Between Africa and the Americas there is a huge body of water. Long ship voyages separated the two continents. In fast ships, the crossing was done in 30 days. In others, heavier, between 45 and 60 days. It is curious to think how important the land is in the Afro- diasporic context : Africans lost theirs and gained a new, strange and inhospitable one. And the Fire? Certainly the flame of their spirits was extinguished a little, but the fire of anger and thirst for justice was vigorously burned. We could also quote the air - and say that the new air in America was bad, but it was what you had to breathe. Or even when staring the sky, they dreamed of seeing the stars as before.


Today, however, I would like to discuss water. Only water. I don't think any discussion about Vodou can ignore water, because it was over water that Vodou was built. It was due to the heavy slide of the tumbeiros - ships that carried slaves. It was over the baptism of pagans. It was because of the tears and the blood of the enslaved.


When facing a lake, the human sees himself reflected. Therefore, the world beyond the water mirror is another world, the invisible world - placing water as the great frontier: between life and death; between Africa and America; between people and spirits. Therefore, it is not surprising to think that the Lwas are said to manifest themselves through the waters. The border must be there in order to be crossed - it is import to remember when thinking about use of water in the Vodou ritual.


It is under the water that some believe that the Lwas and the ancestors live - something that looks very much like a Congolese heritage, but we have to be careful when making assertive statements like that. In any case, the connection of the Lwas with water is evident and should be the object of meditation, I believe. This may point to important mechanisms for African-American exchanges that will make us better understand all the processes within Haitian Vodou .


In the end, it is the water we drink, it is the water we bathe with. It is the water that is this frontier. We are water, the planet was once all water. Now, we are ourselves and this great and unique land is a huge frontier, a huge being “here and there”. The water that flows and bursts out of rocks and that falls from the sky (as Raul Seixas sang: “it brings things from the air”) and it is the water that dissolves us in this great mystery.

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