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Haiti, Voodoo, And Islam: The Power Of Unity

By Jauny X | Last updated: Jun 23, 2016 - 2:39:42 PM

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Press conference in Haiti. Student Minister Patrick Muhammad and Joseph Makhandal speaking to the media in Creole, making the commission of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan known for the liberation of Black and poor people. Photo: Desmond Defoe-Muhammad

L-R: Dr. Max Antoine, ESQ, Hugues Sanon of Together For Haiti, Ati Joseph Fritz Coma, Eiliyah Muhammad, Patrick Muhammad, Nation of Islam 7th Region Student Minister, Joseph Makhandal, Nation of Islam Representative to Haiti; Haki Muhammad, Nation of Islam Tampa, Fl., Student F.O.I. Captain and Lucson Joseph. Photos: Jauny X

PORT- AU - PRINCE, HAITI—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam commissioned a delegation to tour the Caribbean islands of Haiti and Dominican Republic on a humanitarian trip. Led by Joseph Makhandal, Nation of Islam Representative to Haiti and Patrick Muhammad, Seventh Region Student Minister of the Nation of Islam and Student Minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 29 in Miami, Fla., (both Haitians), the delegation of about 20 arrived to Port-au-Prince, Haiti on May 2.

They were welcomed at the diplomatic lounge and shortly met with the community leaders, activists, politicians, the religious community and the press.

Toward the end of a nearly two-hour press conference, they were joined by the newly elected Supreme Voodoo Chief (Ati), Joseph Fritz Coma. Coma replaces the former National Ati, Max Genser Beauvoir, who passed on September 12, 2015. After Beauvoir’s passing, the National Confederation of Haitian Voodoo-Practitioners (KNVA in creole) recognized Alcénat Zamor as the new Ati, who would later pass on December 30, 2015, following a car accident. Zamor was never formally enthroned.

Coma welcomed the delegation with his own procession. He thanked Minister Louis Farrakhan, who he said understands the principle that there is but one Creator who put us all on earth.

Mr. Coma, with his procession, performed a short voodoo ritual ceremony with the use of three drops of water to formally welcome the N.O.I. delegation. His speech is loosely translated in the following:

“Water is life. Without water there is no life. When we came from Africa, our ancestors told us to respect the earth, to respect the environment and to respect human beings. And in today’s life, it appears as if there is no respect for human beings and no respect for the environment. What is happening is that we are being destroyed because this here (while he turns to face his procession) is what voodoo is. Voodoo is love. Voodoo is respect. And being that we are a people who are suffering, they do not respect our faith.

But, my brothers, voodoo allowed me today to pour three drops of water for you all to welcome you home. May our voices be heard for all that we are going to do in this country. And may we go beyond Haiti so that our ancestors may know that we are still thinking about them and that we believe in One Creator. Even though we are divided, we are all one. In this manner I welcome you all.”

After the speech, Student Minister Patrick Muhammad shouted three times the multipurpose Arabic phrase ‘Takbir’, to which the collective responded ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is the Greatest). Immediately after, he shouted ‘Ayibobo’, meaning Amen. Mr. Makhandal also followed suit and chanted ‘Hallelujah’ as the collective repeated after him three times.

When asked by a reporter from Radio Tele Caraibes about why it was necessary to welcome the delegation with the ritual ceremony, Coma responded that welcoming the Nation of Islam in this manner is the very meaning of the voodoo religion. He explained that he is continuing the work of Beauvoir, who has put in place Religion for Peace— responsible for uniting all religious sectors in Haiti. On that basis, he said he spoke with Mr. Makhandal to consolidate Beauvoir’s initiative.

“If we, the Voodoo practitioners, reject all other religions then we are rejecting all Haitians because it is Haitians who join other religions,” says Coma. “And we know that the word religion comes from the Latin word religare, which means the relationship of human beings with his creator. And for this reason this initiative [Religion for Peace] is to show that the voodoo sector can still lead the people.”