Haitian Independence Day
For Haitians and all vodouisants, New Year's Eve is a chance to set your luck for the following year. Unlike traditions in the US, it's often believed that what you do on New Year's Eve is what you will do and have brought to you in the coming year. Some people put on new clothes, make sure they have money in their pockets, say prayers, party & more.
On New Year's Day, it is time for soup--soup joumou to be exact! Soup joumou is a celebratory dish that not only brings good luck but also is a big callback to the other reason 1 Janvye is very important in Haiti. It's the meal of independence! If you're unaware, Haiti is the first Black republic in the world and the second country in the Americas to gain its independence from a European "power". Joumou is a pumpkin, not a pumpkin from the US, but a squash common in Haiti. The soup was a meal of the aristocracy that enslaved Africans were not allowed to eat. Now, on Independence Day (and for other celebrations), soup joumou is devoured! It's delightful and it's filled with root vegetables like potato, yanm, malanga, SOMETIMES banana, beef, cabbage, onions and aromatics, spaghetti or other pasta, and of course pumpkin!
In the United States, January 1st had historically been deemed Watch Night for many African-Americans, as Watch Night led up to the emancipation of all enslaved people in the US. Hence, the Emancipation Proclamation went into affect at 12:01 a.m. on January 1st, 1863. Which was bullshit, as all slaves weren't free until Juneteenth (June 19th, 1863). But hey, that's another conversation for another time, right?
Even with these markers of global independence, in my opinion, slavery hasn't ended and didn't end for many enslaved individuals. It simply evolved and became more insidious and subtle. This year, with the political climate in the US, Haiti, and beyond, I keep my hopes on the idea that all people may be free. Until then, we will keep our hands in the work to contribute to that being a reality.
May the year of 2019 kindle the spark of hope in your heart and allow the fires of growth, compassion, and faith to rise high and burn hot. We wish you health and happiness, love and passion, strength and purpose, and the knowledge that, no matter where you are in your journey, you are the product of thousands of years of purposeful action in the hopes that you can bring the change needed in your life to fruition. May you bring about the changes you desire and be a person of action and blessings equally. Bonne année! Bon endepandans!
Good reads on the aftermath of the revolution:
Genèse de l’Etat haïtien (1804-1859) by Michel Hector, Laënnec Hurbon et all.
Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition after Revolution by Julia Gaffield
The Naming of Haiti by David Geggus
Needing help finding these books locally? WorldCat helps you locate books in libraries near you.
A bonus read is from author C.L.R. James. The series will start with the first slave revolt of 1791 and end with the Haitian declaration of independence in 1804. They're a phenomenal read! Kwei Armah said, “Some books change you; other books change everybody who reads them. The Black Jacobins is one such book. By introducing me to the Haitian Revolution, to a man, to a people and to a time that redefined the way the mighty military nations of Europe saw see themselves in relation to the rest of the world, viscerally tilted my axis and changed the way I see the world we live in today.”
Producer Foz Allan added, “C L R James’ unflinching analysis of the Haitian Revolution captures what, in those days, must have been unthinkable — the liberation of the largest slave colony in the Americas and its transformation into a new nation.“
Read the book for FREE, below:
The Black Jacobins by CLR James
More education: Slaves Won the War - Haitian Revolution
Thanks to the Black Lounge Film Series, they've granted everyone a chance to watch the documentary Liberty in Soup for FREE on Vimeo.
Name: Liberty in Soup
Description: Every New Year, and in celebration of their Independence, Haitian families gather together to feast in honor of a line of ancestors that fought for their freedom. The centerpiece of the festivity is the joumou soup—a traditional soup dating back centuries ago. The joumou soup is a concretization of war and victory, oppression and emancipation, and the deeply rooted celebratory traditions of the Haitian culture.
Free Code to View: FREEDOM1804
Lengeth: 1 hour and 6 minutes
Link to Documentary: Click Here
HAPPY HAITIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.