On the night of August 14th, 1791, the Slaves of Saint Domingue, today Haiti, came together under the leadership of a Hougan or Vodou priest from Jamaica, named Dutty Bookman for the organization of a secret meeting with the purpose of starting a revolution to put an end to slavery in the French colony. Bookman was sold by his British master to a French merchant because he was able to teach himself how to read and write, and also because he was caught on numerous occasions teaching other slaves how to do the same. Instead of putting him to death, as was the rules for such violations, he sold him.
As many tend to believe Bois Caiman is not the name of the actual place where the Vodou ceremony took place, here’s why. Dutty Bookman although a powerful Vodou priest, was also an Islamist. As a sign of respect, the other slaves did not call him by his name, they called him Imam. meaning Islamic priest. So when organizing the ceremony, the slaves agreed to meet “Nan Bwa Kay Imam” in Haiti Creole, meaning in the woods at Imam’s house, then go to the grotto, where the greatest Vodou Ceremony would take place. Along with Mambo Cecile Fatiman, a notable Mambo or Vodou Priestess; Cecile Fatiman was the result of a rape; her father Louis Pierrot raped her mother, who was an African born slave. Bookman and Mambo Cecile Fatiman was able to assemble over one thousand slaves in the huge grotto. The slaves gathered around a huge wood fire, and Bookman began his famous speech.
"The god who created the sun which gives us light, who rouses the waves and rules the storm, though hidden in the clouds, he watches us. He sees all the white man does, the god of the white man inspires him with crime, but our god calls upon us to do good works. Our god who is good to us orders us to revenge our wrongs. He will direct our arms and aid us. Throw away the symbol of the god of the whites who has so often caused us to weep, and listen to the voice of liberty, which speaks in the hearts of us all."
The slaves were cheering, singing, clapping and dancing. Petro songs are loudly sung, Vèvès are drawn, drums are beaten with rage. Machetes, daggers in hands, they are calling on the darkest spirits of Mother Africa to come to their rescue. Mambo Cécile Fatiman, suddenly got possessed by Erzulie 7 Kout Kouto, the most dangerous manifestation of Erzulie Dantor. She drinks blood. She is dancing by the rhythm of the drums, and the slaves were singing along with her.
” 7 kout kouto, 7 kout ponya
prete mwen ganmèl lan pou mwen al vomi san e.
Prete mwen ganmèl lan pou mwen al vomi san
san mwen ape koule.
7 stabbings of knives, 7 stabbings of daggers.
Lend me the ganmèl ( a deep carved wood recipient), so I can vomit blood
Lend me the ganmèl, so I can vomit blood,
My blood is running.
A black female wild pig is presented to her, in symbol of liberty. Liberty is suppose to be free and untamed, as is the wild pig. The ‘pig is stabbed 7 times and all participants soak their fingers in the blood, taking the oath to ” Viv lib ou mouri” , ” Live free or die.”
The slaves that night, took the oath to fight the greatest fight in human history. The fight for liberty and equality.
Under the order of Bookman and Mambo Cécile Fatiman, the villages where the white French masters were staying, are to be burned to the ground and all white French men executed. The scene was horrendous. With Machetes, daggers, swords, knives, pieces of woods, they left behind no one except children and women. Neighboring villages that could not participate physically had taken the vow to poison their masters’ water supplies. In a period of 3 days, the greatest fight for human freedom in History was being fought to the bones in the sugar cane plantations in Haiti. Thousands of french men were killed, their heads had been cut off, and the plantations sat on fire. The famous northern plain, the most profitable in the colony, was in ruin. From Le Cap, the whole horizon was a wall of fire. The fire was so great, that the people of Le Cap could not distinguish nights and days. One writer from that time said, that one could clearly read at night, like the sun was in the sky, although the fire was miles away. The slaves destroyed tirelessly. They were seeking their salvation in the most obvious way, the destruction of what they knew was the cause of their sufferings. After 3 days of complete destruction and killings, the French Army stepped in to restore order. They capture Bookman and beheaded him. They displayed his head at the public place, with a sign underneath reading “Bookman, Chef des Revolutions des Esclaves.” Bookman, Chief of the Slaves Revolution.” Mambo Cécile Fatiman, was never captured, she lived to be 112 years. She died from old age. Today both Mambo Cécile Fatiman and Bookman are national heroes of Haiti.
Bois Caiman was a decisive point in mankind history. The point in time where the slaves, the Africans took their destiny in charge. No longer they wanted to suffer from the hands of the white men. A dream which Jean Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s father of independence would immortalize, when he led the country to Independence on January 1st 1804; making Haiti the first Black Republic in the world, the first and only country in the history of mankind whose independence was a result of a successful slave rebellion and, the second Independent nation in the Americas, just 33 years after the US. Haiti also became the first country in the Americas to Constitutionally grants Its citizen Freedom and Equality for all regardless of race and gender.
-There cannot exist slaves on this territory, servitude is therein forever abolished.
All men are born, live and die free.
- All men, regardless of color, are eligible to all employment.
- There shall exist no distinctions other than those based on virtue and talent,
and other superiority afforded by law in the exercise of a public function.
- The law is the same for all whether in punishment or in protection.
Upon Independence, Haiti did not just become the first Black Republic, but Mother of Liberty and Equality for all.