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df?e Evil Spell 9^?^Vbodoo> over Hayii
-1 By Wilbur Forrest PORT-AU-PRINCE, Hayti. Dee. 1. RELIGION always plays Its part in problems of admin? istration, and in no land where Americans have gone to administer has such a unique problem of belief presented itself as in HaytL Amons the great mass of illiter? ate blacks, crowded to the number r - t - . ? i-^?i either destroyed or kept to add to a museum. Secret Calls to Worship Finally, when voodoo priests dis? covered that the great drums, made of palm tree trunks and goatskins, sometimes five feet high, drew other than true worshipers, they aban? doned the ancient call method and summoned their assemblies by the grapevine system. Marine orders then went forward to destroy the temples. The natives call their high priests of voodooism the Houngans. These Houngans are sorcerers, or makers of 2,000.000-odd on Hayti'a 10,000 square miles, it has not been so much the religion but the task of subduing a barbaric sorcery which United ?States marines found here five years ago. Probably the greatest work of our military folk in Ilayti has been the complete pacification of the coun? try. There- is no doubt that regret? table though isolated instances of immature judgment have occurred, but there is completo peace in Hay ti to-day for the first time in scores of years. The second most impor? tant work here has been the repres? sion of tha voodoo. A Souvenir of Africa Lesss than five years ago the weird roll of voodoo tomtoms resounding at night in the hills and valleys of the bush called from miles around the superstitious blacks, whose in? stincts, bora of Af 'can tribesmen, led them to the assembly. The scene was usually a roughly buill temple where the chief priest, 01 medicine man or woman, offlciatec with meaningless incantations, anc eventually the lifeblood of a fiumar ??usually a child?was drawn aB i sacrifice to the spirits supposed t< guide the destinies of these trans planted Africans. The most un printable orgies are recorded. The voodoo assembly with its car nibalistic orgies and dances is a! most a thing of the past in this li1 tie Caribbean republic. In Cuba and Porto Rico we foun a people more or less religious an controlled by the Church to an e: tent that white-man administratioi in rural communities, at least, wj materially aided by friendly c. operation with the country pries The Philippines offered a semi-sa agery with which force was the fir requisite, followed by a diplomat process of winning over. Savage Tribal Customs But in Hayti Americana foui the weirdest and most difficult pro lem of all?a something which trac from savage tribal customs of pt hap? a dozen breeds of Afric; blacks made more virile by gent atlons of Ignorant groping in a Jar where precedent became nothii but instinct, an instinct always fu damentally savage. The Wanyiki tribe in Africa pr? ticea rites which could be detected the negro voodoo festivals of Hay The Wakambas are here in th. transplanted brothers. Other tril have contributed customs which ha been combined by fifty generatic in Hayti into a wild melange of : perstitioua practices under the le? ership of the medicine man, the ch Jgieit or priestess, the voodoo doct irhe marine.? began work agaii voodooism in Hayti by the seizure the great ?rums?tomtoms?w which the voodoo doctors called th congregations. Young Americans the bush were drawn to these dru as were the blacks, but for an i fcirely different purpose. Crawl! cautiously through th? underbru they would Anally locate the tern and send those asMimbled scurry! into the bu3h by firing a few sh hi the air. The drum waa their o ob>ct, and one? is their hands i .1 of magic, whose ability to do the un? usual stamps them as superior. Once it is told that a native woman became a Houngan because it was reported she was in a remote part of the country one clay and appeared at a distant city the following day. Her fame spread among the super? stitious natives until she became one of the best known priestesses in the land. At the present moment she is said to have far more power over the average lower caste Haytian than Hayti's political chief execu? tive. The chief assistant to the Houn? gan is called d'Hornicon, and follow? ing down the line are any numbers of acolyte sub-priests called the Honci Gauzeaux. The order extends down to the Honci, the single care? taker of the temple. Marines, under orders, were com pelled to destroy these temple; wherever found. The silencing o: the tomtoms made it a difficult tasl to find them. Occasionally to thi day they discover them cleverly hid den in the denser foliage of th most remoto districts. Encloses Sacred Tree The voodoo temple has a univei sal name which is neither French no English. To the native his temple : the Hunfort. These are of simila construction, usually sitting within compound, which also incloses tl sacred tree. This tree is of tl herb-bearing variety, from who* leaves or berries sacred potions a: brewed. The temple itself is a se , eral room affair, supporting outsi< a broad veranda, where the vood? dances are staged after the saci i fice. A few American marines perhaps less than five in five yea | ?who have been fortunate enouj '? to watch these dances from plac of concealment tell of uncloth ! blacks in violent gyrations for hou i until they fall of exhaustion. Th tell also of orgies, fanned into fiai i by tafia?native rum?which canr be recorded. Inside the temples were genera! found three rooms, known singly the congo room, the rada room a the rnarissa. To those who ha studied the Haytian voodoo as b? they could the rnarissa appears have been the room of sacrifi Why so named is mystery. So ? as known, no American has cv been in the confidence of a vooc priest or has been allowed to witn? a genuine ceremony from beginni to end. No American has ever w ne:-:sed any part of a genuine voo( exercise when the participants kn about it, American marines, he ever, have found the temple wj marked with crude signs and sto: slabbed tables of sacrifice in ea Abolishing Human Sacrifie? **It will take generations to pu: the lower class Haytian of his v doo beliefs," said Colonel Wal Hill, a marine officer, who has 1 much experience in the Hayt bush and studied as much as po ble of voodooism. "It Is not ex geration to say that at this mom 'J5 pw cent of Hayti's blacks voodoolsta at heart, though aw that the moct objectionable featt of their religion are a thing of past or prohibited so long as wi men remata in Hayti, We bar? most entirely wiped out the human sacrifice, the open assemblies and dances. "It is rare that any evidence of these affairs can be detected unless you happen to run upon them sud? denly in the country. There isn't a native in Hayti to-day who will talk to a white man about voodoo ism. But signs of the voodoo are everywhere. Perhaps when ? the younger generation here are up? lifted and taught to think better they will forget their blood instincts, but it will take generations to do it." Colonel Hill, who represents the high class of America's understand? ing of her Marine Corps, knows, perhaps, the low caste Haytians as well as any American knows them. >? .? ' ?. T ESS than five years ago j *-* the weird roll of voodoo j tomtoms called from miles ' around the superstitious \ flocks He speaks their "Creole" and knows their intricate psychology. He has stumbled only once onto the human sacrifice, but more often has sur j prised and broken up voodoo orgies when the mob fled and carried most of its incriminating evidence along. Convi?cted of Voodooism A trial which would have been the sensation of continents was held not many months ago in Port-au Prince. The defendant was a pow? erful black man named Belgarde, who admitted much and was with? out doubt guilty of Beveral of the seventeen human sacrifice charges against him as a "voodoo Houngan." High marine officers who conducted the trial learned more revolting de? tails of human sacrifice here than they had ever known before. The entire record of testimony is now in the hands of the Navy Depart? ment in Washington, where proper sentence for the Houngan must be approved. Belgarde is to-day mak? ing furniture in the Port-au-Prince penitentiary, awaiting his fate. The Aztec priests in their blood-stained sacrifice chambers in the days of Cortez In Mexico were mild men as compared with Belgarde, if the rec? ords of his case are true. The Voodoo Sign Any marine who has been long in Hayti, either in the towns or in the bush, can point out the almost universal signs of voodooism. Ebony skinned women who come in droves to trade in the market places are seen wearing the voodoo necklaces to which are attached tiny cloth bags containing charms blessed by the Houngans. Often the smallest, blackest, naked pickaninny wears only this necklace and the attached j charms placed thero by his mother to ward off the evil spirits of measles, mumps or smallpox. The sign of the serpent in flight is a favorite. What it signifies none knows. Bits of rag tied around ankles or wrists are supposed by the wearer to have particular functions. The remnants of a chicken hung on a pole by the roadside give the hanger as much luck as our own American negro derives from the left hind leg of a rabbit killed in a graveyard at midnight. A gourd placed in the road before the g'ate cf a native caille keeps evil spirits from entering. Evil spirits work in straight lines, and to pass the gate the spirit must tarn around the gourd and lose hia power. A lighted candle, if first blessed by the Houn? gan, is a sure destroyer of evil. A nativa funeral often embraces voodoo ti'm?. Haytiar* native?, both sexes, are notorious for carrying ; everything on their heads, which they balance with marvelous expert ness. The casket of the departed is hoisted aloft to poise on the cra nium3 of two and sometimes three pallbearers. The latter, with free hands, twirl around and around un? til the onlooker fears for the corpse. American stage jugglers have never done anything so expert. Behind the corpse come the mourners, sometimes few, sometimes many, wailing and moaning. And they juggle and wail and moan un? til the burying ground is reached, whether the distance is one mile or ten. The entire performance, say i those who know in Hayti, is not for the benefit of the corpse at all, but to so befuddle and wind him up thnt he will never return to "liant" the living. Cross and Voodoo One day a marine officer riding along a country trail encounter>"d an old negro astride a mule holding a large cross aloft. The crosrs was covered with voodeo signs?beiis, guns, snakes and mysterious hiero? glyphics. Asked where he was go? ing the negro admitted that he wt?s taking the cross to be blessed by a missionary who lived near by. The French priest, who the offi? cer hunted out near a little chapel, admitted, in turn, that he did gc through the motions of blessing these voodoo crosses lest he los? what little hold his religion had or the natives. The voodoo was strong er than the faith he had attemptec to plant in the district during twentj years of labor. The bandits against whom ma rin.es have waged war for a number of years held their bands together against the whites by the propa? ganda that Americans were sup? pressing the Haytian religion. The bodies of at least two marines cap? tured by the cacos were found later with vital organs removed, possibly by the high priests of vcodooism ?n voking for all those who partici? pated truer aim against the whites. Despite the suppression of their relipion, it is 'difficult to find the native who has any great rancor against the white invaders. Now more remote from the influence of voodoo leaders, they are content to go the way of the white man if he will but lead. Island Is at Peace Barbaric practices have been re? pressed, as much as possible, the country is at peace, and there re? mains but one thing to start th? Haytian native ort his upward course. It Is the Industry which the white man can bring to this lit tie republic. It means work for th? masses and, more important, labor not interfered with by political revo? lutions which have marked Haytian history since the freedom from slav? ery nearly a century and a quarter ago. "But what will happen if the i whites withdraw and leave the Hay tian republic and the Haytian mass to follow absolute sclf-determina tion?" I asked a highly educated Haytian here several days ago. His answer was this: Natives Would Relapse "One week following the evacua j tion of Hayti by American military I forces there would be a revolution I and a rapid return to the conditions I which caused foreigners to land I here. The work of the Americans j here would be nullified completely. ! The Haytian mass would rapidly re? vert. It is not capable of its own uplift, and I very much doubt whether we who know the way? of the world have the power to uplift our proletariat. "We In the great minority have pride however, and we want your | American cooperation. There is a . treaty between the two countries. If J this is observed in the true spirit in j which, I am sure, it was drawn, there will be no difficulty here, and Hayti will bloom under American gui,j. aEoe." Hayti a Winter Paradise ?CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS once enthused over the marvelous for? titude of Hayti. The Spaniards and eventually the French took advantage of the judg? ment of Columbus and developed Hayti's agriculture and commerce. The blacks won their freedom from French slavery and changed all this, and to-day you find a land that has gone to seed regularly twice a year for more than a century. The rural Hayti that Columbus reported to the Spanish throne is here to-day in a state that Colum? bus might recognize it if, like Rip Van Winkle, he could have slepl to reappear upon familiar scenes. The country districts of Hayti are per? haps in little different condition, gen? erally speaking, than in the ancient days of the discoverer. Of a Darker Hue Columbus found red Indians in Hayti. If he were to return he would find the natives have changed to a darker hue and are living in a different state?but none less primi? tive^?than his Indians of Hispani ola. The modern traveler may see here in Hayti to-day the wonder of Provi? dence taking the responsibility for almost 2,000,000 humans who are si most universally content to let Provi? dence take care of them. I have just returned from the cap? ital of Hayti after a visit to the southern peninsula district, where approximately 700,000 black humans are the coddled children of bounti _ I ful nature. Hayti'3 greatest asset is said to be her cheap labor. It might be appended that this little republic's greatest fortune could be a campaign of agricultural educa? tion through which the rural Hay? tian might be tutored in the art of taking full advantage of possibly the richest soil and most luxuriant foli? age to bo found in the world. Coffee Grows Wild When you drink your steaming cup of breakfast coffee you may be fairly certain that it did not come from Hayti. But if you were to make the most casual visit to the 3,000 square mile peninsula of southern Hayti you might wonder why your Mochs is Mocha or your Java is Java, 01 why you spend 50 cents or there? abouts for the beverage bean of thi less distant Andes. Coffee grow? wild in gayest abandon along tin roadsides and trailsidea of Hayti It asks not for cultivation but hangs there to tempt the ambitious one to pluck it before it falls to repro? duce its kind. The markets of the worid are de? manding first grade long staple cot* ton, yet it nods at you gracefully from its wild parent tree here until you wonder what is the answer. Clumps of stately coconut palm?, climbing straight up from 50 to 60 feet before they burst out like Fourth of July fireworks in fcathcr L like green showers of leaves, are often noticed sheltering the mango trees beneath them. The mango tree, though more luxuriant, resembles the peach and its fruit is a delicious ? oblong handful too delicate for ship? ment north in commercial quantity. The story is told of the bi-annua! mango season in Hayti when the rural negro awakes to eat when the fruit falls and strikes his body Nature wakes him to feed him, and then he eats, lolls back and sleeps the untroubled slumber of the tropic?. Economic conditions, labor unions, housing shortago, the high cost of living, the laws of supply and dc mand do not worry him. Buying an orange at a Park Row fruitstand is usually high finance. Shake an orange tree in rural Hayti and the sensation is reminiscent of the late disturbances in certain por? tions of France. If you are a good bargainer you may buy them in an;? village market at ten for a cent. Fences of Mahogany The average New Yorker pay? immense prices for furniture cov? ered with the thinnest veneer of ma hogany. In Hayti you are privileger. to sit on rough fences hewn iron mahogany logs and look into th boughs of mahogany trees growinj wild and unattached. Lignum vita; one of the most precious of woods, i a common find in many districts. The rural Haytian does not worr; about hi3 supply of table ware. II ?-?-~_? or she, as the case may be?most often she?walks out to a calabash tree and cuts down the gourds, which grow to enormous 6ize. Dried and cut in two these calabashes are the bowls and dishes of the average Haytian household. Of beds in Hayti there are few. A straw mat on the dirt ficor of the tiny caille does the trick. A blanket is almost unheard of. At Grand Goave and again at Petit Goave, villages of the Haytian peninsula, I found relics of the day? when the French were masters hen? and had converted the peninsula into a wonder garden spot, provid? ing staples, exported in volume to Europe. A sannon at the latter village, lying probably whera it ba4 fallen from its long disappeared mounting, showed the markings of the Creusot works. The slaves of Hayti tilled the fields in those days under the whita man's guidance. Left to their own device?, eventually, they have let nature take it? own sweet coarse. Even the most primitive agricalru? ral implement? are unknown to ths rural Haytian of the south.