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1804: Understanding The History of Haiti & How It Relates to Climate Survival!


Largely through the efforts of one man: Toussaint L'Ouverture. No longer a slave himself, Toussaint nonetheless trained and led the half million African slaves of Haiti to victory after victory, over England and France, for more than a decade. In the process, he kept America free from European domination. America owes its freedom not to the so called founding fathers but to an African genius named Toussaint L'Ouverture. The concept of Haitian and Yoruban religion is understanding nature and working with it. Vodoun brought the people together in a sacred science.


In Haiti, deforestation and climate change threaten the physical and spiritual life of the population, as extreme weather accelerates the loss of trees that are a source material for the tanbou, a sacred Vodou drum “On the Global Climate Risk Index for 2018, Haiti was ranked as the most vulnerable nation in the world to the effects of extreme weather events related to climate change,” said Rebecca Dirksen, assistant professor of folklore and ethnomusicology at Indiana University, who has spent many years living and studying in Haiti and maintains a residence there with Haitian family and friends.


The loss of Haiti’s trees is a threat to a central part of Haitian culture. The wood is used to construct the shell of the drums, which embody the intersection of humanity, the divine and the environment in sacred and religious practices of Vodou. “In Haitian Vodou belief systems, both trees and drums host spirits who are guardians of the earth and portals between human beings and the universe,” Dirksen said. The rhythm of the tanbou recently reverberated through the Mathers Museum of World Cultures at IU when a “Celebration of Drums” opened an exhibition of the Haitian drums made by Charles Charlesine, master drum maker of the Artibonite region of Haiti. the Haitian social structure in village life was built around the structure of the crossroads in Vodun, where the worlds of ancestors and their living descendants met, and where everyone brought their own particular skills and resources to contribute to village well-being – all equally valued. Aristide's call for solidarity, "Randevou bo tab la," gained deeper resonance, power and meaning.


Today a local-to-local climate change community based adaptation and climate justice movement is emerging across regions, across the globe, with potential to lead the way for the world's coping (adaptation) with the impacts and threats of climatic change. The challenges that climate change poses require all of us, no matter what role or label, community or culture, alliance or affiliation, to step up and contribute the skills and resources we have in order to tackle and cope with the vast, at times overwhelming, complex difficulties that climate change brings to our doorsteps.


"Randevou bo tab la!" Everyone has a seat at the table, and everyone's contributions are needed and important. This is not a pat on the back, recognition simply of human capabilities in corners great and small. This is a call to action. A call to come together in solidarity, to care for, protect, and work together for the sake of dignity and respect of all life, all beings. Will you come to table? And what will you bring?

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