Racial Equity

Haitian Revelers Honor the Dead in Vodou Festival

November 1, 2021

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Hundreds of revelers clad in white and clutching candles crowded into the main cemetery at Haiti’s capital on Monday to pay their respects to the dead during an annual Vodou festival.

Many in the crowd surrounded the tomb of the first person buried in the Port-au-Prince cemetery, believing it contains the guardian of the dead, known in Haitian Vodou as Baron Samedi.

“I’m going to continue believing in Baron Samedi. He is my leader because this country has no leader,” said Emmanuel Jean-Pierre, a Vodou priest who walked several hours to reach the cemetery because he could not afford public transportation.

The celebration comes at a time of deepening misery and violence for Haiti, which is struggling to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck southwest Haiti in mid-August and killed more than 2,200 people. The country also is facing a severe fuel shortage, a rise in the cost of basic goods and a spike in gang-related kidnappings. Officials announced on Monday that a university professor who was recently abducted had been killed and U.S. and Haitian authorities are trying to recover 17 members of a U.S. religious organization who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago in an unrelated case.

A person touches a monument to Baron Samedi and Gede during a ceremony honoring the Haitian Vodou spirit at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Nov. 1 2021. Followers of Vodou are marking the Fete Gede celebration of the spirits, equivalent to the Roman Catholic festivity of the Day of the Dead and All Saints Day. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A person touches a monument to Baron Samedi and Gede during a ceremony honoring the Haitian Vodou spirit at the National Cemetery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Nov. 1 2021. Followers of Vodou are marking the Fete Gede celebration of the spirits, equivalent to the Roman Catholic festivity of the Day of the Dead and All Saints Day. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

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