Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Dutty Boukman

Dutty Boukman

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Dutty Boukman'
Start a new discussion about 'Dutty Boukman'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Dutty Boukman (died ca. 1791) was a Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n born houngan, or Haitian priest who conducted a religious ceremony in Haiti in which a freedom covenant was affirmed; this ceremony is considered a catalyst to the slave uprising that marked the beginning of the Haïtian Revolution
Haïtian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic...

.

Background


Boukman Dutty was a self educated slave born on the island of Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, his first name on the island means "book man", his last name means "dirty". He was later sold by his British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 master to a French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 owner after he attempted to teach other Jamaican slaves to read, who put him to work as a commandeur (slave driver) and, later, a coach driver. His French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 name came from his English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 nickname
Nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

, "Book Man," which some scholars have interpreted as meaning that he was Muslim since even in Africa a Muslim was referred to as a "man of the book": "It is likely that Boukman was a Jamaican Muslim who had a Koran, and that he got his nickname from this."

Ceremony at the Bois Caïman


In August 1791, Boukman presided over a ceremony at the Bois Caïman
Bois Caïman
Bois Caïman is the site of the Vodou ceremony presided over by Dutty Boukman on August 14, 1791. The stated purpose of the ritual was to attempt to overthrow French rule, which was based on slave labor....

 in the role of houngan
Houngan
Houngan is the term for a male priest in the voodoo religion in Haiti . The term is derived from the Fon word "hùn gan". There are two ranks of houngan, houngan asogwe and houngan sur pwen...

(priest) together with priestess Cécile Fatiman
Cécile Fatiman
Cécile Fatiman was an Haitian vodou priestess, a mambo . She is famous for her participation in the vodou ceremony at Bios Caiman, which is considered to be the starting point of the Haitian revolution....

. Boukman prophesied that the slaves Jean François
Jean François
Jean-François Papillon was an African-born slave that had worked in the plantation of Papillon in the last decades of the 18th Century, in the North Province of Saint-Domingue...

, Biassou, and Jeannot
Jeannot
Jeannot was a leader of the 1791 slave rising that began the Haïtian Revolution. With Biassou and Jean François, he was prophesied by Dutty Boukman to lead the revolution, and fought with the Spanish royalists against the French Revolutionary authorities in colonial Haiti.He launched vicious...

 would be leaders of a resistance movement
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 and revolt that would free the slaves of Saint-Domingue
Saint-Domingue
The labour for these plantations was provided by an estimated 790,000 African slaves . Between 1764 and 1771, the average annual importation of slaves varied between 10,000-15,000; by 1786 it was about 28,000, and from 1787 onward, the colony received more than 40,000 slaves a year...

. An animal was sacrificed, an oath was taken, and Boukman and the priestess exhorted the listeners to take revenge against their French oppressors and "[c]ast aside the image of the God of the oppressors." According to the Encyclopedia of African Religion, "Blood from the animal, and some say from humans as well, was given in a drink to the attendees to seal their fates in loyalty to the cause of liberation of Sainte-Domingue." A week later, 1800 plantations had been destroyed and 1000 slaveholders killed.
Boukman was not the first to attempt a slave uprising in Saint-Domingue, as he was preceded by others, such as Padrejean in 1676, and François Mackandal
François Mackandal
François Mackandal was a Haïtian Maroon leader in Saint-Domingue. He was an African who is sometimes described as Haitian vodou priest, or houngan...

 in 1757. However, his large size, warrior-like appearance, and fearsome temper made him an effective leader and helped spark the Haitian Revolution
Haitian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic...

.

According to Gothenburg University
Gothenburg University
The University of Gothenburg is a university in Sweden's second largest city, Gothenburg.- Character :The University of Gothenburg is the third-oldest Swedish university, and with 24,900 full-time students it is also among the largest universities in the Nordic countries...

 researcher Markel Thylefors, "The event of the Bwa Kayiman ceremony forms an important part of Haitian national identity as it relates to the very genesis of Haiti." This ceremony came to be characterized by various Christian sources as a "pact with the devil" that began the Haitian revolution.

Death and legacy

  • Boukman was killed by the French in November, just a few months after the beginning of the uprising. The French then publicly displayed Boukman's head in an attempt to dispel the aura of invincibility that Boukman had cultivated.
  • The name of the band Boukman Eksperyans
    Boukman Eksperyans
    Boukman Eksperyans is a mizik rasin band from the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The band derives its name from Dutty Boukman, a vodou priest who led a religious ceremony in 1791 that is widely considered the start of the Haitian Revolution...

     refers to him.
  • A fictionalized version of Boukman appears as the title character in American Communist writer Guy Endore
    Guy Endore
    Samuel Guy Endore , born Samuel Goldstein and also known as Harry Relis, was a novelist and screenwriter. During his career he produced a wide array of novels, screenplays, and pamphlets, both published and unpublished...

    's novel Babouk
    Babouk
    Babouk is a political-themed novel by Guy Endore, a fictionalized account of the Haitian Revolution told through the eyes of its titular slave...

    , a leftist and anti-capitalist parable about the Haitian revolution.
  • Haitians honored Boukman by admitting him into the pantheon of loa
    Loa
    The Loa are the spirits of the voodoo religion practiced in Louisiana, Haiti, Benin, and other parts of the world. They are also referred to as Mystères and the Invisibles, in which are intermediaries between Bondye —the Creator, who is distant from the world—and humanity...

     (guiding spirits).
  • In the Lance Horner book The Black Sun, the Boukman ("Bouckmann") uprising is retold.

Pat Robertson's "Pact with the Devil" allegation


In the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

, veteran Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 radio and television personality Pat Robertson
Pat Robertson
Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson is a media mogul, television evangelist, ex-Baptist minister and businessman who is politically aligned with the Christian Right in the United States....

 claimed that Haiti had been "cursed by one thing after another" since the late 18th century and, in an apparent reference to the Bois Caïman ceremony, revived the allegation that Haitians had sworn a "pact to the devil." This view was criticized by urban legend
Urban legend
An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

 expert Rich Buehler, who claimed that Robertson's statement was incorrect on a variety of historical points, and propagated a common claim that vodou is Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

ic in nature.

Several Mainline and evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

voices criticized Robertson's remarks as misleading, untimely and insensitive.

External links