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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hello, everyone. I am seeking some information regarding Kanaval (both in Haiti and around the world). Any help would be greatly appreciated:

 Hello, everyone. I am seeking some information regarding Kanaval (both in Haiti and around the world). Any help would be greatly appreciated: 

I recently got into a discussion with a group of people about the history behind carnival (not just in Haiti, but throughout the West Indies). One woman believed that carnival was a Catholic celebration with roots in European history. I was told a different story from a Haitian friend of mine (I am not Haitian). His understanding was that although Catholic figures are portrayed during the celebration, they historically represented figures from Voudou and African traditions, more so as a way for African, Taino, and other indigenous people to disguise their beliefs from their abusers/colonizers and that the suffering that the enslaved had to endure was so taxing physically and mentally that the slave captors allowed one day out of the year for the enslaved to experience freedom.... One day out of the year where the enslaved could drink alcohol, sing, dance naked in the street, anything goes.... So that is the celebration that we know as carnival today. Basically, it is a celebration of freedom. Another woman from the Virgin Islands believed that no slaves were allowed to participate in the street parades until 1838, but did have their own parties in their backyard and have mini carnivals. Then once slavery was abolished they used it as a celebration of freedom.

There is a lot of mixed information out there and I was just wondering if anyone could shed some light on this for me. Mesi anpil!

Mandaly says: In Haiti, it is a little different. One cannot talk about kanaval without mentioning rara which is the true celebration of freedom of expression that continues way into the night after kanaval. In rara, people file the streets after kanaval playing bamboos, cans, tanbou, whistles, the whip, singing, and dancing. It has its roots from the days of slavery that led to the Haitian revolution. Any such gathering was done at night, like the one where Boukman, a slave, a oungan, had the gatherers drink blood and made a pact to revolt.
Kanaval, to me, is about celebrating our culture and music. The tradition I remember as a child, at kanaval time,  was men totally covered in molasses, only wearing dry banana leaves to cover their loins and head, running into the streets every year.

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