In the Caribbean island, Makanda is a remembrance of Haitian history and a whisper for everything that has to do with magic. It goes through the mountains like a night wind carrying fear and an old warning : revolution needs blood to bring liberty.
Makandal, my slave name, became famous in the first half of the 18th century. At that time, the French colony called Saint-Domingue now Haiti, was splendiferous and productive. Miles and miles of sugar cane and indigo fields were appearing in the former Spanish colony where almost no Indian survived the European invasion. A lucrative industry fed by African arms. Slavery as a mythic ogre was devouring human beings to enrich French aristocratic families. Men, women, children were thrown to the ocean to serve the blind machine. No respect, no identity, no family. All we had was the close embrace of death and the beautiful sky of the island, mother and father of our despair.
Hopefully, life can grow in the middle of burning stones ; tyranny is often stupid and blind. So part of us used their memory to survive destruction and others ran in the mountains covered by deep forests : voodoo gave slaves a new soil for their damaged roots and a new sky for their lost gods and marroonism (fugitive slave movement) screamed his opposition to colonial fury. Of course, it took time for one and the other to grow under the heavy iron hand of colonialism. It took time and clear-sightedness. Because they were like two children far from understanding each other. I arrived in this childhood of rebellion and saw the potentiality of it.
My name is Makandal, the terror of the colony. I still live. As long as Haiti will exist, I will never die. Because I was the first to feel how voodoo and marroonism could blow the colonial system up. The subtle, impalpable voodoo was like water running everywhere, giving spiritual life to the slaves and like water slowly destroying the foundations of the colony. Marroonism was like fire, strong and obviously destructive, difficult to stop and impossible to prevent.
Me, the wizard, I married water with fire. That’s the Haitian miracle. It became a poison : no water could have been drunk without burning the guts and no fire could have been lighted without becoming vaporous fear. They caught me but it was too late, the seed was planted : revolution was on his way.
Me, Makandael, I saw it beside death.
Now, I am a voodoo god but I used to be a man, long time ago, I used to have a father, a mother, a family, long time ago. Who’s keeping that in mind ? who’s interested in it ? I am like numerous others kept in the shadow of time where no light of knowledge shines.
Hopefully, dreams run in the dark. I became the dream of a man. He wrote my story from the very beginning in Africa. He searched the tiny parts lighted by the work of Africanists and guessed the rest.
And he gave me a birth, me whom, like many others, had only a death.