This year marks the 208th year of independence for Haiti. Independence day is celebrated on New Year’s day (and the day after). It is undeniable that Haitians have seen more than their share of death, struggle, turmoil, hopelessness, poverty, <insert more struggles here>. The story of a powerless, beaten, and victimized culture overcoming oppression is easy for me to write but completely unimaginable and foreign to me when attempting to visualize it. Their story is a story of struggle yet victory, hopelessness yet endurance, poverty yet faith for tomorrow.
The first black-led nation in the world and the only country whose independence stemmed from a successful slave rebellion.
Wait, what?!… I need to process that statement…
- first black-led nation: Umm… really?! That is crazy… so in 1804 there was not a black-led nation up until Haiti?!
- Whose independence stemmed from a successful slave rebellion: Wikipedia says, “Haiti gained its independence from France in the first successful slave rebellion in the Americas”. To me, this says a lot about Haitians! They are strong, willing to fight for their freedom, fight for equality, willing to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow! Sounds like traits we talk about in America – freedom, equality, to be treated as a human. As I read it, the French displayed extraordinary cruelty. The 500,000 slaves taken by the French were flogged, starved, and buried alive for minor offenses.
What does this day have to do with pumpkin soup? Straight from a Haitian’s mouth, Everything! All throughout the French reign of terror, they forbade all Haitians from drinking pumpkin soup. It was considered a delicacy far too sophisticated for the palate of slaves. Therefore as a symbol of freedom, all Haitians, no matter where we are on the planet, drink pumpkin soup (soup joumou) every January first since 1804.
Today in honor of Haitian’s we had authentic pumpkin soup! It was fantastic! I am pretty sure my bowl included some goat intestines but I try not to think about it :-D.