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Bwa Kayiman—Tout Moun se Moun

Performances, Discourse, Music, Dance, Film, Food


Jean-Ulrick Désert, Rainbow Panel (The Waters of Kiskeya), 2017

Jean-Ulrick Désert, Rainbow Panel (The Waters of Kiskeya), 2017. Photo: Ludger Paffrath

…There is much to despair in the present of Haiti, but the revolution is a lifelong struggle and we will not forget…
—Prof. Marlene L. Daut

The influence for HKW’s second edition of Bwa Kayiman—Tout Moun se Moun derives from Haitian poet and former communist-activist René Depestre, whose poetry greatly contributed to reflections around relationality and humanité. As stated in his poem ‘Une conscience en fleur pour autrui’:

Ma joie est de savoir que tu es moi
et que moi je suis fortement toi.

Tu sais que ton froid dessèche mes os

et que mon chaud vivifie tes veines. 

Ma peur fait trembler tes yeux 
et ta faim fait pâlir ma bouche. 

Sans ta force d’être un feu libre
ma conscience serait plus seule 
que la terre morte d’un désert.1

In its second year, this iteration of Bwa Kayiman draws guidance from Mawu, the Vodou spirit of heavenly light and world order, with an emphasis on acts of caring and human acknowledgement that remain instrumental for the construction of collective futures. From the first celebration at HKW in 2023 entitled Congressing at the heart of liberation, we continue to follow paths of care and healing that constitute an occasion to reflect on reparation for Haiti as well as other peoples that have been subjected to oppressive and exploitative regimes that have neglected the mere idea of being human: Tout moun se moun.

Framed differently, the question would be how can the world actively advance towards finally repaying the long overdue debt to Haiti, a nation whose people planted the paramount seeds of liberation that then germinated in places like Brazil, Martinique, the US, and Liberia, among other nations.

Alongside artists, thinkers, priestesses, and spirits that continue to guide human beings and collective living forces from Haiti, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and beyond, from 2–4 August 2024 HKW hosts a series of performative gestures ranging from bodily expressions, discursive gatherings, sound-based discourse and offerings, food sharing moments, and communal agoras to pay tribute to long-standing emancipated nations that are highly overlooked today. The Bwa Kayiman series aims to put forth celebrations as well as modes of remembrance and reparation for Haiti and its seminal revolution without disregarding its current political and economic crisis.

1 René Depestre, En état de poésie (Petite sirène) (Paris: Les éditeurs français réunis, 2012), digital edition, 28.  English translation: ‘My joy is to know that you are me and that I am strongly you. You know that your coldness dries up my bones and that my heat invigorates your veins. My fear makes your eyes tremble and your hunger makes my mouth turn pale. Without your strength to be a free fire my conscience would be lonelier than the dead earth of a desert.’