Obá Oriaté Miguel “Willie” Ramos, Ilarí Obá
The recent catastrophe in Haiti has shaken the world in more than one way. On January 12th, Haiti was struck by an earthquake that measured 7.0 in the Richter scale, a rare occurrence for an island that has already been heavily debilitated by numerous natural, social and political ordeals. To add insult to injury, as if the island’s current suffering was not enough, Pat Robertson, the famous—or should I say infamous—televangelist, struck the island with an inflammatory and unfounded accusation that would probably measure much higher on the Richter scale. In his preposterous version of Haitian history, Robertson equated the Bois Caiman Vodou ceremony that gave birth to the Haitian Revolution with a demonic pact. Once again, Mr. Robertson uses his all too common viperous venom to lash out at the African Diaspora, Haiti, Vodou, and by extension all religions of African descent.
Robertson’s reprehensible and offensive allegations are an affront the very nature of God. No matter what religion one chooses to follow, it is unfathomable that a being that is nurturing, loving and by all means merciful, would be so callous as to be the cause so much death and suffering. If this is the God that Robertson worships, then we have to question his zealous religiosity, if it may be called religiosity at all! Possibly, Mr. Robertson has gotten so wrapped up campaigning against the devil that he may have lost touch with the reality of his own religion and the Supreme Being that he alleges to represent. The televangelist’s comments are in stark contradiction to the tenets of his religion. His recent exhibition of hatred and bigotry is disgraceful; a major embarrassment to all Christians, regardless of their denomination.
The Haitian people were not struck down by God any more than any other people that have been struck by natural disasters the world over, time immemorial. Neither was the Haitian Revolution—an uprising of slaves that became incensed under the abusive and “devilish” regime of their captors—the result of a pact with the devil. It was the result of rebellion against a “devil” in the form of an oppressive system that enslaved and dehumanized a people based on the color of their skin. Robertson should instead remember that it was under the guise of the religion that he supposedly represents—in the name of God—that the children of Africa were brought to the New World to toil under the abusive yoke of “God-fairing” Christians who in return offered their captives the opportunity of rewards and redemption in Heaven while abusing their bodies on earth!
As a religious and blood descendant of an Afro-Diasporic people, I take offense with Robertson’s despicable commentaries. Robertson offended Haitian culture, incensed the national pride and heritage of the Haitian people—an unforgivable grievance, particularly at this time—and insulted the ancestors of all Afro-Diasporic peoples wherever they may live. Mr. Robertson owes an apology to Haiti and her ancestors; the brave slaves who shed their blood to give birth to the first free and independent republic in the Americas. Robertson needs to return to his basic history, a subject which he no doubt failed. If for nothing else, Robertson and those that think like him need to be taught that we need to be grateful to those Haitian slaves that planted the seeds of revolution; seeds that bloomed into the numerous independence movements throughout the New World that provided us with the freedoms that we enjoy today.
Sadly, Mr. Robertson has promised to send money and donations to Haiti. I ask, at what expense? If Robertson’s donations are attached to the ignorance, hatred and bigotry that he purports, then maybe the Haitian people may want to reconsider accepting it. Though I understand that the devastation occasioned by the earthquake requires all the help the Haitian people can get, were I Haitian, I would refuse to take a single cent from this man or anyone having anything to do with him! Though I do not believe in the existence of a “devil,” there is no doubt that receiving donations from Robertson would by all means be analogous to a pact with the devil!