Linking the Caribbean to the World! Thursday - Jan 18, 2018

A CWN5 Interview with Haitian Historian and Educator, Bayyinah Bello


Haitian historian and educator, Bayyinah Bello on Ayiti, Africa and the importance of history in maintaining a revolutionary consciousness
Bayyinah Bello first traveled to Africa at the age of 12 to join her father in Liberia. She later returned as an adult first to Nigeria where she lived for four years and later to Benin, Togo and other countries in the region. In total she spent 15 years living on the continent. In retrospect, her journey was a circular one in search of Ayiti and it’s indigenous belief system, Vodou.

Here, Bayyinah discusses her experience and research into religions beginning with Islam, Hinduism and later African belief systems including Vodou as practiced in the Kingdom of Dahomey [now Benin]. She is founder of Fondasyon Felicitee, named after the wife of revolutionary hero Jean Jacques Desslaines, Marie Claire Heureuse Felicite Bonheur Dessalines. The foundation is part of Bayyinah’s insistence that “knowing is doing” or to know is to do. In this case, knowing is to know the true history of Ayiti beginning before colonization, before slavery, even before the indigenous Taino people were wiped out by the occupying forces of Europe. Knowing is also to know the present, after the 2010 earthquake, a time in which invasion comes from new colonizers in the form of NGOs and missionaries. For Bayyinah, Ayiti’s future is bound with the past, a past born in Africa and lived through African belief systems and not those used to colonize our minds.

Sokari Eine is a Nigerian feminist writer, activist and educator. In 2013 she was a New Media Fellow for the International Reporting Project through which she reported on health issues in Haiti. She is co-editor of the Queer African Reader with Hakima Abbas, 2013; African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions with Firoze Manji, 2011; SMS Uprising: Mobile Phone Activism in Africa, 2010 and Blood and Oil Testimonies of Violence from Women of the Niger Delta, 2000. Sokari lives between Haiti and the US.