Reason for this Bwa Kay "Il-Ment" blog : Origin of the Bwa Kay Iman lie

                                     (Li li an Kreyòl)       (Version française)
Author : Rodney Salnave
Function : Dougan (Scribe)
Date : August 27, 2016
(Updated: Sept. 10, 2017)


In 1990 and 1991, French colonialists sought to sabotage the 200th anniversary of the Bwa Kayiman ceremony that, in 1791, helped provide the then colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) independence against France.
3 French intellectuals (Léon-François Hoffmann, Gérard Barthélémy and Charlie Najman) were selected and given the mission to  fabricate historical disinformation.

In 1990, Léon-François Hoffmann began by saying that Bwa Kayiman ceremony - where a black pig was sacrificed - never took place. (1) (but shortly after, historian David Geggus pushed back Hoffmann by factually demonstrating that the Bwa Kayiman ceremony was in fact held.) (2)

Gérard Barthélémy, for his part, put forth that the Bwa Kayiman ceremony was surely held, but was the work of Mandingo muslims. (3)

Lastly, in 1990 and 1991, filmmaker Charlie Najman visited Haiti on a mission to spread the falsehood of a muslim Bwa Kayiman ceremony. In the North, he found a houngan (Traditional Leader) called Gustave Augustin who enjoys crossdressing to the point of being nicknamed "Aunt Margo." Gustave Augustin told Najman that Boukman (the master of the Bwa Kayiman ceremony), Cécile Fatiman and other hero participants of the ceremony, were of Vodou. (4) But Najman did not publish what he replied to Gustave Augustin. All we know, is that, after Gustave Augustin met Najman, his discource changed. In 1996 (November), while Papa Sossa Guedehoungue,* a representative of the Vodun religion of Benin, visited Haiti, Gustave Augustin - along with others in his circle - contradicted himself by claiming Boukman was never a Vodou leader but was on the contrary a muslim; and that, in addition, Bwa Kayiman was really "Bwa Kay Iman" which means a house (in Morne Rouge) where Boukman lived as a "Iman" or muslim priest. (5) (He did not know that Boukman never resided in Morne Rouge, but in Limbé (Turpin plantation), then in L'Accul-du-Nord (Clement plantation), up to the insurrection night of August 22, 1791).

Eversince 1996, that Bwa Kay Iman lie has been spreading in Haiti (radio, television, Gossip, etc.), without any scientific evidence to back it.

In 2000, the Bwa Kay Iman fabrication took off when Jean Saint-Vil alias Jafrikayiti was first to publish it in a book. (6) (But that same year, Jafrikayiti, who presented Bwa Kay Iman as a historical fact, ended up confessing, in a forum that he found out about  Bwa Kay iman - not in any history book or archives - but rather in a 1997/1998 Haitian TV debate. And he did not even remember the name of the broadcast. (7) Yet the lack of historical evidence did not stop Jafrikayiti from continuing spreading the Bwa Kay Iman falsehood on several media platforms for several years. (8)

In 2003, an editorial in Haitian newspaper L'Union de Port-au-Prince, put forth that Boukman was an Imam, and that legend maroon leader Macandal was a Mahdi, meaning an islamic warlord. (9) The author paid no mind to the fact that the first Mahdi, Mohammed Ali, was an Egyptian who, in 1820, took power in Sudan, mostly with Black slave soldiers. (10) And :
"maintained a state monopoly on slave trading in Egypt and the pashalik." (11) 
It would take foreign intervention to abolish slavery in Sudan. But, the next Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad ibn as Sayyid Abd Allah, after removing the British, re-established millennium-long muslim enslavement of Black people in his "Mahdiyah" (1884-1898). (12)

In 2006, while in exile in South Africa, ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in a doctoral dissertation, (13) presented the "Bwa Kay Iman" fabrication as historical fact. He didn't bother scientifically demonstrate it. Nor did he - as one would expect in a PhD thesis - source any of his statements regarding Haiti or Haitian history. The former catholic priest turned president, uneasy with the nature of the blood sacrifice that took place in Bwa Kayiman, stated that instead of a pig, a participant called Jean Viksamar [Vixamar] opened his own vein (in a Christ-like fashion) :
"Sanpwèl: Name of a spirit that belongs to the rite of Petwo. He emerged from the ceremony of Bwa kay Iman. According to worshippers: “As in the Bible where Jesus offered himself in sacrifice in place of a lamb, a slaved named Jean Viksamar offered himself in place of a pig, in sacrifice to God in order to free the country from slavery. Hence, the word sanpwèl meaning without hair on the skin.” (14) 
What Jean-Bertrand Aristide hid was that the Vixamar story - far from being circulated by traditional "worshippers" - originated from a 1993 work of fiction. Doctor Aristide disregarded the fact that Deïta, the author plagiarized, labeled her book "La Légende des Loa du Vodou Haïtien" or "The Legend of the Loa of Haitian Vodou" to draw attention to the "legendary" or fictitious nature of that work in which she [the narrator] meets and converses with several dead Haitian heroes, including Boukman. Furthermore, she (Deita) - who later specified  not to be initiated in Vodou (15) - wrote that the Jean Baptiste Vixamar Legrand story came from a Bizango [secret initiatory society] meeting in which a Lwa (Spirit) by the name of Vixamar said (in French) that he sacrificed himself in 1791 at Bois Caiman :
"Ce récit a été fait en français au cours d'une cérémonie de Bissango, le locuteur avait parlé à la 3ème personne. Le récit a été adapté à la 1ère personne." (16) 
Translation :
"This story was told in French during a Bissango ceremony, the speaker had spoken in the 3rd person. The story was adapted in the 1st person."
Apparently, such supernatural speculation met the burden of proof in unchallenged, substandard,  yet pompous, Haitian intelligentsia.

That same year (2006), houngan Max Beauvoir regurgitated the hypothesis of a person self-sacrificing instead of a pig. He followed up by describing how Boukman went about conducting his service : 
"Standing erect while directing the ceremony, Boukman Dutty invokes the Spirits as the people behind him beat on the drums. Through the sounds of these drums, the assembly was summonting the Spirits of the Ancestors, and inviting them to join and add their force to those of the living in these crucial moments of destiny. The asson or ritual gourd that Boukman holds in his hand, along with a bell, symbolizes the power that he exerts over the many forces of the universe..." (17) 
But M. Beauvoir discredited himself both as a scholar and as a traditional practitioner, by not taking into consideration regional spiritual differences. He proved his story to be - not an historical account - but merely a figment of his Westernized imagination, by placing a "asson" (ason, in Haitian creole) in the hand of Boukman, when there isn't and never was such practice in Northern Haiti where the Bwa Kayiman ceremony occured. To make matters worse, not even in Western and Southern Haiti, where the ason tradition exists, would that sacred object have been in use for such a ritual - whether it would have been a person [which is not a known practice] or a pig being sacrificed.

Finally, in a 2009 blog dedicated to then president René Préval, a Haitian blogger nicknamed "Our Voices", posted a message that differed from that of the previous "Bwa Kay Iman" advocators. It not only corrected "Iman" to "Imam", but it also argumented that the August 14, 1791, date of the Bwa Kayiman ceremony (more precisely the Morne Rouge meeting), coincided with the muslim feast of  Aid-el-Adha that fell on the date of 14 Dhou Al-Hijja 1205 of the islamic lunar calendar. (18) According to islamic doctrine that celebration of the Aid-el-Adha follows the month-long fast of Ramadan; and calls for a sheep sacrifice. But the first problem with that assertion was that the muslim feast of Aid-el-Adha is also called 10 Dhou Al-Hijja (to signal the last day of thee Arabic month of Dhou Al-Hijja permitted to make a muslim blood sacrifice). The 14 Dhou Al-Hijja that the islamized blogger stretched to fit the date of August 14, 1791 meeting, was therefore incorrect. The next issue concerns the fact that the pig sacrifice was never held in the August 14th meeting at Morne Rouge, but rather, according to many sources, including Herard-Dumesle who brought forth the "Boukman Prayer", during a second meeting mearby that area, where a pig (prohibited by islam) was sacrificed for the Gods (in plural, prohibited) and by a woman officiant (also prohibited). : 
"Non loin de ce lieu [Morne Rouge] une autre assemblée offrait aux dieux un nouveau sacrifice : là on immola un porc, et une jeune vierge fut la Pythie qui consultât les entrailles palpitantes de la victime..." (19)  
Translation :
"Not far from this place [Morne Rouge] another assembly offered the gods a new sacrifice : there they sacrificed a pig, and a young virgin was the Pythia who consulted the palpitating entrails of the victim..."
Herard-Dumesle. the 1824 author, also specified that the blood sacrifice was engaged at the eve of the general insurrection. : 
"Le lendemain il était prés de minuit (du 22 au 23 août), lorsque le tocsin donna le signal des désastres. L'insurrection éclata avec une telle fureur, qu'elle offrit le spectacle le plus désolant." (20) 
Translation :
"The next day it was near midnight (August 22-23), when the tocsin signaled the disaster. The insurrection broke out with such fury that it offered the most desolate spectacle."
And since that insurrection began on the evening of August 22th, it means that the actual blood sacrifice took place, not on the 14th but rather on the 21th of August 1791 ; which was 11 days past the August 10th deadline for the suggested muslim feast. The last inconsistency comes from, not only the pig sacrifice that is strongly prohibited by the muslim doctrine, but also due to the fact that the coran also prohibits blood consumption of all kind (that the Bwa Kayiman participants are known to have practiced)  : 
"He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that whcih has been dedicated to other than Allah." (21) 
- may the animal be permited (halal) or not. Hence the reason all kills, to be suitable for muslim consumption, must be completely drained of their blood, And ironically, the August 14, 1791 meeting at Morne Rouge was held, not because of islam, but due to the Catholic feast of Notre Dame de l'Assomption (the Patron Saint of the colony and that of the Cape Français, the Capital City - current Cape Haitian, few miles from Morne Rouge) that fell on Monday August 15th, but celebrated the closest Sunday that was the 14th. The 15th of August also marked the 121th anniversary of the founding of Le Cap. The reason an estimate 200 plantation commanders, coachmen and other privileged "House Negroes" were allowed, on Sunday 14, to openly gather at Morne Rouge. And those resourceful, well informed and well connected elites, of which Boukman, being a coachman belonged, conspired, risked their privileged status, to lead the masses to the only successful slave revolution in known history.

Through this blog, we aim at exposing the "Bay Kay Iman" lie with scientific proofs. The title Bwa Kay "Il-Ment" came from the fact that "Il ment" means "He's lying" in French.

* Based on "Atelier sur les plantes médicinales : valorisation, utilisation, législation et institutionalisation", Jacmel, 2000 ; a workshop report from ZANTRAY (Zanfan Tradisyon Ayisyen), which was generously provided by Mr. Serge Jovin, at the time, ZANTRAY National President.

(1) Léon-François Hoffmann. "Histoire, mythe et idéologie: La Cérémonie du Bois Caïman." in: Études Créoles: Culture, langue, société, Vol 13. No1, 1990. pp.9-34. ; "Un mythe national: la cérémonie du Bois Caïman" in: Gérard Barthélémy & Christian A. Girault. La République haïtienne: état des lieux et perspectives. Paris, 1993. pp.434-448.
(2) David Geggus. "La cérémonie du Bois Caïman" in: Chemins Critiques, Vol. 2. No3, Mai, 1992. pp. 59-78.  
(3) Gérard Barthélémy. "Propos sur le Caïman: Incertitudes et hypothèses nouvelles" in: Chemins Critiques, Vol. 2. No3, Mai, 1992. pp.33-58.
(4) Charlie Najman. Haïti, Dieu Seul Me Voit. Balland, 1995. pp.186-187.
(5) André Gustave. "Haïti/Guerre de l’Indépendance: Bois-Caïman, On s’en souvient". Submitted by Daniel Daréus, August 20, 2012 . URL: ; Retrieved on December 16, 2015.
(6) Jafrikayiti. Viv Bondye Aba Relijyon. Otawa, 2000. pp.44-46
(7) "Bwa Kay Iman (sa gen 209 rekòt kafe)". Foròm 6 Septanm 2000. URL: ; Retrieved on July 13, 2016.
(8) Jean Saint-Vil. "Roots of “Black Lives Matter” in Bwa Kay Iman, Haiti (14-15 August 1791)". Global Research, August 16, 2016. URL: ; Retrieved on August 26, 2016.
(9) “Toussaint de tous les Saints”, Journal l'Union, Port-au-Prince 24 mars 2003. in: Charles Dupuis. Le Coin de l’histoire. Tome 4. Montreal, 2010. pp.37-38.
(10) Ignatius Pallme. Travels in Kordofan: Embracing a Description of that Province of Egypt, and of some of the bordering countries. London, 1844. pp.199-200.  
(11) Helen Chapin Metz (ed). Sudan: A country Study. 4th ed. Washington, 1992. p.17.
(12) Ibid. p.19.
(13) Jean-Bertrand Aristide. UMOYA WAMAGAMA (THE SPIRIT OF THE WORDS). University of South Africa, November 2006. p.304. ; URL:  
(14) Ibid.
(15) "Kiskeya, l'île mystérieuse - Déita". Canal Bleu (chaine 38), November 15, 2011. (19:56-20:56). URL: ;
(16) Deita (Mercédes Foucard Guignard). La Légende des Loa du Vodou Haïtien. Port-au-Prince, 1993. p.349.
(17) “Max Beauvoir. "Slavery, Boukman, and Independence" in: Revolutionary Freedom: A History of Survival, Strength and Imagination in Haiti. Coconut Creek, 2006. pp.201-204.
(18) Our Voices. "Haïti: Bois Chez l'Imam = "Bwa Kay Imam" En Créole. Posted June 9, 2009. URL: ; Retrieved on April 6, 2015.
(19) Hérard Dumesle. Voyage dans le Nord d'Hayti ou révélations des lieux et des monumens historiques. Cayes, 1824. p.90.
(20) Ibid.
(21) Coran 16:115.

How to cite this article:
Rodney Salnave. "Reason for this Bwa Kay "Il-Ment" blog : Origin of the Bwa Kay Iman lie". Aug. 27, 2016. Updated Sept. 19, 2017. [online] URL: ; Retrieved on [enter date]

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