|Naturally implied in this frame of
mind is the belief that all "Pitit Ginen" (meaning "children of
those who came from the Garden of Ancestors"), are children of God. Guinea, Ginen,
or Garden of Ancestors are the literal translations for the word AFRICA. "L
Afrik-Ginen" is often mentioned in Haiti in reference to that part of the old
continent located below the Sahara. "Pitit" means "child of" or
"children of", which makes all men and women of African origin
"Brothers" and "Sisters", and so, by extrapolation, all the people of
|The words "brothers" and
"sisters", as they are routinely utilized in Haiti, in the United States and
among the other Black people of the World, then, are yet other elements of the African
cultural characteristics mentioned above. Extending beyond one’s parents’ simple
male and female children, they automatically include cousins, other relatives, all those
linked by blood ties as well as those who do not share any blood ties at all. What really
matters is that they are all children of God, Pitit Ginen, human beings.
|An outstanding feature in this form
of thought is the ubiquitous sense of family, "pitit vant", which
translates literally as "those who came from the same belly" in case they have
the same mother, or "san mwen" meaning "those (who shares) my
blood", in case they have the same father. It is a matter of common knowledge that
when Africans speak of their families as "pitit vant" or "san
mwen", they are not, once again, necessarily referring to their nuclear families,
i.e. spouses and children, but rather to the extended immediate families which comprise a
large number of blood relatives able to trace their origins to a common ancestor.
|Toward those special members,
generally regrouped in a specific geographical location called "Lakou" in
Haiti and "Bayou" in New Orleans – Bayou meaning (our home in the) swamp area -,
one feels linked by a sense of interdependence, moral obligation, mutual helpfulness and
concern for the well-being of each and every member of that society, regardless of age,
sex or even religion. All the members of a Lakou or Bayou are brought up to think
of themselves, always and primarily, in relation to the group, to seek to bring honor and
respect upon it, and to work towards maintaining the place’s members’ cohesion.
This of course defines a certain sense of Ethics which may be called, by lack of a better
term, Ethics of Responsibility.
|"Vwazinaj se fanmi",
is a common saying in the Creole language of Haiti, reminding everyone imperatively that
neighbors are (also) members of the family and "manje kwit pa gen mèt",
meaning that once cooked, all food should be shared amongst all those present.
"T.M.F.P.V or Tout Moun Fèt Pou Viv": such is simply stated Haitian
people’s philosophy of life. By this is meant that Life (a gift of God) is a gift
made by God to all human beings. Everyone has the innate right to existence and no one,
under any pretext, has the right to remove it from him or from her. Thus, the sanctity of
the human life is consecrated.
|For, after all, human beings must
have their Lives before any other rights become meaningful. One may speak about the right
to nourishment, to free speech, to one’s opinion, to practice the religion of
one’s choice, to political participation, and so on. But, all these rights are pure
demagogy when the right to exist doesn’t precede. Wherever and however it occurs, the
destruction of human life is totally unacceptable and morally reprehensible