Boukman was a Hougan, or Voodoo priest, whose death was considered a catalyst to the slave uprising that marked the beginning of the Haitian Revolution. Boukman was born in and later sold by his British to a French plantation owner, who put him as commander(slave driver) and later a coach driver. His name came from his English nickname “Book Man” which he earned due to his ability to read. Boukman presided in the role of Hougan on August 14, 1791 with an African-born Voodoo priestess and conducted a ceremony at the Bois Caiman. Boukman began his famous ceremony by asking for God’s help in the following words:
“The God who made the sun that shines upon us, who causes the sea to rise, the thunder to roar. do you hear me. All of you. Hidden in the clouds, God witnesses the atrocities the whites commit against us. The god of the whites sanctions their crimes and doesn’t care about us. But God, who is so good, orders us to avenge ourselves. He will direct our arms and stands beside us. Destroy the image of the white men’s god who is thirsty for our blood and tears. Listen to the voice of freedom rising in our heart.”
And then, the African-born Voodoo priestess possessed by Erzulie Dantor sacrificed a pig which symbolizes the wild, free and untamable spiritual power of the forest and the ancestors. The participants soaked their fingers in the blood of the pig and made an oath to die, rather than serve the whites. This amazing ceremony combined with Bookman’s large size warrior-like appearance and fearsome temper, made him an effective leader and helped spark the Haitian Revolution. Soon after the uprising began, French authorities captured Bookman and executed him by beheading. The French then publicly displayed his head in an attempt to dispel the aura of invincibility that Boookman had cultivated. This attempt failed. Since then, Haitians have honored Bookman by admitting him into the pantheon of Loa(Voodoo Spirits). Bookman his well revered in all Haiti and his ceremony is worldwide known as the reason of Haiti’s Independence. His name will never be forgotten in Haitian’s heart.