Print and New Year’s Revolution (column at Print Media Centr)

 2017's experimental Soup Joumou at the house of Solages

2017's experimental Soup Joumou at the house of Solages

A story has long circulated that Haitian families like mine eat Soup Joumou because our ancestors were supposedly forbidden to eat it during slavery. Once the Avengers of the New World had wrapped up Batay Vètyè and sent Napoleon’s boys back into the sea, it was time to eat! It’s for this reason that people like “Culinary Curator” Nadege Fleurimond call it “freedom soup.

Even if the story is more myth than history, the ritual is meaningful and the soup is delicious. The latter is not just my opinion, but a fact supported by many sources such as the footage found in the documentary embedded below.

Whatever place our soup originally held, we know for certain that print was part of that first New Year’s Revolution. On January 1st in 1804, Haitian leaders under the command of General Jean-Jacques Dessalines assembled in the city of Gonaïves to formally proclaim independence, recognize Dessalines as governor general, and renounce France. Dessalines delivered a speech in Kreyòl (the dominant language among Haitians) and there was a public reading of a proclamation, written in French, that we now call “The Haitian Declaration of Independence.”

With print, the authoritative utterances of Haiti’s founders were given material expression and publicized to the wider world.

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