Haiti applies for Bois Caiman to receive UNESCO heritage status   

Overview:

The Haitian government has applied for Bois Caiman to gain world heritage site status. The Vodou ceremony that officially launched the Haitian Revolution took place at the site, called Bwa Kayiman in Creole.

The Haitian government said recently it has applied for Bois Caiman to be added to the UNESCO Network global register of historical sites, according to Le Nouvelliste. The northern Haiti village is where enslaved people launched the Haitian Revolution in 1791 with a famed Vodou ceremony.

Haiti’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Dominique Dupuy, told the news outlet about the application. He said Bois Caïman has been a national tourist heritage site since 1982. Last September 2023, the government completed several steps – including the demarcation of the site and plans to construct a slavery museum – before submitting the application. 

Haiti noted that the Vodou ceremony is close to August 23, already designated by UNESCO as “International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.” Bois Caïman which transcends its historical aspect to become a true founding myth, embodying in the Haitian collective imagination the fight for freedom, equality and dignity.

UNESCO will announce whether it will consider the site after voting on it either on March 25 or April 23. Acceptance into the network entails several steps. Among them, admission for five years, followed by renewals every five years if satisfactorily maintained. The preservation, protection, restoration, maintenance and development of the place are the responsibility of the country.

Historical place

Bois Caïman, or “Alligator Grove,” was a thicket near present-day Cap-Haitien. 

On the night of August 14, 1791, enslaved people, led by Vodou priest Dutty Boukman, organized a Vodou ceremony, to launch the uprising against the enslavers. A pig was sacrificed and Cecile Fatima, a Vodou priestess, distributed the blood to the assembly. They vowed to fight for freedom or die.

For a week the fighters ravaged the town Aug. 22, the fighters burned down plantations and homes, killing an estimated 1,000 settlers and destroying 161 sugar and 1,200 coffee plantations.

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