Searching for her roots and real culture, Régine Romain, an American of Haitian heritage, went to Benin, a West African country, and visited several Vodou temples. Equipped with a film, she explained this very emotional, eventful journey at Brooklyn Library’s Info Commons Lab.
The young sociologist and anthropologist’s seven-minute short film is entitled “Brooklyn to Benin, a Vodou Pilgrimage.” It introduces the audience to a brief history of the Vodou culture in Benin, with an emphasis on the worship rituals. From Savalou to Ouidah, and through Cotonou and Abomey, Régine Romain’s camera captured the diversity that characterizes the practice of Vodou in Benin – which she easily compares to that in her country of origin, Haiti. To her amazement, time and distance have barely diluted the basic principles – as well as the different ways to practice Vodou – both in Haiti and Benin. For her, everything seems to remain intact on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
The audience at this “Brooklyn to Benin, a Vodou Pilgrimage” presentation was mostly composed of African Americans and Haitian Americans. The emotion was palpable in their faces after the film screening, followed by the author’s comments. Some audience members even asked for a second screening.
Denis Assongba, president of the association of Benin people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, joined Romain in her remarks. In his declaration, Assongba addressed the potential of Vodou, be it on the cultural or spiritual level, and highlighted its benefits. And to match words with action, he underlined his remarks with some Vodou dance steps to the sound of “gon,” a traditional instrument often used in Vodou convents to invoke the gods. A fitting strategy to join Romain in this campaign to promote Benin as a destination through the Vodou culture.
Watch Régine Romain’s “Brooklyn to Benin, a Vodou Pilgrimage” below: