Let’s Talk About the Spirits of Death

Let’s talk about death. How much energy—how many dollars—do we invest during the course of our lives in putting off the inevitable? After all, what can be more frightening for a human than death, the precipice of the unknowable? What loss can be more heartbreaking and traumatic than the passing of a loved one? And yet, in Afro-Haitian tradition, the spirits of death transmogrify into high (and erotic) comedy.

The Gede, an extended family of spiritual forces who manifest by way of human mediums when the beat is right, seem to have come to Haiti with the Gédévi, an indigenous people of Abomey (in today’s Benin). When the Fon settled the area and established the Kingdom of Dahomey in the seventeenth century, they afforded the Gédévi recognition as curators of the land and those buried in it. The slave trade carried members of the clan to Haiti, where they enriched the emergent Vodou spiritual confederation with chthonic spice.

In Haitian Vodou, however, the Gede, in their rambunctious temple visits, teach that death, by necessity, carries the seed of its apparent opposite: life. (Death has no existence without life, right?) The Gedes’ bold and earthy dance, banda, dramatizes the release of the seed into the earth, where it will germinate, blossom, and keep the wheel of birth-death-rebirth rolling. And just as death has no existence without life, so birth has no possibility without—well, sex. The Gedes’ in-you-face eroticism surprises, delights, thrills, and uplifts.


Each one of us has a Gede in her/his soul. Makandal invites you to explore your inner Gede and meet others. You’ll enjoy live music, refreshments, vendors.

Banbòch Gede (Gede Bash)
Friday, November 6, 8 pm
Tonèl Restaurant, Bar & Lounge
1236 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn (DIRECTIONS)
$20 normal people
$15 costumed ghouls, witches, and Gedes

Gede image by Kesler Pierre

About makandal1758

Makandal channels multiple media to educate and enlighten the public about Haiti, the Haitian diaspora, and all those touched by the rich legacy of Haiti. The company's activities include research, archiving, theatrical productions, and the promotion of artists.
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1 Response to Let’s Talk About the Spirits of Death

  1. Pingback: Feed the Dead in November | La Troupe Makandal

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