In 1503, only eleven years after Christopher Columbus discovered Haiti, slaves were brought to the country from Africa and used like animals to work on sugar cane plantations.
SCU Cock ZOOM OUT TO Dancers in opening ceremony
GV Priestese surrounded by dancing acolites PAN OVER TO Drummer (2 shots)
CU Man playing instrument
CU ZOOM OUT FROM Man dancing with machete
CU Woman dancer kissing deves and joins other dancers and waves doves in air (2 shots)
SV Dance continuous ZOOM INTO Priestess singing
SCU Drummeer in near tance
SV Priestess giving drink to man ZOOM INTO Man eating glass in trance state and man collapses and is carried off (2 shots)
CU Dancer takes burning brand from fire AND CU Girl in trance eating burning firebrand (2 shots)
CU Woman dancing on flaming bonfire
CU ZOOM OUT FROM Dancer collapsing and being carried off PAN DOWN TO fire
Initials CL/2310 CL/2330
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Background: In 1503, only eleven years after Christopher Columbus discovered Haiti, slaves were brought to the country from Africa and used like animals to work on sugar cane plantations.
About the only thing these oppressed people could call their own was their religion - the ancient practice of voodoo, which evolved out of the cultural elements of different West African tribes. It also has roots in the shamanist religions of India and Egypt, which are based on a profound understanding of the laws of nature.
Voodoo established itself in the Americas through the determination of the slaves to retain their own mystical practices and Haiti is without doubt the spiritual centre for the religion. Over 90 per cent of the population of five million are devotees. Nearly everyone, from the peasants in the mountains to the President of the Republic, are "Hounsi" -- voodoo believers.
Roman Catholicism is the official religion in Haiti, but voodoo doesn't compete with it - it merely absorbed it. Voodoo deities have their Christian counterparts among the saints but the same degree of understanding is certainly no present in the opposite direction.
For centuries Catholic missionaries have demanded that voodoo should be outlawed - branding it as superstition and black magic and thus making it one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented religions in the world.
But voodoo continues to flourish in Haiti and is an integral part of the mental, political and moral structure of the community, where forces of a non-material natural have great importance.
Because of persecution and misunderstanding voodoo has long been practised in secret. But recently it has started to open its doors, so that strangers can see some aspects of its ritual and applications. Visnews cameraman Antonio Halik is one of the first newsmen to be allowed to film a genuine voodoo ceremony at the Peristle temple in Haiti. His film has both high interest and rarity value.