Jean Price Mars

 Born on October 15th 1876, Jean Price Mars was a Haitian intellectual, scholar, anthropologist, writer, a Doctor  in medicine, a diplomat who made history by becoming the youngest person to this very day, both in Haiti and in the world to officially have served as a diplomat; Jean Price Mars was in his early 20's when he was appointed as the Ambassador of Haiti to Germany; he then went on to serve as Ambassador of Haiti to the United States, France, the Dominican Republic and the United Nations, and would eventually became Haiti's Minister of Foreign Affairs. His diplomatic career lasted for over 50 years. He successfully ran for a seat in the senate, and became a senator in the 1920's. His political success did not stop the still very young Jean Price Mars to pursue a writing and teaching career; his early writings focused on educational reforms, but the American occupation of Haiti that began on July 28th, 1915, evoked a nationalist sentiment in him and was the reason behind his most acclaimed book: "Ainsi Parla L'oncle" (So Spoke the Uncle) which earned him the titles of Haiti's Foremost Thinker for over a century, and one of the most important black intellectual in the 20th century. In the aforementioned book, Price Mars attacked the elite class of Haiti who are mostly people of mixed racial backgrounds, for their prejudice against the poor masses which makes the majority of Haiti's population. In doing so, he followed the footsteps of the towering intellectual Antenor Firmin; to prove to the rest of the world the capabilities of the human race without the consideration of ethnic background.  His ethno-historical approach demonstrated that the black man was equal in intellectual and political ability to other members of the human species. He also warned the Haitian nation of the catastrophic mistake of abandoning Its African Heritage for a false or pretend French like identity, and bluntly reminded Haitians that they are not "Colored French".

" We have long cherished the ambition to meet the eyes of the Haitian People, the value of Its folklore. Any matter of this book is an attempt to integrate the Haitian popular thought in the traditional ethnographic discipline... But would they say to us, what good is giving ourselves so much troubles in regards to the menus of problems which interest only a very small minority of men living in a very small part of the earth's surface? We may be right. 
We permit ourselves to object however that the exiguity of neither our territory, or the numerical weakness of our people are not sufficient reasons for problems that involved the behavior of a group of men to be indifferent to the rest of humanity. In addition, our presence, on a point of this American archipelago that we <<Humanized>>. The hole that we have pierced in the process of historical events to grasp our place among men, our way to use the law to try to limit us to a soul imbued, the pathological deviation we inflicted on communities in
 bovarism of us other than we are conceived, the tragic uncertainty that such a gait prints in our evolution in the times where the imperialists of all kinds camouflage in their lust outside philanthropic, all of that gives a certain relief to the existence of the Haitian Community, and in front of the approaching night, it is useless to gather the facts of our social life, to fix the manners, the attitudes of our people, to find their origins and to locate them in the general life of the man on this planet. They are witnesses whose testimony cannot be inconsiderable to judge the value of a part of the human species. Such is the meaning of our company in the last analysis and, whatever the welcome is reserved to it, we are not unaware of its insufficiency, by paradox, disconcerting, this people who had, if not the most beautiful, or at least the most endearing, the most moving History of the world. That the transplantation of a human race on a stranger land, in the worst biological conditions, this people(Haitian Elite) displays what seems to be a shame when hearing about Its long pass."

While traveling to the countryside of Haiti as a physician, Jean Price Mars became fascinated by Haitian peasantry and was extremely impressed by their religious practices: Vodou.
After his intensive research on Vodou, the proud Jean Price Mars continued his attack on the elite mulattoes of the country, and now the catholic church, which also viewed and categorized Vodou as a satanic, demonic, animistic cult rather than a legitimate religion with Its own, well deserved rights. Before bringing Vodou to the same level or rank as Catholicism, Jean Price Mars asked this very simple, but pertinent question: "What is a religion?" He was obliged to answer it himself, since everyone either didn't want to do so in fear of their very own response which would only put Vodou in the same pedestal as every other religion on earth, or they simply did not know. According to Price Mars, religion is:

"...Legends, customs, observances which form the oral traditions of a people... They are common among the members of a given social group; they are transmitted from generation to generation, they are imposed on individuals and they awake in them depends on the cases, sentiments of respect, fear, and worship..." 

No intellectual from whatever religion or elite class in Haiti or the rest of the world dared or could argued the contrary. Jean Price Mars went further and elaborate.

"Religion presents itself under a formed national sentiment, concretized in a doctrine that meticulously rules all acts of private and public life, base mostly in the cult of ancestry and whose emperor, is like the descendant of the Grand Common Ancestor, who between his hands detains the supreme direction of the participant himself, giving him a sort of quasi-divinity attributed to his defunct predecessors and that he would enjoy himself, after his death" 

This further elaboration not only put Vodou at the same level of every other major religion on the face of the earth, it actually proved Vodou to be totally similar to Christianity as a whole, not just Catholicism. Both believed in a supreme being, and faithfuls are guaranteed a second life, which is eternal. 
Jean Price Mars ultimately and paradoxically came to embrace slavery as the source of the Haitian identity and culture, the culture and religion formed among the slaves which they used to rebel against the Europeans, became the building block for a Haitian Nation.
click tracking
eXTReMe Tracker