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Wyckoff Museum Pays Tribute to Haitian Spirituality with Annual Festival

The festival is part of a year-long series of events titled "Protest Garden: Historical Resistance and Radical Cultivation in Brooklyn." 
The Artists of Lakou Soukri – Credit_ Claire J. Saintil
Photo credit: Claire J. Saintil/ Wyckoff House

More than 200 visitors gathered in East Flatbush on Saturday to celebrate the culture and spirituality of Haiti, and pay tribute to one of the country's most sacred sites, Lakou Soukri Danache, as part of Wyckoff House Museum's annual Festival Minokan.

Rooted in the Kikongo religious traditions of West Africa, artists celebrated the element of water with sacred art, sand drawings, paintings, quilts and sculptures. Vodou Priestess Sirene Dantor led an ensemble of 24 dancers, drummers and singers dressed in vibrantly colored costumes in a tribute to Haitian spiritual practices.

Photo credit: Claire J. Saintil / Wyckoff House

Song, dance and drumming workshops explored rhythms integral to Vodou religious ritual. Drummers Markus Schwartz and Abou Barka explained the history of the Lakou Soukri for visitors new to the traditions, while dancer Nadia Diudonne taught the audience basic dance moves of the Yati Kongo.

The celebration concluded with a closing ceremony during which visitors gathered around a colorfully crafted altar, overflowing with fruits, wines, Haitian drinks and vegetables grown at the museum's farm. 

Festival Minokan is part of Wyckoff Museum's year-long series of events titled "Protest Garden: Historical Resistance and Radical Cultivation in Brooklyn." 

Sirene Dantor is among five local artists to utilize the museum's farm, land and its history as a site of colonialism to explore their own experience of activism and resistance. 

"The festival connects sacred traditions of the Haitian people's roots in Africa and native Arawak and Taino cultures, with the country's early history of resistance and rebellion against its French colonizers, leading to Independence in 1804," said Dantor. "The success of Haiti's rebellion can be partially credited to people's knowledge of Vodou."

Dancing led by Nadia Dieudonne. Photo credit: Claire J. Saintil/ Wyckoff House

Upcoming Protest Garden programs include free dance workshops with Kriyol Dance! Collective on August 31 and September 21; the Breukelen Country Fair on September 28, and a sculptural art installation by Jennifer M. Harley in November. For a complete schedule of events, go here.