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François Makandal, an African brought to Haiti from Africa, is the first formerly enslaved African to have openly criticized and launched an assault of great proportion on the institution of slavery. Although rarely credited for his efforts and his vision, this Hougan or Haitian Vodou priest single-handedly laid the foundation not only for the Haitian Revolution, but also for the eventual abolition of slavery. To this day, charms, amulets, and poisons are called “makandal.” To his credit also, a subgroup of Vodou practitioners is named after him. This entry looks at his life and legacy.

The Slave Years

Makandal is generally believed to have been born in the Guinea coast of Africa, which in the 18th century referred to the entire western part of the continent. His ...

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