Jamaica Kincaid defends Haitian Vodou

Jamaica Kincaid, in Fort Wayne, Indiana for her Omnibus Lecture at the University of Indiana-Purdue, spoke to students about Haitian Vodou and the autobiographical nature of all her work. Here are some excerpts from an article in the student newspaper, with a link to the full text below:

Jamaica Kincaid knew she was going to annoy any Christians in the room, but she was willing to risk it. While speaking to the media Thursday, the author and professor started reflecting on a trip to Haiti two years ago and wondered why it took an earthquake for the United States to pay attention to the impoverished nation.

An IPFW employee responded by saying there were a number of American church groups and mission organizations that had been in the country for years trying to help. “I think, on the whole, church groups should be banned from these places,” said Kincaid, a native of Antigua. Many Haitians follow Voodoo as their religion. Christian groups don’t like it and are only in the country to try to spread Christianity, she said. “Their main reason for going there is to eradicate this belief,” Kincaid said.

Kincaid said she was worried her sentiments would offend people. She said she hadn’t planned to talk about Haiti at all but couldn’t help herself.

. . .

Kincaid said all her work is inspired by her experiences and herself. She specifically focused on looking at her colonized island and the colonizers, England. “All of my work is autobiographical,” Kincaid said. “My only subject is myself.”

Kincaid discussed her novel, “My Brother,” where she tells the story of her younger brother being born when she was 13 years old and his arrival straining the family’s already stretched finances. She was later sent to the United States to be a nanny and was required to send her earnings home to support her family.

One student asked Kincaid how she balances writing with the job of getting published and making appearances. She advised the students they need to write for themselves, not an audience or money.

For the full article go to http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20100212/LOCAL04/302129962/1002/LOCAL#

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