West indian culture

Culture in a bowl: the joumou soup from Haiti classified as protected by Unesco | Global development

The Joumou soup from Haiti, a symbol of hope and dignity for the first republic in the world ruled by blacks, has obtained UNESCO protection status.

The soup, made from turban squash and originally prepared by enslaved Africans for their owners in Haiti, was added Thursday to Unesco’s prestigious list of intangible cultural heritage. This is Haiti’s first entry on the list, and the country’s ambassador to Unesco, Dominique Dupuy, cried during the announcement. The decision is expected to be officially approved by Unesco’s general assembly next year.

Since Haiti’s independence in 1804, Joumou soup has become the national symbol of liberation from slavery and is traditionally consumed on January 1, the Caribbean country’s independence day.

“It is a great joy and pride to see this project come to fruition today, just two weeks before Haiti’s Independence Day. It is an important gesture of recognition for the whole of Haitian culture and identity, which will further strengthen its influence throughout the world, ”declared Audrey Azoulay, Director General of Unesco.

Shopping on New Years Eve for squash to make Joumou soup for Independence Day, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photograph: Dieu Nalio Chery / AP

The candidacy of the Joumou soup was examined by Unesco for reasons of compassion, after a difficult year for the country. President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July and a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the country in August.

The Haitian delegation to Unesco declared that the inscription was “not only a fabulous sign of hope and encouragement, but also a unifying appeal, for a Haitian people currently facing an exceptionally difficult moment in its rich history. “.

A number of countries expressed solidarity with Haiti before the entry was adopted. “We cannot abandon Haiti at a time like this,” said the representative of Brazil in a moving appeal. “You cannot leave Haiti to its fate.”

But a representative from Switzerland said Joumou soup was listed not only for compassionate reasons, but also because of its quality.

Members of the Haitian delegation declared: “Symbol of the rejection of a system of oppression and discrimination, of the fight against colonization and all forms of racism, the soup also strengthens cultural identity, encourages coexistence and social cohesion and plays an essential unifying role. . This heritage generates a strong sense of belonging to the Haitian nation, connects new generations to their roots and has become an expression of their dignity as a people.

The main ingredients of the spicy soup are joumou, or turban squash, meat, potatoes and other vegetables, including malanga (taro root), yams, turnips and hot peppers.

The Unesco Cultural Heritage List was established in 2008 to protect national traditions.

In 2020, 35 entries were added to the list, including sauna culture in Finland, sourdough making in Malta, budima dance in Zambia and a grass mowing competition in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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