The Polish Tribe on Haiti, Poland Haiti Connection

In 1804, when Haiti boldly announced their independence 5,200 legions from Poland came to the country at the behest of French ruler Napoleon, in an attempt to suppress this bid for independence. The righteous zeal of the liberating Haitians was not to be controlled, and many Poles, who reportedly fought only half-heartedly against a country expressing the same dream of freedom as their own mother country, perished in the revolution, though the greater number of their perished 4000 succumbed to yellow fever.


Faced with the high mortality of their countrymen as they fought for a side they didn't agree with, the survivors left Napoleon and joined the Haitian struggle. They became well-loved and were included in the 1805 constitution. Articles 12 and 13 submit that the only white men allowed to hold land in Haiti besides Germans, who already had a small settling, were the Poles.

As nature and time would have it the Poles soon assimilated into Haitian culture and life, but not without first imprinting their own mark on the country and its people. The Polish icon, Matka Boska Częstochowska, highly valued by the community, was adopted and became the vodou Erzulie Dantor, a warrior spirit who protects women and children. The similarities between the two are as detailed as the scars on the right side of their faces.

The 'blue-eyed Haitians' of Cazale, where most of the Poles settled, are a further testament to the Polish permeation into Haitian society. Another wonderful contribution to boast is the link to Jerzy Grotowski, whose 1970 trip to Haiti and exposure to vodou inspired him to experiment with spirituality in his theatre work.

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