Joumou soup is “so much more than just a dish,” said Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO. “It tells the story of the heroes and heroines of Haitian independence, their struggle for human rights and their hard-won freedom.”
The dish, initially barbecued by slaves for their landlords, has come to symbolise hope and dignity in the disturbed Caribbean country.
The scrumptious soup is made from joumou, or turban squash, meat, potatoes and other vegetables, including malanga (taro root), yams, turnips and hot chilli peppers.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SOUP
The pumpkin-based soup became a reminder of things long forbidden to slaves under French hegemony until Haiti attained independence on Jan.1, 1804, as the first country organized by revolutionary Black slaves.
They commemorated their independence by finally devouring the soup and Haitians traditionally relish it on New Year’s Day to celebrate the anniversary of freedom from slavery.
Haiti is a Caribbean country that had braced all odds and still surviving the crisis. UNESCO declaration came as a ray of hope for the Haitians to give them strength to brace odds with utmost grit and determination. The country witnessed the assassination, kidnappings for ransom and currently seeing a plunging economy. The soup is the emblem of freedom from the enslavement of discrimination and subjugation from the foreigners. The soup also reinforces cultural identity, motivates concurrency and social cohesion and plays a vital unifying role. This heritage develops a powerful sense of belonging to the Haitian nation, binds new generations with their roots and has become a manifestation of their prominence as a people.