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Masters of the Dew By Jacques Roumain

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After working for 15 years in Cuban cane plantations, Manuel returned to Haiti only to discover that the people his part of, has been suffering from extreme poverty because the land was no longer as productive as before he left. The streams that watered the farms were drying up and the harvests were not enough to feed the families. There was no concerted effort on the villagers to find a solution because of a long standing blood feud that divided them into factions. The peasants have abandoned the old tradition known as coumbite, a cooperative group of peasants who worked as one in order to find solutions to a common problem in the village. These two factors, the drought and the feud, brought about strings of miseries to the people. Starvation and famine can no longer be averted. Some had left the village and those who stayed deplored for the intervention of Divine Providence.Delira, Manuel’s mother feared that they will all die from famine. Her prayers reflect the religious conviction of the peasants and how such faith was firmly stitched into their traditional practices as when they planted seeds in the field. This is shown in the following lines: At daybreak, watched by the red and vigilant eye of the sun, before she sowed the corn, she called on the Lord Jesus Christ, turning to the east, called on the Angels of Guinea, turning to the south, called on the Spirits of the Dead, turning to the South, and she called on the Saints, turning to the north. she told them all, throwing the seeds in the four sacred directions: Jesus Christ, the Angels, the Dead, the Saints, here is the corn I give you, give me in return the courage to work and the satisfaction of reaping (Masters of the Dew, p. 54)…. them all, throwing the seeds in the four sacred directions: Jesus Christ, the Angels, the Dead, the Saints, here is the corn I give you, give me in return the courage to work and the satisfaction of reaping (Masters of the Dew, p. 54). Manuel knew he must do something to save the village from starvation. He endlessly searched for water sources to supply the parched field with water. The black people must realistically and positively act to resolve problems and redeem their race. Prayers and faith cannot save them. According to him, even in the heavens, the black angels do the hard work of sweeping the rain and cleaning the sun after the storm while the white angels are singing or blowing trumpets like the pictures we see in church (Masters of the Dew, p. 36). After a long search, Manuel found a rich reservoir of water in a distant valley. The water can be channeled through pipelines to irrigate the fields but the task was so gigantic for one man. It could not be done alone. Manuel needed to revived the spirit of the traditional coumbite to cooperatively worked together and construct pipelines that would bring the water down to their village. He knew that this would be impossible without first uniting the factions that divided them. There was an urgent need for reconciliation to end the long standing feud. While waiting for this to happen, Manuel kept his find secret except to his beloved Annaise, who was a fine young lady of the opposite side of the feud. He also needed to educate the peasants not to trust their future to the gods. They needed to unite and work hard and master their fate. Manuel reached out to the people with the following lines: Being resigned is no good. it amounts to the same as being discouraged. It breaks your two arms,