Max Beauvoir, biochemist, died at 79

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Max Gesner Beauvoir, born August 25, 1936 and died September 12, 2015, he was a Haitian biochemist and houngan.

Max Beauvoir held one of the highest titles of Voudou priesthood known as “Supreme Servitur”, or supreme servant .

This title is given to Houngans and Mambos ; Voudou Priest and Priestesses, who have a great and very deep knowledge of the religion, also because of elder status within the religion.

As Supreme Servitur, Beauvoir was seen as high authority within Voudou.

Beauvoir graduated in 1958 from City College of New York with a degree in chemistry.

He continued his studies at the Sorbonne from 1959 to 1962, when he graduated with a degree in biochemistry.

In 1965, at Cornell Medical Center, Beauvoir supervised a team in synthesizing metabolic steroids.

This led him to a job at an engineering company in northern New Jersey, and later to a period as engineer at Digital Equipment Company in Massachusetts.

His interest in steroids led him to experiment with hydrocortisone synthesized from plants; however, the death of his father led him to move back to Haiti in January 1973 and become a voodoo priest.

In 1974, he founded Le Péristyle de Mariani, a Hounfour in his home (which also served as a village clinic) in the village of Mariani.

Beauvoir had a troubled relationship with the ruling Duvalier family.

While he urged that the do more to meet the medical needs of the poor, his status as a houngan kept him from being subjected to much of the wanton violence exacted by the Tonton Macoutes against critics.

During this period, he founded the Group for Studies and Research on the African Tradition (French: Groupe d’Etudes et de Recherches Traditionnelles, GERT) with a group of scholars, and later founded the Bòde Nasyonal in 1986 to counter the effects of the post-Duvalier dechoukaj violence which had targeted both Vodou practitioners and the Tonton Macoutes paramilitary, both of which had been used by the Duvalier regime to oppress the Haitian people.

In 1996, Beauvoir founded The Temple of Yehwe, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization for the promotion of education concerning Afro-American religion.

In 1997, he became involved with the creation of the KOSANBA group at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In 2005, Beauvoir launched the Federasyon Nasyonal Vodou Ayisyen, which he later renamed in 2008 as Konfederasyon Nasyonal Vodou Ayisyen; he serves as “chef Supreme” or “Ati Nasyonal” of the organization, which is an attempt to organize the defense of Vodou in the country against defamation.

Max Beauvoir died at 79 on September 12, 2015.

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