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  • Wolfgang Fobo


One of my interests is what people believe, and why they think that exactly what they believe is correct. Be it religion or politics, you always find fanatics, or strong believers of a certain„truth“. I, being curious about all kinds of believes, and having to confess that believing something restricts me to believe something else if I should change my mind, was always curious about the voodoo cult, or voodoo religion. So it was high time to take a closer look.

Origin of voodoo is in West Africa, in particular Togo and Benin. There, people talke openly about voodoo. And practice it. I learned that there is white voodoo and black voodoo. While white voodoo attempts to heal you, do some good to you, with black voodoo you can cast a spell over somebody, exercise witchcraft.

A good introduction into voodoo you will get at the fetish market in Lomé, the capital of Togo.

The fetish market in Lomé, Togo

Here you can purchase all kind of medicine that a feticheur will describe to you - provided that you have asked for consultation of your ills.

Every illness or woe has a medicine, which is prescribed by the feticheur. This is just a very small selection of what is available

All kinds of diseases will be handled, and in particular men will recover their strength when touching the figure below. I can only guess which of the many fetishes that can be purchased serve the same purpose…

What men dream seemingly can get here

Would you eat one of those when prescribed?

Below you see me in the shed of the feticheur, whom you can consult for your illness or even of illnesses of your loved ones that are not present. They offer even consulting via WhatsApp. Togolese rather consult a feticheur for their woes - their service is cheaper than the one of a regular doctor. And if you believe strongly enough - and it seems to me they do - already believing may cure you (plus following the prescription, of course...).

All these nitty gritty things can be purchased. And eaten. Or used as an amulet. Just follow the prescription of the feticheur

The next day, we saw a few voodoo rites, consisting of dances to the beat of drums

Dancing until completely exhausted, and in ecstasy

The locals accompany the feticheur, to the beat of drums. We were wondering about the baby on the back of its mother. It did not cry being shaken around

Very impressive was how the dancers killed a chicken without touching it. They danced towards the chicken, spat at it, pointed at it, repeatedly, and after some 15 minutes the chick was dead. And presented to us.

Killing a chicken without touching it. Just spitting at it and pointing, and after some 15 minutes the chicken was dead

Another location, another „witchcraft“: straw cones like the one in the foto below enter the scene and whirl around, rotating. After a few minutes, the cone stops. Then, the cone is put aside, open for everybody to see what is inside. And what is inside? Nobody ! But a little fetish appears, presented.

This thing, a straw cone, whirls around and rotates, for minutes. Followed by many other such cones

When the cone stops to whirl around, it is turned to the side. Nobody inside (we could take a closer look, apparently really empty). Instead a fetish is presented underneath. Magic voodoo

Voodoo is not only practiced in such rites. Fetishes are something normal in Northern Togo or Benin.

Each home has its fetish at its front. Protecting the home and keeping away bad spirits

We visited a few villages, where every home has a fetish that protects the home from enemies or illnesses. So you have to sacrifice a chicken every now and then to the fetish, to maintain protection.

In my personal view, voodoo is not more or not less evidence based than any other religion. So, when it suits the people, why not voodoo?

Once I was told „When you want to see wildlife, go to East Africa or South Africa. But when you want to see culture, go to West Africa“. My impressions confirm this advice.

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