Togo’s capital city of Lomé is the birthplace of the largest Voodoo market in the world – a kind of super supply store for fetishes, charms and anything else one might need for a ritual. It is known as the Akodessewa Fetish Market. Practitioners from all over the African continent travel here in search of charms and fetishes. A report by Swati, for the Africa Special Issue. A Different Truths exclusive.
Life is like a little book written
With a whole lot of surprise.
Spell a word that doesn’t fit in
And that’s a spell in disguise.
― Ana Claudia Antunes
Spell, charms, fetishes and magic are a part of growing up; Fairy Tales and we often believe that they belong there – in our own sweet Disney World with beautiful characters, lovely music and vibrant colors. We can travel places, morph into something huge or tiny, change our appearances, disappear or appear by just snapping our fingers or drinking a potion. This is what I call pure fantasy. Or is it?
Well, you will be surprised to know that this is not exactly ‘fantasy or fiction’. Magic is not limited to our Disney World but is thriving well in the heart of West Africa. Ever heard of the famous Voodoo market of Lomé, Togo? I know some of you just rolled your eyes saying that ‘well I never even heard of Togo.’
For such geographically challenged friends, Togo – officially the Togolese Republic is a sovereign state in West Africa. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa with its capital as Lomé.
Though many people think of Haiti as Voodoo’s biggest stronghold, according to anthropologists, Voodoo has a long tradition in Togo and is the official religion of the neighboring Benin. It is still the largest religion in the area. From the 16th century to the 18th century, the coastal region was a major trading center for Europeans to search for slaves, earning Togo and the surrounding region the name, ‘The Slave Coast’.
Togo’s capital city of Lomé is the birthplace of the largest Voodoo market in the world – a kind of super supply store for fetishes, charms and anything else one might need for a ritual. It is known as the Akodessewa Fetish Market. Practitioners from all over the African continent travel here in search of charms and fetishes.
In the practice of Voodoo every single creature is potent and divine, whether alive or dead, and in this market you may find them all – monkeys, alligators, goats, leopards, gazelles, and many, many more – in various stages of decay and stacked up in macabre piles for blocks.
Did I hear one of you muttering in disgust? Well, we often fail to acknowledge the fact that culture, society, morals and beliefs vary from place to place. They cannot be categorised as good or bad, but as ‘different’.
Many believers view the Marche des Feticheurs as a kind of hospital or pharmacy – it is the place you go when you either cannot afford traditional treatment or traditional treatment has failed you. Here you can find talismans and charms good for treating everything from the flu or infertility to removing the blackest of curses.
Even though voodoo is an ancient practice, the business goes on as usual in this market. When you meet a local voodoo priest, you will most likely receive their business card, complete with a cell number and email address where you can direct any questions. Many have framed certifications in traditional medicine and other practices hanging from the walls and yes one important point, you may negotiate your price for healing with Gods via the voodoo priest.
With knot of one, the spell’s begun.
With knot of two, the spell be true.
With knot of three, the spell is free.
With knot of four, the power is stored.
With knot of five, the spell with thrive.
With knot of six, this spell I fix.
― Deborah Harkness
Photos from the Internet
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