Togo; the Birthplace of Voodoo

Togo is a small country indeed, but it is packed with a diverse and exciting culture. When described as the birthplace of the voodoo rites and home to many animist cults, the country quickly excites the imagination.

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The voodoo practice says that every creature is potent and divine, whether dead or alive, and this is what you would find in the Akodessewa Fetish Market. The market hosts a row of tables that are piled high with embalmed animals like dogs, dried snakes, wolves, porcupine, gorilla skulls, among others.

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While reality is often quite different from Nollywood and you are unlikely to find voodoo dolls and zombies in Lomé, you’ll find that the voodoo religion is still very much alive and kicking, with the locals partials to occasional sacrifices and prayers.

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Some traditions that are very much alive on the West Coast of Africa and are distinct even though they are often working in symbiosis with locals use both animists fetishes and voodoo guardians.

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The difference, to make it very short, is that the fetishes of animism are general immaterial spirits. As such, they represent forces of natures or surnatural beings which do not have a clear form. They can be, for example, the force of a tree, a sacred stone or even a river.

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When it comes to voodoo, however, the veneration is made to an idol, which has a clear form such as a statue, which will often be man-made and humanoid.

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In Togolese villages, you’ll often find these small pot like figures with faces. Those are guardians of the house. They should be as numerous as there are people in the household.

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Each of them are poured sodabi on their head or get some chicken slit above them as an offering. If an intruder invades the house, they will be instantly blinded and will wander around the house knocking stuff down until somebody gets them, like uncle Jerry on Christmas night.

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