Fetishes on the Voodoo Market
I visited the Voodoo market in Lome, Togo while traveling through Ghana and Togo with King Cephas Bansah. We went to the market on our way back from Togo to Hohoe, Ghana.
We were visiting the 3 day festivities Agbogboza Festival in Notse, Togo. In this cultural festival, the tradition of Voodoo is still very present to this day – and this religion is spread over many african countries and populations. People are very religious and go to Church whenever they can. But many people are still practicing Voodoo for all kinds of reasons.
So I was really eager to visit this market and explore this animist religion myself. The market has roughly the size of half a soccer field with all its open space and backyards of the small shops. It was very hot with the sun burning down and they had large areas where birds, snakes, skins, body parts and other animals were neatly arranged to dry in the sun among the red and grey dust and sand with a scent of decay hanging in the air.
There was so much to look at, so much to discover, so much to see. The merchants tried to sell us everything they had, it is not often that white people stop by.
There was this woman who tried to sell me the stings of a hedgehog. She had a fascinating aura, very old and wise although she did not seem to be that old. The stings of the hedgehog are used in Voodoo as a more powerful tool than little needles could ever be – apparently you can seriously hurt someone with it. This woman was a herbalist and you can order any mixtures and powders from her for any kind of ailment or as remedies.
You can consult the herbalist just like we ask the clerks in a pharmacy.
There were also Voodoo or Fetish Priests on the market. They will consult the Gods of the Voodoo directly with you in their shack and try to find a remedy or a solution for your problem. And conveniently you can purchase anything from the market directly. Monkey heads, dog skulls, birds, antelope skins, figurines – anything. One said, that there was even an egg of a dinosaur somewhere.
They really manage to preserve the long tradition of their animist religion and merge it with modern day trade and business – and of course as some kind of tourist attraction where you can get a deeper look at this often misunderstood and for many people strange appearing culture.
I myself bought two handmade figurines from the herbalist. And from a Voodoo Priest I bought a stone with a whole in the middle where a lightning stroke. When I stood in front of his goods, he grabbed one stone and told me, that this stone is good as a pain relief for Arthrosis and Arthritis. I did not question his choice, because I actually have acute Arthrosis and I bought the one he picked for me. I later showed it to one of the african guys who accompanied us and he really had a scared look on his face. He said that this stone scared him, because the lightning stroke is so powerful.
Another situation that really touched me was when I met this women with her two kids. I bought a figurine from her and asked her if I could take some pictures. She agreed and her two boys immediately approached me. One of them held a fluffy teddybear. It was such a surreal picture, this boy cuddling the teddybear, surrounded by all the dead animals, animal parts and animal skins. This was just a short moment, but it was haunting situation, very memorable.