Thousands of voodoo followers on January 10th converged at the beach in Ouidah, Benin where they worship spirits and pay homage to the millions of slaves who have passed by this road, when Ouidah was a key location for slave trade in West Africa.
Born in the kingdom of Dahomey (present-day Togo and Benin), voodoo has been exported to Louisiana, Brazil, Haiti, and now has 50 million members worldwide.
Despite the huge criticism this festival receives because of its animist ways, the practice of voodoo as a pristine religion was carried by African slaves to spread in Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, and New Orleans in America.
While it is practiced among the Fon people along the West African coast in Togo, Benin and parts of southwest Nigeria, the undisputed capital of voodoo is Ouidah, about 42km west of Cotonou the commercial capital of Benin.
According to agency report, at the ceremony in Ouidah, spiritual leader Daagbo Hounan Houna II appealed to the dead to help keep order during the vote. “The elections will pass in a peaceful manner in the name of the bounties of the ancestors,” he said.
Further inland in Savalou, the hometown of Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, priests and dignitaries set a chicken on fire at a ceremony before spreading its blood and palm oil on a fetish made out of cowrie shells and sand.
The election campaign has been overshadowed by a controversy over the ruling party’s choice of Zinsou as its candidate, a pick approved by outgoing president Thomas Boni Yayi.
Festivals celebrated by people in West Africa are often a representation of their traditional beliefs, religious heritage and cultural identity. That is why the roots and origins of some of the most popular festivals are steeped in religion and religious activities and worship.
The national voodoo holiday in the West African country of Benin had a distinctively political accent this year as practitioners from Africa and the Americas gathered on Sunday to offer prayers and sacrifices for peace.
The Atlantic coast town of Ouidah, once an important port in the slave trade, to pray for calm during the tiny country’s presidential election scheduled for February.
Bonny Amadi with Agency Report