Young Vodoun devotee girl with spiritual markings on her face shoulders and chest holding the spiritual wooden manhood

Young Vodoun (Voodoo) devotee girl with spiritual markings on her face, shoulders and chest holding the spiritual wooden manhood

Young Vodoun (Voodoo) devotee girl with spiritual markings on her face, shoulders and chest holding the spiritual wooden manhood/effigy in a Vodun Temple at Ouidah in the Republic of Benin, West Africa. The wooden manhood effigy of Deity represents the spiritually specific solutions to sexual weakness, diseases and all forms of reproductive health ailments. Some people associate Voodoo with evil, but many of its rituals, even those that include the sacrifice of live animals, focus on respect and peace. Its religious leaders become community leaders, providing guidance and settling disputes. Leaders also frequently provide medical care in the form of folk medicine. Priests, priestesses and other practitioners typically dedicate their work to helping and caring for others. Voodoo cure is of two kinds: healing and cleansing of an individual or an entire city. While healing could involve mineral, herbal and animal and spiritual rituals, cleansing on the other hand passes through acknowledgement of a wrong deed and subsequent appeasement of the relevant(s) spirit (s) and the offended. To this point, and to mainstream voodoo healing practice into peace, stability and harmony, an NGO headed by one Prof Beatrice Aguessy, the Institute of Development and Endogenous Exchanges (IDEE) in 1998 led the officials of the city of Ouidah in Benin Republic on a 3km long trek and kneeling for forgiveness on the ‘Route de l’Esclave’ (Slave Route) and repentance from the sins committed against their brothers and sisters who were sold by the Chiefs of the city during the slave trade.

Cities are increasingly becoming voodoo fiefdoms. In the neighbouring capital Lome, Togo, a renowned market serves as the regional voodoo medicine market where merchants sell basics of life; all kinds of materials are purchased for rituals, protection and cure from all kinds diseases. About 30 miles from Lome is another city called Glidji where the Ewe tribes, particularly the Guen, gather every year for the Ekpe Ekpe or Kpesoso Festival in which the priest is to seek, find and show to the gathered crowd the Ekpe (sacred Stone) picked from a walled sacred forest of the city. The features of the Ekpe is the colour and inscriptions thereon which are a set to be unveiled by the priest. The 2011 Ekpe is white and portends happiness, health and accident-free year. The health implication is that difficult diseases will be cured that year, and that the adherent will survive challenging and risky modern surgery. If the Ekpe portends otherwise, people would be found resisting surgery, orthopaedic services for fear of amputation and other life saving treatments. Patient behaviour will

be completely strange to health service providers who are not part of or do not understand voodoo society.

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