Voodoo market of Benin

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Benin, a country you have probably never heard of, but nonetheless it is a country with a lot of interesting things for explorers.  So where is it?

Benin is located in western Africa, between Togo and Nigeria.
It may not be a typical tourist destination but, perhaps surprisingly, it offers plenty of interesting sights.  The country’s has a grim history with slave trade on one hand, and a place on the Unesco world heritage list on the other.

What makes Benin most interesting for tourists is its main religion, Voodoo. Benin is one of only two countries in the world where Voodoo is the official religion – the other being Haiti, in the Caribbean.

Your first sight of voodoo in Benin is when you walk around the towns and cities in the morning and come across dead sacrificial chickens – everywhere! But that’s not all you will see.  If you visit the voodoo market you will see a greater variety of props used for their religion. Be warned, this is not a pleasant sight, and it’s not for everyone. They offer a huge selection of body parts from almost every animal you could imagine; Gorilla hands, hippo heads, crocodile heads and dried elephant trunks are just a few examples of what is available.

The photos I’m sharing here show less than 5% of the public market in Cotonou, one of Benin’s two capitals.  I also visited other markets around the country, and they offered a much greater variety than this market – I was told the further away from the capital of Benin I traveled, the larger the markets would be.

While travelling, I had the “pleasure” of meeting the voodoo king and attended a voodoo festival. Unfortunately, I had my camera stolen (!) so the only photos I have from Benin and the rest of Western Africa are from this market. This is only because I shared the photos with some friends before my precious snapshooter was stolen. There is no hope for Wi-Fi in this part of the world to backup you photos online, so keep that in mind if you are planning a trip to these parts!

I recommend bringing several SD cards so you can swap them out and carry them on your person.
Might be overkill for some, but there is nothing worse than losing your photos (a camera can always be replaced, photos can’t).

These photos may be a bit “raw” for some, and you might not agree with what is happening – But, don’t shoot the messenger, as they say –  I’m just sharing the reality of the world.
These photos are from a public voodoo market of benign, it’s not hidden away, it’s in the middle of the capital!!

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10 Comments
  1. Fascinating!! And slightly disturbing but mostly utterly fascinating in just how insanely different this is from our sanitized Western cultures! Thank you for sharing.

    1. It was an interesting place to visit for sure, and it like the most normal thing in the world for the locals, even young kids was walking around with it:)

  2. This is incredible! Thank you for opening my eyes to an area I never even knew existed. I’ve recently read about the voodoo trade and how it’s affected poaching in Africa. It’s pretty shocking to see it, even in pictures.

    1. Thanks for liking, for us is shocking for its so normal for the locals, i did visit a local voodoo festival where the local voodoo “king” was visiting, was alot of dancing and offering of animals to the gods, very disturbing to see.

      But i would easily visit the place agian

    1. The funny thing everything we “learn” about voodoo is not right. Theres no voodoo dolls or anything like that, i asked around for it and they all said thats just from Hollywood movies

  3. Hey Christian, awesome photos! (And I’m so sorry about you losing the rest)
    How did you manage to see the voodoo festival? Did you have a guide who organised it for you, or did you just stumble upon it? I’m planning to go to Benin soon and would love to see some authentic voodoo rituals and practises!
    Thanks
    Tom

    1. Hello

      The voodoo festival i visited was in Grand Popo, very close to Togo.
      When i arrived in the town, they told me in the guesthouse i was staying that it would be a festival after 3days. So i decided to just stay for the festival.

      Since Grand Popo is pretty touristy, atleast to Benin standards, so you dont need a guide to arrange anything for you, but to visit a festival in some more remote places, would you probaly need i a guide, atleast if you dont speak french.

      Grand Popo is a pretty good place to stay, a decent beach, a few decent guesthouse and hotels with English speaking staff.

      Christian

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