In the heart of Togo’s capital, Lome, is a market dedicated to the sale of ingredients which traditional healers say can make magic charms.
Togo’s Akodessewa Fetish Market is recognized as the largest fetish market in the world, a place where Voodoo practitioner can find anything they need for their rituals.
The practice of voodoo began in West Africa, before being taken to America by slaves, and in countries like Togo, Ghana, or Nigeria the religion is very much alive. Many people believe healers using animal parts and strange talismans can invoke spirits with their bizarre rituals, and solve their problems. And if theres one place where voodoo priests can stock up on their creepy supplies, it’s the Akodessewa Fetish Market, in Togos capital city, Lome. Just think of it as an outdoor pharmacy where various animal parts, bone statues and herbs take the place of conventional medicine.
“This place is like a pharmacy for everybody in the world. When someone has a serious sickness and the hospital cannot help, they come here to the fetish market.”
In the Togo’s capital, Lome, is strange market offering voodoo supplies and ingredients that helps in traditional healing. People who practice voodoo in Togo, believe that healing and life comes from natural elements earth, water, fire and air. Even the pictures bellow are disturbing for the most of us, people in Lome comes at this specific place for medicines when doctors and hospital cant help. The market itself features all kind of animal heads; crocodiles, all kind of cats and monkeys, birds, snakes, chameleons and much others. Good news is that the animals are not hurt or killed, instead salesmans collect parts of dead animals and then sell them to people who need help. The marketers in the Togo’s capital claim they are able to heal Fertility, all kind of illnesses, to keep houses safe, even to help people in sports to get luck . As mush we are concerned, voodoo is black magic and we dont encourage anybody to try it
Before you have a chance to snap a photo (and that will cost you), an affable translator possibly from a neighboring country like Benin is likely to approach you and insist on accompanying you on a tour. Before you can say no, youll be chased by adorable kids thrusting termite-ridden idols in your face, offering murmured incantations for about fifty U.S. dollars.
Forget zombies and voodoo dolls. If you want a high-tech spell in a low-tech environment, Lomés voodoo fetish market is the place to go. Sure, you have to fly to West Africa. And, it isnt easy crossing the border from Ghana to Togo (this is where your high school French sure comes in handy) but once youve made it to the bustling, crumbling remains of the former French colony, youre nearly there.
You can smell the market a mile away. The stench wafts past the spirited crowds of market traders, around the calm ocean, and along the dusty streets and alleys of mud-brick huts, fueled by the relentless Equatorial sun.
“We have many different kinds of animal heads. “Here we have the head of a crocodile, the head of a cat and lots of monkey heads. We also have different birds like vultures and owls, as well as chameleons, snakes, cobras and vipers. “To make the medicine, we grind up the heads with herbs and then put the mixture on the fire. This leaves us with a black powder. “We cut the person’s chest or back three times and then rub the powder into the flesh.”
Politely decline, saunter past the skewers of mummified bats, and make your way over to one of the voodoo shrines where you can pick a spell from a litany of enchantments. Need to sell that house? Find true love? Or maybe you just need to lower your cholesterol. Whatever the desire, the voodoo chief will negotiate with the local spirits and offer you a take-home fetish of your very own. Coupons arent accepted; prices are determined by the toss of some bones.
The experience offers a mesmerizing point of view on local spiritual beliefs. And dont scoff. A travel buddy who bought a couple spells informed me afterwards that each one of them came true. Go figure. Oh, and if after negotiations you get cold feet, at least offer to make a slight donation or run the risk of a hex.
Togo and Benin are the original homeland of voodoo, a large percentage of the population still practices voudoun and animistic beliefs. The Marche des Feticheurs (Fetish Market) is their ‘pharmacy’ where they can buy traditional ingredients, eye of newt, toe of frog and the like. It’s also somewhat a tourist attraction, we had to pay for a guide and permission to take photographs. It’s all quite grisly and smelly and if you’re an animal lover you might want to avoid.. the market consists of tables with rows of animal parts, heads of hyena and monkeys, snakes, birds, crocodile and even a gorilla foot. There was an altar where the juju priests make burnt offerings.
Situated on the Gulf of Guinea, little-known Togo is West Africas smallest country and Africa at its most dazzling and overwhelming. Neighbors include Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. Buffeted by the sweeping Atlantic, Togo features tropical, hilly landscapes and a diverse culture with over 40 ethnic groups, making it a great destination for adventure travelers seeking somewhere off-the-beaten-track. Its also a balmy beach lovers paradise the whole Atlantic seafront of Togo has tranquil, white sand beaches lined by coconut groves, perfect for unhurried relaxation.
The pantheon of Voodoo gods is extensivethe very word voodoo connotes spirit, but there is but one God, who can appear in many manifestations. These numerous forms constitute the Voodoo pantheon.
Even if youre not into voodoo, the Akodessewa Fetish Market is one of those exotic attractions that pulls you in and doesnt let go. If you dont like animal heads staring at you, you can just check out the protective statues and talismans, or learn about the various herbs voodoo priests use. As the merchants say, theres something here for everybody.