Sunday, 30 August 2015

Voodoo children...Read the strange way The Benin tribe keep their dead twins ''alive''

Benin's Fon tribe crafts wooden dolls when their small children die, which they believe possess the child's spirit and have the divine power to bring the family good or bad luck, depending on how well they are treated. Pictured, Hounyoga, whose twins died in infancy 



Voodoo is an ancient West African religion practiced by more than 30 million people in Benin, Togo and Ghana.
Varying forms of the religion exist elsewhere in the world, including Haiti and the U.S.  
Practitioners of voodoo believe that the world of humans is shared by the world of the spirits.
It is thought that spirits can impact the world of the living, bringing good or bad luck.
The Fon tribe in Benin carve wooden dolls in the honour of dead children, which they look after as if they were alive.
Raising twins is never easy and in Benin, an impoverished nation on the west coast of Africa, many die during childhood. Now a stunning new set of photos has revealed how the families deal with their grief - by creating doll effigies of the lost infants and raising them as if they were still alive.
Taken by French photographer Eric Lafforgue, the photos document the life of the Fon tribe, who say the dolls possess the child's spirit and have the power to bring the family good or bad luck, depending on how well they are treated.
Every day, the dolls are cradled, 'fed', scrubbed clean and put to bed on immaculate linens - all in an effort to keep them from being unhappy and cursing the family with evil magic.
Many of the dolls also attend school with their living siblings and, when their parents are away working, are cared for in huge 'creches' run by the village elders.
Not every child becomes a doll after they die however - the custom only applies to those born of multiple births, which, in the Fon tribe, occurs in one in every 20 births - one of the highest in the world.
The extremely high mortality rate means that twins, either one or both, often die.
'Three months after the birth of twins, if they are still alive, they do a collection of gifts from around the community,' explains Mr Lafforgue. 'If they are dead, the statues of the twins are sculpted then placed so that they peer out of the front garment of the mother for everyone to see.'
One mother, named Hounyoga, who resides in the village of Bopa, took Mr Lafforgue through a day the life of her own dolls. The 40-year-old, who is married to a voodoo practitioner whose work includes preserving the dead bodies of criminals before using their skulls for rituals has had nine children.
Among them was a set of twins who died just a few months apart at the age of two, and she has also suffered a number of miscarriages.
Hounyoga told him: 'If we take bad care of a twin, he or she will get angry and all of a sudden, will disappear. We will wake up in the morning and they will no longer be in the house. So a great tragedy will soon come. 
'On the other hand, if we take good care of the twins, when someone is harassing me or wanting to cause me harm, I tell the twins and they protect me.' 
If the mother doesn't have time to take care of the statues, then the father does it. Hounyoga’s husband always takes them with him in his waistband when he drives his car to Cotonou, Benin’s capital.
He says: 'I put my twins in my belts because I know they protect me. Nothing bad will happen to me with them. I won’t get robbed, won’t get in a car accident, nothing.'
The brothers and sisters of the dead twins do their share as well. They walk with them, keeping them snug in their belts. Under no circumstances do they ever play with them like toys.
If the family is travelling, the statues are kept at a nursery.
A Fon mother walks on the beach carrying her two living twins and effigies of another pair that died in infancy
A Fon mother carrying her two living twins and effigies of another pair that died in infancy
Hounyoga wipes the dolls with a vegetable sponge and soap (pictured), then she dries them off and sprays perfume on them'
Hounyoga wipes the dolls with a vegetable sponge and soap, then she dries them off and sprays perfume on them'

The dolls are put on tiny metal chairs and offered food every day (pictured) along with the rest of the family 
The dolls are put on tiny metal chairs and offered food every day along with the rest of the family 

The food is accompanied by water and carbonated drinks like Fanta and Coca Cola. In the voodoo belief, sugar is equated with peace
The food is accompanied by water and carbonated drinks like Fanta and Coca Cola. In the voodoo belief, sugar is equated with peace

Specifically, the doll ritual applies only to twins. Forty per-cent of all twins in the world are born in Africa, and the Fon tribe presents one of the highest rates - accounting for around 1 in 20 births. The extremely high mortality rate means that twins often die
When clothing is made for living children, the family doll gets garments cut from the same cloth.
Come nightfall, it’s time to put the statues to sleep like children in a bed made from a mat and an immaculate white blanket
Come nightfall, it’s time to put the statues to sleep like children in a bed made from a mat and an immaculate white blanket
Every day, the dolls are cradled, 'fed', scrubbed clean and put to bed on immaculate linens - all in an effort to keep them from being unhappy and cursing the family with evil magic. Pictured Hounyoga with dolls and her surviving children Photographer Eric Lafforgue visited the tribe and was permitted to document their lives and customs. Pictured, Hounyoga with her dollsSpecifically, the doll ritual applies only to twins. Forty per-cent of all twins in the world are born in Africa, and the Fon tribe presents one of the highest rates - accounting for around 1 in 20 births. The extremely high mortality rate means that twins often die

1 comment:

  1. It is well with us in Africa....

    ReplyDelete