Diving into local culture

By the time we leave for Aneho I’ve only spent about 24 hours in Togo, but it feels much longer. Togo has been added to the shortlist of countries I instantly felt at home and at ease. Based on so many stories I had heard about the country I had never expected this to happen, but am thoroughly enjoying it.

When the annual voodoo* festival is taking place, there is lots to see and experience in Aneho. So we grab our chance to attend part of the festival.
While thinking of voodoo you might think of dolls and needles, of dark energies and more like that. It had all crossed my mind too, and I am pleasantly surprised by the open, friendly and warm energies surrounding the religious festival.

It is actually a lot of fun too, to watch how much the locals are enjoying the festivities. And even though I believe in there being a lot more between heaven and earth than we can see and hear, some things do turn a smile on my face.

The day starts with a ceremony that brings on an energy of excitement for quite a few people: a Zangbeto will be crossing the water. As they say it is a traditional way of spirits walking on water and therefore very special to the followers of the voodoo religion.
Zangbetos are made of hay and colorfully decorated. They are said to be possessed by the spirits, who make them move.
During the day we see many of them enter the stage, dance and birth sacred voodoo objects.

While the locals are excited with all that’s going on, I am enjoying the vibrant atmosphere. It kind of feels like I’m attending a carnival party; the Zangbetos and colorfully dressed and painted people being the other attendants.

Every now and then a Zangbeto is turned upside down to convince the crowd there is no-one underneath the hay, nevertheless I still feel they are behaving pretty humanlike and the straw walls covered with cloth are wide enough to hide a person.
Their guides are taking good care of them, helping them climb and descend the stairs, preventing them from falling off the stage, talking to them and sweeping the hay strings from the grids at eye height…

Supernatural or not I am having a great time!

* Voodoo is an official religion in Togo and Benin.

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About MoInMali

Monique is the founder of Papillon Reizen, a Mali based travel agency specialized in inspiring journeys in Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. Fair-trade and with a heart for people, environment and culture. Small-scale group journeys as well as family trips and journeys tailored to your wishes. We love to share West Africa's beauty with you and take you on a journey to experience rather than to see. Monique lives in Mali with her Malian partner and shares some of her daily life experiences with you through this blog. For information on Papillon Reizen: www.papillonreizen.com
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