By Imke Ruigrok

Togo, June 2019

This market in a suburb of Lomé, the capital of Togo in North-West Africa is not just a market. It is the World's largest voodoo market; the Akodessawa Marche des Féticheurs.

Animals and parts of animals are the goods for sale here: including snakes, chameleons, cats, dogs, turtles, scorpions, crocodiles, rats, monkeys, antelopes, elephants, parrots, owls, hawks, big felines, hyenas, porcupines, starfishes, sheep, horse, warthogs, baboons, goats, bats, rams, buffalos and fishes. All for the use of voodoo fetishes, rituals and traditional medicines.

The other key ingredient is blood. Not directly found here at the market since it has to be the outcome of a sacrifice that activates the voodoo power. Voodoo is a practice through which humans try to domesticate nature in order to unfold it, admitting the impossibility of total control. Sacrifice is an essential tool within Voodoo to start the dialogue with the world of non-humans. While in Christianity blood is evoked as an idea, in voodoo, blood is seen as the container of the vital energy of the victim.

A fetish is made of animal elements mixed with minerals, industrial products like perfume or soda and "ama": herbs, roots, leaves that, in according to their combinations, produce different effects. Components are selected not only because of their power but also in according to their aspect and shape and every "sofo", the voodoo priest, has different recipes that will produce uniques voodoo fetishes.