Akodessawa Francesco Merlini

Courtesy of the Artist Photo: Francesco Merlini

AKODESSAWA Togo, June 2019
by Francesco Merlini

In a large sandy yard men, women and kids - lying and sitting on benches - wait for customers to sell their goods: talismans, charms, skulls, bones, heads, horns, skins, paws, shells, feathers, spines, herbs and living animals.

Here at the market, everyone explains to me that voodoo offers protection and luck while witchcraft is always accomplished in order to produce evil effects and this is why most voodoo practices aim at seeking protection from it.
As a result of it, even if the 30% the Togolese population converted to Christianity and the 20% is Muslim, almost everyone in the country cures his body and his spirit with traditional voodoo medicine, whose ingredients you can find here, at the Akodessawa market.

All the people who work at the market are from Benin, cradle of the modern voodoo cult, the "Gorovodu" that has spread to all the countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea: Benin, Togo, Nigeria and Ghana. The right to have a stand inside this market is usually inherited from the father and it's not infrequent to see two or three generations of the same family around a stand. Usually the older one is a "sofo" who is teaching to his son or very rarely to his daughter the secrets and the formulas of the cult and of the medicine preparation.
All around the courtyard, wooden signs with the names and the contacts of the voodoo priests and healers of the market, are hung at the entrance of the small metal shacks where clients enter in order to get personal rituals and charms, usually in front of small altars surrounded by bottles and bowls of incomprehensible ingredients.

When a local client or a tourist enters the gate, every dealer starts to scream in order to attract him to his stand, full of voodoo components and sometimes sculptures and handcrafted traditional goods, more suitable for tourists.