Sunday, November 18, 2007

Even the Spirits don't know...

Update, update. Well not too much new in the world of this Peace Corps volunteer. Work as usual is progressing slowly. Lesson to anyone working in development, things will not always go as smoothly and as according to plan as you might want them to. Specifically I am running into bureaucratic blockage with getting the money from Cotonou up here to Kouandé. My English club is on its way to asking permission and picking the students to at least start with. I have some other things on my plate that require more research but are possible projects for the future. These include; water filtering and packaging, photocopier installation, and working with the local informatique (computers you can use for money).

I'm not sure if I have already said this before but Benin is considered the home of Voodoo. The practice of animism, spells and charms is alive and well not only in Benin but many parts of Africa. People believe various things for example to cure certain diseases they will do scarification on a certain part of the body and this should cure it. Another conmen type of gris-gris (read: charms or magic) are special herbs you eat for certain effects, for example there is one that if someone shoots you with a gun you will disappear and after the bullet passes you will reappear. I have talked to people who swear by this and said that they have seen it happen. It is really interesting and very much a part of the culture here. There are also things called fetishes, these are spirits that are usually in a large rock or old tree. People will come to ask for things with a ceremony wherein they will pour sodabe (moonshine), palm oil, and chicken blood on the fetish after sacrificing a cock. My friend went to a woman who is supposedly can channel demons and will answer any question for you (for a price of course). He asked her what he should do after Peace Corps, if he should go back to school or travel etcetera. She went into a room where he heard what he said sounded like Beaker from the Muppets talking; this was the spirits talking to her. When she reemerged she told him that the sprits had no idea. That since he was from so far away, they had no idea. Haha so even the spirits have no clue as to what we should do after Peace Corps.

Oh yeah and the pictures I have most recently added are of a artisan and agricultural fair they had in Kouandé a couple days ago. It was interesting to see what is actually locally produced. We all wore the same tshirts and has a parade through the town. It was a real socal event and really excited the town for a couple days.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michael,
Such interesting information about these cultures. I guess we all have our beliefs. It must be hard for you to keep a straight face. But, I know the type of person you are; showing respect for others' traditions. Hey, I can use a new address for you. Joy and I would like to send a little Christmas cheer your way.
Take care and be safe,
Irene

RPS604 said...

ha ha! you said sacrificing a cock. Can you play TF2 from benin?