Whether you are looking for good luck, spiritual protection, or answers to your illness and relationship problems, voodoo practitioners say the best place to go is the fetish market of Akodessewa, located in Lome, the capital city of Togo.
One of the most popular religions still practiced today, voodoo is very much alive in Benin and Togo where the mysterious yet misunderstood religion is thought to have begun.
In Togo, about 60 percent of the people retain animist beliefs and fetishes are an integral part of their local culture irrespective of the other religions they worship. Thus, the Akodessewa Fetish Market or Marche des Feticheurs has thrived since it opened in the 17th century.
The voodoo practice says that every creature is potent and divine, whether dead or alive, and this is what you would find in the Akodessewa Fetish Market. The market hosts a row of tables that are piled high with embalmed animals like dogs, dried snakes, wolves, porcupine, gorilla skulls, among others.
These pieces of the dead serve as talismans kept for healing, good luck, spiritual protection or to ward off evil. They are also used as ingredients for rituals, and despite the smell from these decayed body parts, people from far and near are not bothered as they patronize these items in numbers.
Essentially, the Akodessewa Fetish Market is, according to Atlas Obscura, “a kind of hospital or pharmacy – it is the place you go when you either cannot afford traditional treatment or traditional treatment has failed you.”
Everyone is welcome to the market, including tourists who are often amazed at what they find. The large market comes with divided stalls and huts which are said to be the “consultation halls” of various traditional healers. Customers consult these healers who bless, prescribe what they need for rituals, or make medicines to treat everything, from the flu to infertility to whatever sicknesses they may have.
“During one of these consultations, the voodoo priest or priestess will ask you to describe your ailment, then consult with the gods to determine your prescription. Animal parts are ground up with herbs and held to a fire, which produces a black powder.
“Traditionally, a healer will make three cuts on your chest or back and rub the powder into the wounds. Tourists of a squeamish persuasion can opt to buy a wooden doll or just apply the powder to unbroken skin,” according to a report by Slate.
The report adds that there are no set prices for these consultations, and customers can even ask for a deduction. In this case, the traditional healer will consult with the gods until an agreement as to how much to pay is reached.
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