Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roots of Voudun and Slavery's Legacy in Ouidah

From the 17th to 19th centuries, millions of African people were sold into slavery, transported on ships to the Americas. With them came spiritual traditions including Voudun, which we now know as voodoo. Its roots are in the Dahomey kingdom on the West Coast of Africa, now the country of Benin.

The python temple in Ouidah, Benin, where voodooists invoke the "sacred"

We visit the Temple of Pythons and learn about Voudun religious practices, and witness some of the most important sites in the history of the slave trade.

We walk along a beach that was the single most highly-trafficked embarkation point for West African slaves headed over the Atlantic to the Americas. One million people were forced on to ships here, many transported to Haiti and Brazil, where Voudun transmuted into voodoo and Candombla.

Outsiders called this region the Slave Coast. Ouidah’s residents today call the former boarding platform on this otherwise idyllic beach the Gate of No Return.

Roots of Voudun and Slavery's Legacy in Ouidah

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