Witchcraft is an alchemy that attempts to use supernatural power to influence people or things. In some African countries, many people are inseparable from witchcraft and wizards from clothing, food and housing to marriage and funeral, from business management to political reform, and even participating in wars. They believe that wizards can perform ceremonies through sacrifices and spells, and ask gods to point them in directions. When holding such ceremonies, wizards need to use some related objects and sacrifices to achieve their goals. Just like ordinary people go to the supermarket to buy vegetables, wizards also need to regularly purchase sacrifices and tools. Speaking of which, I have to mention the “shopping paradise” in the wizarding world-the Aco de Seva market.
The Akodessewa Fetish Market, located in Lomé, Togo, the capital of West Africa, is the world’s largest witchcraft market. Wizards from all over the world often gather here to choose the tools and sacrifices they need. At the same time, many ordinary people come to shop in accordance with the wizard’s requirements. The commodities here are strange and mysterious, and the mysterious power behind them is unpredictable. No one is sure whether buying a souvenir here will bring good luck or disaster…
The world’s largest witchcraft market is full of corpses, mysterious potions
”Hey! Do you play football? If you want to win, you can buy this gadget!” A merchant of Aco de Sevari spoke to the passing tourists. Unknown tourists heard this and immediately turned to guide the tour. Casting doubtful eyes, the result was only a cold word: “There is extra money to explain why.”
The second picture on the lower left is the market environment of Akodeseva; the lower left picture and the upper right picture are the commodities placed in the market. These commodities are mostly animal debris, which makes the whole market emit a stink.
This “reason to add money” is about a football farce 4 years ago. In December 2016, in a football league in Rwanda, when a player named Moussa fell behind by one goal, he ran into the opponent’s goal and threw a personal “witch”. A yellow card was shown; but it seemed that the “curse” had an effect, and Musa scored a goal in the second half… Although the Rwandan Football Association fined Musa 100,000 Rwandan francs after the game, the impact of this matter was great-and later Players use “witchcraft” at the risk of red cards and fines. At the same time, the humanoid “witchcraft” also became popular, and in the Aco de Seva market, there were several stores selling such “goal artifacts”.
Many tourists come to Togo not far away, just to explore the Aco de Seva market and see if the things inside are so godlike. To get here, you have to cross the main city of Lomé, and then pay a ticket of about 10 dollars to enter. As soon as you enter the gate, you can see many black iron cast statues with goat skulls on the top, which looks a bit messy. These statues are called “Vundu Gou” by the locals and are the guardians of the market. Unlike the witchcraft market in movies and TV series, there are no exquisite shops, no flying elves, only a large number of dusty wooden tables and chilling goods. In front of each store, there are several large wooden tables with various sacrifices and wizard tools. If the table cannot fit on the table, they move to the ground, and the store owner stays in the simple hut at the end. .
At a glance, the most frequent commodity is animal organs. On the wooden table were piles of hill-like crocodile heads, bat heads and leopard heads, smelly elephant tails and orangutan hands, huge whale spine, dried lizards and frogs, and dozens of plates Dry pythons in a circle… The most disturbing of them is that the faces of those animals are full of panic and helplessness, and they look extremely cruel. In addition to animals, there are various plants and handmade witch products. The locals will sell some animal organs with plants and grind them into powder. The most famous one is the “love potion” made of chameleon and herbs. It is said that this This kind of powder is mixed into the perfume and sprayed on the person you love, you can make it fall in love with yourself.
The picture on the upper left and the picture on the lower right are voodoo dolls with different functions; the picture on the upper right is the annual voodoo festival. In the ritual of worshipping gods, the believers mostly sing and dance to remember their distant ancestors and gods.
The products here come from almost all parts of the world and are complex and diverse: the crocodile head is often used to decorate the altar to bring wisdom and power to the master; the bracelet made of elephant tail bones can protect yourself from black magic; the whale spine It can treat bone diseases; people who are entangled in black magic will buy a live eagle, let the wizard cast the spell and then release it, you can get rid of the curse. Interestingly, although there are many tourists here, most vendors are not interested in tourists. They sit and chat lazily. Only when a well-known buyer or wizard walks in, they will immediately get up and make a “fizz” in their mouths. To attract attention because they know that tourists generally do not dare to buy things here, which is why admission fees are charged for visiting the market.
Walking on the market, the air is permeated with the rotten smell of various corpses. Although Akodeseva has undergone several major renovations, the market environment is still quite bad. Vendors sat on the wreckage of the corpses, eating and resting, and the children as assistants sorted out the fur bones expressionlessly, and dried animal feces were everywhere on the ground; however, this did not prevent customers and merchants from engaging in intense bargaining. …
The voodoo cult behind the market? Black magic? Voodoo doll?
Not only Togo, there is a witchcraft market in other countries or regions in Africa. The reason why witchcraft is popular is largely due to people’s belief in Voodoo.
Voodoo, also translated Voodoo, is transliterated from the “Voodoo” dialect of Benin in West African countries. It originated in West Africa and blended ancestor worship, animism, psychicism and other contents. It flourished in Ghana, Benin, Congo, and Togo in the 16th century and is one of the oldest religions in the world. Voodoo, which means “soul” in the Benin dialect. Voodoo believes that all things in the world are controlled by gods. The dead ancestors will “live” around them in the form of souls. With the help of wizards, people can communicate with gods. Communicate with ancestors. Whether it is traditional medicine, songs, dances, festivals, etc., it will involve Voodooism, so it is also described as a way of life, not just religious beliefs.
A marketing worker named Elias Gideon once described Akodeseva as a “large voodoo pharmacy”, and his father was a well-respected voodoo teacher. It is the “wizard” in people’s mouth. The key to whether a person can become a wizard is “luck”. The traditional view is that the sorcerer’s divine power is innate, so when the mother is pregnant, other sorcerers will communicate with the god to determine whether the fetus has divine power. Gaydon was not selected by the gods when he was born, and his father had to cast a spell on him to ensure that he would not be harmed by black magic. When it comes to black sorcery, the guides of Aco de Sevari almost always emphasize one point: African voodoo wizards practice white sorcery instead of black sorcery, and their purpose is always to help and heal others. This emphasis stems from the misunderstanding and prejudice that many people have about Voodoo—many people have come to Arc de Seva to look for voodoo dolls that can curse people, but in fact, the locals have never heard of Ever had such a doll.
Where do voodoo dolls that curse people come from? Before many people learned about Voodoo, the content of Voodoo appeared in well-known movies and novels such as “Walking with Zombies”, “The Life and Death of 007” and “Voodoo Fire in Haiti”. Among them, Voodoo is mostly given a horror and horror color. For example, the voodoo doll is a substitute for the curse. Driving the nail into the body of the doll can cause the cursed person to encounter misfortune. In addition, the living person becomes a zombie The curse… Over time, Voodooism has become a bloodthirsty cult in the hearts of many people. In fact, there are indeed strange wooden dolls in Voodoo, but they are not used to harm people, but as a communication tool. Voodoo believes that people will continue to exist in the form of souls after death. If you want to pass messages to relatives and friends who passed away, you can use the magic wood dolls to spread the word; in addition, the wood dolls can also deliver love, good luck and happiness For relatives and friends next to you, it has functions similar to peace symbols and lucky things. In voodoo doctrine, the prohibition of harm to others is the most basic. They believe that if you send a positive or negative message to the universe, the other party will give back in multiple times.
The upper left picture shows a shop owner in the market displaying his merchandise; the lower right picture shows the wizard in the market, waiting for visitors to ask questions; the second lower picture shows the people dancing to celebrate Voodoo Festival; the upper right picture shows the market Eye-catching signs.
Although everyone in the market of Aco de Seva is telling tourists: the real Voodoo witchcraft is used to help people. But it is undeniable that black witchcraft does exist, otherwise Gadden’s father will not be protected by law shortly after his birth. So, where does black magic come from?
During the slave trade in the 15th century, many people in West Africa were trafficked to plantations in the new continent of the Americas. Benin Vida, the birthplace of the Voodoo religion, was a well-known slave trade stronghold and the starting point for the religion to move to the Americas. Faced with the betrayal of fellow citizens and the cunning of slave traders, the trafficked people can only trust their gods and ancestors. They use wood statues and simple altars to tell their ancestors about their sufferings and pray for the gods’ protection. Later, they began to gather in a dark place to discuss how to escape and accuse the gods of the slaver’s atrocities; they were afraid of whipping, they pierced the steel needle into the wooden doll to summon the gods, and gave themselves the strength to resist pain, and cursed the disasters that came to those. The wicked head. In the eyes of the slave owners, these weird behaviors were primitive and terrifying, so they destroyed the altars and dolls of the slaves, and then gave them the notoriety of worshipping heretics and casting evil laws. Since then, the contradiction between the two sides has intensified, the development of black magic has accelerated, and the reputation of the voodoo cult has also spread…
Unknown goods are rampant illegal trade
Over the years, the reputation of the Aco de Seva market has grown, allowing more and more tourists to understand the true side of Voodoo, and creating a unique tourism culture that combines traditional witchcraft markets with modern business; but at the same time, it is flourishing The development of the witchcraft market has also brought a lot of negative effects.
The largest witchcraft market in Togo is run by Beninese. Because Togo and Benin belong to the “West African Economic Community”, the logistics of personnel exchanges are convenient, and merchants from all over the country come here with animal wreckage collected from all over West Africa. However, with the increase in popularity, in addition to the animals unique to West Africa, many animals unique to other countries or regions can be seen on the market. For example, the bearskin in any stall is likely to come from Europe. Our attention has shifted from the West African region to global trade.
The merchants of Akodeseva have participated in some shootings. In the photo, a young boss lifts a pair of huge antelope horns, and the other holds a dried leopard head. In the other photos, they lift the elephant femur over the head. Or carrying a huge whale vertebra… When tourists ask where these animal wrecks come from, the guide will generally explain that these animals are not killed for sacrifice, but the animal carcasses collected by the supplier from the wild, if these The animal was killed deliberately, and the spirit would inform the wizard during the ceremony, thereby interrupting the ceremony.
It is a pity that the facts are not as the tour guide said. The “rising” of the Aco de Seva market has led to an increase in poaching and hunting activities in the region, and many West African countries are facing threatened species. Most of the animals including chimpanzees, forest elephants, cheetahs, and turtles sold in Arco de Seva are endangered. Even if they are not endangered, they are likely to be illegally hunted. There have been calls from animal protection organizations for tourists visiting Aco de Seva: Do not buy any goods here. However, even if tourists do not spend anything, the ticket money they paid is enough to remit a large amount of income in the market.
To this end, both Togo and Benin have promulgated new regulations to combat the illegal animal trade, and many wizards are also trying to adapt to these protection laws. A voodoo priest Dehir said that these markets serve voodoo, but voodoo doctrine also includes respect for people and the environment, so making changes is not a bad thing, for example, it is not protected by law The chicken has been on the “list” of the most common sacrifices…