March 24, 2023
We had a late tour scheduled today, so we both did our walks first. There was a rain storm all night with thunder and lightning, and the port workers were sweeping off the water. There was quite a show going on at the port, many dancers, drummers and two guys on long poles dancing to the music. It made the walk much more interesting!
After the morning tours left, Ray made an announcement that if you were traveling outside of Lomé, you needed to bring your proof of yellow fever vaccination with you, so we got our certificates out, but no one checked them when we left the city later!
Our tour was called Voodoo Ceremony in Sanguera.
Our guide on the bus was Thomas. We also had two security guards with us and Thomas assured us it was just a precaution! On the way, we saw this hotel and we felt right at home.
It took almost one hour to reach the village. When we arrived, we watched the official welcome ceremony done by the chief priest which involved creating libations using maize mixed in a large calabash bowl. The mixture was then put on the ground and we were allowed to enter into the area of the ceremony.
The chief priest and other dignitaries sat in chairs and there was a lot of dancing to the drumbeats. Sometimes, a dancer or another person at the ceremony would seem to almost faint, and another would help them. There was the maize powder on the ground in front of the chief priest and from time to time, one of the dancers would come for a blessing and rub their head on the powder. I always love to watch the children and this little girl came and sat next to many of us. Interesting that one of our passengers was in his wheelchair, and the celebrants often came and hugged him as if they were transmitting healing powers. Others came and danced next to us or shook our hands.
Thomas had explained that voodoo is a religion, not witchcraft or about other rituals that we might have thought. He said that the pins in the voodoo doll is something made up by Hollywood! Like the Hindu religion, people who practice voodoo believe in many gods. Thomas mentioned four, and when I asked him how many there are, he just said there are “many”. Norm found information that there are eight main ones. The gods they believe in have names like dark of thunder and god of land. People who practice voodoo believe in the worth of all living things. He also said that even people who are of another religion (Catholic, Muslim, etc.) also come to the voodoo ceremonies and count voodoo as their religion too. I guess they don’t want to take any chances about which religion is best.
The ceremony went on for about an hour. The village people distributed beer and soft drinks while we watched. Very interesting afternoon and it does give a very different impression of voodoo. When we left, the children of the village lined up to wave goodbye to us.
Back on the ship, dinner in the terrace was grilled fresh tuna which our chef got at a local fish market. It was fabulous.
At night, instead of the show, we had the “seventh annual Togo toga party”. We had bought outfits in Dakar. Here are some of the pictures of the evening and some of the costumes. Many people bought fabric in the various west African cities that we visited and made all sorts of outfits out of them. Ray said that the shopkeepers thanked him for the many sales they made.
There were prizes for most creative, best toga, most unusual and funniest. Ray and Casey chose people who would compete and then the winners in each category were decided by applause and were awarded a bottle of champagne. Norm was in the creative category (must have been the bow tie!) but didn’t win. The tall man standing next to him who made his toga from 14 napkins carried that category!
The entertainment team performed and it was a night of dancing and great fun. They even had a special toga drink for $7. I didn’t try it.
Tomorrow will be Benin, a new country for us.
This certainly changes our impression of Voodoo really is. We always thought of it as witchcraft too, Your Togo party sounds like a fun.