Friday, October 2, 2015

Benin's Voodoo Child Tradition

This series of photographs by Eric Lafforgue exemplifies some of the unique methods that the Fon people of Benin do to honor their dead children. The parents create effigies of twins who die in childhood and raise them as if alive. They feed them, bathe them, put them to bed and even send them to school. Twins have a special place in the voodoo religion of Africa and their spirits are thought to inhabit the wooden dolls. It is thought if they're mistreated they will put evil curses on the family, whereas if they're cared for they will bring the family happiness and prosperity.

"Three months after the birth of twins, if they are still living, the parents go to collect gifts from other members of their community," Lafforgue was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror. "If one or both of the twins die, then the mother carries the statues around between her breasts and walks around with a tray on her head, receiving alms for the twins. All donate some money or food." 


The importance of twins in Africa is certainly linked to the fact that the recorded twinning rate in the continent is higher than anywhere else in the world. Benin's Fon tribe has a very high rate of twin births, one in 20, but many die from childhood diseases and malaria.

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