Discussions

The ceremonies and rituals in the Voodoo cult in Benin

Voodoo ceremony Benin 1976

The Fon society has a number of different ceremonies and rituals to honour the gods and to celebrate important events from the past. These ceremonies also bring back to mind the ancestors who remain part of the clan. The elaborate ceremonies still show traces from the elite culture that characterized the former kingdom. The main features are the jubilant dressing up of the parti­cipants, the crucial role of the priests and the rituals, and the ubiquitous part of the musicians and the dancers. Two issues are crucial when it comes to perceive the distinct functions of ceremonies and the performance of verbal art in Fon society; these are the dress code and the fact that dancing is part of a ceremony.

setting during a storytelling performance (Abomey)

The sessions of performances of verbal art are events in itselves. The event is a way to relax in the evening, and to sit down to forget the strains of the working day. The performance of storytelling has the function to entertain the audience by the way of performing. The story itself has an educational function. The event takes place at home. The dress code for storytelling is casual; neither the performer nor the audience is dressed up for the event. Fon people wear indigenous clothes.

Voodoo ceremony Benin 1976

Ceremonies are a celebration of the unity of the community that includes the ancestors. Unlike the ceremonies, the setting of the performance of verbal art is relaxed, and both the performer and the audience wear casual clothes. The performance is a speech event that focuses on the content and its presentation.