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Saturday 25 October  
Adrien Adandé, 18, is a practising voodoo priest
Porto-Novo, Benin
Porto-Novo, Benin

High schooler by day, voodoo priest by night

Published on : 17 January 2013 - 6:00am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: Razzack Saïzonou)
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Voodoo remains an integral part of African culture. Although the traditional religion has its critics, it is still robustly practised among the Beninese  some of whom are as young as they are fervent in their beliefs.

By Razzack Saïzonou, Porto-Novo

As soon as he gets home from school, 18-year-old Adrien Adandé slips out of his high school uniform and into his voodoo priest attire. A large crowd is already queuing outside for mystical consultations. Adandé took the practice over from his father, who had initiated him before dying.

"As a child, I was my father’s only son who was interested in what he was doing in the convent,” the teenager recalls. “Along the way, he taught me things and showed me the secrets."

Through perseverance, the young apprentice so mastered the rituals that he now presides over the most important voodoo ceremonies. But Adandé is certainly an exception. There are very few school-going teenagers still interested in traditional religions.

This has earned him ridicule from classmates. “My friends tease me and call me a fetishist,” he explains. “Others keep away from me, fearing I might harm them with my amulets. But I stand by what I do. I can combine my studies and my vocation perfectly.”

All kinds of help
While some Beninese youth shy away from the cult, others do not hesitate to visit voodoo temples seeking a quick fix to their daily life problems. Many young people turn to a voodoo priest for solutions to their unemployment, help with getting a job promotion or advice on social issues.

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“What we can’t find at church, we look for in traditional convents, and it works!” says 23-year-old Joël Akingbé.

But not all implorations are honourable, finds voodoo priest Hounnon Dranvodoun. “With the development of internet scams, many young people ask me to perform rituals to help them succeed in their scams and not get caught,” he says.

To this, Gustave Bonou, another Beninese youth, replies: “Instead of using voodoo for dirty shams, these young people would be better off learning the cult’s noble principles which are against these evil practices.”

Devil’s handiwork or source of identity?
Young Beninese citizens, who mostly practise ‘imported’ organized religions, tend to reject traditional belief systems, which they consider backward – if not altogether diabolic.

According to Ahmed Kassim, 19: “Voodoo is the devil’s handiwork. Whoever wants to go to paradise must stay away from these satanic practices.”

But 23-year-old philosophy student Barnabé Hounza sees voodoo as a means through which his peers can hold onto their culture. “With globalization, the expansion of the so-called revealed religions and evangelical churches, in particular, young people have turned away from convents,” he says. “In doing so, youth are also turning away from their native beliefs.” 

Henri Tchokki, 19, agrees, advising youth to “stop belittling voodoo”. “Let’s internalize its teachings, which are the foundation of our spirituality and identity as Africans, as Beninese,” he says.

  • Benin celebrates 10 January as National Voodoo Day.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -
  • This voodoo initiation ceremony took place in Malanhoui, a village outside Port-Novo.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -
  • Elders were present.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -
  • There were plenty of young faces too.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -
  • The traditional religion relies on nature&#039;s forces to solve human problems.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -
  • Various participants were initiated into voodoo that day.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -
  • The initiates&#039; ages ranged from 5 to 18.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -
  • Some young men were initiated as voodoo priests.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -
  • Voodoo is dismissed by some as backward, while others value its ties to Beninese culture.<br>&copy; Photo: Razzack Saïzonou -


Roseanne 10 March 2014 - 4:59pm / Great Britain

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Aladokun 4 August 2013 - 1:11am / USA

Many are turning away from traditional beliefs because of deceitfulness in other religions. They only want people to turn away from their true power - the power of spirit, nature and the God within. Our traditions provide us with true power. Nature teaches us that we are Gods on lands. Other religions teach you to seek salvation outside of yourself but voodou and other spirit based and nature based spiritual systems teach you to harness the power within and control the forces without. People have to wake up to the lies and illusions being taught to them by other religions that have an deceptive motives of keeping the masses in the dark.

Aladokun 4 August 2013 - 1:12am / USA

What is Voodoo? Check it out on

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