The highlight of my trip to Togo would be going to the Marche des Fetichers (Fetish Market). Which is a market that sells different animal parts for a specific form of voodoo. Entering the market you can small a pungent smell of decaying animals, lets just say that I was very happy that it was an open air market because I can only imagine how much worse the smell would be when it is indoors.
Many believers view the Marche des Fetichers as a kind of hospital or pharmacy. It is the place that you go when you cannot afford “regular treatment” or when “regular treatment” has failed you. Common things that are treated here are the flu, infertility or the darkest of curses. Many believe that voodoo is something that is mainly practiced in New Orleans or Haiti but it is believed that voodoo originated in West Africa in the areas that are today known as Benin and Togo. These practices made it over to the America’s with the Slave trade.
Within the religion of Fetish there are over 40 different gods (fetishes) and each god selects his fetcher (fetish priest) with whom he will communicate with through dreams and broken shells. You can not become a fetish priest, you are born a fetish priest, when the spouse of a fetish priest is pregnant the priest will consult with the gods to determine whether or not their child will also have the power of communicating with the god.
The fetish priests at the market practice white magic, not black magic. Even though they use dead animal parts, their goal is always to help and to heal, not to hurt. If you want to become a stronger and faster runner, he suggests a combination of secret herbs with the skulls of a horse and a deer and the heads of a dog and rabbit
I asked where the animals come from and they said that they come from all over the country and all over the world but he stated that the animals sold to the market cannot be killed for the purpose of their sale to the market. He claimed that the spirits will know if the animal was found rather than killed. If it was killed the spirits are not accepted it to the market.
Not too long ago you could come to this market and get your hands on a lion’s head, elephant’t foot or even hippopotamus skull for up to $1000 USD. But due to the uproar from the western world the government has placed regulations on protected animals and they are rarely seen at the market.