Thursday, 27 December 2012

Frederic Vanwalleghem | Vodun

"Vodun practitioners worship a pantheon of gods and lesser deities that inhabit objects ranging from stones to waterfalls."
Here's a short video made of moving images and stills by photographer Frederic Vanwalleghem made in Ouidah (Benin)of the ancient belief system of vodun.

Despite concerted efforts of Christian missionaries, this ancient belief system still has millions of adherents along West Africa’s former Slave Coast, from Ghana to parts of Nigeria, and especially in Benin. In 1996, Benin’s democratic government officially decreed vodun a religion, and ever since, thousands have openly practiced it. It's estimated that  20 percent of the population of Benin, or about a million people, practice pure vodun.

The belief system is called vodun in Benin, vodou or voodoo in Haiti and vudu in the Dominican Republic.

Frederic Vanwalleghem is a Belgian photographer; deeply interested in African religious traditions, and especially in vodun, a topic he has researched for years. He became interested in vodun when he first traveled to Cuba and discovered santeria, the Afro-Cuban religious tradition, and was subsequently introduced its secret ceremonies in Trinidad. Later, he traveled to Nigeria and Benin, to look for the roots of diasporic traditions like santeria, condomble and vodun.

An interesting article on vodun was recently featured in The New York Times, and a full interview with Frederic Vanwalleghem was featured in The Leica Camera Blog.