I spent two evenings this week visiting a voodoo man (voodoun or voodouno) in a village near mine. I mentioned wanting to visit the one in my village to a primary school teacher friend, but he hold me that my village voodoun isn't very powerful... I actually think that traditional medicine works a lot of the time (lots of their plant remedies have been studied for Western medicine), and I wanted to check it out for myself. So he went to his favorite voodoo man, then with the holy okay brought me to visit.
The first night was pretty chill -- I asked silly yovo questions (with the aid of my friend translating, as I don't speak Gun and he doesn't speak French), he tried to extract a lot of money from me (voodoo guys are famous for that), and we took shots from the holy voodoo sodabi (moonshine) bottle. Voodoo man also spent a lot of time staring at me with intense, kind of convincingly soul-reading eyes, and saying things to the other people present in Gun. My friend half-translated one speech: "he...wife... jealous... yovo..."
By the end of that night, we were on good terms, mainly because he thought I was, a.) going to give him lots of money, and b.) afraid of his awesome power. He blessed me, made me take another shot, and invited me back for the following night. Strictly instructing me to bring my camera and several yams, he explained that he would give me a *free* demonstration of his powers by cooking the yams without fire. "Without fire?" I asked, "Is that possible?" "Everything is possible with the power of the god.Without fire." Normally this would cost me $50, but he liked me and wanted to do me a favor. I slipped him $2 and bowed all the way to the ground, then went home to drunkenly lesson plan.
The next day (after some fantastically interesting classes), the primary school teacher took me and my yams to the voodoo man's place. He was ready and waiting for me, delighted that I'd shown up, and as I sat down he said in fractured English, "You... not Madame. You... sister." Score.
He instructed his wife to heat a big pot over a fire. Weird, as I thought we were doing this without fire, but whatever. He cut up the yams, we took a round of moonshine shots, and when his wife brought the pot over, he started praying. Sprinkling black powder on the bottom of the oiled pot, he carefully layered the yams on the bottom, sprinkled more magic powder on top, asked me to make wishes, and gave instructions to his wife. To my great confusion, his wife then put the pot on top of a blazing fire as her husband mumbled prayers in Gun. "We will wait, maybe an hour, and the yams will be cooked!"
|Voodoo man sprinkles black powder into the pot.|
|Holy voodoo sodabi bottle.|
Me: "Umm... didn't he say without fire?"
Friend: "Yes... I guess he meant without water. You will see, he will take the yams out of the pot and they will not be burned on the bottom!"
Me: "And usually this costs $50?"
Friend: "Yes, but he is giving you a gift. Take another shot."
At the end of the hour, voodoo man's wife brought over the pot, and the voodoo man opened it. My astonished face made them all laugh (Oh my! They're cooked! And they're not burned!), and voodoo man declared that I could come back again another time. He divided the yams up amongst all present (they were now full of power, and would ward away evil from all who ate, so it was important that we share), and we ate.
The voodouno sealed the evening's festivities by rubbing the black powder into our veins to attract goodness, and I thanked him with another $2 slipped into his hands while bowing to the ground. Happy, entertainedly confused and, okay, a little drunk, I went home, surrounded by the good power of the black powder and the holy voodoo baked potatoes.
|Preparing the yams... without fire.|
|Holy voodoo moonshine shots. You can't pour for yourself.|
|Holy voodoo baby with awesome hair... ou bien the voodoo guy's grandbaby or something.|