The traditional medicines of Lomé's Fetish Market

The traditional medicines of Lomé's Fetish Market

Monkey skulls line the stalls, a thousand pairs of eye sockets staring up at you. The smiling faces of crocodile skulls are piled high nearby. Dessicated chameleons, snake skins and dried birds lie next to baboons’ teeth and chimpanzees’ hands. This is the fetish market at Akedessewa, a little outside Togo’s capital Lomé, and unlike anywhere you’ve been before.

To western eyes it may appear to be a grizzly zoo of the dead, a pharmacy of the bizarre. But here, at one of the homes of Vodun, the religion which gave birth to voodoo, this is serious stuff. These are the raw materials for the traditional medicines of sorcerers and healers - medicines are made by grinding up the animal parts with herbs, then putting the mixture on a fire, producing a black powder, which is then rubbed on.

It may disturb some, but a visit to LoméFetish Market is one of the best insights any visitor to Togo can get – a window on to a fascinatingly exotic, alien (and popular) belief system, and an undoubtedly lively, boisterous experience.