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Africa » Benin » South » Ouidah
February 25th 2008
Published: February 25th 2008
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Into a villageInto a villageInto a village

In the north Benin, on meet the king of village

The country of the amazones, of the historical slave trade, of the children new slaves today, of the voodoo. A journey to meet, understand and share a culture. Also, a bit of adventure!

The Africans say:
“The world knows very well how people die in Africa, but knows nothing of how people live there”. With this journey, we would like to repair a historical and cultural injustice that makes the economic injustice even worse.

The drums boom unrelently, dancers and young adepts staring at nothing out of fatigue, tribal kings with their courts of wives and dignitaries receiving honors from the natives. It is not a film on Africa but the Voodoo festival that takes place every year on the beach of Ouidah. Not just touristic folklore, but a real religious feast. Likewise, our journey will dive you in the real Africa, its people, its history, its culture and its problems. A journey in a portion of Africa with an outstanding history and a deep cultural heritage, that has not yet been discovered by mass tourism.

From Ouidah, a UNESCO cultural heritage site, millions of slaves were embarked and deported towards Cuba, Brazil, Haiti. We shall visit the places of this tragedy, we shall understand how women and men were turned into docile slaves up to the point they were embarked on the ships anchored in front of the beach of Ouidah. Only by doing so we can imagine a tragedy that lasted centuries and involved a whole continent, whose wounds are still open.

We shall visit royal palaces of the kingdom of Abomey, remnants of a power and a military organization able to resist western powers, based on warrior women. We shall see how this past reflects into modern Beninese society through its rites and religions, where both Christianity and Islam mixed with Voodoo. We shall visit populations doomed to disappear in the coming decades, ethnic groups of the mountains who proudly resist western the western way of life. We shall discover that slavery is coming again, as children are "lent" to affluent families who handle them as real slaves and even sell them. We rescued some of these children, you can play with them in our house. We shall meet humanitarian organizations fighting abuse and exploitation.
It will be a complete journey, always in touch with the natives. We shall always live in Beninese families, we shall experience their problems as well as their will to fight and dream.

The melancholy that will take us back in Europe, the "Africa-sickness", will make us understand that, in reality, our journey has just begun.

It's the third year of this experience. Who made the first one, commented enthousiastically.

In Ouidah, in the south of Benin, we shall be hosted in our Maison de la joie, a family-house of about thirty people including rescued children and mothers in distress. It was called House of Joy because of its atmosphere. Soon, it will officially become a non-profit organization.

In Djougou, in the north of the country, we shall be hosted by another family.

In any case, the Maison de la Joie of Ouidah is ready to host visitors at any time of the year, for short and long periods of time. It is located in Ouidah, 40 km from the airport, 400 m from an internet-point, 2 km from the hospital, 1 km from the pharmacy, 6 km from the beach. Ouidah is a small and quiet town, you can easily visit it by foot or by bike. There are 3 museums, 4 historical sites, 2 Voodoo religious sites and the first Christian cathedral in Western Africa.

For anybody wishing to volunteer, we can make an agreement with local NGOs or Catholic missions. Alternatively, you may help us providing lessons of English, French, Spanish, Computer Science or basic work in agriculture or elsewhere.


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