After an enforced hiatus Gone With The Wynd is delighted to announce a return trip to Benin – for the first time since our last trip there in March 2020.
€2300 (approx £2000) email [email protected] for more information
Dr.Fenton writes “Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a magical country in West Africa. It is enchanting and has a rich historical and cultural legacy, it is known as the home of Voodoo.
The shoreline includes what was known as the Slave Coast and was a departure point for enslaved people to be shipped across the Atlantic. The prominence of the slave trade permeates all areas of Benin, with echoes of the past everywhere. Elements of the culture of Benin, especially Voodoo, or more accurately Vodun, is reflected across the new world, especially in Haiti.Religion within Benin is a combination of Vodun, Christianity and Islam. This is a warm, friendly and welcoming country ready to be explored.This trip will explore some of the key locations across the country. Starting in Cotonou, Benin’s main city and seat of Government, it was originally a fishing village in the Kingdom of Dahomey. It became a major slave trading port. The city is vibrant, fast-paced and cosmopolitan. Cotonou is a Fon word that means ‘River of Death’. There will be a visit to Dantokpa market, 100-acres of open air market and if you cannot find it here you will not find it in Benin! Then onto Abomey, pre-colonial capital of the Kingdon of Dahomey. Abomey is home to much of Benin’s cultural heritage. Between Savalou and Djougou is the most impressive, and powerful, Vodun fetish in the country. A small ritual is believed to make a wish come true (as long as you can return after it is granted to sacrifice a sheep, goat or cow….). The town of Natitingou is the most scenic major town in Benin. It is surrounded by hills and owes much of its existence to the slave trade. It is believed to be protected by Vodun spirits all around. The capital of Benin is Porto Novo. It has a rich cultural heritage from the French and Portuguese influenced architecture to the Brazilian influenced cuisine.”
Dr Louise Fenton will accompany as the group’s anthropologist and cultural historian. The expedition will start with a seminar giving an overview of the history and culture of Benin; from the Kingdom of Dahomey through to the culturally rich Republic it is today. There will be additional seminars on key locations during the expedition to provide a cultural and historical context to the locations visited. Dr Fenton will accompany the field trips to be on hand to explain aspects of Vodun and the echoes of slavery that are prevalent throughout the country. She will also be there to answer questions.
Dr Louise Fenton is a senior lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton. She has been studying and researching West African Vodun and Haitian Vodou for over 20 years. Dr Fenton holds a PhD from the University of Warwick in Caribbean history, the focus of her research was on the history and influence of Haitian Vodou, which originated in West Africa, our destination. She gives regular talks and lectures, featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Beyond Belief’ as a panellist on Vodou, and she is also an artist and writer.
Please note this is not written in stone and subject to change – hopefully we will hear news of ceremonies and masquerades and improve it when we are there
Day 1 Friday 11th March
Arrive at Cotonou airport, take PCR test and be escorted to hotel
Day 2 Saturday 12th March
Once PCR tests have been returned – officially within 24 hours but hopefully much sooner, we will lunch, change money, explore Cotonou, visit the Dantokpa & Fetish market and have our first seminar from Dr.Fent
Day 3 & 4 Sunday / Monday 13th-14th March
Depart for Abomey, in Abomey we will visit Vodon temples, a Vodon priest in the Bush, the fetish market, a textile workshop and the UNESCO heritage site of Dahomey palace and have the second of our Seminars with Dr.Fenton.
Day 5 Tuesday 15th March
Leave for the North. Stopping at Savalou to see the Dankoli fetish shrine – – by repute Africa’s most powerful and a place of pilgrimage for followers the world over & the site of numerous animal sacrifices.
Spend the night in Djougou
Day 6 Wednesday 16th March
Visit to a traditional Taneka village to meet the King and Nobles .
Spend the night in Natitingou
Day 7 Thursday 17th March
Full day visit to Somba country, with tata Mud Fortresses, animistic fetish shrines & the beautiful landscape of the Atakoura Mountains, at night the villagers will put on a traditional feast for us with dancing and celebrations. The night will be spent in a very basic eco-lodge
Day 8 Friday 18th March
Attempt to visit the nomadic Peulh, if they are in the area, and then drive South
Day 9 Saturday 19th March
Arrival at Cotonou in order to take PCR test and then spend the afternoon in the breathtaking artefact market, filled with vendors and treasures from across Benin and West Africa.
With a final seminar from Dr.Fenton that evening
Day 10 Sunday 20th March
Puerto Novo – visit to the museums, Royal Palace and Zangebeto temple
And attend a colourful church service.
With a final farewell seafood dinner
Viktor Wynd writes
“I am extremely excited to return to Benin and am really excited by the itinerary. Vodun is a state religion in Benin and is everywhere, it is possible to pay for special performances of Vodun Ceremonies and Masquerades but these are just put on for tourists and in my experience not very exciting, however ceremonies, masquerades and dances are happening all the time – so from the second we land our local guides will be searching and hopefully find some that we can attend; on my last visit we managed to find several. I have deliberately left out Ouidah as in my opinion it is a little touristy and what we will see elsewhere will be much more interesting. There will be lots of opportunities to purchase interesting artifacts – at fetish markets, vodun shrines and indeed at the artifact market – on my last trip I filled two enormous suitcases and can not wait to return!”
Price €2300 (approx. £2000)
contact [email protected] for more information
Does not include
Please ensure your Travel Insurance covers Covid. Dr.Fenton has just had Covid so shouldn’t get it again before the trip, but if Viktor Wynd catches it he will not be able to join, but the trip will go ahead! If the