How to Behave … in a Togolese Fetish Market

How to Behave … in a Togolese Fetish Market


If you ever find yourself in Lomé, the French-speaking capital of Togo, don’t miss out on a trip to the fetish market: home to all that is weird and wonderful in the world of voodoo. In West Africa alone, an estimated 30 million people practice voodoo……….. there just might be something in it.

Lome Fetish Market  Monkey Head


  • The Marche de Fetisheurs is effectively a ‘pharmacy’ selling ingredients for curative potions. Perhaps you’re there because you have a small problem of your own to sort out. Powders and spells cover everything from hexing your enemies and improving your sex life to curing insanity. Consult your phrasebook wisely.

  • This may not be the best place to visit if you are an animal lover. Our furry, feathered and scaly friends are for sale as key ingredients. They are either sacrificed directly to one of the voodoo gods or their bodies are dried and burnt to create ashes, which are then mixed with herbs. Practitioners of voodoo particularly favour the use of crocodiles, cats, monkeys, snakes, chameleons, bats and vultures.

    Lome Fetish Market

  • If you fancy putting a spring in your step, ask for the ‘marathon mix’ – using the ashes from the head, heart and four legs of a horse. Side effects may include an exaggerated fondness for oats and a tendency to whinny when excited, but you’ll never again miss the bus.

  • Indigestion from eating too much local shito chilli sauce? A spoonful of elephant dung will set you right. Alternatively, spread it over your face to cure acne. Can’t remember where you stashed your travellers’ cheques? Powdered monkey skull will restore your memory. Suffering from boils or backache? Try a nice bit of python fat. If you have no conscience whatsoever and are feeling a bit constipated, rub leatherback turtle oil (yes, it’s a protected species) over your abdomen.

  • Want to impress your mates on the footie team back home? Order some ‘goalie-helper’ powder: made from the left hand of a chimpanzee. To enhance effectiveness, the concoction is rubbed into cuts made in your chest and back. Be brave.Fetish figure

  • Fertility potions are a top-seller. Men, take note of what your maternally inclined better halves may be purchasing and slipping into your beer.

  • For those seeking revenge on ex-boyfriends / noisy neighbours / annoying co-workers, there are voodoo dolls. Simply give the wooden figure the name of your enemy, then rub it with a sample of their hair, fingernail clippings or anything else touched by your victim before getting to work with those pins.

  • Looking for the perfect souvenir? If dried reptiles aren’t your bag, haggle for a talisman sans eye-sockets and teeth ……. these protect travelers and the home from evil spirits.Wikipedia -Lome_Fetish_Market (2)

  • As you might expect, all purchases can be haggled for. Cowrie shells are thrown by the vendor to interpret the wishes of the voodoo god overseeing your particular purchase. If you’re lucky, they may let you have a bargain.

  • Remember that the customs officers at Heathrow are unlikely to be impressed by a collection of monkey paws and snake heads lurking in the bottom of your rucksack. You’ve been warned.


My article first appeared in Canvas Magazine  (