Benin

Festivals

Zangbetos are the traditional voodoo guardians of the night in the Yoruba religion of Benin and Togo which are known as the “Night watchmen”. Similar to Egunguns, they are highly revered and act as an unofficial police force patrolling the streets and watching over people and tracking down criminals and presenting them to the community to punish. They were originally created to scare the enemy away, now the Zangbeto will wander around the street to detect thieves and witches, and dispensing justice.

Each year, the festival of Awilé , the goddess of the lake, brings together the inhabitants of the nearby villages to chase away the evil spirits.

On the 15th of August each year, the town of Savalou celebrates the Yam festival; this traditional celebration originally organized by the Salman tribe is to give thanks for a good harvest.

According to Tossoh GBAGUIDI XIII, King of this locality, it is the yam species ‘Laboco’ which is celebrated, because it is the first tuber collected. This feast of the new Yam has become an opportunity for the people of the Mabou de Savalou (socio-ethnic group based in the centre of Benin) to worship and thank the Ancestors for the good season which allowed good Yam harvest. To complement this celebration, the people of Savalou organize several traditional activities from the different cults including public prayers, animated songs, praise and cultural dances.

The Voodoo Ceremony in Ouidah is celebrated annually on the 10th of January since 1992. This is an opportunity for the dignitaries and followers of voodoo to express their faith in their gods
in the eyes of the public. This celebration of traditional religions is often marked by folk dances, colourful ceremonies. This day is also a national holiday in Benin

The festival of Nonvitcha is celebrated in Sèdjè (Cococodji). For nearly a century, the sons and daughters Popo, Houeda and Xwla gather annually to celebrate Pentecost, at the beach of Grand-Popo.

Every year, thousands gather to celebrate the union between the tribes of this locality. This event is celebrated with games, entertainment, competitions and concerts. Each Nonvitcha reveals the beauty of the songs and dances from this region.

This festival is celebrated in the Somba country. This is an initiation rite of boys which takes place in four different stages. During these steps, boys are initiated into the traditions of the tribe and includes sex education. The ceremony typically involves a retreat into the sacred forest where it is believed that the God of the Earth resides.
This includes several other events aimed at developing the skills of young participants into adulthood.

A ceremony to discover the mysteries of voodoo and especially the rites of bewitchment

Fête de la Gani is a 7 day annual event generally celebrated in December in Gani. During the festivities, the Bariba Chief of Nikki (The historic capital of the Baatonu people) is presented gifts by his people and other Bariba Chiefs of Kouandé, Kandi et Banikoara as a sign of respect and allegiance

The Quintessence film festival generally takes place in the days immediately before and after the Voodoo Festival. This international film festival has been celebrated annually since 2003 dedicated to movies and documentaries from the whole of Africa. From 9th to 13th January the touristic and historical city of Kpassè comes alive to the rhythm and colors of Ouidah’s International Film Festival.

Film screenings related to Africa is broadcast five days in Ouidah , Cotonou including public place Agla ( The Pylons in partnership with Artisttik Africa ) .
Several screenings will be followed by discussions led by directors . There are both fiction and documentaries, feature films and short films.
After the festival , the jury will award the best director a ” Royal Python”

Festival Djiogbe, previously known as FIAS, was founded in September 2008. The festival later changed its name to Festival Djiogbe, and has continued to develop into a small, but popular annual event. Festival Djiogbe aims to support artistic creativity at a regional level and to promote art from Benin internationally. Events focus on music, dance, film, poetry and visual art and is attended by an estimated 15 000 people annually.

This Benin festival has steadily grown since it began by targeting professional artists from the live music scene, local collectives, collectives in the region as well as youth and women.
The twelve-day festival takes place in Benin’s largest city, Cotonou. It aims to strengthen capacities of cultural actors, professional networking, street art, fine art exhibitions, live music concerts, and workshops, Festival Djiogbe represent the whole of Benin by creating a musical programme that affects a wide-ranging audience.

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