Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bruised in Benin

July 31st 2007

I've been back to Cotonou for a couple of days now and unearthed some amazing records so far.

Tomorrow is the big national independence day to celebrate good riddance of the french colonial power. Chakirou and I will drive up to Abomey where there will be a big get together of Benin's different Voodoo societies. The event is being organized by a local Voodoo leader who recently gained fame, respect and notoriety when he and some of his followers ambushed a pastor who knowingly and for sheer sake of provocation had built a church on one of their sacred Voodoo sites. The pastor and several churchgoers ended up in the hospital and the church got burned down. I would normally never advocate any form of religiously motivated violence but I guess there are exceptions... Benin stands out as a country where efforts of islamisation and evangelisation have never really had much success. Voodoo is the official state religion. While elsewhere masks and other tribal artifacts merely serve as props for tourist spectacles and souvenir merchandise. In Benin, original African religion as opposed to the imported artificial religions of Islam and Christianity is still very much alive and well. I hope this won't change.

OUCH ! ! 

Just 30 minutes after typing the above, I got picked up by Poly Rythmo Bass player Gustave Bentho on his Vespa scooter. While on the way to his house, we had a minor traffic accident. Lucky enough, I've only left a bit of skin on the roads of Cotonou while Gustave also complained about minor chest pain. He went off to get X-Rays done in the hospital while I took a cab back to the hotel where I showered the dirt off myself and doused my wounds with Iodine...

After the crash, as I was lying in the road, another scooter bumped into my ass, I guess I'll end up with a bruised cheek. Lucky it wasn't a car or a truck...

I hope Gustave is fine and the band still will be able to perform tonight as scheduled.


Pieter said...

Sorry-o. Traffic can be a drag, especially on a scooter (I'm riding a 150 CC from 1959, not the best on sandy roads, but lots of fun).

Have fun in Abomey; did you get the contacts for that collector up there? Good hunting!


Frank said...

Hey Pieter,
Great to hear from you. I ended up not going to Abomey because of my injuries. Nothing more than road rash and a swollen and strangely colored wrist but I thought I'd better take it easy for a while. We're going to go tomorrow and my man Chakirou has already been working on some leads up there. No idea if the collector you're talking about will be amongst them.

Do you have any suggestions where to find stuff in Accra? I'll be there for the second half of this month.

Drop me a mail!

jon said...

You have an eventful life don't ya? ;-) You watch your arse, you hear! Can i recomend metal underpants. . . Fascinating blog. I have just played a couple of unreleased ( due to distorted quality) Poly rhythmo tracks from a blog called African Analog. magic stuff.