On January 9 and 10, the world gathered to see the richness of West Africa’s art and culture at the maiden Vodun Days festival.
The festival drew people of African descent from seeking to discover the religion and land of their ancestors who were enslaved and shipped away from the beaches of West Africa.
Benin unveiled the maiden edition of ‘Vodun Days,’ a transformative celebration that merges arts, culture, and Vodun spirituality. Traditionally observed on January 10th, the Vodun Festival now takes on a new identity on January 9 and 10, 2024, in the historic city of Ouidah.
The event also boosts the culture and tourism. Jean-Michel Abimbola, Benin’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Arts, expressed the impact of ‘Vodun Days’ on the nation’s creative economy, stating, “By establishing ‘Vodun Days,’ tourism, culture, and arts sectors have been boosted to make them a second pillar for enriching the creative economy and generating employment.”
The festivities unfolded against the backdrop of Ouidah’s iconic landmarks, including the ‘Door of No Return’ and the city centre, providing a vibrant showcase of Benin’s rich heritage.
The move marks Benin’s commitment to rediscovering and sharing the profound connection between arts, culture, and Vodun spirituality with the global community.
At the heart of this cultural resurgence are ambitious projects, including the construction of an International Vodun Museum, the establishment of the Vodun Convents Route, and the introduction of ‘Vodun Days.’ By emphasizing its cultural and spiritual legacy, Benin aims to position itself as the birthplace of Vodun.
The two-day extravaganza brought an exceptional cultural and spiritual program, encompassing performances at Vodun squares and convents, a bustling Vodun Days Village featuring crafts and food stands, an artistic stage hosting evening concerts on the beach, and a ceremonial event on January 10 attended by high dignitaries.
From the rhythmic Vodun Hounve dances to the mesmerizing appearances of Zangbetos and Egungun, the festivities will also pay homage to deities such as Yaoïtcha and Vodun Mami Dan. The event climaxed with open-air concerts on the seashore, featuring both international and homegrown talents.
‘Vodun Days,’ formerly known as the Vodun Festival, is set to become an annual international event showcasing the arts, culture, and Vodun spirituality, solidifying Ouidah, the City-Museum, as a unique destination for a cultural and spiritual experience.