Where do I begin? To keep this long story short, in Benin you can get scarification to protect you from “bad things”. This protection ranges from a blessing so you’ll never get caught by the police to protection from the common cold and EVERYTHING in between. Lisa and I decided to ask the Koborbororou medicine man that we befriended a few weeks earlier if he could do it for us (Koborbororou is the small village just outside of Parakou that Lisa and I visit every Sunday). He laughed, and agreed.
First we went into the fetish shrine thing (not as fancy as it sounds) where we were not allowed to take pictures, wear shoes or hats (or hair nets…?). The only people who were allowed inside were Lisa and I, the medicine man, his wife (we think), a younger man who translated for us, the medicine man’s brother and the priestess girl (she had to be like 15…). They performed a short blessing that involved some praying, drinking some blessed water (that I was SURE would make me violently ill later, but I was not taking any chances…) and eating a coco nut after they threw it on the ground to see if the gods had accepted us – which they did, probably because I drank the water.
After that we left the shrine area and sat back down at our normal hangout spot in front of the medicine man’s house. Lisa and I were confused because we had asked about being scarred, and the blessing seemed to be over. When we asked, he laughed again and explained that since the gods accepted us we didn’t need to get the scars. We tried to explain that we wanted the scars and that we thought that was the protection. He laughed yet again, and we got started.
Step 1: Make cuts with razor (Yes, we brought our own. Come on, people.)
Step 2: Rub in blessed ash. The most painful part!
Step 3: Enjoy!
Medicine man’s brother who did the scarification.
The group with Lisa and I. They are much happier than they appear, I promise.
xoxo – Heather