January 10, 2013 - National Vodoun Day in Benin

Vodoun is an ancient African religion that had been suppressed by colonial forces and others for centuries. Since 1991, however, this religion has gained a respectable place in the nation of Benin. National Vodoun Day is a time to honor Benin's history, culture, and traditions. It is a day of parades, rituals, dances, and an international film festival.

Gate of No Return
Because Benin's port of Ouidah was a important during the slave trade of the 1500s to the 1800s, part of Vodoun Day is a re-enactment of the journey from the auction block in the center of town to ships in the harbor. People walk the three kilometers of this “Route of the Slaves,” pass memorials to enslaved peoples and statues honoring the ancient Dahomey kingdom, and finally go through the “Gate of No Return” sculpture. On the other side of the gate is the beach, where the people find food to eat, music to dance to, and vendors and artists with wares to buy.
Close-up of the memorial

Celebrate Benin

Go West Africa has activities and stories to teach kids about Benin. 

Check out the photos of the Route of the Slaves from Cosmo Connections.

By the way...

Even if you have never heard of the religion Vodoun (also spelled Vodon and Vodun), you may have heard of the offshoot that developed among the enslaved African-heritage people in the New World. That offshoot religion is called Voodoo.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of first aerial photo in U.S.

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