From the 17th to 19th centuries, millions of African people were sold into slavery, transported on ships to the Americas. With them came spiritual traditions including Voudun, which we now know as "voodoo." Its roots are in the Dahomey kingdom on the West Coast of Africa, now the country of Benin.
In today's episode, I travel to Benin's port city of Ouidah, one of the most important slave trade ports, and a center of the Vodoun religion.
We visit the Temple of Pythons and learn about Voudun religious practices, and witness some of the most important sites in the history of the slave trade.
We walk along a beach that was the single most highly-trafficked embarkation point for West African slaves headed over the Atlantic to the Americas. One million people were forced on to ships here, many transported to Haiti and Brazil, where Voudun transmuted into voodoo and Candomblé.
Outsiders called this region the Slave Coast. Ouidah's residents today call the former boarding platform on this otherwise idyllic beach the Gate of No Return. — XJ
(Photos: Xeni Jardin, CC license)