Westerners’ knowledge of Africa typically includes images of safaris, poverty, and of course, “tribal” religion, with all of its racist connotations of “primitiveness.” Among African religions, Beninese Vodun holds a prominent place as the precursor of Caribbean Vodou and North American Voodoo.
In Ghana, creative culture and the contemporary art sphere is in a period of exponential growth and refiguration. Across Accra and Kumasi, the contemporary creative scene has been growing at an unprecedented rate since 2011–pervading public spaces, transportation infrastructure, historical sites, and online social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In the absence of support structures for the arts, many artists and institutions have begun using urban public spaces as creative venues and substantive mediums for producing and displaying art.
I knelt on the stiff prayer mat in silence. The keeper of this shrine in southern Togo had asked me to lead prayers and propitiations to the tron (spirits) that morning. I had never before been expected to make formal, public praise to the spirits. I felt unsure and self-conscious. “But I’m Catholic,” I said, lamely attempting to withdraw.