Ouessè Goja Ceremony

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In Ouessè, the Fulani community practices a modernized form of Goja.  While the flagellation tradition of Goja is traditionally intended to display bravery and stoicism, the youth recently used their whips to settle scores over personal problems.  In response, the elders have suspended flagellation from the Goja Ceremony.  Nonetheless, the community celebrates the end of the rainy season and the new batch of yams with abundant music, dancing, and acrobatics:

Check out the video for loads of photos, music, and wild flips.

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The women started off in the spotlight.  Some danced in pairs while others drummed on plastic jugs and metal basins.

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It’s quite unusual for women to drum in Benin.  These ladies illustrated the important role of women in Fulani culture.

xIMG_0351 Here come the boys, watched eagerly by the women and children.

xIMG_9576 They’re literally bouncing off the walls with energy.

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xIMG_9598 These flips, called furu, are a tradition of the Fulani in central Benin.

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So is this dance, performed in pairs to the sound of flute music.

The ladies clean up the area for more furu. Nothing ruins your Goja like landing on a stone.

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Expensive modern pots are put on display, full of fancy items like cloth and silverware.

The boys re-enacted flagellation in slow-motion.  Just for old times’ sake…

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More shots for the portrait series:

xIMG_9794 These white fedoras are especially popular in Ouessè.

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Have another look at that unique haircut:

xIMG_9813-2 The half-shave indicates the recent death of a parent.

Yup, she’s lovin’ it.

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We also stopped by the weekly cattle market, which happened to coincide with Goja day:

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How do you get a bull out of a pickup truck?

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Like this!

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Handholding is a common sign of friendship amongst boys in Benin.

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These guys really wanted their mobile phones in the picture.

This is 21st century Africa… there’s a cell tower about 3 kilometers from this Fulani camp.

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