- Title: BENIN: Voodoo priests pray for Middle East peace
- Date: 12th January 2009
- Summary: VOODOO FOLLOWERS DANCING
- Embargoed: 27th January 2009 12:00
- Location: Benin
- Country: Benin
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA566HA8CS48E8F5WS1TV7T1JD8
- Story Text: Voodoo priests pray for peace and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at annual Voodoo ceremony that draws thousands of regional and international participants and spectators.
Voodoo priests in Benin offered sacrifices and prayers to gods and ancestors on Saturday (January 10) in the hopes these will help bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to other wars in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
"Here in Benin and in the world, our wishes will come true this year. But on one condition, we must make sacrifices and not try to predict the future," said an unidentified voodoo priest.
The small West African state sandwiched between Togo and Nigeria is the home of the ancient Voodoo religion, which was later carried by slaves to the Americas where it survives in different forms in countries like Brazil, Haiti and Cuba.
Voodoo priests referred to the conflict in Gaza during ceremonies to celebrate Benin's national voodoo day, a festival which draws hundreds of foreign visitors.
"We prayed for peace in the world, especially in areas of conflict, in Gaza. God saves the world from violence. This year will be a year of peace and love," said Sossa Guedegbe, a voodoo priest.
After sacrificing a cock, spilling its blood on the ground in honour of deities and ancestors, the high priest invoked their aid to end conflict in Gaza, in Somalia, in Democratic Republic of Congo.
The voodoo priests, through the casting of cowrie shells, also consulted an oracle, which made a prediction for the year.
The prediction urged Benin, and the wider world, to abandon hate, pride and jealousy and embrace unity, peace and tolerance.
"We are happy that for several years, the authorities of Benin have adopted a national day to recognize the importance of voodoo. It is January 10. And on this occasion we ask God's blessing for Benin and the world. As a voodoo high priest, I seek peace for Benin and the world,"
said Tchambassi, a voodoo high priest.
In capitals across Africa, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in recent days to demand an end to Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, in which nearly 900 Palestinians and 13 Israelis are reported to have died.
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