Photos and Memories

There were certain questions Madame Odette didn’t feel comfortable answering or, more specifically, “qualified” to answer – on the role of women in her life, on the role of women in Benin. The reality is, some women have never had the luxury, of time or opportunity, to think about who they are and why they are in any depth, and the circumstances that shaped them.

Mid-way through the interview, she suggested we speak to her friend who would be “better able” to give us “good” answers.

She instructed her son to take us to the home of Madame Tokpo who, we quickly learnt, is a Voodoo Priestess. Self-assured and self-possessed, she spoke without prompting for about 10 minutes before summoning her grandson to bring a stack of old photographs taken over the course of her life. Each picture captured a moment of joy or celebration or worship, individual milestones, little capsules of time that together revealed the full extent of her existence. 

Image: Madame Tokpo looks pensive as she goes through a stack of personal photos.

Image: Ernest Ankomah

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