By Nii B. Andrews.
The 4th edition of the Porto-Porto-Novo International Festival, one of the major cultural events in Benin, ended yesterday January 12.
This festival which commenced on January 4 was under the theme, “Gu or Ogun, figure of technology and innovation in Vodon: Epistemology of a pioneer of development”.
The events took place at Place Bayol, at the Musée Homme, on the esplanade of the National Assembly and at the Charles de Gaulle stadium.
While building on the success of the previous editions, the festival’s primary objective is to promote the image of Porto-Novo through its artistic, historical and cultural heritage.
As part of the festival, an important scientific symposium took place at the beginning of the week at the School of African Heritage (EPA) in the city.
This conference which spanned the first two days of the festival brought together experts from several countries who presented and discussed papers on the theme of the festival.
There was also a marked attempt to involve the people of Porto-Novo in every aspect of the celebration.
The participation of women and children in the festival parade and the location of the festival activities in many locations provided strong evidence for a significant engagement of the city’s population.
Over 11% of the population of Benin are reported to be practitioners of Vodon according to the latest census figures from 2013.
Ogun, one of the gods of the Vodon pantheon and associated with iron, is reputed to have over 70 million devotees worldwide.
While considered a predator, destroyer, soldier, builder, blacksmith, driver, mechanic, revolutionary; he embodies progress and its ambivalence.
Ogun has been proposed as an alternative paradigm to Western concepts of “development”, “civilization” or “progress”.
He is considered an important trope or vehicle for an individual’s personal agency in effecting transformation.
Perhaps Ogun could be considered as a paradigm for understanding globalization.