January 12, 2006 by AK
I did not know January 10 was Voodoo Day in Benin. According to AP,
The religion was repressed in Benin, then banned during incumbent President Mathieu Kerekou’s first 18-year stint in power, which ended in 1991. Kerekou’s Marxist regime believed the rites went against the socialist work ethic.
Benin is not alone in Africa in having a history of suppressing local religions. In Zimbabwe on Monday, a senior High Court judge urged the government to ease colonial era restrictions on the practice of witchcraft, state-run radio reported.
Scary, jokes aside, this is scary. But is Russia that much better? Sure, Communists also thought belief in the “bad eye” didn’t help the socialist work ethic. Perhaps it benefits the capitalist ethic? Open a tabloid-style paper like MK or Komsomolka and check out the ad headers:
“Zhenyu” (will get you married); “Svakha” (matchmaker); “Zapoi” (will take you/your hubbie off the drinking spree); “Dosug” (prostitutes); “V.I.P. sauna” (same); “Remont” (apartment repairs and renovation)… and a host of fortune tellers, magicians, witches, astrologers — “White Wizard of the Highest Rank of Initiation. Diagnostics and Cleansing of Karma. Will Bring Your Husband Back” and all that. I’ve got the impression that poor quarters in Southern (US) towns (small and medium) always boast a pawn shop and a fortune-teller’s practice. (Seeing which should be enough to make one cry.) Similarly, Moscow is home to a myriad of sorcerers, a few pawn shops, and — banned on most of US soil — a growing one-armed army of slot machines. There are many more of them now than there were five or ten years ago.
The harm to Muscovites is less obvious than to residents of small towns where slot machines are emptying people’s pockets like vodka-serving taverns (kabaks) used to in old Russia. I can now understand those roaring and thundering American pastors and abstinence preachers (quaint as they seem to us modern sophisticates) who spent decades fighting gambling joints and liquor stores and, at least, succeeded in limiting the former to Nevada and offshore sites. Libertarianism, alas, is for perfect humans.
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