The Taneka People and Natitingou, West Africa


A morning hike to visit a clifftop Taneka community with unusual round-roofed dwellings. The highest part of the village was inhabited by the chief fetish priests who dress in goatskins, and their young initiates who were naked except for a band fo goatskin around their neck holding amulets. There was quite a bit of nudity with a fetish priest still dressed only in a simple loincloth sitting there on display, and the women wore only sarongs.

These Taneka may be descendants of a tribe thought to have disappeared about 400 years ago. Both the Tanekas and Sombas still live in traditional ways and “Somba” means “naked” in their local language, but I’ve got to tell you, an elderly, thin naked priest with everything hanging in the breeze is not pretty sight! The head priest just sat there, placidly smoking his pipe.

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Taneka head priest, Benin, West Africa

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more Taneka priest, West Africa

A local person, in either the Taneka or Somba village, entertained us with a musical performance on his Balafon. A Balafon resembles a xylophone with small gourds hanging under that give it a hollow sound. This took a while until the Balafon was tuned to his liking…a drummer did his set-up…View image…and the music began…

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Balafon concert in the Taneka Village, West Africa

The Balafon even had a voodoo “Barbie” for decoration…

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voodoo “Barbie” on the balafon in West Africa

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