The 40-year-old, who is married to a voodoo practitioner whose work includes preserving the dead bodies of criminals before using their skulls for rituals has had nine children.
Among them was a set of twins who died just a few months apart at the age of two, and she has also suffered a number of miscarriages.
Hounyoga’s dead twins were called Zinsou (the boy) and Zinhoue (the girl), but she talks about them in the present tense. In the morning, like any child, the twins are bathed by their mother, who wipes their faces with a wet glove.
They are also given a weekly scrub in the lake, not because they are dirty but to rid them of evil spirits. ‘Hounyoga wipes them with a vegetable sponge and soap,’ explains Mr Lafforgue.
‘Then she dries them off and sprays perfume on them. The bathing ends. She throws the sponge as far as possible in the lake. It is contaminated. If she brings it home, she will bring the evil spirits with her.’
Next it’s time for lunch.
‘She put the twins on two miniature iron chairs around the table where we sit,’ explains Lafforgue. ‘It’s 1pm and she must serve lunch to the twins.’
The food is accompanied by water and carbonated drinks like Fanta and Coca Cola because, according to the voodoo belief system, sugar is equated with peace.
‘In giving sugar to the statues, you increase your chances of having a better life because the twins have supernatural powers and the ability to affect your destiny,’ Mr Lafforgue explains.
After lunch, Hounyoga visits a small temple with the dolls, where she feeds the rest of the meal to a snake deity called Dan. Then, after biting a cola nut in half with her teeth, she seasons it with strong spices and offers it to the twins.
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