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Cosmogony and anthropology of the Adja-Fon.

The cosmogony of the Adja-Fon people is hierarchical and spiritualist. It implies a hierarchy of beings, and the separation of the cosmos (Weke in the Fon language) into two worlds: the visible and the invisible, the material and the spiritual.
The invisible world, somehow, is considered more important than the visible one. It is based on the criterion of vital potentiality: Gbèdoto, the Supreme Being and Creator, is the ruler of this hierarchy and the invisible essence. He gives life to man, Gbèto (which means ‘father of the created’). In fact, God (Creator) rules over the invisible world, and man rules the visible world, but only as an administrator.

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Therefore he has power over the other creatures, but he is supposed to live in harmony with the cosmos and the sacred and spiritual sphere, and he must not interfere with the order established by the Creator. Breaking such order would be a source of troubles. Man must be subordinated to the spiritual sphere in order to realize the existential project set by the Creator. Man is not supposed to act on the basis of free will among the Fon people and this is why, an oracle is often consulted, in particular the Fa (God’s spokesman), in order to know how to act according to God’s will.

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Creation is considered, among the Fon people, a ‘place of signs’, which can be deciphered through the experience of life. The Toxwyo, the dead ancestors of this ethnic group are also part of the invisible world, and they are considered as Vodoun, spiritualized beings. The reference to the invisible is a key feature in the Adja-Fon culture. The invisible permeates man’s relationship with his fellow men and with creation. The Adja-Fon people recognize the existence of a Creator who created men and things.
Anthropological sources reveal many different versions of the creation. Many Fon have adopted the biblical creation account even though they are not Christians. They also believe that man is not made of body (Agbaza) only, but also of a principle of life, the breath of life (se).

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According to the famous soothsayer or bokono, Guèdègbé, at the court of Abomey, the ‘se’ is an inner voice, which advises, guards, and protects man against disease and violent death. Since man is animated by the breath of the Creator, he is the center of the creation, though he is not its master but rather its administrator. The Adja-Fon, however, recognize, that man is superior to the other visible beings. Every aspect of life among the Fon is influenced by their beliefs in the spiritual world; men themselves are believed to become spiritual beings. This is shown in their funeral rites.

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The ancestors that become Toxwyo are also an example of the deification of man after death. Man received the Creator’s breath and is thus supposed to keep balance between the material and the spiritual world. The Fon’s beliefs deeply touch every aspect of their life, any event such as disease, death, a fire, drought, too much rain, is an expression of God or the ancestors’ will. That is why Fa the oracle is often consulted. (JB.S.)

 

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