The Kingsley Holgate Foundation started 2017 with a West African adventure, returning to a region it last visited nearly a decade ago. The three-week-long ‘Slaves, Castles, Voodoo and Gate of No Return’ journey forms part of the Living Traditions series of expeditions, and included stops in Ghana, Togo and Benin.
“We last visited these countries in 2007 and 2008, when we circumnavigated the outline of Africa in a world-first for Land Rover, which resulted in a book called ‘Dispatches from the Outside Edge’,” said Kingsley Holgate. “This time around our mission was different. We went to gather information and document cultures for posterity, and also to highlight the fast-disappearing treasures Mama Africa has to offer.”
Other West African countries were also visited on this Living Traditions journey, including a cross-country journey through Togo en route to Benin, to research and document the Voodoo Festival in Ouidah, the ancient coastal town that is also a stronghold for the religion, which is estimated to have more than 50 million followers worldwide.
“Thousands of devotees attended the colourful festival, coming from all over West Africa and also as far as Brazil,” said Holgate. “It was an opportunity to add another great traditional ceremony to the Living Traditions book, which will also feature Ethiopia’s Timkat Ceremony, the Turkana Festival of northern Kenya, the Swazi Reed Dance and many others vibrant ceremonies and cultures across Africa.”
The Kingsley Holgate Foundation is renowned for packing its fleet of Land Rover vehicles full of humanitarian aid – and this trip was no different. The Alliance Motors-supplied Land Rover Discovery, fitted with tyres supplied by General Tyres, made short work of crossing thousands of kilometres of testing African terrain, carrying malaria nets and Rite to Site reading glasses for the poor sighted in remote areas.
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