Raising twins is never easy but in Benin, an poor nation on the west coast of Africa, hardship means many die during childhood. Now a stunning new set of photos shows how the families deal with their grief – by creating doll effigies of the lost infants and raising them as if they were still alive.
Taken by French photographer Eric Lafforgue, the photos document the life of the Fon tribe, who say the dolls possess the child’s spirit and have the power to bring the family good or bad luck, depending on how well they are treated.
Many of the dolls also attend school with their living siblings and, when their parents are away working, are cared for in huge ‘creches’ run by the village elders.
|The statues at a nursery|
Not every child becomes a doll after they die however – the custom only applies to those born of multiple births, which, in the Fon tribe, occurs in one in every 20 births – one of the highest in the world.
One mother, named Hounyoga (pictured below), who resides in the village of Bopa, took Mr Lafforgue through a day the life of her own dolls.
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