Project

African Magicians in Daimon Xanthopoulos Photo Project

Daimon Xanthopoulos, a photographer from the Netherlands, went to Sierra Leone and photographed people the locals fear and to whom they entrust their lives.


Daimon Xanthopoulos

A photographer from the Netherlands, at the beginning of his career he was a photojournalist covering international events. Later he became interested in social documentary photography. He has exhibited in the Netherlands and Greece, and worked in Africa. His series “The Magic of Secret Societies” was the finalist of Lensculture Awards in 2015. Lensculture Awards в 2015 году.

Magic and secret societies play an important role in the lives of people in Sierra Leone. Magic is everywhere: part of politics, culture, and religion. People believe in witchcraft, are afraid of it and fight against it. Bewitched people or children are often persecuted and may even get killed.



Juju Priest.
This famous Juju priest was trained in Burkina Faso. He uses iron to generate water and washes his clients with it. He also reverses witchcraft spells and cures diseases.

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Healer at Work.
This traditional healer works with 36 devils. His body shakes as he tears the head of a chicken off the body and lets the blood drip into a bowl of water. There are many rituals he performs to help the girl who requested his services. Most people in Sierra Leone prefer a local medicine man over a Western hospital.

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Healing ritual.

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Witchcraft Hunter.
This traditional healer uses his skills only for fighting witchcraft. With his magical weapons and cloths, he tracks down witches and kills them. He uses a special type of wood to smash their skull into pieces. His suit is specially prepared by an albino healer (who also makes amulets for rebel movements during times of war).

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Witchcraft Guns.
The witchcraft society in Sierra Leone is feared by most people. Especially the witch-guns, which are the deadliest weapons. The bullets are made out of brown sugar and toxic materials. These guns are confiscated by traditional Poro healers who fight witchcraft in Sierra Leone.

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Devil Dancer.
The secret society Poro is the biggest and most influential secret society in West Africa. The Poro society has bush schools and dancing devil ceremonies as well as magical healers and herbalists. The dancing devil is evil, and when the sound of his arrival is heard, everybody runs home. The old man Forkpayea Argba is one of the secret Poro devil dancers in Zigita.

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Soko Bana Society.
A traditional healer from the Soko Bana society, during a devils ritual whereby he cuts his tongue with a razor. These are feared healers, as they perform extreme acts in order to show their strength in public. To get these spiritual powers they work with devils or demons and consume leaves from the bush.

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Mr. Pa Konte, High Priest of Hemabu.
The secret, magical town of Hemabu is hidden on the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia. Only invited priest are welcome in this mystical village. This is the leader of the mystical village, Mr. Pa Konte. As a high priest, he is seen as the leader of many traditional healers, because many see the town Hemabu as the center of magical powers in West Africa.

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Secret Shrine of the Bongman Devil.
The devil lives in a huge tree and his mystical shrine is between its roots. The priest who works with the Bongo devil is Mr. Mali and he communicates with him using a mirror. The Bongo-man devil is a well-known and has magical powers that have cured many people. During times of war, the area becomes crowded with wounded soldiers who go there to be treated.

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Kamajor warrior.
The famous Kamajor (editor’s note: hunters from Mende Tribe) initiator and fortune teller Mama Munda with her magical Kamajor fighters. She is the only female high priest of the Kamajors and communicates with the Kasella devil through a mirror. With secret medicine and rituals, these Kamajor warriors are initiated, making them bullet-proof and invisible.

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