For the average person, these images only show a mother giving a bath to her child. For an informed eye, every gesture of Anna-non is the heritage of a secular tradition.
During the first months of her life, her mother gave her brothers and she, the traditional bath, and before her, her grandmother had done the same thing for her offspring.
. In families with strong traditional roots, the traditional bath is mandatory for all children in their first six months. In Benin, it is not uncommon for a sickly person to have heard this joke: « Why do you fall sick so frequently? Your mother did not give you the traditional bath during your babyhood ?” Of course, this is not about the usual shower, but a traditional bath that mothers give to their babies in their first months. It is a bath given with medicinal plants to which are attributed important aesthetic and sanitary virtues.
. “Children that receive the traditional bath, rarely get sick. In addition to acting as a vermifuge , it has a preventive effect and in some cases a curative effect on certain infections. And in addition to having a child overflowing with energy and in good health, you have a very clean baby” explains a mother, supporter of the traditional shower.
Besides all those sanitary and aesthetic virtues, the traditional shower is a real ritual which consecrates the bond between a mother and her child.
Photo by: Yanick Folly
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