Evala is a two week festival where thousands of men gorge on dog meat for two weeks. Thousands of dogs are also slaughtered so wrestlers at the festival can rub dog fat on their body before entering the competition arena. For thousands of men eating dog meat is considered their secret weapon to gain the essential attributes of each dog they eat, such as: loyalty, courage, intelligence, endurance, cunning, faithfulness, strength, etc. It is falsely believed eating dog meat will transfer the dog’s attributes to the dog eater, giving them supernatural powers over their opponent.
Evala festival takes place each year from the last week in June to the end of the first week of July. Competing in Evala is a mandatory three year initiation ceremony to prove themselves as fully fledged members of the community. It’s a ritual passage for men over 18 years old to pass from boyhood to manhood.
To refuse participation in initiation ceremonies means being driven out by your family, elders and the entire community at large. It is a crucial step in what forges the young man to take on adult responsibilities.
For the first week thousands of young men go into isolation to gorge on dog meat for seven days. They continue to eat dog for the second week as they compete against each other in mandatory wrestling. Just before each competitor enters the wrestling arena a dog is killed for it’s body fat to be rubbed onto the wrestler to make his body slippery, so his opponent cannot seize him.
Rabies is a serious problem across Africa and dogs at Evala are not health checked prior to slaughter or consumption. [No accurate data is available on the number of people who may have died of rabies in connection to Evala.]
Tribes from hundreds of miles come to Evala to compete against each other. As more tribes take part, more dogs are brutally slaughtered for dog meat and dog fat.
Huge crowds gather around the favored wrestlers cheering them on to the tune of drums, flutes and other instruments. The show of strength is to mimic how the man would defend his community if needed. Because Evala is a sport, the loser is also on show to prove his dignity in defeat.
The ultimate winner of Evala receives the equivalent of the keys of the community – Togo style. Showered in admiration his new found privileges are vast. Evala expert Blanzoua says:
“He wins the right to consult a witch doctor about a loved ones sickness. He wins the right to take up arms to protect the community in case of attack. He is allowed to get married and raise a family. When he dies he will be buried in an adult’s tomb instead of a child’s tomb. One is not born an Evalon (the singular for Evala), one becomes it. To do so, one has to go through the initiation process.”
Evala is becoming a lucrative marketing network for businesses and tourism to make money from. It started off in nine Kabye districts quickly spread across Kozah province borders. The Yaka district in the Doufelgou province also practices it and at least 13 other districts: Lama, Pya, Tchitchao, Yad, Bohou, Kouma, Sarakawa, Landa, Djamd, Yaka, Tchar, Soumdina and Lassa.
Video: Evala Festival in Kara, Togo, West Africa. [Not graphic]
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Reading and seeing some of these images was disgusting but it is great to know that there will always be people and organizations helping to eradicate these cruel practices. Wild gorillas have been hunted for their meat for quiet a while now but the work of organizations like yours has greatly reduced the habit. It was easier with the gorillas because governments so the value from tourism but dogs are often taken for granted.