West African Vodun
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Vodun or Vudun (so spelled in the Fon language of Benin and Nigeria and the Ewe language of Togo and Ghana; also spelled Vodon, Vodoun, Voudou, etc.) is a traditional monotheistic organized religion of coastal West Africa, from Nigeria to Ghana. It is distinct from the non-organized traditional animistic religions in the interiors of these same countries, as well as from various religions with often similar names of the African Diaspora in the New World, such as Haitian Vodou, the similar Vudu of the Dominican Republic, Candomblé in Brazil (which uses the term Vodum), Louisiana Voodoo, and Santería in Cuba, which are syncretized with Christianity and the traditional religions of the Kongo people of Congo and Angola.
When the word is capitalized, Vodun, it denotes the religion. When it is not, vodun, it denotes the spirits that are central to the religion. "Voodoo", the most common spelling in American popular culture, is often viewed as offensive by practicing communities of the African Diaspora, due to the farcical and often racist depictions of Hollywood.
Vodun is practiced by the Ewe, Kabye, Mina, Fon, and (under a different name) the Yoruba peoples of southeastern Ghana, southern and central Togo, southern and central Benin, and southwestern Nigeria. The word vodún is the Gbe (Fon-Ewe) word for spirit.