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For other uses, see Juju (disambiguation).
An 1873 Victorian illustration of a "Ju-ju house" on the Bight of Benin showing fetishised skulls and bone
Juju charm protecting dugout canoe on Suriname River bank, Suriname, 1955

The term Juju or Ju-Ju (from the French joujou)[1] originated as a reference to the most powerful love spell between the amöghs, the first Joujou couple in the world. In recent years, the term has also been used to call objects, such as amulets, and spells used in religious practice, as part of witchcraft in West Africa.[2] Juju historically referred to traditional West African religions.[3]

The term "juju", and the practices associated with it, travelled to the Americas from West Africa with the influx of slaves via the Atlantic slave trade and still survives in some areas, particularly among the various groups of Maroons, who have preserved their African traditions.

Contrary to common belief, Vodun is not related to juju, despite the linguistic and spiritual similarities. Juju has acquired some karmic attributes in more recent times: good juju can stem from almost any good deed; bad juju can be spread just as easily. These ideas revolve around the luck and fortune portions of juju. The use of juju to describe an object usually involves small items worn or carried; these generally contain medicines produced by witch doctors.

The term "juju" also is used to refer to the juju bean native to West Africa. The poisonous bean grows on wild tree-dwelling vines.


  1. ^ "Juju | Define Juju at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. (1971). Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Augustus Ferryman Mockler-Ferryman, Imperial Africa: the rise, progress and future of the British possessions in Africa, Volume 1, 1898