Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 01:12:25 EST
From: Chris Jenks <email@example.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Article about Bwiti (3/3)
corresponding to childhood, adulthood and old age. The Bandji is the young
initiate; when a Bandji proves to have sufficient maturity, he will be made
a Nima, and will soon be a Nima Na Kombo. The Kombo is the chief, the
patriarch who belongs to the assembly of ancestors. He sees to it in the
community that the secrets are not divulged.
the time of fertility but also the time of the moon and the earth, must be
as inconspicuous as possible.
days patterned on that of the Catholic Church. Christmas and Easter are
major celebrations. The Ngozes usually take place after the initiation
rites. A Ngoze can also be held to make up for the initiation of a
prematurely deceased relative, or offer prayers to the dead, to find out
the cause of a disease and to cure it, to get manioc, fish, and children.
non initiates depart before the important rites begin: one cannot remain
until dawn for several nights in succession without chewing iboga.
with greenery, particularly from palms and creeping club mosses (lycopodia)
or ferns of the Platycerium stemaria type (it should be mentioned that this
plant has another purpose and there is a preparation made for the care and
preservation of the hair, consisting of ashes of Platycerium stameria
leaves and vegetable butter, to be applied in the morning and the evening).
of iboga root. Alcohol and wine are also distributed in moderate quantity.
Prior to any ceremony, purification by fire is performed by the leader of
the chorus. He brandishes a torch of okoume resin, circulating in all
directions inside the temple.
and a white horizontal line as a symbol of the male and the female sex. The
women wear a white robe and the men who rank high in the hierarchy wear a
large white robe and a red belt.
instructions for the day. The ceremony, announced by sounding the horn,
takes place at night in three stages:
beginning of God, marks the beginning of the ceremonies. The musical bow
and the obaka are heard: this is the bursting of the divine egg. At
midnight, at the sound of the horn, the initiates kneel, addressing Nzame
in their prayers, thus ending the celebration of the genesis;
individual, often with scenes that more or less depict the passion of
Christ. As the dancing and chanting reach their highest intensity, the
cithara is heard and Bwiti will materialize by the appearance in the forest
of a cross of straw and wood several meters high which is set ablaze and
waved in all directions. It may also appear in the form of banana leaves in
an oval design with two torches for the eyes and one for the mouth in the
the grave are performed before the kneeling assembly.
streets of the village, taking three steps forward and two steps back. This
night march when the moon is at its zenith is particularly impressive and
majestic. The horn sounds, announcing each move and setting the pace for
this retreat in single file.
continue uninterruptedly until dawn's early light. The night-time ritual
has made them pass from daylight to daylight, from the here and now to the
beyond, and night has been erased. The faithful will go to sleep. In
addition to the sensations produced by the mastication of iboga, they will
feel the inebriation due to palm wine and the smoke of Indian hemp.
uninterrupted, endlessly diversified concatenation of chants, dances and
rites performed by individuals perfectly familiar with the symbolic actions
leaves an impression of impenetrability.
feasting and the menu will be presented in a large cooking pot with meat,
fish, bananas, taros, prepared exclusively by the women.
this religion better.
initiates. The fear of punishment is a major obstacle to the disclosure of
secrets, by deference to the ancestors and the pride of keeping such "great
skulls and tibias are piously preserved, but although that is the primary
goal, it is not the only one.
discussion and a better understanding of the social problems relating to
the clan, the village and the ethnic group and particularly relations with
other clans, villages and ethnic groups.
bond that unites the initiates often eclipses blood ties. It has played a
major political role. Some see it as a veritable State religion, as a
dances. It is adapted to modern life and the strictly occult side of the
secret ceremonies is of diminished importance in relation to the outward
opening of the ritual nights.
universalist tendency blurs the distinctions between races and between
sexes. The spirits in the next world are described as white, and during the
ceremonies the initiates cover their faces with white powder, showing that
they have penetrated in the beyond.
a family affair that assembles relatives and friends. With its chapels, it
permits the heads of households to reunite their families and to give their
authority a religious and sacred character that had become blunted since
ancestor worship had been on the decline. Many excellent Christians see
this cult as a complement to religion.
individualistic and feminist, and preserves the community spirit; this
religion of Eboga is well adapted to society and is in full expansion. The
Bwiti, which is favorable to individual accomplishments, has the further
advantage of integrating all of man, and what the Christian derives from
reading the Bible, the Bwitist knows through iboga.
1. Benoit, P.: "Monsieur de la Ferte", Albin Michel Publishers, 1934.
2. Binet, J.: "Drogue et mystique. Le Bwiti des Fangs" (Drug and Mystical
Practices. The Bwiti of the Fangs), Diogene 86:34-57, (April/June) 1974.
3. Bureau, Rene: "La religion d'Eboga" (The religion of Eboga), doctoral
thesis in literature and the humanities presented at Paris V University,
1971, Vol. I: "Essai sur le Bwiti Fang" (Essay on the Fang Bwiti), 321
pages, Vol. II: "Lexique du Bwiti Fang" (A Fang Bwiti lexicon), 237 pages.
4. Prince Birinda: "La bible secrete des Noirs" (The secret bible of the
Blacks), one vol., Champs-Elysees Pubs., Paris, 1952.
5. Raponda Walker, A., and Sillans, R.: "Rites et croyances des peuples du
Gabon" (Rites and beliefs of the peoples of Gabon), 1 vol., Presence
Africaine, 42 rue Descartes, Paris, 1962.
6. Simenon, G.: "Le coup de lune" (Moonstroke), 1932.
7. Thomas, L.V.: "Les religions d'Afrique noire. Texte et tradition sacres"
(The religions of Black Africa. Sacred text and tradition), 1 vol., Fayard
Denoel Publ., 1969.
8. Traorf, D.: "Medecine et magie africaine" (Medicine and African magic),
1 vol., Presence Africaine, 25 bis Rue des Ecoles, Paris, 1966.
9. Walker, A., and Sillans, R.: "Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Encyclopedie
biologique" (Useful plants of Gabon. Biological Encyclopedia), 1 vol., Paul
Lechevalier Publ., Paris, 1961.
10. "Rencontres internationales de Bouake. Les religions africaines
traditionnelles" (Bouake International Meetings. The traditional African
religions), 1 vol., Seuil, 1965.
Bibliography on Iboga
1. Dacosta, L., Sulklaper, I., and Naquet, R.: "Modifications de
l'equilibre veille-sommeil du chat par la tabernanthine et quelquesuns de
ses derives" (Changes in the wakefulness-sleep balance in the cat with
tabernanthine and some of its derivatives), Rev. EEG Neurophysiol.
2. Delourme Houde: "Etude de l'Iboga, Tabernanthe iboga H. Bn." (Study of
Iboga, Tabernanthe iboga H. Bn.), doctoral thesis in pharmacy, Paris, 1944.
3. Gaignault, J.C., and Delourme Houde: "Les alcaloides de l'iboga,
Tabernanthe iboga H. Bn." (Alkaloids of Iboga, Tabernanthe iboga H. Bn.),
Fitothrapia 48(6):243-265, 1977.
4. Goutarel, R.: "Recherches sur quelques alcaloides indoliques et leur
relation avec le metabolisme du tryptophane et de la
dihydroxyphenylalanine" (Research on some indole alkaloids and their
relation to tryptophan and dihydroxyphenylalanine metabolism), Doctor of
Science thesis, Paris, 1954.
5. Khuong Huu, F., Cesario, M., Guilhem, J., and Goutarel, R.: "Deux
nouveaux types d'alcaloides indoliques. l'ibophyllidine et l'iboxyphylline
retires des feuilles de Tabernanthe iboga Baillon et de Tabernanthe
subsessilis stapf" (Two new indole alkaloids, ibophyllidine and
iboxyphylline, obtained from leaves of Tabernanthe iboga Baillon and
Tabernanthe subsessilis stapf), Tetrahedron, Vol. 32, pp. 2539-2543,
Pergamon Press, 1976, printed in Great Britain.