Bwiti Ceremony, Gabon
There exists in Gabon the mysterious belief called Bwiti which, in its simplest explanation, fuses ancestor worship and animism. Bwiti ceremoniebe therapeutic in nature, held to divine and resolcauses of physical or psychological illnesses; or they mark important life passages such as births, deaths and good harvests. They are also held as initiations for membership into Bwiti's secret society, which communicates with the invisible world of nature spirits and ancestors and teaches respect for it. Bwiti ceremonies are held in simple temples, and are accompanied by traditional music and some of the most dramatic dance on the continent. Every component of a ceremony - music, dance, fire, body painting, symbols in the temple, the smell of the resin torches - serves a precise purpose in the liaison with the spirit world. Ceremonies are fascinating for outsiders to observe, although we need to keep in mind that they are not entertainment. Referring to Gabon's Bwiti, one writer puts it this way: "Gabon is to Africa what Tibet is to China."
Iboga, a tree root from the Gabonese forest, and Bwiti rituals are inseparable. Iboga is known in Gabon as the Holy Wood. It has powerful visionary properties, a similar tool for Gabonese shamans as peyote or ayahuasca are for Latin American indigenous healers. Direct and immediate contact with another plane of existence is a seductive idea. But the intent to experiment with iboga (since there has developed a kind of iboga tourism) is to take Bwiti rituals and the sacred wood out of their cultural contexts. It is not the objective of this ceremony. It suffices for guests to leave with the understanding that Bwiti and iboga are mysteries, paths of knowledge back to nature, inseparable from the ancient forests in which iboga grows. It is said that gorillas, wild boars, chimpanzees, elephants and porcupines ate iboga root long before men considered doing so. That Bwiti's inspiration comes from nature and encourages a compassion for nature makes it relevant to all of us.
Your Gabonese guide and host is a Bwiti master and healer. He speaks both English and French.
DAY 1: Friday
DAY 2: Saturday
12 PM: A lunch of traditional Gabonese foods is enjoyed by all in Bolokobwe village.
4 PM: Transfer to Akouango Village for dinner and to rest in preparation for the Bwiti ceremony.
DAY 3: Sunday
Bwiti ceremonies take place at night in order to safeguard their secrecy and because night is the time for spirits and magic. They last throughout the night. Transport to Akounago Village will be available at certain intervals for guests who need to return to the hotel. Driving time between Bolokobwe and Akouango Village is about one hour. Closer adequate accommodation is not available.
Weekend Includes: Guide and Bwiti master, transport, accommodation x 2 nights at Akouango Village, meals until Sunday night, bottled drinking water at the ceremony, and all costs associated with this very special event. A gratuity to the villagers and your ceremony hosts would be very much appreciated.
Composting eco-toilets are used on the ceremony site.
Price: per person, based on a group of ten: 330,000 CFA/504 Euros/663 USD. This event is priced in CFA. Currency fluctuations might occur.
MTT video on Bwiti dancing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ExHgNj2kIo