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RE : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Gabon 1 Peace Corps Volunteer remembered

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  • Brad Hodges
    Wow. I know the Fang have the reputation among most of Gabon s other ethnic groups as being sauvage, but these descriptions of Bwiti ceremonies chez les Fang
    Message 1 of 17 , Mar 20, 2007
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      Wow. I know the Fang have the reputation among most of Gabon's other ethnic groups as being "sauvage," but these descriptions of Bwiti ceremonies chez les Fang really sound different than any of the Bwiti ceremonies I attended among the Gisir, Punu, and Mitsogho further south. I never attended one, but I also learned that the Nzebi of Koulamoutou have a version of the Bwiti. Does anyone know more about the differences, if any?

      Brad

      bobutne <bobutne@...> a écrit :
      Thanks Amin. The Fang book by Aniakor is available on Amazon.com at
      about $2 a copy, used. http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-
      listing/0823919943/ref=sr_1_olp_1/102-6292961-9284901?
      ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174440507&sr=8-1

      Anyone besides me attend a Fang burial ceremony (all night duration
      with Iboga use prevalent), where a portion of the deceased was eaten
      by all the male participants?

      --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "Amin F. Abari"
      <aminabari@...> wrote:
      >
      > It has been interesting to read all the stories and anecdotes going
      > back and forth in the past couple of weeks or so.
      >
      > However, one thing got my attention in Mr. LeBlanc's last post and
      > his reference to Bwiti and comparing it to the "modern" religions
      of
      > the West.
      >
      > There seems to be a big misconception among many people (mostly
      > westerners - but even younger Gabonese) that Bwiti is an old
      > indigenous religion of the region, but this is not so - especially
      > the Fang version of Bwiti which is the one mostly practiced in
      > Gabon. Bwiti is essentially a 20th century "religion" that is an
      > amalgamation of Christianity, Fang traditional religion, and
      animism.
      >
      > The first of the Bwiti churches began around 1910 and the colonial
      > authorities and Christian missionaries tried to stop them by
      > imprisoning followers and even executing some. The local Christian
      > ministers and priests had Bwiti churches burned as they saw them a
      > dangerous cult which was twisting Christianity. Also at the onset
      > and even today, many Fang themselves, who were not necessary
      > Christian themselves were and are against Bwiti as they saw it as a
      > threat to Fang tradition due the Christian elements and influences.
      >
      > Bwiti only got popular and known more widely in Gabon after World
      War
      > II when it was allowed to develop openly, and when Leon M'ba who
      > later became the first president of Gabon, was put in prison for
      his
      > role and participation in a Bwiti ceremony during which a woman was
      > murdered.
      >
      > He eventually brought the Bwiti to the statehouse and today it
      still
      > exists in Gabon at highest levels of the government.
      >
      > For more information on the Fang you can look up a book by that
      name
      > by Dr. Chike Aniakor and edited by Dr. George Bond who was the
      > Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia
      University.
      > It is small book designed for students and has some basic but
      > interesting information.
      >
      >
      > --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, Tom LeBlanc
      > <tom_leblanc_chico@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Dale,
      > >
      > > Thank you very much for your kind words.
      > >
      > > FYI, the Protestants weren't too keen on Bwiti either. In fact, I
      > probably only got away with doing it because the American
      Protestant
      > Pastor (Silva, I believe?) at the time I got initiated just
      happened
      > to be taking his annual leave. When he got back the following year,
      > he told the two volunteers who replaced me not to even think about
      > getting initiated. Otherwise he'd see to it that they were
      medivacced.
      > >
      > > Eating the iboga was definitely a very harsh experience. But I'm
      > convinced that it allowed me to approach the brink of death without
      > really dying. Actually, I think that it was a combination of the
      > iboga and the various elements of the ritual that allowed me to
      have
      > the out-of-body experience and then return to this world. Frankly,
      it
      > was blissful.
      > >
      > > It's a pity that Bwiti isn't recognized for what it really is--a
      > religious sect. The only difference between the "modern" religions
      of
      > the West and the indigenous religion of Bwiti is that the former
      > require faith whereas the latter actually shows you the real thing.
      > >
      > > Still, it's probably a lot easier to have faith than to go
      through
      > a Bwiti initiation. A few days after word got out that I had been
      > initiated, the police came by to scold and warn my initiators
      > saying, "It's all right to initiate Africans, but not Europeans.
      What
      > were you thinking? What would you have done if he had died? You
      would
      > have been in big trouble and we would have thrown you in jail for
      > life. Don't do it again."
      > >
      > > Tom
      >






      ---------------------------------
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    • Tom LeBlanc
      During my initiation through the Eshira tribe, I was told that Bwiti originated with the Pygmees of that area and that the first tribe to receive it from the
      Message 2 of 17 , Mar 21, 2007
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        During my initiation through the Eshira tribe, I was told that Bwiti originated with the Pygmees of that area and that the first tribe to receive it from the Pygmees was the Mitsogho, who gave it to the Bapounou followed by the Eshira. According to the people who initiated me, the Fang were the last to receive it and it was dispersed to them through the logging camps in the early 1900s.

        FYI, there is no use of Christian symbols used in Eshira-based Bwiti ceremonies. Also, the Eshira told me that my initation with them was easy compared to being initiated by the Mitsogho. A French friend of mine went to a Mitsogho Bwiti ceremony across the Ngounie river. He described how they killed a goat by punching it to death with their bare hands during a night-long ceremony.


        ----- Original Message ----
        From: Brad Hodges <niakurondi@...>
        To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 3:54:04 AM
        Subject: RE : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Gabon 1 Peace Corps Volunteer remembered

        Wow. I know the Fang have the reputation among most of Gabon's other ethnic groups as being "sauvage," but these descriptions of Bwiti ceremonies chez les Fang really sound different than any of the Bwiti ceremonies I attended among the Gisir, Punu, and Mitsogho further south. I never attended one, but I also learned that the Nzebi of Koulamoutou have a version of the Bwiti. Does anyone know more about the differences, if any?

        Brad

        bobutne <bobutne@yahoo. com> a écrit :
        Thanks Amin. The Fang book by Aniakor is available on Amazon.com at
        about $2 a copy, used. http://www.amazon com/gp/offer-
        listing/0823919943/ ref=sr_1_ olp_1/102- 6292961-9284901?
        ie=UTF8&s=books& qid=1174440507& sr=8-1

        Anyone besides me attend a Fang burial ceremony (all night duration
        with Iboga use prevalent), where a portion of the deceased was eaten
        by all the male participants?

        --- In gabondiscussion@ yahoogroups. com, "Amin F. Abari"
        <aminabari@. ..> wrote:
        >
        > It has been interesting to read all the stories and anecdotes going
        > back and forth in the past couple of weeks or so.
        >
        > However, one thing got my attention in Mr. LeBlanc's last post and
        > his reference to Bwiti and comparing it to the "modern" religions
        of
        > the West.
        >
        > There seems to be a big misconception among many people (mostly
        > westerners - but even younger Gabonese) that Bwiti is an old
        > indigenous religion of the region, but this is not so - especially
        > the Fang version of Bwiti which is the one mostly practiced in
        > Gabon. Bwiti is essentially a 20th century "religion" that is an
        > amalgamation of Christianity, Fang traditional religion, and
        animism.
        >
        > The first of the Bwiti churches began around 1910 and the colonial
        > authorities and Christian missionaries tried to stop them by
        > imprisoning followers and even executing some. The local Christian
        > ministers and priests had Bwiti churches burned as they saw them a
        > dangerous cult which was twisting Christianity. Also at the onset
        > and even today, many Fang themselves, who were not necessary
        > Christian themselves were and are against Bwiti as they saw it as a
        > threat to Fang tradition due the Christian elements and influences.
        >
        > Bwiti only got popular and known more widely in Gabon after World
        War
        > II when it was allowed to develop openly, and when Leon M'ba who
        > later became the first president of Gabon, was put in prison for
        his
        > role and participation in a Bwiti ceremony during which a woman was
        > murdered.
        >
        > He eventually brought the Bwiti to the statehouse and today it
        still
        > exists in Gabon at highest levels of the government.
        >
        > For more information on the Fang you can look up a book by that
        name
        > by Dr. Chike Aniakor and edited by Dr. George Bond who was the
        > Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia
        University.
        > It is small book designed for students and has some basic but
        > interesting information.
        >
        >
        > --- In gabondiscussion@ yahoogroups. com, Tom LeBlanc
        > <tom_leblanc_ chico@> wrote:
        > >
        > > Dale,
        > >
        > > Thank you very much for your kind words.
        > >
        > > FYI, the Protestants weren't too keen on Bwiti either. In fact, I
        > probably only got away with doing it because the American
        Protestant
        > Pastor (Silva, I believe?) at the time I got initiated just
        happened
        > to be taking his annual leave. When he got back the following year,
        > he told the two volunteers who replaced me not to even think about
        > getting initiated. Otherwise he'd see to it that they were
        medivacced.
        > >
        > > Eating the iboga was definitely a very harsh experience. But I'm
        > convinced that it allowed me to approach the brink of death without
        > really dying. Actually, I think that it was a combination of the
        > iboga and the various elements of the ritual that allowed me to
        have
        > the out-of-body experience and then return to this world. Frankly,
        it
        > was blissful.
        > >
        > > It's a pity that Bwiti isn't recognized for what it really is--a
        > religious sect. The only difference between the "modern" religions
        of
        > the West and the indigenous religion of Bwiti is that the former
        > require faith whereas the latter actually shows you the real thing.
        > >
        > > Still, it's probably a lot easier to have faith than to go
        through
        > a Bwiti initiation. A few days after word got out that I had been
        > initiated, the police came by to scold and warn my initiators
        > saying, "It's all right to initiate Africans, but not Europeans.
        What
        > were you thinking? What would you have done if he had died? You
        would
        > have been in big trouble and we would have thrown you in jail for
        > life. Don't do it again."
        > >
        > > Tom
        >


        ------------ --------- --------- ---
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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Henry
        Amin, It may be true that people only take large doses of Iboga during initiation, but my experience was that small doses were taken regularly at the services
        Message 3 of 17 , Mar 23, 2007
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          Amin,

          It may be true that people only take large doses of Iboga during
          initiation, but my experience was that small doses were taken regularly
          at the services I participated in and we were not all riffraff.

          Henry G. Schmald

          Amin F. Abari wrote:
          >
          > Dale,
          >
          > The taking of Iboga is only one part of Bwiti. The same way the
          > sacred use of cannabis is part of the Rastafarian religion. I hardly
          > believe anyone from any religious background would be concerned with
          > material things in the moment of their religious ritual. Does a
          > religious Gordon Gecko type really be concerned with material things
          > when he is kneeling and praying in church? OK, bad example…
          >
          > Plus, in Bwiti unlike the Rastas for example who do the ganja all the
          > time; you do not take iboga all the time. For most it is a once in a
          > life time experience. I think the only person that I met in Gabon
          > that had done it more than once was an elder / priest type man who
          > conducted the Bwiti ceremonies almost every week where people were
          > initiated, and he himself had done it only 3 or 4 times in a span of
          > 40 years. He did however mention young people he knew that would
          > partake more often but he considered them riffraff.
          >
          > My last comment was a jab I made at the Gabonese politicians. I
          > don't know what they think. But I know that the one belief of the
          > Bwiti practitioners I did find out about would serve all politicians
          > well. Living in Washington, D.C., as I do know – sometimes it feels
          > like everyone is a Bwiti convert. :-)
          >
          > Amin
          >
          > --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
          > <mailto:gabondiscussion%40yahoogroups.com>, "judkinsdale" <djudkins@...>
          > wrote:
          > >
          > > -
          > > Amin,
          > > I found your last post to be troubling. Most of your information I
          > > understand. The troubling aspect of your post was the last part.
          > >
          > > Mr Abari, you stated that one of the beliefs that you found out,
          > as
          > > you put it, was the poor, sick, feel part. I am not an expert of
          > > Bwiti but surely this information could not come from the Bwiti.
          > > What I have learned from the cult has everything to do with
          > meeting
          > > people that died. Conversing with the dead. The hallucinogenic drug
          > > Iboga suspends the individual in a state beyond life.
          > >
          > > How can one in this state be so overly concerned with material
          > > things as you stated in your post. Perhaps you were alluding to the
          > > people that practise Bwiti, not what they experienced in the act
          > > itself.
          > >
          > > One of the phenomenas of the people that practise Bwiti on
          > Saturday
          > > night go to the Catholic Church on Sunday.
          > >
          > > Perhaps what you described is what you think the Gabonese
          > Politician
          > > thinks.
          > >
          > > Dale
          > >
          > >
          > > -- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
          > <mailto:gabondiscussion%40yahoogroups.com>, "Amin F. Abari"
          > > <aminabari@> wrote:
          > > >
          > > > Dale,
          > > >
          > > > You right in the sense that if a person is religious and is not
          > > > Christian then he or she would be more prone to other religions,
          > > > Bwiti being one of them.
          > > >
          > > > But the point I wanted to make was that it was not only the
          > > European
          > > > Christians that were against it but also some Fang themselves –
          > > > regardless of their religion or lack there of. Meaning the Fang
          > > > recognized that there were European influences in Bwiti that was
          > > not
          > > > of their culture. Like any other people there are members of the
          > > > Fang ethnicity that are Moslem for example and others that are
          > > simply
          > > > not religious at all. But they still recognize certain Fang
          > > > traditions as what they are: "traditions", and for better or
          > worse
          > > > they like to keep those traditions "pure". As an example of Fang
          > > > people themselves being against Bwiti is the Mademoiselle
          > Movement
          > > in
          > > > the 1950s where the Fang formed an "anti-witchcraft" cult to try
          > > and
          > > > end Bwiti by violent means and murder of those accused. Luckily
          > > the
          > > > Mademoiselle Movement was brought to an end by other clear-headed
          > > > Fang and the Europeans.
          > > >
          > > > My comment on Bwiti existing in the government was not in
          > relation
          > > to
          > > > a threat to the Fang Traditions. I was just commenting on how –
          > in
          > > > my view – Bwiti became more popular in Gabon. I believe that if
          > > M'ba
          > > > had not dabbled in Bwiti and had not given it legitimacy and
          > > > effectively endorsing it by bringing it into the government where
          > > it
          > > > still persists, we would not be talking about it today.
          > > >
          > > > BTW, many people who know about Bwiti and have dabbled in it know
          > > of
          > > > just the Iboga experience. My experience of talking to many
          > > Gabonese
          > > > and non-Gabonese on the subject showed that few really knew
          > > anything
          > > > more than that. Most can not tell you what the tenet of
          > > > this "religion" is. If they feel cornered by questions they
          > > > invariably tell you it can not be explained and that you have to
          > > > experience it by taking Iboga and "meeting god".
          > > >
          > > > But one of beliefs that I managed to find out about was this:
          > > >
          > > > If you are poor, sick, or feel in anyway disadvantaged and you
          > see
          > > > someone rich, healthy or better off than you, then that person
          > has
          > > > stolen your health, or money, or whatever it might be you covet.
          > > It
          > > > is your responsibility to take back what is yours by any means
          > > > available to you!
          > > >
          > > > As you can imagine this attitude works well in the circles of
          > > > Gabonese politics.
          > > >
          > > > Amin
          >
          >
        • Brad Hodges
          I also found that male spectators frequently chewed on sticks of the iboga tree simply to stay awake during all-night ceremonies (similar to the kola nut West
          Message 4 of 17 , Mar 23, 2007
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            I also found that male spectators frequently chewed on sticks of the iboga tree simply to stay awake during all-night ceremonies (similar to the kola nut West Africans use and the coffee others use).

            Brad

            Henry <henry@...> a écrit :
            Amin,

            It may be true that people only take large doses of Iboga during
            initiation, but my experience was that small doses were taken regularly
            at the services I participated in and we were not all riffraff.

            Henry G. Schmald

            Amin F. Abari wrote:
            >
            > Dale,
            >
            > The taking of Iboga is only one part of Bwiti. The same way the
            > sacred use of cannabis is part of the Rastafarian religion. I hardly
            > believe anyone from any religious background would be concerned with
            > material things in the moment of their religious ritual. Does a
            > religious Gordon Gecko type really be concerned with material things
            > when he is kneeling and praying in church? OK, bad example…
            >
            > Plus, in Bwiti unlike the Rastas for example who do the ganja all the
            > time; you do not take iboga all the time. For most it is a once in a
            > life time experience. I think the only person that I met in Gabon
            > that had done it more than once was an elder / priest type man who
            > conducted the Bwiti ceremonies almost every week where people were
            > initiated, and he himself had done it only 3 or 4 times in a span of
            > 40 years. He did however mention young people he knew that would
            > partake more often but he considered them riffraff.
            >
            > My last comment was a jab I made at the Gabonese politicians. I
            > don't know what they think. But I know that the one belief of the
            > Bwiti practitioners I did find out about would serve all politicians
            > well. Living in Washington, D.C., as I do know – sometimes it feels
            > like everyone is a Bwiti convert. :-)
            >
            > Amin
            >
            > --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
            > , "judkinsdale"
            > wrote:
            > >
            > > -
            > > Amin,
            > > I found your last post to be troubling. Most of your information I
            > > understand. The troubling aspect of your post was the last part.
            > >
            > > Mr Abari, you stated that one of the beliefs that you found out,
            > as
            > > you put it, was the poor, sick, feel part. I am not an expert of
            > > Bwiti but surely this information could not come from the Bwiti.
            > > What I have learned from the cult has everything to do with
            > meeting
            > > people that died. Conversing with the dead. The hallucinogenic drug
            > > Iboga suspends the individual in a state beyond life.
            > >
            > > How can one in this state be so overly concerned with material
            > > things as you stated in your post. Perhaps you were alluding to the
            > > people that practise Bwiti, not what they experienced in the act
            > > itself.
            > >
            > > One of the phenomenas of the people that practise Bwiti on
            > Saturday
            > > night go to the Catholic Church on Sunday.
            > >
            > > Perhaps what you described is what you think the Gabonese
            > Politician
            > > thinks.
            > >
            > > Dale
            > >
            > >
            > > -- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
            > , "Amin F. Abari"
            > > wrote:
            > > >
            > > > Dale,
            > > >
            > > > You right in the sense that if a person is religious and is not
            > > > Christian then he or she would be more prone to other religions,
            > > > Bwiti being one of them.
            > > >
            > > > But the point I wanted to make was that it was not only the
            > > European
            > > > Christians that were against it but also some Fang themselves –
            > > > regardless of their religion or lack there of. Meaning the Fang
            > > > recognized that there were European influences in Bwiti that was
            > > not
            > > > of their culture. Like any other people there are members of the
            > > > Fang ethnicity that are Moslem for example and others that are
            > > simply
            > > > not religious at all. But they still recognize certain Fang
            > > > traditions as what they are: "traditions", and for better or
            > worse
            > > > they like to keep those traditions "pure". As an example of Fang
            > > > people themselves being against Bwiti is the Mademoiselle
            > Movement
            > > in
            > > > the 1950s where the Fang formed an "anti-witchcraft" cult to try
            > > and
            > > > end Bwiti by violent means and murder of those accused. Luckily
            > > the
            > > > Mademoiselle Movement was brought to an end by other clear-headed
            > > > Fang and the Europeans.
            > > >
            > > > My comment on Bwiti existing in the government was not in
            > relation
            > > to
            > > > a threat to the Fang Traditions. I was just commenting on how –
            > in
            > > > my view – Bwiti became more popular in Gabon. I believe that if
            > > M'ba
            > > > had not dabbled in Bwiti and had not given it legitimacy and
            > > > effectively endorsing it by bringing it into the government where
            > > it
            > > > still persists, we would not be talking about it today.
            > > >
            > > > BTW, many people who know about Bwiti and have dabbled in it know
            > > of
            > > > just the Iboga experience. My experience of talking to many
            > > Gabonese
            > > > and non-Gabonese on the subject showed that few really knew
            > > anything
            > > > more than that. Most can not tell you what the tenet of
            > > > this "religion" is. If they feel cornered by questions they
            > > > invariably tell you it can not be explained and that you have to
            > > > experience it by taking Iboga and "meeting god".
            > > >
            > > > But one of beliefs that I managed to find out about was this:
            > > >
            > > > If you are poor, sick, or feel in anyway disadvantaged and you
            > see
            > > > someone rich, healthy or better off than you, then that person
            > has
            > > > stolen your health, or money, or whatever it might be you covet.
            > > It
            > > > is your responsibility to take back what is yours by any means
            > > > available to you!
            > > >
            > > > As you can imagine this attitude works well in the circles of
            > > > Gabonese politics.
            > > >
            > > > Amin
            >
            >



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          • Amin F. Abari
            Actually I don t know if the elder thought of the young as riffraff. That seems to be my impression. I actually dug out my notes and all I have is this:
            Message 5 of 17 , Mar 23, 2007
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              Actually I don't know if the elder thought of the young as riffraff.
              That seems to be my impression. I actually dug out my notes and all
              I have is this:

              "Asking him about some people that were not being initiated but
              seemed to be taking Iboga, (the elder) shook his head and waved his
              hand in a dismissing sort of a motion. He seemed resigned."

              I don't have much more on this.

              BTW, while in Gabon I came across 4 or 5 people (I remember one
              American, one German, and one French - which I got to know better and
              had lunch with before he left Gabon - the rest I think were also
              French. All men except the American) that came to Gabon to go
              through the initiation to kick a Heroine addiction. The French man
              was actually trying to kick a methadone habit he had acquired post
              heroine. Iboga seems to work well for this purpose.

              Amin


              --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, Henry <henry@...> wrote:
              >
              > Amin,
              >
              > It may be true that people only take large doses of Iboga during
              > initiation, but my experience was that small doses were taken
              regularly
              > at the services I participated in and we were not all riffraff.
              >
              > Henry G. Schmald
              >
              > Amin F. Abari wrote:
              > >
              > > Dale,
              > >
              > > The taking of Iboga is only one part of Bwiti. The same way the
              > > sacred use of cannabis is part of the Rastafarian religion. I
              hardly
              > > believe anyone from any religious background would be concerned
              with
              > > material things in the moment of their religious ritual. Does a
              > > religious Gordon Gecko type really be concerned with material
              things
              > > when he is kneeling and praying in church? OK, bad example…
              > >
              > > Plus, in Bwiti unlike the Rastas for example who do the ganja all
              the
              > > time; you do not take iboga all the time. For most it is a once
              in a
              > > life time experience. I think the only person that I met in Gabon
              > > that had done it more than once was an elder / priest type man who
              > > conducted the Bwiti ceremonies almost every week where people were
              > > initiated, and he himself had done it only 3 or 4 times in a span
              of
              > > 40 years. He did however mention young people he knew that would
              > > partake more often but he considered them riffraff.
              > >
              > > My last comment was a jab I made at the Gabonese politicians. I
              > > don't know what they think. But I know that the one belief of the
              > > Bwiti practitioners I did find out about would serve all
              politicians
              > > well. Living in Washington, D.C., as I do know – sometimes it
              feels
              > > like everyone is a Bwiti convert. :-)
              > >
              > > Amin
              > >
              > > --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
              > > <mailto:gabondiscussion%40yahoogroups.com>, "judkinsdale"
              <djudkins@>
              > > wrote:
              > > >
              > > > -
              > > > Amin,
              > > > I found your last post to be troubling. Most of your
              information I
              > > > understand. The troubling aspect of your post was the last part.
              > > >
              > > > Mr Abari, you stated that one of the beliefs that you found out,
              > > as
              > > > you put it, was the poor, sick, feel part. I am not an expert of
              > > > Bwiti but surely this information could not come from the Bwiti.
              > > > What I have learned from the cult has everything to do with
              > > meeting
              > > > people that died. Conversing with the dead. The hallucinogenic
              drug
              > > > Iboga suspends the individual in a state beyond life.
              > > >
              > > > How can one in this state be so overly concerned with material
              > > > things as you stated in your post. Perhaps you were alluding to
              the
              > > > people that practise Bwiti, not what they experienced in the act
              > > > itself.
              > > >
              > > > One of the phenomenas of the people that practise Bwiti on
              > > Saturday
              > > > night go to the Catholic Church on Sunday.
              > > >
              > > > Perhaps what you described is what you think the Gabonese
              > > Politician
              > > > thinks.
              > > >
              > > > Dale
              > > >
              > > >
              > > > -- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
              > > <mailto:gabondiscussion%40yahoogroups.com>, "Amin F. Abari"
              > > > <aminabari@> wrote:
              > > > >
              > > > > Dale,
              > > > >
              > > > > You right in the sense that if a person is religious and is
              not
              > > > > Christian then he or she would be more prone to other
              religions,
              > > > > Bwiti being one of them.
              > > > >
              > > > > But the point I wanted to make was that it was not only the
              > > > European
              > > > > Christians that were against it but also some Fang
              themselves –
              > > > > regardless of their religion or lack there of. Meaning the
              Fang
              > > > > recognized that there were European influences in Bwiti that
              was
              > > > not
              > > > > of their culture. Like any other people there are members of
              the
              > > > > Fang ethnicity that are Moslem for example and others that are
              > > > simply
              > > > > not religious at all. But they still recognize certain Fang
              > > > > traditions as what they are: "traditions", and for better or
              > > worse
              > > > > they like to keep those traditions "pure". As an example of
              Fang
              > > > > people themselves being against Bwiti is the Mademoiselle
              > > Movement
              > > > in
              > > > > the 1950s where the Fang formed an "anti-witchcraft" cult to
              try
              > > > and
              > > > > end Bwiti by violent means and murder of those accused.
              Luckily
              > > > the
              > > > > Mademoiselle Movement was brought to an end by other clear-
              headed
              > > > > Fang and the Europeans.
              > > > >
              > > > > My comment on Bwiti existing in the government was not in
              > > relation
              > > > to
              > > > > a threat to the Fang Traditions. I was just commenting on
              how –
              > > in
              > > > > my view – Bwiti became more popular in Gabon. I believe that
              if
              > > > M'ba
              > > > > had not dabbled in Bwiti and had not given it legitimacy and
              > > > > effectively endorsing it by bringing it into the government
              where
              > > > it
              > > > > still persists, we would not be talking about it today.
              > > > >
              > > > > BTW, many people who know about Bwiti and have dabbled in it
              know
              > > > of
              > > > > just the Iboga experience. My experience of talking to many
              > > > Gabonese
              > > > > and non-Gabonese on the subject showed that few really knew
              > > > anything
              > > > > more than that. Most can not tell you what the tenet of
              > > > > this "religion" is. If they feel cornered by questions they
              > > > > invariably tell you it can not be explained and that you have
              to
              > > > > experience it by taking Iboga and "meeting god".
              > > > >
              > > > > But one of beliefs that I managed to find out about was this:
              > > > >
              > > > > If you are poor, sick, or feel in anyway disadvantaged and you
              > > see
              > > > > someone rich, healthy or better off than you, then that person
              > > has
              > > > > stolen your health, or money, or whatever it might be you
              covet.
              > > > It
              > > > > is your responsibility to take back what is yours by any means
              > > > > available to you!
              > > > >
              > > > > As you can imagine this attitude works well in the circles of
              > > > > Gabonese politics.
              > > > >
              > > > > Amin
              > >
              > >
              >
            • Amin F. Abari
              You could be right. Time will tell I suppose, but I personally don t find religion to be an answer to anything! I am not even sure that religion has ever
              Message 6 of 17 , Mar 23, 2007
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                You could be right. Time will tell I suppose, but I personally don't
                find religion to be an answer to anything! I am not even sure that
                religion has ever saved anything either. All I see is destruction.
                But let's not go there as I like to keep my "resident cynic" title
                for a little while longer.

                Amin

                BTW, I am not sure as it never occurred to me to check this out when
                I was in Gabon, but according to Wiki Bwiti is one of three official
                religions of Gabon already. So maybe Mr. Samorini's prediction is
                coming true.


                --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "judkinsdale" <djudkins@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > --Amin,
                > Thank you for participating in this discussion. I feel all the
                > comments from everyone has been very informative. I personally
                value
                > each and everyone.
                >
                > I would like to site a Mr. Gragio Samorini From his book
                Integration.
                > In his book he talks about the Bwiti movement in Gabon. He says
                that
                > the Bwitists consider themselves Christians.
                >
                > Owono Dibuga Louis Marie a foremost authority on the Bwiti
                > movement, states that there is in Gabon a Iboga Youth Movement a
                foot
                > that is acquainting the new generations to the Bwiti Creed. He also
                > goes on to say, there is a need to unify the various cults and
                > redefine the Bwiti rituals under a common plan; with the principle
                > aim to obtain recognition of the Gabonese Government. He goes on to
                > say, this would put the Bwitists on the level of Christianity and
                > Islam.
                >
                > Going a few steps further is a Nengue Me Ndjoang Isidori, a
                Bwitists
                > Religious Leader presently a Magistrate in the Libreville Supreme
                > Court. He goes on to say, "the Catholic Church speaks of God with
                > Iboga you live God".
                >
                > So Amir, there is a movement that seems to be gaining some respect
                in
                > the Gabonese Government; rightly or wrongly only the future will
                > tell. some people think that if the movement of the Bwiti
                progresses
                > in Gabon and elsewhere, This might become the great pure African
                > Religion of Western Equatorial Africa so states Mr. Samorini.
                >
                > I personally think the chapter has not been written as to what will
                > happen in Africa as to Bwiti. From an American Catholic
                perspective,
                > I'm talking about me now, I would like to see it all play out. I
                > think the Bwiti holds value to the forests, the air, the water.
                > everything that should be held precious in Gabon. We might just
                have
                > a government that pushes for a religion that will help save Gabon
                > unwittingly.
                >
                > Dale
                >
                >
                > - In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "Amin F. Abari" <aminabari@>
                > wrote:
                > >
                > > Dale,
                > >
                > > The taking of Iboga is only one part of Bwiti. The same way the
                > > sacred use of cannabis is part of the Rastafarian religion. I
                > hardly
                > > believe anyone from any religious background would be concerned
                > with
                > > material things in the moment of their religious ritual. Does a
                > > religious Gordon Gecko type really be concerned with material
                > things
                > > when he is kneeling and praying in church? OK, bad example…
                > >
                > > Plus, in Bwiti unlike the Rastas for example who do the ganja all
                > the
                > > time; you do not take iboga all the time. For most it is a once
                in
                > a
                > > life time experience. I think the only person that I met in
                Gabon
                > > that had done it more than once was an elder / priest type man
                who
                > > conducted the Bwiti ceremonies almost every week where people
                were
                > > initiated, and he himself had done it only 3 or 4 times in a span
                > of
                > > 40 years. He did however mention young people he knew that would
                > > partake more often but he considered them riffraff.
                > >
                > > My last comment was a jab I made at the Gabonese politicians. I
                > > don't know what they think. But I know that the one belief of
                the
                > > Bwiti practitioners I did find out about would serve all
                > politicians
                > > well. Living in Washington, D.C., as I do know – sometimes it
                > feels
                > > like everyone is a Bwiti convert. :-)
                > >
                > > Amin
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "judkinsdale" <djudkins@>
                > > wrote:
                > > >
                > > > -
                > > > Amin,
                > > > I found your last post to be troubling. Most of your
                information
                > I
                > > > understand. The troubling aspect of your post was the last part.
                > > >
                > > > Mr Abari, you stated that one of the beliefs that you found
                out,
                > > as
                > > > you put it, was the poor, sick, feel part. I am not an expert
                of
                > > > Bwiti but surely this information could not come from the
                Bwiti.
                > > > What I have learned from the cult has everything to do with
                > > meeting
                > > > people that died. Conversing with the dead. The hallucinogenic
                > drug
                > > > Iboga suspends the individual in a state beyond life.
                > > >
                > > > How can one in this state be so overly concerned with material
                > > > things as you stated in your post. Perhaps you were alluding to
                > the
                > > > people that practise Bwiti, not what they experienced in the
                act
                > > > itself.
                > > >
                > > > One of the phenomenas of the people that practise Bwiti on
                > > Saturday
                > > > night go to the Catholic Church on Sunday.
                > > >
                > > > Perhaps what you described is what you think the Gabonese
                > > Politician
                > > > thinks.
                > > >
                > > > Dale
                > > >
                > > >
                > > > -- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "Amin F. Abari"
                > > > <aminabari@> wrote:
                > > > >
                > > > > Dale,
                > > > >
                > > > > You right in the sense that if a person is religious and is
                not
                > > > > Christian then he or she would be more prone to other
                > religions,
                > > > > Bwiti being one of them.
                > > > >
                > > > > But the point I wanted to make was that it was not only the
                > > > European
                > > > > Christians that were against it but also some Fang
                themselves –
                > > > > regardless of their religion or lack there of. Meaning the
                > Fang
                > > > > recognized that there were European influences in Bwiti that
                > was
                > > > not
                > > > > of their culture. Like any other people there are members of
                > the
                > > > > Fang ethnicity that are Moslem for example and others that
                are
                > > > simply
                > > > > not religious at all. But they still recognize certain Fang
                > > > > traditions as what they are: "traditions", and for better or
                > > worse
                > > > > they like to keep those traditions "pure". As an example of
                > Fang
                > > > > people themselves being against Bwiti is the Mademoiselle
                > > Movement
                > > > in
                > > > > the 1950s where the Fang formed an "anti-witchcraft" cult to
                > try
                > > > and
                > > > > end Bwiti by violent means and murder of those accused.
                > Luckily
                > > > the
                > > > > Mademoiselle Movement was brought to an end by other clear-
                > headed
                > > > > Fang and the Europeans.
                > > > >
                > > > > My comment on Bwiti existing in the government was not in
                > > relation
                > > > to
                > > > > a threat to the Fang Traditions. I was just commenting on
                how –
                >
                > > in
                > > > > my view – Bwiti became more popular in Gabon. I believe that
                > if
                > > > M'ba
                > > > > had not dabbled in Bwiti and had not given it legitimacy and
                > > > > effectively endorsing it by bringing it into the government
                > where
                > > > it
                > > > > still persists, we would not be talking about it today.
                > > > >
                > > > > BTW, many people who know about Bwiti and have dabbled in it
                > know
                > > > of
                > > > > just the Iboga experience. My experience of talking to many
                > > > Gabonese
                > > > > and non-Gabonese on the subject showed that few really knew
                > > > anything
                > > > > more than that. Most can not tell you what the tenet of
                > > > > this "religion" is. If they feel cornered by questions they
                > > > > invariably tell you it can not be explained and that you have
                > to
                > > > > experience it by taking Iboga and "meeting god".
                > > > >
                > > > > But one of beliefs that I managed to find out about was this:
                > > > >
                > > > > If you are poor, sick, or feel in anyway disadvantaged and
                you
                > > see
                > > > > someone rich, healthy or better off than you, then that
                person
                > > has
                > > > > stolen your health, or money, or whatever it might be you
                > covet.
                > > > It
                > > > > is your responsibility to take back what is yours by any
                means
                > > > > available to you!
                > > > >
                > > > > As you can imagine this attitude works well in the circles of
                > > > > Gabonese politics.
                > > > >
                > > > > Amin
                > >
                >
              • bobutne
                In following up on the recommendation by Amin to read Dr. Chike Aniakor s book Fang , I also purchased the book by Louis Perrois also labeled Fang and
                Message 7 of 17 , Mar 27, 2007
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                  In following up on the recommendation by Amin to read Dr. Chike
                  Aniakor's book "Fang", I also purchased the book by Louis Perrois
                  also labeled "Fang" and published in 2006. Highly recommended to
                  those interested in ancient Gabon. It also has an excellent
                  bibliography and photo sections.


                  --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "Amin F. Abari"
                  <aminabari@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > It has been interesting to read all the stories and anecdotes going
                  > back and forth in the past couple of weeks or so.
                  >
                  > However, one thing got my attention in Mr. LeBlanc's last post and
                  > his reference to Bwiti and comparing it to the "modern" religions
                  of
                  > the West.
                  >
                  > There seems to be a big misconception among many people (mostly
                  > westerners - but even younger Gabonese) that Bwiti is an old
                  > indigenous religion of the region, but this is not so - especially
                  > the Fang version of Bwiti which is the one mostly practiced in
                  > Gabon. Bwiti is essentially a 20th century "religion" that is an
                  > amalgamation of Christianity, Fang traditional religion, and
                  animism.
                  >
                  > The first of the Bwiti churches began around 1910 and the colonial
                  > authorities and Christian missionaries tried to stop them by
                  > imprisoning followers and even executing some. The local Christian
                  > ministers and priests had Bwiti churches burned as they saw them a
                  > dangerous cult which was twisting Christianity. Also at the onset
                  > and even today, many Fang themselves, who were not necessary
                  > Christian themselves were and are against Bwiti as they saw it as a
                  > threat to Fang tradition due the Christian elements and influences.
                  >
                  > Bwiti only got popular and known more widely in Gabon after World
                  War
                  > II when it was allowed to develop openly, and when Leon M'ba who
                  > later became the first president of Gabon, was put in prison for
                  his
                  > role and participation in a Bwiti ceremony during which a woman was
                  > murdered.
                  >
                  > He eventually brought the Bwiti to the statehouse and today it
                  still
                  > exists in Gabon at highest levels of the government.
                  >
                  > For more information on the Fang you can look up a book by that
                  name
                  > by Dr. Chike Aniakor and edited by Dr. George Bond who was the
                  > Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia
                  University.
                  > It is small book designed for students and has some basic but
                  > interesting information.
                  >
                  >
                  > --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, Tom LeBlanc
                  > <tom_leblanc_chico@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Dale,
                  > >
                  > > Thank you very much for your kind words.
                  > >
                  > > FYI, the Protestants weren't too keen on Bwiti either. In fact, I
                  > probably only got away with doing it because the American
                  Protestant
                  > Pastor (Silva, I believe?) at the time I got initiated just
                  happened
                  > to be taking his annual leave. When he got back the following year,
                  > he told the two volunteers who replaced me not to even think about
                  > getting initiated. Otherwise he'd see to it that they were
                  medivacced.
                  > >
                  > > Eating the iboga was definitely a very harsh experience. But I'm
                  > convinced that it allowed me to approach the brink of death without
                  > really dying. Actually, I think that it was a combination of the
                  > iboga and the various elements of the ritual that allowed me to
                  have
                  > the out-of-body experience and then return to this world. Frankly,
                  it
                  > was blissful.
                  > >
                  > > It's a pity that Bwiti isn't recognized for what it really is--a
                  > religious sect. The only difference between the "modern" religions
                  of
                  > the West and the indigenous religion of Bwiti is that the former
                  > require faith whereas the latter actually shows you the real thing.
                  > >
                  > > Still, it's probably a lot easier to have faith than to go
                  through
                  > a Bwiti initiation. A few days after word got out that I had been
                  > initiated, the police came by to scold and warn my initiators
                  > saying, "It's all right to initiate Africans, but not Europeans.
                  What
                  > were you thinking? What would you have done if he had died? You
                  would
                  > have been in big trouble and we would have thrown you in jail for
                  > life. Don't do it again."
                  > >
                  > > Tom
                  >
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