Category: Culture

The collective heritage – the shared perceptions, beliefs, behaviors, and interactions – that at once differentiate and unite the peoples of West Africa. Behind the material expressions of culture, (i.e. language, art), lie the more intangible societal values that create and refine these diverse West African identities.

The Power of a Name

To the Shakespearean question “What’s in a name?”, West Africa’s answer is “Everything”. In a world where even the act of speaking is infused with power, birth names ― whether …

The Talking Drum

In the creative process known as ilu sise, the Yoruba drum maker uses only wood from trees along manmade roads; trees that are conversant in the human language of passers-by.

The Baobab, Muse and Myth-maker

“A majestic tree with a massive trunk, the baobab reigns in nature’s midst like a lion among animals. Its huge, tortured, root-like branches give credence to the belief that, thanks …

West African Religion(s)

Though a majority of West Africans have now adopted Abrahamic religions such as Islam or Christianity, there are still pockets of people who adhere to the spirituality of their ancestors. …

The Sogo Bò Masquerade

"We were in the center of the village and children, playing the djembé, poured out from everywhere. Young people announced the performance by blowing through cattle horns; adults were adorned …

The Masons of Djenné

The master mason makes his way through the maze of twisting alleyways, staircases, rising spires, and banco houses that not only typify Djenné, but designate it as a World Heritage …

Twins

Whether kicking up red Sahelian dust or the sands of the lower-lying coastal plains, the footsteps of twins throughout West Africa leave an indelible print along a customarily unified, synchronous …