Water and Culture: Gabon
Water in Africa
- Africa, Gabon
Water is considered a purifying element. I have seen it used during healing and circumcision ceremonies. In a healing ceremony that I witnessed recently, a very sick woman was sprinkled with water (flung from a swatch of raffia strips). Each of the participants in the ceremony ate iboga (the sacred wood) and took turns dancing around three fires. Then they sprinkled the woman with more water.
The circumcision ceremony is actually a very long process, taking two months to fulfill all the rites. The night before the circumcision takes place, the [adolescent] boys are ritually cleaned at a river and then painted and clothed for the ceremony. After the circumcision, the boys are taken to a secluded area in the woods. There, they bathe three times a day, for as long as it takes to heal the wound.