Culture: à la découverte du Bansongny, the Baga goddess of initiation

Nowadays, a precious object of art is preserved in the regional museum of Boké. This is Bansongny, a Baga goddess, very often used by the Baga, but also by Landouma and Nalou during initiation ceremonies. Mamadou Bailo Traoré, former curator of the museum, interviewed by one of the correspondents of based in the prefecture, gave ample information on this relic carefully conserved on site.

Le Fortin de Boké, built in 1878, became the regional museum of Boké in 1971. This is the building that opens the Bansongny. But what is the importance of this ethnographic piece that is less well known among the different ethnicities of the Boké prefecture?

Mamadou Bailo Traoré, former museum curator

Mamadou Bailo Traoré, former curator of the museum, explains the role of Bansongny. « Bansongny en principe, il est Nalou, Baga, Landouma. It is a sculpted serpent that the communities of Boké have adored in the past and that has served a lot of people, especially before the colonial penetration. Once they leave the sacred forest, the initiates distinguish themselves from others through the particular signs they carry. It’s him who presides over the initiations in the Baga community, and this initiation is a school for adults. This is where young people from 25 years to 45 years are born, for an entire year, we put them in a sacred forest to learn all the secrets of the Bagas,” he explained.

Bansongny was also a guardian angel against evil-doers, recalls this former curator of ethnographic objects from the region of Boké. “On disait à une personne qu’est-ce qu’elle retenait pour soigner les maux de ventre.” Si elle disait clearly le nom des racines qu’il faut, il ya un jury qui atteste, après on lui fait la scarification, deux traits à la joue gauche et deux traits à la joue droite, deux traits au front. It is a crown that symbolizes that he has mastered all the techniques of care in the sacred forest. This allowed the apprentice of the forest to protect his person and his entourage in the name of Bansongny”, said Mamadou Bailo Traoré.

Le Bansongny, the deesse Baga autrefois adulée, d’une utilité qui ne dit son nom, is still conserved at the Boké regional museum as a souvenir.

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