Bimoba tribe woman from Dapaong,Togo and her baby girl. In the Bimoba tribe four rites of passage are of great importance: the Koant, (a language course or name giving process), the Ba Wanu (a ritual to establish Jaba’s), the wedding, and the funeral.
BIMOBA PEOPLE: HILLY DWELLING SMALL WEST AFRICAN WARRIOR TRIBE WITH POWERFUL INITIATION CULTS
In the Koant ritual a secret language is learned and a new name is given to a member of the tribe undergoing the ritual. Each member of the Bimoba has different names. Apart from the first and family name, many have a Christian or Muslim name, mostly used when going to school or going “Kumasi”(far away). Besides these names Bimoba can obtain a ritual Bimoba name.
These names (Konjit, Konduuk, Dinwaak and Tanjon for women, Duut, Laar, Kombat, Lambon, Konlan and Bombom for man) are given to them during a lengthy initiation process. This ritual is regarded to be holy and secret. Unlike other tribes, any Bimoba, man or woman, can request a Koant. The ritual is not compulsory and nowadays hardly performed, but still many initiated (Koantjies) are living in the area. Before entering the Koant process, the Konatji (the one undergoing the Koant) requests permission of the most senior Koant-member. After consulting the parents of the Koantji, the date of entering is fixed. The whole Koant process takes three months for men and four months for women. It gives the Koantjie a highly regarded status and the possibility to speak with other Koantjies in their own, secret language.
The Ba Wanu initiation, which most Bimoba under go, establishes whether you are a Jaba (sub seer) or not. The initiation takes 12 hours or even more. The Ba Wanu initiation is requested by a person’s Miar (which literally means nose but actually means a man’s spirit).
Usually this happens when uncommon things happen to life like death, drought, or heavy flooding. There is no fixed age for married males to undergo the Ba Wanu initiation and, although it is possible to do the Ba Wanu at any age if you are not married, the vast majority of the unmarried men do not undergo the Ba Wanu under the age of forty. Women do not undergo the initiation if they are not married and if married they only do the Ba Wanu at the age of forty-five. The actual initiation is usually done by a Jaba, selected by another Jaba. The complicating factor is, that if a wrong Jaba is chosen to perform the initiation, the person initiated can either die or go mad.
The owner of the Miar is made to faint for some time. In this period of unconsciousness the man can see whether he is a Jaba or not. If he is a Jaba, he will see two dwarfs (a man and a woman) on the rooftop of the nakouk. The attendees of the ritual will listen to his recollections after he comes back to his senses. If the attendees are satisfied with the answer (in fact the right description of the dwarfs on top of the nakouk) they can decide that the man is a Jaba. This implies that every Jaba has undergone the Ba Wanu initiation, but not every person who has undergone the Ba Wanu initiation is a Jaba. The person known to be a Jaba is then trained by an older Jaba. This training includes the interpretation of the message from the dwarfs to the people who come to him for consultation.
Women do not undergo this fainting process but they can be a Jaba if their miar want them to be. There are only a few female Jabas in the bimoba community. Although female Jabas can not perform the ba wanu for another person, they can advise other people.