Monday, March 29, 2010

Local Religious Ceremony in Gabon

Went to watch a local Bwiti ceremony a while ago.  Bwiti is a local religion that has been followed for hundreds of years by several different tribes throughout this region of Equatorial Africa.  It is practiced by the Fang, which is the largest ethnic group here in Gabon.  It is a very colorful ceremony with lots of fire, dancing and drums.  During ceremonies, it is usual for participants to chew the root bark of the iboga, which acts as an hallucinogenic.

I don’t know anyone who has tried iboga, but people take it to produce visions and other hallucinations.  They don’t recommend that you take it without 2 “guides”; one who goes on the trip with you and one who “stays behind” so he can help you get back.  During initiation rites, young men supposedly take it and stay up for 3 days and nights.
It was a very interesting ceremony with a break in the middle for local dinner.  I assume that some of the participants were using iboga, because it went on for hours and was still going when we left.


  1. Sounds like some nights in NYC :)

  2. I found your blog via TripAdvisor. Its very well written and you have a great sense of humour!

    I am glad your blogged about this ceremony because I am interested in attending one and ingesting the plant (for the same spiritual reasons). Having had first hand experience, do you think a non-French speaking person(only speak English)could participate in such a ceremony? many thanks! Alex

  3. Alex,

    Gabon is wonderful and safe...however, they are just not set up for tourism. The concept of helping visitors get around is foreign, so it can be difficult to find your way signs, directions, published schedules, etc. It can particularly difficult without speaking French. Can you bring a friend with language skills?