Bwiti is both a cult of ancestors and a brotherhood that enable initiates to discover another spiritual aspect of the Universe, It can be seen as a science enabling a better understanding of the interrelation between the beyond and Earth.
Every Bwiti ceremony is an occasion for initiates to travel from the world of the living to the next; and enables both Initiates and their Ancestors to communicate. They reveal to initiates instinctively and through visions, their past, present and future, and also what action to take in protecting their own folks or treating sick persons.
Nowadays, a lot of tribes or ethnic groups are related to Bwiti, however the “Mitsogos” are best known to be the most ancient in that Cult of Ancestors. In the Bwiti; “Misoko” which was spread to many other tribes thanks to inter-ethnic marriages, traveling and local migrations. The Mitsogo had been a migrant Bantu Tribe that settled in the South of Gabon close to the pygmies who taught them. The pygmy tribes were the first inhabitants of Gabon and the traditional name that was used to refer to them and still is “Babongo” which means “small people”. Nowadays, Babongo pygmies include both Apinzi and Mitsogo.
There is no tribe in Gabon named «Bwiti» or «Bwete».
Download and listen to some indigenous music from Gabonplayed during Bwiti festivals:
The original branch of Bwiti is called «Disumba». The Apinzi Pigmies, who had introduced it to the Mitsogo, founded that branch. Disumba is seen as the mother and is the most mystical branch of Bwiti. It is a rite of passage strictly reserved for men and has a strong religious orientation based on the Cult of Ancestors.
From Disumba came Bwiti N’Dea and Bwiti Misoko. The N’Dea can be seen as the martial branch of the Disumba and is very much similar to Bwiti Disumba; while, Bwiti Misoko is the branch that came with a therapeutic vocation. Bwiti Misoko initiates are meant to be « Nganga » (healers) unlike initiates of the Disumba.
Bwiti Misoko has many sub-branches, the most popular of which are the following:
Myobe : The oldest branch of Bwiti Misoko introduced by the Mitsogo Tribe.
Ngonde: There are two styles under Ngonde; « Ngonde Bosuka », the most ancient Ngonde that was created by the Tsogho tribe, and a more recent, « Ngonde na Dipuma » which is mostly known among the Puvi and Masangu tribes.
Senguedya: This branch came recently from the personal innovation of a Masangu bwitist who withdrew himself from Ngonde to create his own branch.
Mabundi: is the female branch in the Bwiti Misoko. That name as well refers to the female initiates and is also the name of the female’s dance in the Bwiti Misoko. One can say Mabundi is a derivation of « Mabandji ”, which is the female branch of the Disumba.
Since about 1910, there has been a Bwiti referred to as “Bwiti Fang” or “Mimbwiri”. That branch is a Bwiti of possession. It is a syncretism of Byeri, Disumba and Christianity (the colonial influence). It is actually the result of an adaptation of the original Bwiti Disumba, Fang cult of ancestors (Byeri) and the integration of Christian elements and concepts.
Initiate’s Logical Progression
In order to become a Nima (Bwiti master), the neophyte must follow a typical progression from Banzi (Novice) to Nganga (Apprentice /Healer), Nganga to Kombo (Intermediate /Advanced Initiate) and Kombo to Nima (Master). There are several ritual stages before an initiate can become a Bwiti master. The temporal interval between two stages does not comply with any set period of time. This logical progression is variable from one initiate to another; however, it takes many years to be completed. Not all initiates become Masters.
The Future of Bwiti
Tours/ Traditional initiations in Gabon
For tours to Gabon or if you are interested in a more traditional experience; it is possible to organise small groups to help share the costs. For more information please visit: Ngonde Tours
The proposal above is not binding and may be subject to change due to adjustments to dates or circumstances.
The Bwiti will give us its own pace in the Ever moment.
Please note that the invoiced amount must be paid in local currency (CFA)
The amount in euro appears for information only.
A deposit of 50 % must be paid at least two months before arrival for booking and pre-arrangement purpose.
The balance must be paid at least one month before arrival for booking confirmation.