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14 October 2010
Return to the land of Souls

Return to the land of Souls

by Jordi  Esteva

In the 21st century, many ancestral beliefs are struggling to survive in a hostile, fast-changing world. In southeast Ivory Coast, some Akan communities still make contact with the spirits through Komians or animistic priests who go into a trance and are possessed by the spirits of the Forest and the Waters.

Jean Marie Addiaffi (1941-1999), a writer and intellectual from Ivory Coast, fought to conserve the Akans' oral literature, myths and legends, and the knowledge and uses of the plants.

In Return to the Land of Souls, Yéo Douley, a disciple of Jean Marie Addiaffi, will set out on a journey to visit his master's grave and carry out a ritual libation. On his travel, he will attend the initiation rites of three people chosen by the spirits and witness one of them proclaimed as the new Komian, or high animistic priest.