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Bateba Statues of the Lobi People

The Lobi are an ethnic group that originated in what is today Ghana. The name Lobi originates from two Lobiri words; lou (meaning forest) and bi (meaning children), literally ‘Children of the forest’. The Lobi do not use masks. Instead, they create male and female spirit figures called bateba with heads sculpted on top of […]

Satimbe masks of the Dogon

Masks hold a deep cultural significance in West African societies and they are used as part of social and religious rituals. It is believed that they protect those wearing them, helping the wearer communicate with gods, spirits, and ancestors. Traditionally, the masks are believed to trap and control the spirit of the wearer for the […]

Dogon Dancers; Connecting the Sun and Earth

Dogon masks have become known as the most acclaimed masks amongst tribal art collections and have also influenced renowned Western 20th-century artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, as well as the Cubist movement. The masks are usually carved by those who will wear them in ritual performance. There are approximately seventy-eight standard types of […]

Sélim Harbi – Behind the masks in West Africa

Documentary photographer and filmmaker Sélim Harbi, is passionate about the African continent, its history and cultures. He is the co-founder of Afreekyama; a pan-african photojournalism and multimedia storytelling collective. In 2014 he spent nine months working on his photo series: ‘Woongo, Behind the Masks.’ Woongo is the term used for “masks” in the Mooré language, spoken […]

Fang masks and sculptures

The Fang ethnic group is part of the greater Bantu tribe of central Africa, which includes the countries Guinea, Cameroon and Gabon. Previously, the Fang people migrated around central Africa. Today, Fang mainly inhabit the hot rain forests of Gabon and make up 80% of the Gabonese population. Due of their nomadic ways, the Fang are known for […]

Eight interesting facts about the Yoruba people

The Yoruba are an ethnic group of southwestern Nigeria and southern Benin in West Africa who share a rich history and culture. Here are eight interesting facts about the traditional Yoruba culture: 1. According to Yoruba mythology, all Yoruba people are descendants from the hero Odua or Oduduwa. 2. The language of the Yorubas, known as Yoruba, […]

Kassena ethnic group

In the south of Burkina Faso near the border with Ghana lies a small village of about 1.2 hectares, called Tiébélé. This is home of the Kassena people, who are part of the wider ethnic group known as Gurunsi. Kassena societies are made up mainly of farmers without social or political stratification. The group has no […]

Mossi ethnic group

The Mossi people make up the largest ethnic group in Burkina Faso and the second-largest ethnic group in the Ivory Coast, living mostly in the villages of the Naoinon and Nakanbe river basin. In 1996, the estimated population of Burkina Faso was 10,623,323, with five to six million estimated to be  Mossi or of Mossi […]

Songye shields

The Songye people are a Bantu ethnic group from the central Democratic Republic of the Congo. Migrating from the Sheba area to the southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the banks of the Lualaba River,  the Songye settled in the savannah and forested plateau. The Songye follow a patriarchal society and are economically sustained by farming.  A central chief known as Yakitenge governs […]