Africa Guide

Bobo People


The Bobo people have lived in western Burkina Faso and Mali for centuries. They are known for their masks which are worn with elaborate outfits for celebrations. Primarily agricultral people they also cultivate cotton which they use to trade with others.

The main goal of Bobo culture is to restore balanced nature which man inherently destroys. The order is mainly restored through sacrifices and ceremonies. The primary god of the Bobo is Wuro who is responsible for ordering the land. The second god is Dwo who is revealed during masking ceremonies. Dwo chooses to live in a mask until worn, when his spirit is caught up in the spirit of the wearer who is then able to communicate to others Dwo's will.

The population of the Bobo is slightly over 100,000 people. The Bobo have lived in the western region for centuries. Some believe they have been settled in the area since as far back as 800 A.D. These individuals have their own language that we know as simply the "Bobo" language, or "Mande". Some of the other groups with whom the Bobo occasionally interact are the Senufo, Bamana, Lobi, and Bwa.

The Bobo people are an inherently decentralized group. The various villages that break down their group have their own method of organizing a "political system". They base it on the relationship among individual patrilineages. The idea of placing political power in the hands of an individual is foreign to the Bobo people. The Bobo, like most other cultures, have their own religious beliefs. The creator god of the Bobo is Wuro, who is never physically represented and cannot be described in words according to the Bobo. The god Wuro is the individual responsible for ordering all things in the world into pairs, which must always remain balanced. However, man, through everyday existence is usually responsible for upsetting this balance. The Bobo religious system involves restoring order through a series of offerings.

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