Ritual Messengers

The Peoples of Central Africa

| The Lega | Lega Masks | Lega Ivories |

Katanda Janus-figurine. Lega. Kivu, Zaïre. Wood, pigments, headed nails.
© Africa-Museum, Tervuren

  The Lega

The Lega live in the rain forest of eastern Zaïre. The secret bwami society plays an important role in their social and religious life. The initiation society is strictly hierarchical and is, in principle, open to all men and their wives. However, progressing from one stage to the next becomes increasingly more difficult as a person moves up, hence only a few reach the top. Moreover, admission at any level requires considerable preparation, plus a series of initiations and evaluations. The bwami initiates' objective is to follow a code of behaviour that strives towards goodness, truth and spiritual perfection. For the Lega, the bwami is the ultimate aim in life and almost all of the art that they create is devoted to this powerful society.

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