Sobonfu Somé is a Dagara healer in the West-African nation of Burkina Faso. In this video recording of a lecture she gave at the Ringing Rocks Foundation, Sobonfu talks about the importance of ritual in her community.
Sobonfu talks about her close-knit community and how ritual encompasses their whole lives. Babies are given a hearing ritual before they are born and then named according to their energy. Every woman is considered the child’s mother and each woman takes responsibility for all the children.
“There is a deep longing among people in the West to connect with something bigger — with community and spirit. People know there is something missing in their lives, and believe that the rituals and ancient ways of the village offer some answers.” These are the simple yet deeply poignant words of author and teacher Sobonfu Somé, one of the foremost voices in African spirituality to come to west. Destined from birth to teach the ancient wisdom, ritual and practices of her ancestors to those in the West, Sobonfu, whose name means “keeper of the rituals” travels the world on a healing mission sharing the rich spiritual life and culture of her native land Burkina Faso, which ranks as one of the world’s poorest countries yet one of the richest in spiritual life and custom.
Recognized by the village elders as possessing special gifts from birth, Sobonfu’s destiny was foretold before her birth, as is the custom of the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso and was fostered by early education in ritual and initiation in preparation for her life’s work. “My work is really a journey in self discovery and in building community through rituals,” says Sobonfu. Dagara rituals involve healing and preparing the mind, body, spirit and soul to receive the spirituality that is all around us. “It is always challenging to bring the spiritual into the material world, but it is one of the only ways we can put people back in touch with the earth and their inner values.”
It is this reliance on spirit, community and ritual that has allowed Sobonfu’s personal and professional path to become one. Since the beginning of her journey in the West Sobonfu has traveled extensively throughout North America and Europe, conducting workshops on spirituality, ritual, the sacred and intimacy. Her work has moved African spiritual practices from the realm of anthropology, to a place alongside the world’s great spiritual tradition, with a message of profound significance and practical application in the li ves of Westerners.
Sobonfu has written two books, “The Spirit of Intimacy” (William Morrow) and “Welcoming Spirit Home” (New World Library), her newest offering which draws on rituals and practices involving community, birth miscarriage and children.
Filled with grace and eloquence, Sobonfu possesses a charm and modesty that enables her to touch her audience deeply. Her message about the importance of spirit, community and ritual in our lives rings with an intuitive power and truth that Alice Walker has said “can help us put together so many things that our modern western world has broken.”