“In Church, they speak of God. With Iboga, you live God”.
It all comes down to when the Bantu tribes in Gabon ran away into the depths of the jungle in Gabon to escape persecution from French missionaries in the 19th century as it was during this period that they got to know about the “Iboga plant”. It was also from this that the Bwiti religion was given birth to and it is now one of the widely accepted religion in Gabon, as well as practised by both Bantu & Pygmy communities.
Iboga is native to the rainforest of Gabon. It is a perennial ordinary-looking shrub found in small areas of West Africa, which produces simple yellow blossoms and edible orange-colored citrus fruit that is tasteless and oddly sticky. Iboga can grow into a tree rising as high as 35 feet under conducive conditions. In the West, the psychedelic (Iboga) is being given publicity to as a potential one-shot cure for treating addiction. the Pygmies were the first set of people to find Iboga in the interior part of the jungle.
Iboga emphasises the importance of direct communion with the ancestors and spirit through community building. It is made available in small quantities at the weekly mass ceremonies known as “Ngoze” that takes place from every Saturday night into Sunday morning while higher doses of Iboga are reserved for initiation ceremonies in which the new member joins the Bwiti community or a member of the community is struggling with trauma and this can lead to complete disassociation with reality for very long periods of time thereby causing the individual to have powerful revelations as well as speak with the ancestors.
Originally, the practice of the initiatory rite included the death of humans and eating of human flesh by human beings until it purged itself of such cruel characteristics and it their places, sacrificed chickens. The Bwitists consider themselves the “real Christians”. The Iboga use was and is still acting as a thorn in the Catholic mission, however, it is still gaining ground in the fight for religious boundaries.
Photo Credit: Liliana Usvat.
Bibiana Ossai © 2016.