TRIBAL AFRICAN ART

DJIMINI

Côte d'Ivoire

The Djimini are a sub-group of the larger Senufo group of Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, and Burkina Faso. This people group of 100,000 lives in the northeastern central region of the country. It is important for a Djimini to be a good farmer. The more successful a man is as a farmer, the greater recognition and respect he receives from his peers. Men and women from all stages of life are expected to farm to contribute to the needs of their family in the village. Community and friendship are equally important. Greetings between individuals are very intricate in the Djimini culture. During the course of a conversation, the greeting process may be repeated several times to clarify that all is right between the two individuals.

Every part of the life of the average Djimini depends on the ground. The Djimini are subsistence farmers. They grow the food they need to survive. Meals are cooked just over the dirt in a pot balanced atop three large stones. Most of their homes are made of mud and clay. And the animals they raise feed on the vegetation growing on the outskirts of the village. In early childhood, Djimini are taught the stories and traditions of their people. Circumcision and cultural ceremonies are performed as rites of passage. Djimini men are taught what it means to be a man and what their place is among the community. When a man reaches the age of 30 he is considered an adult.

For generations, the Djimini have clustered their homes around a Baobab tree. Djimini plant a Baobab tree at the site of every new village. These trees can live to be thousands of years old. The tree is unique in its appearance as well as in its endurance. The people believe that such trees are associated with a good spirit, which can provide an abiding source of protection and good fortune for their families. Djimini people search for something unique that they can identify as a representation of a god. It is for one's benefit to possess such an item, believing that a good spirit will bring blessings to him and his family. Some people wear charms or put the bone of an animal in their home. Many believe the ground itself holds spiritual blessings for them. A lot of villages have priests who make sacrifices to the earth. No elaborate altar is built, just a special place is chosen on the bare ground for the offering of sacrifices.

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