Rituals of Healing

By Barbara Thompson
Friends of Usambara Society, Tanzania (formerly Stanford University; University of Iowa)

Front side of mbari to Obiala by the artist Nnanji Ndiama Obube Ulakwo, Imo State, Nigeria, opened 1959. Photo by Herbert M. Cole.

While in seclusion, they construct an elaborate architectural display filled with wall paintings and clay sculptures to serve and honor the deity. The construction is accompanied by months of activities and celebrations in the secluded enclosure of the mbari site. The whole process takes immense effort and cohesion on the part of all community members, particularly in meeting the construction deadlines and daily needs for the completion and public display of the finished project (Cole 1984: 104-105).