Komo among Tagwa-Senufo Peoples in Southwest Burkina Faso

by Boureima T. Diamitani
West African Museums Programme

Komo house, southwest Burkina Faso. Photo by Boureima Diamitani, 1997.

Komo Initiation

The role and function of the Tagwa's Komo is the same as among Mande-speaking peoples.  Both involve a special performance group and an institution dedicated to the protection of its members and the community. Among the Mande and the Tagwa, the Komo is a men's sacred society with initiation required to become a member. There are three categories of initiation: 1) the observer who pays a kola nut and 100 CFA to be allowed to attend any Komo performance in the region; 2) the follower (adept) who must sacrifice a chicken every year and can take part in the annual procession of the Komo from the village to the sacred grove; and 3) the closest members of the family to the Komotigui (Komo’s owner), who are privy to all the secrets of the Komo. One can become Komotigui by inheritance or by purchase, and is generally responsible for making sacrifices to reinforce the power and uphold the credibility of the Komo in the region.

It is not necessary for every circumcised male in the village to be a member of the Komo society. Initiation into the Komo society implies, firstly, authorization to see the Komo in all cycles and all places; secondly, privilege to attend his worship and annual ritual ceremonies at the highest level; thirdly, access to the rudiments of the Komo language, and authorization to use the Komo's code and songs.