Senufo-Tagba of West Africa

illustrated village including buildings and a woman


beaded necklace pictograph

At the onset of an illness, a Senufo villager will treat the problem with traditional herbal medicines. If these are unsatisfactory, the villager will travel to the nearest dispensary. These dispensaries, found in all the larger villages, are staffed by a nurse, an assistant, and a pharmacist. The nurse examines patients, gives first aid, prescribes medication, and serves as a midwife to women giving birth. It is through the dispensary nurses that the government distributes information to villagers on important health issues such as AIDS and childrearing. Peace Corp volunteers also help with these government programs.

members of the village gathered to listen to a lecture
A health professional talks to members of the village.
women sitting and listening to a speaker
Women listen to information on avoiding diseases like AIDS.

Ancestral Spirits

The Senufo believe that the spirits of their ancestors stay near them after death to protect them from the evil in the world and to guide them around it as they go through life. Large problems such as a prolonged sickness, infertility, and drought happen because a ritual to the ancestors has been omitted or improperly performed. To find out how to make the ancestors happy again, the afflicted person will visit a chefolo. Through hereditary training, the chefolohas the ability to receive messages from the ancestral spirits. Through these messages the afflicted person will know which ritual must be performed to make things right again.

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