Senufo-Tagba of West Africa

illustrated village including buildings and a woman

The Creation of a Village

hut pictograph

A man finds a place he considers appropriate for settlement. He puts up a house and develops a relationship with the local spirits, coming to know what they like and dislike. Through this exchange he establishes the spiritual rules of the area for later settlers. The spot where his house is built will become the most sacred part of the village.

As more families settle near this man's home, alliances develop. Through these alliances, a similarity evolves among the groups; they have things in common, like certain professions or rituals. As a result, the groups begin to intermarry, strengthening the bonds between them and creating the village. A large village can contain as many as 2000 people living in a number of compounds.

a village
A Tagba village.

Darfolo and Kahanfolo

The man who starts the village is called the owner of the land. His position is inherited by his descendants. There are rules pertaining to land use. The owner of the land enforces these rules to ensure good rainy seasons and abundant crops to farmers. Besides the owner of the land (darfolo), who plays a ritual role in the village, the other main position is village head man (kahanfolo). This man is an administrative leader who takes care of legal issues. The position of village head man was created by the French during the colonial period.

  • animals and buildings the distance
    Village buildings and animals.
  • crops growing on a farm
    Crops growing in the fields outside the village.