Fusion of the Worlds [Songhay of Niger]

p. 143 “When Songhay warriors came to live in present-day Niger in the late fifteenth century, they found Gurmantche and Kurumba villages. ... many of the Kurumba and Gurmantche fled west to Burkina Faso.”

pp. xx-xxii Songhay deities


category of deities


of __




Harakoy Dikko

Niger river

mother of the Tooru



son of Harakoy



adopted son of Harakoy

Moussa Nyori

clouds & wind

son of Harakoy



son of Harakoy

Mahamane Surgu


son of Harakoy

Faran Baru Koda

youngest child of Harakoy


Sadyara (snake)


Harakoy’s companion in her village under Niger river

Genji Kwari (‘White Spirits’)


resolving of disputes

chief of spirit world

Alpha Duwokoy




Serci’s 1st wife


Serci’s 2nd wife

Genji Bi (‘Black Spirits’)







soil & farming


Hargay (Spirits of Cold)

Nya Beri


mother of the Hargay


daughter of Nya Beri

Jendi Ceeri (‘Neck-Breakeress’)

daughter of Nya Beri

Toway (‘Twiness’)

daughter of Nya Beri


daughter of Nya Beri

Nyalia (‘Beautiful Woman’)

daughter of Nya Beri

Kong-ize (‘Slave Daughter’)

daughter of Nya Beri


daughter of Nya Beri

Mumay Wanzerbe


daughter of Nya Beri

Hamsu Belley

daughter of Nya Beri

Hausa Genji

Adam Hausa


Baba Sora

harbinger of good will

Fulan Benya



(river deities)

Nisile Bote


father of Faran Make Bote

Maka (river genie)

Faran Maka Bote


Zinkibaru (river genie)

battled Faran Maka

Zirbin Sangay Moyo (crocodile)

ate river fishermen

Atakurma (“elves’)


p. xxii [the Hauka are parodies of French colonial officials]

p. 5 Serci

husband of Dugunda & of Garogaro;

master of Kangey;

brought the gift of language.”

p. 26 Dongo

ka-sah-tobe tree (“a magical tree associated with Dongo”);

the sun is his shadow” and

His shadow covers the sun.”

p. 26 genealogy of the deities

Uwa and Uwatata ... brought forward two sons, Urufurma and Agam.

Urufurma fathered a son, Dandu, who became the father of the Tooru.

Agam became the ancestor of the Genji Kwari.”

Serci, the “chief” of the spirit world, carries with him silver Islamic worry beads.”

p. 27 the Genji Bi

They live under the earth and

Cleanse themselves [with dirt].”

The father of the Genji Bi is Zubuda. When Zubuda became the master of a Fulan genie, Zatow, he married one of Zatow’s two sisters.”

p. 28 the Doguwa (Hausa Genji)

the Doguwa spirit Hadjo saith : “(Your millet porridge which has no milk). This expression suggests ... semen has no sperm.

(... You eat only vaginal hair).”

the Hausa bori cult ... two deities, Doguwa Baka and Doguwa Fara, who paralyze their victims. Doguwa Baka paralyzes the left side of the body; Doguwa Fara paralyzes the right side.”

pp. 28-29 Nya Beri

p. 28

Nya Beri herself is the daughter of Harakoy Dikko and the genie of death ... . ... Harakoy evicted Nya Beri from her village under the Niger River. Nya Beri flew to the heavens and asked her brother Cirey for comfort. Cirey rejected his sister and threw her back to earth, but she crash-landed and broke her arms and legs. Crippled, she returned to live with her father in cemeteries ... . There, the genie of death taught his daughter the art of witchcraft (cerkawtarey) as well as death sorcery. ... She took three husbands with whom she had numerous children. The became the Hargay.

Most Hargay ... are believed to be the ghosts of people who died under mysterious circumstances.”

She looks into the sun and sees.

She looks into the moon and sees.

p. 29

In fresh milk she sees the future.

In blood she sees the past. ...

She is in front of a person.

She is behind a person. ...

Dara. Tubulo. Gunbi [trees associated with Nya Bere].”

The offspring of Wambata [Nya Beri] have no friends.

To you, one must talk of milk

Through which young men cannot see.”

pp. 29-30, 147-160 the Hauka spirits




The Hauka are the spirits of colonization ... .


In the bodies of their mediums, the Hauka seize burning bushes {cf. encounter, during his self-imposed exile in protest against the government, by Mos^eh with the Burning Bush} and brandish them like standards above their heads. They also plunge their hands into vats of boiling sauce.”


the Hauka were supposed to be funny ... while aping the ways of the European. ... This frivolous burlesque makes ... seasoned adults laugh.”


The following spirits emerged as early Hauka deities :

(1) Istanbula, who lives in Istanbul and is ... chief of all the Hauka;

(2) Gomno, the colonial governor (of the Red Sea);

(3) Zeneral Malia, the general of the Red Sea;

(4) King Zuzi, the king of judges ...;

(5) Mayaki, the warrior ...;

(6) Korsasi, the wicked major who sometimes kills his mediums; ...

(9) Babule, the blacksmith;

(10) Fadimata Malia, Zeneral Malia’s wife, who had their son Cemoko ...”


During a witch plague, Hauka take their mediums’ bodies and brandish burning bushes above their heads”. {Mos^eh, who approached the Burning Bush, legislated “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”}


the Hauka are incredibly strong. Besides being able to pick up burning bushes with their bare hands and touch themselves with burning torches, I have seen them knock down thick mudbrick walls with their fists.”


Hauka add to the comedy with typical ritual insults in Songhay. Commandant Bashiru called the young woman the daughter of a donkey, a Songhay ritual insult that normally brings laughter.” [“(Sprays saliva in her face.)” (p. 159)]

[alleged (as joke?) Muslim origin of Hauka :-] “Bilali {Negro slave of Muh.ammad}, ... when he was in Mecca had lots of sons who came to Africa. They say that Bilali actually sang Hauka songs and did Hauka rituals when he was in Mecca.”

{with their chief being resident at Instanbul, and his lieutenant governor of Sudan (on the Red Sea, and formerly controlled by the Ottoman empire), the Hauka must surely have originally been parodizers of the Ottoman empire before they became parodizers of the French one – did they originate in Sudan, just as the Bori originated in Somalia?}

possession of a medium by a spirit

p. 31

a person can see his or her double in pool of water. {“The nature of the ruh.a^ni^ is that of a reflection, a “real image,” a mitha^l” (IA, p. 187).} ... When individuals sleep, the double leaves the body and travels about ... seeking adventure. ... Spirit mediumship results from the temporary displacement of a person’s double by the force of a particular spirit. When the force of the spirit enters the medium’s body, the person shakes uncontrollably. When the deity’s double is firmly established in the dancer’s body, the shaking becomes less violent.”

where the medium’s double waits when it has been displaced” : “the medium’s double leaves the body and deposits itself in the sohanci’s lolo, a tall iron staff. other zimas suggest that the medium’s double finds temporary residence in the sanctified wooden poles of the ritual canopy under which the musicians produce their mesmerizing sounds.”

p. 37

possession priests generally wear black cloth to distinguish themselves ... from the Islamic clerics, who wear white cloth ... . ... The zima’s black cloth communicates to the community that he or she is the antithesis of the Islamic cleric.”

p. 92

Called the yene, this mythic ritual was the first possession ceremony – a ceremony at which human beings could see the spirits. Thereafter the spirits became invisible to most human eyes.”

p. 225, n. 6:11

There are two special days on the possession troupe’s weekly calendar :

Sunday ..., the first day, on which many of the lesser (non-Tooru) spirits take their mediums; and

Thursday (... the fifth day), the day of Tooru possession.”

IA = Stefania Pandolfo : Impasse of the Angels. U of Chicago Pr, 1997.

statements by female possession-media

p. 45

statement by a from Filingue : “We mediums are married to our spirits, not to our men, and our husbands do not like that.”

p. 49

statement by a female possession-medium in Mehanna : “Men ask women a question. Women then ask the question to the spirits. ... The sorko is the woman’s slave. His strength comes from Dongo, but Dongo will not accept him unless he uses a woman as his intermediary.”

p. 61

assertion by a female possession-medium from Gao : “Each day the spirit came into my body like a hot breeze. First, I felt it in my left toes, and left foot. Then my right toes and foot. Then up my left leg, then my right leg. Then through my waist and chest. Then I felt it in my left fingers and hand, and my fight fingers and hand. And then my head boiled ...”

pp. 64-74 description of initiation caerimony, of 7-days’ duration, for a woman


day #

caerimony (including behavior of spirit in woman)




horey music for “having a good time”;

tunaandi music for “raising of the spirit”;


windi ‘tour’ music : “Danced with arms swaying, the windi step represents an episode of the mythical history of the spirits – their emergence from water.”

The white robe symbolized the Cold Spirits”.



Black Spirit music

an indigo-striped tunic”

trembled. ... spasmodic shaking.”


growled ... . He hopped around”.


walked until they reached ... a crossroads outside the village.” “Throw you millet ... into the ant hill, count to three, and run back to the village. don’t look back.”

a white robe and shawl”



growled ... and hopped about”

tied girl’s hair into ten plaits, each ending in a cowry shell.”


wailed and thrashed his arms wildly into the air”

plaited hair.”


daarendi “the ritual sacrifice of animals.”


hopping around ... all the while hopping and groaning.”

Cold Spirit festival.”



Before the seven-day initiation ceremony, the novice had been suffering from general lethargy ... . On the seventh day, [the initiator] examined the new medium to see whether the spirit had returned her fully to health. He found the new medium energetic on ... the seventh day.”

Put this ring on the third finger of your left hand ... . This is the finger of power”.

pp. 71-74 behavior of deities while possessing female media (other than initiantess) during initiation

p. 71

Nya Beri’s medium fell to her knees and shook. ... Her body convulsed uncontrollably. ... She ... screamed”.

Gondi, the snake, took his medium, kicking up sand ... . Gondi slithered slowly across the sand ... . Hissing and flicking his tongue ...”.

p. 72

The medium [of Nyalia] had to be restrained from pulling off all of her clothing. {[Igbo] “The female witch will ... physically ... strip in the midst of the busy marketplace.” (M&M, p. 146)}

p. 74

Dundo, who was carried by a sixty-year-old woman, ... scaled the thatched roof”.

M&M = Comaroff (eds.) : Modernity and its Malcontents. U of Chicago Pr, 1993.

pp. 74-79 description of initiation caerimony, of 7-days’ duration, for a man, into Hauka

pp. 74-76

the aetiology of the initiation caerimony : the initiant told to the initiator, [p. 74] “As soon as I fall off to sleep a nightmare wakes me up. In the night I can’t stop shaking, and I can’t catch [p. 76] my breath. One night, ... my brother found me in the cemetery. I was digging up corpses! On another night, my brother found me next to a dead dog that I had strangled.”

day #

caerimony (including behavior of spirit in man)


1st – 5th

the musicians played Hauka music and the Hauka mediums simply marched counterclockwise ... . ... Soon, a Hauka entered [the initiant’s] body. Like other Hauka, this nameless spirit groaned and clenched his fists. He thrust his right arm in the air. The new Hauka roared”.

On the first day [the initiator] allowed the spirit to remain in [the initiant’s] body for five minutes; on day five he let the spirit express himself for twenty minutes.”



they walked to the crossroads. [The initiator] stuck his forked stick – which represents the fusion of the spirit and social worlds – into the ant hill. ... [The initiator] put one egg, ... millet seeds, and sorghum seeds in the ant hill. He recited the genji how, the ritual incantation [“N’Debbi gave us seven hatchets and seven picks. He came and gave us speech. And he took it back.” (p. 221, n. 3:19)] ... The sorko ... recited his praise-poetry, and ... the unnamed Hauka entered [the initiant’s] body. ... [The sorko] rubbed the chickens over the head, arms, and legs of the novice.”


The spirit uttered his name three times. ... The Hauka spirit, Ceferi, “the nonbeliever,” had taken [the initiant’s] body.”


The spirit had revealed his name ... was Ceferi, the Hauka who neither fasts (during the Ramadan) nor prays.”

The sorko “blew an ear-piercing whistle ... . ... [The initiant], the novice, was the first medium to be taken. Standing absolutely still, he hyperventilated. ... He bellowed. He thumped his chest.”


One by one their spirits took them ... . Like most Hauka, they did back flips, groaned, moaned, and foamed at the mouth. ...

The sorko rubbed the chickens over Ceferi’s head, ears, mouth, arms, and knees. ... The sorko held the calabash bowl of porridge high over his head, and Ceferi ... took the gourd and drank.”

pp. 85-87 dream in Mehanna by a sorko from Ouallam




the king of the sky [Dongo] came to me in a dream. ... He said that I must now enter the river and walk to Harakoy’s village. I left ... on a Thursday evening and walked ... all night {dreams of travel through darkness are common in shamanism} along the riverbank. I approached Ayoru. There the river is wide and deep. This is where the spirits have there village under the water. ... a smooth black boulder ... marks the spot where the sorko enters the river. ...

I went into the river,

[Ouzman 1995, p. 8b :] "a !Kung shaman from Botswana related how, in a trance , he was taken {via astral projection?} by God to a river and how he "entered the stream and began to move forward" (Biesele 1980:55)."

but I did not become wet. ... To my right and left I saw the river.

{evidently walking between walls of water, as in the crossing of the Yam Sup}

I saw crocodiles and fishes, but whirlpools kept us separated.

When the sand changed from white to dark gray, I saw three jugs in a line. Sadyara, a large black snake with a horn on its head, was coiled next to the first jug, swaying ... .

{with the name /SADYAra/, cf. perhaps that of the /SADHYA/ deities in the Veda}

Her eyes were covered with long white hair that touched the ground. ... I saw a sacred tree and a sacred vine growing out of the dark gray ground. ... With these plants, I could save people whom lightning had


struck. Behind the first jug, I saw the sacred kobe tree. ... The first jug was filled with fresh milk, which I drank. I moved ... to the second jug. It was filled with special sorko medicines : sah nya, dugu nya, wali belinga. ... The third jug was filled with blood.

{cf the 3 jars (O`d-ro,rir, Bodn, and So,n) of elixir quaffed by Bo,lverk in the abode of giantess Gunnlo,d (according to the Edda)}

There was a special vine floating on the surface. ... The Tooru surrounded me ... and made the sandy path reappear. A wind caught me from behind and pushed me away from the village of the spirits. Soon, I emerged from the river completely dry.”

"FSh&P" = Sven Ouzman : "The Fish, the Shaman and the Peregrination". SOUTHERN AFRICAN FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY 4 (1995):3-17. http://repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/14371/Ouzman_Fish%281995%29.pdf?sequence=1

Biesele 1980 = M. Biesele : "Old K"au". In :- J. Halifax : Shamanic Voices. Harmondsworth : Penguin.

pp. 40, 87-91 legend & myth




In the mythic past, a great hunter named Zoa {cf. /Zwawa/ of al-Jeria} ... could fly great distances. When he wanted to marry he flew to the Gobir (northern Nigeria) and married the king’s daughter. ... One day a bird ate Zoa’s millet. ... A fire ignited on the ground and seared the bird to an inedible crisp. ... The earth opened up. ... Zoa descended into the hole and disappeared. The earth closed.”


Nisile Bote and his first wife, the river genie, Maka, celebrated the birth of a son. Faran Maka Bote, their son, grew up in Kare Kaptu ... . ...


Zirbin Sangay Moyo, a spirit ... transformed itself into a crocodile which delighted in killing local fishermen. [At the behest of Maka,] Harakoy transformed Zirbin Sangay Moyo into a strip of iron which then sank to the bottom of the Niger. Maka entered the Niger and found the iron strip and brought it back to Kare Kaptu. ... From the strip, Faran made the first harpoon ... . [Faran visited Gao.] in Faran’s absence, Zinkibaru, a blind river genie, went to live on the river spirit island near Kare Kaptu. Through ... the sonority of his guitar, Zinkibaru mesmerized the river spirits and made them his captives. ... The sounds of the guitar [played by] Zinkibaru also drove away from Gao the hippos – Faran’s favorite food. ...


Faran soon found himself on an island at the junction of seven rivers. ...


When Faran came to Funkuma, he saw ... Zinkibaru ... . Zinkibaru said : “The palm leaf will never capture a hippo.” ... Faran quickly replied : “And if the sun’s rays are in front of the palm leaf?” ...

{Hermes thought that Apollon would be unable to find the cattle stolen by Hermes (GM 17.a); but Apollon “took over the laurel” (GM 21.6).}

Faran took Zinkibaru’s guitar. .... Santama took the violin and drums.”

{cf. the appropriation by Apollon of the lyre invented by Hermes (GM 17.d).}

After Dongo had with a lightingbolt set on fire a village of Faran, Faran, at his mother’s behest, sought forgiveness from Dongo.

{after Zeus had killed one of Apollon’s sons with a thunderbolt, Apollon’s mother sought forgiveness for her son (GM 21.n).}

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

pp. 111-118 musical instruments : “the monochord violin (godji) and the calabash drum (gasi).”




The resonating cavity of the godji consists of half a large hard gourd that has been cut along its axis. ... The violin’s cavity is covered by bo lizard skin (Varanus nilotica), which is stretched over the opening and fastened to the instrument with ... the thorns of the garbey tree (Balanites aegyptica). The instrument’s neck is ... cut from the kubu tree (Combretum micantrum). ... The violin string consists of black hair clipped from a horse’s tail. ...

When the violinist plays the godji he produces a sound similar to a high-pitched wail.”


At the kubu tree from which he will cut the wood for the fret, he recites : ...

Today is Wednesday, a sacred day. ... I have come today to cut the Wood of the violin on this Wednesday.” {cf. Wednesday as the day of Hermes, inventor of the lyre}


the godji is not yet ready to be played. First, it must be “opened” so that the force of the spirits can flow into the cavity. On a Thursday, the sacred day of the spirits, the musician sacrifices over his violin a white, a red, and a black ... (the colors correspond to the major figures of the spirit world : Harakoy Dikko [white], Cirey [red], and Dongo [black]).”

... into the cavity of the violin, the musician chants the following text. ...

I have come to pray to you, Dandu Urufurma [father of all the spirits]. Dandu liked having children so much that he engendered Uwata.

She engendered “plait-to-the-thighs.”

She engendered “sweep-water-with-his-beard.”

She engendered “pull-up-the-baobab-to-pick-your-teeth.””


The gasi is made from gourds that ... are much larger than those used for the godji. The gourds are ... cut along the axis and dried. ... The drumsticks resemble the human hand, consisting of five “fingers” of bamboo tied together at a point called the “palm,” in such a way that each “finger” can hit the drum separately. When the drummer hits the drum with the “palm” of the drumstick, it produces a “clack.” When ... the “fingers” hit the gourd individually, a “roll” is produced. ...

The tempo ... is

slow for the windi (“the tour”),

rapid for the gani (fast dancing), and

slow, building to rapid, for the fimbi (“shaking”).”

p. 120 “elaborate checkerboard scarification on his cheeks, the sign of his membership in the Jenitongo family of sohancis.”

pp. 127-143 yenaandi (rain-dance)


yenaandi caerimony


the sorko shook a hatchet with a bell attached to it (Dongo’s hatchet). “Ping, ping,” the bell tolled for Dongo.”

__ scream

for deity __


Moussa Nyori

high-pitched quavering


powerful roar


the Hauka ... somersaulted, did back flips ..., and foamed at the mouth”.



of deity __

black robe & black cap; hatchet


bright red robe & red fez; long metal staff


blue-&-white-striped tunic; heavy cotton cap

Moussa Nyori


Suddenly Dongo took his medium ... . Flapping his arms, Dongo dashed toward the musicians. He bellowed, thrusting his clenched fists to the left and then to the right.”

They brought a ... woman. She sank to her knees. ... Dongo hopped to her left hand and Cirey to her right. ... Mahamane Surgu (the Tuareg warrior) took his medium.”



of deity __

black robe & black cap


red robe & red fez


blue-&-white-striped tunic

Moussa Nyori

filmy black cape & black cap; iron staff


black and white robes; black turban

Mahamane Surgu

light-blue robe; small doll

Faran Baru Koda

pp. 167-180 the Sasale movement




A young medium was wailing, “wo, wo, wo, wo, woo.” She held her head in her hands and meandered about the dance ground ..., a sign that the spirit would soon settle comfortably in the body of its medium, a lanky young woman ... . Ramu Kong’izo, the Sasale prostitute, had come to visit Tillaberi.” “Ramu Kong’izo (lit., Ramu, “daughter of a female slave”) ... approached the crowd, keeping the palms of her hands on her temples.”


The first Sasale to appear was Alibiyo (Black Ali). ... He will grab and have intercourse with any woman who pleases him.”

Some of the female Sasale are

(1) Ramu Kong’izo, or Ramu, the daughter of a female slave, who was a famous prostitute;

(2) Bill’izo, or the daughter of a Bella, a former slave to the Tuareg; she is the chief of the Sasale and especially foul-mouthed;

(3) Kadidja Cendaaj’izo, or Kadidja from Cendaaji, who approaches male strangers in a possession audience to thrust her hands into their trousers and grab their penises; and

(4) Fadimata Idrissa, or Fadimata, daughter of Idrissa, who attempts to grab the testicles of men in a possession audience.”


When calling for the Sasale, musicians sing the following verses :

1. Nya ngoko. (Fuck your mother.)

2. Nya dufe. (Your mother’s cunt.)

3. Duf’izey kulu bene. (All clitorises are above [with God].)

4. Fulan benda, a ga wey ngoko. (A Fulan’s penis fucks women.)

5. Benda, benda, a si ngoko weybora kala jina, jina ... (A penis, penis, it will only fuck women again and again ... .)

6. Duf’izey kosu, a ga labduru ga dang tonka. (Into the clitoris and cunt, she will pour porridge with hot pepper.)”


all the dances, all the songs were about sex : “Look at my clitoris,” “Oh, your testicles are wonderful,” and so on ...”.

p. 178 “Recently divorced women in their late teens and early twenties rent their bodies to eager customers. these may be young men too poor to pay a bride-price, recently divorced men in need of sexual gratification, or married men seeking sexual variety.”

Paul Stoller : Fusion of the Worlds. U of Chicago Pr, 1989.