SENEGAL-CULTURE / The “Banta Woro”, the “protective” tree of the village of Abéné – Senegalese press agency

By Modou Fall

Abéné, May 15 (APS) – The “Banta Woro” (six cheese makers in Mandingo) is a place of meditation and prayer for the populations of Abéné, who venerate this century-old sacred tree as the “protective genius” of this village in the department from Bignona (south).

Several hundred years old, this tree of incredible grandeur and majesty is, according to local tradition, one of the largest in West Africa.

Located in the district of Kataba 1, three kilometers from the commune of Kafountine, Abéné is populated by Mandingos, Diolas and Peuls.

Tourism is the main activity of the populations and constitutes a real niche of jobs: cooks, waiters, housewives, gardeners, guards, guides.

Its fishing port is the meeting point for fishermen, fishmongers, handlers and fish dryers. Small business players have also come to settle there to benefit from its economic dynamism. A dynamism which has also attracted shopkeepers, hardware merchants, bar managers, restaurateurs and nightclub owners.

The village of Abéné, populated by around 5,000 inhabitants, is a tourist stop for visitors from all over the world. It is also a place of meditation thanks to this sacred tree which proudly sits in the heart of the village.

“This tree is called +Banta woro+, that is to say six cheese makers, in Mandingo language. It is a sacred tree. This is where we did our ceremonies and events. This is where we come to ask for fertility. When a woman is pregnant, this is where she comes to pray to chase away evil spirits and hope to be able to give birth normally,” the curator of this tree, Tidiane Diabang, explained to the APS.

The Banta Woro, “protective mother” of the village of Abéné

”This tree is our protective mother. He is a protective genius. He protected our ancestors and continues to protect us. This is where our ancestors came to communicate with the spirits,” recalls Mr. Diabang.

Only the women of the sacred wood are called to make libations under this tree.

“At first, this tree was hidden by the forest. And by divine grace our ancestors were able to discover it. Only our old mothers have the right to perform the ceremonies there. They come here to communicate with the spirit,” says Tidiane Diabang.

A well in Banta Woro

“There is a well for the spirit. Not everyone can see this well. Only a wise man can clearly see it. You have to be spiritually good to see this well,” says Mr. Diabang.

He indicates that “it is this water from the well that the women of the sacred wood use to carry out ceremonies and rituals”.

”Women use this water to pray for people who request it. Many people come here to pray and pray. The Banta Woro is impressive in every way,” declares its curator.

The “Banta Woro” which is more than a century old, is today the sanctuary of various animals, including monkeys, birds, small lizards, bees, he says.

”All these animals are secure. They are free. We don’t touch them,” assures Tidiane Diabang.

MNF/ASB/ASG

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