THE BAOULÉ PEOPLE

On our culture series we will be turning into the land of Ivory Coast also known as cote d’Ivoire, there we will be settling at Bauole which can also be called Baule.

The Bauole people migrated from Ghana and arrived Cote d’Ivoire as warriors into a land called Gonja, helping them to conqueror a war which made the indigenous people to name the Baule people ‘Chokossi’ which means the greatest God doesn’t sleep while Bauole initially means “the child has died” in English.

They live in compact villages divided into wards, or quarters, and subdivided into family compounds of rectangular dwellings arranged around a courtyard. The compounds are usually aligned on either side of the main village street.

Farming is the major occupation of an average Baule with focus on staple foods like yams launching it with annual yam festival, then cash crops like Coffee and cocoa which boom Ivorian economy between 1960s and 1970s.

Britannica noted that the Baule are known for their fine wooden sculpture, particularly for their ritual statuettes representing ghosts or spirits; these, as well as carved ceremonial masks, were originally associated with the ancestor cult but are increasingly produced for commercial purposes. They are also good at human figurines and variety works like in gold, bronze and ivory.   

On Politics, each lineage has ceremonial stools that embody ancestral spirit. Leaders are structured from the head of each village headed by either a chief or queen and king for large villages, Wikipedia notes that Queens and kings rarely speak in public, but via a spokesman. Villages were dependent on others to form a canton or a tribe. Each canton is also ruled by a queen or a king. Everyone has a say, even slaves, and everyone were friendly and social. Baoulé political organization is matriarchal and women’s rights are very sacred.

On a final note, the Baoule share a similar game with North American version of marbles but they use nuts instead called “Atté.” Wikipedia has it that an odd number of nuts are placed in a circular pattern in the centre of two opposing teams. The two teams, roughly 30 metres apart, take turns throwing nuts at the circle of nuts. Once a nut has been hit, it is eliminated, and the team that hit the respective nut gains a point. The game ends when all the nuts have been eliminated, and the team with the most nuts at the end of the game wins.

As an extra shot; you would want to know that the Ivory Coast’s first President, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, was a Baoulé.

OLUWASEUN AFOLABI

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