Jola Initiation Ritual

The phenomenon of folkloric festivals and cultural identity in the contemporary Senegal region of the Casamance provides a unique opportunity to experience and describe customs that have dictated creative and functional experiences for over a thousand years in the western mid enclave of African continent. In seeking to understand this subject we are made aware of the changing textures of time and space and the beauty of physical universe existence, as well as the challenge of continental mapping and composite humanity. This is so because the essence of African identity can be sensed through its integration of individual and communal ‘zones of experiences as well as the blending of multiple planes of consciousness (i.e. reception /hearing). This same sensibility can be viewed in African music as well and the spectra of this phenomenon encompasses the role of creativity as a transcendent factor that underlines (and ‘cements’) the aesthetic imprint of summation cultural identity and vibrational dynamics. The folkloric festivals of this region of the African continent has an added significance when seen in the total context of a changing African landscape and constantly shifting geo-political world order. Slowly but surely, the future of contemporary research into the aesthetic spiritual and/or functional components of African continental experiences (dynamics) will be based on examining the collected isolated fragments and recorded documents that were gathered through actual encounter experiences from the first and second wave of scholars that partitioned Africa- (starting from the second wave of documentation and travel records from the sixtieth century extending to the present era) as opposed to the possibility to experience an actual real time African ritual creative experience – that would allow for an opportunity to experience first hand and penetrate (learn) into the earliest continental ‘genesis-secrets’ of given cultural ritual/symbolic practices, or ‘zones of focus’; because this area of African experience is undergoing profound change as we move into the third millennium.
The folkloric festival in Casamance is a timely occurrence that gives insight into the regional cultural qualities of a people in transition. In seeking to penetrate into this subject one has an opportunity to: 1) better understand the subject of Identity from a universal perspective 2) notice the ‘spectra’ of correspondence qualities that allow for ‘genesis associations’ as ‘experienced from responses from actual events in progress- as a ‘point of focus’ to speculate on the larger question of African aesthetics and value systems 3) look at the subject of form and interaction dynamics (and what value a given formal state might have as for ‘inquiring into a unified African vibrational and mental disposition- that could also assist the effort to better understand the subject of Africa from a continental and universal perspective) and finally 4) to better understand the special role of music, and what I call ‘vibrational dynamics’, in composite African culture and what this subject could mean to trans-African ‘vibrational-radiance’ as we approach the new millennium. In the first category, the challenge of identity for this paper will involve an attempt to isolate the kind of ‘event-action focuses’ that took place during an actual festival that happened in Casamance, in — Africa as a way to look for geo-sonic/image ‘qualities’- that in its extended sense can be equated with the primary constructs of tri-metric modeling. The opportunity to explore this idea is possible because Doctor Peter Marks of Wesleyan University has given me access and copies of his video recording collection of Jola initiation ritual re enactment’s at the festival of Casamance – this paper is possible only because of a unique opportunity to examine actual video documentation and I thank Dr. Marks for this opportunity. Video tape number one documents the second day in a Jola men’s initiation ritual that took place at Thionk-Essyl (which is one of the largest urban centers outside of Bignona. I have sought in this paper to explore the connections between tri-metric modeling techniques in my system and the existential ‘doingness of a given ‘focus and/or actions’ in Jola ceremonial ‘experience’ – as recorded on video tape during an actual performance; as a way to better understand the similarities and differences that such a study might render to the notion of


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