Sobonfu Somé: On Grief, Ritual, Community, and Forgiveness
Hear one of the foremost voices in African spirituality speak about grief in her culture.
Renowned teacher and mentor Sobonfu Somé was one of the foremost voices of African spirituality to come to the West. Mentored by her Dagara elders, she brought ancient indigenous African wisdom to our Western culture in a compassionate, loving, and joyful way. Sobonfu was born in a remote village in the West African country of Burkina Faso. Her Dagara people have preserved the old ways of African village life, with family structures and spiritual practices that have been in place for over 10,000 years.
This talk was the opening for a Grief Ritual Weekend. Recorded November 8, 2013 at Jubilee in Asheville, NC.
At the beginning of the talk, Sobonfu says “if you have had any kind of inkling to being here, it means that something in you is very much alive and that’s why you’re here. So maybe by the time I finish, you will understand why I say that because most of us run away from emotions.”
Sobonfu was a special one. She lived a life true to her name “Keeper of the Rituals” and I consider it such a gift to have participated in ritual under Sobonfu’s leadership. It is evident to me that the world is stronger, wealthier, happier, and more resilient thanks to the wisdom embodied and experiences shared amongst us all, Sobonfu, the Dagara people, all the elements, and the ancestors.
About the Recording
This video was recorded at Jubliee! in Asheville, NC, by Jay Joslin in two parts.
Here is a brief section from the recording.
About Wisdom Spring
When Sobonfu first came to the United States, she was mesmerized by the water that flowed when she turned on a faucet. In cities in Africa, there are faucets but not always water coming out. Growing up in a rural area, she had to walk 5-10 miles to get water. She would sit by the water hole for hours waiting for the water table to rise enough to get water.
With supporters in the US, she started the nonprofit, Wisdom Spring. The organization started with teenagers raising money to drill wells. From there, the organization has expanded to support kids with tuition and lunches, not only in Burkina Faso, but also Ghana, India, and hopefully Nepal and Kenya soon.
For more information about Wisdom Spring, visit their website: www.wisdomspring.org
“Water is life” ~ Kono voro
$20-45 Sliding Scale
Half of the proceeds are forwarded to Wisdom Spring, an organization founded by Sobonfu devoted to bringing water and education to indigenous villages around the world.
Sliding Scale Donation
Because some people have more financial means than others, we have created a sliding scale fee system to accommodate a range of economic realities. The high end of the scale reflects the value we believe the recording holds, and the low-end offers a more accessible entry point.
By choosing a higher price point, you are helping make this recording more accessible to others for whom the low-end may be cost-prohibitive, as well as directly supporting Sobonfu’s vision and efforts of creating access to clean water and education it indigenous villages in Africa and Asia. Please consider your needs and resources to determine what might be a stretch, but not a strain.
We understand that BIPOC may experience more financial and institutional barriers. If you identify as BIPOC, you are welcome to use this code at check out to receive a 50% discount: Sobonfu-BIPOC
About the Speakers
Ancestor, Mentor, and Former Faculty
Renowned teacher and mentor Sobonfu Somé was one of the foremost voices of African spirituality to come to the West. Mentored by her Dagara elders, she brought ancient indigenous African wisdom to our Western culture in a compassionate, loving, and joyful way. Sobonfu was born in a remote village in the West African country of Burkina Faso. Sobonfu began her initiation at the age of five when her elders discovered that she was speaking a language from the spirit world and foretelling important events. Her message rings with an intuitive power and truth that, in the words of Alice Walker, “can help us put together so many things that our modern Western world has broken.”
She was in Africa when she passed January 2017. She is now an ancestor.
Former Staff and Faculty, Ancestor
Kimchi was a longtime member of Earthaven Ecovillage, one of SOIL’s most enthusastic faculty members, an artist, deep ecologist, radical feminist, permaculturalist, educator, and culture-changing activist. She envisioned a culture based on a partnership model of relating and a return to village life that embraces sanity and reverence for the sacredness of all life. “Building cultural topsoil” was a strong gift of Kimchi’s and wherever she went, she made allies and life-long friends.
She died in 2017 and is buried at Earthaven Ecovillage.
In-person Programs Director, Faculty
Throughout the last two decades, NikiAnne has dedicated much of her life energy to facilitating transformative learning journeys, particularly in community settings, and with folks in transition — between vocations; stages of live, including death; and those working to live into new, more life-giving stories of the world and themselves. In all her work, NikiAnne partners with the ancestors, the natural world, the power of ritual, and others to best serve the whole.