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. 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.
Sobonfu’s name means “the keeper of the rituals.” She 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. Sobonfu is an instinctive and intuitive healer who taught from the deep well of knowledge of womanhood and spirit, traveling the world to offer her native perspective on community, healing, intimacy, rituals, and the sacredness of everyday life. A graceful and eloquent woman, she possessed a charm and modesty that enabled her to touch people deeply. 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.
From NikiAnne Feinberg: “I know I am not alone as I grieve the loss of this dear friend, teacher, mentor, and elder. As many of you know, 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 with you all 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.”
Sobonfu was the presenter for our first SOIL program on November 8, 2013. The program was a grief ritual. A recording of her keynote presentation is available on our website.