Mythical Narratives in Ritual

Dagara "Black Bagr"

by Alexis B. Tengan (Author)
©2006 Monographs 318 Pages


In this volume, the author presents a version of Africa’s longest oral recitation of myth of origination, the black bagr myth found among the Dagara of Northern Ghana and Southern Burkina Faso, and discusses in detail its historical and literary significance for the society. Hence, the author first outlines the historical conditions possibly responsible for the coming into existence of both the mythical narratives and the rites of initiation that accompany the narration; and then presents the literary frame and structure in which the black bagr narrative is composed.
The rest of the book is a unique bilingual (Dagara and English) presentation of the black bagr narration recorded and viewed live from within a secret rite of initiation. The narration itself, similar to all black bagr ritual narrative sessions, lasted up to three hours and was performed without interruption by one speaker. The narrative content shows to what extent the rites achieve the double purpose of teaching the initiates culture knowledge and giving them new individual identities that will equip them for different social positions in life.


ISBN (Softcover)
Dagari Schöpfungsmythos Oral history Mythical Narration Historiography Cosmography Literary Composition Riddle
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2006. 318 pp.

Biographical notes

Alexis B. Tengan (Author)

The Author: Alexis B. Tengan has been for some time associated with the Catholic University of Louvain where he obtained his Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Anthropology and with Lumen Vitae Institute in Brussels where he has continued to teach a course on Rites of Initiation in Traditional and Modern Societies. Besides now working as an independent scholar, he teaches Religious Education at St John’s International School. His current research interests include mythology, initiation rituals, religion and society, ritual literature, and cultural and development studies.


Title: Mythical Narratives in Ritual