Songye tribe Kifwebe Mask

Democratic Republic of Congo - Zaire

The grooved pattern on the face of the mask (see image tomask_MOH_2814.jpg (52243 bytes) the right) is a common characteristic of a female Kifwebe mask from the Songye tribe. The white paint in the grooves symbolizes peace, light and the purity of the soul. The brown/tan and blue symbolizes nature as positive force.

The facial elements are associated with animals, In the example to the left the oval shaped eyes appear to resemble that of a crocodile. Other masks appear to have the Black white stripes of a zebra. The nose in most instances seems to appear triangular and the mouth is always protruding and geometrically shaped. (rectangular, square, half circle etc). The Songye tribe uses this type of masks during ceremonies, and at the funeral processions of important leaders. According to the Songye tribe, when certain individuals of the Kifwebe society wear the mask along with the costume and raffia beard they are believed to gain magical powers that can manipulate evil spirits.

The tribes of the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo have been greatly affected by modern conflicts, despite the adversity they continue to pursue their own ways. In militarized areas in Angola and Congo, as well as in Zambian refugee camps, they practice initiation, divination, and healing rites. Some of the tribal chiefs have been displaced by war, and their authority has been challenged by modern governments’ political goals. Nevertheless, the chiefs continue to represent traditional and sacred authority.

The DRC have been engaged in war for a number of years. Large quantities of people have been displaced, food economies wrecked and child soldiers forced to fight a war they have little or no knowledge of.

All over Africa where countries are involved in armed conflict and war we have one underlying factor, namely all the countries are rich in mineral wealth, namely gold, diamonds and or oil. According to tribal elders, unscrupulous "faceless" men fuel most of the wars, to stake a claim on the rich mineral resources while the country is in a state of anarchy.

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