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Living Tradition in the Sacred Wor(l)d: Engaging Mystical Consciousness in Africa

Monika Brodnicka


This article discusses the meaning of the sacred wor(l)d presented by Amadou Hampaté Bâ through his development of the living tradition in Fulani and Bambara cultures. The framework of the living tradition is based on the participation and interaction of the world, the word, and the person, a crossroads of the material and spiritual plane of existence. Particular instantiations of West African literature, Sufi practice, and tales of initiation, such as Kaïdara, Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar, L’aventure ambiguë, and L’étrange destin de Wangrin, help to further the knowledge engaged by the living tradition within their specific cultural and epistemological contexts. Each of these texts embodies the world, the word, or the person and develops the profound significance of the particular element through the environment engaged by the story. All manifestations of West African tradition make use of initiation and the awareness that arises from it to bring forth the sense of the sacred wor(l)d in its most profound aspects. The resulting consciousness is the entry point through which one can participate in all of the dimensions of the universe.


African Religion; Metaphysics; African Philosophy

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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