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Ivorian group holds exorcism ceremony against virus

Ivory Coast

An Ivorian traditional group based in the southeast of the West African nation, held a special exorcism ceremony recently seeking divine intervention to protect its population of three million people against the coronavirus epidemic.

The chief of Sanwi, in speaking at the ceremony alluded to divine instructions underlying the pandemic: “Because science can’t fix everything. It just can’t. Take for example the virus, this little virus that we don’t see that silences everybody.

“Those that we call powerful, less powerful and so on. Everybody is at the same level, everybody hides. Today if everybody hides, we are weak. This is a message that God is giving us,” he stressed.

With the top cocoa grower having imposed limits on gathering as is the case across much of Africa, the ceremony was held with a limited number of participants.

Traditional “komians” or women healers dressed in white purified the royal court by sprinkling alcohol to the strains of the “abodan,” a traditional beat. Those attending then daubed their faces with the wet earth as a sign of obeisance to the chief and lifted their heads towards the sun.

“So we’d have to do some soul-searching. After this examination of conscience we can then address the Almighty because there is God and the chief.

“That is why the chief makes the libation, a prayer to God, a prayer to the ancestors, those who see the unseen, of being able then to help us, to save our life, otherwise it would be the disappearance of the whole world.”

Such ceremonies are held from time to time to ward off natural disasters such as droughts or floods.

Ivory Coast as of May 3 had recorded had recorded 1,362 confirmed cases with 15 deaths and 622 recoveries. The government has roped in traditional rulers to enforce social distancing and other measures.

Records indicate that about 20 percent of the population is animist. Muslims and Christians account for 40 percent each and many members of the two faiths also practise traditional beliefs along side their faiths.

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