Association Project Gnaoua Beladi
Since the Middle Ages until the early nineteenth century, the caravans coming from Timbuktu brought with them their share of black slaves from Africa Sub-Saharan Africa: Sudan, Upper Niger, Senegal, Ghana, Mali, etc… Implanted in Morocco but also to a lesser extent in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, the Gnawa have formed brotherhoods which practice rituals of healing and trance therapy. They retain to this day a particular dialect and claim a common ancestor black Sidna Bilal, a companion of the Prophet Mohammed, of Ethiopian origin but born in slavery in Mecca. This is the first mueddin of Islam that is attributed the origin of Gnawa ritual activities.
The Gnawa are considered as intermediaries between the real world inhabited by humans, and supernatural spirits called Djnoum populated. These spirits live in societies like those of humans and have with their ubiquity and polymorphism, occult powers that can alter the course of events and human destiny. Djnoum Thus are capable of damaging the mental and physical integrity of human beings. Other geniuses, Rijal Allah (men of God) from the meeting between the Sultan of geniuses (the Mlouk) and geniuses Arab and Berber are also revered by the Gnawa brotherhoods under the auspices of Bilal Sidna. According to scholars of old and rare Gnaouas, Gnawa music and rituals have common origins with the Voodoo, Cuban Santeria and Brazilian Candomble. These practices of Yoruba origins or Fon Angola have had to transform to survive and adopt Islam as a religion in order to ensure continuity (and their cousins who have adopted Christianity in America). During the colonial period, many researchers and anthropologists try to understand and classify the religious system in North Africa, The Gnawa are, from the late nineteenth century, identified as a popular religious brotherhood of which the therapeutic practices are the legacy of sub-Saharan Animist cults "imported" by generations of slaves held in the Maghreb.
In the Maghreb the word "Sudan" is used to refer to all people from sub-Saharan black-skinned and by extension "slave or descendant of slaves" whatever their country of origin (and not just the Sudan) . The term "Abid Abdul or" clearly means "slave or descendant of slaves," or in Berber language the term "Akli"
Indeed, work on the cult of saints or the North African slave trade in Islamic countries has attempted to identify the origin of this community and its ritual practices by exploring the origin of the word "Gnawa." The explanation given by Maurice Delafosse in 1924, remained for a long time the only etymological reference and was adopted by generations of researchers. According Delafosse, the term Berber Akal-n-iguinaouen which means Black states, giving rise to the word Guinea and the word "Gnawa" by phonetic similarity. Gnawa, would mean then, by extension, black man or from the land of black men (SSA).
However, in the absence of historical evidence, only the phonetic has supported the hypothesis of sub-Saharan origin of this community and its rituals. Contemporary scholars agree that it is difficult today to identify the origin of Gnawa from their name, especially since they are not all black, Arab or Muslim. So there, Morocco, and more specifically to Essaouira Gnawa Gnawa and Berber Jews because of the presence of Jewish and Berber communities in this city.
Other religious orders, said former slaves, related to Gnawa of Morocco, do exist but under different names in different countries of North Africa. "
Thus, the Gnawa propose to their followers to free themselves from subjection to the geniuses. At the end of a long process of initiation within the brotherhood, the subject may benefit from the protection invoked in return for various forms of offerings. Gnawa therapy seeks to establish a stable alliance between the insider andhis engineering master. adorcisme This is against the exorcism which aims instead to break the link between possession of the infidel spirit and the sufferer.
The Lila magic-religious ritual
This nocturnal ceremony is the central core of the therapeutic process of healing. The Lila will gather the Maallem, musicians, dancers, Moqaddem, followers and even supporters of the Brotherhood. It can occur in a holy shrine or in the house But Lila does not represent the entirety of therapeutic rituals as one might think. Other practices such as already mentioned in the consultation Maqaddema divination, sacrifice an animal, the pilgrimage to the shrine of a saint in the making of amulets are fully part of a family practitioner.
The course of a Lila
The Aada: the cortege is probably the most important moment of Lila because without it "the door of colors would not open and the spirits could not move." Enthusiastic, Maallem and his group begin a procession accompanied by T'Bel (drums) and rattlesnakes. They sing the "aafou Ya Moulana" (Lord deliver us) as the invocation of the therapeutic and spiritual healing. Moqaddena and the Arifa walk a brazier which burns incense and sprinkle water enthusiasts of orange blossoms . Girls close the procession by holding candles.
The Oulad bambra and Negcha constitute the profane part of the Lila. It is a condition for the development of the assistance and musicians. The atmosphere is relaxed. Ougba songs evoke the Prophet Mohammed Sidna, ancestors and Sudan. The musicians clap their hands and
feet and dance in front of the advancing and retreating Maallem. During Nagche, players often move in a circle in the middle of which, in turn, each exhibit has its qualities and dancers perform spectacular jumps.
The Treq are the sacred parts of the Lila during which successive cohorts are invoked by the genii of the seven colors. Its onset is marked by jaoui (incense) fumigations circulating among musicians and used by the Maallem to sanctify his guenbri. The introduction of the burning incense, which establishes the structure of ritual, will be scrupulously respected on pain of displeasing the spirits.
During the ceremony, the master interprets different groups of songs, each associated with a color and a spirit until we discover the color that makes the patient enter a trance. The Guembri, instrument central contributes to the invitation to saints and Mlouk and leads to trance. At each of the seven cohorts is a musical motto and fumigation of the appropriate incense. In addition, some Mlouk are associated to a possession dance, food and special accessories. It is by the addition of these elements that engage all the senses and the respect of a liturgy proper to the ritual that geniuses can be invoked. During the invocation of his master spirit, the follower will feel drawn irresistibly to the dance floor. The moqaddems then cover the headscarf corresponding to the appropriate color and matching of asparagus fumigations of Jaoui. With trembling hands, his body shaken by convulsions that lead back and forth to the rhythm of rattlesnakes, he begins a dance of possession, becoming for a moment the "frame" of his genie. Once it full, it leaves the body of the adept who collapses suddenly waking up to secondarily semi-consciousness, having no memory of the acts and cries committed during the trance. Then the practitioner feels spiritually supported and better able to cope with the vicissitudes of daily living.
References and Acknowledgements:
Ananda Garcia: Legacy of the Gnawa music of Essaouira
Jean-Louis Miège: Remarks of historical geography in Abdelhafid Chlyeh (eds.), The World of Gnawa, Grenoble: Editions La Pensee Sauvage
Majdouli Zineb, Trajectories Gnawa musicians, Paris: L'Harmattan