Hugues Obiang Poitevin, also known by his Bwiti name, Tatayo, arrived in Gabon in 1971 and discovered the indigenous religion of Bwiti in 1976. In 1979, he was initiated into Fang Bwiti Dissumba. Then, in 1980, he co-founded the Association for the Promotion of Cultural Village Gabon. In 1994, after guiding nearly 70 Westerners to Gabonese villages for Bwiti initiation, Tatayo was initiated into Bwiti Missoko Ngonde na Dipouma and built his own Bwiti temple (1).
In 1999, following an intense Bwiti ceremony, Tatayo discovered " Ngenza-The Spirit of the Sea," a sacred mask that appeared between his feet in the ocean (2). He took this an omen and created the NGO EBANDO, and later the school of Bwiti Mboma na Ditsuala, using the most powerful and loving traditions from a variety of Bwiti ways.
In August 2005, when Tatayo was granted the right to initiate according to Fang Dissumba Bwiti, until the end of 2011, NGO EBANDO initiated 105 foreigners, as well as 30 Gabonese youth who were taken from the street to be put back in touch with their Bwiti roots, free of charge (3). These initiations earned the NGO about 110,000 euros, just over 1,000 euros per person on average for a three-week minimum stay. Those of you who have stayed with us know that this is not sustainable. So, how has EBANDO managed to pay the bills all these years?
Clearly, a sustainable business model would have ensured that the income generated by the activities of our NGO was equal to or more than our expenses. Instead, EBANDO, shared what it had with everyone who knocked on the door, as it is in any traditional African village, worthy of respect. But in doing this, we have neglected the care of our elder.
We have made big changes at EBANDO. With the help of family who have both the expertise, and the love for Bwiti, we have redefined our priorities, projects, and business model. Further, we restructured our organization, eliminated the "unproductive burdens," and recalculated our rates for our services. We are proud of these changes and believe you will be as well.
Your support in the past has established EBANDO the leading liaison between Bwiti and Western culture. To continue that tradition, and to attain our goals, we need your support now more than ever.
We need to invest in new land, far from Libreville, reserved for your reception and plantations.
You can contribute in several ways:
- Introducing us to paying clients wishing to explore the nature and cultures of Gabon,
- Making a monetary donation that may possibly be tax-deductible
(We will send you a receipt),
- Investing in our infrastructure, under your repayment terms, and return on investment,
- Offering your advice, expertise and experience.
Thank you most sincerely for your attention and your best intentions.
· Traits d'Union
· Rob « Oka » Bussinger