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Reconciliation Among the Lamaba

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 10 (2451 words)
Categories: Human, Village life, World
Downloads: 12
Views: 397

 Who are the Lamba?

Lamba also known as Lama are from Northern part of Togo located especially in the city of Kande or Kante. They speak a language recognized as Lama Language. The singular of lama or Lamba is Lam?. They are mostly called Lamba. The suffix -mba means people in the plural and especially when a name ends in a nasal. They were confused by some of the early linguists who called both them (Lamba) and their language Losso, but in fact, Losso refers to the people Nawdba, who live at the south of the Lama area.

According to Ethnologic investigation, there are about 280,000 people who speak Lama from 2006 to 2012 . Lama as language is classified under the Grusi group, of the eastern group of Gur (or Voltaic) Niger-Congo languages. The Lama speak three different dialects, centered in the cities of Kande (Kande, Kante, Kant?), Defale, and Kadjalla .

The missionary and linguist Andr? Prost (1903-1987), wrote a grammar article on lama in 1963 that really helped to have a clear knowledge about the Lamba.

It was part of his work that an alphabet was produced for catechetical reasons in 1971. Between 1970 and 1973, Catholic Indian priest Mattieu Beraud helped in translating several selected portions of the Bible with prayers and songs for use at Mass. The Catholics in the zone realized afterwards that the alphabet they used for Lama was insufficient in symbols, but as they did not have the means to represent them they kept them that way. Many reading books, including alphabet books, for the purpose of promoting literacy were published between 1972 and today. The New Testament in Lama was launched since May 1994. The translation of the Old Testament is ongoing since 2004 by a team of three Lama and is expected to come to completion by 2019.

The Lamba’s Worldview

The Lamba are primarily people who live out of agriculture, and hunting. They were actually identified and studied around the year 1890 by the Germans, who were the first colonizers of Togo. The Lamba are mostly known for their religious consideration and worship of the statues which is characterized by its vigor and its massive aspect. The statues are carved in hardwoods by sculptors who are also diviners and healers, their statuettes are small.

They are very expressive, and they come from the Voodoo culture practice by the Ewe. The statuettes are used for venerations given to deities, ancestors and twins. Lamba practice their cult through the pouring of libations with blood of dog, goat, sheep, cow or chicken. This is meant to feed the spirits and calm them. As in the voodoo world, some of lamba’s objects of worship are deposited in front and inside of the houses of elders in sign of warning or sign of protection. What is more surprising in their culture is that, the heads of the sculptures who are more or less simple means a lot to them. They varied from one clan to the other depending on what the statue symbolizes. These sculptures are often adorned with jewelry such as bracelets around the neck and this is mostly used for healing infant; or necklace made of pearl or natural fiber.

The religious statuary of the lamba crystalizes schematically into three part: the cult of Alua (sprits), the cult of wild spirits (hunting) and lastly the cult of cult of twins.

The cult of Alua according to Lamba believe system is that, men before being born were part of the supernatural world of the ancestors, the Alua. Then one day, a foreign Alua spirit in the name of Kolmer noticed that the rites were actually dedicated to alters established in houses and not to them. Jealous of that they asked men to carve effigies to live in. But in reality, these people have created the statuettes on the one hand to attract blessing from Alua in their homes and on the other hand to soften the spirits. The sculptures ask regularly for blood libations otherwise they can take revenge on those established them. What about the cult of the twins?

The cult of twins is a very popular ceremony in North Togo, and most especially among the Lamba. The concentration of twins indeed give rise to whole set of rites especially when one of the twins passes on. Lamba believe that if one twin dies, it means he was incarnated by a bad spirit and could stand the vibrant power of the ancestors who protect the family where he was born. And it means he did not come from the realm of ancestors, but from a bad spirits club. And then a statue is shaped in the form of the diceased twin and kept outside the house in believe to appease and purify the badness of that spirit. It is also to avoid calling the other living twin to death to join him. Both the mother and the remaining twin are to care for that sculpture by dressing it and feeding him or her in order to prevent him to bring death on the other twin.

The rite in general consists of camouflaging the child, making him/her invisible to the spirits, this can be done by shaving the skull leaving a small tuft and putting pendant with cowries on the year and making cowry belt. Lamba also have altars known as Souna altars where they venerate wild animals with the strong believe that as they are difficult to capture, they give the hunters the prestige and opportunity to become courageous and patience with other human beings. The animals that can be mentioned are: Antelope, Bufalo or elephant. And these animals according to their belief are the reincarnation of eveil spirits who have not gotten the right to go to the thereafter, which explains all the precautions to be taken during hunt. This small ritual aims at preventing the mind from resuming its human form and chasing the hunter for murder. It explains the presence of human shaped statuettes in the so-called Souna alters.

Traditional Significance of Reconciliation

Reconciliation is a peace-building ceremony which is very important ceremony in many traditional belief system. In Lamba culture, reconciliation is above all an undeniable activity that takes place at different level. Reconciliation can be at family level, clan level, village level or prefectural level. There are many issues tackled accordingly. One of the major issues in that line is how to deconstruct the enemy, which is important to achieving true reconciliation. For the fact that, one does not reconcile oneself with the friend but with the person he/she has an issue. Reconciliation In that sense consists precisely in making the other person no longer be perceived as an enemy. Apart from individual verse individual reconciliation, cases of violence or conflicts, disputes reckon for understanding and reconciliation as the basis for building a different and good future. It is a question of reconstructing the present and future generations, if not transforming an enemy into a friend. The aim is to bring two parties in misunderstanding together as one family, as one community and as sharing same visions and interests in order to build together a common and brilliant future.

The word “reconciliation” which is locally known as Tess-kpape stand with respect and consideration. It is the rite that summons people to share at the table of elders, listening to their wisdom and eating with the food of reconciliation. It is of high respect because Lamba believe it brings community together. No one has the right to refuse its invocation and attendance. Initially it used to concerned only adulterous issues or family verse family conflicts. But after analyzing critically and seeing its significance, the elders and ancestors have opened its application to any antagonistic issue. What are its consequences in short? Reconciliation traditionally is therefore necessary for the pacification of familial, tribal and social relations. It has as vision to unify opposing parties. The fundamental question would be: what is the approach used for an effective and real reconciliation.


There is no country neither part, nor society in the world that can say has not been afflicted by civil wars, violent commotions, or mismanagement of common properties. Before any of the above mentioned, each society look for adequate ways of overcoming them. But, however there seems to have been few tries to analyze systematically and assess the role and impact of traditional approaches in circumstances of conflict resolution or reconciliation. Because as written by the Paramount Chief Rwot David Onen Acana: “We have to understand our culture and know what kind of people we are. Are we the kind that are willing to accept other people’s mistakes without pointing fingers? Are we the kind of people who can confess truthfully and forgive wholeheartedly?”

It is important to notes that, the Lamba tradition embodies the ethics and practices which have are central to reconciliation within that community. Above all, forgiveness that aim at reconciliation is at the core of the Lamba traditional believe system. One fact to underline is that traditionally, the Lama or Lamba believe in the existence of world of the living-dead, the ancestors and divine spirits who govern the lives of the people and their daily activities. This belief system occupy and plays a significant role in justice – reconciliation practices. As consequence, as the spirits and ancestors are believed to be in control of all, the Lamba therefore discourage individuals from being a troublemakers since such actions are luckily to bring grave consequences to the entire clan or society. The phenomenal aspect illustrates the centrality of relationships that exist between the natural and the ancestral worlds in Lama, the living and the dead spirits , the undeniable continuity between an individual and the community. Thus the living-dead or the ancestors play a vigorous role and impart many influential consequences into the world of the living.

The traditional Lamba culture views reconciliation as means of restoring social relationships. Reconciliation in the traditional lamba culture therefore considered as reconstructive and restorative. As part of oral inherited tradition that serve as guiding principles for harmonious life are as following: If you believe that you belong to Lamba descendance: be imitator of your ancestors, do not be a trouble maker, Respect your elders and everyone you meet, be sincere, do not steal, forgive and seek to ask for forgiveness, do not kill, do not sleep with the wife of your neighbor. Reconciliation and harmony become the outcome of forgiveness. In many cases, the problem solving through discussion and decision making concerning children, women, and the disabled are not in high consideration, they seem to be minor issues. Most of the above mentioned principles emphasize on the need to live harmoniously and peacefully with others through restoration of social relations. It is a proof that traditionally, the Lamba are a peace-loving people. Their culture inspires its people individually to accept their mistakes and take responsibility for all their actions. It is important to underline that an individual is to do this voluntarily without fear of any external force. Each Person therefore is encouraged to forgive and not to look for revenge. Let us see some of the mechanisms or approaches used or applied by Lamaba for forgiveness and reconciliation. How is it helpful to its users?

The approaches used by Lamba to resolve any traditional conflict varied according to the gravity of the problem. But in many circumstances, resolutions are indigenous to the milieu and are mostly characterized with certain basic features. They are, first and mainly rooted into the Kara region cultural background that values: social harmony and unity, interdependence, and shared life. Secondly, there are traditional processes that are relatively informal, familiar, henceforth, they are less threatening. Thirdly, these approaches focus on the philosophies of empathy, sharing and cooperation in dealing with common problems which underline the essence of humanity “yira”. They aim at simplicity, participation in community activities, flexibility, and complete relevance to the nation, inclusiveness and comprehensiveness. Fourthly, conflict resolution is not a one nor a two dimensional “negotiation” between the opponents, but if not a three dimensional tess-kpape or reconciliation between the enemies and all others suffering the negative direct or indirect effects of the arisen conflicts. Hence, reconciliation is in the first place with the Earth. That is, in Lamba traditional conflict management mechanisms, the holistic character and consensus-based are focused for the entire community’s parties’ disputes.

As it aims at the immediate restoration and resolution of conflicts, mending of broken or damaged relationships, rectifying wrongs, restoring justice and ensuring the full integration of the concerned parties into their respective societies again, and finally to adopting the mood of co-operation. The purpose is not merely about adjudication of who is right or wrong or about the punishment of lawbreakers, but the main vision is the reconciliation of the parties in which both are to be satisfied equally and with their willingness to let go their discomfort and forgive each other. To do so, many people according to their societal status are involved.

The grandfather of the family, or the chief of the clan or village play the major role according to the level the problem. He is the one after he is been approach by one of his members to convoke the parties, listen to them and find adequate solution. The parties concerned luckily to be requested to stay in chief palace for many days, eat together and drink simultaneously from the same cup (calabash). If they have been experiencing bitterness by holding grudges for long, there will therefore be requested to drinking the juice from the bitter herb for effective for forgiveness and reconciliation. They will have to do so until they forgive each other and reconcile. The true reconciliation will be approved by the families of the parties, all other surrounding families or villagers that should be there, and finally by the chief and the parties themselves. There are encouraged to be honest and express all pending problems that might still be in their hearts even if it involves saying bad things for freeing themselves from pain and releasing stress. After this, they are given time to go and reflect on how bad is it to hurt the neighbor, and how painful is it to refuse to forgive. They are being reminded of the Lmaba’s life guiding once again in order to help them see where they are at fault. This restitutive reconciliation approach is mostly used and aiming at restoring order, harmony and the maintenance of healthy relationships within the community by all. Thus by reintegrating the feuding parties is a true reconciliation through apology without discrimination or social class belongingness.

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Reconciliation Among the Lamaba. (2019, Nov 24). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/reconciliation-among-the-lamaba-essay

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