Kapa di koko

African spirituality was embedded in everyday life until the first half of the 20th century. So we were glad Calviany joined the workshops. He still practices century old spiritual rituals with African roots.

“I made this object myself. We use the kapa di koko in rituals for protection and healing. We only use natural materials in rituals, everything has to be made from wood, coconut, clay, things that come from the soil.”

Ghost sightings were considered normal and most people knew medicinal plants and herbs that cured headaches, belly pain and other illnesses. Over the years these practices were derogatorily called brua, derived from the Spanish word bruja which means witch.

Besides brua there is montamentu, a real religion that was suppressed by the Dutch colonizers since the 18th century. The essence of montamentu is finding balance in life through the relationship with the ancestors and their energy. The religion features fixed rituals, initiations, and specialists and has a lot of Congolese and some Yoruba influences. Those who grow up with montamentu can go to Cuba, Haiti or Nigeria to be initiated and receive training.

Most products that are needed for the ceremonies such as oils, waters and the white ritual clay called ‘pemba’ come from abroad. Some other objects, such as this coconut cup, are locally made. The montamentu rituals take place to this day but are almost always at home. After three centuries of suppression it is still underground.

“African spirituality was embedded in everyday life.”