The king of Sanwi in Cote d’Ivoire, Amon N’Douffou V, led a special exorcism ritual in the traditional kingdom last week, praying for divine protection against coronavirus over his people, AFP reports.
An aide to the popular king also told the news outlet N’Douffou V could command a procession ritual of naked women in the kingdom to seek the protection of spirits to stop the virus from spreading among his people and in the country. Located in the southeastern part of the cocoa producing nation, the Kingdom of Sanwi has a population of three million people.
“I ask God … to protect the population and keep this virus away from the kingdom, Ivory Coast and the world,” the king’s official announcer said at the ceremony on his behalf as royals aren’t permitted to talk to the public.
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The country, at the time of filing this article, has 1,164 reported cases of COVID-19 with 499 recoveries and 14 deaths.
Attended by a few people in the kingdom’s capital of Krindjabo due to the lockdown restrictions put in place by authorities to curb the spread of the virus, the ceremony was graced by traditional women healers known as “komians” who performed rituals. Attendees also smeared wet earth on their faces to pay homage to the king while facing the sun.
According to AFP, these ceremonies are typically held to seek intervention to prevent the occurrence of natural disasters.
“We have gathered here to ward off this bad spell,” the official announcer, who called coronavirus a “bad spirit”, said.
“Human beings have to redefine their space in this world and respect nature. Without that, we will always be confronted with these epidemics.”
Two bottles of alcohol were subsequently poured. The king’s counselor also explained the relevance of the procession of naked women in the kingdom if ordered by their king.
“In Africa, we live in two worlds — the visible and the invisible,” he told AFP. Only kings have the power through this libation to demand the protection of the invisible world.
“The king can order women who hold this secret to perform the ‘adjalou’ — a procession through the village to protect the people. During Adjalou, these women are naked and we confine men and children in their homes.”
He continued: “The women erect barricades at the entrance of villages to prevent bad spirits from entering and claiming lives.”
The ‘adjalou’ isn’t announced until the day before.
In related news, N’Douffou V, in April 2019, pledged financial support towards rebuilding France’s medieval Notre-Dame cathedral after it was ravaged by fire.
“I am in full consultation with my elders – we are going to make a donation for the rebuilding of this monument,” the traditional ruler said of the structure which he claimed played a huge part in his kingdom’s history in the 17th century.
“I couldn’t get to sleep because I was so disturbed by the pictures” of the fire, he told the AFP. “This cathedral represents a strong bond between my kingdom and France.”
Côte d’Ivoire was a French protectorate in 1843, then a colony from 1893 to 1960. But King Amon’s strong bond claim has to do with events that occurred at the end of the 17th century, at the time of the Sun King, Louis XIV.
Aniaba, a prince of the kingdom was, in 1687, taken to France and then baptized in the cathedral. At the time, French traders had fully established themselves in the kingdom.
Aniaba, who was then 15, and a son of the chief of the Eotilé ethnic group and Princess Ba, was taken to Paris by the Chevalier d’Amon as a pledge of loyalty to Louis XIV.
Louis XIV became Aniaba’s godfather and protector. He was, after three years in France, baptized, adding the name of Louis to his own. Now Louis Aniaba, he joined the king’s cavalry regiment, becoming the first black officer of the French army. He learned to read and write, as well as, fencing and horse riding.
Aniaba received a huge pension and lived “like a gentleman of the time: with servants, horses, debts, women and children.”
In 1701, he returned to Côte d’Ivoire following the death of his father to “take his succession.”