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BY Mildred Europa Taylor, 6:00pm September 25, 2018,

Interesting things about the Somba African tribe

Batammariba people at Wartema village --- trip down memory lane

Men tend to pay particular attention to their penis, as it is a vital organ in terms of safety and security. Numerous reports over the years have evidenced this.

The penis often represents the masculine ego. Guys with a relatively small penis tend to feel inadequate compared to those blessed with more. Some suggest that white men’s resentment towards black males has its roots in the idea that African American male organs are three times larger than even the biggest Caucasian phallus.

With ads for penis enlargement lotions, pills, and procedures running rampant on social media, it is still unknown if these solutions are genuinely effective. However, what is known is that an African tribe has been practicing the art of penile enhancement long before plastic surgery was even a concept.

The Batammariba

Long before the introduction of genital enlargement procedures and products, the Batammariba, also known as the Somba people from Togo and Benin— were experts in the enlargement and elongation of manhood, which they did during initiation. 

Occupying the mountainous regions of the two West African countries, the Batammariba were popular for their ancient elongation technique and architectural expertise.

In Togo, they reside in the northeastern Kara regions of Northern Togo with the Kabye (kabre) people, who are the second largest tribe in Togo.

In Benin, where they are known as Somba, they live around the Atakora mountain range of northwestern Benin, sharing a border with their Gur relatives in neighboring Burkina Faso, who also have a huge interest in architecture.

The Genital Enlargement Procedure

The genital elongation and enlargement procedure, mainly done among the Somba, initiated boys into adulthood.

A traditional herb is pounded and rubbed on the penis; then, they cut a branch of a tree or ivory and make a hole of a particular size for the initiate.

The initiate puts his penis in it for some months until it reaches a particular size and length of his choice and can now remove it, according to historical accounts.

During the final public rites of initiation, they drape rich clothes over the shoulders of the initiates, hang cowries around their necks and waists, and place horned headdresses on their heads.

The Real Builders of Earth

“The people who are the real builders of earth” is said to be the real meaning of Batammariba. However, the colonizers also gave them the name Tamberma which means “Good Builders,” hence, when you move to Koutammakou, where most Batammariba people live, you will find the architecture of mud Takienta tower houses—buildings that have two stories, and either flat or conical thatched roofs.

In these two-story fortified houses, also known as Tata Somba, the ground floor, according to accounts, is used for “housing livestock at night, internal alcoves are used for cooking, and the upper floor contains a rooftop courtyard and is used for drying grain, sleeping quarters, and granaries.”

“Each house has life divided into shade and light, masculine and feminine. As each house is a symbol of fertility and fecundity, the woman of the house honors and decorates it by drawing grooves in the wet mud before it dries, giving it its horizontally ridged appearance,” according to an article on scribol.com.

Other Interesting Facts About the Somba People

With an estimated population of over 176,000, the Batammariba migrated to their present location from the north and northwest around Burkina Faso, where they lived with the Mossi people between the 16th and 18th centuries, historical research states.

Agro-pastoralists, by tradition, a family’s wealth in Batammariba is determined according to the size of its livestock, which, in the past years, also served key socio-cultural purposes.

As outlined by N’Poh and N’Guissan, 1998, 52 percent of animals were for funerals, and 28 percent were for dowries, with the rest (only 20 percent) meant for sale.

Honoring the Deceased 

In effect, many animals go to Batammariba funerals which are often associated with rituals such as the dance of drums (Tibenti) to honor deceased elders and the “turning over” ceremony performed at the funeral house.

When a man dies, another initiation ceremony is done for him, as failure to do this will not encourage the deceased’s offspring to do the same or may even cause the offspring’s death.

They adorn the funeral house with funeral materials (just as initiates are dressed), and rich cloths are draped over the upper stories of the house as done for initiates.

Cowries are placed around the doorway of the funeral home just as they dress initiates with cowries around their waist and necks, and earthen horns are placed on the center of the entrance roof (as initiates receive headdresses).

In essence, these rituals reinitiate the house to “represent” and “nurture” its future descendants.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: July 15, 2024


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