Kujaama: Symbolic Separation among the Diola-Fogny1


  • 1

    Material for this paper was gathered during two field periods: September 1960 to December 1961 and September 1964 to July 1966. The first tour was supported by the West African Languages Survey and the second by the National Institute of Mental Health (1-F2-MH-21, 745-01 and 5-F2- MH-21,745-02). The latter grant was administered by the African Studies Center at Boston University. Throughout my entire stay in Senegal I worked under the auspices of the Institut Franwis d'Afrique Noire (now the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire).

    A short version of this paper was read at the 1967 meetings of the American Anthropological Association (Washington, D. C.). At that time Professor Victor Turner (n.d.) as discussant made a number of valuable comments, several of which have been integrated with section 3.1 of the present paper. Professor Thomas Beidelman has kindly read, corrected, and commented on the final version. My wife's field observations serve as the basis for my description of the kujaama funeral ritual. My sincerest thanks to my wife and to Professors Turner and Beidelman.


The Diola-Fogny concept of kujaama represents a complex symbol that defines a set of pollution rules having to do mainly with blood and food avoidance between generations and between husband and wife at the death of one or the other. Analysis of the diverse manifestations of kujaama shows that each represents but one variant of a general principle, that is, the inauspiciousness of mixing separate categories. Further analysis places kujaama in the larger context of Fogny moral life and places the rituals associated with kujaama in the “grammar” of ritual acts and gestures.