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Chief Keita explains the difference between Bedik and Christian Gods

Chief Keita: "Yes, there is a difference between the Bedik and Christian Gods.  Because our God, the Bediks' God, lives into the sacred places, what we call Idol. For example, one of the sacred places is that big tree.  If you consider that sacred big baobab tree, which is measuring 33 meters and a half, it was planted on the tomb of dead Kamara, the Kamara family.  Now you know there was a tomb there. 

"Now at the beginning of every year we go and say prayers around the tree. To implore our ancestors.  Because the Kamara family, one of the original Bedik families, which was buried there. This is the place where the God is living.  We can have many places where the God is living.

"And the god is a go between us and the dead people, our dead ancestors. When we pray to the sacred baobab tree or to the fromager tree, the prayers are directed there and from there the God translates to the dead, our ancestors.

"While, if you can see the Christians, they have a God which is not visible, but which is in their heart.  You hear the difference? 

"We feel a little obligated to the Christian missionary here. He brings us medicines, he takes sick people to the hospital in Tambacounda, even all the way to Dakar.

"But here in our village we try to practice both because we do not want to lose our traditions. That’s why we have the hat for the animists and a hat for the other church, for the Christians. But we try to live the two kinds, both.

"If ever we drop down our traditions, we will lose

Bedik tribe, Iwol village, Senegal, Africa


From my Bedik Africa Journal

Here with the Bedik, I have stumbled into a battlefield for God. Chief Keita told me that the Bedik want to hold onto their traditional animist beliefs, yet he is practical about the Christian missionary's help. The chief and a number of elders told me that Muslims had once attacked the Bedik when the tribe didn't want to be converted. And here was my Muslim interpreter who, though reluctantly, said he would have to kill me if I said anything disparaging about Islam.