Traditional Ceremonies & Crisis Prevention
Dream circles are a traditional activity carried out regularly as part of our peacebuilding initiatives. This practice is central to our indigenous beliefs and is an important source of wisdom within our society.
In almost every indigenous tradition, storytelling is core to the community. It brings people together; it allows elders to tell stories of past ancestors, the land, and the history of the people in general. Shared along with these stories are dreams that are sometimes interpreted by a diviner – usually an elder. In Liberia, dreams are thought to be a medium of communication between the living and their non-living counterparts. Through this medium, information about welfare, warning of incoming danger, and many aspects of life are exchanged. Thus, in the context of peacebuilding, dreams are very important - and perhaps - a core aspect of decision making. Further, dream sharing is another method for us to reconnect with the elders and traditional people.
The elders believe that our ancestors speak to them, teach them, and show them the way forward in dreams. Dreams are sometimes regarded as a vision that will manifest in reality. For instance, one of the FGPs, Ezekiel’s Mavolo grandfather was a born herbalist who was taught in his dream about the herbs and their combinations. Again, papy Koikoi, an elder with whom eg has worked with over the years, dreamt about his late grandfather teaching him about his zo work. And perhaps most prominently, before the 14-year civil crisis came, locals dreamt about destruction coming to their lands. But little or nothing was done, no sacrifice was made, and there came suffering from brutalities. From that point on, the people of Liberia, specifically elders, became conscious of related dreams. For example, between 2009-2011, Lofa County experienced two riots that would have resulted in a full-scale civil uprising, but as people recounted similar dreams, elders became concerned and took matters into their hands by offering sacrifices that are believed to have prevented further unrest.
Therefore, eg and the elders of Lofa County ensure dreams are properly interpreted by diviners, and the necessary sacrifices or offerings and ceremonies are performed to prevent chaos from erupting in vulnerable areas. This is meant to bind the relationship between the people and their ancestors, each caring for and/or protecting the other in life and death. This concept is highly valued in Liberia, as it is among many African cultures.
Our team regularly invites people to sit together in the council to discuss issues, tell dreams, make offerings, and share stories. By doing so, we help to prevent the civil crisis from occurring in a culturally relevant way. We are deeply grateful to have these types of ceremonies as part of our activities.
Please navigate to OUR STORIES to read about our dreams and experiences carrying out this important work.