Between Islam and the Sacred Forest

Martin Gruber, Frank Seidel


An anthropologist and a linguist from Germany are trying to understand a ritual, taking place in a small village on the coast of Guinea, West Africa. They are told that two seemingly conflicting ceremonies take place during a four-day event commemorating a recently deceased woman: A Muslim celebration of the 40th day after death conducted by a local Imam and the Mkisaata ritual, performed by the members of a Nalu female secret society in honour of its deceased member. As the involved men explain the filmmakers their respective version of the events, the researchers get increasingly drawn into the ritual by the women of the secret society and become part of their performance. “Between Islam and the Sacred Forest“ tells a story about the womens' power to create their own space in a male dominated society. At the same time it deals with the possibilities and impossibilities of audio-visual ethnography.


Nalu, Sacred Forest, Secret Society, Guinea, Anthropology, visual ethnography, ethnographic film

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2017 Martin Gruber

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


ISSN: 2535-437X 

Bergen Open Access Publishing, a publishing service provided by The University of Bergen Library.