Goro-Gah Goja Ceremony

The Goja ceremony in Gora-Gah drew participants from numerous nearby camps.  They’d heard the news about strangers coming to take photographs, and everyone came ready to put on a show.  They were just as excited to share their tradition as we were to be there!

Watch the video clip for an interview with the king, incredible flips, and some lovely whipping.  All accompanied by singing and flute melodies.

xIMG_0308 The ceremony got started at midnight, lasting right until sunrise.


It had been raining all evening, and it poured the following morning, but these sorcerers cast a spell to keep the party dry.  It worked like a charm.

xIMG_9996 A sacrificed chicken kept the spirits pleased,

xIMG_9920 and young women presented milk in elaborate calabashes to the community elders.

xIMG_9945 Entrepreneurial Bariba women came from a nearby village to sell candy and palm liquor called sodabie.

Like the Goja ceremony in Ouessè, the party started with singing and dancing:


xIMG_0090 Immediately after this photo was taken, the kid in white punched the kid in dots.  Hah-hah.

xIMG_9933 The old folks showed more discipline.


xIMG_0109 The boys pay great attention to their costumes.

xIMG_0041The cowry shell in his teeth represents wealth.

xIMG_0077Teenage boys vie for attention from the ladies.



The Pulaku Project team even got in the action.

Women throw candy on their favorite dancers.  Yeah-boy!

xIMG_0047It’s time for acrobatics – youngsters take to the air while the elders admire.



These flips are called furu.




xIMG_0142 This guy’s leaning forward before launching into a backflip.






Finally, deep into the night, the flagellation begins:


Vanity and good looks are highly valued in Fulani culture.

This teenager poses with a mirror as he awaits the whip.

xIMG_0337 The participants chose their partner long before the event.

Flagellation is considered to strengthen the bonds of friendship.

xIMG_0343 Some pairs whipped gently, a symbolic gesture,

xIMG_0362 while others struck with full force.


xIMG_0326 These scars bear testament to his bravery, a permanent reminder of his Fulani identity.



7 Responses to “Goro-Gah Goja Ceremony”

  1. Kyle Updike says:

    Great work that you are doing! Very informative and interesting. Carolyn Pillis forwarded this out to others from G.W. Carver Elementary school in Salem, VA.
    Hope you are doing well:0

  2. Shari Crist says:

    Awesome photography and documentation. Thank you for sharing the Fulani culture! We really enjoy your work!
    Shari Crist (Jessica Bruce’s mom)

  3. Cat Thrasher says:

    Amazing stuff – I can’t believe what they’re doing with their bodies, flipping through the air like that! It also looks super fun…why don’t we party like that?? Great use of color in your work. You can really feel through the photographs how much a fun time they were having – such happy emotion!

  4. mamadou barry says:

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing those wonderful photos with us

  5. Gabriel Allan says:

    Yo Christoph!
    This is so awesome! What an amazing ceremony and beautiful people that have adopted you into their culture. A great honor for you. Im siked to see you doing this and to hear in your email that you are also on track to begin your future vision of Red Cross work once this project is completed. keep livin the dream dude!!



  6. Rhea Gilbeau says:

    Wow, have you guys see these Mardi-gras shots in flickr? Some of the stuff is pretty crazy, yet looks like a ton of good fun! You actually ever in your life been or plan to head to mardigras?


  1. […] Goro-Gah Goja […]