Malidoma Patrice Somé

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Malidoma Patrice Somé
Known forWorkshops, lectures

Malidoma Patrice Somé (born 1956) is a West African writer and workshop leader, primarily in the field of spirituality. Born in a Dagara community in Dano, Burkina Faso, he was raised by Jesuits from the age of four. He currently lives on the West Coast of the United States.


At age four, Somé was abducted from his people, the Dagara by a missionary, and taken to a boarding school where he was inflicted with a Western education.[1][2] Somé endured sixteen years of physical and emotional abuse by the priests, but he left the school when he was twenty to return to the village of his birth.[2][3] Upon his return, integration into his traditional tribal religion and customs was difficult, due to his long absence from his culture and his apparent indoctrination into Christianity and a "white man's world".[4] Elders from the village believed that Somé's ancestral spirit had withdrawn from his body and that he had already undergone a type of rite of passage into manhood in the white world.[4] Despite this, they agreed to let him undergo a belated manhood rite with a younger group in the tribe. Having been raised outside of the culture and not speaking the language made the month-long, baor process, believed to unite soul and body, more dangerous for him than for the culturally-Dagara youths also undergoing the rite.[4]

Somé writes that each person is born with a destiny, and he or she is given a name that reflects that destiny.[3] Somé says his name, Malidoma, means "friend of the enemy/stranger."[1][5] Somé believes it is his destiny to come to Western audiences and promote an understanding between Western and African cultures.[1]

After living in the US for about 10 years, while completing a PhD at Brandeis University, Somé went back to Burkina Faso for an arranged marriage to Sobonfu Somé, a member of the Dagara tribe.[6] They later divorced.[7] Sobonfu Somé died in 2017.[8]


Somé holds three Master's degrees and two doctorates from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University.[1][4]

Somé currently conducts Kontomble initiation and divination retreats and other workshops in the US and Europe.[9][10]


  • Ritual: Power, Healing and Community, Swan and Raven (1993). ISBN 0-14-01-9558-0
  • Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman, Tarcher/Putnam (1994). ISBN 978-0-87477-762-8
  • The Healing Wisdom of Africa, Tarcher/Putman (1999). ISBN 0-87477-991-X


  1. ^ a b c d Somé, Malidoma Patrice (1999). The Healing Wisdom of Africa. New York: Tarcher/Putnam. pp. 1–15. ISBN 0-87477-991-X.
  2. ^ a b "Somé, Malidoma Patrice @". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b Somé, Malidoma Patrice (1994). Of Water and Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman. New York: Tarcher/Putnam. ISBN 978-0-87477-762-8.
  4. ^ a b c d Taylor, Bron; Chester, David (2008). Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. A&C Black. pp. 1581–1582. ISBN 978-1847062734. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Biography of Malidoma Patrice Some, Author of Of Water and the Spirit Archived 2006-05-11 at the Wayback Machine", in Religious Traditions of Africa and the African Diaspora, by the members of Honors AFAM 220 (Spring 1997/ Spring 1999/ Spring 2001).
  6. ^ "Out of Africa: a message..." The Independent. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  7. ^ Simon, Tami (20 September 2011). "Invoking Spirit and the Power of Ritual". Insights at the Edge (Podcast). Sounds True. Retrieved 24 Aug 2019.
  8. ^ Past Events – Grief Ritual with Sobonfu Somé Red Balloon Project
  9. ^ Somé, Malidoma Patrice (2007). "".
  10. ^ Ancestral Wisdom Bridge Foundation: Somé's "Indigenous African Spirit Technologies" group, with schedule and fees for his events.

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