For the Bijago people, the forest holds an important social place. This is where the initiation rites take place, and this throughout their lives. Bijago initiation, known to be violent, takes men and women through different stages of age and promotion. It gives men fatherhood and women maternity. It should be noted that the Bijago are the only ethnic group in Guinea-Bissau not to practice male circumcision or female circumcision. In spite of a significant Christianization, the Bijago worship a Creator god, through the intermediary of present spirits, in natural or manufactured objects.
A mysterious archipelago
During your trip to Guinea-Bissau, like most travellers, you will definitely visit the Bijagos Archipelago. This is perhaps, like many others, the reason why you came to Guinea-Bissau.
This archipelago has long attracted people and tourists, but only a few years ago did it truly open up to tourism. A mixed clientele of backpack backpackers, sailboat travelers or even, more and more, rich expatriates who come to pay for a week of wholesale fishing in the islands.
It is a very wild archipelago, where on the 88 islands and islets that compose it, only a dozen are inhabited. The rest are deserted and wild lands, often hostile. Indeed, during a trip to Guinea-Bissau and especially to the Bijagos Islands, it is very common to come across multiple poisonous wild animals, such as snakes, these famous green and black mambas that are seriously deadly, or scorpions and mygales.
Not to mention the aquatic animals, in mostly rather turbulent waters, dens of the various crocodiles of the corner (Nile crocodiles and dwarf crocodiles) or multiple sharks, venomous rays or stinging jellyfish.
A traditional archipelago
The Bijagos Archipelago is a world apart in Guinea-Bissau. It is the only place in the whole country that the Portuguese had not managed to colonize.
Indeed, the Bijogos people who inhabit these islands are a very special, traditional and formidable people if attacked. The Portuguese had been decimated in their attempt to colonize the islands with machetes and poison arrows. In addition, some traditional areas on the islands are forbidden access, for reasons of rites of initiation or religious rites of this animist population. Do not play with this and respect the traditions on the spot.