Author Topic: Adama & Naomi Doumbia (The Way of the Elders)  (Read 2316 times)

Offline Engkanto

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Adama & Naomi Doumbia (The Way of the Elders)
« on: May 30, 2021, 04:01:43 pm »
I have recently started reading The Way of the Elders: West African Spirituality & Tradition, by Adama and Naomi Doumbia. It is an introduction to the culture and spiritual traditions of the Mande (Bamana) people of West Africa, concentrated in Gambia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. There is a New Age tone to the writing and my concern was alerted by a reference to animal spirits: ‘Doumbia’s animal spirit is the tiger, and members of this family are not to wear tiger-print clothing, nor harm this animal’ p.12). This seems strange as the tiger is not indigenous to West Africa, but no explanation is given.

Adama Kenbougoul (Ken) Doumbia is presented as having grown up ‘in the villages of Senegal and Mali’ where he ‘was raised by his elders’ and ‘has travelled the globe as a master drummer and dancer’. Naomi Doumbia is described as ‘American born and raised’ with a PhD from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Googling reveals little except that Ken Doumbia was at some stage a yoga teacher and that her seems to have sadly passed away in early 2020. It looks as if Naomi Doumbia could also be known as Sanderovsky, who is white American and has taught philosophy and comparative religion at various colleges. 

The book was published by Llewelyn in 2004. There is some beautiful writing but I am unsure how representative it is of the Mande? I would be interested to know whether anyone else has read it or has ant knowledge of the authors?

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Adama & Naomi Doumbia (The Way of the Elders)
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2021, 10:40:32 pm »
Several things set off alarms. Llewellyn publishes a lot of generic misinformation about paganism and New Age. But its owners are actually Christians out for cynical profit.

CA Institute of Integral Studies has a lot of complaints against it. I'm starting a separate thread on them.

Adama Doumbia is listed as regional president of the UPF for 15 years.

This is them, founded by a Kundalini Yogi.

In their own link, the UPF founder claims to be chosen at 19 to be a yogi. Then he broke his celibacy vows at 25 to marry...his own niece.

All of the above show the Doumias are not as much African traditionalists as they claim. They have quite a lot of ties to New Age and yuppie Americanized versions of Asian spiritual beliefs.

Offline Sparks

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Re: Adama & Naomi Doumbia (The Way of the Elders)
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2021, 04:05:33 pm »
CA Institute of Integral Studies has a lot of complaints against it. I'm starting a separate thread on them.


Offline Sparks

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Re: Adama & Naomi Doumbia (The Way of the Elders)
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2021, 04:50:58 pm »
At this address there is a PhD Thesis:

Oyebade Kunle Oyerinde

Submitted to the Faculty of the University Graduate School in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Department of Political Science, Indiana University April 2006

There is one comment about the book asked about by Engkanto in the OP of this thread (p. 10; my bolding in quote):

The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the differences in Yoruba institutions
and their impacts on interdependent relationships in Yoruba communities. This effort will
help us to come to terms with indigenous and non-indigenous conditions and values that
enhance or distract from the self-governing capabilities of the Yoruba of Nigeria in the
problem-solving process given their environmental circumstances and fundamental
beliefs about their relationship with one another. The task in this study obviously goes
beyond rising romanticized calls to return all of Africa to indigenous institutions (Adama
Doumbia and Naomi Doumbia 2004).
This dissertation rather gives careful consideration
to sorting out constructive and destructive aspects of institutions crafted by individuals in
Africa starting with Yoruba institutions. This study is not only timely, but that its current
urgency will provide a window into some more abiding problems of political and
economic development in Yorubaland in particular and in Africa in general.

In the 49 pages of "References cited" there is this entry on page 381:

Doumbia, A. and N. Doumbia. 2004. The Way of THE ELDERS: West African Spirituality & Tradition. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications.

Following page 411 in the dissertation there is very impressive six-page CV.  Oyebade Kunle Oyerinde is a native Yoruba speaker, and an academic really worth listening to when it comes to indigenous politics of Africa (at least it seems so to me). At the present he is an Associate Professor at Clark Atlanta University:

For more background about that University, I learned a lot at these links:

Offline Engkanto

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Re: Adama & Naomi Doumbia (The Way of the Elders)
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2021, 10:24:38 am »
Thank you for all those replies. They have more than confirmed my doubts about this book!

I still find it incomprehensible that the ‘family symbol’ could be a tiger, when that species has never been present in Mande areas. Meanwhile I have downloaded the Oyebade Kunle Oyerinde thesis on the Yoruba.

Incidentally, I hadn’t  realised that Llewelyn was run by Christians!