CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Out of Sight Out Of Mind: Secret and Sacred Objects of the Tagwa-Senufo of Burkina Faso

Session 8 Art and Taboo

the West African Museums Programme


As with many other ethnic groups in Africa, Senufo identity was the creation of the French colonial administration during the early twentieth century. In spite of some similarities, the subgroups together named Senufo by the French do not share the same artistic and traditional forms and values. This is particularly true for the subgroup known as the Tagwa, which has a Komo secret association.

The Komo is a sacred and secret mask with great power and authority, inaccessible to the general public and women. The Komo is the most important religious cult of the Tagwa society, which has shaped it for its own tradition and customs. The Komo is the most powerful Tagwa male secret society, the most respected and the most feared in this community. Secrecy defines the place of individuals and groups of people in the Komo society. 

In my paper I will describe the Komo and explain why it is inaccessible to the general public and women.

DIAMITANI, Boureima 

Dr Boureima Diamitani, a national of Burkina Faso and currently the Executive Director of the West African Museums Programme (WAMP), received his Ph.D. in 1999 from the School of Art and Art History, University of Iowa, Iowa City. Before pursuing his doctoral studies, he was the director of Cultural Heritage and Museums in Burkina Faso. In this capacity, he redefined cultural heritage policy in Burkina, designed and implemented new guidelines for museums, and curated numerous exhibitions. 

During his studies in the United States, he worked as a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He previously worked with the World Bank, managing development projects and programs that incorporate culture and cultural and creative industries in the national development plans of African countries. Dr Diamitani studied urban planning and architecture in Lome and followed heritage training in Marseille. 

As Executive Director of WAMP, his responsibilities include, among others, the development and implementation of policies and strategies to build the capacity of West African museums, to help develop collections, provide funding for the preservation of intangible heritage, and develop collaboration among museums.