The Funeral Days for Malidoma Patrice Somé

Malidoma’s stunning, immense funeral lasted 5 beautiful unending days. Technically the funeral began on January 13, 2022, at the moment Malidoma’s body left the soil of the United States and rose into the air via plane destined to return to his homeland. In Burkina Faso, his body was carried immediately to the home village, when the music and sea of tears began to flow. The funeral lasted until Tuesday January 18, when the last pole of his funeral shrine was lifted from the ground. During that time the celebration of his life continued without ceasing. Musicians played, ritual washing and wailing continued, singers chanted of his life, stories were told of all his years and works and adventures, and thousands of people from near and far approached the shrine of his body.

During these days his widowed wife, Fati Malidoma Somé, was accompanied always, guardian keepers at her side. She wore regal black, and her tears were a river upon the land.

A shrine was built to shade and honor his body and the personal items that he used in his life. His initiation tools were set upon the casket, including his handmade bow and arrows His first ceremonial tunic, his boubou, and accompanying pants were set alongside the tools. A favorite cigar was near his head, as was his classic fedora. The well worn suitcases from his decades of travel were nearby. There was a bit of room alongside his casket for mourners to enter and pay respects. And the line of mourners approaching this shaded shrine was unending for days. The music played, the singers chanted of his life telling stories of all his years, and the mournful dancing discharged the grief into the air. At times it was a drowning sea of water energy overtaking all who inhaled breath.

Travelers came from other nations to sing in their own rhythms and styles of this man who touched them so deeply. Drummers beat and chanters chanted and singers sang with full heart, sometimes while streaming tears. One set of singers sang in chilling operatic tones, music so hauntingly beautiful that it seemed to be rising from the grave. They would have stunned an international opera audience so beautiful was their artform. Without ceasing, the music played day and night for all the funeral days.

On the second to last day, his body was laid to rest in a tomb built upon his home grounds.   After the burial, the funeral changed tone slightly, to one of some celebration at his ascendance.  The funeral officially ended when the last support pole of his shrine was lifted from the ground, and the music ceased with a final furious drumbeat.  Ashé.

It was the Greatest Radical Water Ritual a human could fathom, for Malidoma Patrice Somé, born of the water element.

For all the funeral days of Malidoma Patrice Somé, the crowd of people pouring forth was unending, the music and its chanting and drumming never ceased, and a sea of tears hung suspended in the air above the land  flowing thick enough to be sensed.

On the last day of the funeral, Malidoma’s favorite dance troupe came to dance out the final hour in honor of the man who favored their art and expression over all other dance troupes.  It was the perfect final honor to the man who made friends with the stranger-enemy.

The shrine to Malidoma Patrice Somé:  The funeral ends when the last pole is pulled from the ground.

Malidoma was buried on the night of the full moon.

Malidoma Somé and the Somé people of Dano are of the Crocodile clan.  The Crocodile was present at Elder Malidoma’s initiation, aiding him cross the river of the Other World which he wrote about in his book Of Water and the Spirit.   Crocodile helps cross the depths, helps traverse obstacles, helps to swim the dark Wisdom Waters.  Crocodile spirit was certainly present for Malidoma’s great crossing over. .

Fati Somé also carries the Crocodile medicine.  She says that Crocodile is in her heart.  Thus Crocodile is present even on this website and inside her work to come, and Crocodile will aid her in crossing into her new service with Mallidoma’s unseen hand guiding her.

The totem animal of the Somé clan is the crocodile.

Painting “Spirit Crocodile”  by artist Kat Caric.

The Great Malidoma Patrice Somé, assigned from birth to make friends with the stranger-enemy…

He lived his name in the fullest way possible and is now sitting with the thrones of the ancestors, beckoning his wife and all of us to live our medicine fully.  He stands at Fati Somé ‘s side, serving still.  His voice will carry on in the voice of Madame Malidoma.