History of ibogaïne

The plant

The Tabernanthe Iboga (12-methoxyibogamine) is one of the 7000 medicinal plants of Africa. You can find it in the rainforests of Gabon, Cameroon, Eastern Congo, Nigeria and southern Angola. It belongs to the family Apocynaceae and is a shrub from 2 to 4 m tall with small scented yellowish to red flowers and berries. It is the bark of the root which is giving a strong and long lasting mental and psychedelic effect.

The religion

The Fang, Babongo, the Apindji and Mitsogo pygmee tribes are using “the sacred wood” in their Ceremonies for more than 5000 years. The last two tribes ritualised the use of the Iboga and that resulted in the Bwiti religion. All members of the tribe ingest Iboga once in their life during an initiation. It is the essence of their life and their spirituality. A Bwiti says: “In church you speak with God, with Iboga you live with God”.

Bwiti is a religion that is practiced by the Babongo Mitsogo and the people of Gabon, where it is one of the three official religions. Modern Bwiti is a syncretic, animistic religion where ancestor worship is mixed with Christianity. The use of Iboga, which is specially cultivated, brings spiritual enlightenment and connection with the world. The root bark has been used for thousands of years in ceremony. It heals, causes liquid complex beautiful views and very valuable insights. It’s a godsend.

Bwiti is still not recognized by the Catholic church, which to this day keeps opposing the growing movement of Bwiti. In 1960, the first President of Gabon, Leon M’ba, defended the Bwiti religion and the use of Iboga in the French colonial courts. The Ministers of Gabon declared the Tabernanthe Iboga as their national treasure in 2001. It is known that 4% of the population, including the president, use Iboga.

Iboga can be described as a “plant spirit”. Over thousands Babongo and various Bantu tribes celebrate it, always with modesty and respect. It is a “spiritual” bath with the plants of the forest and provides insights. In a group ritual with dance, music and fire, many days are spent in reflection.

The Legend

Bandzioku lost her husband in the jungle, when he went to pick fruit from a tree and fell. She could not find his body and returned to the village. According to tradition, she married the brother of her husband.

One day she went fishing, but in her net she found not only fish, but the bones of her husband as well.

She took the bones to the shore where they were taken by an animal. Bandzioku followed this animal to a cave. From the cave, the voices of the spirits of the dead called her: Bandzioku, would you like to see us? ”

When she said “yes”, the spirits instructed her to eat the root of a plant that was growing in a corner near the entrance of the cave. After she had eaten she could see spirits and talk with them. Among them was the spirit of her first husband. The spirits asked a sacrifice of her and she gave them her food supplies.

The next day she brought new supplies and went back to the cave to sacrifice them. She repeated this for several days. One day, her husband became suspicious and decided to follow her.

When she arrived at the cave, the spirits said “Muma, Muma” pointing out that an uninitiated person was present. Bandzioku thought she was alone, then turned and saw her second husband.

He asked her who she was talking to. After she had told him everything, he also wanted to eat the root. She gave it to him and then he could also talk to the spirits.

The spirits also asked him for a sacrifice, he gave them the little he had, but this was rejected by the spirits. The spirits wanted him to sacrifice Bandzioku. She was killed and sacrificed. Her husband took the plant and returned back to his village. He built the first Bwiti temple.