Introduction / History The Jula word Bobo-Oule means Red Bobo and differentiates it from the Black Bobo. They call themselves Bwa or Bwaba. They speak Bwamu which is a Voltaic language.
Their neighbors are the Bobo, the Bamana, the Lobi and the Marka Dafing. In their history they show no record of earlier peoples in the land where they live.
The Bamana of Segou occupied much of the land in Mali in the 1700s. This weakened the Bwa. When the power of the Bamana lessened, the Fulani came into the Bwa country destroying things and making slaves of the people. When the French came in 1897, they used the Fulani to help them conquer the region. Many Bwa came against the French but the fight against them came to nothing as the French defeated them in six months and the Bwa had to rebuild.
Where are they located? They live in Mali and Burkina Faso. Some of the main towns of the Bwa are Boni, Bagassi, Dossi and Hounde.
What are their lives like? The Bwa live in villages that do not have central political authority. They do not like outside control. Decisions are made by a council of male elders from their peoples. The Bwa are very receptive to changes that they find of help to their own needs. They want to remain faithful to ancestors. The Bwa are now paid individually for their crops and cooperative work in the fields has come to an end causing problems for them.
They are mainly farmers, cotton being the main crop they sell. They also have crops such as rice, millet, peanuts and yam. They speak in Bwa. Some speak Jula and French is spoken too.
What are their beliefs? The god they believe in is called Wuro (or Difini or Dobweni). The Bwa especially in the north worship Dwo who they believe is a go between with man and nature. The religious leader of every village is the oldest man of the village named the Labie.
The Bwa use masks. The northern Bwa use leaf masks more than wooden ones, the southern Bwa prefer wooden masks. The Bwa in the south in particular use masks to do with the Nuna religion which they decided to be followers of late.