The Gbaya people, primarily residing in the Central African Republic, are an ethnic group with a rich cultural heritage.

Beliefs and Mythology

The Gbaya people are predominantly animistic, which means they believe in the existence of spirits in both living and non-living entities. This belief system is characterized by the attribution of spiritual significance to natural elements, animals, and ancestors. They also have a pantheon of deities, each with specific attributes, functions, and stories.


  • Gomwa: Gomwa is the Supreme Being or creator deity in Gbaya mythology. Gomwa is associated with the sky and the spiritual realm, and is considered the most powerful and omnipotent force in the universe. He is the source of life, wisdom, and moral order.

  • Ngbaba: Ngbaba is the earth goddess and is responsible for fertility, agriculture, and the sustenance of life. She is revered as the protector and nurturer of humankind, providing them with the necessary resources to survive.

  • Zambi: Zambi is the god of thunder and lightning, often associated with the forceful aspects of nature. He is a symbol of power and authority, serving as an enforcer of justice and a guardian against evil.

  • Kumba: Kumba is the deity of water, specifically the rivers and streams that provide life-giving resources to the Gbaya people. He is revered for his healing properties and his ability to cleanse and purify the world.

  • Njoli: Njoli is the god of hunting, known for his agility, strength, and cunning. He is the protector of the forests and the animals that dwell within them, ensuring the harmonious balance of nature.

  • Bomwe: Bomwe is the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, responsible for the continuation of life and the growth of families. She is also the patroness of arts, music, and dance, promoting joy and harmony within the community.

Mythological Creatures

  • Mokele-mbembe: The Mokele-mbembe is a legendary creature believed to inhabit the swamps and rivers of the Central African Republic. Described as a large, reptilian or aquatic animal, it is often considered a symbol of the untamed wilderness and the unknown.

  • Lingomba: Lingomba is a mythical snake, representing both the power of nature and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It is said to possess supernatural abilities and is often invoked in rituals for protection, fertility, and renewal.

Unique Beliefs

The Gbaya people believe in the existence of "Mezimo," or ancestral spirits. Mezimo are considered as intermediaries between the living and the spiritual world, playing a significant role in the daily lives of the Gbaya people. They are invoked for guidance, protection, and blessings, particularly in times of crisis or uncertainty.


Initiation ceremonies: Initiation ceremonies are vital in Gbaya culture, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood. During these ceremonies, young men and women learn the customs, traditions, and moral values of their society.

  • Harvest festival: The harvest festival is an annual celebration in honor of Ngbaba, the earth goddess, and serves as an expression of gratitude for her abundance and fertility. The festival involves communal feasting, dancing, and singing, as well as offerings of crops and animal sacrifices.

  • Funerary rites: Funerary rites are an essential aspect of Gbaya culture, as they ensure the deceased's safe passage to the spiritual realm and appease the Mezimo. The rites involve a series of rituals, including the washing and dressing of the body, the display of the deceased in a specially constructed shelter, and the eventual burial or entombment.

  • Masked dances: Masked dances play a crucial role in Gbaya rituals, as they embody the spirits of ancestors and deities. These dances are performed during initiation ceremonies, funerals, and other significant events, allowing the spirits to communicate with the living and impart wisdom or blessings.

  • Divination: Divination is a widespread practice among the Gbaya people, used to seek guidance from the spiritual realm. Various methods of divination are employed, such as casting lots, examining animal entrails, or interpreting the patterns of spiderwebs.