Cosmology plays a fundamental role in the society of Guinea-Bissau, a country in West Africa. Many ethnic groups within the country believe that the spirit world has the ability to influence events in day-to-day life for a range of activities, including boosting crop growth, fertility, cures, and magical protection. During episodes of conflict, their power can expand to protect against harm, resolve disputes, and even form part of an overarching conflict resolution system. Part of the belief system includes the idea that the spirits can make worthy men more powerful by granting them special powers to defeat the enemy. In Guinea-Bissau’s most recent wars, the fighters invoked the spirits to gain the advantage against their adversaries.

Guinea-Bissau’s spiritual realm is complex. Drawn from the animist ...

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