Cultural Practices of the Biffeche
There are unique cultural practices that have
developed in Biffeche. Some are from ancient times, some were
brought to Biffeche in the resettlement of the Sérér-Ndut people
in the last century, and others derived more recently from the
advent of having an American King.
The three religions practiced in Biffeche are Islam, Roman Catholic
Christianity and traditionalist religions
combining elements of Fula, Sérér, and Wolof Pangool and Great
White Leopard beliefs and practices. The majority of the population in the whole
Kingdom are Muslims. Savoigne is the heart of the Christian
population. However, even in Savoigne the majority of the
population is Muslim. The followers of the traditional
religion are scattered universally throughout the Kingdom. There is a
mosque and a small but distinguished school of Islamic studies at
the capital, M'Boubene (generally revered as a "holy Islamic
city" or "Madinat Islamiah" by Muslims), and there
are a church and mosque at Savoigne and Savoigne-Pionniers (respectivement).
In Savoigne there are Christian shrines to the Virgin Mary (the
revered Maryam to Muslims), and a most striking bronze statue of the
Cross, Orb Mondiale and Crown of Thorns. The beautiful Centre
Saint Blaise at Savoigne is headquarters of the missionary work
of the Roman Catholic church.
There is official recognition and respect for
all the religions of Biffeche, equally. The Kingdom has both Muslim and
Christian Orders of Knighthood and the traditional religion and
"pangool" are not neglected.
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All of the architecture in the
Kingdom of Biffeche is
Certain beliefs and practices are considered
private to the groups involved and are not widely disclosed. The
"griot" (hereditary minstrel and historical orator) is
used in certain Biffeche festivals, including those of the Biffeche
Americans. The griot may get involved in certain other things.
Importance is given to certain songs and certain kinds of drums and
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Crown Prince Christopher with
the famous Saint-Louis
carving of one of Senegal's
most revered holy men,
Amadou Bamba, founder of
the Mouride Brotherhood
Among legends there is the great Njawoor Ciss,
a noble Sérér-Ndut warrior of past times who still returns to help
(and sometimes to chastise) his people. There is the Great White
Leopard, who moves mysteriously at night and occasionally intercedes
in the affairs of the Biffeche people. Lately, some unusual
practices surround the tomb of the late King Edward I who was known
in America for his vast wisdom. His advocacy with the Almighty has
been invoked seeking that wisdom, cures, etc.
When a great personage visits Biffeche (like a
King, a Duke, or the Presidents of Mauritanie or Sénégal), a bull
is killed in honor, and a great feast on the beef is held.
Traditional Biffeche drums are played, and hereditary traditional
may sing the praises of the visitor. A Great Drum of Biffeche (an
enormous drum made from a hollowed-out Baobab tree section) is
mentioned but has not been seen or used to honor visitors in recent
When a new King arrives, a Royal Fan Bearer
fans Him with a symbolic fan made of river reeds, to cool Him. But
when the American Edward I was made King by long-distance
investiture in 1963, the ancient West African message of a packet of
sacred royal seeds was sent to Him by mail, conferring the Kingship
of Biffeche upon Him, along with the investiture documents.
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King Ronald meets with some
of his Chefs de Village and Aide de Camp.
Every major village in Biffeche has a Chef
de Village recognized by the King. Visitors always visit the
Chef before visiting anyone else in the village, and bring Him the
customary presents: dates for the Muslim chefs, dates and kola nuts
for the Christian chefs, for the Chef of Grand Leopard Villages the
only customary present is gold and this must be given. It is
also hoped that visitors will remember small trinkets
for the village children as toys are almost unknown in this part of
Africa. Visitors get their passports
stamped with a "Marque de Visite" of the Kingdom. If the
King is present, He is met with a slight bow, with no further
special ritual after that. He is first addressed as "Your
Majesty," later just as "Bour" (a Sérér-Ndut and
Wolof word pronounced Boooorr) or with the French "Roi".
Chefs de Village are addressed as "Chef-de-Village,"
"Chef," or by their aristocratic titles, if any. No
important business is discussed without the assent of the Chef de
Although the Biffeche people believe in hard
work, we also believe in enjoying ourselves immensely, and, when we
can afford it, we have splendid parties and festivals with dances,
drumming, food and other acts. We are the envy of all West Africa in
these affairs, and to see our women dance is a sight.
Biffeche is the only place in the world where
the leaf-shaped Royal Chair is made. It is made from a special grove
of river reeds, is saddle or hyperbola shaped, and is sat on unlike
any other chair. The King's own Royal Chair is held sacred, but
slightly smaller copies may be commissioned and purchased in
Savoigne. (More conventional thrones of Biffeche are also kept for
the Court in America, Scotland, Germany and Sweden.) For decoration
and memento, small reed replicas of the Royal Chair may also be
found in Savoigne.
Cultural Practices continued