Art and culture

A country of crossing cultures


Promoting Gabon's culture

"Whether through art, the oral tradition, family traditions or customary behaviour, the context we live in has been fashioned by our ancestors and has stood the test of time. It would be both unfair and inept to wish to replace this heritage by the contributions of outside civilizations". The late President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba.


Libreville, the capital of the Bantu civilisations

In 1983, the late President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba decided to create the "International Centre for Bantu civilizations" in Libreville, with the cooperation of 15 African States. The CICIBA is today a centre for research, documentation, dissemination, animation, training and coordination, in the field of culture and human sciences.

The major principles of Gabonese culture

All the ethnic groups in Gabonese society keep up the traditional practice of ancestor worship, which creates a strong bond among the living. The ancestors in fact have a prominent place in all the major life events.


To reassert the presence of the myth, Africans sculpted masks in praise of their elders. In this domain, Gabon is one of the richest regions on the continent. The masks are shown during funeral rites, agrarian rites, etc. The presence of different styles of mask is related to the geographic location of the different ethnic groups, but the boundaries are not always clear.

Face paint

Inseparable from the masks, ritual face paint is made of white paste, red wood powder or charcoal powder.

Omnipresence of crafts

By tradition but also of necessity, each village in Gabon has a more or less high number of craft workers, some of whom are professionals using the most elaborate techniques, and others who may not consider themselves professionals but nonetheless produce high quality items for ordinary or ritual use, to satisfy the beliefs and needs of the community.

Gabon's culture in the digital era

The Virtual Museum of Arts and Traditions 

The Virtual Museum of Arts and Traditions was inaugurated in November 2006, and has enjoyed immense success. 

Gabon is the 1st country in the world to have created a virtual museum of its arts and traditions online. In an interactive 3D world, discover brand new ethnographic videos and over 250 exceptional art works: sculptures, masks, origins, ancestor worship, etc.

Discover the Virtual Museum of Arts and Traditions on

The Travel Diary 

The interactive Travel Diary is designed to allow you to discover Gabon's unique, pristine riches. It presents both the extraordinary fauna and flora, and the rich cultural heritage of masks, rituals and dances. It will reveal to you the veritable facets of a country that has skilfully preserved what makes it authentic. It is also an excellent practical guide for preparing your trip to Gabon, with lots of links, information and indispensable addresses. 

You can check it out at: 

Children paint their Gabon 

Gabonese artist Georges Mbourou came up with a truly exemplary initiative: with his team, he travelled across the nine regions of Gabon to meet children and allow them to learn to paint for the first time. 

We offer you a moving journey to meet young Gabonese people who, through their artistic creations and testimonials, are proud to present their country. 

Come and see Georges Mbourou's artistic itinerary with the children: