At the age of four he was kidnapped byJesuit missionaries, to be raised in their boarding school, and given an education. The missionaries were attempting train black Africans who might convert to Christianity. He ran away from the missionary school when he was twenty, by which time he had forgotten his native language. In order to be able to communicate with his people, he underwent an arduous process of “relearning”. He took part in a month-long Dagara initiation process.   
The Dagara believe that each person is born with a destiny, and he or she is given a name that reflects that destiny. The name Malidoma means “become friends with the stranger/enemy”. Malidoma Patrice Somé believes it is his destiny to come to a western audience in friendship and tell them about his experience of being torn away from his people by westerners. His book, Of Water and the Spirit, is his attempt to describe that journey from outsider to mediator between two worlds.
Somé conducts seminars and retreats in Oregon and throughout the world.