Studies in Witchcraft, Magic, War and Peace in Africa

Author: Nicolini, Beatrice
Year:2006
Pages:406
ISBN:0-7734-5727-5
978-0-7734-5727-0
Price:259.95
Magical practices, witchcraft, and warfare in the African continent during the XIX and XX centuries offer interesting opportunities towards a better understanding not only of African societies, but most of all, of their historical role in numerous political and military conflicts and also within peace-building processes, which represent a continuation of a topic of long-standing concern in African history.

This collection extends the time period from the colonial to the post-colonial, but it also broadens the focus from invocations of the supernatural in military and political mobilization, to rituals of healing in post-conflict societies, the latter, until now, being a field more studied by anthropologists.

The majority of contributions are here analyzing cases from Sub-Saharan Africa, starting from West Africa, to Uganda, and concentrating on East Africa, mainly Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique, ending in Zimbabwe, and South Africa. From the historical, institutional and military points of view, African colonial history clashed against African magical practices and witchcraft, and, in many occasions, colonial authorities of the time did persecute major representatives of these practices, also with the use of force. The object of this volume is showing how practices of magic, and in some contributions also witchcraft, did reveal and still reveal today as very much useful instruments within political fights, sometimes with the object of violent oppositions and revolutions, sometimes with the object of status quo preservation processes. Another attractive feature of this collection of essays is the combination of young academics (who opened their research to future analysis) together with internationally well-established scholars such as Bernardi, Uzoigwe, Owusu, and Ranger. Terence Ranger is without question the leading historian of African employment of magic and of witchcraft eradication movements in modern Africa. The opportunity of filling a gap in this important subject is absolutely unique, and many scholars and researchers, as well as policy makers, will benefit of this effort.

Reviews

“ ... The African continent during the end of the XIX century and the first decades of the XX century has been marked by a sequence of distressing events that have upset the life of the African peoples both during the colonial situation, during the conflicts for the re-conquest of independence, as well as during the peace building that followed those events ... The reaction of the Africans to foreign invasion were attempts of rebellion, suddenly brutally repressed by the punitive expeditions of the invaders, a repression that left a bitter memory on the local people. That was the background, both social and political, that favored the wide practicing of magic and witchcraft, as a sort of reaction of the oppressed trying to find, in their traditional practices, a reliable protection ...” – (from the Preface) Bernardo Bernardi, Professor Emeritus, La Sapienza University, Italy

“The current volume brings together a wide range of senior and junior scholars who address issues of magical practice in warfare and post-conflict peace making in Africa. The editor has done an exceptional job of recruiting African, as well as European and North American scholars, to this project, something for which I give her high marks. A number of the scholars involved in the project are important voices in this area of Africanist scholarship. Dr. Nicolini’s biggest coup, however, is to have enlisted Professor Terence O. Ranger to contribute to the volume. Professor Ranger is without question the leading historian of African employment of magic and of witchcraft eradication movements in modern Africa. His presence in this volume gives it unquestioned legitimacy.” – Professor Edward Alpers, UCLA

“ ... The book promises to be a useful contribution from both the historical and anthropological perspectives. It will be interesting to academics, but should also catch the attention of policy makers. There is a growing awareness that magic and witchcraft have played a role in many of the continent’s conflicts and that resolving these conflicts requires knowledge of the role of witchcraft in sustaining warfare ...” – Professor Erik Gilbert, Arkansas State University

“Dr. Beatrice Nicolini's collection of essays is a potentially important continuation of a topic of long-standing interest in African history. Historians took an early interest in magic and the supernatural in African warfare, especially in connection with prophetic anti-colonial resistance movements. This collection extends the time period from the colonial to the post-colonial, but it also broadens the focus from invocations of the supernatural in military and political mobilization, to rituals of healing in post-conflict societies, the latter, until now, being a field more studied by anthropologists ...” – Dr. Douglas H. Johnson, Managing Editor, James Currey Publishers

Table of Contents

Preface by Bernardo Bernardi
Part 1. Magical Practices and Witchcraft during Warfare in the African Continent (XIX-XX Centuries)
Dafne Accoroni – Healing Practices Among the Senegalese Community in Paris
Godwin Ehi Azenabor – The Idea of Witchcraft and the Challenge of Modern Science
Fernanda Claudio – Cloth, Hoes, and Beads: Chikunda Domination, the Warlord Kanyemba, and the Chapoto Chieftaincy in Dande, Zimbabwe
Linda Giles – The Role of Spirits in Swahili Coastal Society
Alan Kirkaldy – Vhuloi and Witch-Hunting in Late Nineteenth-Century Vendaland
Beatrice Nicolini – Notes on Magical Practices in Zanzibar and Pemba: The Role of the Waganga during Colonial Times
Maxwell Owusu and Godfrey N. Uzoigwe – Nanny’s Apron Strings: Magic, ‘Medicine,’ Witchcraft and Warfare in Colonial and Post-Colonial West Africa
Meshack Owino – Vifo Na Mazishi: The Impact of War on Kenya African Soldiers’ Beliefs and Attitudes Towards Death and Burials in Colonial Kenya
Ana Cristina Roque – Meeting Artur Murimo Mafumo and His Practices

Part 2. Magical Practices and Witchcraft as Post-Conflict Peace-Building and Community Healing Processes in the African Continent (XIX-XX Centuries)
George Olusola Ajibade – Hearthstones: Religion, Ethics and Medicine in the Healing Process in the Traditional Yorùbá Society
Nathalie Arnold – With ‘Ripe’ Eyes You Will See: Occult Conflicts in Pemba’s Days of Caning, Zanzibar 1964-1968
Sophia Beal – Terra Sonâmbula: Mythmaking and the Naparama in the Work of Mia Couto
Jesse Benjamin – Squatters, Resistance to “Development,” and Magic as a Tool of Subaltern Power: A Case from Coastal Kenya
Noah Butler – The Materialization of Magic: Islamic Talisman in West Africa
Paulo Granjo – Back Home: Post-War Cleansing Rituals in Mozambique
Sam Kasule – Possession, Trance, Ritual and Popular Performance: The Transformation of Theatre in Post Idi Amin Uganda
Stephen C. Lubkemann – Where to be an Ancestor? Reconstituting Socio-Political Worlds among Displaced Mozambicans
Terence Ranger – African Religion, Witchcraft, and the Liberation War in Zimbabwe