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A Modern Movement of Witch-finders

  • Audrey I. Richards
Extract

All over present-day Africa witch-finders seem to appear, as it were from nowhere, flourish for a time, and then disappear. Either it is some individual of unusual personality in his community who announces a magic remedy for human sufferings, and so obtains a following, or else it is a more or less organized band of wonderworkers which crosses the border from some neighbouring territory with all the kudos attached to the foreign and the strange. Among these latter the celebrated Bamucapi, who recently swept from Nyasaland into Northern Rhodesia and later reached Southern Rhodesia and the Congo, are an interesting example. The actual origin of this movement is difficult to discover, but I watched it at its height in the Bemba country of N.E. Rhodesia in the summer of 1934, and I want in this article to describe very shortly the methods of these witch-finders, and to try to account for their success.

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page 448 note 1 During this time Professor Malinowski, then on a tour of inspection of his pupils' fields of study, visited my area, worked himself on this problem, and generously allowed me to add his notes to my own.

page 454 note 1 Evans-Pritchard, , ‘Sorcery in Native Opinion’, Africa, vol. vi, no. 1.

page 454 note 2 Malinowski, , Sexual Life of Savages, Routledge, London, 1929, p. 137.

page 454 note 3 Fortune, , Sorcerers of Dobu, Routledge, London, 1932, p. 101.

page 454 note 4 Malinowski, , Argonauts of the Western Pacific, Routledge, London, 1922, p. 75.

page 457 note 1 Evans-Pritchard, , ‘The Morphology and Function of Magic’, American Anthropologist, Oct. 1929.

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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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