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Infectious Rhythm by Barbara Browning

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FOUR

African Medicine Men

In the nineteenth century there were, in principle, two kinds of ngtnga (priest, magician), corresponding to two kinds of n'kisi [charm, medication], associated with the cults of personal afflictions on the one hand and with the collective cults of political domains on the other…. In practice, the distinction between a cult devoted to personal protection and one serving the collective interest was undoubtedly as obscure as it usually is in the world at large, but even that normative distinction was lost at the turn of the century. The political system was destroyed, the memory of what chiefship had been was corrupted by the introduction of colonially designated “chiefs,” the local cults paired with chiefships disappeared, ...

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