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NgomaDiscourses of Healing in Central and Southern Africa$
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John Janzen

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520072657

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520072657.001.0001

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How Ngoma Works

How Ngoma Works

Of Codes and Consciousness

Chapter:
(p.130) 5 How Ngoma Works
Source:
Ngoma
Author(s):

John M. Janzen

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520072657.003.0006

This chapter seeks to understand how knowledge is constructed and used. It then covers the application of several academic analytic evaluations of ngoma, including the role of metaphor shaping, of consensus, and of the range of manipulations that shape affect of sufferer and therapists alike. It then investigates the conscious indigenous theories about ngoma, which are usually based on the hypothesis of spirit possession as the basis of the misfortune. The relationship of scientific or empirical knowledge to ritual healing is covered. Spirit is a manner of speaking, a hypothesis, a format. The “spirit” hypothesis is what brings the individual experience into the orbit of ngoma. However, spirit is not what it appears to be, nor is it equally strong in all expressions.

Keywords:   ngoma, metaphor shaping, indigenous theories, spirit possession, ritual healing, misfortune

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