Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia

Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia

Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia

Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia

Excerpt

This report is based on research carried out between January, 1957, and February, 1958, on information and material collected during the witchcraft investigations then being made in Barotseland by the Protectorate Administration. When these investigations began, the writer was already fully committed to a major study of the material culture of the peoples of the Gwembe Valley, a project that owing to the time factor could not be postponed. This research had, therefore, to be treated as a minor project and, as a result, could not be pursued with the thoroughness that the writer would have liked and that it deserved.

The first brief visit in January, 1957, to Kalabo, to which district the investigations were then confined, was made with the prosaic intention of examining the material confiscated by the magistrate, and of obtaining for the Rhodes-Livingstone Museum such specimens as were of scientific or general interest. During this visit, the extent of the investigations and the value of the information and material they were bringing to light were realized, and arrangements for a further visit were made. In February and March, 1957, two weeks were spent at Kalabo, and a few days each at Mongu, Senanga and Sesheke, where investigations were by then also being made. A preliminary report (Reynolds, 1957) was later produced and distributed to members of the Protectorate Administration. In November, after the main spate of witchcraft prosecutions had fallen off, the writer returned to Barotseland and visited each district in turn to re-examine court case records and other reports, and to discuss the investigations with the officers who had undertaken them.

In January, 1958, Mr. P. J. A. Rigby, who was temporarily in the employ of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute, was seconded to the Museum and was sent to Barotseland to glean from the court case records of each district certain routine data which were felt to be amenable to statistical analysis. These data and the conclusions drawn from their analysis are to be found in Chapter VII.

The object of this study is the description of the witchcraft and allied practices and beliefs of the peoples of Barotseland.

Obviously, a work of this kind must suffer from certain grave limitations. The time factor has already been mentioned. Secondly . . .

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