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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Therapeutic Efficacy and Consensus among the Aluund of South-Western Zaire
Author:De Boeck, Filip
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
traditional medicine
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Health and Nutrition
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1160613
Abstract:In his study 'The quest for therapy' (1978) John Janzen analyses a complex regional medical system among the Koongo of Zaire. Throughout the study, he emphasizes that, for medical care to be effective, a social and cognitive consensus is needed between the healer, the sufferer, and the kin group, who acts as a lay therapy management group. This article reconsiders Janzen's notions of social consensus and therapeutic efficacy. It shows that among the Aluund of the upper Kwaango, in southwestern Zaire, therapy management very often does not result in the final solution of the social causes of misfortune and the reestablishment of social order by means of a consensus between the parties involved. And even when a consensus is reached, it is, by definition, only partial and never final. This does not imply, however, that the therapy is ineffective. After an outline of the Luunda sociocultural context and of Luunda etiology, divinatory diagnosis and possible therapeutic solutions, the author focuses on one particular case of sickness and death that he witnessed during fieldwork from September 1987 until March 1989. The case shows that no consensus was reached within the kin group and that the therapy management was not limited to the kin group, but also involved the intervention of the political authority and the council of elders. Bibliogr., notes, sum. in English and French.