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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Doing Ngoma': A Dominant Trope in African Religion and Healing
Author:Janzen, John M.
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic terms:Southern Africa
Subjects:healing rites
traditional medicine
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1581193.pdf
Abstract:A widespread ritual institution in Central and Southern Africa is often referred to as 'ngoma', at once the term for drum, as well as drumming or other musical instrumentation, singing, dancing, and the complex of constituent behaviour and concepts. The unit usually named 'ngoma' in a ritual therapeutic setting opens with a declarative statement, prayer, or utterance, then moves on to song begun by the one who makes the statement; the surrounding individuals respond with clapping and soon singing begins en masse, and then the instruments enter in. In the consciously formulated exchange of song-dance, and in the movement of the individual from sufferer-novice to accomplished, singing, self-projecting, healer, lies the heart of the institution. First, this paper describes a requiem 'ngoma' in the Western Cape, following the death of a mother. Next, an attempt is made to develop a theory of how 'ngoma' works, centring on the process by which chronically intractible experiences are repeatedly expressed by individuals whose common suffering brings them together. The author attempts to get to the issues that are at the root of the sufferers' continuing expressions, to what he calls 'difficult experiences', e.g. social structural contradictions, reproductive disorders, lineage competition, etc. Healers' views of how 'ngoma' works are also incorporated. Notes, ref.