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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Witch-Hunting and Political Legitimacy: Continuity and Change in Green Valley, Lebowa, 1930-1991
Author:Niehaus, Isak A.
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:South Africa
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Cultural Roles
Abstract:With reference to the history of the village of Green Valley in the bantustan of Lebowa, in the eastern Transvaal, South Africa, over the past six decades, this article examines the complex relationship between witch-hunting and political action. The author argues against common notions in anthropological literature that political actors engage in witch-hunting in an attempt to mystify exploitation or to intimidate opponents. Such notions overemphasize the instrumental dimensions of the witchcraft complex and pay insufficient attention to its intrinsic/existential dimension as a personalized explanation of misfortune. By taking full cognizance of the latter, witch-hunting can be seen as a creative attempt to eliminate evil and avoid the future occurrence of misfortune. It is argued that, through time, chiefs and Comrades (members of political movements such as the Sekhukhuneland, Shatale and Brooklyn Youth Organizations) have found it politically convenient to identify and punish witches in their efforts to attain legitimacy among villagers. Fieldwork for the study was conducted over a period of twenty-four weeks during 1990 and 1991. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.