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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Healing by incantation: the Yoruba experience
Author:Osunwole, S.A.
Periodical:African Notes: Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Geographic term:Nigeria
healing rites
Abstract:The present article describes the use of incantation ('of๒') by healers in the therapeutic management of illnesses and afflictions among the Yoruba of Nigeria. The study is based on fieldwork among healers in Iwo and Oyo from 1988 to 1991. The basic methods of data collection were participant observation and unstructured interviews with four healers and their clients. The author documents four incantations and shows, through content analysis, the relationship between the incantations and the cultural elements that help to enhance their potency. Some incantations are complemented by charms, others are not. For an incantation to be effective, it must conform to chanting style, while the healers and their clients must believe in its efficacy. Given the metaphysical nature of incantation, its scientific analysis is difficult. Moreover, all the healers who were interviewed agreed that unless incantation retains its cosmic nature, it will not be effective. They argued that since its message is for the spirits, and not humans, it is undesirable to probe its operation as long as results are achieved. Ref., sum.