Go to AfricaBib home

Go to AfricaBib home AfricaBib Go to database home

bibliographic database
Previous page New search

The free AfricaBib App for Android is available here

Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'A witch has no horn': the subjective reality of witchcraft in the South African lowveld
Author:Niehaus, Isak A.ISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020189708707877
Abstract:Drawing on fieldwork conducted between 1990 and 1995 in Green Valley, a village situated in the Setlhare chiefdom of the Transvaal lowveld of South Africa, this article cautions against the sociological determinism evident in M. Marwick's (1970) widely accepted formulation of witchcraft accusations as a social 'strain-gauge'. Analysis of five case studies lends very little credence to the a priori assumption that conflictual relationships necessarily determine, or make it possible to predict, who the accuser(s) and those accused of witchcraft would be. They show that social tensions are even less pronounced in arousing the initial suspicions that witchcraft had occurred. The author's informants insisted that it is witchcraft that generates tensions and drew his attention to the Northern Sotho proverb 'Moloi ga a na lenaka ('A witch has no horn'), meaning that a witch's identity is never obvious. The author highlights the multidimensional nature of witchcraft beliefs, to show how they provide people with a discourse to conceptualize and articulate otherwise incomprehensible and inexpressible experiences, and to focus more explicitly on the views that social actors have of their own situations. Bibliogr., notes, ref.