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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ritual and History: The Case of Nyabingi
Author:Freedman, J.
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines
Geographic term:Rwanda
African religions
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://doi.org/10.3406/cea.1974.2668
Abstract:Although the religious traditions of the people in northern Rwanda resemble those typical of much of the interlacustrine region, in one respect their tradition is not typical of the broader region. The Bakiga and Banyarwanda of the northern territories believe in the powers of an unique (woman) deity, Nyabingi or Biheko. The worship of Nyabingi (her followers are known as bagirwa) differs on several points with the kubandwa. The Nyabingi cult has not served, as the kubandwa did, to protest or sustain a political order. Nyabingi has arised in areas without complex political organizations. While kubandwa is a public ceremony, Nyabingi works with private seances. The kubandwa pantheon has only a vague historical identity; Nyabingi has a more accessible historical identity. This essay exposes the setting of past events within which the names, expressions, and cliches used in the Nyabingi ritual of consultation find an historical meaning. These ritual expressions appear as vehicles by which a symbolic structure and a social heritage are woven into a single ritual discourse. Notes, French summary.