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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Pilgrimage, Power, and Identity: The Role of the Hajj in the Lives of Nigerian Hausa Bori Adepts
Author:O'Brien, Susan
Periodical:Africa Today
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
African religions
spirit possession
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/africa_today/v046/46.3obrien.pdf
Abstract:This paper examines the role of the 'hajj' (pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites in Arabia) as a social and economic resource in the lives of primarily female healers from northern Nigeria and as a case of mutual cultural influence between West Africa and Saudi Arabia. It explores the paradoxical popularity of non-Islamic healing practices and spirit mediumship in the Muslim heartland of Saudi Arabia by examining the role of the 'hajj' in the lives of 'bori' practitioners in Hausaland. The experiences of Hausa 'bori' adepts highlight forms of circulation that connect African Muslims to a wider Muslim Arab world. Their stories belie dominant interpretations of the 'hajj' as a globalizing force. In the case of northern Nigeria, access to the 'hajj' for a broader segment of the population has created, on the contrary, the opportunity for some pilgrims possessing specialized knowledge of African healing practices, the 'yan bori' or 'bori' adepts, to reinforce local Hausa conceptions of Islam. Quoting from her interviews with 'bori' practitioners in Kano, the author makes clear how pilgrims have translated their experiences of the 'hajj' to unpredictable ends and how 'bori' healers demonstrate the influence and marketability of local culture in modern Saudi society. Likewise, the 'hajj' is important in maintaining a dynamic 'bori' subculture in Nigeria. These experiences suggest also that structural constraints on female lives in Hausa society are far from uniform. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.