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Book chapter Book chapter Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Horse, hunter & messenger: the possessed men of the Nya cult in Mali
Author:Colleyn, Jean-PaulISNI
Book title:Spirit possession, modernity & power in Africa / ed. by Heike Behrend & Ute Luig. - Oxford [etc.]: James Currey [etc.]
Year:1999
Pages:68-78
Language:English
Geographic term:Mali
Subjects:African religions
spirit possession
Senufo
Abstract:According to a well-received theory in African Studies, possession is related to a historical crisis and possession cults are considered as marginal appearing beside dominant religions such as Islam and Christianity and are supposed to decline as soon as they receive official recognition. However, the 'Nya' possession cult in Mali actually presents many features that contradict received theory: it is a rural cult; possession is the privilege of a minority of male members of a society into which they have been initiated; possessed men still belong to powerful lineages; their careers never begin as an illness; trance has no therapeutical value; possession confirms a dedication to a specific localized deity; spirit possession is related to divination, a means of expression of a superior 'voice' and a shamanistic technique. Moreover, far from flourishing at the margins of dominant Islam, the 'Nya' cult is losing its influence whereas Islam is spreading. The study is based on fieldwork, carried out since 1971 in Mali among people classified in the colonial literature as Minyanka, but who now call themselves Myanka or, more often, Bamana. Bibliogr., note.
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