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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Inaugurating an Age of Bliss? The Millenarianism of Anti-Witchcraft Movements in the South African Lowveld
Author:Niehaus, Isak
Periodical:Anthropology Southern Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Abstract:This article investigates the millenarian aspects of witch-hunting in the South African lowveld. It suggests that witch-hunting in this area since 1994 represents an attempt to inaugurate an age of bliss rather than to intimidate or disable political opponents. It argues that R.G. Willis's suggestion that witch-cleansing cults in Central Africa promise an instant millennium, and Jean and John Comaroff's analysis of witch-killings in South Africa as a kind of 'occult economy', illuminate the aims of witchcraft eradication movements in the Bushbuckridge area. However, whilst witch-hunting represents an attempt to procure material means by magical ends, more can be said about witch-hunting. An analysis of three social dramas in Bushbuckridge - the 1994 election and the witchcraft of whites, the Rooiboklaagte witch-hunt of November 1994, and the cleansing of the Acornhoek Bakery in 1998 - shows that witch-hunters were as concerned about health as they were about wealth and that the witch-hunts aimed to avert catastrophe as much as they aimed to inaugurate an age of bliss. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]