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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Spirits, power and the political imagination in late-colonial Gabon
Author:Cinnamon, John M.ISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Geographic term:Gabon
colonial period
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/41485039
Abstract:Through narratives of an anti-'fetish' movement that swept through northeastern Gabon in the mid-1950s, the present article traces the contours of converging political and religious imaginations in that country in the years preceding independence. Fang speakers in the region make explicit connections between the arrival of post-Second World War electoral politics, the anti-fetish movements, and perceptions of political weakening and marginalization of their region on the eve of independence. Rival politicians and the colonial administration played key roles in the movement, which brought in a Congolese ritual expert, Emane Boncoeur (or Emane Nyangone), and his two powerful spirits, Mademoiselle and Mimbare. These spirits, later recuperated in a wide range of healing practices, continue to operate today throughout northern Gabon and Rio Muni. In local imaginaries, these spirits played central roles in the birth of both regional and national politics, paradoxically strengthening the colonial administration and Gabonese auxiliaries in an era of pre-independence liberalization. Thus, regional political events in the 1950s rehearsed later configurations of power, including presidential politics, on the national stage. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]