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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'We have finished them': ritual killing and war-doctoring in Kwazulu-Natal during the 1980s and 1990s
Author:Mchunu, Mxolisi R.
Periodical:African Historical Review (ISSN 1753-2531)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:political violence
ritual murder
ritual objects
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/17532523.2015.1130202
Abstract:'Muthi', 'intelezi' and associated rituals have played an important role in the lives of South Africans for many centuries. For almost everything they do, 'muthi' and rituals are applied, more so during times of war. Controversy around the use of 'intelezi', 'muthi', ritual killing and the role of 'izinyanga' in, prior to and during the colonial period, is well documented. This paper, first, challenges the Comaroffian analysis of the subject which purports to contextualise the 'deployment, real or imagined, of magical means for material ends'. They add that the discourse is entirely about 'modernity' and 'neoliberalism'. Here the author fundamentally disagrees with this explanation; he indicates that it is a cultural continuity. The paper contends that ritual killing and 'muthi' use continues into the present and was prevalent during the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal during the 1980s and 1990s. Secondly, the paper will discuss the centrality of the use of 'muthi' during the violence. The author reasons that 'izinyanga' played a clandestine but powerful role in this violence. In this, they were at the core of the violence and of the rise of warlords to power in the region. In this paper, the author also presents reasons (or offer recommendations) why historians should pay attention to these practices in the recent past, as well as in colonial times. For one thing, they are a means of understanding the present. However, in many ways, because of its reliance on oral histories and insider content, this paper is neither history nor ethnography, but could be described as historical ethnography. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]