Spirits of Protest: Spirit-Mediums and the Articulation of by Peter Fry

By Peter Fry

During this research, Peter Fry describes and analyses spirit-mediumship among a neighborhood of Zezuru humans residing close to Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). He examines the idea procedure which underpins spirit-mediumship and the foundation of the mediums' authority. He will pay specific realization to the best way spiritual ideals are used politically in particular social events starting from village disputes to problems with nationwide value. rather than portraying the spirits and their mediums as a hard and fast and reliable hierarchy, Peter Fry stresses the dynamics of a spiritual approach which adjustments over the years relating to altering exterior elements and to the power of person competing mediums to accumulate followings via responding to and moulding consensus. The publication makes comparisons among the spiritual structures of the Zezuru and the Valley Korekore, either subgroups of Shona-speaking peoples, and concludes via discussing the position of Zezuru mediums within the context of the war of words among black and white nationalisms. The spirit-mediums, hostile structurally to the white venture church buildings, are visible as automobiles of black cultural nationalism within the zone.

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Associated with the moral difference between the shave spirits and the ancestors and heroes is a fundamental structural difference, for whereas the latter are seen as being internal to Zezuru society, the former are believed to originate from outside it. They are 'outsiders' (yatorwa) and are the spiritual equivalent of 21 Spirits of protest the social and natural environment. Not only are baboon shaves found, but also Englishman shaves and Boer shaves who are the spiritual residue of non Zezuru who lived and died in Rhodesia.

Even if the ideal is a clockwork society based on the mutual rights and duties defined by a patrilineal kinship structure, the reality is very different and demonstrates a marked diversity of personality and social behaviour which can be condoned by appeal to the notion of shave spirits or condemned by the concept of sorcery. From the observer's point of view a rather different but nevertheless complementary picture emerges. Starting from the assumption that heroes, ancestors, shave spirits and sorcery have the status of theoretical concepts and not of proven 28 Magico-religious beliefs Table 1 Heroes and ancestors Shave spirits Medicine (muti) Associated with groups Associated with individuals and categories Associated with individuals Morality (collective ideals) Amorality (inevitable individual idiosyncrasy) Immorality (selfish striving) Inside Outside ?

Spirit presentations are addressed as Vasekuru (honoured grandfather), while men are addressed by the spirits as vazukuru (grandchild). Established mediums usually fall into trance quite easily, but the first trance of a new medium has to be achieved by the conscious effort of all those present, who are expected to dance fervently in return for the beer that they are given. The mbira players for their part, work their thumbs to the bone to bring about trance as they are judged on their ability to do so.

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