Modernity and Its Malcontents


pp. 34-57 -- 2. Deborah Kaspin : "Chewa Visions : the Nyau Dance in Central Malawi".

p. 42 burial rite

"commemorative rites (mpalo) are held to celebrate the arrival of the deceased in the spirit realm ... with the substance of the feast represented by two "beasts of the night." These are the hare and the antelope, called, respectively, "the owner of the courtyard" (mwini wa kubwalo) and "the end of the funeral" (kasiyamaliro)".

"the dead eventually return to the village, not only as guests at subsequent funerals but as souls who animate the bodies of new babies."

p. 43 initiation

"male initiation" : "At the entrance to the graveyard, they pass blindfolded through the cavernous body of the antelope, symbolizing their death as children and their rebirth as adults. ... Finally they use the feathers from the fowls to make their first Nyau masks, those of Chisudzo, a spirit of the dead."

"Female initiation" : "This takes place at the "tree of maidenhood" (mtengo wa namwali)".


pp. 58-88 – 3. J. Lorand Matory : " "Mounting" in the Oyo-Yoruba Religion".

p. 73 heads

"Mythically, people’s heads are said to have been made in heaven by the divine potter A`ja`la’."

p. 73 mortars

"the word for "mortar," odo’, can also mean "You fuck." ... Shango’s ... "brides" ... sit on the mortar in order to be "mounted" for the first time."


pp. 129-166 – 6. Misty L. Bastian : "Bloodhounds Who Have No Friends". [Igbo]

p. 146 nude female witch

"The female witch will reveal herself physically by beginning to strip in the midst of the busy market place. The sign of bodily nakedness almost always precedes actual, public confession."


pp. 193-220—8. Pamela G. Schmoll : "Soul-Eating among Hausa in Niger".

p. 199 terms











pp. 199-201 soul-eating

p. 199

"A soul-eater can capture the soul by touching the victim’s shadow. One sign that a person has been "caught" by a soul-eater is that he had no shadow."

"in case of possession of an individual by the soul of a deceased person the attacking soul is referred to as a shadow."


"the soul is located in the interior of the head, between the mouth and the nose ... . ...

p. 200

It appears to soul-eaters as an insect".


"Maita, also called k>ank>ara maita, or simply k>ank>ara (lit. : "hail") {cf. the rune /hagel/}, is the source of the soul-eater’s power. Described ... as "pebbles" ..., it is portrayed as a living, reproducing substance having gender and a will of its own. The "stones" live deep in (and are confined to) the belly (ciki) {cf. stones in the crops of birds} of the soul-eater and enable him to see, capture, and eat the soul of living things.


"There are two types of soul-eaters : "savior" soul-eaters (mayu ceto) and "ant" soul-eaters (mayu tururuwa). The former are known to be ... benevolent, they use their powers to identify malevolent soul-eaters ... . ... however, the ant soul-eaters are ... evil, and ... they will go into the bush at night to an anthill and eat the souls of ants". {cf. the Kemetian praejudice against the aardvark (emmet-eater) god SWTH, characterizing him as evil}

p. 201

"Once taken, the soul is imprisoned, generally in a bottle or gourd, and hidden in the hollow of a tree".

"Sometimes such a soul-eater will bury the captured soul near a cooking fire so that every time the fire is lit, the soul will suffer from the heat. ... the victim may start to babble ... . The eye frequently roll to the back of the head and the person barely breathes."


Jean Comaroff & John Comaroff (eds.) : Modernity and Its Malcontents. U of Chicago Pr, 1993.