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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Kuria Seers
Author:Ruel, Malcolm J.
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic terms:Kenya
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1160029
Abstract:In precolonial times 'seers' ('abarooti') played an important role in the political and especially in the military organization of Kuria, harassed as they were by neighbouring Maasai and other Kuria in Kenya and Tanzania. Seers foretold and in effect planned cattle raids undertaken by warriors, but they also acted more generally to warn of impending events and thus to influence the course of political action. They were distinguished by their more public role from diviners but theirs was not a formal office and it drew upon personal qualities, individual success and local renown. Their predictive ability was identified as 'dreaming' ('okoroota') but the term is used freely in a metaphorical as well as literal sense. Seers varied considerably in their status and field of influence. The introduced term 'omonaabi' (prophet) was in use by the 1950s, when the author carried out field research among the Kuria, to describe the more outstanding seers of the past, and they were credited with foretelling many of the circumstances that Kuria were later to experience. But by then it was only their prophecies and not they themselves, or their role, that had survived. A short postscript comments on the circumstances and use of these terms in 1990. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. also in French.