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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Inchama Council and Witchcraft among the Abakuria of Western Kenya
Author:Oda, Makoto
Periodical:Senri Ethnological Studies
Geographic term:Kenya
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Abstract:Among the Abakuria (Kuria), a Bantu-speaking people who inhabit the area on the east of Nyanza Lake (Lake Victoria), along the border between Tanzania and Kenya, each clan ('iritongo') has its 'inchama', the secret council of elders. This paper clarifies the relationship between the 'legitimacy' of the authority of the 'inchama' as a sovereign body and the 'illegitimacy' of its power as a group of witches within the Abakuria community during a period of social change. The functions of the 'inchama' include practising defensive and offensive witchcraft against external enemies, the investigation and punishment of domestic enemies, acting as a priest in clan rituals, and serving as an expert on oath/curse. The 'legitimacy' of the 'inchama' originated from the 'omogambi' (traditional clan chief, who also used to be the leader both of the 'inchama' and of the dreamer-prophets), who was the supreme dreamer-prophet. Only the dreamer-prophets had the ability to communicate with spirits. This 'outsiderness' legitimated the authority of the 'omogambi'. After the disappearance of the 'omogambi', the authority of the 'inchama' was legitimated by its being representative of the whole clan and by its 'outsiderness'. The 'inchama' has become the only body that is beyond everyday life. Its witchcraft further supports its 'outsiderness'. Bibliogr., notes, ref.