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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:From Equal to Better: Investing the Chief among the Northern Yaka of Zaire
Author:Devisch, Rene
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
Subjects:Yaka (Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo)
traditional rulers
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External links:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1159801
Abstract:Among the Northern Yaka of Za´re the office and function of the chief is thought of as prior to and as the source of all things: the chief represents and surpasses his subordinates by his twofold function. First, he is a sovereign ruler who alone personifies unity, perpetuity and high authority. Second, he acts as the supreme mediator, linking the people, the territory, the land and the cosmic order with 'ngoongu', the 'primal womb' or source of life. This article explains how in 'ngoongu' Yaka political agnation paradoxically founds its primacy and ultimate independence. It shows that it is precisely the personification of the political order and mediating capacities which turns a 'mere human' into a 'sacred chief'. To elucidate this tranformational personification the ritual of enthronement is studied. This is concerned with raising the officeholder gradually to an authority and power beyond that of ordinary individuals by linking that authority and power with uterine empowering from 'ngoongu'. The author argues that this integration of political and reproductive powers is congruent with Yaka gender definitions and to some extent with the double descent structure. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French.