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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Cosmologies in Turmoil: Witchfinding and AIDS in Chiawa, Zambia
Author:Yamba, C. Bawa
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Zambia
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Religion and Witchcraft
Health and Nutrition
Health, Nutrition, and Medicine
Cultural Roles
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1161442
Abstract:The Goba of Chiawa, Zambia, find themselves drawn towards the orbits of three competing and contradictory forms of discourse - the biomedical, the missionary and the traditional, all of which claim to tell them how to lead safe lives, free from AIDS. This article argues that the conjunction of these discourses results in a confusion that has led to the ascendancy of the traditional African discourse, characterized by a resurgence of witchcraft accusations and witchfinding activities. This discourse offers an explanation for increasing death rates - presumably from AIDS - and for other contingent disasters which are believed to be caused by witches. These points are brought home in a case study of the activities of a witchfinder who was invited in 1994 by the village elders of Chiawa to help them 'defuse' local witches. The witchfinder not only managed to usurp legitimate authority but succeeded in killing sixteen local people through poison ordeals before national media coverage led to his arrest by the authorities. The article highlights the importance of envy-based notions of disease causality and how these notions relate to efforts at behavioural change in AIDS prevention work and to mechanisms that can lead to the breakdown of legitimate authority in rural Africa today. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.