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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Regional Spirit Shrines and Ethnic Relations in Guinea-Bissau
Author:Crowley, Eve L.ISNI
Periodical:Africana Journal
Geographic term:Guinea-Bissau
Subjects:African religions
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Ethnic and Race Relations
Religion and Witchcraft
Politics and Government
Abstract:Sixty percent of the population of Guinea-Bissau are non-Islamic, non-Christian 'spiritists' or spirit worshippers, often referred to as 'animists' or 'pagans'. Based on data collected at one particularly popular regional spirit shrine, Mama Djombo of Cobiana, with references to other shrines in the Cacheu region, Biombo, and Bissau where research was conducted in 1986-1987, the author describes spiritism and its range of influence, and attempts to account for the multiethnic regional appeal of spirit shrines. For the scattered, expatriate coastal peoples of Guinea who recognize the impact of spiritism and its system of causality on their daily lives, Mama Djombo serves as a common ritual domain which binds them to their homelands. The religion's diffuse, nonhierarchical structure, which lends itself to easy replication in other areas particularly by way of satellite shrines, facilitates broad access to the spirits' powers. General familiarity with the notion of exchange involved in spirit consultations also encourages wide participation by defining adherents to spiritism by contract rather than doctrine. These contracts involve clients in an inclusive system of thought, oriented towards explaining and resolving misfortunes and supported by spiritist, Islamic and Christian diviners alike. Spiritism has also gained a certain popularity through its role in historical events, particularly the liberation struggle. Notes, ref.