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|Leiden University catalogue
|Making Children, Making Chiefs: Gender, Power and Ritual Legitimacy
|Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
|This article explores indigenous notions of power and chiefly legitimacy among the Ihanzu of northcentral Tanzania, where the author carried out field research over a twenty-one month period between 1993 and 1995. It pays special attention to local ideas and ideals of gender - that is, the cultural categories 'male' and 'female', as well as the relationship between them - in an effort to show the complex ways in which gender categories, when combined, are capable of effecting transformations of different sorts. It shows that this gendered model of transformation gives meaning to Ihanzu notions of the human life cycle as well as certain royal rainmaking rites. Just as men and women conjoin and bear offspring, male and female chiefs reputedly engage in royal incest to give birth metaphorically to the people of Ihanzu and bring the rain. On this basis the two gendered rulers exercise power and 'naturalize' their rule. The conclusion is that, whether for chiefs or commoners, power comes in gendered pairs among the Ihanzu. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.