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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The AIDS Pandemic, the Prophet Billy Chisupe, and the Democratization Process in Malawi
Author:Schoffeleers, MatthewISNI
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa (ISSN 0022-4200)
Geographic term:Malawi
Subjects:African religions
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Politics and Government
Health and Nutrition
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1581770
Abstract:Christians and Muslims cooperated in brotherly fashion in the Public Affairs Committee which helped prepare the transition to multiparty government in Malawi in June 1994. In the early months of 1995, African traditional religion made its own contribution in the form of the massive 'Mchape' pilgrimage, which is the subject of the present paper. In Malawi, studies of the recent democratization wave have so far tended to limit themselves to the role of the churches and, to a lesser extent, Islamic communities. Next to nothing is known of the role played by African traditional religion. This article presents the case of Billy Chisupe, an elderly subsistence farmer living in the Machinga district of southern Malawi, who in August 1994 had a dream in which ancestral spirits showed him a tree whose bark they said contained the definitive AIDS cure. Subsequently, literally tens of thousands made their way to Chisupe's hamlet to take the medicine in the form of a potion called 'Mchape' ('Cleanser'). The question is posed what connection, if any, this has with the ongoing democratization process. Bibliogr., notes, ref.