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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:How traditional Dahomian society interpreted smallpox
Author:Quinn, F.ISNI
Periodical:Abbia: revue culturelle camerounaise
Geographic term:Benin
Abstract:Neither the origin nor the date of smallpox's first appearance in Dahomey are clear, although Herskovits records a comment that it came from the North in the middle of the 18th century. The chief concern of this paper is discussing the Dahomian reaction to the disease. Focal point in discussing the Dahomian interpretation of smallpox and related diseases is the original province of the Adahoonzou kings extended southward to the coast. Smallpox was a problem affecting much more than bodily illness. It was not a health question per se. Metaphysical reasons were given to explain its appearance. The kings extended their influence to control both village and cult leadership. In collaboration with the latter, the palace showed ingenuity in blending public fear of epidemics with ways of increasing royal revenues. Sorcerers could inflict smallpox on an individual while other magicians could prevent it attacking a person. Bibliography, footnotes.