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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ancestors from the East, spirits from the West: surviving and reconfiguring the exogenous violence of global encounters in the Sahel
Author:Tidjani Alou, AntoinetteISNI
Periodical:Journal des africanistes (ISSN 1957-7850)
Geographic terms:Niger
spirit possession
culture contact
Abstract:The Sahel possesses an outstanding history as an arena of social, political, economic, cultural and interethnic interrelations and conflicts. This is visible notably in foundation narratives that exist all over the region, staking claims to an ancestor from the Islamic East. This widespread phenomenon intersects interestingly with a cult of spirit possession like hawka, originating in the oral culture of Arewa in East-Central Niger, renowned for its steadfast attachment to African ancestral religion and arising from the embodied spiritual reaction and resistance to European colonization. Hawka highlights cultural responses to a violent encounter with the West. This paper examines aspects of these two interconnected intercultural themes and motifs arising from historical encounters with East and West. It argues that the presence in the Nigerian Sahel of 'ancestors from the East' and of 'spirits from the West', distant in time but not in significance, responds to the domination of Sahelian societies by Arabs and Europeans, eliciting in the affected African populations diverse cultural and religious strategies of negation and negotiation of the tensions and compromises involved in identity formation. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]