Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spirituality, occult knowledge, and secret societies-­strong forces in West Africa

01.03.2006


In West Africa, matters involving development and security are affected to a considerable extent by domestic, traditional knowledge of the occult. This knowledge is safeguarded by so-called secret societies, which play a major role in society.



This anthropological study from Göteborg University in Sweden, deals with two such societies among the Sénoufo people of northern Ivory Coast and southern Mali.

One of the societies, Poro, initiates local adolescents in this knowledge in extended collective rituals; the other, ‘the society of hunters,’ is rather more comparable to a guild in which various ‘masters’ individually convey their knowledge to apprentices and journeymen.


The trained hunters, who possess a deep knowledge of nature, are specialists on natural medicines and have traditionally functioned as curers of sickness.

Researchers who observed long ago that these societies were involved in conveying esoteric knowledge, which in principle was inaccessible to the uninitiated, spoke of them as ‘bush schools’ or ‘secret societies.’ The societies have always been influenced by religious and secular impulses from the surrounding community and have thereby continued to play a major role in traditional contexts and in the encounter with contemporary, modern social problems.

In West Africa today highly educated government ministers and academics as well as local farmers can become members of these societies.

In Mali the ministry of culture has arranged major international conferences in recent years on hunters’ societies, with thousands of hunters and many researchers participating. Poro continues in many places to play an important role in local politics and in issues involving rural development and agriculture, whereas the hunters in Ivory Coast, since the 1990s, have come to play a considerable, and controversial, role in combating the exponential growth in crime.

Clad in their traditional costumes and armed with bows and arrows and muzzle-loaders, these hunters have deployed as security guards and bodyguards to protect lives and property, both for individuals and on assignment from entire villages and neighborhoods.

The dissertation shows that the general public, and gangs in particular, both admire and fear the hunters. This respect and fear is not so much a result of the effectiveness of their weapons but rather the fact that they are ascribed occult and spiritual knowledge that no one else can control.

Through their pursuit of criminals, instead of prey, these hunters have also come to challenge the monopoly of the state regarding the use of violence and have become more and more involved in conflicts between various factions of the political class in Ivory Coast, and the government has limited their activities to the northern part of the country. As a result, in the wake of the attempted coup in September 2002 and the subsequent civil war, some of the Ivorian hunters came to convert their struggle against gangs to a struggle against the army of the government.

Today, in various ways and in different roles, hunters and their knowledge are center stage in public affairs of both Ivory Coast and Mali.

Eva Lundgren | alfa
Further information:
http://www.gu.se

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>