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African Traditional Religion in Malawi

The Case of the Bimbi Cult

by James N. Amanze

The first full-length study of one of the territorial rain cults; and an endeavour to preserve knowledge about a rapidly changing complex system of traditional beliefs, rituals, and practices, under the influence of Christianity, Islam, and western education. Within this cult, a person who is possessed by the spirit of the ancestors is commonly known as 'Bimbi': the seer, a charismatic and moral leader, to whom the community ascribes a prophetic role. As a religious system, the Bimbi cult has an intricate system of agricultural rituals such as rainmaking ceremonies, a distinctive unwritten theology, elaborate liturgical observances and an organised, inherited priesthood. Studying the Bimbi cult from a multi- disciplinary perspective, the author illustrates how traditional beliefs and practices still have a grip on people in the countryside who live in an agricultural subsistence economy, at the mercy of ecological forces. He contends that these forces will continue to shape their understanding of God, themselves and the world around them for many years to come, unless these people change from an agricultural to an industrial society.

ISBN 9789990876536 | 232 pages | 216 x 140 mm | 2002 | Kachere Series, Malawi | Paperback




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