Magical practices

Saturday 29 November 2008 by Florence

Magic is practised throughout Africa to influence the powers of the supernatural through the mediation of statues or fetishes. But whereas the witchdoctor is seen as someone who undertakes on his own account a personal communication with the evil powers and because of that he is feared and rejected, the diviner or fetishist operates in principle for the good of all. His help is sough in times of need, for he is seen as the mediator between members of the tribe and all the powers of darkness. For this reason he also acts as healer.

In the south-east of Ivory Coast, the Attye ethnic group has been influenced by its neighbours, like them part of the Akan group. Despite of their qualities, their statues are less known than those of the Baule, whose are more abundant, the use of the ritual statues had been lost on the early twentieth century. They are supposed to transmit messages from the other world. They were principally used by the healer.

In the regions round the mouth of the river Congo, the fetishes have been worshipped by all the population. The Solongo have statuettes called nkondi filled it by the fetishist with magic substances inserted in its belay. The fetishist also completes the rituals which give it supernatural powers. They have to please the different spirits who rule the world. When someone wants to “activate” the supernatural powers, the fetishist inserts a nail, way of ratify the vow of commitment until the contract was completely fulfilled.


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