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Vimbuza The Healing Dance of Northern Malawi

Boston Soko

Publication Year: 2014

The purpose of this book is to show that the possession cult of Vimbuza presents itself as an oral genre which is part and parcel of African Oral Literature. The ethnolinguistic study which we undertake will permit us to catch a glimpse of its whole complexity. The analysis has a bearing on four principal aspects. Historical developments: a certain number of facts concerning the birth of possession among the Tumbuka; possession: the study attempts to show how the cult articulates itself with its beliefs and the use of divination; the social role: analysis of social functions; the style: an analysis of the linguistic procedures which are characteristic of Vimbuza songs. The presence of rhetorical figures would confirm that we are talking about an oral literary genre.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 4

UNESCO must be commended for recognizing the Vimbuza healing dance of the Tumbuka of Northern Malawi. We would like to thank, in particular, UNESCO Malawi for recommending this to their headquarters in Paris. This decision has ultimately led to the promotion and safeguarding of the dance as part of the world's cultural heritage. ...


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pp. 5

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pp. 6-7

Our readings on and actual experience of Vimbuza possession dances phenomenon was widespread, we thought that an in depth study could produce some interesting scientific results. In fact, there is enough material in Vimbuza for sociological, historical, medical and ethnological investigations. ...

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1. Historical Background

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pp. 8-22

The history of the Vimbuza healing dance goes back in time to the beginning of Scottish missionary work and the colonial era. It came into the limelight especially when the Nyasaland colonial government banned it in the 1920s following articles presented almost exclusively by missionaries and their local converts of Livingstonia Free Church of Scotland in Northern Malawi. ...

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2. Vimbuza as a Possession Cult

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pp. 23-74

This chapter deals with the stages through which a Vimbuza dancer passes. The information is essentially that which obtained in the 1970s and 1980s. Latest additions have been included although they do not change much the general outlook. ...

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3. Vimbuza as a Social Fact

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pp. 75-115

The preceding chapter presented two social functions. It concerned, in the first place, the therapeutic of the Vimbuza dance. Secondly, we described the role played by diviner/healers in the struggle against sorcery. Apart from these two functions, it is important to include several others. ...

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4. Style in Vimbuza Songs

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pp. 116-169

The analysis of Vimbuza songs appears, in this sense, incomplete from the moment when one does not force oneself to apprehend the manner in which the different texts are structured. As our study has a bearing on a relatively restricted sample (130 songs), we cannot attempt an exhaustive presentation of the totality of stylistic procedures which one can uncover through all the Vimbuza songs. ...

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5. Vimbuza Songs

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pp. 170-249

In this chapter we present the songs in their original version. It is proper to point out the preponderance of Vimbuza songs. These are all sung in Tumbuka, while those of Virombo and Vyanusi posed a problem of translation.,1 ...


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pp. 250-261

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789990802504
Print-ISBN-13: 9789990802474

Page Count: 262
Publication Year: 2014