Spirits of Protest
In this study, Peter Fry describes and analyses spirit-mediumship amongst a community of Zezuru people living near Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). He examines the belief system which underpins spirit-mediumship and the basis of the mediums' authority. He pays special attention to the way in which religious beliefs are used politically in specific social situations ranging from village disputes to issues of national importance. Instead of portraying the spirits and their mediums as a fixed and stable hierarchy, Peter Fry stresses the dynamics of a religious system which changes over time in relation to changing external factors and to the ability of individual competing mediums to build up followings by responding to and moulding consensus. The book makes comparisons between the religious systems of the Zezuru and the Valley Korekore, both subgroups of Shona-speaking peoples, and concludes by discussing the role of Zezuru mediums in the context of the confrontation between black and white nationalisms. The spirit-mediums, opposed structurally to the white mission churches, are seen as vehicles of black cultural nationalism in the area.
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