By J. W. Fernandez
Bwiti possibly describedas a syncretistreligionderivedfroma varietyof autochthonous and Christiantraditions.One of its areasof occurrenceis the northernand northwestern a part of Gabon, the place it really is particularlyassociatedwith the Fang, even though it is or was once neveradheredto through morethan8 or 10 in keeping with cent of the Fangpopulation(p. 356). Its individuals declare that their imaginativeelaborationsof liturgy and trust come to them in dream communicationswith the ancestorsor less than the effect of eboga,a drug to which they're deeply attached(p. 4). As a matterof truth, Bwiti is without doubt one of the few Africanreligious activities to argue its efficiency from the consistent use of a psychoreactivedrug particularly than,say,possessionbysupernaturableingsortheimpersonationofsuchbeingsbymeans of masks.It is on the sametime additionally a hugely polymorphousreligion,exhibitingsubstantial variationsin doctrine,worshipandsymbolismfromonebranchto another,depending between different issues at the measure to which affinity with Christianityis emphasisedor de-emphasised.Fernandez'sstudy limits itself to the department often called AsumejeEning ('Commencementof Life') which, even though acknowledged to lean extra towardsthe autochthonous religiouspole, has neverthelessadoptedcertainbiblicalfigures,includingEyenZame(Jesus Christ) and NyingwanMebege(the Virgin Mary), as 'Great Gods'.
In addition to a couple of neighborhood ethnographersBwiti has during the last thirty to 40 yearsalso attracteda small crowd of internationalsocial scientists, which via now makes it some of the most greatly and profoundly defined African religions. except Fernandezone may well point out the names of Viciana Vilaldach(for equatorialGuinea),
GeorgesBalandier,Rene Bureau(not mentionedby Fernandez),StanislawSwiderskiand, extra lately, Andre Mary (La naissancea l'envers:Paris: l'Harmattan, 1983). considering the fact that Fernandez'sfield researchended in 1960, his examine will be consideredas relating the conditionsprevailingin or as much as the overdue 1950s.For informationon laterdevelopments one has thereforeto flip to authorssuch as Mary.
Before the publicationof this magisterialstudy Fernandezhad already,over a interval oftwodecades,exploreditsmainthemesinanimpressivenumberofarticles,which,taken jointly, provide us a good suggestion of ways his pondering on Bwiti has constructed. As anthropologistsare turning into a growing number of awareof the necessity to examine the influences,
pressuresand processesunderlyingtheir personal production,and as Fernandezhas through now turn into a number one determine in Africanist anthropology,it might be valuable at some point to reconstruct his highbrow trip, very like J. L. Lowes (Fernandez's version) reconstructedthe genesisof Coleridge's'KublaKhan'.One area,amongseveral,in which this type of learn may be fruitfully undertaken is Fernandez's presentation of Bwiti christologicalthinkingat differentstagesof his career,a subjectwe will returnto later during this assessment.
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Additional info for Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa
1' ~dPll!! A Mha . Mu1w1 • Ada ~ • Ekomo • Gcm1ainc Ngucma Marie I. 'l EQl'ATORIAL MICROCOS\1 married in as wtves. and 35 youth. which is to say newly n1arricd mcn. unmarried boys and girls. and children. The family has two council hous~s. which is belo\v the Fang average of three council houses per nn·ogabor. Moreover. the fan1ily directs most of its action to the council house of Ngema. Vtintze. and Asseko ~1ve. Besides these council houses. the fan1ily possesses 40 dwellings of which 27 are the traditional bark, raffia.
Most of the action in the mvogabot of Mba M 'Oye takes place in the ndebor (house of people) of Ngema Mve and his brothers of the same father. Every Fang mvogabot is made up of a number of ndebot associated with a nyan1oro. An ndebot is thus the household of an old or middle-aged man frequently living with his uterine brothers but always with his wives and his sons and their wives and children. There are seven ndebot in the family of Mba M 'Oye. In these ndebot with their strong primary family ties lie the seeds of the fission of the mvogabot.
The Parrofs Egg. God the Mediator") 22 AN EQUATORIAL 1\·IICROCOS\1 The protagonist of Part Ill and the Ieader. nin1a na kombo. of the mtHher chapel of Asun1ege Ening. He is the direct successor to the founder. Ndong Obam Eya. " In his visions he has seen and been able to create significant new rituals. dances. and songs in Bwiti. When not involved in leading the rituals or dran1atically pronouncing the •·evangiles, · · he is scarcely to be seen in the village. He is off hunting in the forest. Michel Bie Ngounya ("'The Knowledgeable One") The Yemba ...