The Spirituality of Africa: The First Encounter

Anthropology of Consciousness 26 (2):121-131 (2015)

The article shows some moving occasions during the first fieldwork of Victor Turner and myself in Africa during the 1950s. For instance, the Ndembu people would always give great welcomes to their returning kin after long absences. The scenes are etched on my mind as a blueprint for all welcomes. On their friends return, the villagers would immediately gather and sing the simple song, “You're back, you're back!” Why did the people so much value each other? In this village I was learning about communitas. The scenes were etched on my mind as a blueprint for all sociality. They were like the Hallelujah Chorus, Beethoven's Song of Joy, the Marseillaise, “When the Saints Come Marching In”—many anthems of praise. They were unconditionally directed, the song of what we came to know as communitas. We were intensely interested and enjoyed the rituals just as they did; only they were unfamiliar to us. For the people, they were everything
Keywords Ndembu  Africa  fieldwork  spirituality  communitas
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DOI 10.1111/anoc.12035
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