'We have finished them': Ritual killing and war-doctoring in Kwazulu-Natal during the 1980s and 1990s

'We have finished them': Ritual killing and war-doctoring in Kwazulu-Natal during the 1980s and 1990s

Author: 
Mchunu, Mxolisi R.
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2015
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
African Historical Review
Source: 
African Historical Review, Vol. 47, Issue 2, November 2015, pp. 58-84
Abstract: 

Muthi, intelezi and associated rituals have played an important role in the lives of Africans for many centuries. For almost everything they do, muthi and rituals are applied, more so during times of war. Controversy around the use of intelezi, muthi, ritual killing and the role of izinyanga in, prior to and during the colonial period, is well documented. This paper, first, challenges the Comaroffian analysis of the subject which purports to contextualise the ?deployment, real or imagined, of magical means for material ends?. They add that the discourse is entirely about ?modernity? and ?neoliberalism?. Here I fundamentally disagree with this explanation; I indicate that it is a cultural continuity. The paper contends that ritual killing and muthi use continues into the present and was prevalent during the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal during the 1980s and 1990s. Secondly, the paper will discuss the centrality of the use of muthi during the violence. I reason that izinyanga played a clandestine but powerful role in this violence. In this, they were at the core of the violence and of the rise of warlords to power in the region. In this paper, I will also present reasons (or offer recommendations) why historians should pay attention to these practices in the recent past, as well as in colonial times. For one thing, they are a means of understanding the present. However, in many ways, because of its reliance on oral histories and insider content, this paper is neither history nor ethnography, but could be described as historical ethnography.

Language: 
Country focus: 

CITATION: Mchunu, Mxolisi R.. 'We have finished them': Ritual killing and war-doctoring in Kwazulu-Natal during the 1980s and 1990s . : Taylor & Francis Group , 2015. African Historical Review, Vol. 47, Issue 2, November 2015, pp. 58-84 - Available at: http://library.au.int/we-have-finished-them-ritual-killing-and-war-doctoring-kwazulu-natal-during-1980s-and-1990s-0