Doing Ngoma

John M. Janzen

in Ngoma

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 1992 | ISBN: 9780520072657
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520910850 | DOI:
Doing Ngoma

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This chapter moves beyond the behavioral and symbolic features of therapeutic initiation to the conscious, verbal dimension found in the ngoma sessions. A single session is described and analyzed in depth. It provides the basis for a wider comparison with other examples. The centrality of song to ngoma becomes apparent here. Ngoma brings together the disparate elements of an individual's life threads and weaves them into a meaningful fabric. A sequence of self-presentations (ukunqula) and song-dances (ngoma) is reported. Ritual acts out relationships and meanings so as to heighten emotion and to articulate contradictory sentiments. The character and role of music in ngoma therapeutic ritualization are also dealt. A close look at “doing ngoma” reveals that it is the format and the setting in which highly individualistic perceptions are brought into the mirror of social reflection and subjected to reinforcement, repetition, and reaffirmation.

Keywords: doing ngoma; therapeutic initiation; song; self-presentations; ritual; therapeutic ritualization

Chapter.  8259 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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