Holy Hustling

Richard Werbner

in Holy Hustlers, Schism, and Prophecy

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268531
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520949461 | DOI:
Holy Hustling

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As with holy hustling, the charismatic practice is distinctively youthful, masculine, and urban. The charismatics themselves are twelve young men. Mainly in their early to mid-twenties and nearly all unemployed, they have the clairvoyance of the streetwise, of seeing clearly into a world of tricksters. Urban slang in some parts of Africa have taken over a traditional term for a seer or diviner, one who “sees clearly” into the invisible world, and associates that with street smarts. The urban slang introduces—or perhaps sharpens from past ambivalence toward the seer—what is a double edge in its sense of duplicity: the clairvoyant is able to see through the scams of tricksters but able also to con others, who don't see clearly, or at all. What “holy hustlers” signals is not a pejorative judgment, or even an obvious contradiction, but a problematic, perhaps a synergy between contraries.

Keywords: charismatics; clairvoyance; urban slang; Africa; seer; duplicity; holy hustlers

Chapter.  8917 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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