Murray Colin and Sanders Peter

in Medicine Murder in Colonial Lesotho

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780748622849
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652952 | DOI:

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This chapter identifies and rejects varieties of conspiracy theory. It summarises views on the incidence of medicine murder and argues that a significant increase in the 1940s is most plausibly attributed to a form of competitive contagion, deriving mainly from the battle of the medicine horns between 'Mant šebo and Bereng, in a context of political insecurity, deriving mainly from the Khubelu and Treasury reforms. It seeks to explain the moral crisis through the involvement of the highest chiefs in the land and the vigour of the British colonial response. It questions a connection often loosely asserted between witchcraft and medicine murder. It identifies a pervasive ambivalence on the part of the Basotho and of the British and emphasises, despite widespread belief in the power of human medicine, the historical contingency of that belief.

Keywords: medicine murder; conspiracy theory; competitive contagion; medicine horns; witchcraft; Besotho; human medicine

Chapter.  7226 words. 

Subjects: African Studies

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