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The Dancing DeadRitual and Religion among the Kapsiki/Higi of North Cameroon and Northeastern Nigeria$
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Walter E. A. van Beek

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199858149

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858149.001.0001

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The Other Side of the World

The Other Side of the World

(p.100) 6 The Other Side of the World
The Dancing Dead

Walter E. A. van Beek

Oxford University Press

After setting out the basic rituals, the text moves into the realm of religious conceptions. Using the notion of “the other world” is more consonant with Kapsiki thinking than “the supernatural,” and the main focus is on the concept of shala, the personal god of the Kapsiki. This appears to be a flexible, fluid notion of one’s “personal other,” shifting easily from a familiar spirit to almost a high god. Its main characteristic is that it is fully relational, depending on the composition of the groups involved in their discourse on “the other world.” Other beings populate the invisible world as well, such as spirits—which may blend in with shala—and special snakes, but more important are personages such as Rain, Death, and some particular diseases. Correspondingly, people differ in their “unseen” sides also, like clairvoyants (or spirit walkers) and witches. The chapter closes with the religious history of the village, the founding myths.

Keywords:   other world, conceptions, Shala, death, witch, myth

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