chapter  4
53 Pages

From religion to magic

Both fetishism and the nganga's practices have historically been subjected to a massive mud-slinging campaign on the part of the Whites. As concerns the nganga it has been stressed that he was medically incompetent, that his m;nkis; were hocus-pocus, that he was the leading figure in the witchcraft hysteria, and that he generally played a reactionary role in the development of sociery. Fetishism has been seen as idolatry in its most evil form. To keep, as sacred, wooden figures and small bags of "medicines· instead of worshipping God, the Father in heaven, appeared as outrageously heathenish. MacGaffey says in an article on fetishism that the actual word had such negative connotations for us that we willingly avoided it. 1t implied that African peoples were too immature to perceive the world correcdy; intellectual error led them to the moral error, in Christian opinion of Idolatry· (MacGaffey 1978:172). But the Congolese themselves use the word today without any negative connotations, except, perhaps, in a Christian context.