Item description for Tonga Religious Life in the Twentieth Century by Elizabeth Colson...
The religious life of the Tonga-speaking peoples of southern Zambia is examined over the last century, in the sense of how they have thought about the nature of their world, the meaning of their own lives, and the sources of good and evil in which their cosmology and society have been transformed. The twelve chapters cover Time, Space and Language; Basic Themes, Tonga Religious Vocabulary and its Referents; the Vocabulary of Shrines and Substance; Homestead and Bush; Ritual Communities and Actors; Rituals of the Life Course; Death and its Rituals; Evil and Witchcraft; and Christianity and Tonga Experience. The author has drawn on dairies by research assistants, and field notes and research of fellow anthropologists, but above all from her own interaction with Tonga people since 1946. The older people gave first hand memories of Ndebele and Lozi raids, David Linvingstone encamped near their villages in 1856 and 1862, the arrival of colonial administrators, traders, missionaries and European and Indian settlers, and in some cases, the end of colonial rule. Their experience and that of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren provides the basis for understanding Tonga religious experience. Elizabeth Colson is an American anthropologist who is widely published on the Tonga. Her research interests have particularly concentrated on the Gwembe Valley.
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Studio: Bookworld Publ.
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Dec 29, 2006
Publisher Bookworld Publ.
ISBN 9982240455 ISBN13 9789982240451
Reviews - What do customers think about Tonga Religious Life in the Twentieth Century?
Marvelous Jul 18, 2008
As the American in Max Gluckman's Rhodes-Livingstone Institute, Colson began her longitudinal study of the the Tonga in 1946. The title is a literal description of her book's content. She wrote the first draft in 1981-82, then circulated it among scholars at the University of Zambia and beyond, and incorporated their comments and selections from her assistants' diaries into the present text. Her ten chapters -- covering religious vocabulary, shrines, homestead and bush, ritual communities, life cycle rituals, death, witchcraft, and the Tonga experience with Christianity -- capture both the old world of an omniscient creator (Leza), and territorial and ancestor spirits, and the current malaise, with its contracting opportunities, rising morbidity and mortality rates, and a dozen competing Christian denominations.
Religion here tend to be a pragmatic and inventive blend of selected practices. Thus the recent proliferation of Christian denominations since 1980 is associated with a declining atttention to territorial and ancestral spirits, now termed "demons" or "evil spirits," but also with a proliferation of charm sellers and witchfinders. One might argue that Christianity has become the traditional religion of the Tonga, but "it would be difficult to decide whether local religion has absorbed Christianity or been absorbed or replaced by it" (12).
This masterfuly, detailed, yet lucid summary of twentieth century religious life will be embraced by anyone interested in African religious life.