Adam Ashforth, an Australian who has spent many years in Soweto, finds his longtime friend Madumo in dire circumstances: his family has accused him of using witchcraft to kill his mother and has thrown him out on the street. Convinced that his life is cursed, Madumo seeks help among Soweto's bewildering array of healers and prophets. An inyanga, or traditional healer, confirms that he has indeed been bewitched. Ashforth, skeptical yet supportive, remains by Madumo's side as he embarks upon a physically grueling treatment regimen that he follows religiously - almost to the point of death. Asforth's beautifully written account of Madumo's struggle shows that the problem of witchcraft is not simply superstition but a complex response to spiritual insecurity in a troubling time of political and economic upheaval. Through Madumo's story, Ashforth opens up a world that few have seen, a deeply unsettling place where the question, "Do you believe in witchcraft?" is not a simple one at all. The insights that emerge as Ashforth accompanies his friend on an odyssey through Soweto's supernatural perils have profound implications even for those of us who live in worlds without witches.
Buy Madumo, a Man Bewitched book by Adam Ashforth from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(214mm x 166mm x 15mm)
University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
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Author Biography - Adam Ashforth
Adam Ashforth is visiting associate professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study.