A Historical Anthropology of Kingship in East and Central Africa
As soon as Europeans set foot on African soil, they looked for the equivalents of their kings – and found them. The resulting misunderstandings last until this day. Based on ethnography-driven regional comparison and a critical re-examination of classic monographs on some forty cultural groups, this volume makes the arresting claim that across equatorial Africa the model of rule has been medicine – and not the colonizer’s despotic administrator, the missionary’s divine king, or Vansina’s big man. In a wide area populated by speakers of Bantu and other languages of the Niger-Congo cluster, both cult and dynastic clan draw on the fertility shrine, rainmaking charm and drum they inherit.