n De Arte - Dungamanzi/stirring waters : Tsonga and Shangaan art from southern Africa, Nessa Leibhammer (Ed.) : book reviews

Volume 2008, Issue 78
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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A woman known as Nkoma We Lwandle (Cow of the Ocean) and a man, Dunga Manzi (Stirring Waters), are remembered as the first Tsonga diviners. Trained by Nzunzu - a powerful water serpent - they were pulled into a lake for a few months and later emerged as influential healers. Such stories (like the one relayed by Dederen of a young girl, Nsatimuni, who also temporarily disappeared into a lake) represent 'death' and 'rebirth', reflecting Arnold van Gennep's (1909) well-known schema of rites de passage: séparation, marge, and agrégation. Separated from daily life, these characters sink into another world where people breathe in water like a foetus in the liquid depths of a womb, evoking impending new birth (p. 171).

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