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In the fertile highlands of the Usambara Mountains of northeastern
Tanzania (Fig. 1 and 2), traditional healers, called waghanga, are regarded as
the intellectuals of local society. They are the guardians and keepers of
knowlege, history and custom. As such, it is their role to ensure the
perpetuation of cultural, social and religious laws that govern the manner in
which people should live and behave as breaches of such laws can lead to
personal as well as communal misfortune. As so called "keepers of good custom",
it is also the role of waghanga to negotiate between and attempt to reconcile
differences and conflicts that can lead to imbalance and hardship--whether on
interpersonal, societal or transnational levels--as such differences can also
lead to sickness and affliction.
Despite the misconception that traditional healers and their practices are conservative, static and anti-progressive, an emic understanding of traditional healing practices, called ughanga, reveals them as pluralistic and supportive of change and contemporaneity. In this paper, I will describe how the institution of ughanga is a tradition of both continuity and change. Specifically, I will discuss how the visual decoration of people and things with both familiar and foreign imagery plays a vital role in effecting transformation for healing purposes and then I will examine how the particular adaptation to foreign and imported icons, ideas and influences in the decoration of medicine objects aids not only in the restoration of balance and well-being but also in the re-negotiation of identities within the human and spirit domains.
For many Shambaa peoples from these Tanzanian highlands, notions of health and sickness include not only physical states of being, but encompass also social, economic, cultural, and religious conditions. Whether one is afflicted with fever, marital discontent, agricultural hardship, financial loss, or any other misfortune, these conditions are regarded as states of illness brought on by natural pathogens, human negligence or malevolence, or spiritual forces. To treat such afflictions, healers, or waghanga, use a combination of herbal mixtures, spirit medicines, and spirit mediumship or possession to restore health and wellbeing. In this paper, I focus on the use of the latter two: spirit medicines and spirit possession/mediumship.
Throughout my conversations with Shambaa healers, the topic of "dressing" or "decorating" the spirits often was brought up. Healers seldom differentiated between decorating themselves, the spirits they embody, or their spirit-objects, as--conceptually speaking, they are, at times, one and the same. In processes of healing, "dressing" and "decorating" the spirits mean more than just embellishing something with aesthetic value using colors, symbols and images. In ughanga, dressing and decorating the spirits refer also to the process through which spiritual healing powers can be evoked, embodied and activated. Specifically, when a healer "decorates" (kupamba) his/her spirits according to their individual preferences, then the spirits will reciprocate by "decorating" the healer with healing knowledge, devices and powers that meet the needs of the healer's patients and community.
In the belief systems of the Shambaa peoples and their culturally-related neighbors, the Zigua, Pare, Kamba, and Taita, spirits--like humans--have gender; personal identifying characteristics; family relationships with husbands, wives and children; and hierarchical positions and "jobs" within the spirit world. Like their human counterparts, spirits belong to broader categories of geographic, ethnic or national group identity, yet each is unique in its preferences, tastes, desires and needs. The identifying traits of an embodied spirit are not necessarily related to those of its host, as spirits can be inherited from ancestors (wazimu) or acquired through the unintentional embodiment of spirit personalities, referred to as mphepo, or more recently as jeni. The embodiment of spirit personalities who cause or cure illness commonly involves interactions with local or familiar spirits and foreign or unfamiliar spirits. Hence, in their practices, waghanga must communicate and consult with both local and foreign spirits through dreams or mediumship to negotiate between the affairs and relationships of humans and spirits. However, healers also embody the identity and powers of diverse spirit personalities through dressing in the particular colors and images of the spirit world and by incorporating the identity markers of the spirits into their own manner of dress. Consequently, healers wear special clothing and personal adornment in colors and materials particular to their embodied spirits.
During healing consultations and medicine dances, the Shambaa healer Hassani often wears the color triad of the spirit world (Fig. 3), generally (but not exclusively) black for so-called home and some local African spirits, white for Arab, European and water spirits, and red for spirits of the dead and Maasai spirits. These colors, of course, may vary. By dressing himself in this color triad, Hassani attracts the powers (nguvu) of these three main spirit types into his body so that he can work with them to heal his patients. Hassani embodies a Jeni Mngindo, Jeni Kizalia, Jeni Mzuka, and Jeni Baha'i, so as part of his personal adornment he wears beadwork in red, black and white as well as a black ring for Jeni Mngindo and Jeni Kizalia (two black spirits) and a white ring for Jeni Mzuka (a white spirit). At the time I interviewed him in 1998, he did not have a ring for Jeni Baha'i, a water spirit. For this reason, Jeni Baha'i periodically afflicted him with sickness or the loss of divination and purifying powers. When this happened, he had to provide additional prayers and offerings to Jeni Baha'i to re-confirm his intentions to purchase the water spirit a moonstone ring as soon as he could afford one. In addition, beaded and metal jewelry is also worn for the spirits, as demonstrated by the Nango healer Habibu (Fig. 4): steel bracelets for Jeni Mzungu (the European spirit), copper for Jeni Ruhani (an Arab spirit) and brass for Jeni Baha'i (the water spirit).
According to the spirits' individual tastes and cultural backgrounds, waghanga wear clothing in a variety of styles. At times, the dressing of a spirit is almost indistinguishable from Shambaa daily wear except for the addition or inclusion of colors and/or cloth that relate to the colors of the spirits. For example, in this image Hassani has draped a black cloth over his everyday wear to embody the powers of the black spirit Jeni Kizalia(Fig.5), who is being invoked to release a patient from malevolent bonds that have led to an overdue childbirth. In another context, Hassani wears `fancy' Western clothing in black and white accented with a headwrap in the color triad of the spirit world(Fig. 6). Especially during mphungwa medicine dance performances, accessories such as hats, turbans, or sunglasses blatantly portray the spirits' otherness(Fig. 7 and 8), as these are rarely worn in Shambaa everyday life. Although the spirit's identity and origin prescribes the general kind of imagery used in ughanga, an individual's vision, understanding and experience of the spirit's "otherness" dictates how he or she interprets and re-creates a spirit's appearance or behavior. While one healer gives a mimetic performance of his Arab spirit, Jeni Mwarabu, donning a white prayer hat and gown and dancing with an imported Arabic sword (Fig. 9), another does so by singing a local Shambaa rendition of Islamic songs of remembrance, called dhikri, swaying back and forth with a Koran in her hand (Fig. 10). Yet, even these images and interpretations can change according to the various circumstances of a single therapeutic session or dance--yet they all represent the different elements of the spirit world and the particular experiences and visualizations of the healers.
The Shambaa healer Miriamu has three spirits with which she works on a regular basis, Jeni Mwarabu, Jeni Maasai and Jeni Mzuka. Jeni Mwarabu and Jeni Maasai permanently co-exist with Miriamu in her physical body, while Jeni Mzuka only occasionally co-habits her body as a tutelary spirit and messenger for other spirits with whom she consults on a periodic basis. Miriamu describes how she visualized and dresses her spirits:
Miriamu then untied her head wrap and released long strands of Maasai-style braids that tumbled out around her head and shoulders (Fig. 11). Typically, a Shambaa woman wears her hair cropped short and covered with a head wrap. Because Miriamu's Maasai spirit is a male, specifically an olmorani, or warrior, she wears her hair, at all times, in the braided-style of a Maasai warrior. Yet, when she is not healing with the aid of her Maasai spirit, Miriamu hides her hairstyle under her head wrap, thereby masking her embodied olmorani spirit under the characteristic appearance of a Shambaa woman. In order to maintain a positive working relationship with Jeni Maasai and to embody his olmorani identity, Miriamu must transform her Shambaa identity, remaining, of course, within the permissible boundaries of being a "Shambaa" female. Her body becomes the canvas upon which she paints her own image as a Maasai warrior by wearing her own rendition of an olmorani hairstyle, special red or white clothing and beaded necklaces and bracelets that relate to the spirit. By decorating herself in this manner, Miriamu embodies the might and courage of Maasai warriors, who historically were the enemies of the Shambaa peoples. However, in order to gain the co-operation of her Jeni Maasai, Miriamu must also incorporate additional icons of Maasai identity into her work, specifically a locally made "Maasai spear" and a medicine gourd (nkhoba), which Miriamu has decorated with beadwork that represents her understanding of Maasai color schemes. Miriamu stressed that everything Jeni Maasai likes relates to his Maasai ethnicity and in order to heal successfully and remain healthy herself she must respect and incorporate his individual preferences and tastes. By allowing the "self" to become the "other" and the "other" to become the "self" Shambaa healers such as Miriamu can help their patients and community overcome potential conflict by negotiating between similarities and differences of identity and cultural practices that might result in illness or misfortune.
The same notion of dress and decoration extends also to the process of composing objects charged with the therapeutic powers of spirit personalities, such as a medicine gourd (nkhoba), horn (fea) and spirit figure (jeni). Both in conversation and in the actual healing performances, the characterizing markers of medicine objects are often apparent in their exterior decorations. A container's interior composition with medicinal and symbolic elements plays an equally important role in the object's therapeutic and identifying characteristics. The activation and animation of such objects through internal and external composition is usually achieved through decoration with medicinal flora, signifying icons and characteristics, and incantations that send the embodied spirit forces to their tasks. For example, the medicine gourd in (Fig. 12) is dressed in a skirt (kisegere) of white beads, accented with a bracelet of cowrie and other sea shells, signifying the embodiment of the white ocean spirit, Jeni Baha'i. With the proper incantations and prayers, the powers imbued into the gourd can be activated to cleanse a patient who has been polluted, that is, afflicted with illness from human or spirit malevolence. Used in conjunction with this gourd, river water can wash away the illness and misfortune afflicting a patient. The medicine horn and figure in (Fig. 13) are used primarily to combat malevolent forces. Hence, they are composed with the color black, which represents the protective powers of ancestral and local spirits but conversely also represents ushai, that is the malevolent practices of anti-social individuals. The figure and horn are additionally empowered to combat ushai by other symbols commonly associated with malevolency. These include the tightly bound legs to represent the bondage of illness, a monkey face on a human body to represent the animalistic behavior of anti-social beings, and the use of extracts from trees whose names are metaphorically related to notions of malevolency. According to the healer Jumanne, who presides over this particular ughanga, the figure embodies a Muslim spirit who "wears a Christian rosary around her neck because many Christians suffer from spirit affliction due to their negligence of old cultural practices [mila]" (Jumanne, personal communication 1997). Depending on the level of one's understanding and the circumstances of the objects current use, the meanings of the various decorative elements may vary.
In ughanga, each decoration (upamba) can serve a variety of purposes. It can be used as medicine in and of itself; as an activating agent that sends the spirit powers to their tasks, as protection for and purification of the healer and/or patient; and as a symbol of respect and reciprocity between the healer and the embodied spirit powers. These notions are all implied in the multiple usage of the verb to decorate, or kupamba. In their full glory, medicine objects that are heavily embellished--both physically with outward decorations and symbolical elements, and conceptually with prayers and other vocalizations--reflect the multiplicity of their healing capabilities. The more decorative the healing object, the more extensive are its healing powers. Therefore, profusely decorated ughanga, such as Nkhoba Ntui Nkuu (Gourd of the Highest Peaks) pictured in (Fig. 14), are able to deal with a variety of afflictions and spirits. The gourd, Nkhoba Neuhambo (I Decorate You Gourd) pictured in (Fig. 15) is used for divination because the multi-colored beadwork endows the gourd with the capabilities to call upon a multitude of spirit powers from all cardinal points of the globe. The importance of the healing properties of such decorations is expressed by waghanga who refer to them also as medicine, or ughanga. Moreover, the healer's dialogue with and about a medicine object and its decorations implies that they are animate--not just "things" (vintu), but endowed with the vitality (nguvu) of actual spirit powers who can originate from just about anywhere.
In Dar es Salaam, I visited a Zigua healer, Ramadhani, who had moved his healing practice from the Zigua lowlands of northeastern Tanzania to the city (Fig. 16). His courtyard was decorated with strategically-placed insignia of his profession: a tri-colored flag posted in the center of the courtyard. Beaded medicine gourds hung from the pole and a winnowing basket filled with offerings was placed at its feet. During treatment sessions, markings of white maize meal would be sprinkled in lines that led from the flag post to the entrances of his two treatment rooms. Ramadhani noted that the pole was like an airport control tower and the lines were like the runway, aiding the arrival and departure of spirit beings in the human realm.
Although Ramadhani is Zigua by birth, he tends to the healing needs of various nationalities from African, European, Arab and Indian countries, as well as different Tanzanian ethnic groups. To meet the diverse needs of these peoples, his two treatment rooms contain shrines devoted to the major spirit categories. The kizalia shrine is empowered by the symbolism of black, the traditional color of "home" or other African spirits (Fig. 17). The kilinge shrine is empowered by the symbolism of red and white--the colors of the Arab, European and water spirits (Fig. 18). In ughanga, the ethnic identity of the patient and healer is of less significance than the ethnic identity of the spirit that is causing affliction in a person's life. These afflicting spirits may come from as far away as Oman, Germany or India, or as close as the Usambara Mountains, Zanzibar or Madagascar. In his practice, Ramadhani consults with various spirits that help him in the divination and treatment of transnational issues and afflictions. When he is unfamiliar with a particular problem, he sleeps on it so that the appropriate spirit can come to him in his dreams and direct him on the necessary means through which he can address the problem at hand.
Spirits are essentially non-discriminating in their choice of hosts: they can reside anywhere and possess people of any religion, nationality or ethnic background. Just as a Shambaa spirit can cause problems in Pemba, so too can a German spirit do mischief in the Usambara Mountains, a Somali spirit in Mombasa, a Nubian spirit in Zanzibar, and various European spirits throughout the countries that were once a part of the east African colonies.. Theoretically, an Arab-Muslim spirit can possess a Catholic Shambaa person, who seeks the aid of a Zigua healer, who simultaneously follows Islamic and indigenous religious practices, all the while relying on the spiritual guidance of a German spirit! When this happens, "otherness" inevitably becomes a part of "self."
To treat afflictions related to transethnic and transnational spirits, a healer must know medicines specific to each spirit type that presides over particular objects, medicines and illnesses. These transnational spirits bestow this knowledge upon the healers--a process called "decorating the healer," who in turn "decorates" the spirits, through the medicinal, symbolic and visual compositions and decorations of people and things to activate the spirits' powers in their individual manner. This exchange of favors begins the process of effecting transformation from sickness to health, from other to self, and from difference to similarity. Each type of spirit is then "addressed"--or evoked and spoken to--using spirit-specific songs, incantations and prayers that are sometimes conducted in the original language of the spirit or more commonly in a mimetic performance of these languages.
A brief explanation of Shambaa ethnic identity partly explains the pluralistic nature of ughanga. The Shambaa peoples make up the ethnic majority of the Usambara Mountains and are generally regarded as the historical owners of the land. However, this notion of ownership can be misleading as "Shambaa" group identity relates to a composite of earlier Bantu-speaking inhabitants of forgotten origins and later migrants of Bantu and Cushitic-speaking origins including the Zigua, Pare, Taita, Kamba, Nango and Mbugu peoples, among others. In addition, for centuries, the peoples of the Usambara Mountains have interacted with other Africans through migrational movement, trade, warfare and, of course, colonialism and slavery. Over the past two hundred years, Africans and non-Africans of Arabic and European descent, have interacted with the peoples of these mountains and intermarried with them. Therefore the term "Shambaa" should be understood as an example of what Appadurai calls an "ethnoscape," or a geographic area made up of a mobile and transforming population that comprises a multitude of ethnic and national origins (1991) --a process, I suggest, has existed for many centuries.
Reflecting the pluralistic nature of the Shambaa human world counterpart, the Shambaa spirit world is also populated with spirits from the various religions, ethnicities, social levels, and cultural orientations known to the Shambaa peoples. It is indeed a spiritscape. Like Appadurai's ethnoscape, the Shambaa spiritscape is characterized by a permutable community of transethnic, transnational, and transreligious beings who flow in and out of the porous boundaries of the physical and metaphysical worlds and between ethnic, geographic, cultural, and national boundaries. Like the Shambaa ethnoscape, the spiritscape is a domain that is under constant reconstruction and--by extension--deconstruction and de-territorialization. Things that originate from inside implied Shambaa boundaries eventually cross outside these boundaries and become something else. The same is true for things that originate from outside the Shambaa world. Through ughanga foreign or unfamiliar elements are allowed entrance and incorporation into the Shambaa world and eventually may even be regarded as being originally "Shambaa." This permeability occurs through the re-negotiation of images, intents, and identities of local and foreign origin according to local needs, thereby promoting co-operation and collaboration between and within the human and spirit realms to restore wellbeing.
Remaining within the Shambaa manner of metaphoric language, throughout this paper I have used the noun "to address" to signify the means through which the Shambaa participate in a discourse with the spirit world. The verb "to address" encompasses multiple meanings, such as to arrange, to communicate, to direct, to deal with, to greet, and to make ready, among others (Webster 1987). Through its derivation from the same verb root, the verb "to dress," also has variable meanings such as to make or set straight, to embellish or decorate, to clothe, to align oneself, to arrange, and to apply medications(Webster 1987); these English verbs correspond respectively to the core concepts in traditional healing practices of kutabana and kupamba. Hence it is not accidental that in ughanga, the Shambaa spiritscape is "addressed" (or kutabana) by humans who "decorate" (or kupamba) the spirits by giving them tangible form with clothing, decorative and symbolic embellishments, offerings, and medicines with which they can heal and effect transformation.
In a popular medicine song, each spirit--regardless of nationality or religious affiliation--is called out and praised for its manner of creating distinctive religious laws and cultural codes (shei'a and mila), while also sharing the responsibility with other spirits. In the same medicine song, the variety of dress and mannerism characterizing the spiritscape is used as a metaphor for the differences in the laws created by each spirit "culture"--laws that theoretically make it possible for humans of different origins and cultural practices to live in states of balance. Therefore, ughanga is an institution that honors and emphasizes difference, thereby serving as a model or at least as a source of reflection for humans to deal with the continuities and changes within the construction and reconstruction of their own ethnoscape.
In her cross-cultural analysis of transnational religions in the contemporary global context, Rudolph argues that
This subtle process of religious transnationalization can be witnessed in the case of Shambaa ughanga--and no doubt in related forms of uganga practised by other Bantu-speaking populations of Africa. In Shambaa ughanga, the "liminal and cross-cutting arena" mentioned by Rudolph (1997: 1-3) finds its metaphor in the notion of the returning movement of winds, or "kiuza mpheho," which serves as a principal defining trait of this religious institution. The metaphor, kiuza mphepo, refers to the continual cycle of inward movement of spirits who travel with the winds from the four cardinal pointss of the globe to the Usambara Mountains and then outward again to their places of origin--transforming and being transformed during flight into the human world.
For example, Giles and Larsen have illustrated that Shambaa-style ughanga and Shambaa spirits are also found among non-Shambaa peoples in Pemba, Zanzibar and Mombasa(1997: 1-3). In Zanzibar, Swahili healers praise the expertise of Shambaa healers, who receive patients from Muslim, Christian and Hindu sectors who travel far distances to the Usambara Mountains for treatment (Roberts and Roberts, personal communication 1998). When visiting Shambaa healers, these patients bring their own religious perspectives into their experience of ughanga. This syncretic nature of ughanga was conspicuously expressed to me by the elderly healer, Selemani, who emphasized that he prefers to know the religious orientation of his patients so he can include and speak to their gods and spirits, honor them, and respect their different ways and laws during the healing process.
I argue that this fluid adaptability has allowed ughanga--both as a form of artistic expression and as a religious institution--to move or have influence beyond the geographic and cultural boundaries of northeastern Tanzania. Although there has been little research on the interactions between the peoples of northeastern Tanzania, the coastal regions of east Africa, the islands of the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia, there are remarkable similarities in form and function between their sacred arts which call for further comparative research. There is no doubt at this time that ughanga has traveled far outside its homeland in northeastern Tanzania. During a very brief period of fieldwork among Afro-Indian communities in Hyderabad, India, I was able to establish a direct link between the medicine dances of northeastern Tanzania and "old African dances" performed today as entertainment by the descendants of enslaved Africans and African mercenaries in India. The connection between many of these Afro-Indian peoples of Hyderabad and east Africa was supported not only by their dance and music performances, but also by the Swahili greetings they had learned from their forefathers, some of who had come from the northern coast and islands of Tanzania.
In its role as a transnational religion, ughanga strives to establish fellowship between humans and spirits of all national, ethnic, religious, and cultural origins for healing purposes. This often is accomplished through the adaptation and transformation of foreign or unfamiliar objects, symbols and images into Shambaa ughanga and by redefining their significance within a local context. And as this local context may change, so too the meanings attached to such symbols. For example, although the healer Habibu was perfectly aware that the white glass bottle pictured in (Fig. 19) once contained German aftershave, he appropriated the bottle specifically for his own use as a medicine container to embody the white German spirit Mphepo Mdachi, who likes things that are white, clean and sweetsmelling--just like the bottle and its former contents of aftershave cologne. His thumb piano (Fig. 20) provides another example as it is a locally imported object appropriated from a neighboring ethnic group but decorated with icons of the Western world. Specifically, a diesel decal, a metal zipper, and a whiskey stopper of a man in a top hat (Johnny Walker?) are the most obvious foreign icons which not only endow the object with the powers of Jeni Mzungu (the European spirit), but also make blatant reference to the economic aspects of westernization. Depending on the context of use, these allusions to western economic elements can be interpreted in a variety of ways representing both the evils and the benefits of westernization and modernity.
In sum, within the traditional context of ughanga, adaptations to modernity are made possible through the decoration of objects, persons and icons. The Shambaa notion of decoration (upamba) can be extended to the broader context of ughanga as a religious institution that is continuously "decorated" with and by transethnic and transnational spirits who bring their particular healing and afflicting powers into the Shambaa human experience. This is not unlike transethnic and transnational human populations who also bring their own positive and negative influences into the Shambaa experience. Consequently, Shambaa healers emphasize that if a productive and peaceful relationship is desired between humans and humans or humans and spirits then one must "address," that is, speak to, engage and deal with foreign and unfamiliar influences by negotiating through their idiosyncracies and particularities in a manner that can help the changing needs of society. The healing practices of ughanga, as a tradition of change and modernity, offers itself as the ideal tool to achieve such goals.
(Fig.1) A view of the southern rim of the West Usambara Mountains from Irente Peak. Lushoto District, Tanzania
(Fig.2) Northeastern Tanzania (Detail). Map by Barbara Thompson, 1998.
(Fig.3) The Shambaa healer Hassani dressed in the spirit color triad during a mphungwa dance. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson
(Fig.4) The Nango healer Habibu displays his spirit jewelry. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.5) The Shambaa healer Hassani dressed in spirit clothing while treating a pregnant patient. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1998. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.6) The Shambaa healer Hassani dressed in spirit clothing during a mphungwa dance. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1998. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.7) The Shambaa healer Miriamu wears a red fez to signify the Arab spirit Jeni Mwarabu. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1998. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.8) The Nango healer Habibu wears imported sunglasses to represent Jeni Mzungu, the European spirit. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.9) The Shambaa healer Hassani wear Muslim prayer clothing during a mphungwa dance. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1998. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.10) The Shambaa healer Zainati perfoms her Arab spirit with a Koran in hand. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1998. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.11) The Shambaa healer Miriamu displays her Maasai olmorani hairstyle. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1998. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.12) A Shambaa medicine gourd (nkhoba) for the ocean spirit, Jeni Baha'i. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson
(Fig.13) A Pare medicine horn (fea) and spirit figure (jeni) used to combat malevolent powers. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.14) The Nango medicine, Nkhoba Ntui Nkuu. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.15) The Shambaa medicine, Nkhoba Neuhambo. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.16) The Zigua healer Ramadhani poses by his spirit pole in his city practice. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.17) A shrine devoted to Jeni Kizalia of the Zigua healer Ramadhani. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.18) A kilinge shrine of the Zigua healer Ramadhani. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson
(Fig.19) The bottle from an old German aftershave, Tabac, is used as an nkhoba Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1998. Photograph by Barbara Thompson.
(Fig.20) A thumb piano used by the Nango healer Habibu is decorated with icons of the Western world. Lushoto District, Tanzania, 1997. Photograph by Barbara Thompson
 The research for this paper was generously funded by The University of Iowa Stanley Foundation, The University of Iowa Project for Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa (PASALA), The University of Iowa T. Anne Cleary International Dissertation Research Fellowship, The University of Iowa Seashore Dissertation Year Fellowship, The University of Iowa Student Government Travel Fellowship, The University of Iowa School of Art and Art History Holt Fellowship, The University of Iowa Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, and the Kress Foundation.
 The verb kupamba is sometimes spoken as kuhamba--depending on local language variation. The term, used in both the Shambaa and Swahili languages has various meanings, including to adorn, arrange, decorate, embellish, furnish and prepare.
 Sometimes the beaded adornment also includes the colors green, blue, pink and yellow. Roberts suggests that these additional colors are modern substitutes for the older color triad of red, black and white (personal communication June 11, 1999). Today, healers note that green, yellow or blue, represent medicines or plants obtained from outside the Usambara Mountains or that they represent characteristic traits of outside areas and spirits. While green is used to represent some ocean and water spirits, yellow usually represents Jeni Mchagga and Jeni Mpare, from the neighboring mountains. I have also been told that yellow can represent dawa za madukani, or store medicines, which are ready-made medicinal mixtures bought from stores (maduka) that are often owned by Indian or Swahili merchants. The mixture contains various imported spices, such as cloves, cinnamon and cumin, which are commonly associated with Arabness, Islam and Jeni Mwarabu. Sometimes Indian spices such as saffron or tumeric are included, which give the medicinal mixture a yellow color. The role of the color yellow in Indian religious ritual is also of significance here.
 See Giles for a comprehensive list of ethnic spirits in east Africa and the specific characteristics of these spirits in the various locations that they have been known to frequent
 My informants have corroborated the claims of Giles and Larsen. However, further research is needed to verify the extent and form of "exported" Shambaa ughanga in these parts of Tanzania and Kenya.
 In 1997-1998, I participated in a one month interdisciplinary project, funded by a Ford grant, with scholars and students from the University of Iowa to determine areas of future study on the cultural, artistic and historical inter-actions between of peoples of Indian descent in Tanzania and peoples of African descent in India.
Arjun Appadurai. "Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology". In Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present, edited by R. G. Fox. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 1991.
LindGiles. Spirit Possession on the Swahili Coast: Peripheral Cults or Primary Texts? Ph. D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1989.
Kjerst Larsen. Where Humans and Spirits Meet: Incorporating Difference and Experiencing Otherness in Zanzibar Town. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oslo, 1995.
Susanne Hoebe Rudolph. . Introduction: Religion, States, and Transnational Civil Society. In Transnational Religion and Fading States, edited by S. H. Rudolph and J. Piscatori. Boulder: Westview Press, 1997.
Webster. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed. Springfield: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1987.
|Paper presented at the African Studies Association of Australasia & the Pacific 22nd Annual & International Conference (Perth, 1999)|
New African Perspectives: Africa, Australasia, & the Wider World at the end of the twentieth century