PROVISIONAL ANNOTATED CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF WITCH-FINDING MOVEMENTS IN MALAWI, 1850-1980 by J. C. CHAKANZA (Chancellor College, University of Malawi) 1. M'bisalira [1850-1914] / Mabisalira / Mavumbula Origin: M'bisalira [from bisalira = hide in wait for], is a generic name for a witch-finder prominent before the 1911 Witchcraft Act which forbade the administering of the mwabvi poison ordeal. He or she generally operated within specific societies in a manner which was not uniform. After the First World War and with the rise of other witch-finding movements like mchapi, which spread far and wide among different ethnic groups, the m'bisalira has gone underground. Activities: The m'bisalira was called by a territorial chief or head- man when a serious threat hung over the community, e.g., epidemic diseases among people, livestock, a series of bad harvests, droughts, etc. This implied witchcraft or sorcery at work outside the scope of the ordinary sing'anga (medicineman/divinerJ . He held a series of mass meetings at which he exposed the afiti [witches]. For instance, he or she arrived in a village and stayed on for a number of days, listening attentively to all the talk, and noted the main issues of conflict and the people who
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1985
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