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Traditional Medicine Making of the 'Emu': Continuity and Change

Kingsley I. Owete

As newer medical problems surface and existing ones appear to resist modern solutions, Africans are increasingly reaching for traditional healing practices and customary protective medicines. Using historical and phenomenological approaches, Traditional Medicine Making of the «Emu»: Continuity and Change investigates religious belief and herbal practices of Emu people. This documentation of medical practices of the Emu people of Nigeria in the context of change transcends the structuralist and functional perspective employed by anthropologists.
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Chapter Two


: Theories of Change

There is a significant amount of scholarly interest in religious beliefs and ritual practices in general. Within and outside of the African continent there are theoretical views and models of religious change in response to the increase in knowledge and the refinement of the means to studying cultures. This chapter examines change in African traditional religion. This will be followed by an introduction of the Ukwuani traditional religion.

2.1 Religious Belief and Ritual Practices

Two anthropological schools have generated a great deal of material published on religious beliefs and ritual in Africa. These are the British and the French schools. The British school was primarily interested in the sociological aspect of religious belief and ritual practices. Specifically, they focused on the causal link between disturbed social relations and disease or misfortune. Religious beliefs and ritual practices were investigated more as functional components in the social machinery than in their own right as a phenomenon. The French school on the other hand focused on the symbolic-philosophical order and regarded it as the determinant of both social structure and African life, i.e., law, ethics, psychology and ritual (Ikenga-Metuh, 1987: 76).

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