Madumo, a Man Bewitched
So begins this true story of witchcraft and friendship set against the turbulent backdrop of contemporary Soweto. Adam Ashforth, an Australian who has spent many years in the black township, finds his longtime friend Madumo in dire circumstances: his family has accused him of using witchcraft to kill his mother and has thrown him out on the street. Convinced that his life is cursed, Madumo seeks help among Soweto's bewildering array of healers and prophets. An inyanga, or traditional healer, confirms that he has indeed been bewitched. With Ashforth by his side, skeptical yet supportive, Madumo embarks upon a physically grueling treatment regimen that he follows religiously-almost to the point of death-despite his suspicion that it may be better to "Westernize my mind and not think about witchcraft."
Ashforth's beautifully written, at times poignant account of Madumo's struggle shows that the problem of witchcraft is not simply superstition, but a complex response to spiritual insecurity in a troubling time of political and economic upheaval. Post-apartheid Soweto, he discovers, is suffering from a deluge of witchcraft. Through Madumo's story, Ashforth opens up a world that few have seen, a deeply unsettling place where the question "Do you believe in witchcraft? " is not a simple one at all. The insights that emerge as Ashforth accompanies his friend on an odyssey through Soweto's supernatural perils have profound implications even for those of us who live in worlds without witches.
"A fascinating page-turner that recounts one man's battle with an eerie symptom of powerlessness: obsession with witchcraft.... Ashforth enfolds his readers in this distressing story... [and] also offers a persuasive analysis of the broader sociological phenomenon that, he argues, Madumo's tribulations exemplify." - Voice Literary Supplement; "Adam Ashforth has spent much of the past decade immersed in a culture in which witchcraft remains as common as air.... A warm, colorful book, a mix of memoir, journalism, and sociology. He has dual roles, as reporter and friend, and manages to describe Madumo's search for relief with both compassion and professional skepticism." - Mark Schone, Salon"
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Fascism and Resistance in Portugal: Communists, Liberals and Military Dissidents in the Opposition to Salazar, 1941-74