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Title: The Bimbi cult in southern Malawi
Author: Amanze, James Nathaniel
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1986
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The Bimbi cult in Southern Malawi is a territorial cult, one among a number of other regional belief systems among the Chewa of Southern Malawi. As a religious system the Bimbi cult has a distinctive unwritten theology, elaborate liturgical observances, an organized inherited priesthood and a charismatic leader - the Bimbi - from whom the cult's name derives. The thesis begins by examining the life and structural position of the Bimbi who is, in all aspects the most representative and living symbol of the cult as a moral force. It then looks into the question of the call to Bimbiship and the processes of succession events which are believed to be divine acts from beginning to end. This is evidenced by the fact that succession to Bimbiship cuts across the principles of matrilineage of succession to headmanship among the Chewa. The third chapter of the thesis discusses the religious, shrine and political organizations of the cult which give it its territorial nature and enhance both the legitimacy of the Bimbi and the impact of the cult in the region. The fourth, fifth and sixth chapters set forth to answer the questions, "what is the faith and prayer of the cult?" and "how do the followers understand God, the social and the natural orders in the universe?" To this purpose the thesis examines the rituals, prayers, symbolisms, beliefs and practices of those who adhere to the cult. The seventh chapter of the thesis probes into what is remembered of the earlier history of the cult and the role which the title holders of Bimbiship have played for the past hundred years. Finally an attempt has been made to examine the nature of the interaction between the cult on the one hand and Christianity and Islam on the other.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral