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5 - Agency In Kapsiki Religion: A Comparative Approach

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes the way the Kapsiki/Higi of north Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria perceive their freedom for action and construct their own theories of causation. The Kapsiki straddle the border between north Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria, some 400 km south of what used to be Lake Chad. Kapsiki concepts on agency start with the terms berete and merhe as ways of expressing individual means of accomplishing something, translatable both by 'power' or 'force' in their own way and terms that indicate how to behave towards a source of power. The antipode of merhe, 'power' is a crucial, central notion of the Kapsiki ntsehwele (intelligence), but with a broad connotation that includes cunning, cleverness and even trickery. Kapsiki divination may indicate that a certain illness is the result of mete activities but cannot indicate which one.

Keywords: berete; Kapsiki religion; mete activities; north Cameroon; northeastern Nigeria



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