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Signs of the SpiritMusic and the Experience of Meaning in Ndau Ceremonial Life$
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Tony Perman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043253

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043253.001.0001

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Late Afternoon

Late Afternoon

Madzviti and the Foundation of Interpretation

(p.83) Chapter 3 Late Afternoon
Signs of the Spirit

Tony Perman

University of Illinois Press

The chapter introduces the madzviti spirits of nineteenth-century Gaza Nguni warriors. Emphasizing the reality of semiotic objects, I explore the histories behind the madzviti’s emergence and the purposes for which the living awaken them. Rituals such as this rely on and reinforce habits that form the core conventions of spiritual and musical life. Their meaning depends on the histories, encounters, expectations, and desires that shape the spirits’ emergence and are shaped by their presence. Madzviti spirits lived as soldiers when the Gaza State ruled Ndau territories. This history is central to the transformation of the madzviti from soldier to spirit, from living to dead. Musicking facilitates the relationships between the living and the dead as well as the present with the past.

Keywords:   history, Gaza Nguni, Ndau, semiotics, Zulu, Zimbabwe, teleology

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