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When We Began, There Were Witchmen: An Oral History From Mount Kenya

by Jeffrey Fadiman

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Book Description
This is the history of the Meru people of Mount Kenya, based on their own traditions, from the earliest times through the colonial period. Many of these tales have been ritually passed down through no fewer than nineteen generations; others were remembered by those personally involved. Jeffrey Fadiman gathered them in interviews with more than 100 of the Meru's oldest men and women.
The traditions touch on every era of the Meru past. They include narrations, songs, chants, and riddles. They tell of a mysterious origin, past enslavement, despairing flight, mountain warriorhood, British conquest, and the fight for freedom. The Meru elders spoke most often of urogi, or witchcraft, the incantations, rituals, and potions used to deal with the supernatural aspects of Meru life. As their society evolved, so did their urogi, developing a history of its own as practitioners in every generation sought to cope with the challenges of slavery, migration, war, colonialism, and Christianity.
Fadiman has crafted the tales into a compelling narrative, passing on in his turn the stories he was given. This is African history from African perspectives that stretch back over 300 years.

About the Author
Jeffrey Fadiman is Professor of Global Marketing and Trans-Cultural Communication at California State University, San Jose.



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