Robert W Nicholls - Hausa Bori
Type of Spiritual Experience
In the following observation, the word ‘possession’ is used to mean not necessarily possession by another spirit or disembodied soul, but a trance state, a state of religious ecstasy – communication with the composer
A description of the experience
Robert W Nicholls – African Dance: Transition and Continuity
From African Dance – edited by Kariamu Weish Asante
Spirit possession and African dance are sometimes discussed as if these terms are interchangeable, and undue emphasis has been given to indicators of possession such as ‘speaking in tongues’ and catalepsy. Although possession dances exist, they are only one type of religious dance, and one that is practised by a small specialised segment of society and are considered exotic even in Africa. The calabashes that the Hausa Bori dancers carry on their heads, for example, are the embodiment of spirits which ‘mount’ the heads of dancers. While possessed, the dancers can prophecy and perform feats considered remarkable by the Moslem Hausa…..