Observations placeholder

Lemba - And the disease of capitalism



Type of Spiritual Experience


Dr Peregrine Horden – Musical solutions [in Music as Medicine]

This classic example comes from the healing cult of the Congo basin made famous by John Janzen in Lemba, 1650-1930: A Drum of Affliction in Africa and the New World. As in other such cults, Lemba showed itself in the individual in physical symptoms such as abdominal pain and difficulty with breathing. It was, however, distinguished from those cults by its social exclusivity. It struck the elite households of the north bank of the Congo: chiefs, judges, traders. What the affliction was - what the Lemba drum and its associated magical medicines and bracelets were being deployed against - remained unclear. Janzen could not tell until (to quote one of his commentators):


A description of the experience

…..casually, he superimposed a map of the provenance of Lemba texts and artefacts on to one of the long-distance trade routes.

They matched ... the Lemba cult provided a way of calming conflicts of interest between the naturally competitive and divisive activity of trade and the social order of lower Zaire ... Lemba protected their health from the disease of capitalism.

The source of the experience

African tribal

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps





Listening to beating sounds
Listening to music


Music therapy