Origins of Kingship Traditions and Symbolism in the Great Lakes Region of Africa
Abstract: Considering myth as the bearer of important symbolism with potentials to reveal history, this dissertation undertakes a historical interpretation of kingship traditions and/or myths in the Great Lakes region. While the historical sources describe the cultures of the peoples of the interlacustrine region, this study goes a step further to develop analytic categories using symbolism to interpret and explain the socio-political developments, which previously have been mystified and hence crystallised in theories as the well-known Hamitic theory. The analysis combining a historical linguistic approach with the ecology of religion has facilitated an interpretation of the symbolism surrounding kingship and thereby elucidating the development of cultural history pertaining to the interlacustrine peoples.Mindful of local variations, regionally applicable symbolism gained from lan-guage and the meaning of words and names have been interpreted and appropriated within the perceptual framework of the peoples concerned. The perspective from within presupposes a continuous interaction between the material and the immaterial world. In this new multi-faceted dimension of history the kingship symbolism of the white cow illustrates how the visible and the invisible world interact.
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