El Negro, el Niño, witchcraft and the absence of rain in Botswana

TitleEl Negro, el Niño, witchcraft and the absence of rain in Botswana
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsJ.B. Gewald
Secondary TitleAfrican affairs : the journal of the Royal African Society
Pagination555 - 580
Date Published2001///
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsBotswana, communication, Country, history, witchcraft

In October 2000, the remains of 'El Negro', a Tswana man who had died 170 years before and who, as a stuffed specimen, had been on display in Europe for over 160 years, were flown from Spain to Botswana and given a State funeral in the capital Gaborone. In early 2001, as it became clear that the rains were failing in the country, rumours started circulating that linked the coming of El Negro to the absence of rain. This article charts the progress of the rumours relating to El Negro, relates them to the broader issues of Tswana ethnology and contemporary history, and situates them in the context of popular consciousness, previous work conducted on rumour, and 'radio trottoir'. It argues that apart from slips of the tongue and the unconscious linking of El Negro to El Niño - a concept associated with rain and weather - the El Negro rumours came to be linked to all kinds of existing ideas relating to Bushmen, spirits and ancestors, witchcraft and sorcery, and politics. The El Negro rumours gave large sections of the population the opportunity to articulate deep-seated grievances vis-à-vis those in power at various levels. Notes, ref., sum

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/4833
Citation Key849