Was Prince Philip a god of volcanoes?

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But were they? They succeeded, after all, in sending the entire French administration. (“In the absence of a pith helmet,” we are told, “they could make one with a gourd.”) In the Congolese town of Kabinda, meanwhile, the wives of shamanic followers found themselves channeling the spirits of the wives of Belgian settlers. . With chalk faces and clusters of feathers under their arms (“perhaps to represent a purse”), they walked around in shrill voices demanding bananas and chickens.

Western eyewitnesses to these events were not at all dismissive; they were disturbed. A visitor, reporting to Parliament in London in or before 1886, said that these people were driven mad by the experience of colonial subjugation. The offerings made to a deified British soldier at Travancore, in the far south of India, were, according to this traveler, “an illustration of the horror in which the English were held by the natives”.

But what if the dominant motive for the white man’s deification was “not horror or aversion, but pity for his sad end, to die like he did in a desert, away from his friends ”? This was the opposite view of a visiting missionary, and perhaps he was right: Across the subcontinent, “the practice of deifying humans who have died prematurely or tragically was centuries old,” Subin tells us. .

Would the “possessed by the spirit” have simply laughed? Once again: it is possible. In 1864, during a Maori uprising against the British, Captain PWJ Lloyd was killed and his severed head became the divine conduit of the angel Gabriel, who, among other fulminations, had no say in the matter. ‘Church of England.

Subin shows how, by creating and worshiping mighty aliens, the submissive peoples found a way to fight against an overwhelming invading force. The deified alien, be it a British prince or an American general, the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie or the ninety-year-old poet Nathaniel Tarn, “appears on every continent on the map, in times of colonial invasion, nationalist struggle and political unrest ”.

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