African Arts, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Aug., 1982), pp. 47-51+91-92

The Anjenu cult can be seen as a convergence, in both time and space, of three sets of interrelated beliefs held by nearby peoples and the subsequent adaptation of these to the requirements of Idoma life. These are, first, the well known Hausa spirit possession cult known as bori; second, cults centered upon other nature spirits such as the Igala alijenu and Abakwariga aljanu, widely spread through the Nigerian Middle Belt; and third, the coastal and Cross River belief in water spirits known in Nigeria as Mammy Wata and in Cameroon as liengu.

In this sense, Anjenu is a quintessentially Idoma cult, with a northern and a southern component. (The same is true of Idoma masking institutions, for the same reasons.) Both culturally and geographically, the Niger-Benue Confluence and the Lower Benue Valley constitute a transition zone: it is the interface not only between the largely Muslim North, dominated by Hausa-Fulani culture, and a non-Muslim South, deeply affected by missionary Christianity, but also between the two major ecological zones of West Africa, the savannah and the tropical forest.


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