Religious attitudes of the Mende towards land

The author’s proper aim of research is to provide a full account of the structure of Mende folktales. In this article he makes an attempt to clarify – using the findings if his original research – what Mende religious attitudes towards land consist of, and what lies behind them. Making reference to publications by little, Harris and Sawyerr, Hofstra, and in particular Marion Kilson, the author centers his discussion around a general anxiety, felt by the ordinary Mende, about his ability to cope with ‘an uncertain and potentially hostile universe’. Through an analysis of several folktales the author makes an attempt to discover more precisely where the focus of the anxiety lies. The author’s conclusion is that in folktales which concern land and spirits any apparent anxiety is a symbolic dramatisation of an anxiety focussed elsewhere, in that sense that a premium is placed on the communal good and individual enterprise is condoned only when it is undertaken for the communal good. Bibl.

Title: Religious attitudes of the Mende towards land
Author: Winch, Julian M.
Year: 1971
Periodical: Africana Research Bulletin
Volume: 2
Issue: 1
Pages: 17-36
Language: English
Geographic term: Sierra Leone
Abstract: The author’s proper aim of research is to provide a full account of the structure of Mende folktales. In this article he makes an attempt to clarify – using the findings if his original research – what Mende religious attitudes towards land consist of, and what lies behind them. Making reference to publications by little, Harris and Sawyerr, Hofstra, and in particular Marion Kilson, the author centers his discussion around a general anxiety, felt by the ordinary Mende, about his ability to cope with ‘an uncertain and potentially hostile universe’. Through an analysis of several folktales the author makes an attempt to discover more precisely where the focus of the anxiety lies. The author’s conclusion is that in folktales which concern land and spirits any apparent anxiety is a symbolic dramatisation of an anxiety focussed elsewhere, in that sense that a premium is placed on the communal good and individual enterprise is condoned only when it is undertaken for the communal good. Bibl.