A Case Study of the Effects of Superstitions and Beliefs on Mali Socioeconomic Development

Yaya Dissa, Togo Adjouro, Aminata Traore, Aly Yorote


Malian people are very superstitious, although 90% of the population is Muslim and 5% Christian, the superstitions in this country usually are a part of everyday life. Malian superstitions are related to sorcery, fetichism[1] ,maraboutism[2] etc and refers to the belief in an object to have supernatural powers or in particular, a artificial object that has power over others such as komo[3],wara[4],n’kougéré[5]or worship of rivers, trees and mountains. It is often interpreted as caused by the jealousy, nastiness, egocentricity of a third party who has accomplished bad things from one person to another. Close to surreal, these superstitions are central of many economic and social discussions; many Malians think that superstitions may help to avoid many risks such as health care, and could occur problems which are unrecognized or illegal according to Mali law.

This paper investigates the factors which determine superstitions, the role it could play economically and socially in Mali, reporting some preliminary empirical results by demonstrating performance benefits of superstitions and identifying their underlying mental processes particularly to Sénoufo and Dogon people from Sikasso and Badiangara.

Keywords: superstitions; effects; beliefs; society; irrational; worship; cowries

[1]Fetishism in anthropology refers to the primitive belief that godly powers can inhere in inanimate things (e.g., in totems).

[2]Support for marabous (Muslim holy men or mystics).

[3] Komo is a socio-religious institution (initiation) of the Malinke and Bambara, as well as of their Kagoro relatives. It has been adopted by the Fulani of Wassoulou, Manding, Fouladougou and Birgo, and exists among the ethnics groups of Bougouni. Komo is also practised by the Minianka and Senoufo ethnics groups of San, Koutiala and Sikasso

[4]Wara is a secret initiation society of the Bambara (Bamana) ethnic group

[5]n ‘kougéré is a worship fetish

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