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September 14, 1929

West African Secret Societies: Their Organisations, Officials and Teaching.

JAMA. 1929;93(11):869. doi:10.1001/jama.1929.02710110055032

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Men love to gather in groups mysteriously and they feel a sort of superiority if they can exchange their gossip, make their funny parades, hold offices, and not have others in the community know about it. Thus the secret societies form among primitive peoples as among civilized men a means of holding the group together, a means of entertainment and instruction. The volume by Captain Butt-Thompson tells of the societies of West Africa, their organization and customs, and illustrates freely the details of what American lodge members call "the work." Of special interest to the physician is the account of the society doctor. These medicine men, as among our own Indians, get their results chiefly by charm and incantation, although they do avail themselves of elementary knowledge of certain plant remedies.

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