Accepted Paper:

'Ancestors, prophets and gold': an exploration of the role of the occult in artisanal mining activities in central Zimbabwe  

Author:

Grasian Mkodzongi (Tropical Africa-Land and Natural Resources Research Institute)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the role of the occult in artisanal mining in central Zimbabwe.. The paper is based on ethnographic data gathered with artisanal miners in central Zimbabwe.

Paper long abstract:

One of the major outcomes of Zimbabwe's fast track land reforms, implemented in 2000, is the way it opened up access to natural resources that were formerly enclosed and enjoyed by a few whites under the bi-modal agrarian structure inherited from colonialism. Post the land reforms, Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) have dramatically increased across the countryside. However, ASM activities locally known as chikorokoza is a dangerous activity, miners often face mine collapse which in some places lead to fatal accidents. Additionally, miners live in constant fear of being violently robbed or murdered by criminal gangs that operate around mine sites. As a result, miners often have to consult spirit mediums, traditional healers or religious prophets before they engage in mining. This is believed to offer protection against potential hazards that can be encountered underground and to boost their chances of finding gold. This paper examines the role of the occult in artisanal mining activities. The paper argues that due to the hazards faced by artisanal miners and the difficulties in finding gold, miners are increasingly resorting to the occult to seek protection against accidents and to boost their chances of finding gold. The paper is based on ethnographic data gathered with artisanal miners in central Zimbabwe.

Panel P050
Engaging with treasures of the subsurface between extractivism and spiritualism