Georg August University Göttingen

Rising Smoke: The Spirtual Significance of Xhosa Pipe Smoking

My analysis focuses on the guiding question: what gives religious validity to the act of pipe smoking, and or, why pipe smoking is charged with religious meaning and potential? The question of validity opens up further questions such as what functions, both practically and religiously does the pipe provide? Further, what relationship exists between the elements of the ritual: the tobacco, the pipe and smoke? Moreover, how smoking practices overcome changes in the lifestyle (from rural to urban), production (from home-grown tobacco to international brands) and beliefs (tribal beliefs to hybrid Protestantism). I suggest the hypothesis that sacrificial pipe smoking is rooted in its communicative, hierarchical and biological functions, which make smoking not only a leisure activity but also enables ancestral appeasement, marking of social status, and hunger suppression in times of drought.

Adolph van der Walt