Victor Mallet

  • Constructive Drinking: Perspectives on Drink from Anthropology edited by Mary Douglas
    Cambridge, 291 pp, £25.00, September 1987, ISBN 0 521 33504 3
  • For Prayer and Profit: The Ritual, Economic and Social Importance of Beer in Gwembe District, Zambia, 1950-1982 by Elizabeth Colson and Thayer Scudder
    Stanford, 147 pp, $32.50, August 1988, ISBN 0 8047 1444 4

In Angola, where the local currency is all but worthless, people use cans of imported beer as a means of exchange: a very heavy sort of money, but at least you can buy bananas and fish with it. In Zambia, some people pour a little beer onto the ground in the doorways of their huts to placate the ancestors. The supplicant says: ‘Be cool, as water is cool. Do not trouble the children. Let us all prosper. Here is your beer.’

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