these broad lines of argument represent a much broader social consensus. the phenomenon of the african invented religion, which has been studied less, has been characterized by karl s. guthke as 'alchemy of tradition', no more than a'self-explaining myth of an african folklore'. the work investigates the scope and limits of those works and reaches conclusions which are often unexpected. the religion of the mbau, like those of other african peoples, has developed as a response to the changing social structure and to the problems of the present. the concept of mbau culture is used to describe those elements of the culture which are not directly concerned with the ritual religious character of the society. in the context of this study the authors review the popular notions surrounding the mbau people, stressing the ideas of inherited past and ancestral spirit. they explain the relationships between the mbau cultural universe, its practical social organization, the structure of the religious cosmology, the magic and sorcery. the practice of mbau magic and its meaning are studied more intensively. the authors argue that mbau sorcery is indeed a system of contemporary magic and shows significant and complex sociocultural traditions. they also examine the transformation of mbau medical beliefs and practices, including witchcraft, into a religion, detailing the stages in which it formed and the practices it adopted. the relationship between mbau religious beliefs and the cultural elements of the society is investigated. that part of the culture is analysed which is considered to be not religious, and describes how the gods in mbau religious beliefs relate to the people and the world they live in. this includes interactions with nature and with plants and animals. the scope of the study is limited to an analysis of mbau culture. the authors study also the history and the cultural structure of the different mbau subgroups, and of the cultural factors which influence the religious beliefs and practices of these groups.