Updated: Nov 2, 2020
The Nkondi were spiritual items created by Kongo people for the purposes of good. However, white people who encountered them presented them as something evil, rebranding them as "Voodoo Dolls".
The Nkondi are objects inhabited by spirits or, rather, spiritually-charged substances, and used for the sake of protection, punishing evil doers, healing the sick, divination, overseeing rituals, and a host of other duties. They derive from the spiritual cosmology and creativity of Kongo peoples first known to the western world in the 15th century during the time of the Kingdom of the Kongo, having being explored there by Portuguese and later Dutch, British, and American terrorizers.
During the time of the European Trans-Atlantic Trade of Enslaved Africans and beyond, Kongo culture melded with a host of other (primarily) West and Central African cultures in the Americas, forming the basis of many of the African spiritual traditions found throughout the Caribbean, South America, and United States, particularly (but not limited to) Haitian Vodou, Louisiana Voodoo, Dominican Vudú, Santería, and Candomblé Jejé. The tradition of creating Nkisi, especially a special kind called Nkondi (more aggressive at punishing evil doers) remained.
“The 'Voodoo Doll' is a fabrication of Hollywood and white subjectivity.”
Increasingly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century White people in the Americas would (without any attempt at understanding their meaning) describe the Nkisi as "Voodoo Dolls" created for evil, thus advancing further the negative stigma surrounding Vodu (in all its various forms) and African spirituality in general as evil. Some of the earliest films of Hollywood made great strides (and money) in advancing this erroneous idea, effectively creating the myth of the Voodoo Doll. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A VOODOO DOLL! It is a complete fabrication of Hollywood and white subjectivity.