In the historical research on cults of affliction, in particular the Cwezi and Ryangombe-offshoot central to my research, the emphasis has been either a) to consider them as instrumentalised by courtly or clan figures to assert legitimacy of autonomy or rule, or b) as sites of (female) resistance against central (male) powers. According to me, much more attention has to be paid to the social-economic context in the Great Lakes region where these 'cults' gained ground and spread. One difference with most existing historical research is my focus on the southern interlacustrine zone, rather than the northern part from where Cwezi originated. The emphasis on the political realm is due to the reliance on court and clan traditions, which often remain silent or speak very anachronistically about social-economic relations. I think that placing fertility central is crucial, because farmers, herders, and hunter-gatherers have historically sought fertility - in progeny (women and men), in land and in cattle. Securing and enhancing fertility is what gives legitimacy to a healer, a prophet, or a 'political' ruler; the upsetting of fertility is what shakes that legitimacy or what allows people to assert their capacity (as mediums and cult initiates) to restore fertility. The aim is to read colonial-era interviews of Rwandan courtly and clan figures to unearth the social-economic dimension, which will also be assessed through historical linguistics and archaeological research. Understanding fertility through its social-economic dimension will enlighten us on how women and men took hold of the Cwezi cultus in its Ryangombe-offshoot and sought its therapeutic potential.