JUJU, a West African word held by some authorities to be a corruption of Mandingo gru-gru, a charm. It is more generally believed to have been adapted by the Mandingos directly from Fr.joujou, a toy or plaything. The word, as used by Europeans on the Guinea coast, was originally applied to the objects which it was supposed the negroes worshipped, and was transferred from the objects themselves to the spirits or gods who dwelt in them, and finally to the whole religious beliefs of the West Africans. It is currently used in each of these senses, and more loosely to indicate all the manners and customs of the negroes of the Guinea coast, particularly the power of interdiction exercised in the name of spirits (see FETISHISM and TABOO).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)