When the lid is removed, the spider's alterations of the cards are "read" by the diviner. I cannot resist noting that the use of silent creatures is not exclusively an African divination phenomenon. Many symbolic objects in the pot are shaken and their configurations are "read" to provide answers and actions for the clients. In such culturally determined, liminal states we often encounter reptiles and snakes, pangolins and aardvarks, flying squirrels, and chameleons. Note the liminality in space and time—a common feature of many African divination systems. Archived. He sees the "other faith" as complementing and even adding spiritual potency to his own spiritual practice of constructing effective amulets. Yes, they are small and silent; but they are also very clever, if not wise. Androgyny seems to be a common goal among the African cultures where diviners engage in cross-gender dressing. Twins serve as a model because of their special rapport, their extraordinary ability to communicate, often without words. Indigenous African religion is primarily an oral tradition and has never been fully codified; thus, it allows itself to more easily be amended and influenced by other religious ideas, religious wisdom, and by modern development. Silence defines the man of character, and is the attribute of the wise man; it is a type of wisdom. Specialized diviners called Ob'guega (doctor of Oguega oracle), as well as Ob'Oronmila (doctor of Oronmila oracle) from the Edo people of West Africa for thousands, have used divination as a means of foretelling the past, present and future. Most slaves in Africa were captured in wars or in surprise raids on villages. I return to the Baule and Guro of Côte d'Ivoire for my next example, a mouse oracle vessel. Exodus 8:18,19 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast… Exodus 9:11 A follower of African diaspora religions has many choices in terms of seeking spiritual help or succor. In respect and honor of my culture, I also dress in my traditional Nigerian attire when I'm in my country. EVEN AFTER SEVERAL DECADES of research on African diviners and divination systems, the subject continues to fascinate me because of divination's importance in daily human lives, its centrality in cultural systems, its articulation of values and laws, and its breadth of artistry. Intriguingly, the diviner considers the slit gong his "twin": it facilitates his reception of occult messages.4. While Kaguru highly value eloquence, in general they associate voluble speech and garrulity with fatuous silliness, qualities more appropriately linked with hyenas.11, We might first think that those animals with distinct voices or sounds would be the chosen divinatory creatures, but they are not. Years ago, Benneta Jules-Rosette17 discussed the similarities between anthropology and divination; both pursuits attempt to sort out foreign cultures, to determine meaningful utterances from background noise, and to translate from one system to another. Since hearing is greater than sight for the pangolin, it reminds us that, universally, there are many blind "seers" or diviners, but few, if any, deaf diviners. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke . There is even a community deep in the American Bible Belt in Beaufort County, S.C., called Oyotunji Village that practices a type of African indigenous religion, which is a mixture of Yoruba and Ewe-Fon spiritual practices.One of the things these diaspora African religions testify to is the beauty of African religions to engage a devotee on many spiritual levels. But today that is not the case due to more exclusive-minded types of Christianity and Islam that see patronizing indigenous African beliefs and practices as violating the integrity of their Christian or Muslim principles, but I believe that one can maintain one’s religious integrity and also embrace an African worldview.Gazette: How can you do that?JO: My father, a faithful Anglican priest, was a good example. Some diviners operate self-explanatory mechanisms that reveal answers; other systems require the diviner to interpret cryptic metaphoric messages. While humans are greatly concerned about the "other," spiritual world, it is normally a silent world and must be given voice somehow in order for communication to take place. Some Africans believe that the ancestors are equal in power to deities, while others believe they are not. Piet Meyer, "Divination Among the Lobi of Burkina Faso," in, T. O. Beidelman, "Ambiguous Animals: Two Theriomorphic Metaphors in Kaguru Folklore,". Why is it that the most popular tricksters are tortoises, rabbits, spiders? A divination system based on the spider exists in Cameroon. Nature is not "natural" but cultural, and the criteria by which choices are made may be quite obscure to outsiders. African spirituality has always been able to adapt to change and allow itself to absorb the wisdom and views of other religions, much more than, for example, Christianity and Islam. What is the role of diviners in traditional African communities? "Twinning" occurs not only in the relationships of diviners and spirits, but between diviners and clients. The diviner draws out a large number of marked leaf "cards" from a container lying on the tail of a squirrel (who is also considered a messenger between worlds). Among the Kapsiki of northwestern Cameroon, specially marked pieces of gourd are placed in a container with the crab and all is covered. Female masked spirits featured prominently as judicial courts and judges of moral conduct. Copyright © 2021 The President and Fellows of Harvard College, Pilgrims: Progress and Regress in Three African Memoirs, An African Ecological Ethics of Invitation. This raises a related and essential understanding found throughout West African cultures: the "perfect" pair of twins is male and female.3, As part of their divination ritual, Yaka diviners from the Democratic Republic of the Congo use a slit gong, which incorporates both male and female symbolic forms representing male and female genitalia. The Lobi of Burkina Faso use a hand-holding type of divination wherein the diviner holds the client's right hand in his left hand; the raising and lowering of their clasped hands gives "yes" and "no" answers to their questions. Human rights groups have expressed concern over Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni authoritarian regime. Although South Africa became a Union with its own white people government in 1910, the country was still regarded as a colony of Britain till 1961. Again, it doesn't reflect the multiplicity of ways that traditional African spirituality has conceived of deities, gods, and spirit beings. A man and his son, with their wives, are divining with their paired pots: "proof" (past events, causes) and "promise" (future, interpretations). It goes on land and in the water, and so is above other animals.13. Divining processes are diverse, but all follow set routines by which otherwise inaccessible information is obtained. The mouse crawls up to the upper chamber and eats some corn, thereby rearranging the bones. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. That would be a serious loss not only for Africans, but also for academics, researchers, writers, and general seekers of wisdom the world over.Gazette: What else would we lose if we lost traditional African religions?JO: If we lose traditional African religions, we would also lose or continue to seriously undermine the African practice of rites of passage such as the much cherished age-grade initiations, which have for so long integrated and bought Africans together under a common understanding, or worldview. 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