Divination Techniques

By Eileen Moyer
University of Amsterdam (formerly University of Iowa)

Ngombo ya kusekula (divination basket), Chokwe peoples, Chipoya Village, Zambia, 1992. Photo by Manuel Jordán.

The ngomo pictured here was used by a Chokwe diviner in the Chokwe homeland which extends from southern Angola across the Democratic Republic of the Congo and into Zambia.  Chokwe basket divination, which has been extensively described by Manuel Jordán (1996), is nearly identical to that described in the previous screen. It has been suggested that a direct connection can be made between the spread of methods of divination and religious practices throughout central Africa and the spread of the Bantu languages throughout this same region.  In fact, the word ngomo is itself used for divination among many Bantu-speaking peoples.  Similarly, the cognate -nganga, in various forms, often refers to a diviner or healer in many societies (Janzen 1992).