Orality and Visuality as Media of Communication in African Divination

Abstract

This study is intended to facilitate the basic understanding of Orality and Visuality as media of communication in African divination systems and to underscore their relationships with related ritualistic and oracular activities and/or actions, and to emphasize their importance within the context of an Oracle that makes statements about future events or about the truth. It is discovered that the Oral languages and Visual images are major components of divination used by the diviners to communicate to the gods on behalf of the people in the traditional African society. From the angle of orality it is discovered that African divination covers a whole corpus of literature consisting not only of straightforward injunctions to sacrifice, of meaningful and elaborate names and (sometimes) prose stories, but also of a body of allusive and complex poetry used in passing oracular messages to diviners’ visitors. From visuality point of view it is established that seriated artistic compositions and mythic allusions to pristine primordial African cultural genres characterize African divination sculpture. In Yoruba divination trays (Opon Ifa), for an example, low relief zoomorphic, aquatic and anthropomorphic images, and geometric shapes encircle the divining surface. Above all it is concluded that some divination trays and other oracular apparatuses are depicted with equestrian figures and caryatid decorations to evoke legendary diviners and their worldly exploits.

Keywords: African Divination, Divination Trays, Mythic Allusions, Oracular Activities, Orality and Visuality


Article Review Status: Published

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