Sonia Silva deposited Along an African Border: Angolan Refugees and Their Divination Baskets in the group Performance Studies on Humanities Commons 1 year ago
In Along an African Border, anthropologist Sónia Silva examines how the Angolan refugees living in Zambia during the Angolan civil war used their divination baskets to cope with daily life in a new land. To many people, these baskets are capable of thinking, hearing, judging, and responding. They communicate by means of small articles drawn in configurations, interact with persons and other objects, punish wrongdoers, assist people in need, and, much like humans, go through a life course that is marked with an initiation ceremony and a special burial. The lipele functions in a state between object and person, being often described as a fetish or a personified object. Notably absent from lipele divination is any discussion or representation in the form of symbolic objects of the violence in Angola or the struggles of living in exile—instead, the consultation focuses on age-old personal issues of illness, reproduction, and death. Through basket divination, people in Zambia and Angola maintain their links to kin and tradition in a world of transience and uncertainty.