chapter  1
10 Pages

Introduction

ByPatrick Curry

The author discusses African divination: as experience of the uncanny and through memoir. A mere academic treatise about the practices of divination could not have done justice to the private and personal grappling that the ritual elicits. The author examines how urban divination, without any specific traditional framework to support its practice, manages to remain a compelling practice for Africans. Many of his 'informants', African Christians or Muslims with strong allegiances to their traditions, felt equally torn; their participation in divination presented a crisis of religious identity. The dilemma plays out at the apex of the story, when, closely caught up in troubling revelations and too personally enmeshed in the research on divination itself, the author must decide whether to perform a repeatedly prescribed goat sacrifice, wondering whether it will draw him further off course or help resolve his inner turmoil.