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photo essay Southern African religion


Wim van Binsbergen


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(all photographs taken 1989-1991 -- 2000 Wim van Binsbergen)


image caption
typical outskirts of a Botswana urban residential area: uncultivated land covered with dry shrubs and grasses in which plastic shopping bags and other consumer debris has become entangled
one in a row of houses in an upgraded informal residential area in Francistown, Botswana, the plot on which the sangoma (diviner-priest) lodge is situated stands out (middle of picture) by large cacti which are otherwise rare in this urban environment
a moment of leisure on the urban residential plot of a major sangoma: a non-sangoma young tenant sips his traditional-style manufactured beer
herself already an accomplished sangoma in her own right, the sixteen-year-old granddaughter of the lodge leader brings out the drums to warm their membranes in the sun
a sangoma lodge leader posing in ceremonial dress on her residential plot in an upgraded informal residental area, Francistown, Botswana
ceremonially dressed for the occasion of having this picture taken, the head of the sangoma lodge demonstrates how she would cast the divining bones for another senior member of her lodge, her granddaughter, while another sixteen -year old sangoma grand-daughter watches standing
the younger sister expresses genuine surprise at the particular fall of the divination tablets during what was only meant to be a demonstration
the interior of a well-appointed vending stall in the shopping centre of Francistown, Botswana: virtually the only place where sangoma beads can be purchased locally
in the newly established village of Mashelegabedi, on the Botswana/Zimbabwe border at 25 km distance from Francistown: at his lodge leader's rural homestead, a twaza (trainee sangoma) threads a new bead necklace following directions from his cult leader
a sangoma lodge leader's maternal shrine at the eastern outskirts of her rural homestead
a sangoma lodge leader's paternal shrine at the western outskirts of her rural homestead
a Francistown residential plot on which, inconspicusously, a diviner-herbalist has her practice
situated along a major through-road in Francistown, this house is occupied by a senior member of the Nata branch of the Mwali cult, practising as a diviner-herbalist
the interior of the treatment room of Mr Smarts Gumede, one of Francistown's major diviner-herbalists until his death in 1992
Mr Smarts Gumede demonstrates how he would cast the bones inside his treatment room


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