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Nggam ([ŋgam]) is a type of divination found among many groups in western Cameroon. Among the best documented is its practice by the Mambila people of Cameroon and Nigeria, in which the actions of spiders or crabs are interpreted by the diviner. [1][2] The form used by the neighbouring Yamba people was described by Gebauer in 1964[3] based on experience in Mbem going back to before 1939, and more recently by Hermann Gufler (1996[4] and 2003).[5] Good documentation of Nggam has been also published for the Bekpak (Bafia) people by Dugast[6] and for Bamileke people by Pradeles de Latour.[7] The crab form has been studied in north Cameroon by Walter van Beek (2013,[8] 2015[9]).

The comparative linguistics of spider divination in Cameroon was surveyed by Blench and Zeitlyn in 1989/1990.[10]

In 2021, Argentinian Tomás Saraceno artist developed a durational community project as part of the Berliner Festspiele’s Immersion programme. Described as “a web portal by, with and for the spider diviners of Somié, Cameroon”,[11] the project invites audiences to learn about the practice.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zeitlyn, David. 1987. Mambila Divination. Cambridge Anthropology 12 (1):21-51. NB: this also appeared as a chapter in Zeitlyn's PhD which is online: Mambila Traditional Religion, and in a revised form in: Zeitlyn, David. 1994. Sua in Somié. Mambila Traditional Religion. Vol. 41, Collectanea Instituti Anthropos. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag
  2. ^ David Zeitlyn. 2020. Mambila Divination: Framing Questions, Constructing Answers (Routledge Studies in Anthropology) London: Routledge. ISBN 9780367199500
  3. ^ Gebauer, Paul, 1900-1977. (1964). Spider divination in the Cameroons. Milwaukee Public Museum. OCLC 86224082.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Gufler, Hermann (1996). "Yamba Spider Divination" (PDF). Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford. 26: 43–67.
  5. ^ Gufler, Hermann. (2003). Affliction and moral order : conversations in Yambaland. Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing. ISBN 1-902671-35-X. OCLC 727799043.
  6. ^ Dugast, Idelette. (1959). Monographie de la tribu des Ndiki : Banen du Cameroun. OCLC 300142935.
  7. ^ Pradelles De Latour, Charles-Henry. Le Crâne qui parle : Deuxième édition de Ethnopsychanalyse en pays bamiléké. ISBN 978-2-908855-24-1. OCLC 1026578297.
  8. ^ Beek, Walter E. A. van, Ed. Peek, Philip M., Ed. (2013). Reviewing reality dynamics of African divination. Lit. ISBN 978-3-643-90335-8. OCLC 884486522.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ van Beek, Walter E. A. (2015-11-01). The Forge and the Funeral. Michigan State University Press. doi:10.14321/j.ctt17mcrtb. ISBN 978-1-60917-453-8.
  10. ^ Blench, Roger, and David Zeitlyn. 1989/1990. A Web of Words. SUGIA (Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika) 10/11:171-186
  11. ^ Festspiele, Berliner. "Tomás Saraceno: Nggàm dù - Immersion". Retrieved 2022-01-21.

External links[edit]