The practice of bone divination is one of the oldest on Earth, and has played an important part in many African cultures. Many societies have given up the practice of divination, but there are some contemporary Africans who continue to use it as an important source of information and counsel. Where bone divination in Africa started is not clear, but it appears to have started in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the Lembe and Venda tribes, who migrated from the Zimbabwe area to the Transvaal region in South Africa.

There are two types of bone divination which exist. The first, which we will cover here, employs just four bones, four stones and two seeds. The second type of bone divination uses up to sixty bones, which I’ll not even attempt to cover. Both sets of bones, the four-bone set and the sixty-bone set, are known as ‘Bula’, which translates from an African language as ‘to speak’ or ‘the Word’, which gives some idea as to the high regard and reverence with which this divination system is regarded.