Séance Reflections with Richard Werbner

[seance-reflections-with-richard-werbner--Film-list-image]
© Werbner
45 minutes / Colour / 2004
Directed by
Richard Werbner

Anthropologist

Country of production United Kingdom

Series The Well-Being Quest in Botswana

Njebe and Martha are a childless couple living in Botswana’s capital. Seeking to recover their well-being, they consult a charismatic diviner and healer, in Njebe’s old village, Moremi. They watch their filmed séances on a monitor and reflect with ethnographer Richard Werbner. Moved by the diviner’s revelations, about their intimate lives, they try to make sense of the séances puzzling moments. They wonder about the diviner’s rapid recital of highly ambiguous, archaic verse, his leading them in chants of call and response, and his preaching against Christianity and for restored communication with the ancestors. They express their doubts about the healing treatment. The film turns back and forth in time, and it moves across town and country. It follows the uncertainties of interpretation during and after séances, the blaming of occult attack on others, and the understanding of personal responsibility for failure to be caring of kin. It illuminates predicaments of urban villagers who straddle the city and the village.

Language and subtitles English and Tswapong with English Subtitles

Region Southern Africa

Country Botswana

Keywords Health / Health care / Healing Ritual Reproduction (biology)