A man, who has become a Divinity, speaks in a state of trance. He speaks a language that is absolutely not comprehensible and reaches directly another man, the aggafari, his assistant. The aggafari translates in Oromo and Amharic so that everybody will understand what the Divinity is saying. The suppliants must still answer and are helped to formulate their answers by the more expert and by other specialists of the cult. The word of Divinity is a rhythmic song, sung at great speed. Before a sentence is finished, the aggafari has already caught the rhythm and proceeds thus with the translation keeping the same rhythm until the sentence is fully translated. When the Divinity gives the second answer the rhythm can change. The principle remains nevertheless the same: the translation starts before the end of the answer but it is always developed following the new rhythm. The rhythm is caught again before the end of the answer and its speed, musicality as well as cadence are respected. This game of questions and answers goes on. Considerable pathos can be perceived within the group of believers. The voice and the sounds heard can be fascinating for those who do not understand Oromo or Amharic, who do not know what the aggafari says. But if we understand the words of the Divinity there are good reasons to be terrified. During this particular night there was a trial in which decisions about the life or death of a woman were being taken. The aggafari, speaking to that woman was specifying: “nobody has to confess his guilt… in your place”.

Silenzio, suono e parola divina nei culti zar dell’Etiopia

Antonio Luigi Palmisano
2018

Abstract

A man, who has become a Divinity, speaks in a state of trance. He speaks a language that is absolutely not comprehensible and reaches directly another man, the aggafari, his assistant. The aggafari translates in Oromo and Amharic so that everybody will understand what the Divinity is saying. The suppliants must still answer and are helped to formulate their answers by the more expert and by other specialists of the cult. The word of Divinity is a rhythmic song, sung at great speed. Before a sentence is finished, the aggafari has already caught the rhythm and proceeds thus with the translation keeping the same rhythm until the sentence is fully translated. When the Divinity gives the second answer the rhythm can change. The principle remains nevertheless the same: the translation starts before the end of the answer but it is always developed following the new rhythm. The rhythm is caught again before the end of the answer and its speed, musicality as well as cadence are respected. This game of questions and answers goes on. Considerable pathos can be perceived within the group of believers. The voice and the sounds heard can be fascinating for those who do not understand Oromo or Amharic, who do not know what the aggafari says. But if we understand the words of the Divinity there are good reasons to be terrified. During this particular night there was a trial in which decisions about the life or death of a woman were being taken. The aggafari, speaking to that woman was specifying: “nobody has to confess his guilt… in your place”.
978-88-6680-300-3
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11587/437716
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