Binti

by

Nnedi Okorafor

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Astrolabe Term Analysis

An astrolabe is electronic device akin to a cellphone. In addition to allowing people to communicate, astrolabes also contain their owner’s entire past, possible futures, and family history. In Binti’s world, they act as a person’s passport or government identification. Everyone has one, and most are created by the Himba.

Astrolabe Quotes in Binti

The Binti quotes below are all either spoken by Astrolabe or refer to Astrolabe. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Tom Doherty edition of Binti published in 2015.
Binti Quotes

“There is a reason why our people do not go to that university. Oomza Uni wants you for its own gain, Binti. You go to that school and you become its slave.” I couldn’t help but contemplate the possible truth in her words. I hadn’t even gotten there yet and already I’d given them my life.

Related Characters: Binti’s Mother (speaker), Binti (speaker), The Chief
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

“Congratulations,” he said to me in his parched voice, holding out my astrolabe.

I frowned at him, confused. “What for?”

“You are the pride of your people, child,” he said, looking me in the eye. Then he smiled broadly and patted my shoulder. He’d just seen my entire life. He knew of my admission into Oomza Uni.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

When I’d sit in the desert, alone, listening to the wind, I would see and feel the numbers the way I did when I was deep in my work in my father’s shop. And those numbers added up to the sum of my destiny.

So in secret, I filled out and uploaded the acceptance forms. The desert was the perfect place for privacy when they contacted my astrolabe for university interviews.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Binti’s Father
Related Symbols: Otjize
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

Spongy. As if it were full of the firm jelly beads in the milky pudding my mother liked to make. I could sense current all around me. These people had deep active technology built into the walls and many of them had it running within their very bodies. Some of them were walking astrolabes, it was part of their biology.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu, The Chief, Binti’s Mother
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

“Was it the sting?” I asked.

“No,” it said. “That is something else. You understand, because you truly are what you say you are—a harmonizer.”

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu (speaker)
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
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Binti PDF

Astrolabe Term Timeline in Binti

The timeline below shows where the term Astrolabe appears in Binti. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Binti
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Binti looks back and can see the lights from her father’s astrolabe shop, the sand storm analyzer her brother built, and the Root—her parents’ house—as well. The... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
...was never going to be normal and approaches the travel security officer. He scans her astrolabe deeply; Binti has to steady herself from the dizziness. The scan gives the officer access... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Binti wants to ask the officer if he scans everyone’s astrolabe so deeply, but now she’s afraid. The officer can do anything to her. Binti stops... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...shrugs, uncomfortably aware of the people behind her. The guard notes that Binti builds fine astrolabes and asks if Binti built the edan. Binti explains that it’s just an old “computative... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...filled out the acceptance forms in secret and attended interviews in the desert over her astrolabe. Binti explains that she and her family are Bitolus, or master harmonizers who deeply understand... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...repeats her full name, thinks of her father, and remembers how he taught her about astrolabes. Binti was a “master harmonizer” by age 12 and is gifted with “mathematical sight,” like... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Binti picks up her astrolabe, which she made to fit her own needs before this trip. It’s so well-made that... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
The astrolabe finally says that Binti is 121 hours from Oomza Uni and projects a map. Binti... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...technology running through the walls of the ship and their bodies. Some are almost living astrolabes. Her facemask makes everything smell like desert flowers, which is typical of the Khoush women... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...itself and she sits up. Binti tells the chief that the Himba create and build astrolabes using math to create their currents. Suddenly, Binti realizes why the edan works for her:... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
...two suns, giving the planet many hours of daylight. Using the binocular vision on her astrolabe, she studies the planet. It’s all different colors; the part the ship heads for is... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
...by the question and says that she wants to study mathematics so she can make astrolabes and understand her edan. Okpala clarifies and asks Binti if she’ll ever go home; she... (full context)