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Book No. 42

To first story in the book press: 2040

To last story in the book press: 2073

Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort

Dennett Richard Edward

Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort, Richard Edward Dennett, 1898



Richard Edward DENNETT,














Richard Edward Dennett was an English trader who worked out of what is today the Republic of the Congo in West Africa. He wrote extensively on the anthropology of the West Africans, including this book which recounts the folklore, particularly as it pertains to animals, of the region. This is a key source for West African folklore and story telling.



The following collections reached my hands in a more or less fragmentary state, The bulk of the work had been written at one time, and little was needed to put it into a state for publication. But other portions, and those not the least important, had been written at different times and with different objects, and the task of weaving them all together in the author's absence was not a light one. Thus, though the author has read the proofs of all but Appendix II, it will be easily understood that the difficulties involved in passing a book of this kind through the press, while he was residing several thousand miles away, are such as to account for many imperfections, which would have been rectified had he been able himself to determine its final form and to superintend its publication. The sins of omission, of occasional repetition, and perhaps of occasional obscurity, that may be found, must therefore be laid at the editor's, and not at the author's door. I can only hope that the circumstances may be taken into account to extenuate these offences.

The difficulties I have referred to would, indeed, have been insuperable had it not been for the incessant help of Miss Kingsley. The debt due to her is by no means confined to the writing of her interesting and valuable introduction and the arrangement of Appendix I. She read all the manuscripts and selected in the first instance those most suitable for publication. Innumerable questions of detail have arisen in the course of printing, making it necessary to refer constantly to her, and in every case her knowledge of the country and the people, her time and thought, have been ungrudgingly placed at the service of the Folk-Lore Society. Lastly, she selected the photographs to be reproduced for the plates, and laid her own stock of negatives under contribution for the purpose of adding to them. It has been a matter of regret that the Society has been unable to avail itself to a greater extent of her kindness in this direction.

I am also indebted to Mr. W. H. D. Rouse for help kindly rendered in revising the Latin translation of the songs.

The orthography of the word Fjort has been adopted with some hesitation. Mr. Dennett has himself not always adhered to this form. In the chapter on the Death and Burial of the Fjort (which was communicated independently to the Society and published in Folk-Lore, vol. viii., p. 133), as it originally stood, he wrote Fiote. The pronunciation of the word would, I am informed, be more closely represented in ordinary English spelling as Feeaught.


Highgarth, Gloucester,

July, 1898.




Ever since the Folk-Lore Society did me the honour to ask me to write an introduction to these stories, I have had a gradually intensifying sense of my incapacity to do it properly. It is true that I am personally acquainted with the tribe of Africans to whom these stories belong-that I have heard many of them told in the way Mr. Dennett so accurately describes-that I know Mr. Dennett personally, and am therefore acquainted with the many claims that anything he may have to say has upon students of primitive culture, because he speaks on the subject of the Fjorts from a knowledge gained during seventeen years of close association and sympathy with them,

and possesses also a thorough knowledge of their language. Yet, these things notwithstanding, I still feel that someone else should write this Introduction, because I am myself only a collector of West African ideas, and these stories clearly require a preface from the pen of a comparative ethnologist who could tell you how the Undine-like story of the vanishing wife got into Fjort folklore. I can only say I have not only heard this story, but I have known in the flesh several ladies whose husbands were always most anxious that they should not bear or see some one particular thing that would cause them to disappear, for ladies who have this weakness are always very valuable.

And again, I cannot tell you how the Fjorts came by the set of stories they and their neighbouring tribes possess regarding the descent into hell of living men, of which Mr. Dennett gives the finest example I know of in the story of "The Twin Brothers ": nor yet again how they came by the Prometheus-like story of "How the Spider won and lost Nzambi's Daughter." All these explanations I must leave to the comparative ethnologist; but in so doing it may be as well to mention a few things regarding the difficulties that present themselves, even to the mere collector, in forming opinions regarding West African folklore.

First, there is the difficulty of getting reliable information regarding the opinion of the natives on things, as that opinion at present stands. Secondly, there is the difficulty of forming an opinion as to why it stands in that form; whether it arises from the native's uninterrupted observations of Nature, modified by his peculiar form of intellect; or whether it is a white idea primarily, but in a state modified by having passed through a generation or so of African minds.

Regarding the difficulty of getting reliable information upon native customs it is not necessary for me to speak at great length, because it is now fully recognised by scientific students of the subject. The best way of surmounting the difficulty is for the ethnologist to go and study the mind of the native personally; but this method is not one easily followed in West Africa on account of the deadliness of the climate and other drawbacks. But even if this method is followed, as it was by Bastian, Buchholz, and Hubbe Schlieden, it is still greatly to the student's advantage to compare his own collected information with that of men who have been for years resident in West Africa, who are well acquainted with the native language, and who have had opportunities of observing the native conduct under all sorts of difficulties, dangers, joys, and sorrows-who have, as the old saying puts it, summered and wintered them. Unfortunately such white men are rare in West Africa; but so great is the value of their opinions in my eyes that I have always endeavoured to get the few there are of them to publish their information for the benefit of students of ethnology at home, instead of leaving these worthy people to the mercy of travellers' tales. Do not however imagine that I regard the traveller as, next to the mining expert, the most unreliable source of information extant. Even the African traveller has given reliable information on many things, but the conditions under which African travel is carried on are not favourable to the quiet, patient sympathetic study of the native mind; for that we must look to the white resident in Africa, the missionary, and the trader.

To give you an instance of the ease with which native customs might be badly observed by a traveller, I will cite an experience of my own when I (in spite of not being a true traveller but a wandering student of early law), nearly fell into error. Passing down a branch of the Karkola River in the Oroungou country, in a canoe with a choice band of natives for crew, we suddenly came upon a gentleman on the bank who equally suddenly gave several dismal howls and fired at us with the scatter gun prevalent in West Africa. Having a rooted antipathy to being fired at, and knowing that the best way to prevent a recurrence of the unpleasantness when dealing with a solitary native is to tackle him before he reloads, I jumped on to the bank. The man turned and fled, and I after him down a narrow bush-path followed at a discreet distance by a devoted member of the crew yelling for me to come back. I succeeded in getting bold of my flying friend by his powder-bag and asked him why he had behaved so extremely badly. Then, when the rest of the crew saw that the incident promised entertainment without danger, they joined us, and we found the poor man was merely suffering under domestic affliction. One of his wives had run away with a gentleman from a neighbouring village, and so he had been driven to fire at and attempt to kill a member of any canoe-crew from yet another village that might pass his way; because, according to the custom of the country, the men of this village would thereby have to join him in attacking the village of the man who had stolen his wife. So you see, if I had not minded being fired at, but just put down in my note-book that the people of this region were hostile savages and passed on, I should not have come across this interesting piece of native law, nor any of the other interesting pieces of native law I gained knowledge of during the subsequent palavers. This is only one instance of many which I have come across, wherein it would be almost impossible for a person rapidly passing through a country to form a true opinion regarding a native custom, and these instances have all confirmed me in my respect for the resident white man's opinion.

The missionary opinion has of late years been regarded by the ethnologist somewhat suspiciously, as being a biassed one, but, however this may be, we are very heavily indebted to the missionaries for the work they have done in native languages. This department is one to which the missionary has naturally devoted himself, because his aim in dealing with native-, is to make them comprehend his teaching. He is, for many reasons, not so much interested in other parts of native culture. Their manners, customs, laws, and religions are, from his point of view, bad and foolish; but experience has taught him that the natives will listen to his teaching as soon as they can understand him, and therefore he is mostly content to leave alone the study of other things than the language, as little better than waste of time. There have been, however, several notable exceptions to this general rule. The works published by the Rev. J. L. Wilson,[Western Africa. J. Leighton Wilson. London, 18561] the Rev. H, Goldie,[ Calabar and its Mission. Hugh Goldie. Edinburgh, 1890] and the Rev. H. M. Waddell are of immense value, both from the great opportunities of observation these gentlemen had, and from their speaking of native customs and ideas with a knowledge of the native language. Unfortunately, the missionary who could surpass all these, valuable as they are, the Rev. Dr. Nassau, shows no sign of breaking the silence which afflicts all men who really know West Africa.

I cannot help thinking that the time has now come when it is the duty of some ethnologist to turn philologist for himself, with the assistance already provided for him by the missionaries, and work at African languages, not from the point of view of their structure, classification, and diffusion, but from that of their inner meaning, and I can safely promise him the discovery of an extremely interesting Mass of matter. I feel sure that we cannot thoroughly understand the inner working of the African mind until this department of the study of it has been efficiently worked up; for the languages contain, and are founded on, a very peculiar basis of figurative thought, and until that is thoroughly understood we really cannot judge the true meaning of native statements on what is called totemism, and sundry other subjects.

The other resident white who lives in close contact with the native is the trader. I regret to say I can cite to you no book of reference on native customs by a trader in modern times, save Mr. J. Whitford's; [Trading Life in Western and Central Africa. J. Whitford] but in former days we had several, chief among which are those of Bosman,[ Bosman's Description of Guinea. London, 1705] Sicur Brue,[ Labat's Afrique Occidentale, 1728] and Barbot; and the great exactness of these makes one all the more regret the absence of the West Coast trader from modern literature. I have done my utmost to induce many of the gentlemen whom I have had the honour to know personally to break through their silence and give us works again like Bosman's Guinea, they being by experience and knowledge so pre-eminently fitted to speak regarding native customs, and I think with regret of the perfectly irreplaceable library of knowledge that has been lost by the death of Captain Boler of Bonny, and Major Parminter, and of the other great collections of facts that Mr. Wallace, Mr. Bruce Walker, Mr. Hart, Mr. Pinnock, Mr. Forshaw, and several others could give us. Mr. Dermett is so far, however, the only one inclined to do anything else but shake his head in horror over the mis-statements circulated about Africans.

The position of the trader towards the native is such as to make his information and observations particularly valuable to the ethnologist. The trader is not intent on altering the native culture to a European one; but he is intent on understanding the thing as it stands, so that he may keep at peace with the natives himself and induce them to keep peace with each other, for on peace depends the prosperity of West African regions in the main. We have not any tribe on the West Coast that subsists by war; we have no slave-raiding tribes that are directly in touch with the coast-trader; [This statement does not include the Royal Niger Company, who have pushed up through the middle-man zone] but we have a series of middlemen tribes through whose hands the trade from the interior passes to the latter. The middlemen system is in its highest state of development from the Niger to the Benito. Above this part namely, in the regions of the Bight of Benin-the power of the middleman has been broken considerably by Mohammedan influence; while below, from the Benito to the Congo, it is now being considerably upset by the invasion of the Bafan from the interior, and the enterprise of the French explorers. To the south of the Congo it has long ago been broken by the Portuguese. Therefore the trader's greatest danger is now in the Niger districts, when a chief, on account of some quarrel, stepping trade passing through his district, may become a serious nuisance to the white man. The management of the chief, however, has in those regions now passed into the hands of the English government in the Niger Coast Protectorate, and into the hands of the Royal Niger Company in the regions of the middle Niger; so it is not so interesting to study the relationships of the native and the trader in those regions as it is to study those existing between the individual white traders, such as Mr. Dennett, and the native, as you can still find them in Congo Français, and in KaCongo and Angola. Here the trader is practically dealing single-handed with the native authorities, and is regarded by them in much the same light as they regard one of their great spirits, as an undoubtedly superior, different sort of creation from themselves, yet as one who is likewise interested in mundane affairs, and whom they try to manage and propitiate and bully for their own advantage; while the trader, on his part, gets to know them so well during this process that he usually gets fond of them, as all white men who really know Africans always do, and looks after them when they are sick or in trouble, and tries to keep them at peace with each other and with the white government, for on peace depends the prosperity that means trade. Therefore, on the whole, the trader knows his African better than all the other sorts of white men put together, and he demonstrates this in two ways. Firstly, he calls upon the gods to be informed why he is condemned to live and deal with such a set of human beings, as those blacks; and then, if the gods remove him from them and send him home to live among white men, he spends the rest of his days contrasting the white and black human beings to the disadvantage of the former, and hankering to get back to the Coast, which demonstrates that the trader feels more than other men the fascination of West Africa, in other words that he understands West Africa, and therefore that he is the person most fitted to speak regarding it, and the most valuable collector of facts that the student of the primitive culture in the region can get to act for him.

I will now turn from presenting you with the credentials of Mr. Dennett to the consideration of the value of these stories which he has sent up to the Folk-Lore Society, and which are laid before you quite untouched by other white hands. Mr. Dennett's own knowledge of the Fjort language has enabled him to give them in a fuller and more connected form than is usually given to the African story.

The position in the native culture of stories, such as those of which you have specimens here, is exceedingly interesting. African native literature (if one may so call it, while it has no native written language) consists of four branches-proverbs, stories, riddles, and songs. Burton, in his Wit and Wisdom of West Africa, collected many of the proverbs; and Ellis, in his important works on the Tshi, Ewè, and Yoruba- speaking peoples, has also collected specimens of all of the three first-named classes. So far, I think, no one has dealt with the songs, and indeed it would be exceedingly difficult to do so, as in the songs, more than in any other native thing, as far as I can judge, do you find yourself facing the strange under-meaning in the very words themselves. But, interesting as the songs and riddles are, the proverbs and stories are infinitely the more important portions of the native literature, for in them we get the native speaking to his fellow-native, not to the white man, about his beliefs.

The stories can be roughly divided into three classes (only roughly, because one story will sometimes have material in it belonging to two classes)-legal, historical, and play. You have in this small collection examples of all these. The Nzambi stories are historico-legal the "Crocodile and the Hen" is legal; "the Wonderful Child " is play-story, and so on.

As a general rule, historical stories are rare among West African tribes -, you find more of them among the Fjort than among the Ewé or Tshi [This is the spelling of the word used by Ellis, but it is pronounced by the natives "T'chewhe."] people even, and infinitely more than amongst true forest-belt tribes, like the Ajumba, Fan, and Shekiani. I have repeatedly questioned natives regarding their lack of interest in the past history of their tribes, and have always had the same sort of answer: "Why should we trouble ourselves about that? They (the dead) lived as we live now. A chief long ago bought, and sold, and fought; we now buy, and sell, and fight. We are here in this world; he has gone away." This spirit obtains, of course, only regarding the human experiences of the men who have lived "in the old time."

I well remember being struck with a phrase Dr. Nassau used: "the future which is all around them." Once I asked him why he used it, and he only smiled that grave, half-pitying smile of his; but as my knowledge of the native grew by experience, I came to understand that phrase, and to put alongside it the phrase: "the past which is all around them." I am afraid a vague make of mind like my own is necessary in order to grasp the African's position; for every mortal printer who comes across my quotation of the Doctor's phrase puts a long note of interrogation, instantly, in the margin of the proof.

Legal stories, however, do not plunge us into such mental swamps when studying them; and they are the stories which have the greatest practical value, for in them is contained evidence of the moral code of the African, and a close study of a large number of them gives you a clearer perception of the native ideal of right conduct than any other manifestation of his mind that I know of. You will find them all pointing out the same set of lessons: that it is the duty of a man to honour his elders; to shield and sustain those dependent on him, either by force of hand or by craft; that violence, or oppression, or wrong done can be combated with similar weapons; that nothing can free a man from those liabilities which are natural to him; and, finally, that the ideal of law is justice-a cold, hard justice which does not understand the existence of mercy as a thing apart from justice. For example, a man, woman, or child, not knowing what it does, damages the property of another human being. Native justice requires, and contains in itself, that if it can be proved the act was committed in ignorance that was not a culpable ignorance, the doer cannot be punished according to the law. I by no means wish you to think that the administration of the law is perfect, but merely that the underlying principles of the law itself are fairly good.

The part these stories play in the administration of justice is remarkable. They clearly are the equivalents to leading cases with us, and just as the English would cite A v. B, so would the African cite some such story as "The Crocodile and the Hen, or any other stories you find ending with "and the people said it was right." Naturally, the art in pleading lies in citing the proper story for the case-one that either puts your client in the light of a misunderstood, suffering innocent, or your adversary in that of a masquerading villain.

It may at first strike the European as strange, when, listening to the trial of a person for some offence before either a set of elders, or a chief, he observes that the discussion of the affair soon leaves the details of the case itself, and busies itself with the consideration of the conduct of a hyæna and a bush-cat, or the reason why monkeys live in trees, or some such matter; but if the European once gets used to the method, and does not merely request to be informed why he should be expected to play at Æsop's Fables at his time of life, the fascination of the game will seize on him, and he will soon be able to play at Æsop's Fables with the best, and to point out that the case, say, of the Crocodile and the Hen, does not exonerate some friend of a debtor of his from having committed iniquity in not having given up property, lodged with him by the debtor, to its rightful owner.

Regarding the play-stories, it is not necessary for me to speak, they are merely interesting from the scraps of information you find embedded in them regarding native customs and the native way of looking on life.

The form of religion which Mr. Dennett calls Nkissism requires a great deal of attention and study, and seems to me exceedingly interesting, most particularly so in its form in KaCongo and Loango, where, in my opinion, it is an imported religion. I say my opinion, merely because I do not wish to involve Mr. Dennett in a statement of which he may disapprove; but you will find Mr. Dennett referring to the manner in which Fumu Kongo, the King of Congo, sent his two sons to take possession of the provinces of KaCongo and Loango, which to this day bear their names, and that be sent with them wise men, learned in the cult of Nzambi, and that at each place whereat the princes stayed they left a Nkiss. I am driven to conjecture that in introducing these Nkissi and their attendant Ngangas, the two princes were introducing a foreign religion into KaCongo and Loango-the religion of their father, the King of Congo. During my own sojourns on the South-Western African Coast, I got to know whereabouts you may expect to meet with the Nkiss and its Nganga, when you are coming down the Coast from the north; and I can only say that I have never been able myself to find, or to find among those people more conversant with the Coast than I am, any trace of the existence of Nkissism until you reach the confines of the kingdom of Loango. It is true, the essential forms of fetish-worship and ideas of Loango, KaCongo and Congo, are common to the districts north of them, namely, the Ogowé, the Cameroons, the Oil Rivers, and the Bight of Benin; yet, if I may so call it, that particular school of fetish called do not meet with until you strike the northern limits of the old kingdom of Kongo.

Where exactly this school of fetish arose I am unable to say, but I think its home, from divers observations made by Sir H. H. Johnston, who has given much attention to the ethnology of the Bantu, must have been the region to the south-east or east-south-east of the region where it was first discovered by Europeans, namely, in the kingdom of Congo. There are many points in it which sharply differentiate it from the form of fetish of the true Negro, and it seems to be the highest form that the fetish of the Bantu has attained to.

We have an enormous amount of information of an exceedingly interesting character left us by the early Portuguese navigators and by the Italian, Portuguese, and Flemish Roman Catholic missionaries who worked so devotedly for nearly 200 years from 1490 in the kingdom of' Congo. Yet, so far as I have been able to discover, they give one little, if any, information regarding the traditional history of Congo prior to its discovery by the Portuguese. They found there what they regarded as a prosperous and wealthy state in a condition of considerable culture, an immense territory ruled over by vassal lords subject to one king, who was a temporal king, clearly distinct from the fetish king of the true Negroes. From the accounts they give the native religion, which, unfortunately for the ethnologist, they scorned and detested too much to study in detail, there is little doubt that that form of religion was Nkissism and that "the wizards," whom they term Gangas, the chasing whereof gave the worthy fathers such excellent sport, were no other than the Nganga Nkissi Mr. Dennett describes.

Regarding, however, the territorial relationship between Congo and KaCongo and Loango these early historians are yet more unsatisfactory. The missionaries, however, have occasion now and then to speak of the natives of the north banks of the Congo, because they were occasionally cast among them when, by a turn in the wheel of fortune, the wizards got the upper hand, or a subsidiary chief to the King of Congo rebelled; and they always speak of these north-bank people as being fearsome and savage tribes, given to the eating of men and so on. And this bad opinion of them was evidently held by the Kongoes themselves; for it was with direct intent to get two Capuchin Fathers killed, for example, that the Count of Sogno, during his rebellion about 1636, drove the Fathers out of his domains. "After having been much misused and unprovided of all necessaries, they were left on the confines of the Count's dominions on a little uninhabited island of the River Zaire.[ Regarding the islanders of the Lower Congo in 1700, Barbot says: They are strong, well-set, live after a beastly manner, and converse with the Devil." A Description of the Coasts of North and South Guinea, by John Barbot, Agent-General of the Royal Company of Africa and the Islands of America, at Paris. 17321] Here they made a shift to support themselves two or three days, Father Thomas, who was the least hurt of the two, going out to hunt for their subsistence. But at length they were unexpectedly delivered from thence by some pagan fishermen, who took them on board and carried them to a city of theirs called Bombangoij, in the kingdom of Angoy.[Merolla says Angoij is a kingdom rather in name than in dominion having but a small territory. Here, formerly, a certain Mani, happening to marry a mulatto, daughter to a very rich Portuguese, his father-ill law would needs make him King of Angoij, and for this purpose caused him to rebel against the King of Kacongo, his lawful lord." Anaoij was a small territory on the seaward end of the north bank of the Congo] Here, arriving at night, they were very courteously entertained by an infidel of the place, who gave them supper and, moreover, assigned to them a house and three women to wait on them after the manner of the country. But our Fathers, not caring to trust themselves among these people, soon after they had supped, sending away their women, meditated an escape. For this purpose Father Thomas, who was the best able to walk, took his lame companion on his back and marched out of the house; but before he had gone far, he was forced through weakness to set down his burden under a great shady tree, which, as soon as day appeared, for fear of discovery they got up into. Their patron, coming that morning to visit his guests and finding them gone, much wondered, and well knowing they could not go far by reason of the condition be left them ill, immediately went about to search after them. Coming at last near the place where they were, and not having yet found them, a pagan thought came into his head that they might have been carried away by some spirit, which he expressed after this manner: 'If the devil has carried them away, I suppose he did it that they might make me no recompense for my kindness.' Our Fathers, hearing this, could not forbear laughing, even amidst their miseries and misfortunes, and putting out their heads from the tree' cried out: 'We are here, friend, never doubt our gratitude; for we only went out of the house to refresh ourselves with the rays of the morning sun.' Hereat the old man, being exceedingly rejoiced, immediately took them down, and putting them into two nets (hammocks) sent them away to Capinda (Kabinda), a port in the kingdom of Angoij, about two days from Bombango-ij."[ A Voyage to Congo, by Father Jerome Merolla da Sorrento, 1682. Churchill Collection, vol. i. p. 521]

This account, I think, shows clearly that in 1636 Loango and KaCongo were not provinces of the king of Congo, for had they been so, the Capuchins would have had no dread of the inhabitants, but have known they were safe; for, although they were driven out of Sogno, this had been done entirely because they were Capuchins. The Count of Sogno immediately attempted to supply their place with Franciscans, his objection to Capuchins arising from his regarding them as allies of the Portuguese and King of Kongo, against whom he was at war; and, although it may be urged that the early missionaries to Congo were in the habit of going up trees, some of them, indeed cautiously bringing out with them from home rope-ladders for that purpose, yet this is the only instance, I think, of their climbing up them out of the way of natives. The usual cause was an "exceeding plentie of lions and tygers and other monsters, for not half of which," they cheerily observed, "would they have made a mouthful."

Proyart gives us;a slightly more definite statement. He says:-"The King of Congo claims the Kingdom of KaCongo as a province of his States, and the King of KaCongo, doubtless by way of reprisals, never calls himself any other title but Ma Congo, King of Congo, instead of King of KaCongo. a title given him by foreigners, and one that suits him. These pretensions are not always unfounded; many small kingdoms of savage states, which at the present day share Africa among them, were originally provinces dependent on other kingdoms, the particular governors of which usurped the sovereignty. It is not long since Sogno ceased to be a province of the kingdom of Congo."[ History of Loango and Kacongo, by the Abbé Proyart. Paris, 17761]

Unfortunately there is no means of fixing any date to the severance of the two north-bank provinces from the main kingdom. Apparently they had asserted their independence long enough for the question not to have been a burning political one in Congo at the time of Diego Cab's discovery of the Congo in 1484. It is, however, idle to conjecture how long prior to that date KaCongo and Loango ceased to be fiefs of the King of Congo. It may have been centuries, or it may have been but a few decades; for, for some time prior to Diego Caö's arrival, Congo itself had been so terribly worried by those interesting, but, as yet, undetermined people, the Gagas or Gindes (a fearful, warlike, cannibal tribe, who, according to Battel [The Strange Adventures of Andrew Battel of Leigh in Essex. (Purchas His Pilgrims.) See also A Curious and Exact Account of a Voyage to Coligo in theyears] who was amongst them about 1695, came from Sierra Leone, harassed the inland borders of Congo and penetrated as far south as Dondo in Angola) that, at the time of the coming of Diego Caö, undoubtedly the public mind was entirely concentrated on these Gagas-a condition of affairs which enabled the Portuguese and their missionaries to obtain the ascendancy in the kingdom, as they did, and which would, in all human probability but for their timely arrival, have wiped the kingdom of Congo out.

This distraction was sufficiently great to have caused a people so deficient in interest in historical matters to have almost forgotten the severance from the main kingdom (which was situated on the southern bank of the Great River) of two provinces on the northern bank, even had the severance been comparatively recent-provinces, moreover, that could never have been much in touch with the tbrone-town at San Salvador on account of their difficulty of access, the terrific current of the river making canoe-journeys across its stream alike difficult and dangerous.

But a far stronger proof than there is in the scattered observations relating to the affair in white, literature, of the tradition of the two sons of Fumu Kongo, as given by Mr. Denuett, being a historical tradition, I think is found in the existence in KaCongo and Loango of this peculiar form of fetish, Nkissism. It is surrounded in these provinces on all sides, save the sea and the Congo, by a dissimilar form of fetish, which I believe to be the form of fetish Nkissism supplanted.

During my first visit to Africa I came in contact with the Fjort tribes and learnt much from Mr. Dennett personally regarding their beliefs and customs; and all that I myself saw fully bore out the accuracy of his statements about them. During my second visit my time was mainly spent among tribes inhabiting country to the north and north-east of the Fjorts, and among those tribes I did not find the Nkiss and Nganga as aforesaid. Nevertheless, I found something extremely like some of the Nkiss of the Fjorts: deities which, as far as I can see form observations on their powers and spheres of influence, simply indistinguishable from some of the Nkiss which Mr. Dennett describes as acknowledged among the Fjort, such ones as that of the Mountain Mungo. This sort of deity is called by the Mpongwe-speaking tribes Ombuiri. They have, however, no priesthood whatsoever attached to their service. Every human being who passes one of their places of habitation has to do obeisance to the Ombuiri who inhabits it, just to give some trifling object in homage as a token of respect. As a general rule the 1mbuiri (pl.) are, as West African deities go, fairly inoffensive; but now and then one will rise up and kill someone by throwing down a tree on a passer by its forest glade, or, by swelling up the river it resides in, will cause devastating inundation. But it is really quite a different species of deity from the regular Nkiss, such as was introduced by the emissaries of Fumu Kongo into the regions of KaCongo and Loango. You would never, for example, if you were a member of a Mpongwe stem tribe, think of calling in an Ombuiri to settle the question of who killed a man or who had stolen something. You would call in a totally different class of spirit . Yet when you are in KaCongo or Loango, or among the Ivili tribe, [A small and dying-out set of Fjorts, living in a few villages near the confluence of the Ogowe-Okanda and the Ngunie Rivers, having a tradition that they eame from Loango and were driven by bad weather into the Ogowe and by bad men to their present situation] you will see these great, honourable, ancient Nature-spirits, these Imbuiri themselves, in charge of a mere human priest employed in the most trivial affairs concerning thefts of garden hoes or cooking pots and such like; and I am quite sure, if you have a Mpongwe Soul in you, you will be deeply shocked at this degradation. If you were only an ethnologist, ignorant of the little bit of history regarding the King of Congo and the Nganga he sent with his Nkissi from his throne-town of San Salvador into the conquered provinces of KaCongo, Loango and Ngoio, you might be tempted to regard an Ombuiri having a priest and a ritual of a definite kind attached to it, as an instance of a development in religious thought and a demonstration of how gods at large are made. But with a knowledge of the history of the affair, dateless as that history is, I think you will be induced to believe that the Imbuiri have merely suffered that change which nature-spirits have suffered in other lands taken possession of by a conqueror with a religion of his own: namely, that some of the spirits worshipped by the conquered people were held in such respect that the conquerors held it more politic to adopt them into their own religion, after making suitable alterations in their characters, than to attempt to destroy them; and so it is that to-day you will find Imbuiri made into Nkissi and existing in esteem and worship side by side with a very different kind of deity, the true Nkissi of Fumu Kongo.

The best authority for the present condition of the Fjort religion is Monteiro, who says: "In times past the King of Congo was very powerful. All the country, as far as and including Loanda, the River Congo and Cabinda, was subject to him and paid him tribute. The missionaries under his protection worked far and wide, attained great riches, and were of immense benefit to the country, where they and the Portuguese established and fostered sugar-cane plantations, indigo manufactories, iron-smelting and other kindred trades. With the discovery and colonisation of the Brazils, however, and the expulsion of the Jesuits from Angola, the power of the Portuguese and of the King of Congo has dwindled away to its present miserable condition. The King of Congo is now only Chief of San Salvador and a few other small towns, and does not receive the least tribute from any other, nor does he possess any power in the land. Among the natives of Angola, however, he still retains a certain amount of prestige as King of Congo, and all would do homage to him in his presence, as he is considered to possess the greatest fetish of all the kings and tribes, though powerless to exact tribute from them." [Angola and the River Congo, by J. J. Monteiro. Macmillan, 18751]

Things are to-day exactly as Monteiro describes them regarding the natives. KaCongo is under Portuguese rule, Loango tinder French; the regions that were part of the old main kingdom are divided between Portugal and Congo Belge. But the natives of these countries alike acknowledge the importance of the King of Congo's fetish, while just north of Loango you meet with the regions of the tribes that regard him not; they may have heard of him, but his fetish is not their fetish, for they never fell under the rule of Nkissi.

I need now only detain you with a few remarks about the infusion of Christian doctrine into the original Fjort fetish. The admixture of doctrines both from Christian missionary teaching, and from Mohammedan, makes the study of the real form of the native's own religion difficult in several West African districts, notably so at Sierra Leone, the Gold, Slave, and Ivory coasts, and among the Fjort of the Congo and Angola. But, provided you are acquainted with the forms of fetish in districts which have not been under white influence, such as those of the great forest-belt from the Niger to the Niari, a little care will enable you to detect what is, and what is not, purely native.

It is true that the whole of the Fjorts were under the sway of Roman Catholicism more thoroughly and for a greater duration of time than any other West African people have been under any European influence. The energy with which the kin s of Congo took it up from the first was remarkable but it is open to doubt whether those dusky monarchs were not in so doing as much actuated by temporal considerations as spiritual. As I have mentioned before, when the Portuguese first came into the country, the country was in imminent peril from the Gagas, a peril from which the Portugese rescued it. The whole aim of the Congoese thereupon became to be as much like the Portuguese as possible. Many natives went up to Lisbon and were received with great courtesy by the king, João II.; and while there they saw, in the keen but empirical African native way, how great a veneration the Portuguese held their priests in, how the very king himself did them homage, and how even durst hardly leave haven on a voyage without a chaplain on board. And there is little doubt that from these observations the Congoese regarded the Roman Catholic priests with great veneration, and thought that in them and their teaching lay the secret of earthly power, at any rate; and the king of Congo and his subsidiary princes did their utmost to get as many of these priests to come and live among them and instruct them as possible, and when there the priests themselves, by their own nobility, devotion, and courage, confirmed the Congoese in their opinion of their, to them, superhuman powers. Ceaselessly active, regardless of danger, they led armies into battle, and notably into that great battle in which Alfonso I. of' Congo, the Christianised king, fought with his brother, Pasanquitama, for the crown, and had his army saved from immolation and given victory by the appearance of St. James and an angelic host fighting on his side in the crisis of the battle.

It is impossible in the space at my command to enter into the history of the Roman Catholic mission to Congo, owing to its great complexity of detail. Capuchins, Jesuits, Franciscans alike laboured there; but the doctrine they taught being uniformly that of Rome, it affords no such difficulty in recognition among the native traditions as do the results of the other forms of Christian mission. Moreover, the hold of the missionaries was not by any means so great in KaCongo and Loango as it was in the kingdom of Congo itself. Merolla says: "The kingdom of Loango lies in 5º and a half, south latitude. The Christian religion was first planted there in the year 1663,[One hundred and sixty-seven years later than in Congo, and therefore at the time of the breaking up of the Portuguese power by the Dutch, who are referred to by the missionaries as "the Heretics."] by the labour and diligence of one Father Ungaro, a friar of our Order. Father Bernardino Ungaro, on entering into his work of evangelising Loango, commenced by baptising the king and queen, after having instructed them for some days, and then marrying them according to the manner of our church. His next business was to baptise the king's eldest son, and after him, successively, the whole court, which consisted of about 300 persons. In a word, within the space of' a year that he lived there he had baptised upwards of 12,000 people. At last this zealous missioner, finding himself oppressed by a grievous indisposition and believing that he should not live long, sent for our lay Brother Leonard, who coming not long after to him, the pious father died the same morning that he arrived, well provided, as we may imagine, of merits for another world.

"The good king hearing this, and being desirous to keep up what he had so happily begun, sent Brother Leonard to the aforesaid Superior (Father João Maria de Pavia in Angola) to acquaint him with Ungaro's death and to desire him to speedily send another missioner; but, however, these his good intentions were afterwards disappointed by a rebellion raised against him by a kinsman, who, being ambitious of his crown, and having been assisted by some apostate Catholics, deprived the good king of his life. The tyrant and usurper that dispossessed him lived not long after to enjoy his ill-gotten throne, but was snatched away from it by a sudden death. This wicked person being dead, another king arose, who, though he did all he could by the help of one Capuchin, to promote what had been begun by Father Ungaro, yet was not able to bring his intentions about, and that for want of more missioners, wherefore the kingdom remains at present, as formerly, buried in idolatry. In my time were several attempts made to recover our interest there, though to no purpose. . . . . I never heard there was any Christian prince in the kingdom of Angoij (Cabinda), that country having been always inhabited by a sort of people extremely given to sorcery and magic." [A Voyage to Congo, by Father Jerome Merolla da Sorrento, 1682. Churchill Collection, vol. i.]

There is yet another passage in Merolla's very wise and very charming work that has an especial bearing on the subjects treated of in this book of Mr. Dennett's. The holy Father gives a long list of "the abuses" existing in his time among the natives of Kongo. This list has a double interest. It shows us how acute a mind he had, how clearly he saw the things that were fundamental to the form of religion he battled against; but it has a great interest to an ethnologist apart from this, as it gives us a clearer insight into native custom than has been given us by any subsequent traveller in that region, and moreover because there is not one custom that the holy Father classes as "an abuse" that does not exist to-day with the same force as in the seventeenth century. I will only detain you now with Merolla's description of "The seventh abuse," that of prohibited foods, for you will often in this book come across references by Mr. Dennett to the Kazila.

"Seventhly, it is the custom that either the parents or the wizards give certain rules to be inviolably observed by the young people, and which they call Chegilla. These were to abstain from eating either some sorts of poultry, the flesh of some kinds of wild beasts, such and such fruits; roots either raw or boiled after this or another manner, with several other ridiculous injunctions of the like nature, too many to be enumerated here. You would wonder with what religious observance these injunctions were obeyed. These young people would sooner abuse to fast several days together than to taste the least bit of what has been forbidden them; and if it sometime happen that the Chegilla has been neglected to have been given them by their parents, they think they shall presently die unless they go to receive it from the wizards. A certain young Negro being upon a journey lodged in a friend's house by the way; his friend, before he went out the next morning, had got a wild hen ready for his breakfast, they being much better than tame ones. The Negro hereupon demanded, 'If it were a wild lion Id' His host answered, 'No.' Then he fell on heartily and afterwards proceeded on his journey. After four years these two met together again, and the aforesaid Negro being not yet married, his old friend asked him, 'If he would eat a wild hen,' to which he answered, 'That he had received his Chegilla and could not.' Hereat the host began immediately to laugh, inquiring of him, 'What made him refuse it now, when he had eaten one at his table about four years ago?' At the hearing of this the Negro immediately fell a trembling, and suffered himself to be so far possessed with the effects of imagination, that he died in less than twenty-four hours after." [A Voyage to Congo, by Father Jerome Merolla da Sorrento, 1682. Churchill Collection, vol. i. p. 237]

The subject of these prohibitions regarding either some particular form of food, or some particular manner of eating any form of food, is a very interesting one.

You will find in West Africa, under all the various schools of fetish thought, among both Negro and Bantu, that every individual, slave or free, so long as he is not under either European or Mahommedan influence, has a law that there is some one thing that he individually may not do. Among the Calabar people it is called Ibet, which signifies a command, a law, an abstinence. Among the Gaboon people it is called Orunda, which Dr. Nassau informs me signifies a prohibition. Among the Fjorts it is called Kecheela or Chegilla. But under whatever name you meet it, it is in itself always the same in its essential character, for it is always a prohibition regarding food.

When I was in West Africa in daily contact with this custom and the inconveniences it presents, like any prohibition custom, to every-day affairs, I endeavoured to collect information regarding it. At first I thought it might be connected with the totemism. I had read of; but I abandoned this view, finding no evidence to support it, and much that went against it.

Soinctimes I found that one prohibition would be common to a whole family regarding some particular form of food; but the individual members of that family had each an individual prohibition apart from the family one. Moreover, there was always a story to account for the whole family abstaining from eating some particular animal. That animal had always afforded signal help to the family, or its representative, at some crisis in life. I never came across, as I expected to, a story of the family having descended from the animal in question, nor for the matter of that any animal whatsoever; and these stories regarding the help received from animals which caused the family in gratitude to avoid killing them were always told voluntarily and openly. There was not the touch of secrecy and mystery that lurks round the reason of the Ibet or Orunda. Therefore I rather doubt whether these prohibitions common to an entire family are identical with the true Orunda, Ibet, or Kecheela.

Mr. Dennett in his chapter on The Folklore of The Fjort, evidently referring to this eating of his Kecheela, says that "so long as he knows nothing about it, the Fjort may eat out of unclean pots, but if he knows that anything unclean has been cooked in the pot in which his food has been prepared, and he 'eats thereof, he will be punished by some great sickness coming over him, or by death."

I am unable, from my own experience, to agree with this statement that ignorance would save the man who had eaten his prohibited food. From what I know, Merolla's story as cited above is the correct thing: the man, though he eat in ignorance, dies or suffers severely.

It is true that one of the doctrines of African human law is that the person who offends in ignorance, that is not a culpable ignorance, cannot be punished; but this merciful dictum I have never found in spirit-law. Therein if you offend, you suffer; unless you can appease the enraged spirit, neither ignorance nor intoxication is a feasible plea in extenuation. Therefore I think that Mr. Dennett's informant in this case must have been a man of lax religious principles; and in Merolla's story I feel nearly certain that the man who gives his friend his Chegilla to eat must have been one of the holy Father's converts engaged in trying to break down the superstition of his fellow-countryman. Had he been a believer in Chegilla himself, he would have known that the outraged spirit of the Chegilla would have visited its wrath on him, as well as on his friend, with a fine impartiality and horrible consequences.

The inevitableness of spirit-vengeance, unless suitable sacrifices are made, seems to me also demonstrated in another way. Poisoning is a thing much dreaded in West Africa; practically it is a dread that overshadows every man's life there. I personally doubt whether white people are poisoned so frequently as is currently supposed in West Africa. But undoubtedly it is practised among the natives; and the thing that holds it in reasonable check is the virulence of the attack made on the poisoner, or, as the poisoner is currently called, the witch. Briefly, poisoning is the most common form of witchcraft in West Africa. The witch has other methods of destroying the victims-catching their souls, witching young crocodiles, &c., into them-but poisoning is the sheet-anchor, and is regarded on the same lines as soul-theft, &c. Now there is one form of poisoning which is regarded among all the various tribes I know as a particularly vile one and that is giving a person a prohibited food. For example, to give a man, whose Orunda is boiled chicken, a mess containing boiled chicken, or to boil a chicken and take it from the pot and then cook his meal in the pot, is equivalent to giving him so much prussic acid or strychnine. But in spite of its efficacy in destroying an enemy, this giving of the prohibited food is regarded as a very rare form of the crime of poisoning, because of the great danger to himself the giver would incur from the wrath of the spirit to whom the prohibited food belonged. The great iniquity of this form of the crime of poisoning, I believe, lies in its injuring, in some way, the soul of the victim after death.

Mr. Dennett, moreover, in the passage I have quoted uses the word "unclean." He does this from his habit of using scriptural phraseology; but I entirely disapprove of the use of the word "unclean" in connection with these Ibet. Orunda or Kecheela matters should suggest the word consecrated, or sacrificed, to be substituted. The West African has a whole series of things he abstains from doing, or from touching, because he believes them truly to be unclean. For example, he regards the drinking of milk from animals as a filthy practice, and also the eating of eggs; and he will ask why you use these forms of animal excreta and avoid the others. And there are several other things besides that he regards as loathsome in themselves. But there is nothing loathsome or unclean in things connected with this prohibited food. There are, I believe, and I think I may say Dr. Nassau would support me in this view, things that a man dedicates for the whole of his natural life to the use of his individual attendant guardian spirit.

This Roman Catholic influence over the Fjort may, I think, be taken as having been an evanescent one. I do not say, as the Rev. J. Leighton Wilson does, that this is so, because Roman Catholicism is an unfit means of' converting Africans; but it suffered the common fate that has so far overtaken all kinds of attempts to Europeanise the African. It is like cutting a path in one of their native forests. You may make it a very nice path-a clean, tidy, and good one-but if you leave it, it grows over again, and in a few seasons is almost indistinguishable from the surrounding bush. The path the Roman Catholics made was one intended to lead the African to Heaven. At first, the African thought it was to lead him to earthly power and glory and riches. During the ascendancy of the Portuguese in the region it did this; but when their power was crippled, it did not. Therefore the African "let it go for bush"; and it is his blame, not the missionary's, that the Fjort to-day is found by Europeans in a state of culture lower than many African tribes, and with a religion as dependent "on conversing with the Devil" as ever-in short, a very interesting person to the folklorist.

The mind of the African has a wonderful power of assimilating other forms of belief apart from fetish; and when he has had a foreign idea put into his mind it remains there, gradually taking on to itself a fetish form; for the fetish idea overmasters it, so long as the foreign idea is left without reinforcements and it becomes a sort of fossil. The teachings of the Roman Catholic missionaries are now in this fossil state in the mind of the Fjort. Ardent ethnologists may wish that they had never been introduced; but it is well to remember that their religion was not the only thing introduced into the region by them, for the Fjort of to-day owes almost all his food supply to them: the maize, the mango, the banana, arid most likely the manioc. Nevertheless the high intelligence of the Fjort, as evidenced by their having, before coming into contact with Europeans, an organised state of society, a definitely thought-out religion, and an art superior to that of all other Bantu West Coast tribes, makes them a tribe that the student of the African cannot afford to ignore, because the study of them entails a little trouble and a knowledge of the doctrine taught by the Roman Catholic Church.


Mr. Dennett on reading the proofs of the foregoing introduction, and in response to an invitation from me for any suggestions, sent a number of notes. I select from these for insertion here such as relate to historical and ethnological questions; the rest will be more appropriately placed in Appendix 1.

p. xix. "Miss Kingsley mentions a lost part of the Loango, race (Bavili) in the Ogowe, and calls them Ivili (singular). Vila is to lose, in Fjort. Thus, the Bavili were the lost men, lost in their journey northward."

p. xx. "The only Fumu was Kongo, king of the united provinces. He sent his sons under the title of Mafumu to rule these provinces. They in their turn divided their lands among their children under the title of Tekklifumu. To-day, Fumu has come to mean chief, head of a family; it really means Judge. The son in Manifumu, the grandson, Tekklifumu. Ma is short for Mani (son of); so that MaKongo simply meant son of Kongo; and it is a proof that MaKongo always recognised his secondary position, just as MaLoango does today. KaCongo should probably be written KaciKongo, which would give the sense of Middle Kongo.

"Ngoio was the name of the great Rain-doctor sent with MaKongo and MaLoango, by Fumu Kongo; and he gave his name to the province he took possession of, like MaKongo and MaLoango did; and not only to the province, but to the chieftainship of it. Strange to say, to this day Ncanlam, the chief of the Musurongo, has the right to take the cap (succeed to the chieftainship of the province Ngoio); but as Ngoio (the chief of this province) is always killed the day after he takes the cap, the throne remains vacant "-i.e. no one likes to lose his life for a few hours' glory on the Ngoio throne.

The italics are mine.

M. H. K.


By the Fjort I mean the tribes that once formed the great kingdom of Congo. From the Quillo river, north of Loango, to the River Loge, south of Kinsembo, on the south-west coast of Africa, and as far almost as Stanley Pool in the interior, this kingdom is said to have extended. My remarks refer chiefly to the KaCongo and Loango provinces: that is to say, to the two coast provinces north of the great river Congo or Zaire.

The religion or superstition of the Fjort, as well as their laws, can easily be traced to their source, namely, to San Salvador, the headquarters or capital of the great Fumu Kongo. Their legends describe how Fumu Kongo sent his sons KaCongo and Loango to govern these provinces; and their route can be traced by their having left what you call fetishes at each place where they slept.[See my Seven Years Among the Fjort. London, 1887, p. 50, sqq.] These fetishes are called Nkissi nsi, the spirit or mystery of the earth, just as the ruler or nFumu is called Fumu nsi, the prince of the land or earth. Together with these two sons of Kongo (called Muene nFumu) or, as we should write it, Manifumu), the king sent a priest or raindoctor, called Ngoio. Even to this day, when the rains do not come in their proper season, the princes of KaCongo and Loango send ambassadors to Cabinda or Ngoio with presents to the rain-doctor, or, as they call him, Nganga.

Loango, KaCongo, and Ngoio are now all spoken of as nFumu nsi; and their existence is admitted, although, as a matter of fact, their thrones are vacant, and each petty prince, or head of a family, governs his own little town or towns. Each little town or collection of towns or better perhaps each family, has now its patch of ground sacred to the spirit of the earth (Nkissi nsi),[ Thus the voyage of Kongo's sons KaCongo and Loango from San Salvador to Loango is marked for us; for where they rested the ground became blessed (Nkissiansi, land sacred to the spiritual law family Fetish). There are no altars made with hands, no images among the Nkissiansi. Sometimes one meets with a stone, a mound of earth, a tree, a mound of shells, on this holy ground, and I have met with huts containing the family fetishes] its Nganga nsi, the head of the family, and its Nganga Nkissi (charm or fetish doctor), and its Nganga bilongo (medicine-doctor or surgeon). Nzambi-Mpungu. is what we should call the Creator. Nzambi (wrongly called God) is Mother Earth, literally Terrible Earth. In all the Fjort legends that treat of Nzambi she is spoken of as the "mother," generally of a beautiful daughter, or as a great princess calling all the animals about her to some great meeting, or palaver; or as a poor woman carrying a thirsty or hungry infant on her back, begging for food, who then reveals herself and punishes those who refused her drink or food by drowning them,[See below, p. 121] or by rewarding with great and rich presents those who have given her child drink. Animals and people refer their palavers to her as judge. Her name also is used as an ejaculation.

Nkissi nsi is the mysterious spirit that dwells in the earth. Nkissi is the mysterious power in herbs, medicines, fetishes.

The missionary is called a Nganga Nzambi. This alone proves, I think, that the natives consider Nzambi, the earth, as their deity; and when once the missionaries are convinced of this fact it should be their duty to protest against the use of the word Nzambi as the equivalent to the white man's God. The word they must use is Nzambi Mpungu, or perhaps they had better make a new word. Mpungu, or mpoungou, is the word used by the Fjort to mean gorilla. This should delight the heart of the evolutionist. But mpounga has the signification of something that covers. There are, however, no gorillas south of the Congo, and in the Ntandu dialect mpoungou has the signification of creator or father. And we must remember that this religion came from the south of the Congo.

Upon the sacred earth in each village or family a small hut or shimbec is usually built, where the family fetish is kept. A tree is also usually planted there, and holes are made in it, where medicines are placed. Each hole is then covered by a piece of looking glass, which is kept in its place by a rim of clay, which again is spluttered over with white and red earth or chalk, moistened in the mouth of the prince. Here the prince summons his family to what they call a "washing-up." That is, after having made their offerings (generally of white fowls) the people cut the grass and clean up the sacred ground and dance and sing. The prince also on certain occasions admits the young men who have been circumcised to the rights of manhood, and teaches them the secret words which act as passwords throughout the tribe. The prince is crowned here; and it is this fetish that he consults whenever he is in trouble.

The Nganga Nkissi has his hut apart from his holy ground; and there he keeps his image, into which nails, spear-points knives, etc., are driven by the suppliant who seeks the help of the mysterious spirit to kill his enemies or to protect him against any evil. The Nganga Nkissi also sells charms, such as little wooden images charged with medicines, bracelets, armlets, bead-bands, waistbands, little bits of tiger's skin to keep the small-pox away, the little horns of kids, and other pendants for the necklace.

The Nganga bilongo is the doctor and surgeon. Each surgeon or doctor keeps the secret of his cure in the family, so that the sick have sometimes to travel great distances to be cured of certain diseases. After most sicknesses or misfortunes the native undergoes a kind of thanksgiving and purification according to the rites of Bingo, who has a Nganga in almost every family. This is not the same as the form of going through the "paint-house."

The Nkissi, the spirit, as it were, of mother earth, is met with in mountains and rocks. Thus, in the creek that flows behind Ponta da Lenha in the River Congo there is a rock falling straight down into the water, which the natives fear to pass at night; and even in the daytime they keep close to the far side of the creek. They declare that the Nkissi will swallow them up. The story of the four young men who left their town early in the morning to visit their lovers across the mountains, and after a long visit, at about four o'clock wished to return, proves the power of the terrible spirit of the earth. For their lovers determined to see the four young men part of the way home, and so went with them up the mountain. Then the young men saw the young women back to their town. The young women again went up the hill with their lovers, and again the young men came back with them. The earth-spirit got vexed at such levity and turned them all into pillars of clay, as can be proved, for are not the eight pillars visible to this day (white-ant pillars taking the shape of four men and four women)? And the lying woman who said she had no peas for sale when she had her basket full of them, did not the earth-spirit turn her into a pillar of clay, as can be seen in the woods near Cabinda behind Futilla even to this day?

The mountain Mongo is spoken of at times as a person, as in the story of the old lady who, after many exchanges, secured a drum in exchange for the red wood she had given the image-maker, to keep for her. For the old lady took this drum to Mongo and played upon it until Mongo broke it. But she wept and Mongo was sorry for her and gave her some mushrooms and told her to go away.

Islands in the River Congo are spoken of as the home of the men who turn themselves into crocodiles, so that they may upset canoes and drag their prisoners to them and eventually sell them. Monkey Island, just above Boma, in the River Congo, is used as the burial-place of princes of that part of the country.

The names of the rivers are also the names of the spirits of the same. These spirits, like those of the Chimpanzu and Mlomvu, kill those who drink their waters; others get angry, and swell, and overflow their banks like the Lulondo, and drown many people; while some punish those who fish in their waters for greediness by causing them to become deaf and dumb, as Sunga did in one of the stories I have given on a subsequent page.

Then the great Chamma (rainbow) is described as a huge snake that enters rivers at their source and swells them up, and carries everything before it, grass, trees, at times whole villages, in its way to the sea.

Any place, either in the hills or along the banks of rivers (near fishing places), or near wells, can be reserved by any one by his placing shells, strips of cloth, or other charms there. The nearest approach that we have to these charms in England is the scarecrow, or the hat which the Member of Parliament leaves on his seat to show that the place is his.

The dead bodies of witches are either thrown down precipices or into the rivers.

The sun, Ntangu, and moon, Ngonde, are generally described as two brothers. There is a legend which tells us that two brothers, Ntangu and Ngonde, lived in a village by the sea and Ntangu bet Ngonde that he could not catch him up, so they set off racing. Ngonde caught up Ntangu; and then Ntangu got vexed and said he could catch up Ngonde, but he never did, so Ngonde won the bet. The fact of the moon's being seen during the day, together with the sun, and the sun's never being seen at night in company with the moon has, no doubt, given rise to this story. I have also collected two versions of a story of two brothers setting out, one after the other, to the land whence no man returns, which also are sun-myths.

I have heard very little about the stars. The new moon is greeted with a cry of "Lu lu lu lu," in a high key, the native beating his mouth with his hand as he cries.

Lightning is said to be made by a blacksmith (Funzi) who lives in the centre of KaCongo. Nzassi means thunder; Lu siemo, lightning; and they are both spoken of as persons, Nzassi being used often for both thunder and lightning. Thus, they say that if it comes on to rain when you are in the woods, and it thunders, and you try to run away, Nzassi runs after you and kills you.

A man named Antonio one day told me a story of how he had .seen Nzassi's dogs. It was raining, he declared; and he and his companions were under a shed playing at marbles when it began to thunder and lighten. It thundered frightfully; and Nzassi sent his twenty-four dogs down upon them. They seized one of the party who had left the shed for a moment, and the fire burnt up a living palm tree.

The sky is spoken of in certain stories as something to be bored through, as in the story where Nzambi on earth promises her beautiful daughter in marriage to anyone who should go to Nzambi above, and bring down a little of Nzambi Mpungu's fire from heaven. The woodpecker bores the hole through which all those anxious to compete for Nzambi's daughter's hand creep, after having climbed up the silken cord made by the spider from heaven to earth.[The story is given at length on p. 74]

The clouds they call Ituti, or rather Matuti (pl.), They rise from where the walls of heaven touch the earth, and sail across the sky to the other side, or round and round about.

The Fjort divide the year into two seasons: i mûna ki mvula (rainy season), i muna ki sifu (dry season). They divide the month (ngonde) into seven weeks of four days; Tono, Silu, Nkandu, Nsona, on the last of which they do no work.

The sea is known as Mbu. The sun rises in the Mayomba bush-country, and sets in the Mbu.

Before going to sea, the fishermen knock their fetishes to bring them good luck, or to kill those who spoil their luck. If a fisherman goes to sleep, and while he sleeps the little black bird called ntieti comes and rests in the stern of his canoe, and in the morning he awakes and finds it there, he knows some misfortune has come upon his family, or is to come upon himself.

The spirit that dwells in the sea is called Chicamassi-chibuinji. At times she comes ashore to collect red-wood and other necessary articles of toilet. Now, when anyone steals some of these articles she gets vexed and causes a calemma (swell) to arise, which stops all fishing and at times causes loss of life to those passing through the surf.

Waterspouts they call Nvussuko and Ngo-lo; and they fear them as we should a ghost.

They say that they do not make sacrifices to the sea; but that when Chicamassi is vexed she comes ashore and takes one of twins or triplets, and drowns it in the sea. It is well to save a relation from drowning; and if you like to save a stranger's life, he becomes your slave, or gives you a slave in exchange. When the native passes certain places where Chicamassi is supposed to have passed, he throws bits of fish, mandioca, or whatnot, into the sea for her. They also splutter rum into the sea before drinking it.

The tides are caused by Nzambi Mpungu, who, when the time comes, drops a large stone into the ocean to make the water rise and takes it out again when it is time for low tide.

Zimini has towns under the sand in the sea; and at times he comes up and seizes a man or woman, and takes him or her down to his place. There are stories in which the white man is said to have his town under the sea, and to take thither all the slaves be captures and buys to help him to make his cloth.

Woods and forests are the homes of the Mpunia (highway robber and murderer), Ndotchi (witch), and Cbimbindi (spirit of the departed).

The Nkissi that exists in herbs, plants, and trees, poisons or cures people; and the natives have a great knowledge of the different properties of plants, herbs, and trees. The Nkissi grows with the plant out of the earth.

Fetishes are made of a wood called Mlimbe; and it is said that when the tree is felled the blood that flows from the tree is mixed with the blood of a cock that the Nganga kills. This cock used to be a slave, when slaves were cheaper than they are now.

Grasses are worn as charms around the neck or body of a sick man.

The greater number of natives are called after animals. Ngo, the leopard; Nkossa, the lobster; Chingumba, lion; Nzau, elephant; Memvu, a kind of wild dog; are the names given those of royal blood; and the greatest of these names is that of Ngo. Only princes can wear a leopard's skin. The Leopard, the royal animal, the figure of royal motherhood (the earth, as opposed to Nkala, the crab, the figure of the sea), is the name given to women through whom the royal line may descend, Kongo being the name of the Fjort's Adam, the great and first King or Nfumu (judge), the father of KaCongo and Loango and Ngoio. And many customs touching the hunting and slaying of the Leopard still exist, and in themselves would form an interesting study. Its skin is still worn as a sign of Royalty, and its hair is used as a charm against small pox: thirty skins used to be sent from Loango to Ngoio, so that he might send Mbunzi with rain to water his plantations.

In listening to their many stories about animals, one forgets for the time that the relator is talking about animals; and when it comes to where one eats the other, one wonders whether the native forgets that his ancestors did act in this outrageous fashion. The Fjort believe that some people have the power, or misfortune, to change themselves into beasts of prey, such as leopards and crocodiles. Stories of quite recent date tell of relations who have suffered in this way, and who in their better moods have admitted that they have killed so and so, and torn him to pieces.

This brings us to another interesting subject, that of the kazilas, or things forbidden. Some families, especially those of royal descent, may not eat pig; others may not touch goat, flat-fish, shell-fish, doves. None except witches would attempt to eat snakes, crocodiles, lizards, chamelions. Many families will not touch certain animals because their ancestors owe such animals a debt of gratitude, as many of their stories point out to us. [Another kind of kazila, or taboo, is mentioned below (p. 122), namely, the prohibition to women to fish in the lake Mbosi or Mboasi, near Futilla.]

The native herd in the white trader's employ talks to his sheep and goats as if they certainly understood him.

The plagues were sent by God (so the Hebrews say) to punish the oppressors of the children of Israel: so also any great scourge in this part of Africa is looked upon as a punishment. The locusts are at this moment eating up the Fjort's plantations here in Loango. The locusts are known by the name of Makonko, and are not entire strangers; but this year (1896-97) is the first time that the Fjort have seen them in such abundance. They do not know what to do to get rid of them; they say that their princes in the olden days would have done something and sent them away in a day.

A French official cut the long beard of poor old Maniprato, who was acting in the place of the King of Loango. The Fetish, who is the nephew of the great Mbunzi (S.W. wind), was very much annoyed at this action of the French official, and sent word to Mbunzi, and Mbunzi sent the plague of locusts, which in one night ate up the large banana plantation of the French mission. And now they are eating up the Fjort's plantations and his palm trees, and the poor Fjort has no longer any princes to send presents to Ngoio to calm the angry Mbunzi.

Bimbindi (pl. of Chimbindi), the spirits of the good who have departed this life, live in the woods, and are generally considered the enemies of mankind. But I knew a Chimbindi who was a very decent woman indeed. She was in love, and about to be married; but she fell sick, died, and was buried. Her lover was accused of having bewitched her, and he took casca and died. Her parents grieved greatly for her, for she was an only child. When she rose from the dead she found herself a slave, and married to a white man in Boma. She lived there with him until he went to Europe, when he freed her. She then tried to get back to her native town, which lay behind Malella. So she hired a canoe, and got the owners thereof to promise to paddle her there. But they took her to the south bank of the Congo, and sold her. Here she remained nearly three years, when she happened to meet some people of her own family, and they took her back to her parents. The parents were rejoiced to see her again; but they will not believe that she is a human being, and continue to treat her as the departed spirit of their daughter. I have tried to convince her that the Nganga Nkissi, or native doctor, must have played her some trick, and that she had been buried by him while in a trance, or while unconscious, and that he must have taken her to Boma and sold her there to his own profit; but she would not believe it.

But Bimbindi as a rule are hostile to the human race, and consequently greatly feared.

A certain chief owned a large town, and all the inhabitants were either his children or his relations, He was sorely troubled at times how to provide them all with animal food; and so he used to go into the woods, and set traps. One night he got up, and went to see if there was anything in his traps and sure enough there was a large antelope in one of the traps. He made short work of its life by drawing his long knife and cutting its throat. Then he carried it home, and called upon all to get up and eat. They rejoiced greatly, and got up quickly enough to skin and cut up the antelope. It was then fairly divided, and each took away his share. And they all ate their shares, except the father, who put his away. Before the first cock crew, he got up again to look at his traps. Yes, there was another antelope. He killed and took it to his town, and again roused the, people up. They came, and again each took his share. And they all ate their shares, except the father, who put his share in the same place where he had kept his first share. He now slept until sun-rise. About midday his son came to him and said: "Father, I am, hungry. Give me the antelope you have kept in your shimbec (hut)." "No," he answered, "I wish to sell that meat for cloth, even if I only get a fathom or two for it." But the son pestered and bothered his father until he waxed wroth and shot him dead. Then the father called his people again, and said "See, here is more meat for you, take it and eat it." "Nay," they all said, "we cannot eat this; for your son was one of us; he is of our family. But we will cut him up, and give the meat to the princes round about." And the princes were thankful for the meat, and gave the bearers presents.

The next evening the father again went to visit his traps, and thought he saw a huge something in one of them. He ran up to the thing and tried to kill it; but as he neared the trap, the monster's arms embraced him and held him fast. "Ah ha!" said the Chimbindi, "so you have dared to set your traps in my woods, and to kilt my antelopes. You shall die." With this the Chimbindi cut the father's head off, and hung his body to a tree by its feet. Now when his wife had cooked his food, she called for him to come and eat. Receiving no answer, she set out to look for him. "Surely he has gone to look at his traps," she thought. So she went into the woods; and after a little while she caught sight of the body hanging by its legs to the tree. The head was not there; the Chimbindi had taken it away with him. She examined the body carefully, and at last convinced herself that it was that of her husband. She sat down and wept. Then she got up, and went crying into the town. The people asked her what she was crying for, and she answered: "My husband has been killed, and I have seen his body in the woods." Then they tried to comfort her, telling her that she was mistaken. But she continued weeping, and offered to lead them to the place where he was hung. Then the whole tribe went with her; and when they saw with their own eyes that their father was dead, they were, sorely troubled and lamented. Then the Chimbindi returned, and utterly annihilated the tribe, cutting off their heads, and leaving their bodies as food for the eagles, and the crows, and the beasts of the woods that eat the flesh of men. So are those punished who kill a relation and offer his meat to be eaten.

But the natives have a weapon with which they can put the Chimbindi to flight, as we learn from the following story.

All preparations for a long stay out of town were made by a married couple, the parents of a little boy some four years old. As they could not take their little one with them on this occasion, they left sufficient food for him with a neighbour, and asked her to take care of him. Soon the little boy felt hungry, and ran to the neighbour's house and asked her for food. "What food, my child?" she asked. "But mother told me to come and ask you for food whenever I felt hungry." "Your mother left no food with me, so that I cannot give you any; and you can run away and play." Each day the little boy went to the woman and asked her for food. But each day she refused to give him any. So on the sixth day the little boy sat down and cried, saying: "Six days have passed and I have had no food. I know not whither my parents have gone. I shall surely die. I will find them, I will go from here at once." Then he got up and walked and walked all day, but could not find his parents. When the night came, he climbed up a big tree and sat in it and cried. And a Chimbindi came and found the boy. He called his friends together, and they asked: "Who is this?" The little boy was very much afraid; but he sang, in a piteous voice: "My father and mother left me, they gave another food for me; but she did not give it to me; and now I have come here to die." The Bimbindi came near to him and meant to kill him. When the little boy saw what the Bimbindi were about he cried bitterly for his mother.

Meanwhile the parents returned. The mother said Father, our little one has left our town, and has wandered away. Listen! I hear him crying." " Nay," says the father, " we left food enough for him, why should he have left the town? Look again for him." " No," says the mother; " he is in the woods, and the Bimbindi will surely eat him, and we shall lose our little one." Then the father went to the market and bought some chili pepper, and loaded his gun with it. And the mother carried a calabash of pepper with her. "Let us go," said the father, "and search for him!" And the mother soon found him, attracted by his cries. Then the father shot the Chimbindi just as he was climbing up the tree to kill his son. And the mother flew at the others that were looking on, and rubbed pepper into their eyes, so that they all ran away.

When the parents returned to the town they demanded an explanation from their neighbour; but she could make no excuse for her conduct, so that the irate father shot the woman, saying: "You tried to kill my child, am I not right in killing you?"

And the people said he was acting rightly.

Women have been captured by Bimbindi and made to live with them, according to their tales, but have managed to escape. The Bimbindi have followed them to their towns, and to get rid of them these women have thrown pepper into their eyes, and poured boiling water over them.

I have also heard of an opposite case, where a Cbimbindi has come to a town and married a girl and tried to live with her, but he would run away at daybreak, and all night he was busy eating insects and lizards; so she left him. Native women dare not go out at night alone for fear of meeting them; and any wailing noise they hear during the night they immediately put down to the Bimbindi.

The word witch, in our sense, I think, would correspond rather with that of Nganga Nkissi, the man learned in the art of mystery. But whereas our witch combines the office of spell-binder with that of curer, the Nganga Nkissi acts as the curer only, and the power that he exercises is not supposed to be his, but rather that of the Nkissi, or, as you would call it, his fetish. The sufferer goes to him to find out why it is that he suffers, and who it is that is making him suffer, and he divines the cause or person if he can; and if he cannot, advises the sufferer to knock a nail into the Nkissi, or fetish, and ask it to kill the person who is causing him so much pain.

The causer of the pain or suffering is called by the Fjort a Ndotchi, which has rather the sense of poisoner, and then spell-binder, or evil-wisher, or hypnotiser. This last personage is usually called the witch, and the Nganga Nkissi, the witchdoctor, by Europeans. The Ndotchi, it is true, may have poisoned some of his people to get rid of them, but he will have done this very secretly. He is not at all likely to go about proclaiming the fact that he can cast spells upon people, raise storms, or hypnotise, as such a proclamation would mean certain death. I am, therefore, sceptical when I hear Europeans talking about African witches and witchcraft, unless indeed, you call, a poisoner a witch. It is the knowledge of poisons in the native, his horror of death, and his disbelief in death from natural causes, that force him to believe, when a death does take place, that poison has in all probability caused it. Accordingly, a so-called Ndotchi, or poisoner, is called upon to prove his innocence by being forced to undergo the ordeal by poison; he is made to eat two or three spoonfuls of the powdered bark of the "casca" tree, and drink a bottle of water. If he vomits, he is innocent; if the casca acts as a purge he is guilty, and at once slain. A native goes to sleep and dreams some fearful dream, awakes and feels himself spellbound. Up he gets and fires off a gun to frighten away the evil spirits. He imagines that he has an enemy who is seeking to kill him, and accuses people right and left of attempting to poison him, and gives them casca.

There are certain of the Ngangas who profess to work miracles like the magicians of old.

Women give their husbands certain medicines to cause them to love them, and try their own love for them, by undergoing different ordeals. For instance, a woman will bet another woman that she loves her husband more than she does. They will heat an iron and place it on their arms; if a blister is raised, they consider their great love as proved.

As you enter a village by some road or other you will often find the grass tied into a knot (nteuo) with medicines enclosed, to prevent anyone bent on evil from passing that way; or an arch [An ordinary knot in the grass means that some. lady has marked the pIace for a plantation, or that a passer-by has hidden something within a certain distance from that knot] formed by a string of feathers and charms, stretched across the road from one pole to another, will keep away evil winds and spirits.

Then, every town has some Nkissi or other to guard it. One will often notice an earthenware pot (nduda) balf-full of sand, containing two eggs, placed upon a stand. It is said that these eggs will explode with a fearful report, if anyone bent on evil enters the town.

The Fjort have no legends about the creation, except such as are easily traceable to the teachings of the missionaries of old, settled in this country some 400 years ago. Nzambi Mpungu made the earth, or gave birth to Nzambi; and she brought forth many children. We are told nothing more about the creation. The difference in colour between the black and white man is accounted for by stories of the short-sightedness of the black man. The best, perhaps, is that given on a later page.

Then, we have tales which begin: "A long, long time ago, before even our ancestors knew the use of fire, when they ate grass like the animals," etc., which then go on to tell how a river-spirit first pointed out to them the mandioca root and the banana. These I think go a long way to prove that the agricultural age was prior to the pastoral and hunting age. This river-spirit taught them the use of fire, and then came the blacksmith, Mfuzi, (Loango, Funzi) and the iron and copper age.

I do not think the people north of the Congo can yet be said to be, in the Pastoral Age,[There is no word in the KaCongo dialect to express the word shepherd. The nearest they have is i lungo mbizi, he who keeps animals; but mbizi is used in the sense of wild animals. Thus a native missionary, or priest, in preaching in native-mouth to the children at the mission here in Loango talked of the shepherds who came to visit the child Christ and his Mother as the galigneru, from the Portuguese gollinheiro, one who looks after the fowls] or to have passed through it, for, although they do keep a few goats, and fowls, and sheep, their attention is given more to the planting of mandioca, bananas, and potatoes than to the care of animals. But they certainly are hunters. They are also manufacturers of native grass-cloth, of knives, arms, and ornaments of iron and copper, and of ornaments made from European silver coins. They gather cotton, and spin a coarse kind of thread, with which they make chinkutu, arm-bags, and netted capes for their princes. They make beautiful caps from the fibre of the pine-apple, and mats from the leaves of the fubu-tree. And all these goods they dye red, black and yellow. Earthenware pots, vases, carafes, moringos, and pipes they make from the black clay that abounds in the different valleys. The fishermen make their own nets from the fibre of different trees, and floats from the bark of the baobab-tree.

Others gather the palm-nuts from the palm-trees, and extract the oil from them, dry them and crack them, and then sell the kernels and the oil to the European. Some go into the woods and collect the milky juice of several vines and trees, and sell it as caoutchouc, or rubber, to the white man.

And the women, as they bee their fields, at times dig up pieces of preserved lightning (aulo, or buangu, gum copal), which they and their husbands also sell to the trader.

People collect round the shimbec, or hut, in which a woman lies, about to give birth to a child, and fire off guns and shout to her to help her to bring it forth. The woman is attended by her mother, or other female relation; and the child is washed, sometimes in palm-wine, by them. As soon as the after-birth comes ,Way, the woman walks away to the place where she is to take her hot bath. The women then throw the very hot water upon her parts with their hands.

Charm upon charm is attached to the infant; and the mother suckles it until it is nearly two years old, being separated from her husband until she has weaned the child.

When a boy arrives at the age of puberty he is circumcised, and if he is wealthy a dance is given in his honour. A girl arriving at the same age is closely watched. The moment of her first menstruation is marked by the firing off of a gun, and this is followed by a dance. And now, while she little suspects it, she is caught and forced into what the natives call the paint-house. Here she is painted red, and carefully fed and treated, until they consider her ready for marriage, when she is washed and led to her husband. But if she has not a husband waiting for her, she is covered over with a red cloth, or handkerchief, and taken round by women to the different towns, until someone is found anxious to have her.

Should a man wish to marry a girl, he has to present her parents with goods according to the value placed upon her by them. In fixing the value, her position and wealth have to be considered. He can marry her according to different rites, such as those of Lembe or Funzi. On such occasions a certain kind of native-made copper bracelet is given to her by the husband, and worn also by him. She swears to be faithful to him, and to die and be buried with him. Formerly these wives were buried alive with their husbands, but the custom is now dying out.

Or a man may not have money enough to marry. So he proposes to give the girl so much of his earnings if she will live with him. He presents the parents with some small donation, and they live together until he can marry her.

But virgins may be used by a man for a certain payment, and afterwards put aside. These women are then at the service of anyone who chooses to pay them. This life is not looked upon as being immoral by them, and in no way stands in the way of future marriage. And it is a strange fact that these women do not seem to lose their sense of modesty. They seem to think that it is natural that their desires should be satisfied, and that until they are married they are in their right to live in this way.

A man may marry as many wives as he has wealth enough to obtain; and as they all make their plantations he is not likely to starve so long as he treats them properly. But the wives quarrel for his favours, and so very often a very-much-married man does not live so happily as one who has (say) two wives.

When the bridegroom takes his bride from the paint-house, he is generally supposed to give a dance, and this dance is kept up all night round about his house.

Unfaithfulness in a princess used not very long ago to be punished by burying her into the ground up to her neck, leaving only her head visible., and then leaving her to starve and die. The adulterer used to be impaled and allowed to rot.

If a KaCongo princess, one of the wives of KaCongo, was found to have crossed the River Loango Luz, a certain prince called Maloango had the. right to break off her ivory bracelet and declare her a whore. The same law applied to any of the wives of Loango who crossed over into KaCongo.

"I am in debt" is the cry of nearly every native one meets; and thus he stirs himself to action. He now owes the Nganga Nkissi for some charms, or the Nganga bilongo, for some medicine, or else he has borrowed goods to help him to bury some relation. Wealthy men lend people goods, such as a hoe to a woman to bury her child. In her grief she perhaps might bury it with the body. Then the wealthy man would ask her for his hoe and she would have to dig it up again. The man would say to her: "This hoe smells of death; keep it and pay me for it." The woman having nothing to pay him with, the wealthy man would take one of her little daughters to live with his wives. The woman might repay him at any time up to the time when the girl should come to the age of puberty; but once he put the girl into the paint-house she became his "daughter of the cloth," a household slave. Men wanting money used to go to these men and accept loans, thus becoming their dependants.

The burden of debt seems to have been the only great motive power in the life of the Fjort. Thus all along the coast you will find that the traders have always been forced to lend money, or rather goods, to native princes and traders, and then use all their knowledge of native law to oblige them to give them the produce promised in exchange.

When a child dies it is marked round the eyes and about the body with white and red chalk, and is buried perhaps the next day. The slave, or poor man, is also buried quickly without any particular ceremony. The rich man for woman) when dead, is smoked dry over a smoky fire wrapped up in endless lengths of cloth according to his wealth, and after some months is buried in an imposing case very similar to that of a prince.

A prince dies. Immediately it is known, all other princes either go themselves with, or else send, their people dressed in feathers, with drums and bugles, to cry. These visitors receive unlimited drink, and dance and sing until they are tired, and then they return to their towns. The Nganga Nkissi is set to work to find out who it is that has caused the death of the prince; and many people are forced to take casca. Many deaths, therefore, follow that of the prince.

His body is smoked and watched by his wives in the back room (as it were), while in the front half of the shimbec the prince's wealth, in the shape of ewers, basins, figure ornaments, pots, pipes, glassware, etc., is on view. One of his wives will generally be found walking about in front of the shimbec, throwing her arms about and crying. This may last for a year or more before the body is buried.

The coffin is a case, perhaps 15 feet long, 4 feet broad, 6 feet high, covered over with red save-list. White braid is nailed by means of brass-headed chair-nails in diamond-shaped designs, all over the red cloth. The coffin (into which the dried body, wrapped in cloth is placed) is then put on the funeral car. Stuffed tigers, an umbrella, and other ornaments are placed upon the top of the coffin. The whole is then drawn to the burial ground by hundreds of assembled guests, who sing and dance by the way.

The grave is ready; and the coffin is lowered into it. Then one or two of his wives (10 years ago) jumped in, or (as is the case to this day, a little north of Loango) two small boys are placed in the grave beside the coffin; and all are buried. His relations proclaim the new prince, and place over his shoulder a wreath of grass. The people then return to the prince's town and dance.

A year or two after this, a kind of festival in honour of the departed is kept. An effigy in straw of the late prince is placed in a shimbec, seated behind a table which bears such earthenware, glassware, and ornaments as belonged to him, and were not placed over his grave when he was buried. The rest of his wives, who from the time of his death until that of his burial have never washed themselves, have now only certain marks in charcoal upon their faces, and walk about the place more reasonably. Some of his children take it in turns to beat a drum and sing near to the shimbec. Visitors, bringing their offerings, come and congratulate the new prince upon what we should call his coronation; and he receives them sitting perhaps under the shade of some great tree. The relies of the late prince are visited; and then dancing, and singing, and eating, and drinking commence; and this is continued for perhaps three or four days.

Death And Burial Of The Fjort

One of my cook's many fathers having died (this time, his real father), he came to me with tears in his eyes to ask me for a little rum to take to town, where he said his family were waiting for him. Some days previously the cook had told me that his father was suffering from the sleeping sickness, and was nearing his end, so that when I heard the cry of "Chibai-i " floating across the valley from a little town close to that in which the cook lived, I guessed who the dead one was, and was prepared to lose the cook's services for a certain number of days.

The death of the father of a family is always a very sad event, but the death of the father of a Fjort family seems to me to be peculiarly pathetic. His little village at once assumes a deserted appearance; his wives and sisters, stripped of their gay cloths, wander aimlessly around and about the silent corpse, crying and wringing their hands, their tears coursing down their cheeks along little channels washed in the thick coating of oil and ashes with which they have besmeared their dusky faces. Naked children, bereft for the time being of their mother's care, cry piteously; and the men, with a blue band of cloth (ntanta mabundi) tied tightly round their heads, sit apart and in silence, already wondering what evil person or fetish has caused them this overwhelming loss.

The first sharp burst of grief being over, loving bands shave and wash the body, and, if the family be rich enough, palm-wine or rum is used instead of water. Then the heavy body is placed upon mats of rushes and covered with a cloth. After resting in this position for a day, the body is wrapped in long pieces of cloth and placed upon a kind of rack or framework bed, underneath which a hole has been dug to receive the water, etc, that comes from the corpse. A fire is lighted both at the head and foot of the rack, and the body is covered each day with the leaves of the Acaju, so that the smoke that hangs about it will keep off the flies. More cloth is from time to time wrapped around the body; but, unless there are many palavers which cannot be quickly settled, it is generally buried after two or three wrappings. The more important the person, the longer, of course, it takes to settle these palavers and their many complications; and as the body cannot be buried until they are settled, one can understand how the heirs of a great king sometimes come to give up the hope of burying their relation, and leave him unburied for years. On the other hand, the slave, however rich he may be, is quickly buried.

The family being all present, a day is appointed upon which the cause of the death shall be divined. Upon this day the family, and the family in which the deceased was brought up, collect what cloth they can and send it to some well-known Nganga, a long way off. The Nganga meets the messengers and describes to them exactly all the circumstances connected with the life, sickness and death of the deceased; and if they conclude that this information agrees with what they know to be the facts of the case, they place the cloth before him and beseech him to inform them the cause of their relation's death. This the Nganga sets himself to divine. After some delay he informs the relations (1) that the father has died because someone (perhaps now dead) knocked a certain nail into a certain fetish, with his death as the end in view, or (2) that so-and-so has bewitched him, or (3) that he died because his time had come.

The relations then go to the Nganga of the fetish or Nkissi mentioned, and ask him if he remembers so-and-so knocking a nail into it? and if so, will be kindly point out the nail to them? He may say Yes. Then they will pay him to draw it out, so that the rest of the family may not die. Or the relations give the person indicated by the Nganga as having bewitched the dead man, the so-called Ndotchi (witch), a powdered bark, which he must swallow and vomit if he be really innocent. The bark named Mbundu is given to the man who owns to being a witch, but denies having killed the person in question. That of Nkassa is given to those who deny the charge of being witches altogether. The witches or other persons who, having taken the bark, do not vomit are either killed or die from the effects of the poison, and their bodies used to be burnt. Since civilized government have occupied the country a slight improvement has taken place, in that the relations of the witch are allowed to bury the body. If events turns out as divined by the Nganga, he retains the cloth given to him by the relations or their messengers: otherwise he must return it to the family, who take it to another Nganga.

While all this is going on, a carpenter is called in to build the coffin; and he is paid one fowl, one mat of rushes, and one closely woven mat per day. Rum and a piece of blue cloth are given to him on the day he covers the case with red cloth. Palm-wine, rum, and cloth are given to him as payment on its completion. And now that all palavers are finished, and the coffin ready, the family are once more called together; and the prince of the land and strangers are invited to come and bear how all the palavers have been settled. A square in front of the shimbec containing the coffin is cleared of herbs and grass, and carefully swept; and here, during the whole night previous to the official meeting, women and children dance. Mats are placed immediately in front of the shimbec for the family and their fetishes (Poomba): the side opposite is prepared for the prince and his followers; and the other two sides are kept for those strangers and guests who care to come. At about three o'clock guns are fired off as a signal that all is ready. The family headed by their elder and spokesman then seat themselves ready to receive their guests. Then the guests glide into the village and make their way to the elder, present themselves, and then take their allotted seats.

When all are assembled, the elder addresses the two family fetishes held by two of the family. Pointing and shaking his hand at them, he tells them how the deceased died, and all the family has done to settle the matter; he tells them how they have allowed the father to be taken, and prays them to protect the rest of the family; and when he has finished his address, the two who hold the fetishes, or wooden figures, pick up a little earth and throw it on the beads of the fetishes, then, lifting them up, rub their heads in the earth in front of them.

Then the elder addresses the prince and his people, and the strangers who have come to bear how the deceased has died, and offers them each a drink. When they have finished drinking, he turns to the fetishes and tells them that they have allowed evil to overtake the deceased, but prays them to protect his guests from the same. Then the fetishes again have earth thrown at them, and their heads are once more rubbed in the earth.

And now the elder addresses the wives and tells them that their husband has been cruelly taken from them, and that they are now free to marry another; and then, turning to the fetishes, he trusts that they will guard the wives from the evil that killed their husband; and the fetishes are again dusted and rubbed in the earth.

On the occasion that I watched these proceedings, the elder got up and addressed me, telling me that my cook, who had served me so well and whom I had sent to town when he was sick, etc.,etc., had now lost his father; and once more turning to his fetishes, the poor creatures were again made to kiss old mother earth, this time for my benefit.

If a witch has to undergo the bark-test, rum is given to the prince, and he is told that if he hears that the Ndotchi has been killed he is to take no official notice of the fact.

Then the men dance all through the night; and the next day the body is placed in the coffin and buried. In KaCongo the coffin is much larger than that made in Loango; and it is placed upon a huge car on four or six solid wheels. This car remains over the grave, ornamented in different ways with stuffed animals and empty demijohns, animal-boxes, and other earthenware goods, in accordance with the wealth of the deceased. I can remember when slaves and wives were buried together with the prince; but this custom has now died out in Loango and KaCongo, and we only bear of its taking place far away inland.

The "fetish cbibinga"[1] sometimes will not allow the corpse to close its eyes. This is a sure sign that the deceased is annoyed about something, and does not wish to be buried. In such a case no coffin is made, the body is wrapped in mats and placed in the woods near to an Nlomba tree. Should he be buried in the ordinary way, all the family would fall sick and die. Should his chimyumba (KaCongo chimbindi) appear to one of his family, that person would surely die. But others not of the family may see it and not die.

The deceased will often not rest quiet until his nkulu (soul? spirit?) is placed in the head of one of his relations, so that he can communicate with the family. This is done by the Nganga picking up some of the earth from the grave of the deceased, and, after mixing it with other medicine, placing it in either the born of an antelope (lekorla) or else a little tin box (nkobbi). Then seating himself upon a mat within a circle drawn in chalk on the ground, he shakes a little rattle (nquanga) at the patient, and goes through some form of incantation, until the patient trembles and cries out with the voice of the deceased, when they all know that the nkulu has taken up its residence in his head. The medicine and earth together with the nkobbi is called nkulu mpemba, and shows that the deceased died of some ordinary disease; but when the medicine and earth are put into the lekorla it shows that the deceased died of some sickness of the bead, and this is called nkulu mabiali.

The Fjort say the "shadow" ceases at the death of the person. I asked if that was because they kept the corpse in the shade; what if they put the corpse in the sun? The young man asked turned to his elderly aunt and re-asked her this question. "No," she said emphatically, "certainly not!"[2]

[1] Chibinga is the state of a corpse which remains with its eyes open, and is also the power, or nkissi, that is the cause of this affliction.

[2] Miss Kingsley writes as follows on this: "The final passage is an unconscious support to my statements regarding the four souls of man. The shadow dies utterly at bodily death; therefore it does not matter whether the corpse is in the sun, or no, because the shadow it might throw would not be the shadow of the man as he was when alive; it would only be the shadow of the dead stuff." (See Folk-Lore, vol. viii., p. 144.)





In the preceding pages Mr. Dennett's observations have been given just as they have reached the hands of the Folk-Lore Society; but there are many more of his observations on the religion of the Fjort which have come into my hands, unfortunately in so scattered a state that they cannot be given as separate chapters, little fragments of a few pages only, paragraphs in letters, and so on. Yet, as these fragments contain much valuable information in themselves, and also help in the understanding of much of the information he has sent home from KaCongo and Loango in a more connected form, I have collected some of them, and give them here without any alteration of Mr. Dennett's words, except obvious and trifling errors.

I have explained in the Introduction that I regard Nkissism as a school of the fetish form of thought, and that I regard Mr. Dennett as the best authority we have on this particular school of this great Nature-Religion. The most important bit of work that he has done for us in the study of Nkissism seems to me to be his explanation of the word Nzambi in its inner meaning. Mr. Dennett himself would probably not agree with me on this point, and prefer to base his claim to honour on his investigation of the inner meaning of the whole Fjort language; but, at present, he has not sent -up his observations in this matter in a form that makes sufficient allowance for the ignorance of the civilised world regarding that beautiful but complex form of Bantu; and, as the material Mr. Dennett has sent home regarding the inner meaning of the Fjort language is not printed in this volume, I will confine my collection of supplementary matter to Nzambi and the religion which surrounds her.

Mr. Dennett says in a letter of the 6th July, 1897:

1 have translated Nzambi as the Spirit of the Earth or Old Mother Earth. But Anza is the River Congo, and so Anzambi might well be translated the River-Spirit; but this does not fit in with Fjorts' explanation of Nzambi, who figures in their folklore as the Great Princess, the mother of all animals, etc., the real truth being that Anza, the river, comes out of the earth, Nsi. In Fjort legends the river-spirits are legion, the name of the river and the spirit being one, Anzambi then is the spirit of the River Congo. All river-spirits appear to teach some lesson, physical or moral. In one story you will see the river-spirit taught the Fjort to plant bananas and manioc,[1] to forge iron and so on; and I have given you the real etymology of the word Nzambi and its real meaning, which fits in with the ideas, with the love of Mother Earth (Nzambi, mother earth) and this knowledge of the Anzambi, River-Spirit.

Nsi the earth may be also translated as the Offspring of the Beginner; then we have the river-spirit of knowledge coming out of the spirit of motherhood, which in its turn is the (N) Offspring of the (isi) Beginner.

That Mr. Dennett is right in this matter I have no doubt from my own investigations of important words in other schools of fetish than Nkissism; but that it will seem clear to those who have not personally wrestled with the difficulties of such words as Nzambi, or Woka, I feel many doubts. I hope, however, Mr. Dennett will soon be able to publish a full account of his long study of the Fjort language, and that may make the affair clearer. Of one thing I am very sure; and that is, that until we know the underlying meaning

of the languages of Africa, we cannot safely dogmatise regarding the African's religion. I do not say 'that when Mr. Dennett does publish his key to the Fjort alphabet, he and I will be found to agree in all deductions; because, although we both steep our minds in black and agree in black, we, in our white capacities, start from very different points of view in these matters.

I now pass on to another fragment of Mr. Dennett's observations on Nzambi, wherein he says: – look at story No, 31.

[1] Bananas and manioc were introduced in Fjort culture by the Roman Catholic missionaries, who first landed among the Fjort in 1490, but I found Anyambie as a great god among the Mpongwe, but with them it is not Anyambie, that is connected with knowledge, and with the river, and sea, but Mbuiri (see Travels in West Africa, p. 228). The difference between the Fjort and the Mpongwe in this matter is easily explainable, for the Mpongwe did not receive, up any of their rivers, Roman Catholic missionaries to the same extent and in the same manner as the Fjorts received, viâ the Congo, instruction and now articles of food. The underlying idea, which is earlier than the introduction of manioc and bananas, is identical. - M. H. K.


Nkissi means the mysterious power that is contained in plants and herbs and earth, or, as we should say, the medicine or poison. Hence it comes to mean any mysterious power-in short, a mystery. The power of the hypnotiser is called Nkissi; the hypnotiser is called Ndotchi or Ndokki. The poisoner is also called by this name. To explain the Great Something, the unknown power that certainly governs the universe, has puzzled the Fjort, as it has puzzled all others who have tried to dive beyond the regions of certainty. But while others have reasoned and sought after wisdom, Fjort has just put the whole matter on one side, and called it Nkissi. So that it has not been a search after wisdom so much as a severe letting alone. His knowledge has come to him from his experience of a series of hard lessons in every-day life.

He suffered pain; fire burnt him; water drowned him; without food he hungered; sickness caused him pain, and death followed sickness. He ascribed it to Nkissi. Herbs poisoned some people, and herbs contained the power that cured others – Nkissi. Here there was something visible that contained the Nkissi; that caused pain and relieved it. Whence this power? It grew with the trees and herbs out of the earth: Nkissi nsi the mysterious power that comes from the earth. Fearful earth, or Nza-mbi, really, terrible firstborn, mother, or producer. The earth is the father's firstborn; the father's name, Mpungu.

Thus have we arrived at the name the Fjort has given to the Creator. He calls him Nzambi Mpungu, the Father of the Fearful Firstborn, or Earth.

The Rev. Pére Alexandre Visseq, in his Fiot Dictionary, under the heading "Nzambi," says it means "God, the Supreme Being, Creator and Preserver of the Universe. The Negroes believe in a Supreme Being who has made all things. According to them, he is a great monarch who has a great number of wives and beautiful children. He passes a happy existence in the heavens, and scarcely troubles himself about us. As he is not wicked, there is no use in their offering him sacrifices. Below him there are smaller divinities capable of doing barm. It is necessary to pray to them, invoke them and adore them. God is not jealous of the worship people render to them," and so on. I think we need not pursue this definition any further. There can be no doubt that the Supreme Being, Nzambi Mpungu, and Nzambi, Mother Earth, are two separate and distinct conceptions.

But we have another dictionary to appeal to, that of Mr. Bentley, a Baptist missionary in the Congo. And his vast knowledge of the natives and their language commands our respect. He writes: "The root of the word Nzambi has not been found in Congo. It is suggested by Mr. Kobbe in his Huero Dictionary that in Kurunga, 'Ndyambi' = God, and Ndyambi is derived from Yamba, to present on a special occasion, and connects it with Ndyembi, a reward, to which may be allied the Congo Nzamba, a toll for a bridge or a ferry. These suggestions can scarcely be regarded as satisfactory." So much for this authority.

But in the Tandu dialect of the Congo district, the word Mpungu means Father in the sense of Creator. And in the words: Nsusu, the young of a fowl, chicken; Nswa, the child; Nsa, dependents; Nsa Ka, the title of the heir apparent of the throne of Congo; we have a root which, in each case, refers to immediate offspring or dependence.

You will also learn as we proceed that Nzambi is talked of as the mother of all things, the first daughter of the first father. Nza, the earth, was the creator's first creation. That the earth that contained the Nkissi that poisoned or cured people should have been called the bad (mbi) earth, in the sense of the earth that is to be feared, is surely not a wonderful conclusion.

Hence Nza mbi, I conclude, first meant the Fearful First-born and producer. Thus we have Nkiss nsi, Nzambi's spirit, mystery in the earth; Nzambi, the Fearful First-born of Mpungu, the Father: a Trinity.

Mpungu, or, as he is more often called, Nzambi Mpungu, the father of the Fearful First-born, is seldom invoked by the natives. He is far above them. A father perhaps; but do not the children belong to the mother? and is it not to their mother and her family that they must look for assistance? The line between the white man's God and Nzambi Mpungu is a very thin one. The Negro has got as far as natural religion will take him, and admits that he knows little or nothing about Him. He is willing to believe whatever the white man likes to tell him. And thus we have Nzambi Mpungu, the father of Nzambi, described to us in their mythology, or folklore, as a human being-as a naked man. This idea has crept into their minds through their having come across pictures of Our Lord as he is painted dying for us upon the cross.

There is a man still living who declares that he was translated to heaven and saw Nzambi Mpungu. He lives in a town not far from Loango. He says that one day, when it was thundering and lightning and raining very heavily, and when all the people in his village, being afraid, had hidden themselves in their shimbecs, he alone was walking about. Suddenly, and at the moment of an extraordinarily vivid flash of lightning, after a very loud peal of thunder, he was seized and carried through space until he reached the roof of heaven, when it opened and allowed him to pass into the abode of Nzambi Mpungu. Nzambi Mpungu cooked some food for him, and gave him to eat. And when he had eaten, he took him about and showed him his great plantations and rivers full of fish, and then left him, telling him to help himself whenever he felt hungry. He stayed there two or three weeks, and never had he had such an abundance of food. Then Nzambi Mpungu came to him again, and asked him whether he would like to remain there always, or whether he would like to return to the earth. He said that he missed his friends, and would like to return to them. Then Nzambi Mpungu sent him back to his family.[1]

I have said in the Introduction, that from historical tradition and from internal evidence, it is clear that Nkissism is a superimposed religion on the peoples of Loango and KaCongo, and that I believe the religion that was extant in these regions before the coming of the sons of the king of Congo and the priests of the Congo religion (Nkissism) was a religion identical

[1. This story was told to me by Antonio Lavadeiro, my linguister, or head-man, at Bintamba, River Chiloango.]

in essentials with that which I had opportunities of studying among the tribes of the Mpongwe stem (Mpongwe, Ajumba, Orungu, Nkâmi and Igalwa); and I may remark that among these tribes there is not a priesthood apart, but the house-father is the priest of his people. The following observations of Mr. Dennett seem to me to have a bearing on this point.



And now it is that we come to Nkissi, the spirit, the power, the mystery, that is contained in the Bilongo, or medicines, in the earth, and trees, and herbs.

The father of the tribe carefully guarded one spot within his domain, in which he planted a stunted baobab, or placed a sacred stone, or a wooden image. Nails were not driven into this image, and the place so set apart was sacred-sacred to the mysterious power or spirit-and this was called his Nkissinsi. He was father and priest, or Nganga, the man learned in the folklore of his people. He it was who cured the sick, and instructed the young by his wise words and stories. He, as the direct descendant of Nzambi, ruled his people by that moral authority that devolved from what he considered his God.

But as this family became great, it was ruled not only by the father, but by those elders that he might select to govern certain districts under him; and these lieutenants in their turn appointed others to govern small portions of their regency. And finally Ngangas, or priests, men learned in folklore and medicine, were sent to help these lieutenants, and thus the office of ruler and priest, the effective authority and the moral authority, were separated, although the elder still considered himself as high-priest and ruler. The Ngangas became a class apart under the title of Zinganga Nkissi (Zinganga being the plural of Nganga).

These Zinganga developed Nkissisin as time went on, and instituted the Nkissi, or wooden image of a man or a beast charged with medicines. The petitioner who wished to kill the thief who had stolen some of his property, made the Nganga an offering, and drove a nail into the image as he made his request. Or the friends of the sick man would present their offering to the Nganga of a certain Nkissi; and he would present them with some bracelet or amulet, Nkissi, charged with medicine which he affirmed would certainly cure the sick man.

What a field was thus opened to unscrupulous Ngangas, and how quick they were to avail themselves of their chance, we can easily realise.

The Zinganga at last professed to be able to call down the rain from heaven, and thus held the whole country in fear and trembling while they filled their pockets with their peace offerings; and they backed up their profession by wholesale murder and poisoning of all unbelievers. They hypnotised the weak, who thought that some evil Nkissi had possession of them, until the patient's friends paid the Zingauga heavily to come and cast out the evil spirit, or killed them as so-called witches. They usurped the powers of the Elders, and cast off their allegiance to their great Father, until the great kingdom of the Bantu became cut up into innumerable petty sovereignties.

The month of February is sacred to Nkissinsi. This month is called Muauda. The prince calls all his people before him and addresses them; they then clean the holy ground of all grass and herbs, and for the first fifteen days the people dance and sing. On the fifteenth day all fetishes (Nkissi) are covered up, and no one is allowed to touch an image until the new moon appears again.

The day of the week upon which the prince calls his people together to discuss any subject is called Nduka. Palavers concerning dead people are talked over on the day called Ntono.

The Fjort has four days in his week: Tono; Silu; Nkandu; Nsona, the fourth day, upon which the women will not work in the fields, sacred to production and motherhood.

Touching those things which the Fjort regard as forbidden, and which they call Xina (thina, or tchina), the youngest resident amongst them must have noticed many of these Xina Swine, which no prince will touch. In addition to these, the Fjort regard all things that come from the sea and have not fins and scales as forbidden, and also all eagles, crows, cuckoos, hawks, owls, herons, bats, and snakes.

So long as he knows nothing about it he says he may eat food out of unclean pots, but if he knows that anything unclean has been cooked in the pot in which his food has been prepared, and he eats thereof, he will be punished by some great sickness coming over him, or by death.

The rites of purification are numerous. After menstruation, childbirth, or sickness, they anoint their bodies with palm-oil mixed with the red powder called takula.

Lastly, I give a note of Mr. Dennett's on the Nkissi of the Musurongo. These Musurongo to this day keep up their tradition for turbulence and miscellaneous villainy with which the Roman Catholic missionaries of the 15th and 16th centuries credited them. They are the descendants of the people of "the Count of Sogno." I also venture to think that they are a people upon whom Nkissism is a superimposed religion; but the superimposition of this religion on the Musurongo took place prior to superimposition of it on the people of Loango and KaCongo. We have, however, no white record on this point, but it shows faintly here and there in the black tradition, the Musurongo being frequently called "the bastard tribe, or people," and so on. Nevertheless, the information Mr. Dermett gives of these Nkissi at the present day is of such interest that I include it here.

The principal Nkissi, or wooden images, into which nails are driven in this part of the Musurongo territory are:

Kabata, which is said to kill its victims by givifig them the sleeping sickness.

Nsimbi, that causes dropsy.

Quansi, that infests them with a ceaseless itching.

Then we have their rain-giver, or withholder, called Nvemba.

The Nkissist is robbed, and straightway he goes to the Nganga of Kabata, with an offering, and knocks a nail into the Nkissi (or fetish, as you are given to calling it) that the robber may be plagued with the sleeping sickness and die.

Has he the sleeping sickness, the Nkissist goes to the Nganga, and, perhaps, confesses his sin, and pays him to withdraw the nail and cure him.

It has not rained as it should have done; then the prince collects cloth and goods from his people to present to the Nganga Nvemba; and they all go to the sacred grove, and having made their offering sing and dance, and clap their hands and shout for rain. The Nganga secures them this blessing if he can; -but if he cannot, it is because someone has committed some great act of indecency, or has broken some of the orders of Nvemba-perhaps someone has been digging up the gum copal and selling it to some trader. The fault at any rate is never with the Nganga; and some victim or other is pounced upon and has to appease the wrathful Nvemba by either losing his life, or that of a slave, or else by paying the Nganga.

But if the thief or sinner who has kindled the wrath of Nvemba will not confess his fault, how then is the culprit to be brought to justice?

The Ngauga Nkissi is not behind the sainted priests of our own church in its infancy, and is privileged to proceed by the ordeal of poison, fire, and water. And this again opens to the unscrupulous Nganga a wide field for what is called priestly jugglery, although I do not believe that the Ngangas, who in their simplicity appeal to the interposition of the Great Hidden Power, are necessarily impostors; for they certainly are not.

What we will call the conscience, for want of a better word, of people such as these KaCongos, who are still under the power of a religion full of superstition, is peculiarly sensitive. As then they fully believe that the Great Hidden Power will expose them, is it a wonderful conclusion to arrive at that this fear reacts upon their system? The next time you are in fear and trembling, just try to eat a mouthful of dry bread; and I think that after that you will be a step nearer faith in trial by ordeal than you are to-day, and that you will easily understand how a native suffering from a guilty conscience, and dreading discovery, standing in the presence of the Nganga and the people, when suddenly called upon to swallow a piece of dry mandioco, may probably be choked in his terrible effort to do so. And if fear acts upon the system in this way in this case, why should we doubt its action in other ordeals?

The swindling comes in when a rich sinner confesses his sin to the Nganga, and bribes him to see him through the ordeal safely. The Nganga promises; and the sinner, no longer the victim of fear, gets through the ordeal, even if the Nganga does not help him. But the unscrupulous Nganga does often help by putting a bean in the powdered bark, or casca, and thus ensuring its rejection by the stomach, and by other tricks known to him.

We know that St. Wilfrid built an abbey near Ripon, which was destroyed by fire in 950, and that the privilege of ordeal by fire and water was granted to this church; yet we do not hear people talking of St. Wilfrid as an old humbug. They give him the benefit of the doubt, and call him a saint. And yet I have no doubt that there were unscrupulous priests in those days, quite equal in villany to the vilest Nganga Nkissi of to-day.

But before a man is brought to his trial there must be some evidence against him; and this is supplied by the Nganga, who, having gone through a process of divining, accuses the man of being a poisoner, spell-binder, thief, or adulterer. Thus, a person falling sick will not presume that his sickness is brought about by his own folly, but rather concludes that someone is quietly poisoning him. He therefore calls in a Nganga; and it is this man's business to divine the evil-doer, or to tell the sufferer that his sickness is a natural one.

I have often known my servants get up in the night after a disagreeable dream and fire off their guns to drive the evil power away, and the next day busy themselves by divining who the person was that was trying to get at them.

I will close this collection of miscellaneous fragments with an account Mr. Dennett gives of the method of conducting a native palaver, a story that shows in what respect the decisions of the law were held, and a story showing the danger that is in words.



It has struck me, as it must have struck all residents in Africa, that the force of reason and logic, as illustrated in his many palavers, plays no mean part in the life of the Fjort.

A discussion takes place between two natives which leads to a quarrel. Each party relates his side of the question to some friend, these friends enter into the discussion, but fail to settle the question in dispute. A bet is then made between the two in the following way: one offers the other a corner of his cloth (a dress), and the other taking his knife cuts it off. Or a stick is broken into two parts, each keeping his part until the palaver is settled. The dispute is then referred to a prince, in whose presence it is "talked out." This prince decides the matter, and is paid for his trouble. This the Fjort calls "Ku funda nKana, that is to plead and circumstantiate a cause.

Palavers of the above kind of course are easily settled, but the more serious questions, such as those of shedding blood and intertribal dispute, are far more imposing and formal. It matters not whether the tribes have had recourse to arms in their endeavours to settle the palaver; no question is considered finally settled until it has been properly and judicially talked out. In wars of this kind the stronger may gain the day, but the weaker, if not entirely annihilated, will bide his time, and bring the palaver up again on some future and more favourable occasion, and probably be successful in getting right given to him after all. The palaver settled, the fine inflicted paid, the whole question is closed for ever.[1]

The princes before whom the palaver is to be talked are generally seated near the trunk of some wide-spreading, shade-giving tree. The audience sit opposite to them-the defendant and plaintiff and their followers on either side, the space left being thus formed with a hollow square.

If the palaver is one of great importance, and the parties opposed to each other are wealthy, they will employ their pleaders or Nzonzi (who know how to speak). The plaintiff states his case. The defendant states his. The simple bearing of the supposed facts of the case may take days, for each has to trace back the palaver to its origin. "If you want to catch a rat, says the Fjort, "go to its hole." Then the Nzonzi of the plaintiff argues the case, showing that under each bead his party is in the right, illustrating his speech by well-known comparisons, proverbs, truisms, and songs. The Nzonzi of the defendant) on the other hand, takes up each heading and argues against it. The followers on each side emphasize each conclusion drawn by the Nzonzi by repeating his last sentence, by clapping their bands, or by joining in the chorus of the song, that the Nzonzi has sung to illustrate his case. If this song is a stirring one and does not tell much either way, princes and audience as well as both sides join in it until by it terrific grunt the presiding prince silences the court.

This kind of thing goes on for many days, perhaps, until the two have as it were talked themselves dry, then, after leaving the court to drink water (as they say), the princes, having decided upon the guilt of the litigant, return. The presiding prince then, going through the counts once more, gives his judgment. Song after song is sung, hands are clapped, and telling words are repeated, until as the prince nears the end of his discourse the whole court is led by pure reason to admit the justice of his words and judgment.

Then a great uproar ensues, the last song is sung with terrible enthusiasm, men jump up and twist themselves about, dancing and waving their spears and guns above their heads. The condemned is fined and given so many days to pay, or if the punishment be death, he is immediately tied up and either killed or ransomed according to his position. If the dispute has been between two tribes, after the fine has been paid an agreement is made between the two parties, and a slave killed, to seal the compact.

[1] This is common to all the West African tribes I know, and not confined to the Fjort. M. H. K.


Since the foregoing was in type I have received Mr. Dennett's notes on certain points raised in the Introduction. Such of them as relate to Nkissism and the allied subject of Kazila, or Xina, are here inserted, at the risk of some repetition, since they help us to form a clearer conception of those matters.

Nkissism is divided into four parts: 1. Nkissi'nsi (or Nkissi anci) Earth or Nature; Nkissi, with the king as high priest. 2. Nkissi, the wooden images into which nails are driven, with their priests or Ngangas. This division may be termed Nganga Nkissi. 3. Nkissi kissi, little fetishes, or family fetishes, with a family Nganga. 4. Medicines, with their Nganga bilongo, or medicine man.

The division here made by Mr. Dennett is interesting, because, under the four fairly distinct schools of Fetish existent in West Africa, you will find these four divisions in the religion. I would prefer to use the word departments, for the form of religion each of these departments deals with is the same in essence. The king deals with one class of affairs, the medicine-man with another, and the private individual sees to his home-fetish for himself. Mr. Dennett has called the Nganga bilongo "the medicine-man," but this term, I think, belongs more correctly to the Nganga Nkissi. For the Nganga bilongo is the Fjort representative of our apothecary, and is quite a reasonable person in his way, and it is Nganga Nkissi who represents that class to which the name "medicineman" has been applied by European writers. Nganga in Fjort, Mr. Dennett says, means Repeater, i.e. he who repeats the secrets of native religion, family affairs, or medicine, or, as I should say, those parts of religion appertaining to these several things; for no Nganga tackles all of them, but takes a department.

Mr. Dennett's most important statement is on Kazila, he says:

As it is pronounced to-day it might mean "no road," and we must remember that in old Portuguese ch had the force of k, and g had a sound between j and z. So Merolla's "Chegilla" is evidently the same thing as the Kazila. But there is something uncanny about this word; for some natives say it was given them by the Portuguese, and if so, ka or ke is simply a prefix, and the word was gira, which means gibberish or cant. The Fjort cannot roll his r or put l in its place.

The native word (about which there is no doubt) for these things forbidden is (s.) xina (for) Bina. It is xina to steal, to murder, to sleep with a woman on the bare earth, and to eat a certain number of food-stuffs. The punishment is not always death. Sometimes the punishment for eating a forbidden food shows itself in the culprit's coming out in spots and blotches. I know one family that will not eat pigeons, because that bird, by scratching, let light into a cave in which one of the family's ancestors had been made a prisoner. Death is certainly not necessarily the punishment for breaking one's xina.

Merolla's tale, which Miss Kingsley quotes in the Introduction (p. xxv.), proves that so long as the young Negro knew nothing about it, he was "as right as a trivet," and that it was only when he was roughly told the truth that his fear and power of imagination got the better of him and killed him. That tale is incomplete, for, according to native law, the host was the cause of the young Negro's death, and it should end up with: "and the relations of the young Negro fell upon the host, and killed him, and the people said they had done well." Once the man knew that, even by accident, he had eaten his xina, he would notice something was wrong, and he would go to the Nganga of the fetish set apart for that particular crime, and get the thing righted, or suffer sickness or death, as the case might be. I grant Miss Kingsley that if a native gave another his xina to eat, and that person died within a decent period, he would feel he had murdered him; so that when casca, was given to him to eat as an ordeal, he would die in almost the exactly same way as that in which the young Negro in the story did. All of which proves the terrible hold fear mixed with imagination has over the Fjort's mind and stomach. A pot in which any xina has been cooked is unclean for ever, as far as that person is concerned, and no amount of washing will do. As I have said, xina are general and particular. The pig is xina to all royal blood; the Ampa kala, or buffalo, to the Bakutu, as a punishment to them for not listening to the words of Maloango; the antelope to a family round about Fahi, for refusing to give water to a voice in the bush when asked for it; fish of certain inland waters to certain people, near Cabinda, for not giving water to Nzambi and her child; and so on. The Fjort believes in the "voice that speaks," and this voice (as the very soul of man) is taken from the dead father and placed in the bead of a living relation, and it speaks to the dead man's offspring, and thus what was his xina becomes the xina of his offspring. This is what the reverend fathers would call "conversing with the devil."




THE following Songs and additional matter by Mr. Dennett reached the Editor's hands in letters after the rest of the book was in type. As they contained valuable illustrations of the native customs and modes of thought, it was determined to add them by way of Appendix. Unfortunately the photographs of the string of symbols and the mode of using it were in such a condition that it was found impossible to reproduce them. Mr. Dennett's description, however, is so clear that their reproduction is hardly necessary.

The Editor has to thank Miss Kingsley for arranging the translation and explanation furnished by Mr. Dennett of the Song of Hunger, and for further elucidating some of its obscurities. His practice has been to give a translation of each word of the song separately, and at the end of a line or phrase to paraphrase the whole or translate it as closely as the differences of idiom of Bantu and Aryan languages permit. It was thought too tedious to reproduce this procedure in the case of every song; hence, in four out of the five songs here printed, only the translation or paraphrase of the entire line or phrase is given. In the case of the Song of Hunger, however, Mr. Dennett's procedure has been retained, as an illustration of the construction of the Bantu song.

The name given to the first of the following songs is Miss Kingsley's suggestion.

It should be noted that the symbol X stands throughout for tch or dj.



I now have the pleasure of enclosing two photographs, representing, the one a string of symbols or headings of a native song, and the other the boy singing the song from the string.

The song itself and the string came from the Mayumba district, i.e., that country to the north and east of Loango.

The string is composed of pieces of stick, shells, calabashes, and skins and feathers strung together.

1st line. A piece of rounded stick about an inch long.

2nd The shell of a peanut.

3rd A piece of rounded stick with two notches in it.

4th Two pieces of rounded stick (two wives of the dead represented by a small bundle of cloth).

5th A piece of rounded stick (ximanga liambu).

6th Two pieces of rounded stick (ngoma and mavungu).

7th line A piece of calabash (ntumbu).

8th Two pieces of rounded stick (two women).

One little piece of mandioca.

One piece of husk of palm-kernel.

9th One piece of rounded stick (one woman, Buketi).

10th with string round it (nganga nsassi).

11th (Buyali).

One piece of hollow wood for canoe.

12th One rounded piece of calabash (sun).

One half-moon-shaped piece of calabash (moon).

13th One short piece of round stick (two notches).

One small round stick (hammer).

One small bundle of cloth (Bisakala).

14th One piece of wood in shape of cross supposed to represent man with drum between his legs.

A very small piece of wood as drumstick.

15th One round piece of wood (xivunda).

One smaller piece (son).

A bit of the leaf of Indian corn.

16th A flat piece of wood representing bark of a tree.

17th Round piece of stick with string round top (Nganga bi yango).

18th Round piece of stick, one notch (son).

Small piece of stick, drumstick (ngoma).

19th Flat piece of stick like spoon (cease eating).

20th Two little bits of stem of tobacco (pipe and tobacco).

21st Small flat stick (xibala. nganzi).

22nd Rather long round stick with forked stick tied round the top representing Father Makuika, a prisoner.

23rd Small piece of pipe.

24th Round piece of stick tied round the middle.

25th Small piece of grass.

26th Shell.

27th Imitation of a comb.

Piece of wood like hand-mirror.

28th Round stick tied to string 3/4 way up.

29th Skin of Mpakasa.

30th Tail of Ngumba.

Piece of skin.

31st Piece of skin of big antelope (sungu).

32nd Tail-feather of parrot (nkusu).

Tail-feather of pheasant (mbulu nkoko).

So much, then, for the symbols; now for the song. One boy holds one end of the string while the singer holds the other; then, as the latter sings, his fingers touch the symbols. He sings a sentence, the other boy and the onlookers repeat it.

1. Xitini xinkondo xifumina ku Sundi. (Shoots of the silk-cotton tree came from Sundi.)[1]

2. Lunguba lu nkuanji lu fumina ku Sundi. (And peanuts, which are now so common also, came from Sundi.)[2]

3. Ma ngombi xinanga nquanga. (O, mother, ngombi dance the nquanga.)

4. Xibaiia niombo bakanga vulubongo. (Tie up the corpse in native grass-cloth.)

5. Ximanga liambu buna ku manga busu ku bititi. (The man who does not wish to hear the word turns his face to the grass.)

6. Ngoma i Mavungu ba nkote mi kunji. (Ngoma and Mavungu [Truth and Falsehood] are present at all palavers.)

7. Ntumpunganga ntumpu ilanga ma bungu. (Tell us openly the palaver you have hidden in your heart.)

8. Bilezi bixentu ku yolo, biyolo m'uenda ku lindaiia. (Two young ladies after smearing themselves over with takula, or red paint, go to visit their lovers.)

9. Buketi nkuendanga ku buala, keti nkuendanga ku buala kutanga babota. (Buketi keeps on going to town, going to town [because she is pregnant; may she]. bring forth her child well.)

10. Nganga Nsassi Kubéla ku mbéla. (Nganga Nsassi [Suamil is sick.)

11. Buyali ku buyali tuala ko nlungu, mino ku simika, nlungu. muana ku banda. ([A man on the other side of the river shouts] "Buyali, Buyali, bring hither thy canoe [I want to cross this river]," [Buyali answers]: "I am pushing my canoe along with a bamboo; my child is at the bottom of the river.")

12. Ntangu mu luanda, ngonde ne bi sunji. (The sun is always marching [as in a hammock], and meets the new moon on the beach.)

13. Nkubi nyundu 'mduda bi sengo, kududa, kududa, mioko u aka nxienzo, bonga bi sakala u dudila bi sengo. (The blacksmith by beating makes the hoe; he beats and beats the iron until his hammer [too hot to

[1. And now fishermen in Cabinda, etc., make their nets and floats from its bark.

Sundi is the grass country beyond the Mayomba district.]

hold] drops to the ground. [Says his friend:] "Take this bit of native cloth to hold your hammer with, and go on beating the iron and make your hoe.")

14. Akubemba ndungu kubemba i xikonko. ([He addresses the drummer:] "Take your drum and put it between your legs, and your drum-stick, and beat the drum.")

15. Xivunda xibuala xinkenia li sango, kukenia kukenia li eno li aka nxienzo; bikela muana mudidi ku manisia li sango. (When a man in town is old and eats Indian corn, he leaves some corn on the cob; and the corn he leaves, his son is forced to finish.)

16. Lubalu lubaluka vi xifumba? (How is it my family respect me no longer?)

17. Nganga biyango biyango ba sumuka. (Some one has touched my birth-fetish [nganga biyango], and it has lost its virtue.)

18. Muana mbèla ngoma mi ntomba. (My child is sick; fetch the ngoma [little drum.])

19. Bika i lia malandu e landu landu mabungu. (Let me eat malandu [a fruit] and remember the whole palaver.)[1]

20. Sungu mu xi timba, liamba mu nkondo. ([Put] tobacco in the pipe, liamba [hemp] in the calabash.)

21. Xibala nganzi balanga mabungu. (To think heavily, with a frown on one's forehead [nganzi], about the palaver).

22. Tata makuika bueka bonso mbi lilanga bueka ieka mu xivanga. (Father Makuika, who is a prisoner, is saluted by his sons, and answers: "Don't salute me; can't you see the yoke on my neck?")

23. Nkonko xitumba bakulu bito babika. (An old pipe left by a relation must not be thrown away.)

24. Muamba sango ntiti bilongo. (Renowned muamba [yellow-tree] is our medicine-tree.)

25. Xizika zika nzila nkulu ntu bititi. (Xizika [grass with great roots] is the old man of the road [nkulu ntu = wisehead. ])

26. Seve nganga sevanga mabungu. (The laugher hears good words and goes on laughing.)

27. Kusimba xisanu ku simbuanga In enuéno. (When you comb your hair, hold the glass before you.)

28. Xisinza mazila umananga milembo. (Stumps on the road keep on damaging one's toes.)

29. Mapakasa xinuaini ntuandi u tabuka. (The buffalo fights until his head falls off.)

[1. The malandu is a fruit given to a man to give him the power of remembering, and the will to speak all that is hidden in his heart.]

30. Nzau e xilanga, ngumba imimbiekesi. (The elephant has a tail [the hairs of which are a valuable ornament], the porcupine has spines.)

31. Sungu kulila mu binauga. (Sungu [the name of a very large kind of antelope] eats on the top of hills.)

32. Nkusu mu nkunda, nbulu nkoko kuta nilolo. (The parrot perches on a branch, the pheasant sings his song [ko, ko, ko, ku, ku.])


Song Of The Burial Of The Fjort Prince.

It has been a very difficult matter to get the song together. One cannot pick it up while they are singing it, for many of the words are new to one; and to sit out of sight, perhaps in a cramped position, from 7 p.m. until 4 a.m. is no joke, and not an aid to one's work. To go openly to such a meeting means either a disturbance of the peace or a change in the programme. Then when one has got the rough part done and begins to ask questions about the song, the native "fights shy." He is sufficiently accustomed to the white man's ways to know that he will not give him credit for being serious, and he does not like his ways laughed at. It needs a native (if he is a good man) of great moral courage to tell a white man these things; and if he is a bad one he must be a great villain, without any sense of respect for the white man he is conversing with, to speak upon such a subject. It is greatly to the Fjort's credit that he is not worse and more degraded than he is, for he has forgotten the deep meaning of the words he uses, which perhaps would keep him pure in thought in the midst of his "worship " (?) of maternity, or earth as the mother and bearer of all things. Watching the Fjort at his burial ceremonies, and not knowing the meaning of the words of his song, no one could possibly detect the slightest sign of indecency. Some who, as Chicaia said, had shame, wore the leaves of the mandioca before their persons, and these were under the influence of Christianity. Personally, the pure and unadulterated heathen seemed to me the more decent of the two, naked as he was, for he, like the half-naked stoker on board a steamer, struck me as a man who had a certain work to do, and was not afraid to do it.

The Fjort either destroys the house in which his late relative dwelt after burial, or else dismantles it and sells the material to some other family. He plants mandioca in the ground where the deceased's bed rested, so that people shall not build there again. The wives sleep in the shimbec with the corpse, but none of the family dare sleep in it after the burial of the deceased, for fear of being considered his poisoner or bewitcher. They fear a meeting with the ghost, or chimbindi, of the deceased, for no one has been known to live more than two days after having been beaten by one.

I took instantaneous photographs of the shimbec and coffin of my cook's father, whose death and burial I have related.

In my walks through KaCongo it was by no means a rare occurrence to come across a place where orange, lime, and mango-trees were found growing in a half-wild state; levelled terraces, raised foundations, and neglected mandioca plantations clearly pointed to the fact that a village had once existed there. Upon enquiry I found that these places had been deserted, owing to the number of deaths from small-pox. This is one of the reasons why a prince, although he may have a fine house, generally lives in a small shimbec by the side of it. This custom may also be one of the reasons why the Fjort is, as a rule, so poorly housed, apart from the fear he has of being considered a witch if he builds himself a substantial dwelling. If millionaires at home were as easily frightened by the Socialists, where should we all be?

Now for the song. It is past sundown, and the relations and friends about to bury their chief are seated around the coffin, that as yet does not contain the corpse. That relation who has undertaken the burial now arises, and beating the coffin with his hand, cries out:

1. "Mpolo ku fu." (Bene est mori et quiescere.)

Again he hits the coffin, and cries:

2. "Mpola makata." (Testiculi bene quiescunt.)

Again he beats the case, and shouts:

3. "Mpolo xikolo." (Cunnus bene quiescit.)

4. "Mpolo msutu." (Penis bene quiescit.)

5. "Ku fua nkulu u tuba bu ao." (Et spiritus mortuus est et dicendi facultas.)

Then the people there assembled take off their clothes, and, after the chief mourner has sung the following verse, burst forth in song, repeating the same words and tune time after time.

1. "Ku aba si tuli monanga." (In olden days of the earth [these good things] were often seen.)

The song is now changed to:

2. "Basi uanda liboili banonga mpakala bikolo." (Basi [the Basi, or secret society] illius oppidi saccum virginitatum habent.)

This song is sung by all until they are tired of it, when another one is given out, and so on.

3. "Bakakata boili umquenda o." (The old folk of the town are all dying.)

4. "Aujéi ko u rata mikala abu uaka mkuta 'mpinda" (You did not plant nor hoe, and now you have a basket of peanuts; [where did you get it?].)

5. "Néno uak'ili bulu msutu nako uvanga li bulu." (Vulva cavea est, quam fecit penis.)

6. "Beno ni kufulanga nkossa ubilo nkéia kubenga nkossa kubengila nyamu milénji." (You are always asking about the lobster; don't you know that its teeth [mouth] are misplaced, and that when you boil it, it becomes red tip to its hair?)

7. "Xilumbu xina xinquenda yaia masuella kwitekanga." (The day that my brother goes [dies] I keep on shedding tears.)

8. "Ma mbamba [1] songa, nèno uvisia munu uaka enxienzo." (Mambamba, utere cunno bene, donec os ejus doleat.)

9. "Abu lélé makata mavia mbazu." (Dum dormis, testiculi ardent).

10. "Abu lélé msutu mavia mbazu." (Dum dormis, ardet penis.)

11. "Abu lélé xikoalo xavia mbazu." (Dum dormis, ardet cunnus.)

Then comes the final part of this song:

12. "Una uku vena uli ku linda mayaka ma mona u lili obua." (One gives without being asked. The new mandioca one plants, another eats.)

Then the people sing ordinary songs until the cock crows; then they put the corpse into the coffin. The wife of the dead prince then places a small gourd into a "matet," or basket, and goes to the place she has been in the habit of going to fetch water. On arriving there, she falls into the water once, twice, three times, and her part in the ceremony of the burial of the Fjort is at an end, and she is free.

When the wife has left the coffin, the chief mourner again sings:

13. "Mingenza monami kuluma tuenda Kamangot [2] fua." (Young man, my son, push and go; Kamango is dead.)

14. "Mueniyambi [3] ngulubu xina xikoada ku lia." (Mueniyambi, they

[1. Ma mbamba is said by the Fjort to be the name of a man of old, and to-day he attaches no meaning to the name.

2. Kamango, they say, is the name of an old prince.

3. Mueniyambi, another prince of old.]

said, did not eat pig [but one day he asked them what it was he was eating, and they had to admit that] he was eating the foot of a pig.)

Then the coffin is placed in the hole dug for it, and the earth is heaped up over it by willing hands; and as the Fjort throws the earth upon the coffin, he murmurs:

"Bakulu [1] vandu vandu." (People of spirit-land, be at rest, be at rest [and don't bother the people of this world].)



1. Sanguila mboma kumina muntu.

2. Mbelli sandaugu nkambu ku vonda muntu.

3. Aula mani Zinga bazolila muliambu.

4. Bakana [2] ku vonda, ba vonda kua u-

5. Macosso rnuana Danka banzola maka lilanga.

1. [Si quis, in oppidum cum venerit, dicat] anguem parvulum hominem devorasse, [nemo ei credat. Sic Fjort cum primum de pæderastia audivisset) non verum esse credidit.]

2. [Ut inter saltantes opus est] cuivis cultro, quo nescio quem [illudentem] occidat: [sic Fjort, cum primum audivisset aliquem hoc facinus, in se admisisse, cultrum desideravit, quo eum occidere].

3. Filius Zingæ, [cujus facies velut] gum-copal [pulchra erat], pæderastiæ deditus erat.

[1. Bakulu-Nkulu, as I have already described to you, is that part of the dead which the Fjort says can be placed in the head of a living person; Ba, Bantu people; Kulu, perhaps soul, spirit. The Fjort say that the Bakulu are invisible and that they cannot see one another; but they contradict themselves, for on referring to my notes I find that when a man wishes to become rich, he obtains a fetish, or nkissi, called Buti, and when a man who has obtained this fetish dies, his nkulu ties up other Bakulu, and places them in the corner of some shimbec, and keeps them there.

2. Zinga means the long-lived; Bakana, the calculator, the man of thought.

4. Bakana [cum] occidere [voluit, et filius Zingæ respondit:] Occide [me, si vis, at ego in flagitio pergam].

5. Macosso, puer Dankæ [albi hominis] dominum. amabat, [et quun hic in Europam abiisset] non desiit lugere].



1. Munu u li vumba lelo u xinda ku vata mama.

2. Muango ma woho ba li aku bunkuela anjéa ku kuela mpé.

3. Ku simba va nxenzo, ku simba va ku bella, malongo, malongo mabila nkumbu.

4. Minu uali aku mama.

5. Ndumba buala lelo uiza muinhi.

6. Suaka esesi lelo xindaku sala.

7. Minu uali aku mama

8. Zimvula ziamana.

1. Tu mater cui os est magnum, multum serere debes.

2. Tu qui permultum saltas [nuptæ mulieres dicunt] desine saltare, et nube tu quoque.

3. Mulier salax, quæ huc illuc (multa loca) visitat, sed si quando cum ea vis coire, morbum nescio quem semper pro excusatione habet.

4. Forsitan quæ propria sint tibi palam faciam, O mater.

5. Meretrix in urbem interdiu venire solet [dum nuptæ mulieres in villa restant].

6. Gracilis mulier opus suum bene perficit.

7. Forsitan [etc., ut supra (4)].

8. Imbres cessant [id est, hoc carmen de mulieribus, quæ per imbres serunt, finitum est].



1. Xissanga e Buali bi koka mti

2. Muanyali ba nlainbili xikamvu

3. Xinkatu nkatu manyouga

4. Lembe li Ngongo ngeia tubanga

5. Tubanga minu i lembo

6. Xilunga o Quillo bi koka mti

7. Xilunga uaka xi nanu

8. Nzala nguli yalla tanta

9. Ndevo nkunda mbongo

10. Bemvena madungo masina mbinda

11. Zimvula zi Maloango ziaku zimani

12. Xilumbu mfuafua minu kuxibota.

1. Xissanga, a province of Loango; e, and; Buali, another province of Loango; bi, they; koka, drag; mti, a tree.

Explanation.-In these provinces the people are dying of hunger, and are therefore making new farms in the Fjort way, clearing forest and dragging about the trees as a sort of rough ploughing.

2 & 3. Muanyali, proper name meaning the first stage of pregnancy; ba nlainbili, cooked; xikamvu, large basket used for carrying food; Xinkatu, mat on which food is served; nkatu, mat; manyonga, to feel bitterly in one's heart.

Muanyali gets a large basket and a mat of the large kind, and cooked food, and is angry that the basket and the mat are all right, the food is properly cooked, but there is not enough. This is a common African way of indirectly saying disagreeable things or telling you what they dislike in a thing. "This is right," they say," and that is right; " and they expect you to know what is wantiug. It is as if they set you a subtraction sum: given the total, you deduct what is praised, and the difference is what is disliked. If you don't arrive at it, you are a fool, and it is no use talking to you.

4 & 5. Lembe (the name given to a wife married according to the rites of Lemba, i.e., the wife, properly so called, who binds herself not to survive her husband), the wife of Muanyali; li ngongo (a large fisli-eating bird-a pelican), proper name, ngeia, thou; tubanga, talk; minu, I; lembo, cease.

Muanyali's wife, Lembo, asks her father, Mr. Pelican, to explain to her husband why she has not been able to send him more food. She says to her father: "You talk to him about it; I cease from telling him." That is, it is no good my telling him, he thinks I could send more if I chose. Then off goes Pelican to his son-in-law, and says:

6 & 7. Xilunya e Quillo bi koka mti, Xilunga and Quillo are dying of hunger (details explained above); Xilunga, a province of Loango; uaka, now; xi nanu, is far away.

I think this means: "We who live in Quillo (a province of Loango) can get nothing, even if we go to Xilunga, because that is famine-stricken too." I know, xi nanu, far away, is often used as a description of a place not worth going to.

8. Nzala, through; nguli, mother; yalla, hunger; tanta, pain.

"The thought of the hungered mother pains them." Pelican throws this observation in, meaning Xilunga and Quillo grieve for their hungering mothers.

9. Ndevo, beard; nkunda, elephant's tail; mbongo, money.

I think Pelican throws out a suggestion that a man named Ndevo nkunda is a rich man, and should be asked for aid; "money," of course, not being necessarily coin, but possibly in this case food.

10. Bemvena, efficiunt; madungo, testiculos tumefactos; masina, fundum; mbinda, cucurbitæ.

Mulieres viros ita elephantiasi afficiunt, ut testiculi ventri cucurbitæ similes fiunt. (A statement not made in the interest of medical knowledge, but connected in the Affican mind with the rainfall, and having a definite bearing on what falls.) Pelican is still speaking.

11. Zimvula, rain; zi Maloango, as in the days of Maloango; ziaku, they; zimani, are finished.

"Now we no longer get the rains we had in the days of Maloango."

12. Xilumbu, day; mafuafua; die; minu, I; kuxi bota, to be well.

"I shall be well cared for the day I die;" I shall be well buried. That is, I wish I were dead. This is the final lament of poor Pelican.

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