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Chapter 5: Worship of the Sky in Africa

§ 1. Worship of the Sky in Western Africa

The worship of the Sky common in savage and barbarous tribes.

THUS far we have discussed the worship of the Sky as it has existed among the civilized peoples of antiquity and of modern times. But that worship is by no means confined to civilized nations; it occurs also commonly enough in savage and barbarous tribes. Nor is this surprising. When we remember that the religious veneration of the Sky is based on a simple personification of the visible firmament, in other words, on an attribution to it of qualities and powers like those of man in kind, though higher in degree, we shall probably be less astonished that so crude a philosophy should commend itself to primitive folk than that it should so long have survived among peoples at a higher level of culture.

The worship of the Sky well developed in Africa.

I do not propose to ransack the whole annals of savagery and barbarism in search of sky-gods; to do so would tax too far the patience of my hearers and exceed the time at my disposal. There is the less need for me to dwell at length on the topic because the whole of this wide field has already been surveyed and mapped by Professor Pettazzoni in the learned work to which I have already referred.1 For my purpose it will suffice to select as examples of this particular phase of religion the beliefs and practices of a single race, or rather group of races, to wit, the black peoples of Africa, among whom the personification and worship of the Sky are particularly well developed. We begin with the tribes of Western Africa.

The worship of the Sky among the tribes of Upper Senegal.

The worship of the Sky among the Nunumas.

The worship of the Sky appears to be common to all the negroes of Western Africa, but among many of them it is cast into the shade by the worship of the Earth and of the Forest. This, for example, is true of the Bobos, a tribe of Upper Senegal or the French Sudan, who occupy a territory in the valley of the Niger to the north of the Ivory Coast.2 But among the Sankuras, a branch of the Bobos, who have been influenced by Mohammedanism, the Sky-god has regained some of his original importance because his worshippers have identified him with Allah. Still, even among them the Sky has to yield precedence to the Earth and the Forest.3 Again, among the Nunumas, another tribe of the same region, the two great deities are still the Earth and the Forest, but the people also revere the Sky or the Good God, as they call him, and they offer sacrifices to him when the diviner orders them to do so. At his bidding they ascend one of the terraces of their large family dwellings (sukalas), which are built of beaten earth and in their massive proportions often present the appearance of lofty rectangular fortresses rather than of houses. There, on the terrace, they cut the throat of a fowl, throw it in the air, and watch it, as it flutters and flaps its wings in the agony of death. If it expires on its back, the omen is good: Heaven has accepted the sacrifice. But if the bird does not die on its back, it is a sign that Heaven is displeased and rejects the offering. In that case the sacrifices must be continued till a victim yields up its life in the required position.4 The worship of the dead forms an important element in the religion of the Nunumas; for the souls of ancestors are supposed to dwell under ground and to cause the growth of vegetation, particularly of the grain; hence at the time of sowing the seed the head of a family always sacrifices to the ancestral spirits either at their graves or at the little huts dedicated to them.5 Now it is noteworthy that in this tribe the Sky-god is always invoked along with the ancestral spirits.6 On the terraces of their houses the people sometimes erect huge pointed cones of beaten earth in honour either of the ancestors or of the Sky. Further, the Nunumas, like other negroes, associate the worship of certain pebbles with the worship of the Sky. When the head of a family finds in the forest a pebble which attracts his attention by its colour, or beauty, or curious shape, he picks it up and takes it home. There he constructs a cone of beaten earth, some three feet high at most, and sets the pebble on the top of it, and offers sacrifices to it, saying that it is the Good God himself, or at all events a fetish which the Good God has bestowed on him. This is natural enough, for in the belief of the blacks these pebbles have fallen from the Sky, and are in fact fragments of that great divinity.7

The worship of the Sky among the Kassunas Fras.

The Kassunas Fras, another negro people of the same region, to the north of the Gold Coast, similarly offer sacrifices to the Sky on the terraces of their houses, especially when they are about to set out on a journey. They also in like manner worship certain pebbles as fragments of the divine Sky, from which they are supposed to have fallen. When a man finds one of these pebbles he constructs a cone of beaten earth in front of the door of his house, places the pebble on the top of it, and from time to time sacrifices fowls or goats to it. This he usually does in obedience to the injunction of a diviner.8 But with them, as with other tribes of these parts, the worship of the Sky appears to be overshadowed by the worship of the Earth and of the ancestral spirits. Even when rain is wanted, it is not to the Sky but to the Earth and the Ancestors that the Kassunas Fras, like the Nunumas, offer sacrifices in order to elicit showers from the brazen heaven.9

The worship of the Sky among the Nankanas.

Again, the Nankanas, another tribe of the same region, revere the Earth and the Forest as their great deities, but they also pay their devotions to the Sky, who, however, is not so universally feared and respected as the Earth. At Zeko the French official, M. Louis Tauxier, to whom we owe a valuable account of these tribes, was told by the people whom he questioned that everybody believed in the Earth, but that not everybody believed in the Sky. However, the chief of Zeko, to do him justice, was not one of these sceptics. Like the pious man he was, he believed in the Sky, and from time to time in the courtyard of his house he sacrificed fowls, sheep, goats, and even oxen to the celestial deity. According to the worshippers of the Sky in this tribe, it is the Sky who bestows rain, and the Thunder and Lightning are his progeny.10

The worship of the Sky among the Kassunas-Buras.

Again, the Kassunas-Buras, a tribe situated to the east of the preceding, similarly worship the Earth and the Forest as the prime divinities, but they also find a place in their pantheon for the Sky-god, who bears the name of We, while the sky itself is called kunkualu or kongkuanu: thus they distinguish between the firmament and the god who inhabits it. At the bidding of the diviner, they sacrifice fowls, millet flour, and so forth to We in order to procure many children and many wives. Anybody is free to offer such sacrifices, provided that he is instructed to do so by the seer. By extension they also give the name of We to the divine pebbles which they collect and treasure, because they believe them to have fallen from the sky. As for the lightning, it is the sword of the Good God, but they do not offer sacrifices to it. They believe that it strikes none but evildoers.11

The worship of the Sky among the Mossi and Samos.

Among the Mossi of Yatenga, a district of Upper Senegal, the Sky-god ranks as the supreme deity. In theory he is more powerful even than the redoubtable Earth-god, although, unlike that great divinity, he does not busy himself with men, and never punishes them. Nevertheless everything is said to be ordered by him. He resides in the sky, and his name is Wende or Wennam.12 The Samos of the same region sacrifice to the Sky, which they represent by balls of earth; they call it larè or lôro.13

The Habés worship a god of the sky called Amma, or Amba, who sends the rain.

They offer bloody sacrifices to him on sacred menhirs.

The Habés are an aboriginal people who inhabit a mountainous district of Upper Senegal within the great bend of the Niger. Formerly they dwelt in the fertile lowlands of the great Nigerian tableland; but, driven thence by the inroads of their foes the Peuls, they took refuge in the mountains, and built their villages on steep slopes or on the summits of cliffs, where ever since they have bidden defiance to their enemies and preserved their ancient customs and heathen religion.14 They believe that the sky, which they call ana-kala, is solid, and that there is a god of the sky, who sends the rain. They call him Amma or Amba. They offer sacrifices to him on altars with three points, to which they give the same name as to the deity. On some of the cliffs may be seen a number of monoliths or menhirs, some six feet high, which are usually fixed in clefts of the rock and supported by stones at their base. These stones are altars of the kind Sky-god Amma or Amba, who bestows the rain on mankind. No definite shape is ascribed to him, but he is supposed to dwell or to be embodied in the menhirs; and he also resides in caves and piles of rocks. Sacrifices are offered to him at all times. When any one desires to obtain a favour of the deity, whether it be rain, or offspring, or an increase of worldly goods, he repairs alone to a menhir, sprinkles millet flour on it, and utters his prayer. If his prayer is granted, he must inform the High Priest (hogon) and the elders of the village. They assemble before the sacred stone, and in their presence the worshipper who has obtained his wish sacrifices a goat, a cock, and a hen, so that the blood drips on the menhir. The flesh of the victim is then shared among the persons present. Women are excluded from these sacrifices of thanksgiving. If the favoured mortal were to forget thus to testify his gratitude to the deity, Amba would take his revenge by sending great misfortunes upon him. The Habés believe that the Earth is the wife of Amba, because he fertilizes her every year with the rain; the fruits which, thus fertilized, she brings to the birth are deemed the children of Amba.15

The worship of the Sky among the tribes in the interior of the Ivory Coast.

The Kulangos, in the interior of the Ivory Coast, regard the sky, or rather the atmosphere (yego), as a great deity. We are told that like the other negroes of the Sudan they distinguish the firmament, which they believe to be solid, from the atmospheric phenomena, such as clouds, storm, rain, thunder and lightning, which take place beneath it; and it is these phenomena, and not the blue sky, which they deem divine. To this god of the sky, or rather of the atmosphere, they offer sacrifices when the diviners command them to do so; and it is he who sends the thunder, the lightning, and the wind.16 But the Earth is the great deity of the Kulangos. Other tribes in the interior of the Ivory Coast, such as the Abrons, the Gans, and the Deghas, deify the Sky and the Earth, and offer sacrifices to them.17 The Guros in the interior of the Ivory Coast recognize the divinity of the atmospheric sky, but they do not sacrifice to it. However, when anybody has been struck by lightning, they sacrifice a fowl to the lightning in order to appease it. They believe that the polished stone axes of the neolithic period, which are found all over the Ivory Coast, were thrown down from the sky by the thunder, and they look upon them as divine. So they collect them and keep them in vessels of water. From time to time they bathe in the holy water, and offer fowls to the thunder-stones, that is, to the stone axes, trusting thereby to win their favour.18

The worship of the Sky among the tribes in the interior of the Gold Coast.

Among the tribes which inhabit the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast the worship of Sky and Earth prevails in forms which closely resemble those which we have found to be practised by the natives of Upper Senegal; nor is this surprising when we remember that the boundary between Senegal and the Gold Coast, in other words, between French and British territory, is a purely arbitrary one, being drawn straight along the eleventh parallel of North latitude, with the result that the same tribes are impartially divided between the two different spheres of political influence. For example, the Nankana (or Nankanni) and the Kassuna Fras (or Kassena) inhabit both sides of the Franco-British boundary line.19 The tribes on the English side of the boundary have recently been described by Mr. A. W. Cardinall, and from his description I will borrow what he tells us about the worship of the Sky among these people. It will be seen that his account tallies with and confirms that of his French colleague, M. Louis Tauxier, across the frontier.

But these tribes worship chiefly the numerous Earth-gods.

Belief in a Supreme Being called We, Wuni, or Weni.

Worship of stone implements which are thought to have fallen from the sky.

Among the tribes in the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast the principal form of worship is that of the Earth-gods, for of such deities there are many, and all have different names;20 each community reveres at least one.21 Thus the natives appear not to have attained to the general conception of a single god of the whole earth; they conceive of a multitude of Earth-gods, each with his own particular name and local habitat. But every one believes in a Supreme Being, the creator of life and the moulder of destiny. The Nankanni call him Wuni; the Kassena call him We; and the Builsa call him Weni. His power is boundless, and he has pre-ordained everything. No definite shape is ascribed to him, but he apparently lives in the sky, or sometimes is identical with the sky or with the sun. He stands alone, and for the most part is not to be approached by mere mortals.22 Yet at the same time we are told that “the sky itself—or maybe the Creator—has a private worship paid to it. All are at liberty to offer to the sky, and in most, but by no means all, houses one will see on the roof of one of the huts a small pyramid of sun-baked mud on the summit of which is a small stone—usually a cast-away hand-grinder. This is the sacrificial place for We.”23 Among these tribes, moreover, as among some of the tribes of Upper Senegal, the worship of certain stones is confused or blent with the worship of the sky. Stone implements abound everywhere, and are supposed by the natives to have come from God, or the sky, or the rain. Aman will pick up and treasure any curiously-shaped stone, and if good luck should afterwards attend him, he may, in consultation with the sorcerers, conclude that he owes his prosperity to the stone; and thus in course of time the stone may acquire great renown.24

Why the Sky is so far away.

To explain why the sky is so far away the Kassena say that in the beginning the sky was so close to the ground that it was in the way of an old woman who was about to cook. In a rage she cut a slice off the sky and made it into soup. At this indignity the Sky was so vexed that he went away to the place which he occupies to the present day. Similarly the Ashantis tell how in days of old the sky was so near the earth that a woman who was pounding yams hit it continually with her pestle. This was more than the Sky could stand, and he withdrew out of her reach.25 Almost exactly the same story is told by the Kpelle, a negro tribe of Liberia.26

Supreme importance of the worship of ancestors among these tribes.

But among these tribes, while the worship of the Earth-gods is the most important for the community, that of ancestors is by far the most important for the individual. A religious man will do nothing without a sacrifice of some sort, generally a fowl, to his ancestors. In every courtyard may be seen the mound that stands for the founder's grave, and outside of it are little pyramids representing other deceased members of the family. Each pyramid is capped with a stone, on which are laid blood and feathers from the sacrifices. And when a family migrates, earth from the pyramids is carried to the new abode, and there the sacrifices to the dead are offered as before.27

The Tshi-speaking peoples and their country.

The Ewe-speaking and Yoruba-speaking peoples.

To the south of the territory occupied by these tribes stretches the great extent of country inhabited by a race of true negroes, who speak dialects of a language known as the Tshi, Tshwi, or Twi. It is a land of countless small hills and low ranges, all covered by dense tropical forest. The climate is hot, oppressive, and in a high degree unfavourable to the physical and mental energies of man. The natives live in insignificant villages and hamlets, built in small clearings of the forest; communication is kept up by narrow paths cut through the jungle. With the exception of Coomassie (the capital of Ashanti) and Djuabin, there is no purely native assemblage of buildings which deserves the name of town. In such a country, where men live in small isolated communities, mere specks in a vast tract of almost impenetrable forest, ideas permeate but slowly; shut off from the outer world by their woods, and enervated by the deadly influence of the climate, the people have remained in a backward condition little, if at all, in advance of that in which they were discovered by the Portuguese navigators more than four hundred years ago.28 To the east of their country stretches, as far as the Benin River, the territory occupied by the Ewe-speaking and Yoruba-speaking peoples.; All three languages—the Tshi, the Ewe, and the Yoruba—belong to the same family of speech, and all three peoples appear to have sprung from a common stock. But they differ in the degree of culture they have reached as we proceed from west to east, the Tshis in the west being the most savage, and the Yorubas in the east being the most advanced, while between them the Ewes occupy an intermediate position in respect of culture as well as of locality. The more open and level country inhabited by the Ewes and the Yorubas, by facilitating communication, may partially account for their greater progress in the direction of civilization.29 The religions of all three peoples conform to the same type, and they all entertain similar views as to the Sky-god, who stands at the head of their pantheon. The same may be said of the Gãs, a kindred people who inhabit the Gold Coast immediately to the west of the Volta River. Their language (the Gã) belongs to the same family of speech, and their religious beliefs resemble very closely those of their neighbours the Tshis.30

Among the Ashantis the Sky-god Onyame or 'Nyame is the greatest of the gods.

The same name of the god is known to many widely separated tribes.

Among the Tshi-speaking peoples the Ashantis are by far the most powerful and the most famous. They regard the Sky and the Earth as their two great deities.31 But, unlike the tribes of Upper Senegal, they rank the Sky above the Earth. He is indeed the greatest of their gods, the Supreme Being.32 His name in the Tshi language is Onyame, “the Shining One”, shortened into 'Nyame, or lengthened into Onyankopon or Nyankopon. These names are applied both to the deity and to the sky. The Tshi negro conceives of the visible sky as animated: the firmament is, as it were, the body, or at least the abode, of the deity, who is its soul. It is remarkable that the same name for the deity occurs in the languages of widely separated tribes of the Bantu stock in Western Africa. Thus in Dualla it is Nyambe, in the language of Angola it is Ndzambi or Nzambi, in Herero it is Ndyambi, and similar names occur in many intermediate tongues.33 In the language of the Gãs of the Gold Coast the name both of the Sky and of the Sky-god is Nyonmo.34

Miss Kingsley on the worship of the Sky-god in West Africa.

The general character of this Sky-god, who under many names is worshipped by many tribes of Western Africa, has been thus described by Miss Mary Kingsley: “No trace of sun-worship have I ever found. The firmament is, I believe, always the great indifferent and neglected god, the Nyan Kupon of the Tschwi, and the Anzambe, Nzam, etc., of the Bantu races. The African thinks this god has great power if he would only exert it, and when things go very badly with him, when the river rises higher than usual and sweeps away his home and his plantations; when the smallpox stalks through the land, and day and night the corpses float down the river past him, and he finds them jammed among his canoes that are tied to the beach, and choking up his fish traps; and then when at last the death-wail over its victims goes up night and day from his own village, he will rise up and call upon this great god in the terror maddened by despair, that he may hear and restrain the workings of these lesser devils.”35

A. B. Ellis on the West African worship of the Sky-god.

“The general bias of the negro mind”, says Sir A. B. Ellis, “has been in favour of selecting the firmament for the chief Nature-god, instead of the Sun, Moon, or Earth; and in this respect the natives resemble the Aryan Hindus, Greeks, and Romans, with whom Dyaus pitar, Zeus, and Jupiter equally represented the firmament”.36 “The Tshis and Gas use the words Nyankupon and Nyonmo to express sky, rain, or thunder and lightning, and the Ewes and Yorubas, the words Mawu and Olorun to express the two former. The Tshi people say Nyankupon bom (Nyankupon knocks), ‘It is thundering’; Nyankupon aba (Nyankupon has come), ‘It is raining’; and the Gã peoples, ‘Nyanmo knocks (thunders),’ ‘Nyanmo pours’, ‘Nyanmo drizzles’, etc., while in just the same way the Ancient Greeks ascribed these phenomena to Zeus, who snowed, rained, hailed, gathered clouds, and thundered. Nyankupon has for epithets the following: Amosu (Giver of Rain); Amovua (Giver of Sunshine); Tetereboensu (Wide-spreading Creator of Water), and Tyaduampon, which seems to mean ‘Stretched-out Roof’ (Tyo, to draw or drag, dua, wood, and pon, flat surface).”37

Stone cells regarded by the Ashantis as the Sky-god's axes or hoes.

In the Ashanti language the rainbow is called literally the Sky-god's bow,38 and stone celts are named the Sky-god's axes ('Nyame akuma) or the Sky-god's hoes ('Nyame asoso). They are supposed to fall from the sky during thunderstorms and to bury themselves in the earth. The natives believe that, coming from the Sky-god 'Nyame, stone celts are endowed with some of the power of that great spirit. Hence they are constantly found as appurtenances of the inferior gods (abosom) and of charms (suman); hence, too, the medical virtue ascribed to them. To cure diseases they are sometimes fastened to the body of the sufferer, or they are ground down to a powder, which is given him to swallow. However, there are still alive in Ashanti old men who know that these stone celts were made by human hands, and that they were used by their ancestors not so long ago at a time when the smelting of iron was already practised.39 When a tree is cleft by lightning, a common man will say that it has been split by the Sky-god's axe.40

'Nyame dwells in the sky, but concerns himself little with human affairs.

Altars of the Sky-god in the shape of forked branches.

Oaths by the gods of Sky and Earth.

'Nyame, the Supreme Being of the Ashantis, is thought to dwell somewhat aloof in his firmament and to be too far away to concern himself directly with the affairs of man, but he has delegated some of his powers to his lieutenants, the lesser gods (abosom), who act as his vice-gerents on earth.41 Yet there are beautifully designed temples of the Sky-god hidden away in remote corners of the older palaces, and these temples are served by priests. Moreover, almost every courtyard in Ashanti contains an altar of the Sky-god in the shape of a forked branch cut from a certain tree which the Ashantis call the Sky-god's tree (Nyame dua). Between the branches, which are cut short, is fixed a basin or a pot; in this receptacle the offerings are placed, and in it is generally to be found a neolithic celt, one of the Sky-god's axes. These rude altars of the Sky-god are frequently represented on ancient Ashanti weights.42 On one such weight, for example, we see a man offering a fowl at one of these altars, while two eggs are shown lying in the basin on the top of the forked pole.43 Mashed yams are sometimes thrown on the roof of the house as an offering to the Sky-god and to the spirits of the Earth.44 When a drummer is about to beat a drum for the first time on a particular day, he pours some drops of wine on the drum and calls upon the gods of the Sky and the Earth and many other deities to drink.45 In prayers the Sky-god is addressed as “He upon whom men lean and do not fall”46 When an under-chief swore fealty to his liege lord, a sword was given him, and he turned the point of it first to the sky and then to the earth. Thereupon he bent his head, and while the great chief placed his left foot on it, the subject prayed that the gods of the Sky and the Earth might catch him, if ever he should turn traitor to his lord.47 We have seen that in like manner the ancient Greeks swore by Sky and Earth.48

Rivers, Likes, and the sea regarded as sons of the Sky-god.

A popular myth, known from one end of Ashanti to the other, relates that Nyame, the Sky-god, had various sons, of whom one was a favourite, and that he sent them down to earth to receive benefits from, and to confer them upon, mankind. All these sons bore the names of what are now waters, whether rivers, lakes, or the sea. Thus it would seem that in Ashanti waters are looked upon as emanations of the Sky-god and as containing, in greater or less degree, the spirit or virtue of the divine Creator.49 Grandmother Asiama, the traditionary foundress and first ruler of the Beretuo clan, is said to have come from the Sky-god;50 and that great deity is reported to have sent down a python and a dove, which are the respective totems of two other Ashanti clans.51

The Sky-god of these West African tribes is a native deity not borrowed from Europeans.

One of our best authorities on the religion of these people, the late Sir A. B. Ellis, was formerly of opinion that their Sky-god, whom he calls Nana-Nyankupon, “the Lord of the Sky”, was borrowed by them from the Christians and was in fact little more than Jehovah under a new name and a thin disguise.52 But this opinion he afterwards saw reason to retract. Discussing the nature of Mawu the Sky-god of the Ewe-speaking Copies of the Slave Coast, he observes: “While upon the subject of this god, I may as well say that, from additional evidence I have since collected, I now think that the view I expressed concerning the origin of Nyankupon, the parallel god of the Tshi-speaking peoples,53 was incorrect; and that instead of his being the Christian God, borrowed and thinly disguised, I now hold that he is, like Mawu, the Sky-god, or indwelling spirit of the sky; and that, also like Mawu, he has been to a certain extent confounded with Jehovah. It is worthy of remark that nyan-kum means ‘rain’, and nyan-konton, ‘rainbow’, while the word nyankupon itself is as frequently used to express sky, firmament, thunder, or rain, as it is as a proper name.”54

R. S. Rattray on the independent evolution of the Sky-god in West Africa.

The view, that the Sky-god of the Ashantis and other Tshi-speaking peoples is a pure product of native thought, and that the resemblance which he presents to the Jehovah of the Jews and Christians is the result of the similar, but independent, working of the human mind in response to similar natural surroundings, is strongly confirmed by the latest and probably the best-informed investigator of Ashanti religion, Captain R. S. Rattray. He says: “I have already stated that I am convinced that the conception, in the Ashanti mind, of a Supreme Being has nothing whatever to do with missionary influence, nor is it to be ascribed to contact with Christians or even, I believe, with Mohammedans…I believe that such a thought, so far from postulating an advanced stage in culture and what we term civilization, may well be the product of the mind of a primitive people who live face to face with nature, perhaps unclothed, sleeping under the stars, seeing great rivers dry up and yet again become rushing torrents, seeing the lightning from the heavens rending great trees and killing men and beasts, depending upon the rains for their own lives and those of their herds, observing that the very trees, and herbs, and grass can only live if they are watered from the skies.”

“I can see no reason, therefore, why the idea of one great God, who is the Firmament, upon whom ultimately all life depends, should not have been the conception of a people living under the conditions of the Ashanti of old, and I can see no just cause for attributing what we have come to regard as one of the noblest conceptions of man's mind, to dwellers in, and builders of, cities, and to writers and readers of parchments and books.”

“In a sense, therefore, it is true that this great Supreme Being, the conception of whom has been innate in the minds of the Ashanti, is the Jehovah of the Israelites. It was He who of old left His own dwelling above the vaulted sky, and entered the tent of dyed skins, where was His earthly abode and His shrine, when He came down to protect the children of Israel in their march to the Promised Land.”55

Nyame identified with Allah.

It is natural that the Ashantis should notice and acknowledge the resemblance of their Sky-god to the Supreme Being of Christians and Moslems. Captain Rattray was told by a native that “the Allah of the Mohammedan was just the same as the Nyame of the Ashanti”.56

Yet the Ashantis prefer polytheism to monotheism.

But when, on the strength of this resemblance of Nyame to Jehovah, Captain Rattray asked an old priest why he did not put all his trust in the one great God and neglect the lesser deities, the Ashanti was by no means prepared to renounce polytheism in favour of monotheism, and he rendered a reason for the faith that was in him. He said: “We in Ashanti dare not worship the Sky-god alone, or the Earth-goddess alone, or any one spirit. We have to protect ourselves against, and use when we can, the spirits of all things in the Sky and upon Earth. You go to the forest, see some wild animal, fire at it, and find you have killed a man. You dismiss your servant, but later find you miss him. You take your cutlass to hack at what you think is a branch, and find you have cut your own arm. There are people who can transform themselves into leopards; ‘the grass-land people’ are especially good at turning into hyenas. There are witches who can make you wither and die. There are trees-which fall upon and kill you. There are rivers which drown you. If I see four or five Europeans, I do not make much of one alone, and ignore the rest, lest they too may have power and hate me.”57

Among all the spirits worshipped by the Ashantis the most important are the ancestral spirits. They are the real landowners; the living are only their tenants at will.

Among the numerous spirits whom the Ashanti is thus obliged to recognize and, as far as possible, to conciliate, the most important for his practical welfare appear to be the spirits of his own dead ancestors. On this subject I will again quote the weighty words of Captain Rattray. He writes: “It is not, however, the Sky and the Earth deities who in Ashanti are held to be the prime factors in shaping and influencing the actions and destinies of mankind. These great unseen powers are generally too remote or perhaps too mighty to be concerned very intimately with the individual clan, much less with the individual member of that clan, and the predominant influences in the Ashanti religion are neither ‘Saturday Sky-god’ nor ‘Thursday Earth-goddess’, nor even the hundreds of gods (abosom), with which it is true the land is filled, but are the samanfo, the spirits of the departed forebears of the clan. They are the real landowners, who, though long departed, still continue to take a lively interest in the land from which they had their origin or which they once owned. The Ashanti land laws of to-day appear but the logical outcome of a belief which, in the not very remote past, considered the living landowners as but holding as it were tenancies at will from the dead, and as being the trustees of the latter.”58

Similarity of Ashanti land laws to the English law of Real Properly. This similarity is not due to borrowing, but to independent evolution.

“The student of the English law of Real Property who comes to examine the Ashanti law relating to that subject, will at first be astonished to find that a system, which he had been taught to believe was peculiar to his own country, had an almost exact replica in West Africa among the Ashanti. Topham, one of our authorities on the law of Real Property, writes, ‘The law relating to land is the most difficult branch of English law, partly because it is peculiar to England and differs widely from any other system, and partly because it is founded in ancient rules and formalities invented to suit a society in which writing was almost unknown, and land was by far the most important form of wealth’. The student who argues that the similarity in our own ancient feudal land laws to the system evolved in Ashanti was due to any culture contact or to European influences is, I believe, arguing on a faulty premiss. The human mind and human intelligence, even among peoples so widely separated in culture as the Ashanti and the English of the eleventh century, seem often to have reacted in a like manner to a similar stimulus, and the Ashanti, under certain conditions not unlike those existing at the time of the Norman conquest, seem to have evolved an almost exactly similar land code. This is not a matter of surprise when we know that our own land laws, like theirs, were ‘invented to suit a state of society in which writing was almost unknown and land was by far the most important form of wealth’.”59

So the similarities in the worship of the Sky-god in many different races are the products of independent evolution.

What Captain Rattray here judiciously observes as to the independent origin of the similar land laws of Ashanti and England applies, with the necessary modifications, to the similarities in the worship of the Sky-god which we find among so many races of men separated from each other by long distances in space and long ages in time. These similarities, too, at least the greater part of them, are not to be explained by a theory of borrowing, by an hypothesis that the worship of the Sky-god was invented once for all in a single place by a single people, who thereafter passed on the invention to other tribes and nations, till, in ever-widening circles, it had spread almost to the ends of the earth. With far greater probability such resemblances may be deduced from the similarity, first of the human mind in all latitudes, and next of the blue vault of heaven which, lit up by sun, moon, and stars, everywhere looks down in serene majesty on all the races of man.

Story told of the Sky-god to explain human mortality: the tale of the two messengers the sheep and the goat.

Like many other African tribes, the Tshi-speaking people of the Gold Coast tell stones which profess to explain human mortality by the negligence or perversity of a messenger whom the Sky-god had sent to men with the glad tidings that death would not be for them the end of all things. One form of the story runs thus. In the beginning, when sky and earth existed, but as yet there were no men on earth, there fell a great rain, and soon after it had ceased a great chain was let down from heaven to earth with seven men hanging on it These men had been created by the Sky-god Onyankopon, and they reached the earth by means of the chain. Not long afterwards the Sky-god sent a goat from heaven to deliver the following message to the seven men: “There is something that is called Death; it will one day kill some of you; but though you die, you will not perish utterly, but you will come to me here in heaven”. The goat went on his way, but when he came near the town he stopped to browse on a bush. When the Sky-god saw that the goat loitered by the way, he sent a sheep to deliver the same message. The sheep went, but did not say what God had commanded her to say; for she perverted the message and said to men, “When you once die, you perish, and have no place to go to”. Afterwards the goat came and said, “God (Onyankopon) says you will die, it is true, but that will not be the end of you, for you will come to me”. But the men answered, “No, goat, God (Onyankopon) did not say that to you. What the sheep first reported, by that we shall abide.”60 In another version of the story the parts of the goat and the sheep are inverted; it is the sheep that bears the good tidings and loiters by the way to browse, and it is the goat that bears the evil tidings and is the first to deliver them. The story ends with the melancholy reflection that “if only the sheep had made good speed with her message, man would have died but returned after death; but the goat made better speed with the contrary message, so man returns no more”.61

The Sky-god Mawu the highest deity of the Ewe-speaking peoples.

The Ewe-speaking peoples are a race of pure negroes, who inhabit the Slave Coast of West Africa, including what we may call the provinces of Togo on the west and Dahomey on the east. In their religious system, the Sky-god Mawu ranks as the highest deity of the pantheon. His name is used as equivalent to sky or firmament; “and the god himself is no other than the indwelling spirit of the firmament, the deified canopy of the heavens”.62 The name of Mawu is known throughout the whole of the country, wherever the Ewe language is spoken, from the coast far into the interior, and is of importance in the daily life of the people. The idea of the Sky-god is not of foreign origin, a reflection of missionary teaching; it is an ancient possession of the race and is said to have formerly occupied an even higher place in the popular religion than it does at the present day. The conception seems to have been moulded directly on the sight of the celestial vault. The light which floods the sky is conceived as the oil with which the deity anoints his gigantic body; the blue colour of the sky is the veil behind which he hides his face; and the varied formations of the clouds are the robes and the ornaments which he puts on from time to time.63 When the morning clouds are seen encircled with a rim of light and the blue sky peeps between the rifts, the natives say, “Mawu has donned his coat of many colours”.64 The proper name for the visible sky is dzingbe, but the visible sky is also called Mawu gā, “the great God”. In a native assembly a man has been heard to say, “I have always looked up to the visible sky as to God. When I spoke of God, I spoke of the sky, and when I spoke of the sky, I thought of God”. Another man observed, “Wherever the sky is, there is God; for the sky is God”.65

The meaning of the name Mawu.

The meaning and derivation of Mawu, the name of the Sky-god, appear to be uncertain. According to Sir A. B. Ellis, the word is derived from a root wu, signifying “to stretch over, to overshadow”, so that Mawu would be literally. “the canopy of heaven”.66 According to the experienced German missionary, Jakob Spieth, to whom we owe the most thorough investigation of the religion of the Ewe-speaking peoples, the natives agree in explaining the root wu to signify “more” or “surpassing”; so that Mawu should mean, “The Surpassing”, “He who is and has more than men”. In fact, the natives always end their explanations of the name by saying “Ewu nusianu”, “He surpasses everything that exists”. But the missionary prudently warns us that all such interpretations rest rather on conjectures and assertions of the natives than on exact philological investigation. He himself inclines to discover the essential part of the name in the syllable ma, of which the natives give various inconsistent explanations; and he interprets the whole name in the sense of a being who is opposed to all wrath, revenge, and wrong. “His nature contains no veve, that is, nothing that causes pain or injury. The worshipper of Mawu may therefore paint himself only with white and wear only white cloth; white colour alone harmonizes with ma. For the same reason during the worship of Mawu he may not have anything to do with the Earth-gods or with magic.”67

How one of Mawu's two sons cheated his brother out of his father's blessing.

But while Mawu appears to be essentially a god of the physical sky, popular fancy invests him with the form and attributes of a man.68 He is supposed to be married to the Earth; hence he is addressed as “Husband of the Earth”, and also as “Our Father”.69 According to one account he has two wives. His first wife, Kusoako, bore him a son named Mawute, who stammered; his second wife, Baka, bore him a son named Adedze, who did not stammer. One morning Adedze went to his divine father to greet him. Touched by this polite attention, his father promised to bestow on him his power, his royal insignia, and his warlike accoutrements. But Mawu's other wife, the mother of the stammerer, happened to overhear this promise, and she said to her son, “Stop stammering and speak rightly! Go to thy father, Mawu, that thou mayest get his royal insignia.” Her son Mawute obeyed, and when he came to his father Mawu, and spoke to him without stammering, his father thought that he was his son Adedze, and gave him his royal insignia. But after that Mawute had thus deceived his father, Mawu's other son Adedze came to his father and said, “Father, I have come to thee to get what thou didst promise me yesterday”. His father said, “Hast thou not already come and received that which I promised thee?” But Adedze answered, “Nay, I have not been with thee”. Then said his father, “Therefore hath thy brother taken away the promise, and I possess nothing else”. But his son Adedze earnestly entreated him, and his father, Mawu, bestowed on him power also.70

Why Mawu retired from earth to heaven.

The natives say that long ago the great god Mawu dwelt among men on terms of intimacy, but that through their guilt he was forced to withdraw to an infinite distance and to delegate the conduct of affairs to the inferior gods.71 The offence which gave umbrage to the deity is variously related. According to one account, the sky was once so near the earth that men could touch it with their hands. Hence when they kindled a fire the smoke blew into the Sky-god's eyes so that they smarted, and that is why he retired so far away. Others say that after their meals people used to wipe their dirty fingers on the sky, and even thrust their porridge-pestles into the Sky-god's face. That was naturally more than he could put up with, and in dudgeon he withdrew to his present exalted position in the sky.72 There, according to some, he dwells in a space surrounded by fire; but according to others he resides in a house which stands in a large garden planted with banana trees.73 Thus the Sky-god, Mawu, is conceived of as distinct from the physical sky. A priest of the Earth explicitly declared, “Mawu is not the Sky (dzingbe), but he has his dwelling in the sky”.74

Mawu supposed to control the rain

The rainbow a sign given by him.

In his capacity of Sky-god, Mawu sends the rain as a good gift to men.75 Hence in time of drought the god's priest prays to the Sky, saying, “O our father and our Lord, we thank thee. But see how parched our land is! It is very dry and we must suffer hunger. Grant that to-day, even to-day, the rain may fall!”76 But while Mawu controls the rain, and keeps a vast store of water in the firmament, which he lets out at will, the seasons on the Slave Coast are so regular that there is rarely either drought or flood; hence the natives are seldom driven to the necessity of appealing to the Sky-god to increase or diminish the rainfall.77 The rainbow is a sign given by Mawu. When it is seen to stand over the valley instead of over the mountain, it is a sign that Mawu is angry because of man's disobedience, and it is needful to appease him by pouring palm-wine and blood on the earth.78 In Agu, when a rainbow appears in the sky, they say, “Kusoako (the wife of Mawu) and her husband are departing and going home”.79

The native conception of Mawu was a god too high and mighty to trouble about human affairs.

According to Lieutenant Herold, while the Ewe-speaking negroes of Togo entertain a profound belief in Mawu as a higher divine being, they conceive of him on the analogy of a great African king who sits enthroned and lives at case in his capital, doing nothing, while he leaves the government of the country to his chiefs. Similarly Mawu is supposed to be an all-powerful king, who created the world and is still lord of it, but has now retired from it and is far too high and mighty to trouble himself about all the sons of men. Therefore he leaves the conduct of affairs in the hands of his chiefs, who are the minor deities or fetishes. Yet is he a friend of men and so great and good that he demands no offerings from them. All would go well with the world if only Mawu kept the reins in his own hands instead of committing them to the fetishes. These represent the various forces of nature, and bear rule each in his own particular department. They stand in closer relations to man than Mawu, and can be induced either to help or to abstain from injuring him, if only he can win their favour or avert their wrath by sacrifice and offerings. But the great god Mawu, despite his omnipotence, can or will do nothing for man. Thus the belief in a great God Mawu, the Creator of the world, has fallen completely into the background, and it would not be in the interest of the fetish-priests to revive it, since such a revival would tend to lower the reputation and diminish the influence of the minor deities or fetishes, on whose imaginary powers for good or evil the priests themselves depend for their livelihood.80

To the same effect Sir A. B. Ellis tells us that, “though Mawu is considered the most powerful of all the gods, sacrifice is never directly offered to him, and prayer rarely. He is in fact ignored rather than worshipped. The natives explain this by saying he is too distant to trouble about man and his affairs, and they believe that he remains in a beatific condition of perpetual repose and drowsiness, the acme of bliss, according to the notion of the indolent negro, perfectly indifferent to earthly matters…To this belief may be undoubtedly attributed the absence of sacrifice to Mawu. To the native mind a god that works no evil to man, and is indifferent to his welfare, is one that it would be a work of supererogation to mollify or appease, while there are so many other gods who either work evil and have to be appeased, or are special guardians and have to be lauded.”81

Ellis on this conception of Mawu.

However, Ellis hastens to qualify this alleged absence of sacrifice to Mawu by telling us that, when domestic fowls and other birds are sacrificed to the terrestrial gods, their spirits are believed to ascend to Mawu as his portion of the sacrifice, while the bodies of the birds are the share of the terrestrial deities. For birds are thought to stand in some relation to Mawu, since they soar aloft and approach his abode in the sky. A small bird, a variety of the oriole, which soars like a lark, and makes a whirring sound by striking its wing-feathers together, is sacred to Mawu.82

The relation of Mawu to birds.

Prayers and sacrifices to Mawu

Further, in correction of what he regards as Ellis's too absolute negation of sacrifices offered directly to Mawu, the experienced missionary Jakob Spieth tells us that it is precisely the priests of the Sky-god who offer both prayers and sacrifices. As an instance of prayers offered by these priests he cites the supplications for rain in time of drought which we have already noticed. Besides, he informs us, the priest offers every year a piece of a yam which he has planted for the purpose, and he accompanies the sacrifice with a prayer.83

The worship of the great Sky-god Mawu.

The great Sky-god (Mawu ga) is only worshipped by persons with whom he is believed to dwell, and who have prepared for him a seat and a special place of worship. Sometimes the seat is of a very humble sort and consists simply of a vessel set upon a three-pronged pole, thus exactly resembling the altars of the Sky-god in Ashanti.84 In this vessel are placed certain plants, especially one called ma, which resembles spinach and is much used in the worship of the Sky-god. The vessel is also kept full of water the whole year. Other people, however, make an enclosure for the god, fencing it with palm-branches and planting in it various herbs and a certain sort of tree, which they call God's tree (Mawuti). Its lofty and slender stem, which distinguishes it from the other trees, appears to mark it out as specially suitable for the worship of the Sky-god. Beside it they also plant another palm-like tree, which they call “the lightning-tree”. Under the shadow of these trees stands the sacred vessel, which differs from the sacred vessels of the Earth-gods in this that its clay has not been fired.85 The water which it contains must be drawn by a pure and unmarried girl, and it is mixed with palm wine.86

The daily weekly, and monthly observances in honour of Mawu

The observances in honour of the great Sky-god take place daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. The daily service consists mainly in washing with water drawn from the god's vessel. This purification the worshipper undergoes immediately on rising in the morning; he accompanies it with a prayer, and until he has performed it he may not speak with any one. At the weekly and monthly services the worshipper makes a small offering of eggs, palm-wine, and meal. In presenting it he prays, saying, “O great God, who seest my thoughts, here I bring thee two partridge eggs. Have a care of my house, of my children and of my wives, and grant that I get cowry shells, in order that my house may evermore have peace.” The weekly service falls on Saturday. When the priest rises from his mat, he washes his face with water from the god's vessel, dabs white clay on his forehead, temples, breast and arms, and puts on white clothes. Then he betakes himself to the hut dedicated to the worship of Mawu. There, sitting on a stool sprinkled with white clay, he remains till the sun goes down. This he does because on that day the god is believed to abide with him till the cool of the evening, when he takes his departure. On leaving the hut the priest hangs a white cloth over the doorway.87

The sacrifice of a white sheep at the annual festival in honour of Mawu.

At the annual festival the only offering is that of a sheep of a pure white fleece. The vessels out of which the sacrificer eats and drinks must be spotlessly clean; the vessel out of which he eats should be white. The guests invited to the festival must have slept apart from their wives on the preceding night. The food must be cooked and the water fetched by girls who have not yet known a man. The fire used in cooking may not be taken from a common hearth; it ought to be struck from flint and steel, but the use of European matches is now allowed. The pot is set over the fire on a tripod of three stout sticks. At the conclusion of the festival the fire is extinguished by water which has been drawn in the morning by a pure hand. This precaution is adopted lest the sacred element should be defiled. The three charred sticks are carefully preserved by the worshipper.88 Before sacrificing the sheep, the worshipper holds the animal up thrice towards the sky and prays; he then cuts the sheep's throat with a knife, and from the spouting blood he allows some drops to fall into the god's vessel. The rest of the blood is suffered to flow across the entrance to the sacred enclosure. In entering the enclosure the worshipper must take care not to step in the blood, because the god Mawu himself is believed to set his feet in the blood when he comes out of the holy place. The sacrificer then drinks water out of the sacred vessel, washes his face and body, and so enjoys the peace of God. The flesh of the victim is cooked and divided among the persons present. The time of offering the sacrifice is when the afternoon wears on to evening, and the earth grows cool after the noonday heat. The sun is regarded as the messenger who conveys the prayers of mortals to the Sky-god. Hence, while the priest turns in prayer to the house of God in the holy place, he yet looks, in the deepening shadows, towards the setting son, which will carry his words to the great deity in the course of the ensuing night.89

Beliefs of the Fo concerning Mawu.

Story of the origin of death: Mawu and the spider.

In Atakpame, an inland district of Togo, there are some isolated settlements of a tribe called Fo, who speak a Ewe language among people of an alien tongue. They have preserved the tradition of the Supreme God Mawu, and they tell some stories about him. One of the stories professes to explain the origin of death. It runs as follows. When Mawu created men, he said to them, “When anybody dies, he shall come back to earth”, by which he meant that when a man died, he was to come to life again. But the spider did not like the notion and said, “That is not well”. Then Mawu took a calabash, and set it on the water, and said, “As the calabash always remains on the surface of the water, so shall man also always remain on the earth”. But the spider threw a stone into the water, and the stone sank, and the spider said, “Mawu ought to say that, when a man dies, he should vanish like this stone and not come back again”. To this fatal proposal Mawu unhappily assented. Soon after the spider's mother died, and the spider came to Mawu, and begged him to retract his sentence of death, but Mawu refused to do so. That is why nobody returns, when once he is dead. If only Mawu had retracted his rash sentence, dead men would have come back to earth, just like the moon, which dies and returns to the sky.90

How Mawu provides the beasts with their food: the dwarf antelope and the cat.

Again, the Fo tell a story to explain how Mawu provides the beasts of the earth with food. They say that once on a time there was a famine among the beasts and they all grew very lean, all except the dwarf antelope (Cephalolophus maxwellii), for her mother was with Mawu in heaven, and every day her mother let down a rope, and the dwarf antelope climbed up it to its mother to browse. So the beasts said, “We will watch the dwarf antelope and learn how she gets her food”. And they told the cat to watch. And the cat took up a post on a tree, and kept a sharp look-out. When the dwarf antelope saw that the other animals had gone away, she sang her song, and her mother let down the rope. Then the cat summoned the animals, and they came, grasped the rope, and proceeded to climb up it, hand over hand. But the mother, in hauling up the rope, felt the unusual weight, and said to herself, “My daughter alone is not so heavy as all that”. So she whipped out a knife and cut the rope, and down fell all the animals. Where they fell, the sea came and the grass grew no more. To compensate for this loss of pasture, the kindly Mawu sent food to all the animals. Therefore they suffer from famine no more.91

Uwolowu, the Sky-god of the Akposos in the interior of Togo.

In the interior of Togo, which, as we have seen, is a province of the Slave Coast, there live a number of tribes speaking languages which differ from the Ewe. But among them also we find the worship of the same great Sky-god under different names. Thus the Akposos worship him under the name of Uwolowu, which they regard as equivalent to the Mawu of the Ewe-speaking peoples, and to the Buku of the Atakpames, their neighbours on the east. The same word Uwolowu is used to designate both the firmament and its personification. This personified sky is conceived of as the Supreme Being and a good God. He created everything, including the lesser gods. He bestows on men the blessings of offspring and harvest, of rain and sunshine. He has also given them fire. He is almighty and can impart all good things. Wherever a priest has set a place apart for his worship, there is the god in a special way near to men. The place of worship is a circle of stones from three to five feet in diameter, with a flat stone in the middle, “like the cromlechs of the later stone-age in England”. In cases of sickness and at the end of harvest sacrifices are offered, consisting of rams, fowls, oil, meal, salt, cowry-shells, and palm-wine. The god punishes especially vampyres and persons who forswear themselves by his name. The week of the Akposos consists of five days, and the fifth day is sacred to Uwolowu. The second day is a bad day. People do not work on it, but they sacrifice to the gods, though not to Uwolowu.92

Men sometimes possessed by Uwolowu.

The worshippers of Uwolowu are not distinguished by any outward mark. From time to time the god takes possession of a man. The chosen vessel announces the divine inspiration by a particularly piercing shriek, then he remains dumb and quivers all oyer his body. In this state he betakes himself to one of the holy places of Uwolowu, where the priest gives him water mixed with white clay to drink and claps him on the head with the flat of his hand. The possessed man thus recovers the use of his tongue, but for that day he may not carry anything on his head; it would infallibly fall. On special occasions, such as sickness, drought, or war, an Akposo will go on pilgrimage to Adele, there to consult Buku or Uwolowu, as he calls the deity, and to offer sacrifice.93

Myths about Uwolowu. His two wives, the frog and the king fisher.

Various myths are told of Uwolowu. Thus it is said that he had two wives; one of them was a frog, and the other was a bird called itanco, perhaps the kingfisher. Now Uwolowu loved his frog wife more than his kingfisher wife, and he gave all sorts of pretty things to her, but none to the kingfisher. Well, one day he said he would put their love to the test, and with that view he gave each of them seven pots and made believe to be dead, and his widows were to weep for his decease and let their tears fall into the pots. The frog began and wept like anything, but as fast as her tears fell they were licked up by ants. Then the kingfisher wept so copiously that her tears filled the seven pots. After that the frog tried again, but still the ants licked up her tears, so that little enough trickled into the pots. Thereupon God stood up and said, “She whom I did not love has filled seven ‘pots with the tears which she wept for me, and she whom I loved has wept very little”. With these pathetic words the deity lunged out with his foot and kicked the frog into the slime and ooze of a river-bank, where she has wallowed ever since. But as for the kingfisher, Uwolowu set her free to roam joyously for ever in the azure deep of air.94

Myth of the origin of death: Uwolowu the dog, and the frog.

Another myth is told of Uwolowu to explain the origin of death. They say that once upon a time men sent a dog with a message to the deity to say that, when they died, they would like to come to life again. So off the dog trotted to deliver the message. But on the way he felt hungry and turned into a house, where a man was boiling magic herbs. So the dog sat down and thought to himself, “He is cooking food”. Meantime the frog had set off to tell Uwolowu that, when men died, they would rather not come to life again. Nobody had asked him to take that message; it was a piece of pure officiousness and impertinence on his part. However, away he tore. The dog, who still sat hopefully watching the hell-broth brewing, saw him go tearing by, but thought he to himself, “When I have had a snack, I'll soon catch froggy up.” However, froggy came in first and said to the deity, “When men die, they would rather not come to life again”. After that, up comes the dog, and says he, “When men die, they would like to come to life again”. The deity was naturally puzzled, and said to the dog, “I really do not understand these two messages. As I heard the frog's message first, I will comply with it I will not do what you said.” That is the reason why men die and do not come to life again. If the frog had only minded his own business instead of meddling with other people's, the dead would all have risen from the dead down to this blessed day. But frogs come to life again when it thunders at the beginning of the rainy season, after they have been dead all the dry season while the Harmattan wind was blowing. Then, while the rain drips and the thunder peals, you may hear them quacking in the marshes.95 Thus we see that the frog had his own private ends to serve in distorting the message. He gained for himself the immortality of which he robbed mankind.

Myth of the origin of sun and moon: Uwolowu and the grub.

These people also tell a story of Uwolowu to explain the origin of the sun and moon. One day, while as yet there was neither sun nor moon in the sky, a grub came to Uwolowu and said, “What must be done to the clouds to make them bright?” And Uwolowu said to the grub, “Go to the smith and fetch the thing which he would set in the clouds”. So away went the grub, and much he pondered what he should do, for he had not the glimmering of a notion what the thing was that he had to fetch. So the grub went to all the birds and begged a feather from every one of them; and when he had rigged himself out in these borrowed plumes, he flew back to Uwolowu and asked him, “Where's the grub?” And Uwolowu, not recognizing him in his disguise, answered, “Because the sky was empty, I sent him to fetch the thing to set in the sky”. But the artful grub asked again, “What was he to fetch?” Uwolowu answered, “I sent him to the smith to say that he was to forge the sun and moon, and when they glowed and threw out sparks, which are the stars, he was to put them all in his bag and bring them to me”. When the grub heard that, he flew away, put off his disguise, and gave back the feathers to the birds. Then he delivered the message to the smith. So the smith gave him the sun, moon, and stars, and the grub brought the whole bag of tricks to Uwolowu. And Uwolowu asked the grub, “Who taught you all that?” and the grub answered, “It was an idea of my own”. And Uwolowu said to the grub, “Put the sun in its place,” and the grub did so. And at evening Uwolowu said to the grub,” Put the moon and the stars in their places likewise”. And the grub did so, and the moon and the stars shone in the sky. That, you may take my word for it, is the true origin of the sun, moon, and stars.96

The Yoruba speaking peoples of the Slave Coast.

Their belief in a Sky-god called Olorun who is supposed not to concern himself with human affairs and consequently is not generally worshipped.

The eastern half of the Slave Coast is inhabited by peoples speaking the Yoruba language. Their territory is bounded on the west by Dahomey on the east by Benin and on the south by the sea. On the north they are pent in by Mohammedan tribes, which in modern times have invaded and conquered some of Yoruba-land. The Yorubas were originally an inland people, and it was only about the beginning of the nineteenth century that, under the pressure of stronger tribes from the north, they moved southward and occupied the coast.97 They believe in a Sky-god named Olorun, who corresponds to the ‘Nyame of the Tshi-or Twi-speaking peoples, and to the Mawu of the Ewe-speaking peoples. He is the deified firmament, the personified sky. His name Olorun signifies “Owner of the Sky”, from oni, “possessor”, and orun, “sky”98 Like many other African Sky-gods, Olorun is thought to be too far off, or too indifferent, to interfere in the affairs of this sublunary world. The Yorubas are of opinion that after having, so to say, roughed out the world, Olorun entrusted the task of completing and governing it to a deputy-deity named Obatala, while he himself retired from the business and became a sleeping partner in the divine firm. Accordingly, he now enjoys a life of complete idleness and repose, a blissful condition between slumber and dozing, like that of a negro king in the sultry climate of Guinea. Since he is too indolent or listless to exercise any control over earthly affairs, man on his side wastes no time in vain efforts to propitiate him, but reserves his worship and his offerings for more active and enterprising deities or demons, who are apt to take only too great an interest in the business and fortunes of mankind. Hence there are no images, no temples, no symbols of Olorun; no priests are dedicated to his service; and it is only in times of calamity or affliction, when the other gods have turned a deaf ear to his supplications, that a Yoruba will, perhaps, as a last resource, invoke the help or appeal to the compassion of the Sky-god Olorun. But such occasions are rare. As a rule the god receives no worship and is importuned by no prayers. Nevertheless, when a native, for example, conceives himself to be the victim of injustice, he may instinctively appeal to Olorun to attest his innocence, saying, “Olorun sees me”, or “Olorun knows that I speak the truth”, or “O Olorun, save me!” They also swear by Olorun, often using the simple words, “Olorun! Olorun!” while at the same time they lift their hands towards the sky. The name of Olorun is also frequently heard in salutations at morning and evening. Thus in the morning a man will say to a friend, “Have you risen well?” and the other will answer, “Thanks be to Olorun”; and at evening a common salutation or prayer is, “May Olorun protect us all!” (K’ Olorun k'o so gbogbo wo!).99

The Sky-god Olorun recognized by the Yorubas of Northern Nigeria.

The Yoruba-speaking people are not confined to the Slave Coast. A large body of them, numbering more than half a million, is to be found to the west of the Niger in, the northern provinces of Nigeria,100 inhabiting a country which may have been the home of their race before the bulk of the nation was driven southward to the sea. Here, however, the original negro type has been modified by an Hamitic, or at any rate non-negro element, which manifests itself in the slender build of the body.101 But though Islam is now the dominant religion of Northern Nigeria, being embraced by about two-thirds of the population,102 many of these Yorubas retain their faith in a remote Sky-god named Olorun, who has been called the Zeus of the Yoruba pantheon. They think that Olorun created Obatala or Oshala, who fashions human children in the mother's womb and is wedded to Odudua. Of this divine pair were born Aganju, lord of the soil, and Yemaja, the goddess of water. Aganju married his sister Yemaja, and they begat Orungan, the god of the upper air. But the lustful Orungan ravished his mother Yemaja, and from this incestuous union a whole brood of gods was born at a single birth, including the Sun-god Orun; the Moon-god Oshu; Shango, lord of lightning; Dada, god of vegetation; Orisha Oko, god of agriculture; Oshosi, god of hunting; Ogun, god of iron workers and of war; and Shankpana, god of smallpox. In giving birth to these numerous divinities Yemaja's body burst, and where she fell the sacred town of Ife arose. Hence to this day every Yoruba-speaking tribe endeavours to trace its descent from the holy town of Ife.103

The Hausas of Northern Nigeria a people formed by the amalgamation of various races.

But the Yoruba-speaking tribes form but a small part of the population of Northern Nigeria, a country five times the size of England.104 The fertile provinces in the northern part of this great territory border on the vast sandy desert of the Sahara, and being divided from it by no natural barrier have offered for unnumbered ages a tempting bait to horde after horde of warlike invaders from the north and east, who, sweeping over the country in wave after wave, and blending to a certain extent with the aborigines, have produced a heterogeneity of cultures and languages, as well as of racial type, which almost defies analysis. Those tribes which were able to maintain themselves in the open fertile plains of the north have in large measure amalgamated and evolved, from the most diverse elements, a comparatively homogeneous nation and language, the Hausa nation and the Hausa tongue.105 They now form the most widely distributed people of the country, which they may be said to dominate socially and economically.106

The more backward tribes retain their primitive ideas and customs in the fastnesses of the hills.

The weaker and more backward tribes were driven by the tide of invasion to seek refuge in the hills, where they formed groups of polyglot peoples, exhibiting almost unparalleled diversities in culture and social organization. Safe in their highlands from the stream of foreign intrusion, which broke at the foot of their mountains, they have kept to modern times all their primitive ideas and customs, including cannibalism, head hunting, and the worship of ancestors; while the hard conditions of life on the hills and the struggle for land have tended to the maintenance of perpetual warfare between tribe and tribe and even between village and village.107

These primitive pagan tribes believe in a Supreme God who dwells in the sky.

Thus the population of the northern provinces of Nigeria is extremely mixed in blood and diverse in culture. The negro element is everywhere predominant, but it has been modified through fusion with a Mediterranean or Hamitic element represented by the Fulani, and with a Semitic element, represented by the Arabs.108 In the principal tribes, including the Hausa, the Fulani, the Nupe, and the Yoruba, the majority of the people are comparatively civilized and profess the Mohammedan religion; but most of the lesser tribes, of which there are said to be over two hundred and fifty, retain their old pagan religion.109 Nevertheless all these pagan tribes, however addicted to their primitive forms of heathendom, believe in the existence of a Supreme Ruler of the World, though they frankly admit that they know little or nothing of his divine attributes. Many of them conceive of the Supreme Being as a god who dwells in the sky, too far away for man to approach him directly, but with whom, nevertheless, the souls of dead ancestors, despite their attachment to earth, are in some mysterious fashion associated.110

In some tribes the Supreme God is called Achidong or Pwa; by other tribes he is associated or identified with the Sun.

The Supreme God called I Nan, Nen, Nyan, or Yamba.

Thus the Jukun, a tribe of the tall Nilotic or Hamitic type, who claim to be the earliest inhabitants of Bornu,111 believe that the Supreme God, whom they call Achidong, has charge of the souls of the dead, though apparently he is not himself a glorified ghost112 On the other hand, among the Bachama, a pagan tribe which observes a form of totemism and recognizes the rule of female chiefs,113 the Sky-god Pwa is also the tribal ancestor. Here, accordingly, there would seem to be a definite connexion between the idea of the Sky-god and the worship of ancestors.114 In other tribes, again, the Supreme God is associated with, if indeed he is not actually a personification of, the Sun. He can be approached through the tutelary genius (dodo), who is usually the spirit of the founder either of the village or of the tribe. This guardian spirit is commonly personated by a living man, who conceals his identity under a mask or other disguise, such as a white ram's skin thrown over his head, and who appears either periodically, as at the first gathering of the corn, or on special occasions, as when he is called upon to drive away disease or to admonish erring wives, which he does by night to the terror of the guilty or at all events accused women. But in the Berom and some other tribes people pray directly to the Sun-god, without the mediation of these mummers; in praying they hold up the palms of their hands to the great luminary.115 The Mumbake also identify their high god Nyame with the Sun,116 but in practice they combine the worship of ancestors with the homage which they pay to the solar deity. For before they go out on their annual hunting drive they clean up the graves of their forefathers, and then lay down their weapons on the graves, beseeching the spirits of the dead to give them prowess with the weapons which their fathers had taught them how to use; and on the morning of the hunt the chief repairs with his elders to the holy grove, and there, holding up a sacred bough towards the sun, again implores the assistance of the ancestral spirits.117 Under the name of Nan, Nen, or Nyan the Sun is the Supreme God of the Angas, Yergum, Pe, Montoil, and Sura, as well as of the Mumbake; and under the name of Yamba is recognized by many other tribes as the god who dwells in the sky. Festivals are held in honour of Nan, and every year, among the Yergum, the chief descends to the ancestral tomb, and, taking up the skulls of his forefathers, calls on each in turn to intercede with Nan, that the great God, the Giver of Rain and Ripener of Crops, may grant an abundant harvest118. Here again, therefore, the worship of the Supreme Being is combined with the worship of ancestors, or rather the ancestors are regarded as the proper intercessors between God and man. That Nan is indeed looked upon as the Supreme Ruler of the world is shown by the willingness of the Angas to apply to him, and to him alone, the Moslem title of Allah; but under him they acknowledge the existence of various departmental deities, such as Kim, the god of war, Gwon or Bom, the god of justice and fertility, and a host of minor divinities.119

Among the pagan tribes of. Northern Nigeria the Supreme God it sometimes distinguished from the sun but oftener identified with him.

Among these pagan tribes of Northern Nigeria the great Sky-god is regarded as the sole agent in creation. Thus the Munshi believe that the Sky-god, whom they call Awondo, created the world and has power over all natural phenomena, and that he is the author both of good and of evil. Subordinate to him is a deity named Poro, to whom, however, rather than to the Supreme God, the Munshi pay the greater part of their devotions. They think that the Moon is Poro's daughter, and that the Sun is his son, and they believe in lesser gods of thunder, hunting, agriculture, and childbirth.120 Thus the Munshi clearly distinguish the Sun from the Supreme God Awondo, since they believe the Supreme God to be the father of the Sun. Yet, we are informed that among the pagan tribes of this region the great Sky-god, the Supreme Being, is commonly identified with the Sun.121 “The Sun is their Supreme Deity, the All Father, the Giver of Rain, the Ripener of Crops, but so remote and otiose that he can only be approached through the host of intermediaries already described—the spirits of ancestors who dwell near him, and those nature spirits who are demi-gods and his servants. He is too far removed to need the propitiation of sacrifice; but in times of stress his devotees vaguely hold out their hands to him in prayer. The Sun-worshippers seem to regard the Sun primarily as the Ripener of Crops.”122

The power of making rain shared with the Sky-god by the divine king of the Jukun.

But among the northern tribes of Nigeria the power of sending rain was not a monopoly of the Sky-god; it was shared by many human beings and in particular by the king of the Jukun, who passed for divine, or at all events for a demi-god, and was believed to control the rain supply.123 Indeed, he retained the beneficent faculty of drawing down the water of heaven even after his death. When his corpse was carried out to burial, mounted on a horse, some millet was placed in his right hand and a gourd of water in his left. As the king rode away on his last journey to the far country, the assembled people set up a wail and besought their deceased monarch not to leave them thus bereft of corn and rain; so the horse's head was turned back again, and the dead king's hands were made to shower the corn and the water in the direction of his subjects. Many Jukun traditions ascribe to the king the power of controlling the elements. Once, for example, when the armies of Bornu and the Jukun were set in array against each other, the king of Bornu caused the grass between the hosts to be set on fire, but the king of the Jukun at once called down from heaven a shower of rain, which extinguished the conflagration.124

The divine king of the Jukun formerly put to death at the end of seven years, or whenever he showed signs of infirmity.

But the semi-divine character of the Jukun king reveals itself in other ways than in rainmaking. His person is charged with a spiritual force which makes mere contact with him dangerous; were he to touch the ground with his hands or bare feet, the crops would be blighted.125 But in spite, or rather in consequence of, his divinity it used to be deemed necessary to slay him ceremonially at the end of seven years, in order that his sacred spirit should pass, unimpaired by the weakness and decay of old age, to his successor on the throne.126 Nay, even during the seven years, if he fell ill, or so much as sneezed or coughed, or was thrown from his horse, he might be put to death. The duty of slaying him devolved on the head councillor, who is known as the Abun Achuwo. The mode of execution or of sacrifice is said to have been strangling. The entrails were removed, and the body was preserved by some process which included fumigation. It is said that his brain, kidneys, and heart were dried and eaten by his successor, together with the oil that exuded from the corpse during the process of desiccation. The custom of killing the king at the end of seven years was broken down by a Jukun sovereign who enlisted a Hausa bodyguard to protect him against attack, and thereby succeeded in preserving his life and ruling over the kingdom for eleven years instead of seven. According to one tradition, he escaped death by entrapping and killing the three religious chiefs whose duty it was to slay the king.127

The reason for the custom of regicide.

The custom of putting the king to death, either at the end of a fixed period or whenever he showed signs of bodily or mental decay, was by no means peculiar to the Jukun; it was practised by many other tribes of this region, including the Yorubas.128 In all cases it was probably based on a belief in the divine character of the king and in the fatal consequences which would be entailed on the people and the land by the failure of his powers through age or natural infirmity.129

The Edo speaking people of Benin believe in a supreme Sky-god called Osa or Osalobula.

The Edo-speaking people of Benin, a province of Southern Nigeria, believe in a supreme deity, commonly called Osa or Osalobula, who lives in heaven. He is regarded as the creator of the world, and a myth is told in which Osanowa, or Osa of the house, has an evil counterpart, Osanoha, or Osa of the bush. Osanowa created man; Osanoha created animals. Osanoha also made a house of sickness, in which were all diseases. When men and women, on their way from heaven to earth, came near that house, rain fell and drove them for shelter into it. Thus sickness came to the earth. And because the wicked Osanoha was the creator of animals, man became their enemy, and so, whenever he sees an animal, he kills it. Another explanation of the enmity between Osanowa and Osanoha is that they agreed to reckon up and compare their riches, whereupon it was found that the children of Osanoha were more numerous than the children of Osanowa; wherefore the two have been enemies ever since.130

The emblems of Osa.

Annual sacrifice of a goat to him.

Though Osa, as a rule, receives no regular sacrifices, yet he is far from being the ordinary type of otiose creator, remote from mankind and indifferent to their welfare. He figures largely in the folk-tales of the people, and his name is constantly on their lips. His usual emblem, a long pole with white cloth attached to it, is to be seen in nearly every village.131 In some places Osa is represented by a pot. In Okpe his representative is a tree with a white cloth tied round it Though Osa is the one persistent figure in the Edo pantheon, the natives in some places have only a vague idea of his personality. Some of them say that he looks like a cloud, which is natural enough in a Sky-god. Over a great part of the Edo country there are no images of gods132. At Idumowina, a village a few miles north of Benin, a goat is annually sacrificed to Osa and its blood poured on his shrine.133

Among the Ibibios the head of the pantheon is Obumo, the Thunder god or Abassi, the Supreme Being.

Eka Abassi. “Mother of God”. the wife of Obumo.

The Ibibios are a tribe of negroes who inhabit Eket, a district of Southern Nigeria bounded on the south by the sea and on the east by the Cross River. In their pantheon at the present day Obumo, the Thunder-god, is usually regarded as the principal deity and the creator of all things. His home is in the sky, and, being too far off to trouble much about the petty affairs of men, he leaves these in the hands of lesser powers, reserving to himself the ordering of the great events of the year, such as the regular succession of the seasons.134 Some people, however, distinguish Obumo, the Thunderer, from Abassi, the Supreme God, the maker of heaven and earth, and allege that Thunder and Lightning are only the messengers whom Abassi sends to kill witches, to strike trees, and to give warning of the approach of rain.135 It is said that Obumo once dwelt on earth, but that long ago he ascended to the sky; from his home in the clouds he still sends forth his messengers, who are the Rain, the Storm-wind, the Thunder-bolt, and the Fish-eagle. The Ibibios believe that at the beginning of the rainy season Obumo descends in the form of a fish-eagle, to woo his terrestrial wife Eka Abassi.136 But according to an esoteric doctrine, revealed only to the initiated, this goddess Eka Abassi is not only the wife but the mother of Obumo and the true head of the Ibibio pantheon. Her name appears to mean “Mother of God”, and she is said to be regarded as the divine Creatress, the great First Cause. She is thought to have conceived Obumo, her first-born, without the assistance of a husband.137 In some places this great goddess is identified with I song, the Earth.138 But though Obumo, or Abassi Obumo, is now commonly regarded as the divine husband of Eka Abassi, some traces exist of a belief in an older god called Etc Abassi, that is, Father God, who was the original husband of Eka Abassi. At the present day, however, he has been superseded by Abassi Obumo, as the Greek Cronus was superseded by Zeus. Abassi is generally represented by a small clay pot, filled with water, in which is placed an armlet and sometimes an egg.139

Human sacrifices offered to Ab assi Obumo, the Thunderer

To Abassi Obumo, the Thunderer, human sacrifices were always offered at the annual festival of the New Yams. Bark, stripped from piassava palms, was wrapped round the victim so as to envelop him completely, and he was then tied to the trunk of a very tall tree and left there to perish. At Atebio, a town in the centre of the Eket District, may still be seen several trees which in former days were set apart for thus bearing human sacrifices offered to the God of Thunder.140 Palm-trees are believed to be associated in some mysterious fashion with the Thunder-god.141 Whenever the rich, orange-hued clusters did not ripen, or even when the crop was small, the people were ordered to search the country-side till they found a leper whose face had been eaten away by the ravages of disease. Him they dragged to the nearest palm-grove and bound by waist and throat to the tallest tree, his arms tied round the trunk as though he were clasping it. Through both feet were driven long hooked pegs, sharply pointed, which pinned the victim to the ground. There he was doomed to stay, enduring intolerable agonies from wounds, hunger, and thirst in the full glare of a tropical sun, till death mercifully released him from his sufferings. After such a sacrifice the palms were supposed to bear fruit abundantly.142 Why a leper was chosen for the victim, we are not told. Perhaps his pallid hue was thought to mark him out, among a black race, as a sacrifice peculiarly acceptable to a god of the sky. We have seen that among these negroes white is often the colour prescribed in the worship of the Sky-god.143

Priests of the Thunder god can call down lightning.

Priests of the Thunder-God Obumo are supposed to possess the power of calling down the lightning on the house of any man against whom they cherish a grudge.144 In some parts of the district a curious means is taken to prevent a young child from fearing thunder and lightning. Electric fishes are caught and placed in a bowl during a storm. After they have been left there some time, the water is poured off and given to the child to drink. Thus inoculated with electricity, the child will naturally have no fear of lightning and so will enjoy the special protection of the Thunder-god. Under the shelter of his wing it is confidently anticipated that the little one will live to be rich and powerful.145

Worship of the Supreme God Abassi among the people of Calabar.

The people of Calabar, the neighbours of the Ibibios on the east, acknowledge a creator and supreme governor of all things, whom, like the Ibibios, they name Abassi. In the yard of every house there used to be built a small circular mound on which were placed a few shallow dishes of earthenware and some old bones, which commonly included a human skull. This domestic shrine was called isu Abassi, that is, “the Face or Presence of Abassi”, and on a certain day of the native week, which comprises eight days, the worshippers used to approach the deity at his shrine, beseeching him, as the case might be, either to benefit themselves or to harm their neighbours, and supporting their petition by a libation of water poured into one of the vessels. This practice, however, appears to have fallen into desuetude even before the establishment of a Christian mission in Calabar, and the homage of the native pagans is now chiefly paid to the various subordinate deities known as idems. One of these, called Ndem Efik, is a sort of tutelary deity of the country. The man appointed to take charge of his worship bore the title of King Calabar, and in past times probably united the regal to the priestly power. As tribute he received the skins of all leopards killed in the country, and any slave who took refuge at the shrine belonged to the deity. The office, however, imposed certain restrictions on the incumbent, for example, he might not eat in the presence of anybody, and he was prohibited from engaging in traffic. On account of these and other disabilities, when the last of the titular kings died, nobody was found willing to undertake the burden of royalty, and the kingship or priesthood became extinct.146 History presents many instances of a royal and priestly office similarly crushed under the weight of the fetters rivetted on its bearers.

Worship of a Sky-god Abassi or Osowo in the Obubura Hill District.

Among the negro tribes of the Obubura Hill District in Southern Nigeria, on the borders of Cameroons, the great god who lives in the sky is known by several names. The Efiks, who are the natives of Calabar, call him Abassi; and this name is heard in many parts of the Obubura Hill District. The Indems, one of the tribes of the district, call him Osowo. He is the greatest of all the gods. Offerings to him are deposited just outside the village, either where two or more roads meet, or by the side of a single road. They generally consist of small portions of food and drink, and are set on the ground in potsherds or calabashes, or are placed in a basket which is inserted in the fork of a pole set upright in the earth. These offerings are made by, or on behalf of, sick people, who hope that Osowa himself will eat the food and heal them, or that he will give it to such of their parents or friends as live with him, and so effect the desired cure. Palm-wine and gin are offered to the deity in shells, which the natives find in the forest and use as cups. Besides these communal offering-places outside the village, there is generally in every courtyard some kind of structure at which the Supreme Deity is worshipped. Thus in a courtyard at Obubura the temple of Abassi consists merely of a bundle of bamboo poles lashed together and set upright, with stones and bones lying at its foot. The natives believe that Osowo can kill men, and also that he sends the spirit into new-born babes.147 Thus they look on this Sky-deity as the source both of life and of death. No wonder that they revere him as the greatest of the gods.

Belief in the Sky god Obassi Osaw, and the Earth-god Obassi Nsi among the Ekoi.

Among the Ekoi, who inhabit the Oban District of Southern Nigeria on the border of Cameroons, two great, deities are recognized, the Sky-god Obassi Osaw, and the Earth-god Obassi Nsi; but besides them the people believe, in countless hordes of inferior spirits, who people the trees, the lakes, the rocks, and the rivers; the forest teems with these dreadful beings; its shadow lies heavy on all.148 Questioned as to the respective characters of the Sky-god and the Earth-god, an Ekoi man, who knew no English and was a mine of folk-lore, declared that the Earth-god Obassi Nsi was kind and good, but that the Sky-god Obassi Osaw was fierce and cruel. Asked how he knew that Obassi Osaw was fierce and cruel, he replied, “Because he tries to kill us with thunder and in many other ways. Also, he is not so loving and near to us as Obassi Nsi, for he cannot receive our offerings. We sometimes throw things up into the air for him, but they always fall back again to the earth. Obassi Nsi draws them down; that shows he is more powerful.” To the question how he knew that the Earth-god Obassi Nsi was good, the same man answered, “He never shows us terrifying things as Osaw does, such as thunder or lightning, nor the sun which blazes so hot as to frighten us sometimes, and the rain which falls so heavily at others as to make us think there will be no more sunshine. Nsi ripens our yams, cocos, plantains, etc., which we plant in the ground. When we are dead we are buried in the ground, and go to the world under the earth, to our Father Obassi Nsi.”149

The Earth conceived as a mother.

But while the Earth is now personified as a god and a father, enough legends and fragments of ritual survive to hint, if not to prove, that formerly Earth was conceived as a goddess and a mother.150 Indeed, the same Ekoi man who had referred to Obassi Nsi as “our Father”, on further reflection said, “I think that Obassi Nsi is really our mother and Osaw our father. For whenever we make offerings we are taught to say Nta Obassi (Lord Obassi) and Ma Obassi (Lady Obassi). Now I think that the lord is Osaw, and the lady Nsi. Surely Nsi must be a woman, and our mother, for it is well known to all people that a woman has the tenderest heart.”151 Thus we should be brought back to the ancient and widespread myth of Father Sky and Mother Earth.

The Ekoi believe that Obassi Osaw and Obassi Nsi made all things between them. At first they dwelt together, but after a while they agreed to separate and have different lands. Obassi Osaw fixed his dwelling place in the sky, while Obassi Nsi came down to earth and lived there.152

Trees sacred to the two deities.

In the central courtyard of almost every house is set a little group, consisting usually of a growing tree, carved post, and sacrificial stone, sacred to one or other of the two great deities. By far the greater number of these are dedicated to the Earth-god Obassi Nsi, as is shown by the coco yams planted, or laid in a small heap, close by. Those of Obassi Osaw can easily be distinguished by the clump of epiphytic ferns growing on the tree trunk.153

Prayers to Obassi Osaw.

Before beginning the work of the day every man or woman who still clings to the ancient custom takes a calabash and washes in the central courtyard. Then, when the sun rises, they lift up their eyes to it and pray, saying, “Sun of morning, sun of evening, let me be free from danger to-day”. This they do, because they think that the sun is charged by Obassi to receive all prayers offered on earth and to carry them to his home in heaven. Next the suppliant takes water in his right hand and holds it up on high, calling on the name of the great Sky-god, Obassi Osaw. Next he takes water in his left hand and pours it out on the ground, thus committing himself to the keeping of the great Earth-god Obassi Nsi.154

Story of the boy who received, a wishing-box from Obassi Osaw.

The two deities enter into countless folk-tales, from which many details as to their nature, and attributes may be gleaned.155 One such story tells how a poor boy looked up at the sun, and pointing eggs towards it cried out, “Male God! Female God! will you open the gate for me?” Then the eggs slipped from his hand, and out of each flew a small chick. The chicks surrounded the boy and flew with him up to the sky, to the kingdom of Obassi Osaw. There he saw the great Sky-god in his seat of judgment and the ghosts of the dead passing before him, amongst them the ghost of the boy's own dead mother. When all had passed by, Obassi Osaw gave the boy a box out of which he could get all that he wanted only by wishing for it. With this box the boy returned to earth, but the fatal curiosity of a woman cut short all his hopes of happiness and even his life.156

Obassi Osaw and the cause of human mortality: story of the two messengers, the frog and the duck.

Another story tells how the Sky-god Obassi Osaw designed to cheer mankind with the prospect of immortality, and how his kindly intention was frustrated through the gross misconduct of a duck. It happened in this way. In the beginning of the world, when men died, they were carried in a sort of dream to the abode of Obassi Osaw in heaven. If the deity thought fit, he would make the dead man wake from his dream and stand up before him. Then he would restore him to life and send him back to earth. But such men on their return could never tell what had happened to them. One day Obassi Osaw thought to himself, “Men fear to die. They do not know that perhaps they may come to life again. I will tell them that such a thing may happen; then they will have less dread of death” So he stood up in his house in the sky and called a frog and a duck before him. To the frog he said, “Go to earth and say to the people, When a man dies, it is the end of all things; he shall never live again”. To the duck he said, “Go tell the earth folk that if a man dies he may come to life again”. Then he led them a little way, and showed them the road down to earth, saying, “Take my message. Duck, you may go to the left hand. Frog, keep to the right” So frog kept on till he came to earth. He told the first people he met the message which Obassi Osaw had sent, the message that for man death is the end of all things. In due time the duck also reached earth. She came to a place where people had been making palm oil, and she began to gulp it down. So greedily did she swill it that she forgot all about the message which God had charged her to deliver, the message that the dead may come to life again. Thus men never heard the glad tidings of immortality. That is why, when once a man dies, we never see him again. It is all the fault of the duck. She forgot the message, and of course we are bound to go by the one which the frog brought us.157

How the first fire was stolen by a cunning boy from the house of Obassi Osaw in heaven.

Another story relates how a cunning boy stole fire from the house of Obassi Osaw in heaven and brought it down to earth. It was the first fire on earth, for though Obassi Osaw made everything, he had not given fire to mankind. Indeed, when the boy first went to heaven and asked Obassi to give him fire for the use of people on earth, the deity was very angry and sent the boy about his business. However, on a second visit to the sky, the urchin contrived to purloin a glowing brand, which he wrapped in plantain stems and leaves to smother the smoke, and then hurried down to earth with it. When Obassi Osaw looked down from his house in the sky, he saw the smoke curling up from the earth. So he sent his eldest son down to ask the boy if it was he who had stolen the fire. The boy confessed the theft, and as a punishment he was obliged to go lame for the rest of his natural life. He it was who first brought fire to earth from Obassi Osaw's home in the sky.158

The Ekoi of Cameroons believe in a supreme God called Obashi.

The Ekoi are not confined to Southern Nigeria, a considerable body of them inhabits the district of Ossidinge in the neighbouring province of Cameroons, to the south of the; Cross River.159 The district is of some importance ethnologically, since the boundary between the true negroes and the Bantu tribes appears to run through it. Of the seven tribes which inhabit it, six, including the Ekoi, are Bantus, one only, the Bokis, belongs to the true negro type.160 The natives refer all events to the Supreme God, whom they call Obashi, though in prayer they address him as Ewerok-babi. Of his form they seem to have no idea, but they assume that he dwells above the clouds and reveals himself to men in dreams. They constantly repeat, “God tells us in dreams what we are to do”. On this belief rests their faith in the efficacy of simples. God is supposed to impart to every man in a dream the name and the place in the forest of the magical plant which will answer his special need. Next day the man must find the plant in the forest, fasten it to a pole, and set the pole up in front of his farm. If after that anybody steals anything from the farm, the plant possesses the power of making the thief sick even at a distance. Besides this great god Abashi the natives recognize the existence of a series of minor deities or demons, who mediate between God and man and hover invisible in the air.161

The Fan of French Congo believe in a great deity, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, whom they call Nzame or Nsambe.

The Fan or Fang, a large tribe in French Congo, believe in a great deity called Nzame or Nsambe, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who created or gave birth to all living things, and set in order the world as we at present see it. For a time Nsambe continued to be on intimate terms with mankind, whom he had created; he plays a great part in the myths and legends of the people. But after a while he left them and removed to a distance. The reasons which induced him to take this step are nowhere clearly stated; hence his departure has somewhat the appearance of a caprice. Be that as it may, his disappearance was so sudden and clandestine that one fine day men found themselves abandoned by him and destitute of the bare necessaries of life, so that they were obliged to send messengers after him to request that he would provide them with food and fire: In another version of the story Nsambe departed bag and baggage, taking all the animals with him in his train; but after a time, bethinking him of the duties he owed to his creatures, mankind, he despatched the animals to them with a message from him and a supply of fire and other necessaries. Whatever the causes of his alienation from his creatures, the Creator Nsambe has now retired into the background; he has become a purely mythical figure rather than an object of worship; the German writer who has given us the fullest account of him compares him to the head of a great commercial firm, who has retired from the active management of affairs, which he leaves to his subordinates, though he retains a general control over the business, and his name still figures on the brass plate at the door.162

Story of the origin of death: Nsambe, the chameleon and the lizard.

Like other African gods who have retired from business, the Nsambe of the Fans is associated with a story which professes to explain the origin of human mortality. It is said that he first sent the chameleon to men with a message that nobody would die, and that there should be no such thing as poverty or ill-luck. Afterwards apparently he changed his mind and sent a lizard with a message that all men would die. But the lizard outran the slow-paced chameleon and brought the fatal tidings of mortality to mankind before they received the glad news of immortality from the chameleon. That is the reason why men continue to die down to this day.163 This story, which lays the blame of human mortality on the chameleon is very widespread in Africa.164 We shall meet with it again later on.165

Belief of the Bafioti of Loango in a Supreme Being called Zambi or Nsambi.

To the south of the Fan and of French Congo, the same, ubiquitous deity meets us again in Loango, where, to all appearance, he has been long at home. The natives of Loango call themselves Bafioti, that is, the Dark People. They belong to the great Bantu race, which stretches across Africa from sea to sea.166 As to their religion the Abbé Proyart, who wrote a history of Loango in the second half of the eighteenth century, informs us that the natives “acknowledge a Supreme Being, who, having no origin, is himself the origin of all things. They believe he has created all that is fine, all that is good in the universe; that being by nature just, he loves justice in others, and severely punishes fraud and perjury. They call him Zambi; they take his name in testimony of the truth; and they regard perjury as one of the greatest of crimes; they even pretend that a species of malady, called Zambi-a-n-pongou is the punishment of it; and they say, when they see one attacked with it, ‘There's a perjured man’. Besides this just and perfect God, they admit another, to whom they give quite different attributes; the first created all, the latter would destroy all; he delights in the evil which he causes among men; it is he who counsels them to injustice, perjury, thefts, poisonings, and all crimes; he is the author of accidents, losses, diseases, barrenness of land, in a word, of all the miseries which afflict humanity, and even of death itself; they call him Zambi-a-n'bi, God of wickedness. Here may be perceived”, proceeds the pious and orthodox Abbé, “the error of the Manichaeans touching the Divinity. It appears natural enough that man who is not enlightened with the torch of revelation, considering the evils of all kinds that beset him from his entrance into the world to his departure, should study to discover the cause, and that, ignorance being one of the greatest disorders of his soul, he should be bewildered in his conjectures on matters so much above his faculties…They who know only the theology of the country, persuaded that the good God will always be sufficiently favourable, think only of appeasing the God of wickedness; some, to render him propitious to them, never eat fowls or game; others cat only certain sorts of fish, fruits, or vegetables; not one among them but makes profession of abstaining all his lifetime from some sort of nourishment. The only way of making him offerings is to let die, under their feet, some shrubs laden with their fruits; the banana tree is that which they consecrate to him in preference.” 167

Powers ascribed to Nsambi.

About a hundred years after Proyart wrote his history of Loango, the country was carefully examined by a German scientific expedition, and the members of it found a belief in the same great god still current among the natives. They tell us that Nsambi, as they spell the name of the deity, is believed to have power over everything. He, or his vital and creative energy, is in the earth, the water, the air, the plants, animals, and men. When he wills, he knows the thoughts as well as the deeds of men; he sees them, whether they sleep or wake, under the open sky, in their huts, by day and by night. He sends the rain that the plantations may flourish and yield their fruits to mankind, when men are good. He sends drought, famine, pestilence, and other evils, that men may suffer, sicken and die, when they are wicked.168

How Nsambi created men, and being offended at them retired from earth to heaven.

Whether Nsambi created everything that exists, the natives do not know for certain. Yet they conceive it possible, indeed some of them stoutly assert that he created land and water, plants and animals, and likewise sun, moon, and stars. The story of the creation of mankind is variously told. According to one account, Nsambi moulded men out of potter's earth mixed with the blood of animals.169 But men in the early ages of the world were no better than they are nowadays. They wrangled and fought, and did evil. Nsambi was grieved at that, and forbade them many things. But bad men did not heed his prohibitions. So, to punish them, Nsambi sent drought, famine, and pestilence, and many of the sinners died. Many of the righteous also perished, and justly enough, because they had not kept an eye on the wicked. So mankind at last, driven to despair, called on Nsambi for help. He came, but they all shrieked at him laying the blame on each other and overwhelming him so with their petitions that the din and clamour were deafening. At last the deity grew tired of the hubbub. He fell into a passion, and went away and never came back. At the present day, if you ask a native where is the abode of the deity, he will spread out his fingers and point upwards, at the same time stretching out his arms in all directions, thereby signifying that Nsambi dwells in heaven. But whether he resides in a house or camps at large in the celestial regions appears to be a matter of uncertainty. Many people opine that he lives in the style of a wealthy gentleman with plenty of servants to wait on him, and perhaps in possession of wives and children. But after all who knows?170

The Good God and the Bad God.

Nsambi-a-mpungu, Nsambi the Mighty.

As in the days of the Abbé Proyart, some natives of Loango distinguish the Good God (Nsambi-a-mbote) from the Bad God (Nsambi-a-mbi), and say that the Good God does no evil to men, it is only the Bad God that harms them. Others, however, are of opinion that there is only one great god, Nsambi, who does good or evil to men according to their works. More frequently than either Nsambi-a-mbote or Nsambi-a-mbi does the name Nsambi-a-mpungu occur on the lips of the people. It seems to mean Nsambi the Mighty, mpungu being a descriptive epithet applied to the deity. The same word is used in the sense of an important man, the father of a large family, an effective speaker, an outstanding personality. But according to another interpretation and tradition Mpungu is the father of Nsambi, and the expression Nsambi-a-Mpungu signifies Nsambi, the son of Mpungu. Some say that Mpungu sent his son, Nsambi, down to earth to look after mankind, and to comfort the mourners. The son did good to men, and when his father Mpungu despatched Hunger to gnaw at the bellies of mortals, Nsambi caught him, so that the fruits of the earth flourished again, and people had plenty to eat. Then Mpungu sent Sickness; but Nsambi warded her off or healed the sick. At last Mpungu sent Death, who struck men down and robbed them of their breath; for he was strong like Mpungu himself.171

Nsambi is thought to pay little need to human affairs; hence people are generally indifferent to him.

But in spite of some confusion and discrepancy in the accounts of Nsambi, he is generally accorded the rank of a Supreme Bemg, who exists invisibly everywhere and controls the forces of nature either personally or by the intervention of his representatives. Towards mankind his attitude on the whole is one of nonchalance and neglect. Yet does he sometimes interpose in human affairs with a heavy hand. Certainly nothing that concerns mankind escapes his vigilance or happens without his ordinance. On their side men do not worship him; no ceremony is performed in his honour, no sacrifice is offered to him. As a deity he appears to stand quite aloof from human life. He is too great and too far away to trouble himself much about the weal or woe of his creatures. And they repay his lack of sympathy with a corresponding indifference. But in times of great and general distress they recognize his handiwork and speak of him with a certain awe. “Nsambi is angry, he is destroying us”, they cry, but they do not turn to him directly for help and pity; they look to some intermediary for an alleviation of their sufferings.172

Only in great emergencies do they acknowledge his power and appeal to him.

Nevertheless from time to time in dangers and great emergencies people feel their dependence on his divine power, acknowledge the working of his divine will, and commit their affairs to his divine keeping. A man who is sick and like to die, or who is anxious and troubled about the issue of some undertaking that touches him deeply, will comfort himself by saying, “It is in Nsambi's power”, or “Nsambi's will be done”. When a boat is swept down the rapids of a rushing river, and the helmsman is adjured to do his utmost, he will answer with an upward look or gesture and the words, “It is Nsambi's affair”. When a death has taken place, the survivors may console each other with the reflection that “Nsambi has bidden him, has called him away”. Women, too, in the pangs of travail cry to Nsambi to have pity on them.173 Finally, we are told that the belief in Nsambi has not been borrowed by the natives from Christian missionaries, since it is both older and more widely diffused than missionary activity.174

§ 2. The Worship of the Sky in the Valley of the Congo

Belief of the natives of the Congo in a Supreme Being and Creator called Nzambi.

The great valley of the Congo is peopled by many tribes, the great majority of which belong to the Bantu stock. Among them there is a general belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, the Creator of all things, who is eternal and incapable of doing evil, but who at the same time occupies so lofty a position that he does not busy himself with the lot of his creatures. The general name for this great deity is Nzambi, though the precise form of the name varies somewhat with the dialect of the tribe. In Nzambi the black man personifies the first and universal cause of everything which he cannot understand or explain. For the most part Nzambi is conceived as a solitary being; but in the coast region of the Lower Congo, where the beliefs of the natives have lost something of their originality and have been modified by European influence, Nzambi has been associated with a female companion or wife. Many tribes hold that Nzambi has created one or more divine beings of an inferior order, to whom he has granted very large powers, and who act as his deputies or vicars on earth. It is these deputy-deities, and not the great God himself, who keep up a certain intercourse with mortals, and in turn delegate their powers, either wholly or in part, to human beings, to animals, and even to inanimate objects, such as stones, rocks, trees, and waters. The abode of Nzambi is not defined, it is everywhere and nowhere, it is in another world which the native does not picture to himself. If you press him for an answer, he shakes his head and says that the question makes his head ache.175

Rev. J. H. Weeks on the belief in Nzambi among the natives of the Congo.

An experienced English missionary, the Rev. J. H. Weeks, who lived and worked for thirty years among the natives both of the Lower and the Upper Congo, tells us that “the name for a Supreme Being (Nzambi) is known all over the Lower Congo, and indeed, among all the tribes throughout the watershed of the Congo river; but the knowledge concerning him is very vague. He is regarded as the principal creator of the world and all living creatures; and it is thought that after His work of creation He withdrew Himself, and, since then, He has taken little, if any further interest in the world and its inhabitants. He is spoken of among the natives as being strong, rich, and good—so good that He will not hurt them, hence no sacrifices are offered to Him, no prayers to Him ever pass their lips, and they never worship Him. As the Supreme One He is very remote from them, unconcerned in their welfare, and harmless, therefore they consider that there is no need for them to trouble about Him. We never found an atheist among them, but their theism is of a very hazy quality.”176

The conception of Nzambi is of native origin.

Mr. Weeks is clearly of opinion that the conception of Nzambi as a Supreme Being is of purely native origin and not borrowed by the blacks from the whites. He says: “In each case the natives’ ideas of the Supreme Being were gathered and noted long before our teaching had influenced their views or increased their knowledge concerning Him. Before we could preach our views we had to learn their language, and while learning their language we necessarily received—in the definitions of the words we were learning from them—their ideas of that great Being who created the world. We found their knowledge of Him was scarcely more than nominal, and no worship was ever paid to Him.

Various names for the Supreme Being in the valley of the Congo.

“On the Lower Congo He is called Nzamzbi, or by His fuller title Nzamzbi a mpungu; no satisfactory root word has yet been found for Nzamzbi, but for mpungu there are sayings and proverbs that clearly indicate its meaning as, most of all, supreme, highest, and Nzamzbi a mpungu as the Being most High or Supreme.177

“On the Upper Congo among the Bobangi folk the word used for the Supreme Being is Nyambe; among the Lulanga people, Nzakomba; among the Boloki, Nyambe; among the Bopoto people it is Libanza, which word is also well known among the Boloki people, and was probably introduced by slaves from Bopoto. At Yakusu, near Stanley Falls, the word used is Mungu, which is a shortened form of the Swahili word muungu, and this may contain the root of the Lower Congo word mpungu. It is interesting to note that the most common name for the Supreme Being on the Congo is also known, in one form or another, over an extensive area of Africa reaching from 6° north of the Equator away to extreme South Africa; as, for example, among the Ashanti it is Onyame, at Gaboon it is Anyambie, and two thousand miles away among the Barotse folk it is Niambe.”178

Various uses of the name of God.

“During the whole thirty years of my life in various parts of the Congo I have heard the name of the Deity used in the following four ways only: Among the Lower Congo people, when they desire to emphasize a statement or vouch for the truthfulness of their words, they use the name in an oath. When in extreme trouble they cry out, ‘I wish Nzambi had never made me!’ or when in great distress, ‘Nzambi, pity me!’ Also on the Lower Congo there is the phrase lufwa lua Nzambi—death by God, i.e. a natural death as distinctive from death by witchcraft; but this view of death is not so frequently heard on the Lower Congo as among the Boloki, where awi na Nyambe he died by God, i.e. there is no witchcraft about the death of the deceased, nor anything pointing to witchcraft about the accident that caused the death, is often heard. These are the only phrases which suppose that the Supreme Being has anything to do with the world. They are generally employed in the case of poor folk when they die, as no one wants the trouble and expense of engaging a witch-doctor to seek out the witch.”179

In explanation of this last statement it may be observed that in Africa many deaths are set down to the nefarious arts of witches and wizards, and that in all such cases it is, or rather used to be, under native rule, deemed essential to discover the guilty wretch and to put him or her to death. Thus a single natural death in the old days was apt to entail many deaths by violence; for the suspected witches were commonly obliged to submit to the poison ordeal, to which multitudes of perfectly innocent victims succumbed.

Deaths in Africa often imputed to witchcraft; expense of detecting the witch, and consequent reluctance of poor people to institute a prosecution for witchcraft. It is hardly too much to say that till Africa came under the sway of Europe its black population was decimated by the combined effects of the belief in witchcraft and the practice of the poison ordeal.180 Fortunately the circumstances to which in the foregoing passage Mr. Weeks briefly alludes appear to have exercised some influence in moderating and restricting the ravages of this fatal superstition. In order to detect the supposed witch who had caused a death it was necessary to employ the agency of a professional witch-finder or witch-doctor, as he is commonly called by writers on Africa; and this man of skill, or rather arrant impostor, had naturally to be paid for his services, and his charges might often be excessive. Thus an accusation of death by witchcraft doubtless often entailed heavy expenses on the accusers, and as a rule only wealthy people could afford to prosecute the sorcerer who, in their opinion, had done their kinsman to death by his malignant enchantments. Poor people, even if they suspected foul play, would generally deem it prudent to stifle or hush up their suspicions, lest by giving vent to them they should be forced to call in the aid of a witch-finder and to satisfy his possibly exorbitant demands for bringing the imaginary culprit to justice. Hence, when death had removed one of the family circle, his or her indigent relations were under a strong temptation to attribute their bereavement to the hand of God rather than to that of a witch or wizard, since thereby they saved the expenses of a prosecution. Thus by a beautiful dispensation of Providence faith in God was powerfully reinforced by purely economic motives.

Belief of the natives of the Lower Congo in a great god Nzambi.

The belief of the natives of the Lower Congo in a great and powerful god whom they call Nzambi, or more emphatically Nzambi-a-mpungu, is described also by Mr. G. C. Claridge, who spent twelve years in intimate intercourse with the people, and his description agrees with and confirms that of Mr. Weeks. He tells us that the natives look upon Nzambi as almighty, good, just, merciful, and kind, but that nevertheless, or rather for that very reason, they do not worship him. Nothing evil is ever attributed to him. Pain, disease, and death come from evil spirits and witches, but never from God. Hence people need not fear or propitiate him, for he is never angry or offended. Consequently he may safely be left alone. He receives no mark of homage and is represented by no material object or fetish, though all the other inferior spirits are represented by fetishes which are deemed essential for the safety and even existence of mankind, who without them would be at the mercy of ghosts and demons.181

Source of the belief in Nzambi.

The name Nzambi applied to whatever is mysterious and incomprehensible.

As to the source of this belief in a great and beneficent deity Mr. Claridge observes that the Congolese “arrive at the idea of the existence of a chief good spirit by the same reasoning as they come at the notion of a chief evil spirit. It is a negro chieftainship glorified.”182 Indeed, whatever is mysterious or beyond human comprehension is called by them “a thing of God” (ma kia Nzambi). Thus an inedible fungus, the use of which is not understood, is spoken of as “God's fungus” (wivwa wa Nzambi); the wild, vast, tangled jungle, with its majesty and mystery, is “God's jungle” (titi kia Nzambi); and man himself in common parlance is “God's man” (muntu a Nzambi).183 There is a certain wasp of which the head and thorax are joined to the body by such a slender pin-like waist that the natives believe it to be impossible for the insect to bear young or lay eggs. The wasp builds itself a nest of mud in the shape of a cluster of cylindrical cells cemented together and exquisitely finished. In each cell the wasp lays an egg, and when the young are hatched the mother wasp carefully feeds them by pushing grubs, flies, and small spiders into each cell; then, when every cell is thus stored with food, she seals it up, to all appearance, hermetically. In due time the native, who has watched the process, sees issuing from the nest, not a grub, a fly, or a spider, like the insects which he saw put into it, but a wasp like the one he saw building the nest and depositing the grubs, flies, and spiders in the cells. This apparent transformation he cannot understand; he looks upon it as an act of creation, and accordingly he calls this particular species of wasp “God's transforming or creating wasp” (infingi a Nzambi ankitula).184 With this extended use of the word God (Nzambi) we may compare the Homeric application of the epithets god-like and divine (theios, dios) to a great variety both of objects and of persons, including a house, a tower, a city, a land, horses, a herald, a bard, and even a swineherd.185

Belief of the Upotos in a god called Libanza.

Mythical history of Libanza: his descent from a fine songstress.

The adventures of Libanza.

His quarrel with his sister, and his ascension to heaven.

The Upotos, who inhabit the banks of the Upper Congo between 20° and 22° East Longitude, believe in a god called Libanza, who lives in the east, while his sister Ntsongo lives in the west. He had a beginning but he will never die, and the same is true of all the divine beings, because, when they are on the point of death, Libanza brings them to life again. But though Libanza appears to be at present the chief god of the Upotos and to dwell in the sky, he was not the first being in existence, nor did he always inhabit heaven. Before he was born, two sisters lived in a tall tree. They had magnificent voices, and they sang so that it was a real pleasure to hear them. A long string hung from the tree to the ground, and anybody who wished to hear the sisters sing had nothing to do but to pull the string, and at once the songstresses in the tree opened their lips and chanted the most ravishing strains. Several animals, including a leopard, pulled the string, and were so enchanted with the concert that they offered marriage to the arboreal sirens, but their offers were rejected. At last a cock of resplendent plumage came along, sang “Cock-a-doodle-do!” and tugged at the string. The songstresses responded as usual from the tree, and their sweet voices made such an impression on the susceptible bosom of chanticleer, that like his predecessors he offered them his heart and hand on the spot. Whether the sisters were fascinated by his gorgeous feathers or his musical talent, it is impossible to say, but certain it is that they at once closed with his offer, descended the tree, and followed him to his home. There they all lived happily together until one day it began to rain. When the shower was over, the ants, as usually happens after rain, popped up out of the earth by thousands, and the cock ran about picking them up and swallowing them. This disgusting conduct was overseen by a maidservant, who officiously reported it to the ladies, the wives of chanticleer. At first they refused to credit the report, which they treated as a base calumny, the invention of a low-minded hussy who was jealous of their handsome husband. Touched to the quick by this reflection on her honour, the abigail watched the cock and soon found him at his old trick again. Not only that, she brought her incredulous mistresses to the spot while the unconscious cock was still at his meal. Seeing was believing, the horrified wives deserted their ant-eating spouse and returned to the tree, where, after a period of sorrow and silence, they resumed their popular concerts. One day it chanced that Lotenge, the future father of the Supreme Being, passed near the tree and heard the ravishing accents of the songstresses proceeding from among the boughs. He looked up, and, pleased with the aspect and voices of the singers, he made them the usual offer of marriage, which was accepted. Well, to cut a long story short, one of the sisters, whose name was Ntsombobelle, gave birth to a son, who came into the world armed cap-à-pie with spear, knife, and buckler. After that she brought forth thousands and thousands of serpents, mosquitoes, and other vermin, all of them, singularly enough, armed to the teeth with spears and bucklers. After that she bore to her husband twin sons, of whom the younger was no other than the Supreme God, Libanza himself. After his birth Libanza roamed the earth and met with many adventures. He married several wives and had at least one son. He fought many people, including his own aunt, and he gave proof of his marvellous powers in various ways, particularly by restoring not a few people to life, including some whom he had himself knocked on the head. But his quarrelsome and sanguinary disposition estranged the affections of his mother and sister. His mother abandoned him to his evil courses, and his sister reproached him for his misdeeds in very bitter words. “You killed your elder brother,” she said, “and you very nearly killed your own father, and do you imagine that I will stick at declaring that I hate you? No, I hate you and I should be glad to see you die.” To this stinging reproof Libanza replied very meekly, for, to do him justice, in spite of his general truculence he kept a soft place in his heart for his sister. It happened that she had expressed a wish that he should fetch her some palm nuts, and now, by way of heaping coals of fire on her head, he climbed up the palm-tree to gather the nuts. But the higher he climbed, the higher grew the palm, till its branches were lost in the clouds, and the people who remained at the foot of the tree could see neither the nuts nor Libanza. He disappeared, because he would no longer live with his sister, who hated him and wished for his death. His sister and her people waited for him at the foot of the tree, and when they saw that he did not come back, they founded a village on the spot, which stands there to this day. Up aloft, above the clouds, Libanza discovered to his surprise the aunt whom he had fought and the brother whom he had murdered. He also engaged in a battle royal with Lombo, the King of the Air, in which he gained a complete victory and reduced the King of the Air and all his people to slavery.186

The abode of Libanza with the souls of the dead in the sky.

Nowadays Libanza, as we have seen, inhabits the east, while his sister Ntsongo, with whom he quarrelled, inhabits the west. The day when he will go to see her in the west, everybody will fall ill, and many people will de. The day will come when the sky will collapse and flatten us all out, blacks and whites alike. The thing would probably have happened long ago, if it had not been for the intercession of the souls of the dead (molimons), who have begged and prayed Libanza not to let the sky fall, and up till now he has lent an ear to their prayer; but how long he will do so is more than anybody knows. The moon is a huge boat, which sails across the whole earth picking up the souls of the dead and conveying them to Libanza. The stars are the fires lit by the souls of the dead, who sleep by day. That is proof positive that Libanza lives in the sky; for the souls of the dead live with him, and since we see their fires every night in heaven, it follows necessarily that Libanza is there too. As for the sun, he brews palm-wine for Libanza and brings it to him for his refreshment every evening. When there is a storm, it is Libanza fighting; when there is a mist, it is Libanza smoking his pipe; and when there is a wind, it is Libanza sneezing. The beard of Libanza is like a staircase; his people climb up and down it on their way to and from him. As for his figure, Libanza, his sister, his son, and his cousin have all the likeness of human beings, but oddly enough their complexion is white instead of black, as you would naturally expect it to be.187

Story of the origin of death: Libanza, the Moon people and the Earth people.

Like many Sky-gods, Libanza is believed to be ultimately: responsible for human mortality. They say that one day he summoned to his presence the people of the moon and the people of the earth. The people of the moon responded promptly to the summons, and were accordingly rewarded by the deity, who addressed them as follows: “Because you have come at once when I called you, you shall never die, or, to speak more correctly, you shall only be dead for two days a month, and that will be to rest; thereafter you shall return more splendid than before”. But when the people of the earth at last arrived, Libanza was angry and he said to them in his wrath, “Because you did not come at once when I called you, you shall die one day and shall not return to life except to come to me”.188 That is the reason why the moon dies once a month and comes to life again after two days, and why men, when they die, do not return, but go, as everybody knows, to Libanza in heaven.

Belief of the Basonge in a Supreme Being called Efile Mokulu.

Oath by Efile Mokulu.

The Basonge, who inhabit a country bordering on the Sankuru River, a southern tributary of the Congo, believe in the existence of a Supreme Being whom they call Efile Mokulu. The same name is applied to the Supreme Being by all the tribes of the great Baluba family, to which the Basonge belong. To Efile Moluku they attribute the creation of the world and of everything in it. After he had created the first man and the first woman, he observed that their progeny multiplied at an alarming rate, and he said, “These folk grow too numerous and too strong. Soon they will be so powerful that they will have the upper hand over me and will do with me what they please.” So he drove them to earth and said, “The earth is too far off for them ever to find their way back. There they will abide all the days of their life, so long as they rejoice in the strength of their thews, and only-their impalpable souls will come to me.” Hence it is that after death the souls of men go to Efile Mokulu and are governed by him; but what they do there, is more than anybody knows. The people offer neither prayers nor sacrifices to him, but they invoke his name in taking an oath. In swearing a solemn oath a man first points to the sky, then he cracks his forefinger against the other fingers of his hand, saying, “This is the truth, this is the truth, this is the truth, and if not, may Efile Moluku kill me on the spot!” This custom of pointing to the sky before taking an oath seems to imply that Efile Moluku is believed to dwell there. Although he drove the living out of his sight, he appears to have retained a certain control over them and to consult their interest, in so far as he punishes murderers by calling their souls to himself and thus causing their death.189

§ 3. The Worship of the Sky in Southern Africa

Belief of the Herero in a great God Ndyambi or Ndyambi karunga.

Prayers to Ndyami Karunga.

Worship of ancestral spirits.

The Herero, a Bantu people of South-west Africa, ‘believe in a great god whom they call Ndyambi or Ndyambi Karunga, Like other Bantu tribes, they look on him as a good God and as the Creator; but they believe that he has retired to the sky and dwells there, leaving the government of the earth in the hands of inferior deities or demons. Questioned by missionaries as to the nature of this divinity, the Herero answered, “We call him Ndyambi Karunga; he is in heaven above and not in the graves: he is a god of blessing; he is angry with nobody and punishes nobody”. Asked why they did not worship him and offer sacrifices to him they replied, “Why should we sacrifice to him? We do not need to fear him, for he does not do us any harm, as do the spirits of our dead (ovakuru)” And if anybody accuses them of having no God, they at once repel the accusation, saying, “No, no! we are not so bad as that. We have Ndyambi Karunga, we also pray to him.” They do so when some unexpected piece of good luck befalls them. Then they stand stock still, look up to heaven and cry, “Ndyambi Karunga!” as if they would say “He loves us!” In general Ndyambi Karunga is looked upon as the preserver of life. When, a man who has been grievously sick recovers, they say, “Ndyambi has made him whole”. When a man has reached a great age, they say, “Ndyambi Karunga has preserved him”; and when such a veteran dies, the expression employed is, “Ndyambi Karunga has called him”. It would seem that Karunga is believed to exercise some influence on the powers of nature. Now and then it is said that the rain comes from him, that his way is in the rolling thunder, and that it is he who hurls the flashes of lightning. In a violent thunderstorm the headman of a house or village may be heard to pray, “Karunga, do not come here, go flash into the animals of the field and into the trees”. They also pray to Karunga in other dangers; when for example lions are prowling around they will pray to Karunga, saying, “See my distress and anguish, and help me. Show that thou art mighty and strong.” And generally in seasons of distress and danger the Herero used to pray to Ndyambi Karunga to avert all manner of evil. Nowadays such prayers are rarely heard. Instead the people prefer to call on the spirits of their ancestors, who, however, can only be invoked at their graves. But if the graves are too far off or for any reason inaccessible, the Herero will even now call to Ndyambi for help. They look on him as a god of love and blessing: the essence of his character is benevolence: the punishment of evil is no part of his function. They believe, indeed, in such punishment, but they think that the powers which inflict it are the spirits of their dead ancestors (ovakuru). It is these spirits accordingly whom they fear, it is they who are apt to be angry and to bring danger and misfortune on men. Hence it is that they render all their worship, not to Ndyambi Karunga, but to the souls of their departed. To win the favour of these formidable beings or to avert their wrath, the Herero offer many sacrifices, not out of love and gratitude, but out of fear and anguish. The real religion of the Herero, like that of so many other Bantu tribes, is the worship of ancestors.190

Belief of the Ovambo in a god Kalunga.

But apparently Kalunga is rather an Earth-god than a Sky-god.

Belief of the Bapindji and Badjok in a god Kalunga.

The Ovambo, another Bantu people of South-west Africa, believe in a god Kalunga, whose name, apart from a difference of dialect, is clearly the same with the Karunga of their neighbours the Herero. They think that Kalunga created the world and men, but their notions about him are vague, and when they are questioned on the subject, their usual answer is, “We do not know”. They neither fear nor worship him; he appears to trouble himself very little about human weal or woe.191 Yet according to another and earlier account the Ovambo regard Kalunga as a good being; like the Herero, they say, “We are kept by Kalunga; Kalunga only kills very bad people”. Moreover, they hold that he gives fertility to the fields, and makes the corn and the beans to grow. However, it would seem that Kalunga is conceived rather as an Earth-god than as a Sky-god. They say that he came forth from the earth to create the ancestors of the Ovambo, the Herero, and the Bushmen. Moreover, he is reported to live in the ground near the chief village, and to appear from time to time to the people in the company of his wife Musisi. On such occasions a voice may be heard commanding a man to sacrifice a black ox. The man obeys and kills an ox on the spot where he heard the voice. Then Kalunga appears to him, strokes him with his hand over the eyes, exhorts him to follow after that which is good, and sends through him a gracious admonition to the king.192 The Bapindji and the Badjok, two tribes in the basin of the Kasai River, a southern tributary of the Congo, recognize a Supreme Being whom they call Kalunga. The Badjok a invoke him in prayer, but little can be learned concerning, him, except that he is supposed to cause the death of old people who die otherwise than by violence.193 Thus a Supreme Being called Karunga or Kalunga is recognized by several widely separated tribes of South-west Africa.

§ 4. The Worship of the Sky in Eastern Africa

The belief in a supreme God who dwells in the sky is general in West and South Africa.

We have now completed our survey of the worship of the sky in Western and Southern Africa. We have seen that many tribes of that vast region believe in the existence of a Supreme God and Creator who lives in the sky, and who, in some cases at least, appears to have been originally a simple personification of the physical firmament. We have seen that, coupled with the belief in the existence of such a deity, is the notion that of old he lived upon earth on terms of intimacy with mankind, but that, as time went on, men offended him in some way, and therefore he quitted the earth and retired to the sky, where for the most part he is now supposed to concern himself very little with human affairs, which he leaves in the hands of his agents, the inferior spirits or demi-gods. The authorities who have reported these beliefs at first hand are practically unanimous in holding that they are of native African origin and not borrowed, directly or indirectly, from Christian teaching.

A similar belief concerning a great Sky-god prevails among the tribes of East Africa; in some of these tribes he bears the same (Nzambi or Nyambe) as in West Africa.

Now similar beliefs concerning the Sky-god and his relations to mankind prevail among the tribes of Eastern Africa, at least from Delagoa Bay on the south to the great lakes and the head waters of the Nile on the north, and in some of these tribes the deity in question is known by the very same name, Nzambi or Nyambe, by which he is designated among many tribes of Western Africa. The resemblance, amounting in some cases almost to identity, of religious belief among tribes which together probably occupy a full half of the great continent of Africa, is certainly remarkable. The problem of its origin is interesting and worthy of serious consideration, but the evidence to hand is insufficient to justify any positive conclusions, and conjectures on the subject, in the present state of our knowledge, would be premature. It is more profitable to study the facts than to speculate on their origin. Accordingly we proceed to survey the beliefs concerning Sky-gods and Supreme Beings among the natives of Eastern Africa, treating of the tribes in a roughly geographical order from south to north. We begin with the Thonga, a Bantu tribe about Delagoa Bay in Portuguese East Africa. Their religious and social system has been very fully and ably described by a Swiss Protestant missionary, Monsieur Henri A. Junod, in two excellent books, from which I will draw in what follows.

Belief of the Thonga in a mysterious power called Tilo who is identified with the sky.

The Thonga believe in a dim mysterious power which they identify with the sky and call by their name for sky, which is tilo. In common speech the word tilo designates the blue sky or heaven, conceived as a place, and especially, it would seem, as a place of rest for the weary. This thought is expressed in a song:

“O I how I should love to plait a string, and go up to Heaven, I would go there to find rest”.194

Tile is thought to regulate certain natural and human phenomena, such as rain, storms and the birth of twins.

But Tilo is more than a place. It is a power which acts and manifests itself in various ways. Sometimes it is called a Lord (hosi); but generally it is regarded as something entirely impersonal. The Thonga appear to think that Heaven regulates and presides over certain great cosmic phenomena to which men are obliged, whether they will or not, to submit. It is especially events of a sudden and unexpected nature which are thus traced to the direction and influence of Heaven. In the sphere of nature they comprise rain and storms; in the sphere of human life they include convulsions and the birth of twins.195 Thus it is Heaven that afflicts children with those terrible and mysterious convulsions which carry them off suddenly. A child in convulsions is said to be “ill from Heaven” (a ni Tilo). But more than that it is Heaven that kills and makes alive. Hence, when somebody has escaped a great danger or is very prosperous, it is often said, “Heaven loved him” (Tilo dji mou randjilé); but if a man has been very unlucky or has died, they say, “Heaven hated him” (Tilo dji mou yalilé).196 But the natives agree that in former times it was more usual than at present to ascribe death to the direct agency of Heaven, which was believed to kill by lightning; nowadays death is more commonly thought to be caused by witchcraft or by the action of the inferior gods.197

The cause of thunder attributed to Heaven (Tilo).

The cause of thunder is attributed by the Thonga either to a mythical bird or, more frequently, to Heaven. The proper expression for “it thunders” is “Heaven roars” (Tilo dji djuma). Native magicians fancy that they can avert a thunderstorm by blowing on an enchanted flute which contains a magical stuff supposed to be extracted from the mythical thunder-bird. When he sees a thunderstorm approaching the magician ascends a hill, blows his flute, and shouts, “You Heaven, go farther! I have nothing against you, I do not fight against you.” He may add in a threatening tone, “If you are sent by my enemies against me, I will cut you open with this knife of mine”.198 In this case Heaven seems to be clearly conceived of as a personal being who can be intimidated with threats and cut to pieces with a knife.

Twins closely associated with Heaven (Tilo) and rain: they are called “Children of Heaven”.

Again, in the minds of the Thonga twins are closely associated with Heaven and rain. The mother of twins is called Heaven (Tilo), and the twins are called “Children of Heaven” (Bana ba Tilo).199 The mother is said to have made Heaven (a hambi Tilo), to have carried Heaven (a rwi Tilo), to have ascended to Heaven (a khandjiyi Tilo). The day after twins have been born, nobody tills the ground, because they fear that, if they did so, they would prevent the rain from falling.200 In time of drought a mother of twins must lead a procession of women, who draw water and pour it on the graves of twins in order to ensure the fall of rain. And if a twin should have been buried in dry ground, the women will dig up the body and bury it again near a river; or if they do not dig it up, they will at least go in procession and pour water on the grave. This is supposed to act on Heaven, which is killing the earth by the terrible heat of the sun. Soon after the burning wind will cease to blow, and rain will fall.201

Twins appealed to for help in thunder storms.

The connexion between twins and Heaven appears in relation to thunderstorms as well as to rain. When lightning threatens a village, people say to a twin, “Help us. You are a child of Heaven, you can therefore cope with Heaven, it will hear you when you speak.” So the child goes out of the hut and prays to Heaven in these words: “Go away! Do not annoy us! We are afraid. Go and roar far away!” When the thunderstorm is over, the child is thanked for its service. The mother of twins can similarly dispel a storm of thunder and lightning, for has she not ascended to Heaven?.202

The Ba-Ila of Northern Rhodesia believe in a Supreme Being named Leza, who lives in the sky.

The Ba-Ila or Ila-speaking tribes are a Bantu people of Northern Rhodesia in the valley of the Kafue River, which is a northern tributary of the Zambesi. They believe in the existence of a Supreme Being named Leza, who made men and all things and inhabits the sky. They apply to him several epithets, such as Creator (Chilenga or Namulenga), Moulder and Constructor (Shakapanga), with reference to his creative power. Again he is spoken of as “The Eternal One”, and in relation to men as “The Guardian”, and “The Giver”. One of his titles means, “Master, Owner of his things”, because he is believed to be not only the master, but the owner of all, and the ordainer of the fate of all. Such titles are commonly applied to Leza; they are in no sense esoteric, but may be heard on the lips of anybody.203

Leza gives rain and is identified with it.

Leza associated with other natural phenomena, such as thunder, lightning, and wind.

Another name given to Leza is “The Faller”, with reference to the fall of rain. For of all the functions discharged by Leza, that of bestowing rain on the earth is apparently the most important. Hence in popular speech Leza is identified with the rain and with its common accompaniments, thunder and lightning. Instead of saying, “It rains”, they say, “Leza falls”; instead of saying, “It lightens”, they say, “Leza is fierce”; instead of saying, “It thunders”, they say, “Leza is making the reverberating sound, ndi-ndi-ndi, or “Leza is beating his rugs”. A thing struck by lightning is said to be “split by Leza”. And they identify, or at least associate, Leza with other atmospheric phenomena. Thus the rainbow is called “Leza's bow”; when the weather is very hot, they say, “Leza is very hot”; when a wind is blowing they say, “Leza blows”,204 Thus to the thinking of the natives Leza is the rain, Leza is the thunder, Leza is the lightning, Leza is the heat, Leza is the wind. In short, Leza is the sky and what comes from it. His identification with the rain is particularly striking, because the people have the common Bantu word for rain (imvula), yet they always speak of the rain as Leza in the regular expression, “Leza falls”, that is, “rain falls”. Thus the analogy between this African Sky-god and the great Aryan Sky-god, of whom Zeus is the most familiar type, appears to be complete.205

Leza, like Zeus, thought of as the beneficent giver of rain.

And the natural conditions which have favoured the development of such a conception are not dissimilar in the two countries. Just as in Greece the long summer is almost rainless, so is the winter season in the tropical climate of Northern Rhodesia. There not a drop of rain falls from the end of March till the end of October. The small rivers either disappear entirely or shrivel up into shallow pools. As winter passes and the sultry month of August comes in, the sun's power waxes day by day, until in the weeks that precede the rains the heat becomes almost unbearable. Then a wonderful, an impressive change comes over the landscape. In the azure heaven the dark clouds gather, the wind suddenly veers round to the west, and a great storm bursts, sweeping over the country and heralding the approach of the rainy season. The transformation of the scene is magical. A day or two after the storm has rolled away, and the thunder has ceased to peal, the lightning to flash, and the torrential rain to fall, nature wears a new, a fresher, greener aspect. Millions of tiny seedlings are pushing their way through the late parched and thirsty soil. The people have hoed their fields and are now busy planting them. For months, it may be, food has been scarce; and the coming of the rain has been anticipated with eagerness and anxiety. Should it be delayed or the fall be scanty, the disappointment is deep, the outlook is gloomy. When a native speaks of Leza, this African Zeus, as “The Compassionate”, “The Kindly One”, he is thinking of an abundant rainfall with all its blessed consequences for mankind.206

Leza conceived as a moral being a lawgiver.

These last epithets imply that Leza is not a simple personification of natural forces, but a moral being, a personal god. He stands in some relationship to men; he is their god, not merely a Sky-god; he is believed to have established many customs, and to punish any breach of them; certain laws or regulations are called, “God's prohibitions”.207 People swear by Leza and invoke him as a witness to the truth of a solemn asseveration, as for example, “Before God (Leza) I did not steal”.208 In short, the Ba-Ila have risen to the conception of a great and powerful being, who is closely related to the phenomena of the sky, but who at the same time is the maker of all things and the guardian of men. Yet they are far from conceiving of Leza as a purely benevolent being. He is indeed over all; as the canopy of the sky he “covers us”, to adopt their expression, but this is not altogether a comfort. For the most part the natives regard him as an all-powerful Fate, to whom they trace much of the evil and sorrow of life. A man who is bereft of his children is spoken of as “one upon whom Leza has looked”, as if there was death in the mere look of the Sky-god.209

Leza quite distinct from the worshipful ghosts.

But whatever his character, Leza is entirely distinct from the worshipful ghosts (mizhimo), who once were living men, and who now are revered as the divinities of their descendants. Nobody suggests that Leza was ever a man, nor is he ever spoken of as a worshipful ghost. He stands in a class by himself. It is true that legends assign to him a wife and a family, but that does not imply his original humanity. The ancestral ghosts (mizhimo) are near to men; they are of the same nature, they know human life from the inside, they understand the wants of men, for they have been men themselves. But it is not so with Leza; he is far off and takes little or no cognizance of the affairs of individuals.210

The worship of Leza distinct from the worship of ancestral ghosts.

Hence there is a difference between the worship of Leza and the worship of the ancestral ghosts. While it is necessary to invoke the help of the ghosts and to propitiate them with offerings, many tribes who acknowledge the existence of Leza do not pray to him at all; they think him too far away, too indolent to heed the petty affairs of mankind. But the Ba-Ila do not adopt this view of the purely apathetic and nonchalant character of Leza. They seek to come into relationship with him. They look upon the ancestral ghosts as mediators between Leza and themselves, but on occasion they address him directly. They say that “his ears are long”, meaning that he can hear even words whispered in secret. But he has not, like the great ghosts, any mouthpiece or prophet who periodically summons the people to sacrifice to him. Generally speaking, it is only on occasions of special need, when the help of lesser beings has proved of no avail, that the natives fall back on Leza as their last hope.211

Prayers to Leza for rain.

As might be expected in the case of a god of the sky and the rain, it is especially in seasons of drought that the help of Leza is earnestly besought. Then the people chant invocations to him, addressing him by his laudatory names. One such refrain runs thus:

Come to us with a continued rain, O Leza, fall!

The prayers for rain are put up by the people in one or more hunts specially built for the purpose. But as the Ba-Ila, like many other people, distrust the unassisted efficacy of prayer, they have recourse to magic to reinforce their supplications, and to extort rain from the sky. Accordingly the services of a rain-maker are called in, and he performs a ceremony with water and smoke, which, by imitating clouds and rain, is supposed, on the principles of homoeopathic magic, to produce or to assist in producing the desired result.212 This combination of magic and religion is characteristic of mankind in all ages and in all countries; the theoretical opposition of magic and religion presents no obstacle to their simultaneous application in practice.

Prayers of hunters to Leza for success in the chase.

Again, when a party of hunters have been out in the forest for many days and have had no luck, they build a shed, and if there is a diviner among them, they inquire of him what divinity it is that keeps them from killing game. If the diviner discovers that it is Leza himself who is to blame, he says to them, “Let us go out of the shed and sweep a clear space outside”. They do so, and then with all their things they assemble at that clear space. The eldest man takes his place in the middle, and with the others sitting in a ring around him, he prays, saying, “O Eternal One, if it be Thou that keepest us from killing animals, why is it? We pray Thee, let us kill to-day before the set of sun.” When he has finished praying, all the rest fall to the ground and cry, “O Chief, to-day let us kill”. Then they break up and go to the shed to rest a while. Late in the afternoon they separate and hunt. If one of them kills an animal, he calls his fellows, and they clap their hands. One cuts off bits of meat from the quarry and makes an offering, throwing a piece in the air and saying, “I thank Thee for the meat which Thou givest me. To-day Thou hast stood by me.” They clap their hands. Then they take the meat to the space cleared for Leza. The oldest man arises, cuts off bits of meat and makes an offering, saying, “Chief, here is some of the meat Thou has given us. We are very grateful.” Then he throws the morsels of meat into the air, and offers again between the horns of the beast. Lastly they utter a shrill greeting and divide the meat. They say, “Who gave us the meat? It was Leza who gave it to us, not a divinity,” that is, it was not given by one of the ancestral ghosts (mizhimo), who are the ordinary divinities of the people.213

Prayers to Leza to heal the sick.

Again, in sickness, when prayers to the ancestral ghosts have proved unavailing, people will pray directly to Leza himself. In that case the head of the household fills a vessel with water and meal, pours some of the liquid on the ground at the right side of the threshold, and prays thus: “Leza, I pray Thee, if it be Thou who hast made our brother sick, leave him alone, that Thy slave may go about by himself. Was it not Thou who createdst him on the earth and said he should walk and trust Thee?. Leave Thy child, that he may trust thee, Eternal One! We pray to Thee–Thou art the great Chief!” He then fills his mouth with water and squirts some out as an offering.214

Prayers of travellers to Leza.

Further, when a man is travelling and arrives at a river, he sometimes takes the opportunity of offering a sacrifice to Leza. Filling his mouth with water, he squirts some of it on the ground and says this, or something like it: “It is Thou who leadest me. Now may I return with Thy prosperity from the place whither I am going, O Leza! Go on shepherding me well, my Master!”215

Prayers of fishermen to Leza.

Offerings to Leza after killing an elephant.

Again, among the Balumbu, one of the Ila-speaking tribes, when a party of fishermen are about to set a trap in the river, the doctor or magician, whose business it is to draw fish to their doom, wades into the water, fills his mouth with magical stuff, and spits it all around. Then he prays, saying, “We are humble before thee. Make good, O Leza, and give to us crocodiles and many fish!” If a crocodile chances to be caught in the trap, where it flounders and splashes about, it is looked upon as a happy omen; for where there is a crocodile, there the natives expect to find many fish.216 Again, when hunters have killed an elephant and returned to the village, the occasion is celebrated by a great feast. But before the people partake of the good cheer set out for them, they present offerings to Leza, to the ancestral spirits, and to the ghost of the deceased elephant, who is supposed to have followed his slayers back to the village. They pray, also, to the ghost, saying, “O Spirit, have you no brothers and fathers who will come to be killed? Go and fetch them.” So the ghost of the elephant goes away and rejoins the other elephants, where he acts in the capacity of spiritual guardian, not to say, of decoy, to his successor in the herd. In this excellent frame of mind the ghost is presumably confirmed by the Sky-god Leza in return for the offering which he has received from the people.217

Leza, his wife, and his mother-in-law: story of the Origin of Death.

Perhaps an annual succession of terns.

Leza is not conceived of as a solitary being. According to one account, he had a wife and a family of five children, three sons and two daughters, likewise a mother and even a mother-in-law. When his mother died, he intended that she should come to life again, and he told his wife so. But she said, “No, let her die, she has eaten all my beans in the field”. The argument was conclusive, and Leza acquiesced in the mortality of his mother. Five months later his mother-in-law died also, and his wife asked that she might rise from the dead. But the prospect of his mother-in-law returning to life was far from agreeable to the Supreme Being, and he repelled the idea with natural indignation. “She return!” cried he, “and my mother already rotten!” The wife said, “Do you refuse, husband?” He replied, “Yes, I do refuse, for when my mother died you refused”. So his wife had to put up with it, and said, “Let her die then. This is the great death.” That is how death began in the world. It is all owing to the greed of Leza's wife, who prevented the resurrection of her mother-in-law. Thereupon, Leza spoke to the people whom he had sent down to earth. He said, “I also shall die. And when my heir begins to weep, I shall descend to you and burn houses. Because here aloft my relation is dead, I shall kill you on earth.” So he sent down diseases and also medicines to cure them. Said he: “I give you both: when a person is sick, doctor him. If I will that he live, he will live; if I will that he die, he will die.” And having given Death to mankind, he also gave them a birth-medicine, that the race should not die out218 In this account of the Origin of Death the descent of Leza to earth and the burning of houses by him refer to the fall of rain and the destruction of dwellings by lightning. The reference to the death of Leza appears to imply that at the end of a rainy; season the Sky-god dies, and that at the next rainy season his heir succeeds to his place and weeps for his predecessor in the falling rain.219 If this inference is correct, we seem obliged to suppose that, in the opinion of some at least of the Ba-lla, there is not a single immortal Leza, but an endless succession of them, who die and are mourned for every year, like the annual death and laments for Thammuz, Adonis, and Osiris in classical antiquity.

The great mourning for Mwana Leza, the son of the Sky-god.

Some confirmation of this conclusion is perhaps furnished by a native story which presents a curious analogy to Plutarch's famous tale of the death of the Great Pan. In the year 1906 the Ba-lla were found to be mourning for the death of Mwana Leza, that is the Son of the Sky-god. It appeared that a certain man living somewhere in the north was one day out hunting. He had wounded a warthog and was following it. As he went through the open country, there appeared before him something bright and dazzling that reached from earth to heaven. The man fell to the earth like one dead. Then he heard a voice saying, “Hast thou not heard that it is forbidden to eat the flesh of wart-hog? Stop following the tracks, and tell people that if they persist in eating that flesh there will be trouble. And—stay! Why is it that you people on earth have never lamented the death of Mwana Leza who died so many years ago? Bid them weep.” The man presently returned to his senses, and made his way home. He told the people what he had seen and heard, but they only laughed at him. A few days afterwards two people died very mysteriously in the village. That was enough to set them mourning. The deaths were accepted as a sign. “Leza is angry with us,” said they, “come, let us weep”. So they began to mourn as for a friend. Moreover, they sent messages to the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages, and they in turn passed on the message to more, distant villages, until in a short time the people all over the country were mourning for the death of the Son of the Sky-god. In some places, perhaps in most, the matter was regarded in a most serious light. The people would gather outside the village, where the elders would solemnly warn them, that there must be no joking or playing. For more than a week the mourning would be carried out and the ashes from all the fires collected and placed in a heap outside the village. Then a pole would be set up by the heap in token that they had obeyed Leza's command to mourn the death of his Son. So the Sky-god would pass by them and not blast their village with lightning.220

The son of the Sky-god said to have been killed by men.

According to another account Mwana Leza, the Son of the Sky-god, came down long ago in the country of Lusaka; he was kind and gentle and went about telling people to cease fighting. But they killed him at Chongo. His spirit now enters into many prophetesses, who foretell events and urge people to live at peace with each other and to shed blood no more.221

Smith and Dale on the story of Mwana Leza.

In the opinion of Messrs. Smith and Dale, to whom we owe a most valuable account of the Ba-lla, the story of Mwana Leza is not a mere corruption of missionary teaching. In the district where they first heard of it there were then no missionaries, nor were there any in the northern district where the hunter saw the vision, nor in the districts of Lusaka and Chongo, where the Son of the Sky-god is said to have descended from heaven and to have been put to death. Moreover, there is every sign, they tell us, that the story is much older than the advent of missionaries among the Ba-lla. Mwana Leza is a personage who figures in the folk-tales. Messrs Smith and Dale incline to think that the story is an offshoot of Christian teaching grafted upon an old native idea, and that while the tale may possibly have come to the Ba-Ila through other tribes from the preaching of Dr. Livingstone, it has more probably filtered through from the old Jesuit missions in Portuguese East or West Africa.222 If they are right, the old native idea on which the Christian teaching has been grafted might still be the conception of a Sky-god who dies every year and whose death is annually mourned at the beginning of the rainy season. What more natural than to take the dark rain-clouds for mourners weeping the death or the disappearance of the radiant God, whose azure image they have blotted out?

Story of the Origin of Death: Leza the chameleon, and the hare.

Be that as it may, the Sky-god Leza, like many other African Sky-gods, is associated with a story of the Origin of Death which in all probability is very ancient, since, with minor variations, it occurs in the traditionary lore of many African tribes scattered at immense distances from each other over the continent. The lla version of the story runs as follows. The Sky-god Leza sent Chameleon to men with the message, “Go and tell men that they shall die and pass away for ever”. So Chameleon set out on his journey, but he travelled very slowly and often rested by the way. When God saw that Chameleon loitered, he sent Hare to men with another message, saying, “Tell them that they shall die and return”. On his arrival Hare announced to the people, “You shall die and return”. But Chameleon contradicted him, saying, “No, that is not what God sent us to say. He sent us, saying, ‘They shall die and pass away for ever’”. But Hare would not have it so. He stuck to it that God had said, “They shall return”. Thereupon he went back to God in anger and said, “Yon person whom you sent has told men that they will pass away for ever”. “All right”, said the deity, “let it be so as he has told them”. That is the reason why men are mortal to this day.223

Another version of the story.

In another lla version of the tale the parts of the Chameleon and the Hare are reversed God sent Hare to men, saying, “Go and take a message of death to men. You go also, Chameleon, and take a message of life.” The Hare arrived first and announced, “Men shall die and pass away for ever”. After he had delivered this message, up came Chameleon and said, “Men shall die and shall return”. But it was too late: the doom of men was sealed.224

We have seen that stories of the Origin of Death, conforming to the same type of the Two Messengers, are commonly found among African tribes and always in association with the Supreme Being or Sky-god.225

Belief of the Ba-Kaonde in a great Sky-god called Lesa.

The Ba-Kaonde are a Bantu people inhabiting the Kasempa district of Northern Rhodesia. They immediately adjoin the Ba-Ila, who occupy the land to the south-east of them. The Ba-Kaonde believe in the existence and power of a great Sky-god called Lesa, who in name and character appears to be substantially identical with the Leza of the Ba-Ila. They believe that Lesa created the first man and woman, and that he lives in the sky and manifests himself by thunder, lightning, rain, and the rainbow. He kills people not only by lightning but by sickness, accident, and so on. What we call natural deaths are sometimes supposed to be caused by him, but epidemics are more commonly viewed as his handiwork. He is married to a wife named Chandashi, who lives in the ground and manifests herself by earth tremors, which are common in the country but apparently do little damage. A native declared that he knew the tremors were produced by a woman, “because she makes a lot of fuss and does nothing”.226

Lesa appealed for rain.

The only occasion when the Ba-Kaonde appeal and pray to Lesa is when they want rain, for they believe that rain is a gift of Lesa. There are no professional rainmakers in the tribe, but if the rainy season advances without rain falling the people pray directly to Lesa to send the needed showers, without which famine would ensue. Early in the morning of the day appointed a tall white pole is set up on the outskirts of the village, and all the people gather there, men, women, and children. The headman sits in the middle, near the pole, and the people sit in a circle round about him. Then he prays, “Thou God (Lesa), we are all thy people. Send us rain!” At that all the people clap their hands and then return to the village. The pole is allowed to stand till it falls through the ravages of white ants or other causes, and when it falls it is left to rot where it lies.227

Oaths by Lesa

One of the names applied to Lesa by the Ba-Kaonde is Shyakapanga, which seems to correspond to the Shakapanga (“the Constructor”) of the Ba-Ila.228 Under this name the Ba-Kaonde swear by Lesa, saying, “May Shyakapanga kill me!”229

Lesa created the first man and woman.

How Death. Sickness, and Beasts of Prey were let loose in the world through the fault of the honey-guide bird.

Lesa created the first man and the first woman; the name of the man was Mulonga, and the name of the woman was Mwinambuzhi. Now the honey-guide bird was a friend of the man and the woman, and Lesa called the bird and gave him three gourds, all of which were closed at both ends. “Go, take these”, he said, “to the man and woman whom I have created, and open them not on the way. When you hand them to the people, say unto them, ‘Thus saith Lesa: Open this one and that one which contain seeds for sowing, so that you may have food to eat; but the third one ye shall not open until I come. When I come I will instruct you as to the contents of the third package’”. The honey-guide bird took the gourds and went on his way, but, his curiosity getting the better of him, he disobeyed the Creator and stopped to open them. In the first two gourds he found seeds of corn, of beans, and of other food-crops, and having examined them he put them back in the gourds, and closed the gourds as they had been before. He then untied the third gourd. But in it, alas! were Death, and Sickness, and all kinds of beasts of prey, and deadly reptiles. These all escaped from the gourd, and the honey-guide bird could not catch them. Then up came Lesa, and very angry was he, to be sure. He asked the bird where were the things that had escaped from the gourds, but the crestfallen bird could only reply that he did not know. So Lesa and he went in search of them, and sure enough they found the lion in his den, the snake in his lair, and so on with the rest of the noxious creatures, but to catch them and put them back in the gourd was beyond the power of Lesa and the honey-guide bird. Then Lesa said sternly to the bird, “Thou hast sinned greatly, and the guilt is thine”. That frightened the bird, and he flew away into the forest and dwelt there, and he lived no longer with man. But whenever he hungered, he would come back to his old friends, the man and the woman, and call them to some honey which he had found; and guided by him they would take the honey and leave a little on the ground for him. Thus it was that death, sickness, and fear came to man. The painful situation was explained by the Creator with perfect frankness to the man and his wife. He justly laid all the blame on the honey-guide bird. “That bird”, said he, “is a great sinner. I told him that on no account was the third gourd to be opened until I came; but he disobeyed me. Thereby he has brought you much trouble sickness, and death, not to mention the risks from lions, leopards, snakes, and other evil animals and reptiles. This I cannot help now, for these things have escaped and cannot be caught; so you must build yourselves huts and shelters to live in for protection from them.”230

The art of making fire imparted by the Creator.

Few persons, probably, will be disposed to doubt that this frank and lucid explanation entirely exonerates the Creator from all blame in the momentous transaction. To alleviate, as far as lay in his power, the disastrous effects of the honey-guide bird's ill-advised curiosity, he kindly taught men to make fire by rubbing one stick on another; more than that he instructed them in the art of smelting iron and of fashioning axes, hoes, and hammers.231

Belief of the Alunda in a Creator-god called Nzambi.

Among the Alunda, another Bantu tribe of Northern Rhodesia, whose territory adjoins that of the Ba-Kaonde on the north-west, the name of the Creator-god is not Lesa or Leza, but Nzambi, which, as we have seen, is the usual name of the deity throughout the valley of the Congo232. The Alunda believe that Nzambi is remote from mankind and inaccessible to them. Apart from the act of creation, his influence on human affairs is deemed to be indirect and negligible; he is obscured by the vast crowd of tribal spirits who interfere directly in every phase of life on earth. Yet he is said to be the creator of all things, of vegetables and minerals as well as of animals; he also made all spiritual beings. “It is his business to make spirits in the tribal sense, hut not in the family sense, except indirectly”. He is somewhat of a tribal deity, and the ancestor of the family spirits (akishi) is supposed to have been made by him. His name is constantly used in oaths, “Nzambi yami!” that is “My God!” both seriously and profanely; and in legal cases it is usual to swear to the truth of a statement by the name of Nzambi. Yet no prayers are offered to him, and he is not an object of worship. Indeed, he is hardly treated with reverence; for many jokes are cracked at his expense, and he is taunted with his stupidity in sending rain when it is not wanted, and so forth. Unlike the Ba-Kaonde, the Alunda do not pray to Nzambi for rain. But on the other hand they do pray for rain to the family spirits (akishi), that is, to dead ancestors, for these powerful beings are supposed to be able to turn on the celestial water-taps at certain seasons.233

How Nzambi created man and woman.

Story of the Origin of Death.

It is said that in the twilight of antiquity Nzambi slid down to earth on a rainbow, and finding the earth a pleasant place he improved it by creating animals, trees, and so forth. Afterwards he created a man and a woman, and said to them, “Marry and beget children!” He also put spirits (akishi) into their bodies. He laid only a single prohibition on mankind, and it was this, that none might sleep while the moon walked the skies, and the penalty for transgression of this command was to be Death. Well, when the first man grew old and his sight failed, it chanced one night that the moon was veiled behind clouds, and with his dim eyes the old man did not see her silvery light. So he slept, and sleeping died. Since then everybody has died because nobody can keep awake while the moon is up.234

Leza or Lesa the commoner name of the Sky-god in this part of Africa.

But while among the Alunda the Sky-god bears the name of Nzambi, his more usual appellation among the tribes of this region would seem to be Leza or Lesa, which is said to be applied to him from the Kasai River in the basin of the Congo on the west to Lake Nyasa on the east,235 and from Lake Tanganyika on the north to the Zambesi River on the south.236

Names of the Sky god on the Upper Zambesi.

Belief of the Barotse in a powerful God and Creator called Niambe.

Alarmed at the cunning of mankind, Niambe retreated to heaven.

Prayers and sacrifices to Niambe.

Among the Bantu tribes of the Upper Zambesi the name for the Supreme Being or Sky-god varies; the names which appear to be most frequently applied to him are Leza and Nyambe (Niambe).237 Thus among the Ba-Rotse or Ma-Rotse, who occupy a vast region traversed by the upper waters of the Zambesi almost from its source to a point beyond the great Victoria Falls, there is reported to exist the belief in an all-powerful god, the creator of the universe, to whom they give the name of Niambe. To him as the great cause they ascribe everything that happens, whether good or evil; nothing can be done against his will. He is personified by the sun; yet the Ba-Rotse insist that the sun is not Niambe himself, but only his dwelling-place. The moon is his wife, and from their union sprang the world, the animals, and last of all man. But the cunning, the intelligence, and the audacity of man frightened his Creator. Having made himself spears, man went about killing the animals. At first the benevolent Niambe restored the dead creatures to life; but as man persisted in slaughtering them, Niambe was so much alarmed that he took refuge in heaven, to which he mounted up on a spider's web. From that coign of vantage he is able, at his pleasure, either to benefit or to injure mankind; that is why people pray to him, and sometimes offer him sacrifices. Thus in the morning, the worshipper of Niambe will make a little heap of sand and set a vessel full of water on the top of it; then when the sun appears on the horizon, the devotee will give the royal salute, raising his arms several times to the sky and crying “Yo cho! Yo cho!” After that, he falls on his knees and claps his hands. The water is offered to the god for his use in his journey across the sky; for it is natural to suppose that in the heat of the day the deity will be thirsty. Another reason for offering it to the rising sun is that every thing good comes from the east, whereas everything bad comes from the west. In a long drought the people sacrifice to Niambe a black ox as a symbol of the black rain-clouds which they wish to see lowering overhead. Again, the women invoke Niambe before they sow their fields. At such times they gather all their hoes and the seed in a heap, and standing in a circle round the heap they address their prayers to the deity, beseeching him that he would be pleased to make their labour fruitful. In case of sickness, also, people consult a diviner, who ascertains the will of Niambe by means of his divining bones, and on receipt of a fee consents to heal the patient.238

The sun worshipped by the Barotse as the symbol of the great unseen God Niambe.

Speaking of the Barotse and neighbouring tribes, an explorer towards the end of the nineteenth century observed: “These Upper Zambezi natives, like the Masarkwas and many other African tribes, worship the sun as the visible sign of a great unseen God, and have been described to me by a missionary as a very religious people. On the eve of battle they petition their deity; prior to starting on a hunting expedition they pray for success; and when they plant their gardens they ask for the blessings of Niambe the (God), though it must be confessed they seem to busy themselves much more in their endeavours to propitiate the evil spirits to whose malice they attribute all deaths as well as the troubles and misfortunes of this mortal life. In obeisance to the sun they kneel on the ground and lower the body until the forehead rests on the earth.239

But the Barotse pay their devotions chiefly to the spirits of their dead kings.

The tombs of the kings.

Yet though the Barotse recognize Niambe as the Supreme God, it is not to him, but to the inferior deities that they most frequently address their petitions. These lesser gods, to whom the people commonly turn in their distress, are the spirits of their dead kings, who have been raised to the rank of divinities (ditino). Their tombs are carefully kept up, and it is to them that the worshippers resort in time of need to consult the royal ghosts.240 The tomb of such a deified king is always in the neighbourhood of the village which he inhabited in life. It regularly stands in a grove of beautiful trees, which is surrounded by a lofty palisade. The whole enclosure is sacred. No one may enter it except the guardian of the tomb, who is at the same time a sort of priest, for he acts as intermediary between the ghost of the dead king and the suppliants who come to implore his aid or ask his advice.241 The range of these deified spirits is limited, for they are strictly attached to their tombs. They have no relation to Niambe, who dwells in the sky and can be invoked anywhere, since his abode is in the sun. He is the Supreme God, but the people know very little about him. Hence they prefer to address themselves to the local divinities, who were historical personages, national heroes, whose deeds are commemorated in legend. These mighty beings, now dowered with immortality, are alone in a position to succour or to punish mortals. Their tombs, scattered over the country, keep their names fresh in the memory of the people, who can name their deceased monarchs for ten generations back.242

Belief of the Louyi in a god Nyambe, who now dwells in the sky.

The Louyi, another tribe of the Upper Zambesi, tell similar stories about Nyambe (Niambe). They say that he formerly lived on earth with his wife Nasilele, but that he ultimately retired to the sky for fear of men. For whenever he carved one piece of wood, men were sure to carve another; for example, if the deity whipped out his knife and cut a plate, men took their knives and cut out just such another. This was more than the deity could bear; so he mounted on a spider's web to heaven. They say, indeed, that originally he had fallen down from heaven to earth.243

Stories of the Origin of Death; Nyambe, his dog and his mother-in-law.

Story of the Two Messengers, the chameleon and the hare.

Be that as it may, the Louyi, like many other African tribes, attribute the origin of human mortality to the action of their Sky-god. They say that it fell out in this way. Nyambe's dog died, and Nyambe said, “Let my dog live”. But his wife objected to the proposal on the ground that the dog was a thief. Nyambe pleaded for the animal, saying, “For my part, I love my dog”. But his wife was inexorable. “Cast him out” she said peremptorily. So together they heaved him out. After that it happened that the deity's mother-in-law departed this vale of tears. Her daughter, the wife of the deity, said to her divine husband, “Let her come to life again”. But the deity would not hear of it “By no manner of means”, he replied, “let her die and be done with it I told you that my dog ought to come to life again and you refused; well, it is my will that your mother die once for all.” The story is apparently told to account for the origin of human mortality; but for the same purpose the Louyi tell another tale which conforms to the common type of the Two Messengers. They say that Nyambe and his wife sent the chameleon and the hare to bear messages to men. They told the chameleon to say to men, “Ye shall live”; and they told the hare to say to them, “Ye shall die for good and all”. So off the two animals went to deliver their respective messages. But the chameleon kept returning on his footsteps, whereas the hare ran straight on. So he arrived before the chameleon and announced to men that they were to die for good and all. After he had delivered his message he returned. And still, when men die, they die for good and all, as the hare told them to do.244

How men tried to climb up to heaven and kill Nyambe: an African Tower of Babel.

The Louyi say that when Nyambe had climbed up to the sky on the spider's web, he said to men, “Worship me” But, far from complying with this command, men said one to the other, “Let us kill Nyambe”. To carry out this nefarious design, they planted tall poles in the earth, and tied other poles to the tops of them, and so on to a great height. Then they swarmed up the poles, intending to beard Nyambe in heaven and murder him. But before they reached the sky, the poles tumbled down, and the men fell down with them and perished.245

Nyambe identified with the Sun by the Louyi.

The Louyi allege that Nyambe is the sun. When the sun rises, they say, “Behold our king, he has appeared!” They worship him saying, “Mangwe! Mangwe! Mangwe! our King!”246 Here accordingly the conception of the Sky god appears to approach, if not to merge into, the conception of the god of the Sun. We have seen that in the religion of the Barotse the Sky-god is closely associated with the sun, and the same union or confusion of the Sky-god with the Sun-god with meet us in other tribes of Eastern Africa.

The Sky-god called Leza by the Soubiya.

The Soubiya, another tribe of the Upper Zambesi, tell similar tales of the Sky-god, but they call him Leza instead of Nyambe. They say that originally Leza was a very strong man who lived on earth. When he was in his hut (khotla?), it was as if the sun were sitting there. So men stood in great fear of him. One day Leza ascended to the sky. They say that he spun a very long spider's web and climbed up it to heaven. Some other people tried to climb up the spider's web after him, but they could not manage it, and they fell to the ground. Then they said, “Let us put out the spider's eyes”. So they caught the spider and put out its eyes. That is why the spider has been blind ever since; at least the Soubiya believe that the spider is blind.247

An African Tower of Babel.

Sacred trees in the worship of Leza.

Afterwards men erected a very tall scaffold and said, “Let us go to heaven”. But they did not succeed, they tumbled down, and gave up the attempt for fear of being dashed to pieces. Aforetime men had dwelt with Leza under a great tree, one of the trees which the people call ibozu. Such trees are usually solitary; one of them is commonly to be found near a village. They are all sacred, and the natives deposit their offerings, under their shadow. Well, it was beneath one of these holy trees that the Soubiya dwelt of old with Leza. It was there that they performed the offices of religion, because they said that their chief lived there. They brought sheep and goats in great numbers to the tree, that Leza might have food to eat. One day Leza met a man under the tree and said to him, “Where do you come from?” The man answered, “I am bringing your goats”. Leza said to him, “Return to your village and say: Thus saith Leza, when ye shall see a great dust, then shall ye know that it is Leza”. The man returned to his village and spoke as he had been commanded. One day the people saw a great dust: it was Leza. A hurricane blew: they knew that it was Leza. They gathered and sat down in the public place. Leza came and took up his post in a tree. The people heard him speak as follows: “It is I, Leza; ye shall see me no more on earth”. They looked up, but they could not see him. Even a man who asked Leza for snuff could not see him; all he saw was his snuffbox. Leza spoke to them thus, saying, “Worship my house”, and by his house he meant the sacred tree (ibozu) under which he had dwelt of old in the midst of his people.248

Leza his wife, and son.

They say that Leza has a wife in the sky, to which he ascended. They say also that he has a son. It is reported that Leza in his wrath would have killed all the men on earth, if his wife had not dissuaded him. He gave ear to her advice and relinquished his project of a general massacre. Another day it was his wife who, in her anger, would have slain the women, if her husband in his turn had not objected to the sanguinary proposal. Another day it was their son who thirsted for the blood of the children, his companions. But his father and mother were angry with him for his bloody purpose, and they beat him with rods, so that he wept. To this day, when men see stars shooting down from the sky, they utter cries and say that it is Leza, their chief, coming to examine his children who remain here on earth. They affirm that they were not created by Leza, but that they fell from a dry and withered tree.249

The worship of Leza.

Leza said to a certain woman, “Thou shalt be the mother of all men. Thou shalt die, and then they will worship at thy tomb.” To this day, when they worship Leza, they bring red beads and say that Leza, their chief, hears them. They set up little tables on the spot where they worship him. When they worship him they clap their hands and say, “We worship thee, O our chief, hear us. Thou art the great chief who givest with both hands.” When they worship thus, they bend their heads to the earth and lift their hands towards the sky. And when they have finished their supplications they return home, but only to come back and repeat their prayers, their obeisances, and the stretching out of their hands to heaven on the next occasion.250

Story of the Origin of Death: a man, his dog, and his mother-in-law.

The Soubiya explain the origin of human mortality by stories like those which the Louyi tell on the same profound subject.251 One of the stories is that of a man, his dog, and his mother-in-law; for in the Soubiya version the story is told, not of the Supreme God, but of an ordinary man, whose name is not recorded. In the Soubiya version the man shows himself less hard than Nyambe in the matter of his deceased mother-in-law; for when she died he made a successful attempt to bring her back to life, though when his dog had died his unfeeling wife had positively refused to let him resuscitate the animal. What happened was this. When his mother-in-law died, he at first would not hear of her resurrection; but at last, yielding to the entreaties of her daughter, his wife, he said, “Bring her into the hut”. So they brought her in; and when they had done so, the man went in search of a medicine which restores the dead to life. This he brought, and having cooked it, he gave it to the dead woman to eat. When she had done masticating it, she revived and sat up, looking very fat. Then the man went out of the hut and said to his wife, “Don't open the door of that hut. If you do, your mother will die again.” His wife said, “All right”. So he shut the door behind him and went away to dig up another medicine. But scarcely was his back turned when his wife opened the door of the hut, and there sure enough she saw her mother sitting up in the middle of the hut. But when her mother saw her, the heart went out of her, and she died for the second time.

When the husband came back with the medicine he found his mother-in-law dead again. He asked his wife, “Did you open the door of the hut?” The woman answered, “Certainly it was not I”. “Who was it then that did it?” inquired the husband. “I don't know,” quoth she. Then the man said, “I'll resuscitate your mother no more”. But his wife said, “I implore you, do resuscitate her”. “Certainly not,” replied her husband, “I am tired of resuscitating your mother; I will not do it again. Bury her”. So they buried her. Then the man said, “Henceforth all men will die thus, just like your mother”. It was thus that Death entered into the world through the decease of a man's dog and of his mother-in-law.252

Another ‘story of the Origin of Death: Leza, the chameleon, and the lizard.

But the Soubiya also tell that other and more usual story to account for the origin of death which we may call the Story of the Two Messengers; and they relate it in the ordinary and orthodox form, in which the two messengers are a chameleon and a lizard. They say that the chameleon was sent by Leza to men to tell them, “Ye men, when ye shall see somebody die, say not that he is really dead; nay, he is not really dead; men will come to life again”. So the chameleon set off with this cheering, intelligence. But when the chameleon had got about half way, Leza said to the lizard, “Go and say, men will die and will not come to life again. Begone: if you find the chameleon already arrived, say nothing; but if you find that he has not yet come, tell men that they will die of a truth and not come to life again.” When the lizard set out, he ran and overtook the chameleon who was crawling slowly and had not yet arrived at the men's village. So the lizard passed him and ran on. He came to the men and said to them, “Leza says that ye shall die of a truth and not come to life again”. Then he returned to Leza and told him, “I found that the chameleon had not arrived among men”. Leza thanked him. As for the chameleon, the storyteller did not know what became of him.253

The Nyanja or Manganja.

The Nyanja or Manganja are a Bantu people who inhabit the Shire highlands and the southern shores of Lake Nyasa, both on the western and to a lesser extent, on the eastern side of the lake. About the middle of the nineteenth century the northern Nyanja tribes, to the west of the lake, were conquered by a tribe of Zulus, called the Angoni, who invaded the country from the south, and imposed some of their habits and customs on the Nyanja, but adopted their language. At the present time the Zulu language has entirely given place to Nyanja (Chinyanja) in one or other of its dialects; thus most of the inhabitants of Central Angoniland, to the west of Lake Nyasa, are of Zulu descent, but speak the Nyanja language. Another tribe who harried and raided the Nyanja were the Yaos; it was under the pressure of these more warlike neighbours that a body of Nyanja settled on the eastern shore of Lake Nyasa.254

Mulungu, the name for God among the Nyanja.

Other names for the deity.

Among the Nyanja the general name for god is Mulungu or Mlungu, which appears in Swahili as Muungu, and in Lomwe and Makuwa as Mluku. Under this term are included not only the deity, but all that appertains to the spirit world. Whether in its primary sense it conveys the idea of personality is uncertain, for the word belongs to an impersonal class of nouns, and always takes the concord of an impersonal class. When, however, the deity is alluded to in respect of any of his attributes, there is no doubt that personality is attributed to him, as when the Nyanja speak of “Leza, the Nurse”, “Mlengi, the Creator”, “Mphambi, the heavens”, and “Chauta, the Almighty”. Other names are also applied to the Supreme Being, as Chanjiri, Chinsumpi, Mbamba, Mphezi, but these are generally confined to certain local manifestations of the deity in the persons of men who claim to possess the divine powers and to be invested with the divine attributes. For example, in the year 1910 an individual appeared in South Angoniland who arrogated to himself the possession of such powers under the name of Chanjiri, the Supreme God. In that capacity he demanded offerings from the people and forbade them to pay the annual tax to the British Government. Whilst the names Leza and Chauta are the common appellatives of the deity among the neighbouring Awemba and Atonga, the name Mulungu is universally understood to signify the Supreme Being, and among the Nyanja people it is the only name in use.255

Ideas of the Nyanja about the deity.

But by whatever names they call him, we are assured by a careful and competent inquirer that the Nyanja believe in one all-powerful Being who has his abode in or above the sky. He is supposed to be the creator of all things and to rule the great forces and phenomena of nature, such as rain, thunder and lightning, earthquakes, and winds. He has many names, such as Chauta or Chiuta, Leza, Chanjiri, and Mpambe, but they all signify the one great Power. He is not a spirit (mzimu) in the native sense, for mzimu, as understood by the Nyanja, is the soul of a human being who once lived on earth. The deity of the Nyanja is rather, we are told, “a supreme power having in him the nature of a soul of the universe, but here the resemblance to the Creator of the civilizea peoples of the earth ends, for the Supreme Being [of the Nyanjas] takes no concern whatever in the affairs of mankind, as the spirits do. He is totally indifferent to good or evil, nor is he even appealed to in temporal matters as are the spirits of ancestors, except only in cases of drought.”256

Prayers of the Nyanja to the deity for rain.

If the rains do not come at the expected time, the Nyanja say, “Look at this, the rain keeps refusing to fall from above; come, let us try to propitiate the rain spirit, and perhaps the rain may come”. So they collect maize, and grind and pound it, and they boil the beer and pour it into a gourd-cup, and next morning at dawn they all come together and they go to the rain temple, taking the beer with them. Now the rain temple is a miniature hut about two feet high, or it may be two or three such little huts built close together. The temple is generally in the village, but sometimes it stands in the forest. And when they are come to the temple, they clear away the grass that the ground may be open. He who is chief of the ceremony sits in the middle, and first draws some of the beer, and pours it in a pot buried in the ground, and says, “Master Chauta, you have hardened your heart towards us, what would you have us do? We must perish indeed. Give your children the rains. There is the beer we have given you.” Then the people begin to clap their hands and to make a shrill sound clicking their tongues against their cheeks; they sing also, swaying their bodies backwards and forwards, and keep saying, “Pardon, pardon”. When they have done propitiating the rain spirit, they take the beer that remains, and dip a cup in it, and give every one to drink, just a little; even the children must sip it. After that they take branches of trees and begin to dance and sine, saying.

This little cloud, and this,

This little cloud, and this,

Let the rains come with this little cloud.

Give us water,

Our hearts are dry,


Give us water,

Our hearts are dry,


When they come to the village they find that an old woman has drawn water in readiness and put it at the doorway; and the people dip their branches in the water and wave them aloft, scattering the drops. Then they see the rain come in heavy storm-clouds.257 Thus the prayer for rain addressed to Master Chauta, the Rain-god, is reinforced by a pantomime in imitation of a shower; in short, the Nyanja, like so many other peoples, supplement religion by magic.

The Yaos of Lake Nyasa.

Belief of the Yaos in a Creator called Mulungu.

The Yaos or Wayas are a Bantu tribe who dwell at the southern end of Lake Nyasa and farther to the south in the Shire Highlands. Their original home seems to have been the large and lofty plateau which lies to the east of Lake Nyasa and is bounded by the Rivers Rovuma and Lujenda. From there they were driven westward to the lake and southward to the mountains by the pressure of enemies about the time when Livingstone first entered their country.258 Physically they are said to be the finest of the South Nyasa tribes and to be remarkable for a higher sense of personal decency and a lower standard of morality than their neighbours.259 Their theology seems to resemble that of the Nyanja. Like them, the Yaos believe in a Creator whom they call Mulungu. They say that Mulungu made the world, and man, and animals. Far in the interior of the continent, towards the north-west, beyond the plains and swamps of the Loangwa River and Lake Bangweolo, there lies, in Yao legend, a lake, and in the midst of the lake is an island, and in the island is a large flat rock, and on the rock are the footprints of men and animals of all kinds. When that rock was a heap of moist clay, Mulungu created all living things and sent them across the soft mass, where their footprints, now hardened into solid rock, may be seen to this day. Such is the Yao story of the creation of the world, or at all events of living creatures. To the mind of the people Mulungu is always the Great Creator.260 To him is ascribed the sending of the rain, but apparently he has no part in giving good crops or causing a plentiful harvest, neither does he take any direct interest in human affairs.261 However, he is thought to receive the spirits of the dead. If he refuses to receive a man's spirit, that man continues to live. When a patient has recovered from some malady which commonly proves fatal, the natives say, “Mulungu refused him”, or “Mulungu spat him out”.262

Ideas of the Yaos about Mulungu.

The word mulungu also denotes any human soul after death.

Worship of the dead.

Shrines on the graves of dead chiefs.

Nevertheless it appears that in this sense Mulungu is hardly conceived of as a personal being. Indeed we are informed that the untaught Yao refuses to ascribe to Mulungu any idea of personality. To him the word denotes rather “a quality or faculty of the human nature whose signification he has extended so as to embrace the whole spirit world”. Hence the term is employed to designate the world of spirit in general or, more properly speaking, the aggregate of the spirits of all the dead.263 But apart from its use in this collective sense the word mulungu denotes any single human soul after death; for the Yaos believe that the soul survives the death of the body, and that in its disembodied state it exercises a potent influence on the lives and fortunes of those whom it has left behind in the world. Hence the souls of the dead are powers to be honoured and propitiated, and their worship enters largely into the religious and social life of the Yaos. In almost every Yao village there is a shrine which forms the centre of the worship of the inhabitants. It is a wooden hut enclosed by a strong fence or hedge of cactus, and is built on the grave of a dead chief. The soul (mulungu) of the chief is supposed either to inhabit the hut or at least to be there accessible to his worshippers. The worship paid to the soul of the deceased chief, or indeed to the soul of any dead man, is called kulomba mulungu. If a chief is about to go to war or to undertake a long journey, he must lay an offering at the shrine of his dead predecessor in order to secure his favour and help. If a long drought threatens to spoil the harvest, the deceased ruler must be entreated to send the needed rain. The living chief or any near relative of the deceased acts as priest on the occasion. He opens the gate of the fence, pours beer into the pot at the head of the grave, and deposits a basket of porridge and a plate of meat on the sepulchral mound. Then he retires, and kneeling down outside the gate looks towards the shrine, and chants his prayer. Meanwhile all the people who have accompanied him clap their hands in unison with his utterances and chant the responses. But it is only the graves of chiefs or headmen which are thus treated as shrines and become the seat of worship. Common folk and slaves are buried in the wilderness, where only the rank grass or a thicket of old trees marks their last place of rest No offerings are ever carried thither, for they who sleep in these neglected graves can have no influence in the spirit world, and therefore cannot affect the fortunes of the living.264

Ambiguity consequent on the double use of the word Mulungu

But where the same word Mulungu is applied indifferently to the Creator and to the soul of a dead chief, it may sometimes be difficult to discriminate between these two very different sorts of being, and there must be a certain danger of confusing the one with the other. The ambiguity does not exist, or at all events is greatly lessened, in languages which draw a sharp line of distinction between the two different kinds of beings by assigning a name like Leza or Nyambe to the Creator and a totally different name to the inferior spirits. But among the Yao, when we hear of worship paid to Mulungu (kulomba mulungu) it may often be open to doubt whether it is the Creator or a deified chief who is supposed to receive the adoration of the worshippers. For example, outside of a village or beside a headman's hut may often be seen a rough shed in which the first-fruits of the new crop are placed by the villagers as a thank-offering for the harvest. Again, a small offering of flour or beer is occasionally set at the foot of the tree in the village courtyard, where men sit and talk or work. Again, a devout native, sitting down to a meal, will throw a morsel of food at the root of the nearest tree as an offering to Mulungu before he begins to eat. Once more, a traveller on a journey will sometimes stop and lay a little flour in a pyramidal heap at the foot of a tree by the wayside or at an angle where two roads meet. All these acts of worship are addressed to Mulungu; but whether the Mulungu in question is the Creator, or the soul of a dead chief, or some other spirit, we are not told, and perhaps the native himself might be at a loss to tell. “The distinction in the native mind”, we are told, “is ever of the haziest No one will give you a dogmatic statement of his belief on such points.”265

The Angoni believe in a Supreme God, the creator, but think that he has delegated the government of the world to the inferior spirits.

Of the Angoni or Ngoni, who inhabit a treeless and undulating tableland about four thousand feet above sea level, to the west of Lake Nyasa, we are told that, “although they do not worship God, it is nevertheless true that they have a distinct idea of a Supreme Being. The Ngoni call him Umkurumqango, and the Tonga and Tumbuka call him Chiuta. It may be that the natives, from an excess of reverence as much as from negligence, have ceased to offer him direct worship. They affirm that God lives: that it is He who created all things, and who giveth all good things. The government of the world is deputed to the spirits, and among these the malevolent spirits alone require to be appeased, while the guardian spirits require to be entreated for protection by means of sacrifices. I once had a long conversation on this subject with a witch-doctor who was a neighbour for some years, and the sum of what he said was, that they believe in God who made them and all things, but they do not know how to worship Him. He is thought of as a great chief and is living, but as He has the ancestral spirits with Him they are His amaduna (headmen). The reason why they pray to the amadhlozi (spirits) is that these, having lived on earth, understand their position and wants, and can manage their case with God. When they are well and have plenty no worship is required, and in adversity and sickness they pray to them. The sacrifices are offered to appease the spirits when trouble comes, or, as when building a new village, to gain their protection.”266

Worship of the Supreme God eclipsed by that of the ancestral spirits.

In this account of the Supreme Being of the Angoni we recognize the familiar features of the Creator who has made and ordered all things, but who has long since retired from the active management of affairs, leaving them in the hands of subordinate agents, and whose worship has been almost wholly thrown into the shade by that of the ancestral spirits or ghosts. We are not expressly told that his abode is in the sky, and that he maintains a general control over rain, thunder, and lightning; but the analogy of many similar deities in Africa suggests that he possesses these attributes in common with them.

Chiwuta the god of the Tumbuka.

The same may perhaps be said of the God of the Tumbuka, another tribe of the same region, whose country lies to the west of Lake Nyasa and adjoins that of the Ngoni. We are told that “they believe in God, but this is one of the least influential articles of their faith, for God is to them an absentee deity. He is called Chiwuta, which might mean the great bow, but apparently does not, at least no native will agree that the name has any relation to the bow of the firmament, or of the Avenger, or any other kind of bow. What the root of the word is, no one seems yet to have discovered. Chiwuta is known as the creator, and the master of life and death. By him the world was made, and everything that has life. It is He who sends the great diseases, like rinderpest and smallpox, and He too is the sender of death. The only characteristic of God that the raw native is sure of is this, ‘He is cruel for it is He who takes away the children’, but where He lives, and what He thinks they do not know. To the general imagination He has withdrawn from the world, and has nothing to do with it, beyond sending death or disease. I do not think that I have yet found that prayers were addressed to the Creator God, though they were frequently offered to the local deities, who also, when they were not named by their personal titles, were called Chiwuta. The Creator was too unknown and too great for the common affairs of man.”267 On the other hand, among the Tumbuka, as among so many other Bantu tribes, the most active spiritual agents are believed to be the ancestral spirits, which are supposed to be everywhere and to be continually intervening for good or evil in human affairs, though their influence is limited to the concerns of their kinsfolk.268

Leza, the Supreme God of the tribes of Northern Rhodesia.

Story of the origin of Death: the two bundles.

Among the Bantu tribes of the great plateau of Northern Rhodesia, to the west of Lake Nyasa, the conception of the Creator or Supreme Being, whom they call Leza, is still vague; his attributes, it is reported, are still in process of evolution. From one point of view Leza seems to be regarded rather as a physical force than as a personal deity. Thunder, lightning, rain, earthquakes, and other natural phenomena are grouped together as manifestations of Leza. From another and perhaps later point of view, Leza emerges as a personal deity, the greatest of all the spirits. To the Awemba, an important tribe of the great plateau, the thunder is “God himself who is angry”, the lightning is “the Knife of God”. Leza is said to be the creator of life and death. According to a fable told by the Awemba, the deity created a man and woman, who increased and multiplied and replenished the earth. To this first pair the Creator Leza gave two small bundles, in one of which was life (bumi), and in the other was death (mfwa); but unhappily the man chose “the little bundle of death”.269

Leza thought to stand aloof, from the Affairs of this lower world.

Yet among some of these tribes of the plateau, as among so many other African tribes, the great god whom they call Leza is believed to stand aloof from the lower world. Serene and imperturbable he controls the heavens, but does not concern himself with the destinies of mortals. Hence the people do not conceive of Leza as a moral being against whom it is possible to sin by those breaches of the moral law which the inferior spirits are quick to mark and to avenge. Leza still remains “the incomprehensible” (Leza ni shimwelenganya). “How otherwise”, ask the Wemba old men, “has he caused the firmament, the sun, moon, and stars to abide over our heads without any staypoles to uphold them?” “Were Leza by himself”, say the Walambia, “we should never die of disease; it is the evil spirits and their allies the wizards who cause swift death.” Leza only brings at the fit and proper time the gentle, painless death of old age (mfwa Leza). Among many of the ancient tribes who dwell in the mountain fastnesses of the North Luangwa district this theory of an impassive God still obtains.270

The more progressive tribes think that Leza takes an interest in human affairs.

But among the more progressive tribes of the plateau, such as the Wabisa and Awemba, a further stage in the evolution of the godhead has been reached. They think that Leza takes an interest in human affairs, and though they do not pray to him, they nevertheless invoke him by his names of praise, in which his attributes are gradually unfolded, and he becomes in a sense the Protector and Judge of mankind. The Cunning Craftsman, the Great Fashioner, the Nourisher, the Unforgetful, the Omniscient, all occur in the laudatory titles of Leza. Again, he is thought to receive the souls of men after death. According to the Awiwa, the soul at its departure from the body goes down to the spirit world to God (kuzimu ku Leza) who not only sways the heavens but judges the spirits of the departed.271

Prayers and sacrifices not offered to Leza, but to the ancestral spirits.

Yet, so far as the dominant Wemba tribe is concerned, the worship of Leza forms no part of the ordinary religion. Prayers and sacrifices are not offered to him but to the great tribal and ancestral spirits. For upon a belief in the existence of powerful spirits of nature and spirits of the dead, the whole fabric of Wemba religion has been built up.272

L. Decle on Leza and the ancestral spirits.

Speaking of the natives of a Tanganyika plateau in general, without distinction of tribe, a French traveller, Lionel Decle, reported that “these people have a vague sort of Supreme Being called Lesa, who has good and evil passions; but here, as everywhere else, the Musimo, or spirits of the ancestors, are a leading feature in the beliefs. They are propitiated as elsewhere by placing little heaps of stones about their favourite haunts. At certain periods of the year the people make pilgrimages to the mountain of Fwambo-Liambo, on the summit of which is a sort of small altar of stones. There they deposit bits of wood, to which are attached scraps of calico, flowers, or beads: this is to propitiate Lesa. After harvest, for instance, they make such an offering. So, when a girl becomes marriageable, she takes food with her and goes up the mountain for several days. When she returns the other women lead her in procession through the villages, waving long tufts of grass and palms.”273

Mbamba or Kiara, the god of the Konde apparently a personification of the sky.

The Konde said to worship an evil spirit called Mbassi.

The Konde are a tribe who inhabit a territory at the extreme north end of Lake Nyasa, in what used to be German East Africa but is now known as Tanganyika Territory. Their land is for the most part shut in between steep mountains and the lake: on the north rises the massive volcano, Mount Rungwe.274 The Konde believe in a god named Mbamba or Kiara, who with his children dwells above the firmament. His shape is human and his complexion is a shining white. Apparently he is a personification of the bright sky. Prayers are offered to him, and in them he is addressed as Father. Of this deity the Moravian missionaries report that “a conception of God is imprinted on the whole people. A god there is who, on the one hand, stands above everything else and is invoked as such, but who, on the other hand, in consequence of his impotence and weakness, occupies but a humble position in their minds. The religious behaviour of the people is characterized by a mixture of respect and contempt, of worship and neglect. With regard to his essence, the seat of his kingdom, and the most of his qualities, they are in the dark.”275 According to one account the Konde also worshipped an evil principle or personal devil, whom they called Mbassi, and attempted to appease by offerings; but according to another, and perhaps more probable account, Mbassi is only another name of the Sky-god imported among the Konde by a priestly family from Ukinga.276

Another account of the belief of the Konde in a good god Kyala and a bad god Mbasi.

Various names of the Supreme God (Kyala).

The ancestral spirits asked to intercede with the Supreme God.

However, the belief of the Konde in two distinct gods, a good one and a bad one, is confirmed by Mr. D. R. Mackenzie, who lived for twenty-four years among the tribes at the north end of Lake Nyasa. According to him, the name most commonly applied by the Konde to the Supreme Being is Kyala, and the name of the evil deity is Mbasi.277 But the name Kyala is not confined to the Supreme Being, “for it may be applied to persons in whom the Deity dwells, or to men who, though they lived on earth, were yet Kyala. The name is sometimes applied to white men, who are dangerous because they are believed to have closer relations with the source of all power than common men have. Other names are Tenende, the Owner of all things; Nkurumuke, the Undying One; Chata, the Originator; Kyaubiri, the Unseen; Kalesi, He who is everywhere present. The name Ndorombwike is the one used on solemn occasions, and comes from the verb, kutoromboka, to create in a sense in which God only can. Mperi, again, is the Maker, applied to God only, though the verb from which it is derived may be applied to men also. Prayer is addressed directly to the ancestral spirits, who in many cases are conceived as having power of themselves to grant a petition; but more frequently they are entreated to carry the petitions to God, who alone can give what is asked for. ‘Why do you ask me for rain?’ says Chungu,278 when his impatient people come to him,’ God owns the rain, and only He can give it.’ ‘But,’ reply the people, ‘common men cannot pray. Pray you to your ancestors, and let them carry your prayer to God.’ There is, however, also direct address in the formula, ‘Be gracious to us, O God, and hear the prayers of those whom we have named’, the reference being to the spirits, to whom the main body of the petition is addressed.”279

Scanty and conflicting information concerning the Supreme Being.

Of this Supreme Being, we are told, there is little that can be said with certainty except that the people assuredly believed in him before the white men came and Christianity was taught. Indications of the belief are found everywhere in the native mind, inextricably intertwined with life and thought and language, with prayer and sacrifice, with birth and death, with famine and pestilence and sword. But for the rest there is much confusion, and no developed theology exists. What one informant will give as common belief, another will say that he never heard of; it belongs, he will tell you, to another district, but it was not the belief of his fathers.280

Modes in which the Supreme God reveals himself.

Offerings made to the spirits, but not to the Great God.

The Supreme Being is thought to reveal himself in diverse manners. Anything great of its kind, such as a great ox or even a great he-goat, a huge tree, or any other impressive object, is called Kyala, by which it may be meant that God takes up his abode temporarily in these things. When a great storm lashes the lake into fury, God is walking on the face of the waters; when the roar of the waterfall is louder than usual, it is the voice of God. The earthquake is caused by his mighty footstep, and the lightning is Lesa, God coming down in anger. When men see the lightning, they sit silent or speak in whispers, lest the angry God should hear them and smite them to the earth. God sometimes comes also in the body of a lion or a snake, and in that form he walks about among men to behold their doings. For he is a God of righteousness and never comes but when evil is rampant and vengeance is called for. Hence what the people desire above all things is that God should go away again. “Go far hence, O God, to the Sango, for Thy House is very large”, is a prayer that is not seldom heard on the lips of the Konde when they think that God is near. They look on an eclipse as a special visitation of the deity, and greet it with wild drumming and shouting, with entreaties and confession of sin; for the consciousness of sin is a sentiment by no means foreign to their minds. They make offerings to the spirits to induce them to intercede with the deity, but no offerings are ever made to the great Ndorombwike Himself, for man has nothing to offer that would be of the least value to Him. God is indeed for them an ever-present terror, and the thought of communion with Him has never entered into their minds. He is the Owner of the World, and it is for men to see that He is not offended. Of the many sins that bring down the wrath of God and of the spirits on the community the chief are widespread sexual offences and the neglect of sacrifice.281

Sacred groves of Mbamba or Kiara: prayers offered to him.

The souls of the dead, as we have seen, are thought by the Konde to act as mediators or intercessors between Kiara (Kyala) and mankind. Prayers and sacrifices are offered to them as well as to him, but the dead may not be buried in the groves which are dedicated to the worship of the god. One of these sacred groves, in which the deity is believed to dwell with his children, exists on the slope of the volcano, Mount Rungwe. Hither the people come with cattle and much beer to worship Kiara or Mbamba. They dance, and sing, and invoke the deity, saying, “Mbamba, let our children thrive! May the cattle multiply! May our maize and sweet potatoes flourish! Take pestilence away!” and so on. Then they fill their mouths with leaves of a certain sort which they chew, and having mixed them with a draught of beer they spit or spray out the mixture on the trees of the grove; this form of offering is called “puffing at the God” After that, they slaughter cattle, feast on their flesh, and quaff the beer which they have brought with them to the holy place.282

Sacred grotto of Mbamba or Kiara.

Prayers and sacrifices for rain.

Another famous place where sacrifices are, or rather used to be, offered to Mbamba or Kiara is on the peninsula of Ikombe, at the north-eastern extremity of Lake Nyasa. Here a rock, called by the natives God's Rock, juts out into the lake. It is shaded by lofty trees, and a brook of clear water babbles close by. In this rock there is a grotto which the natives call the House of God. The entrance is over grown with creeping plants, and the floor of the grotto is covered with several layers of earthen pots, which once contained offerings. A priest, who bore the title of Son of the Lake (Muakinjassa), used to be in charge of the sanctuary; he had a wife and cattle, but both wife and cattle were deemed the property of the deity. In time of drought the Konde chiefs used to meet at this rock beside the lake shore to pray for rain. A victim was slain and its flesh placed in the House of God. Then a chief, who acted as spokesman in the prayers, filled a gourd with water from the lake, took a mouthful of the water, and puffed it out on the ground. This he continued to do until he had emptied the gourd. Then he prayed, saying, “Mbamba! Kiara! Thou hast refused us rain, give us rain, that we die not. Save us from death by hunger. Thou art indeed our Father, we are thy children, Thou hast created us, why wouldst thou that we die? Give us maize, bananas, and beans. Thou hast given us legs to run, arms to work, and also cattle; give us now rain, that we may reap the harvest.” But if the deity turned a deaf ear to these petitions, and the drought continued, the people repaired again to the grove and repeated their prayers, until Mbamba or Kiara was graciously pleased to hearken to them and to send the longed-for rain.283

Another sacred grotto of Kiara, a place of sacrifice.

Another sacred grotto of Kiara is similarly situated in a cliff which, rising in romantic beauty from the brink of the lake, has been christened by Europeans the Loreley Rock. But here also the worship of the native god appears to have been long neglected. A European who visited the holy spot some years ago had to cut his way to it through the tangled and matted forest with a knife. A native, who accompanied him to the forlorn sanctuary with fear and trembling, informed him that in time past this shrine had enjoyed a high reputation, not only among the Konde and the Wakissi; even the Wakinga came down from the mountains to sacrifice here beside the lake. The offerings consisted of meal and white fowls, also of goats and cattle, but the colour of the cattle was indifferent. If a cow destined for sacrifice chanced to low, it was a sign that Kiara would not have it; so the animal was not slaughtered. Of the slain cattle a head and leg used to be laid in the grotto as offerings. The goats were taken a little way aside from the sanctuary and slaughtered at the foot of a cliff, under the shadow of ancient trees. Their flesh is said to have been wholly consumed by the worshippers. The white fowls were brought alive to the sanctuary and fed by the priest with millet.284 In contrast to the white fowls thus offered to Kiara were the black calves sacrificed to the dead. The Konde used to offer human sacrifices. As late as 1896 there were rumours of the sacrifice of a woman and child in connexion with a ceremony to procure rain; but we are not told that the sacrifice was offered to Kiara. The mode of sacrifice was to cut the victim's throat and sprinkle the blood about.285

Story of the Origin of Death: the Two Messengers the sheep and the dog.

Like many other African peoples, the Konde tell a story of the Origin of Death which conforms to the type of the Two Messengers; in this case the messengers are a sheep and a dog. They say that of old there was as yet no such thing as death, and men were divided in opinion as to whether they should ask God to grant them death or not. Those who thought death desirable sent a sheep to impress their view on the deity; while those who preferred not to die despatched a dog to plead the cause of immortality with God. But the sheep, the advocate of death, arrived before the dog; the deity gave judgment in his favour, and consequently men have been mortal ever since.286 A somewhat similar story of the Origin of Death is told in Calabar, on the opposite side of the continent, and in it also the messengers are a dog and a sheep. They say that for a long time after the creation of the world there was no death in it. At last, however, a man sickened and died. So the people sent a dog to God to ask him what they should do with the dead man. The dog stayed so long away that the people grew tired of waiting and sent off a sheep to God with the same question. The sheep soon returned and reported that God said, “Let the dead man be buried”. So they buried him. Afterwards the dog returned also and reported that God said, “Put warm ashes on the dead man's belly, and he will rise again”. However, the people told the dog that he came too late; the dead man was already buried according to the instructions of the sheep. That is why men are buried when they die. But as for the dog he is driven from men and humiliated, because it is through his fault that we all die.287

Belief of the Wakulwe in a good God and Creator called Nguluwi.

The Wakulwe inhabit a district to the west of Lake Rukwa, in the south-western corner of Tanganyika Territory (German East Africa). Down to about a hundred and in fifty years ago, according to native tradition, their country was uninhabited, the haunt of elephants, buffaloes, zebras, lions, leopards, and other wild beasts.288 According to the testimony of a Catholic missionary, Father Hamberger, who lived among them for about eight years and knew their language, the Wakulwe believe in the existence of a good and righteous God, the Creator, who is an incorporeal spirit. They call him Nguluwi, but among some neighbouring tribes, including the Wabemba, Wamambwe, and Wafipa, his name is Leza. On account of his goodness the Wakulwe often give him the title of Mother (Mama), though they by no means regard him as feminine. The souls of the dead (wazimu) are believed to dwell with him in a bright place and by their petitions to exercise great influence over him, though in themselves they are not endowed with any divine power. Among the souls of the dead the spirits of deceased chiefs bear a special name (maleza) and are the most influential intercessors with the deity.289 Their name (maleza) is the plural form of Leza, which, as we have seen, is the name of the Supreme Being in some neighbouring tribes; yet we are told that no divine power is ascribed even to them.290

Mwawa an African Satan.

Another incorporeal spirit who plays a great part in the religion of the Wakulwe is called Mwawa. The people hate and fear him, though outwardly they honour him and obey his perverse commands, lest he should destroy them. His special function is to deceive people and to strike them blind or to “eat them up” by means of the smallpox. Hence he is often known as Mother Smallpox (Mama Nduwi), for the title Mother is given him to flatter him. In short, as Father Hamberger observes, Mwawa is no other than Satan in person, and like Satan he lives in the air.291

Nguluwi the source of all good.

From God or Nguluwi, on the other hand, come all good things, such as children, rain, food, health, and luck in hunting, fishing, and undertakings of every sort. He will even help a man to destroy an enemy either by violence or by sorcery. But the blessings which he so liberally dispenses he frequently bestows, not on his own initiative, but at the prompting of the good spirits who dwell with him. Even Mwawa, in other words Satan, can appear before him in the office of intercessor.292

Prayers to Nguluwi.

Prayers are offered by the father of a family, either to Nguluwi directly, or to the souls of the worshipper's dead forefathers with a request that they will intercede with Nguluwi for him.293 Thus when rain is wanted, the chief of the district sacrifices animals at the graves of his ancestors and begs them to implore rain from Nguluwi, saying, for instance, “Thou Father Luiwa, guard me! All ye fathers of the land, guard me! Ask rain of Nguluwi for me! Guard me, guard us, us, your children, that we die not of famine”, and so on.294

Story of a great flood.

Some of the Wakulwe tell a story of Nguluwi which bears a close, not to say suspicious, resemblance to the Biblical narrative of the Great Flood. It runs thus:

Long ago the rivers came down in flood. God said to two men, “Go into the ship. Also take into it seeds of all sorts and all animals, one male and one female of each.” They did so. The flood rose high, it overtopped the mountains; the ship floated on it. All animals and all men died. When the water dried up, the man in the ship said, “Let us see, perhaps the water is not yet dried up”. He sent out a dove. She returned to the ship. He waited, he sent out a hawk which did not return, because the water was dried up. The men went forth from the ship, they let out all the animals and all the seeds. This legend is reported by Father Hamberger, who tells us that it is known to few of the people. He had it from two men, who assured him that it was an ancient tradition of the country and not borrowed from foreigners.295

Story like that of the Tower of Babel.

Like other African tribes, the Wakulwe also tell of an attempt which men of old made to scale the heaven. Their wish was to reach the moon, and for this purpose they set one tree on the top of another, till the structure attained a great height. Then it fell down and killed them. Other men repeated the attempt with the same result, after which the survivors desisted from the rash undertaking.296 The story savours of the Tower of Babel, but not more so than some other African tales of the same type.297

Story of the Origin of Death: Nguluwi the sheep and the dog.

Lastly, the Wakulwe explain the origin of human mortality by a story which is clearly not copied directly from the Mosaic record. According to them the fatal event happened thus. One day men said, “Let us ask the sheep and the dog”. They gave the sheep a piece of meat, they gave the dog a bone. An old woman, inspired by Mwawa (that is, by Satan), said to them, “Ye err. Give the dog the meat.” The men agreed, they did just the contrary of what they had done at first, they gave the dog the meat, they gave the sheep the bone. They said, “The one that swallows it and speaks first, his words shall have weight”. The dog made haste, bolted the meat, barked, “Bow wow!” and said, “We die, we perish”. The sheep nibbled at the bone, but could not bolt it down. At last she spoke and said, “Ba! ba! We die but we come back,” meaning that we rise from the dead. The men said, “Alas! The dog was before you.” They beat the dog and drove it away.298

On this story Father Hamberger remarks that it is universally known among the natives and is often told by them in a shorter form. Further he tells us that, in accordance with the native habit of leaving unsaid much that they regard as too obvious to require mention, we must understand it to have been the will of Nguluwi, that is of God, that men should give the meat to the sheep, as indeed they did in the first instance, instead of to the dog. If only they had done so, it is plain that the sheep would have swallowed the meat before the dog could have masticated the bone, and that, having bolted it, the sheep would have delivered the glad tidings of resurrection before the dog could have announced his doom of death. Hence we should all have been immortal, or, what comes to much the same thing, we should all have risen from the dead down to this day. Thus the benevolent intention of the deity towards his creatures is again triumphantly vindicated. It was not his fault that men gave the meat to the dog instead of to the sheep. Understood in this way, the story is clearly nothing but a variation on the story of the Two Messengers, which so many African tribes tell to explain the origin of human mortality. In that widespread tradition the purpose of the Creator to bestow immortality on mankind is always frustrated by the mistake or misconduct of the messenger who is charged with the good news of life eternal. In the Konde and Calabar versions of the tale cited above the two messengers are, as in the Wakulwe version, a dog and a sheep; but in them, the parts of the messengers are inverted, the dog being the herald of resurrection, while the sheep announces the sentence of death irretrievable.299

Mgr. Lechaptois on Ngulwi (Nguluwi), the Supreme Being of the Wakulwe.

Father Hamberger's account of Nguluwi, the Supreme Being of the Wakulwe, is confirmed by the testimony of a French Catholic Missionary, Monseigneur Lechaptois, who lived and worked among the tribes of the south-western corner of Tanganyika Territory (German East Africa). He tells us that in Mkulwe, that is, the country of the Wakulwe, the Creator and Supreme Being is known as Ngulwi (Ngouloui). He is sovereignly good and has for his ministers Katavi and Mwawa, two incorporeal spirits who fly in the air. The first of them (Katavi) appears to preside over the rewards, and the second (Mwawa) over the punishments respectively bestowed or inflicted on souls in the other world.300 In this account Mwawa is clearly identical with the spirit of the same name whom Father Hamberger equates with Satan; and with regard to Katavi, we must conclude that he is no other than Katai, who, according to Father Hamberger, is merely Mwawa himself under another name.301

Various names for the Supreme Being, such as Leza, Katema (meaning the sun), and Ilanzi.

Further, Monseigneur Lechaptois informs us that in Nyasaland, on the banks of Lake Tanganyika, and in Urungu, which is the country at the south-western corner of Lake Tanganyika, the name for the Supreme Being is Leza. He it is who has made all things, and who gives life to the child in its mother's womb. It is to him that men go when they die. In Ugala he receives the same name as the sun, namely Katema. The Wagala say that he pays little heed to men, but that he kills those at whom he is angry.302 In Rukwa and Ufipa (the land of the Wafipa) the usual name of the Supreme God is Leza; but according to the tradition of the natives this name was introduced among them by the Warungu. The true name of the Sovereign Creator in the native language is said to be Ilanzi, which means the sun. In the morning when they woke, people used to say, “Ilanzi has kept me during the night”; and when some one died, they said, “Ilanzi has taken him away”.303

The Supreme God lives in the sky and hardly troubles himself about the life of man. The lower world is ruled by inferior spirits, including the souls of the dead, and it is these whom the people worship.

Rich mythology of these tribes.

But among all these tribes, situated at or near the southern end of Lake Tanganyika, whether he be called Leza, or Ilanzi, or Nguluwi, or Katema, this Supreme God is said to enter very little into the everyday life of the people. He inhabits the sky, where he is supremely happy; and it seems that he cannot stoop so low as to interest himself in the multifarious needs of his creatures. Hence they in their turn deem it useless to pay him any particular homage or to address any prayers to him. But below this great deity they admit the existence of a multitude of inferior divinities, who rule the world, some of them dispensing all the comforts and blessings, others inflicting all the calamities and woes that affect for good or evil the life of man. It is to these lower divinities, the dread of whom is deeply implanted in the native mind, that all the offerings and prayers of the people are addressed.304 The name for these lesser deities varies with the dialect of the tribe; in one they are called mizimu, in another miyao or migabo, in another amaleza. This last name, which is current especially among the Warungu and Wafipa, would literally mean “Sons of Leza”; but the natives use the terms father and son in too wide and loose a sense to allow us to draw any precise conclusions from the name amaleza.305 Whatever be the exact essence of these minor deities, they seem to be all subject to the infirmities of human nature. Like men they are apt to be weary and to suffer from hunger and thirst. Hence people erect little huts where the spirits may rest from the fatigue of scouring the air, and where they may refresh themselves with the victuals which are deposited in the tiny huts for their consumption. The spirits of the human dead also roam about the villages where they dwelt in life, and they still take a kindly interest in the affairs of their living kinsfolk. Hence for them, too, little shelters are put up near their old homes, and there the survivors scatter flour, pour beer, or slaughter an animal in sacrifice, while they pray to the souls of their fathers, their mothers, or their brothers to behold their sufferings and heal their diseases.306 Indeed, we are told that these people possess a mythology as rich as that of Greece in antiquity. The popular imagination has given itself full play in peopling the forests, the rocks, the cascades, the glens, the rivers, and above all the shores of the lake with innumerable spirits. There is hardly a reef, hardly a cape in Lake Tanganyika which has not its god dreaded by the mariner. Such a cape, for example, is Kaboga, where the hollow rocks at its base receive the breaking waves and give out their muffled roar, like a peal of thunder, heard far off for miles. To the ear of the native this mysterious sound is the voice of the spirit calling for a sacrifice or threatening with vengeance the bold mortal who should dare to refuse his demand.307 Above all the hubbub and bustle of life on earth, the Supreme Being, by whatever name he is called, is supposed to sit in majestic calm, hardly deigning to disturb the bliss of heaven by a moment's thought bestowed on the petty affairs of his puny creature man.

Story of the Origin of Death and of the immortality of serpents.

Two of these tribes, the Wafipa and the Wabende, who: inhabit the country on the south-eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, tell a story which, like many other African tales, associates the Supreme Being with the origin of human mortality. They say that Leza, the high God, came down to earth, and, addressing all living creatures, he said, “Who among you wishes not to die?”Unfortunately, men and animals were asleep. The serpent alone was awake and answered “I”to the question of the deity. That is why man dies like all the animals. The serpent alone does not die of itself. To die, it must be killed. Every year, in order to renew its youth and vigour, it has only to change its skin.308 Almost identical stories to explain human mortality are told by the Dusuns of British North Borneo and the Todjo-Toradjas of Central Celebes.309

The Wahehe of Tanganyika Territory believe in a Supreme Being called Nguruhi, but they do not pray or sacrifice to him, reserving all their worship for the spirits of the dead.

To the east of these tribes, but still in the southern portion of Tanganyika Territory (German East Africa), the Wahehe inhabit a mountainous and barren region intersected by valleys down which rush torrents of clear cold water. Despite its situation within the tropics the country, swept by keen biting winds, enjoys a cool or even cold climate. The rich grass which carpets the banks of the rivers affords excellent pasture for cattle; and accordingly the Wahehe are mainly a pastoral people, who put all their pride and ambition in the maintenance and multiplication of their herds.310 Like the other tribes whom we have surveyed, the Wahehe believe in a Supreme Being, a Creator whom they call Nguruhi. The name appears to be only another form of Nguluwi, by which the Wakulwe designate the same mighty being.311 The Wahehe believe that he sends rain and sunshine, wind and storm, thunder and lightning, in short, that he is the author of all the great atmospheric phenomena of nature. In his hand, too, are the destinies of mankind; he causes them to be born and to die, to be well or to be sick, to be rich or to be poor; at his good pleasure he blesses them with abundant harvests or smites them with dearth and famine. He is a spirit, invisible, and incapable of being represented in art; accordingly, no image of him exists or has ever existed. He created the world, but as to when or how he did so, the people have no definite idea. They conceive of him as all-powerful, but yet as maintaining only a general control over the world and human destiny, while the spirits of the dead (masoka) exert a permanent and very considerable influence on the course of all particular events. It is true that Nguruhi is lord also over the spirits of the dead, but his relation to them is a subject on which the natives have but little reflected. To this Supreme Being they neither pray nor sacrifice; they do not strive to enter into any form of communion with him; substantially he stands quite aloof from their religious life, and in practice he serves only as the standing explanation of every thing and every event which is otherwise inexplicable. All the devotion, all the worship of the people is directed to the spirits of the dead, who are the real objects of the popular religion.312

The Wapare or Wasu believe in a good God and Creator called Kyumbi.

Story like that of the Tower of Babel.

The Pare mountains form a range running southward from Mount Kilimanjaro, near the eastern boundary of Tanganyika Territory (German East Africa). The greater part of the mountains is inhabited by a tribe called the Wapare or Wasu. Among them have been recorded some ancient and half-forgotten legends of a good God, the Creator of the world, whom they call Kyumbi. They say that he gave their forefathers cattle, in order that they might clothe themselves in the hides, for he pitied their nakedness. He gave them also maize and the fruits of the field, and taught them to till the ground, for they suffered from hunger. God was near, men lived in communion with him. But Kiriamagi, the Eater of Egg's, the Deceiver, the Serpent, tempted men to eat eggs, which Kyumbi had forbidden them to do. And God punished them with a great famine, so that they began to eat beetles in order to save their lives. All mankind died, except two, a young man and a young woman. From them all the generations of the earth are descended. Now God was still near to men. But when men multiplied they grew froward, and they spake among themselves, saying, “Come, let us build a tower, whose top shall reach to the upper land, in order that we may creep up it and wage war on Him that is above in His own country”. But Kyumbi looked down on them, as a man looks down on a heap of ants, and he said, “What are these little pigmies down below there?” Then the earth quaked, and the tower broke in two, and buried the builders under the ruins. But Kyumbi moved the upper land far away, and ever since he has not been near men, but far, far away. And since that day men have sought God, and wished to draw him down to them, but they could not; for Kyumbe hearkened to them no more.313

Kyumbi is also called Ithuwa, that is, the Sun.

Morning prayer to the Sun.

And men beheld the fiery orb which rises in the east from the underworld and passes by to vanish again in the west, and to go down into the realm of shadows; and they made the fiery orb their god, and from that time they named their god Ithuwa, that is to say, the Sun. Thoughtful people among the Wapare still speak of a God who is separate from the sun, and who lives on or in the sun and created it, as he created everything else. But for most folk the three names Kyumbi, Ithuwa, and Mrungu are all one; all three signify God. If you ask them where Kyumbi, or Ithuwa, or Mrungu is, they point to the sun. Ithuwa, the Sun, is the male god, and he begat mankind; Mweji, the Moon, is the female deity, and she bore mankind. The stars are the divining pebbles which the Moon handles when she consults the oracle about the birth of children. Men pray to Ithuwa for children and increase of cattle; and apart from these blessings they pray to him chiefly to guard them against the foe who walks in darkness and dabbles in magic. Early in the morning the father of the family takes a mouthful of beer and spits it out twice towards the rising sun, and twice he prays, saying, “O Ithuwa, thou chief, thou Mrungu, thou who didst create men, and cattle, and trees, and grass, thou who passest by overhead, look upon him who curses me! When thou breakest forth in the morning, may he see thee; but when thou goest down at evening, may he see thee no more! But if I have sinned against him, may I die before thou dost decline!”And when a man is dying, he takes the hand of his son, spits into it and says: “My son, I die. But do thou dwell below the water-brook that thou mayest ever be able to water thy field. May Ithuwa give thee the strength and fatness of the field. May He give thee cattle and children, a son and a daughter!”314

The Sky-god Kyumbi identified or confused with the Sun.

Prayers to the Sun for the destruction of an enemy and for the healing of the sick.

Thus it would appear that the Wapare have some traditions or reminiscences of an ancient Sky-god named Kyumbi, who at a later time has been identified or confused by them with the sun. The foregoing account of this religious evolution or degeneration is drawn from the work of a German missionary who has lived among the Wapare. It is confirmed by the testimony of another German missionary, who, on questioning a very old man as to what the Wapare knew about God, received the following answer: “Kiumbe is the Creator who created everything. We know nothing more about him. He does not trouble himself about us, and we do not trouble ourselves about him. But the Sun is great, and the Moon is great; the Moon gives birth to the children of men.” Another native said, “As Creator, Kiumbe is known to us all”. But when one of the Wapare is asked to give fuller information on the deity, he has nothing more to say, and falls back on the Sun and Moon as more familiar and, above all, visible beings.315 The same missionary describes more fully the prayer offered by those people to the Sun for the destruction of an enemy. He tells us that when a chief is threatened with an unjust war by an enemy, he prepares some honey beer in a small pot, and mounts with it to the roof of his hut, where he sets down the pot and offers a libation to the Creator (Kiumbe), to the Firmament (kilunge), and to the Sun and Moon, spitting twice towards the sunrise and twice towards the sunset. He prays at the same time that his foe may see the rising, but not the setting of the orb of day. This prayer or incantation he repeats on four successive days, and on the day of battle he gives his enemy notice of it by proclamation. And a native doctor, after he has treated his patient, will go out of the house with his medicine bottle, spit towards the east and the west, and cry to the Sun, “Take our sicknesses to thyself, and go with them whither thou goest!”316

Mount Kilimanjaro, the African, Olympus.

On the extreme northern edge of Tanganyika Territory (German East Africa), close to the boundary of Kenya Colony, stands Mount Kilimanjaro, a huge extinct volcano more than nineteen thousand feet high. For a perpendicular height of some five thousand feet its summit is sheathed in a mantle of eternal ice and snow. Rising in isolated majesty from the plain, the great mountain offers a most impressive spectacle, whether, viewed from a distance of over a hundred miles, its snowy dome appears like a dazzling white cloud against the blue African sky, or whether the traveller gazes up at its soaring mass from the hot tropical lowlands at its foot. The sides of the mountain are riven into ridges by deep ravines carved by torrents, their precipitous banks draped with tree ferns and wild bananas; waterfalls plunge with a thundrous roar down sheer cliffs or trickle over rocky inclines into clear crystal pools set in a riot of jungle growth; on the lower slopes the ridges are clad in the verdurous mantle of unbroken banana groves, among which nestle the huts of the mountain dwellers; higher up the luxuriant groves give place to virgin forest, the haunt of elephants and leopards; where the gnarled tree-trunks are interwoven by trailing vines and decked with ferns, orchids, and moss, where the dense foliage overhead is wet with the morning mist, and under foot the ground is carpeted with delicate wild flowers, and honeycombed with springs that well forth at every step. Here monkeys gambol among the trees, squirrels leap from bough to bough, the air is full of the ceaseless hum of insects, and butterflies of gorgeous hues flit through the dappled sunshine and shade of the forest Higher up the woods are replaced by open grass lands, and higher still succeed moors of heather, strewn with boulders. Here the trees have disappeared, and with them have gone most of the signs and sounds of abounding animal life which relieved the gloom of the forest Silence and solitude now reign, broken occasionally by the croak of a raven on a rock, or by the sight of a duiker scampering through the heather, or of a hawk poised on level pinions overhead. Higher still a desert of sand, shingle, and rock stretches up to the eternal snows and glaciers of the summit. The very few Europeans who have scaled Mount Kibo, the loftier of the two peaks of Kilimanjaro, have looked down with wonder on an immense crater, over a mile wide and many hundreds of feet deep, its floor covered with vast sheets and battlements of ice. For though lava has flowed over the rim of the crater and run down the flanks of the mountain, leaving great petrified ridges which look like giant girders supporting the dome of ice, yet at the present day the volcano displays no sign of outward activity; only the ominous tremors that often shake the ground give warning of the tremendous fires that slumber beneath the seemingly calm and peaceful surface. In its combination of loftiness with grandeur and beauty of scenery, if not in the solemn religious impression which it has made on the minds of its people, Kilimanjaro deserves to rank as the Olympus of Africa.317

The Wachagga of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The native inhabitants of Kilimanjaro occupy the slopes from a height of about four to six or seven thousand feet. They belong to the Bantu family, but they are by no means homogeneous in blood, being the descendants of different tribes who have been driven up the mountain from the plains by the pressure of enemies. They have no common name for themselves, but by Europeans they are called Wachagga or Chagga, and this name has now been practically adopted by the people themselves. They have evolved a more or less common language, with dialects which are very distinct from each other. Similarly their customs are for the most part uniform, though they vary in detail. The differences of dialect, and to a certain extent of custom are favoured by the configuration of their country; for the various communities inhabit separate ridges which are sharply divided from each other by the deep river valleys of the mountain. Each community styles itself the people of this or that ridge, as for instance the Wamashe, the Wamoshi, and so forth. They are all devoted exclusively to agriculture, except in one district where pasture land favours the breeding of cattle.318 Before the arrival of the Wachagga the mountain is said to have been inhabited by a dwarf people called the Wakonyingo or Wadarimba.319

The great Sky-god of the Wachagga is named Ruwa, a word which may denote either the sky or the sun.

But the primary root of the deity seems to be the sky rather than the sun.

The Wachagga recognize the existence of a great Sky-god whom they call Ruwa.320 In its absolute form the word Ruwa denotes the sun only, but in its locative form it designates the sky.321 Some confusion seems to reign in the language, if not in the minds, of the Wachagga as to the distinction between Ruwa as a god, as the sun, and as the sky. In the same breath they will speak of him as a divine being, the Creator of men, and as the physical sun which rises, sets, and shines. But this confusion, though it may puzzle the European, presents no difficulty to the African. The conception of the external world as purely physical is foreign to him; the boundary of the supernatural and mysterious, if he admits a boundary of it at all, is close at hand for him, and he passes it readily and without misgiving; to him it is perfectly natural to invest with personality and to treat as powerful spiritual beings those objects of the external world which affect him deeply. His worship of Ruwa is founded on a simple personification either of the orb of the sun or of the dome of heaven.322 Which of the two, the sun or the sky, furnished the starting-point of the conception of the great god seems doubtful. One of our best authorities on the Wachagga, the German missionary, Bruno Gutmann, appears to hold that the primary root of the deity is the sky rather than the sun. He tells us that the Wachagga energetically deny that Ruwa dwells in the sun or above the blue vault of heaven; his place is between the sky and the earth; they name the whole sky Ruwa, and say that it is a god who embraces, a sit were, the whole world of man. But the actual vault or firmament, which they believe to be of stone, they call by a different name Again, the god Ruwa cannot be identical with the physical sun, because at night the sun sets in the west and passes under the earth to his place of rising in the east; whereas Ruwa is conceived of as brooding by night as well as by day over our human world. From all this Mr. Gutmann infers that in deifying Ruwa the Wachagga thought originally, not of the glowing orb of day, but of the whole broad heaven. “The worship of the sky”, he says, “was the starting-point of their idea of God.” 323

Native account of the celestial nature of Ruwa.

This conclusion as to the celestial rather than the solar origin of the god Ruwa is confirmed by the opinion of an intelligent native, who reported the views of his people as follows:

“It appears that in speaking of Ruwa they think, it is true, of the sun, but, on the whole, more of the sky. If they believed that Ruwa was the sun, then a man who prayed to Ruwa at night would look downward, because at night the sun is believed to be below the earth. At evening also he would turn towards the west where the sun goes down. But people do not so, not by any means. The reason why they think of the sun is this: they know that the sun is something very big and wonderfully shiny. It can also walk day and night without stopping for rest and refreshment. But nobody can say why it keeps walking about, whether it be to keep awake or for any other reason. They believe also that in form it is like a man, and that it talks like a man and eats grass. It, or rather he, has also made a farm-steading for himself; and when he is in the zenith he has reached his steading. The moon is the wife of Ruwa, and the stars are his cattle. But whether he slaughters them is more than anybody knows.”324

Comparison of Ruwa to a cow.

With this description of the Sun as a being of the graminivorous order, we may compare the vision which an old Chagga woman professed to have had of Ruwa himself. Asked to describe the deity, she said that he was as large as a cow, and that his tail was speckled red and white.325

The birds that peek at the rising sun.

How little the Wachagga identify the physical sun with Ruwa appears from their belief that, when the sun rises in the morning, it is so tiny that it would be pecked to pieces by the birds, if certain sleepless guardians were not stationed far in the east, at the end of the world, to scare away the flocks of fowls that would otherwise swallow the sun and leave the world in darkness.326

Ruwa the Creator of man but not of the universe.

Mortal character of Ruwa.

Ruwa is not conceived of as the Creator of the universe. If a Chagga man be asked who made the sun and the earth, he will answer that they have always existed, but of the stars he will sometimes say that they are Ruwa's children.327 On the other hand Ruwa is said to have created the first human pair; among the various verbs used to express this creation one (igumba) is otherwise only used to express the moulding of clay by a potter. To this day men come into being by the will of Ruwa. He it is who fashions the child in its mother's womb. A childless man will say sadly, “Ruwa has overlooked me”. A cripple is under the special protection of Ruwa, and none may mock or illtreat him, because they say that it was Ruwa who made him so.328 As a personal deity, Ruwa is believed to be kind and merciful, and these amiable features of his character are illustrated by many stories told about him. For example, we hear of a poor man who set out to seek Ruwa. He wandered on and on eastward, till he came to a meadow where a great herd of cattle was browsing. Some of the kine took a path that led downward, but others went upward, and the poor man followed them and came to Ruwa. And Ruwa received him kindly, inquired into his distress, and granted his request, saying, “That which thou wishest for thou shalt find at home”.329

Ruwa the guardian of the moral law.

More than that, Ruwa is regarded in some sense as the guardian of the moral law. On the omnipotence and goodness of Ruwa a Chagga man expressed himself as follows:

“Ruwa has power to do all things. Ruwa does not change: as Ruwa was of old, so he is now. Nor does he lie; as he says so will he do. If a man does evil, though it be at night, Ruwa sees him. If the chief and his warriors surround a man, they cannot kill him if Ruwa does not permit it. When a man sickens and goes to the diviner and slaughters many goats and oxen for sacrifice, he will not be cured if Ruwa does not wish it. But Ruwa assists such and such a spirit to cure him. The spirit is the deputy of Ruwa who sends it to do his work, to cast sickness on people, to give them children, to bring famine, to mock bad men, to demand cattle, goats, and sheep, and to take them to Ruwa, and to bring small-pox and war into the country, to kill such and such a one by sickness and to kill all those whom Ruwa wants.

What parents teach their children about Ruwa.

“And the Wachagga teach their children thus: If a child is sent by its parents, and if that child refuses, or if a child quarrels with the parents and strikes them, or if it does evil, stealing so that people seize the property of the parents, such a child is rejected by Ruwa and will die before he marries. And a robber who steals much and kills people, such a man cannot hide himself; there will come a clay when Ruwa will place him in the hands of the judge who will punish him. A man who commits treason, who invites enemies to attack his country, such a man is rejected by Ruwa and will die with all his clan; Ruwa will cut them down in their land. Ruwa cares for the poor, he cares for the orphans. If a man doss good, if he does not intrigue against any one, if he does not steal but eats of his own hand, if he honours and cares for his elders, Ruwa will rejoice and give the blessing of cattle and goats and children. Now if you see a hut which has many sorrows, there evil has been done by the owner and his forebears, and now Ruwa has sent a spirit of this family to bring distress among them. So, my child, fear evil, do well, and Ruwa will rejoice and he will send you great blessing.”

“And the elders thus teach their children at the hour of noon, and those who are taught point to the sky with one finger and spit thrice.”330

The worship of Ruwa cast into the shade by that of the ancestral spirits.

Yet withal the worship of Ruwa plays a very small part in the religion of the Wachagga; as in so many other Bantu tribes, the worship of the Supreme Being is cast into the background and almost completely overshadowed by the worship of the dead: the cult of ancestral spirits is the real religion of the Wachagga. Indeed the figure of Ruwa seems at times almost to fade away into a dim, a shadowy abstraction, destitute of all significance for the practical life of the people. It is not only that he is thought of as so far away, so foreign, so aloof from mere humanity, while the spirits of the dead are so near and so familiar; it is also that he is so good and so kind that he never sends trouble or distress, and therefore men have no need to fear and propitiate him; whereas among the spirits of the dead there are many that persecute and torment poor mortals; hence the Wachagga are compelled to sacrifice continually to these powerful and dangerous beings, to court their favour or appease their wrath.331

Why the Wachagga honor the dead more than Ruwa.

The same Chagga man who testified to the goodness and overruling providence of Ruwa went on further to explain why it is that nevertheless the Wachagga fear and honour the spirits of the dead more than him. He said:

“If you ask them why they fear and obey the spirits more than they do Ruwa, they will answer thus: ‘When the Chief sends to demand something that is his due, and on that day you have naught to give, whom will you try to appease, the Chief or his messenger that he may speak well of you to the Chief and the Chief may have mercy on you? And if you give bad words to the spirit who is sent to you, or refuse him that which the diviner has counselled you to give (that is, to sacrifice), that spirit will go to Ruwa and accuse you, and Ruwa will be angered and will send another spirit, a foreign spirit who is not of your ancestry, to afflict you greatly and to kill you. For this reason we honour the spirits more.’ Thus the old men speak concerning God and the spirits.”332

Sacrifices and prayers offered to Ruwa only in the second place.

As a general rule, sacrifices are only offered to Ruwa when the prayers and sacrifices offered to the spirits have proved in vain. For example, if a man is sick, and offerings have been made to the spirits for many days to ensure his recovery, but without result, the people may say, “All this is useless. We will go no more to the diviner. The next goat that we slaughter shall be offered to Ruwa.” So they fetch a goat when the sun is in the zenith. They bring it into the courtyard, and hold it with their hands, and spit on its head and say, “Here is the goat, Ruwa, my Chief. Thou alone knowest, how thou wilt deal with this man, as if thou wouldst beget him anew.” The goat is taken away, brought behind the house, and slaughtered. The flesh they eat themselves. Ruwa gets only the soul.333

Goats Sacrificed to Ruwa for rain

Again, when rain is wanted, and the rainmaker has uttered his incantations and sacrificed to the ancestral spirits, but all in vain, he will advise the chief to offer sacrifice to Ruwa or the Sun. He will say, “The rain would have come by now, O chief, but it is hindered by a Man of the Sun. A goat must be sacrificed over the door of the hut, and beer and milk must be spat upward”. Accordingly the sacrifice is offered by the rainmaker, assisted by an old man. The goat is hoisted on the thatched roof of the chiefs hut and stretched out at full length on its back over the doorway, with its horns fastened in the thatch. Kneeling on the goat, the wizard receives a calabash full of beer, takes some of the beer in his mouth, spits it four times towards the sky, and prays,” Sun, my Chief, let the rain fall on us!” Then he does the same with the milk. Lastly, he stabs the goat to the heart with a knife, thus accomplishing the sacrifice. The goat is then taken down from the roof and cut up. The rainmaker carries home one half of the animal, and his assistant gets the other.334

Sacrifices to Ruwa for offsprings.

Again, when a married pair are childless or all their: children have died, they seek to procure offspring by offering a sacrifice to Ruwa or the Sun. The sacrifice is offered at noon, when the sun is in the zenith, for that is the right time to sacrifice to Ruwa. The victim, a goat, is laid on its back at the entrance of the hut so that half of its body projects into the house. Men and women strip themselves naked and stand beside the victim. The old people say, “We have given heed to that which here cuts off the thread of life, and we find that the cause is not any human being here on earth, but that it is He on High, who turns his eyes down on us below. It is He in his wrath. But if we sacrifice to him, the trouble will cease, he will give you the child.” Before the goat is stabbed to the heart, the childless couple spit four times between its horns, and each of them leaps four times over its body, the husband first and after him the wife. Then the victim is slaughtered and cut up, and omens are taken from the state of the entrails.335

Sacrifices and prayers to Ruwa in war.

Again, when the Wachagga go to war, they sacrifice to the spirits and Ruwa, and they say, “Ruwa, my Chief, mayest thou take me by the hand and lead me safe! Keep for me a head of cattle, O Chief, that with it I may sacrifice to thee.” And if the army returns with a booty of cattle, they sacrifice and give thanks, once to the spirits, and once to Ruwa, saying, “Hail, Ruwa, my Chief! Thou hast brought me back safe and sound, so that I am come to my house. Here is a goat, thou wealthy one, mayest thou hereafter lend me another!”336

Sacrifices and prayers to Ruwa at the boundary of the country.

There is another sacrifice in which Ruwa is brought into immediate connexion with the ancestral spirits. The Wachagga formerly fortified their country on the side of the steppes by deep trenches. By day, to facilitate peaceful intercourse, these trenches were bridged by tree-trunks, which the wardens of the bridges removed at night. The guardian spirit of the bridge was believed to be the ancestor who first kept watch and ward at the trench. At the end of the rainy season, when the intercourse between the different communities, and also with the population of the steppes, begins afresh, sacrifices are still offered at all these entrances into the country in order to prevent sickness and plague from passing the boundary. The sacrifices are addressed to God (Ruwa), because the ancestral spirits have no power over sickness that comes from far; it is sent not by them but by God. The prayer which accompanies the sacrifice runs thus: “Thou Man of Heaven, O Chief, take this head of cattle. We pray thee that thou wouldest lead far past and away the sickness that comes on earth! And Thou, O Owner of the Bridge, help us to entreat the Man of Heaven that he send us no sickness!” Thus the prayer is addressed to God (Ruwa) and to the Owner of the Bridge, that is, to the spirit of the dead first Warden of the Marches; but the Warden is only besought to act as intercessor with the Man of Heaven, the great god Ruwa.337

Morning and evening prayers to Ruwa.

Simple prayers, unaccompanied by sacrifices, are also offered to Ruwa by pious people both at morning and at evening. Thus at night a man will take his stand in the courtyard of his hut and looking up at the sky will say, “Ruwa, O Chief, hail to thee! Thou hast made me to pass this day in peace, grant that I pass this night in peace also!” And in the morning likewise many people look up at the sky, the mid sky, not at the point where the sun rises, and as they look they say, “Thanks be to thee, Ruwa O Lord, thou hast guarded me this night. Be pleased to guard me also the livelong day and let me not want some food to eat!” With these words they spit towards the sky.338 The regular Chagga mode of saluting Ruwa is to name the god and to spit thrice towards the sky, his home.339

Stories about the Origin of Death told by the Wachagga. Story of the Forbidden Fruit.

The Wachagga tell many stories about Ruwa. Among these stories is one which professes to account for human mortality. It is so remarkable that it deserves to be related in full.

The story runs thus. When Ruwa had either created mankind or at all events liberated them from confinement,340 he kindly provided for their subsistence. He gave them a banana grove, and in the grove of their principal elder he planted a great number of sweet potatoes and yams. And in the centre he planted a species of yam called Ula, or Ukaho, which is planted beneath large trees and trained up creeper vines. What follows is related in the words of the natives, only rendered into English.

“Ruwa instructed the elder of the village in this wise ‘I give you leave to eat all the fruit of the bananas, also al the potatoes in the banana grove. Eat all the bananas and potatoes, you and your people. But the yam which is called Ula or Ukaho, truly you shall not eat it. Neither you nor your people may eat it, and if any man cats it, his bones shall break and at last he shall die.”

How the man was tempted to cut of the forbidden fruit.

“Then Ruwa left the people and went his ways. And every morning and evening he came to greet the elder and his people. Now one day a stranger came and greeted the elder and begged for food. The elder said to the stranger: ‘Go into the banana grove to eat bananas and potatoes there, but the potato Ula do not eat at all. For Ruwa directed me and my people that we should not eat it, therefore do you not eat it’ The stranger said: ‘It is now noon, this morning early Ruwa bade me tell you to give me a cooking-pot that I might cook this Ula, to eat it with you and your people that we may rejoice’. The elder hearing that Ruwa had sent this stranger, gave him a cooking-pot. And the stranger took a digging-stick and dug up the Ula and put it in the pot. The elder and the stranger cooked the Ula yams, and they started to eat.

Death the consequence of eating of the forbidden fruit.

“As they were eating Ruwa's Minister smelt the odour of cooking like to the odour of Ula. At once he came running up and asked them: ‘What do you? What are you eating?’ So the elder and the stranger were astonished and greatly afraid, they could find nothing to reply. Then the Minister of Ruwa took the pot with the yams and carried it to Ruwa. When Ruwa saw them he was very angry and sent his Minister a second time. And he went and spoke to the elder and his people: ‘Because you were deceived by a stranger and ate my Ula, I shall break your bones and burst your eyes, and at last you shall die’. So the Minister returned to Ruwa. Since that day they have not seen him again, and Ruwa has not sent word to them again, and people commenced to be broken, and their eyes to be closed, and afterwards they died. Thus the old men of the Wachagga tell and know.

Another story of the Origin of Death, the cast skin and the naughty granddaughter.

“When the Minister had gone to Ruwa, at once the people and their elders commenced to sicken in their bones and eyes. So the elder prayed to Ruwa for honey and milk. And Ruwa hearkened to him, and he sent his minister again to tell the elder, ‘Now I will have mercy on you and your people. Know henceforth that you shall grow to a great age, and when you die you shall cast your skin as a snake does, and afterwards you shall become as a youth again. But not one of your people may see you when you cast your skin, you must be alone at such time. And if your child or grandchild see you, in that hour you shall die altogether and not be saved again.’

“So they lived until the elder became very aged. His children seeing this gave him his granddaughter to care for him, that he might not fall into the hearth and be burnt. Now the old man knew that the day was come for him to cast his skin as Ruwa had sent word to him by his Minister. And he considered how to be rid of his granddaughter to give him opportunity to change his skin. And he said to the granddaughter:” Bring a gourd and fetch me water here. And the granddaughter brought a gourd. The old man took a large needle and made small holes in the bottom of the gourd and gave it to the girl and instructed her to bring water. The old man knew she would not return quickly for the gourd was pierced with many holes. The granddaughter went quickly to draw water. But when the bowl was filled she saw that all the water leaked out because the gourd was pierced with many holes. And she made efforts to plug the holes. When she had finished plugging the holes she filled the gourd. And she placed the gourd on her head and hastened home to her grandfather. As she entered the house she was startled, for the old man had cast half his skin. The old man stared at her in great amazement, and cried out aloud: ‘So be it, I have died, all of you will die; I have died, all of you shall die. For you, granddaughter, entered while I cast my skin. Woe is me, woe is you!’

The origin of baboons monkeys, and apes.

“So the old man slowly wrapped himself up in his skin and died. And his children came with his grandchildren and they buried him. And that bad grandchild they drove away, and she went into the forest. And she became a wife and bore children, but not human children; she gave birth only to children with four legs and a tail. And these indeed are the baboons, and monkeys, and apes, and colobus monkeys. Thus the baboons and these others are the children of her who offended against her grandfather. For this reason the baboons and their like are called ‘People of the Forest’ or “Children of the Curse.”341

The two stories give two different explanations of the Origin of Death.

This curious legend has been reported by the Hon. Charles Dundas, Senior Commissioner of Tanganyika Territory (German East Africa). It obviously comprises two apparently distinct explanations of the origin of human mortality. According to the one explanation, men die because one of the first men ate of a certain kind of yam which God had forbidden him to eat under pain of death. According to the second explanation, men die because one of the first men was seen by his granddaughter in the act of casting his skin like a serpent and hence was prevented from renewing his youth. For, like many other primitive peoples, the Wachagga believe that serpents renew their youth by casting their skin: “to grow young like a serpent” appears to be a proverb with them.342

Both stories reported independently by a German missionary.

Both stories—that of the forbidden fruit and that of the cast skin—are reported independently by the German missionary, Mr. Bruno Gutmann, one of our best authorities on the religion and customs of the Wachagga. His version of the story of the cast skin runs as follows:

The story of the Cast Skin.

A man and his wife reached a great age. They had two children, a boy and a girl. One day the man said to his wife, “We must do something to renew our youth”. He commanded her saying, “Plait two market-bags out of tree-bark. In them the children shall fetch water, for such bags leak, so the children will not soon return.”

When the wife had woven the bags, she called the two children, gave them the two bags, and said to them, “With these bags fetch water to-day, and come not again until the bags are full”. The children went away, and the old man said to his wife, “Now will we cast our skins like the serpents and be young again”. So they began to strip off their skin. But hardly had they begun to do so when they heard the children talking in the courtyard. The old man sent them away again, and cried, “Go to the water until it remains in the bag”. The children did as he had bidden them. Ten times they turned back with the bags drained empty. Then they said, “We will go to the house”. This time they went softly and came unperceived into the house.

The story of the Two Pots.

There they found their father and mother half stripped of their skin. Their father called out to them, “Now you see me as I am. Shall I now burst like an earthen pot, or shall I burst like a calabash that one pieces together again?” The son said, “Burst like an earthen pot, which one does not piece together again”. Then his father burst and died.343

In this story the conclusion concerning the burst pot introduces us to a third and independent explanation of the origin of death which has been clumsily tacked on to the story of the cast skin. In its independent form the story of the burst pot runs as follows:

Of old when a man died he burst with a crack like that of a gourd-bottle. Then his friends came and sewed him up, and he got up as fresh and well as before. Now when an old woman drew near to death, she called her children and said to them, “I shall now die. Choose ye now what kind of death ye wish, my sons. Will ye die and break in bits like a gourd-bottle which is patched up again? or will ye break in bits like an earthen pot?” They answered, “We should like to break in bits like an earthen pot”. Then the old woman cried out, “Alas! If ye had said, I will break in bits like a gourd bottle, ye should have been patched up again. But how shall ye patch up an earthen pot when once it is in bits?” Hence men have now incurred the doom of death, which cannot be cured. When they die, it is all up with them. They are buried and rot.344

Another story of the Origin of Death: the moon and the perverted message.

The thoughts of the Wachagga would seem to be much occupied with the problem of human mortality, for they tell yet, another and quite different story to explain it. The story is this:

A certain man had two wives. The child of one of the wives died, and the mother asked the other wife, saying, “Go and cast my child into the forest, and as thou dost so say these words,’ Go and come back like the moon'”. But the other wife envied her the child; and when she laid it down in the forest, she said, “Go and lose thyself and come not back; but let the moon go and come back”. Since that day the moon comes back after it has vanished, but when man dies he comes back no more.345

The same story is told by the Masai,346 from whom the Wachagga may have borrowed it, for the two peoples have long been in contact with each other. It contains the elements of the perverted message and of the moon, both of which are typical of whole classes of myths told by simple peoples to account for the origin of death.347

In one version of the Chagga story it is a serpent who tempts man to eat the forbidden fruit.

But to return to the story of the forbidden fruit. In Mr. Dundas's version it is a stranger who tempts the man to eat of it, but in Mr. Gutmann's version it is a serpent. As reported by Mr. Gutmann, the story runs thus: In the beginning God created a man and a woman. Then he created the cattle, bull and cow, then the goats, he-goat and she-goat. So he did with all living things, two and two he created them. In the beginning there were only two human beings, until they multiplied. God commanded them that they should not eat all the fruits which he had made. But the serpent deceived the woman, and she ate with her husband. The serpent said, “It is a lie, God has deceived you. Only eat” But God said, “I will scatter your sons, so that none knows the speech of the other”348

Resemblances of Chagga myths to Biblical stories.

The reader will observe that this version of the story contains no allusion to the origin of death. It has the appearance of being made up of elements drawn from the Biblical stories of the Fall of Man and the Tower of Babel. The suspicion that this is so derives support from other Chagga legends, which bear some resemblance to the Biblical stories of Cain and Abel and the Great Flood. These stories have been reported by Mr. Charles Dundas in the words of his native informants.349 To report and discuss them here would be out of place. I will content myself with quoting Mr. Dundas's judicious remarks on these African parallels to the narratives in Genesis. He says:

Mr. Dundas on these African parallels to narratives in Genesis.

“The first of these myths bears a striking resemblance to the Biblical accounts of the fall of man and the origin of death. The second part recalls very vividly the story of Cain. So also the destruction of mankind by Ruwa recalls the story of the flood. The first destruction was by a devouring colossus who came from the water, the second destruction was caused by an actual flood.”

“These ancient myths sound a little strange in African form and applied to conditions which survive to this day, but they retain the essential substance and characteristics of the ancient Semitic accounts. I have satisfied myself that they are familiar to the Chagga people; and that they could not have been gleaned from Mission teachings, follows in the first place from the circumstance that Mission activities have been too recently introduced on Kilimanjaro, in the second place these myths are best known to the old people. Furthermore, if such legends were imitations of Christian teaching there is no reason why they should have been restricted to the Old Testament.

“Merker in his book on the Masai has recounted a number of myths which bear an astonishing resemblance to the Biblical myths and include the substance of those here related. This portion of Marker's book has been much criticized and its authenticity doubted, but it seems to me to receive strong support from the fact that similar myths are known to the Chagga people. The latter not only have lived for generations surrounded by the Masai, and have been in close contact with that tribe, but many of them are direct offshoots of the Masai. It is therefore very possible that they have incorporated in their mythology a part of the Masai legends, adapting them to their own conditions of life.

“There seems no absolute reason for an assumption that the Biblical myths could not have been known to the Masai, and if they were, it is not surprising that the Wachagga should have acquired the same myths. But it is curious to observe how the one myth may be cloaked in many different forms, while its essential elements are carefully preserved. Between Noah's flood and Rimu's devastation there is considerable difference, but it is typical of changes in legendary that the flood in one place should in another be converted into a devouring monster proceeding from the water. Such variation seems to me too authentic to be the mere invention or repetition of something heard, and suggests rather an ancient origin of the myth.”350

The Chagga myth of the cast skin has nothing to correspond to it in the Biblical myth of the Origin of Death.

Suggested link between the two myths.

While I agree with Mr. Dundas in thinking that the Chagga stories which resemble the early narratives in Genesis may have been borrowed from the Masai, and that the Masai stories in turn may not improbably be traced back to a Semitic source, I would point out that among the Chagga explanations of the origin of human mortality there is one which at first sight differs entirely from the Biblical legend of the Fall of Man. That explanation is given in the story of the cast skin, which relates that formerly men were able to renew their youth perpetually by casting their skins like serpents, which are supposed in like manner to slough off old age with their skins and so to live for ever; but of this serpentine immortality, as we may call it, men were unfortunately deprived by the ill-timed intervention of somebody at the critical moment. As I have had occasion to point out elsewhere,351 a story of this type is widely diffused over the world. At the first blush, it appears to have no connexion with the Biblical narrative and the corresponding Chagga myth of the Fall of Man, which traces human mortality to the eating of a forbidden fruit Yet a connecting link may be detected between them in the part which the serpent plays in the Biblical version and in one of the Chagga versions of the myth. If in the story the serpent deprives man of the boon of immortality, we may surmise that in the original form of the tale the wily creature always did this for the purpose of appropriating to himself the blessing of which he robbed mankind; so that the story regularly aimed at explaining the cause both of the real mortality of men and of the supposed immortality of serpents. In the Biblical version the story has apparently been mutilated, and thereby rendered unintelligible, by the omission of one half of the tale, namely, that which explained the supposed immortality of serpents.

African stories of the mortality of man contrasted with the immortality of serpents.

The chameleon, the man, and the serpents.

The story which contrasts the mortality of man with the supposed immortality of serpents is found among other Bantu tribes beside the Wachagga. Thus we have found it among the Wafipa and Wabende of Tanganyika Territory.352 It occurs also in a somewhat different form among the Kavirondo in Kenya Colony (British East Africa), on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria Nyanza. They say that after the first human pair had begotten children, and men multiplied on earth, they were subject to all kinds of misery, but death had not yet carried away any of them. One day a chameleon said to a man, “Bring me a pot of beer”. The man brought the pot of beer, and the chameleon crept up the pot, and plunged into the beer. Having bathed in it, he ordered the man to drink the beer. But the man refused, for he abhorred the chameleon, thinking that the mere touch of his skin was poisonous. On his refusal, the chameleon said to him, “From henceforth all you men will die”. While he was speaking, a snake came along, and the chameleon ordered him to sip of the beer. The snake obeyed the order and sipped of the beer. Hence men die and snakes do not, because a snake is reborn every time that he sloughs his skin.353 On this story it may be remarked, that since lizards-cast their skin, and the chameleon is a species of lizard, the story-teller seems to derive the snake's power of sloughing his skin from the like power possessed by the chameleon, since the snake is said to have acquired this property by drinking the beer in which the chameleon had bathed.

The woman who would have cast off her skin and so renewed her youth.

The Baluba, a great tribe or nation in the valley of the Congo, tell a story of the origin of human mortality in which the notion of immortality attained by casting the skin is clearly expressed, though there is no mention of serpents. They say that in the early days of the world God granted a woman the power of renewing her youth and of transmitting the power to the whole human race, on condition that she succeeded in the effort in her own case. So when she began to grow old and withered, she took a friend's winnowing-basket and shut herself up in her hut. There she began to tear off her old skin and to deposit the pieces in the basket. The old skin peeled off easily, and underneath it appeared a skin as fresh as that of a baby. She had nearly finished the operation, and there only remained the head and neck to strip, when her friend approached the hut to get back her basket. Before the old woman could stop her, she pushed the door open and entered. At the same moment the old woman, who had almost renewed her youth, fell dead and carried away with her the secret of immortality. That is why we must all die.354

God, the woman and the serpent.

Again, the Baholoholo, a tribe who border on the Baluba in the valley of the Congo, say that in the beginning God one day sent for the first man and the first woman and also the serpent. Wishing to prove them, he took a kernel in each hand and held them out in his clenched fists, one to the woman and the other to the serpent, saying to them, “Choose”. Now the one kernel contained the seed of mortality and the other the seed of immortality. The woman chose the seed of mortality, and the serpent chose the seed of immortality. “I am sorry for your sake”, said God to the woman, “that you have chosen death, while the serpent has chosen eternal life.” That, continues the legend, is why serpents do not die, whereas men do so. On this story the missionary who reports it remarks that in the opinion of the Tanganyika tribes the serpent does not die; he merely changes his skin; he only dies when he is completely crushed.355

God, the bird, and the snake.

How snakes learned to grow young again by casting their skins.

In this last story, as in so many others of the same type, it was clearly the intention, or at all events the wish, of God that men should be immortal, and he was grieved that the superior sagacity of the serpent had baffled his kindly purpose. The same feature of the myth comes out still more clearly in a Galla version. The Gallas say that God sent to men a certain bird which is called holowaka or “the sheep of God”, because its cry resembles the bleating of a sheep. This bird the deity charged to tell men that they would not die, and that when they found themselves growing old and weak, they should slip off their skins and grow young again. The bird set out to carry the message, but he had not gone far; before he fell in with a snake eating carrion. The bird said to the snake, “Give me some of the meat and the blood, and I will tell you God's message”. The snake answered gruffly that he did not want to hear the message. But the bird pressed him, and at last he consented to listen to it. The bird then said, “The message is this: when men grow old they will die, but you, when you find yourself growing infirm, all you have to do is to crawl out of your skin and you will renew your youth”. That, says the story, is why people grow old and die, but snakes change their skins and grow young again. God cursed the bird for betraying the secret of immortality to serpents. That is why the bird sits moaning and wailing on tree-tops down to this day.356

The Biblical story of the Fall of Man perhaps borrowed from Africa.

It is possible that the Biblical story of the Fall of Man, with its significant but mutilated account of the part played by the serpent in that momentous transaction, was borrowed by the Hebrews, like so much else, from Babylonian and ultimately Sumerian mythology. But no such tale has yet been discovered in Babylonian and Sumerian literature, and when we contrast the absence of the story in Babylonia with its wide diffusion in Africa, we must not exclude the possibility that the myth originated in Africa and was thence derived, through one channel or another, by the Semites. Even if the story should hereafter be found in a Sumerian version, this would not absolutely exclude the hypothesis of its African origin, since the original home of the Sumerians is unknown. It is conceivable, I do not say probable, that the Hebrews learned the story from negroes with whom they may have conversed during their long sojourn in Egypt. Certainly negroes appear to have been settled in Egypt as early as the time of the Twelfth Dynasty (about 2200 to 2000 B.C.), long before the traditional servitude of the Israelites in that country. The faces of the Egyptians on monuments of the Middle Kingdom are thought to exhibit approximations to the negro type, pointing to a mixture of the two races; nay it is even surmised that negro blood may have flowed in the veins of the royal family, which was of southern extraction.357 There is therefore no inherent extravagance in the supposition that the Hebrews may have borrowed the barbarous myth of the Fall of Man from the barbarous negroes, with whom they may have toiled side by side in the burning sun under the lash of Egyptian taskmasters. In favour of an African origin of the myth it may be observed that the explanation of the supposed immortality of serpents, which probably formed the kernel of the story in its original form, has been preserved in several African versions, while it has been wholly lost in the Hebrew version; from which it is natural to infer that the African versions are older and nearer to the original than the corresponding, but incomplete, narrative in Genesis.

Belief in a Supreme Being called Imana among the Warundi (Barundi) of Urundi.

The real religion of the Warundi the worship of the dead.

In Urundi and Ruanda, two districts at the extreme north-west of Tanganyika Territory, the basis of the native religion is the fear of the ancestral spirits (basimu, abasimu) whom the people regard as malignant and as the cause of the evils that befall them. Every father of a family sacrifices to the spirits of his ancestors and of his other deceased relations in the little grass huts which stand near his dwelling, for in them these ghostly beings are believed to reside.358 But at the same time the people acknowledge the existence of a high god or Supreme Being whom they call Imana. He is spoken of by some of our authorities as the Creator of the World;359 and though Father Van der Burgt, a high authority on the language and religion of the Warundi or Barundi, denies that Imana is conceived of as a Creator in the strict sense of the word, by which he means one who creates something out of nothing, he admits that in the opinion of the natives, Imana, either alone or with the help of two other spirits, Rikiranga and Riyangombe, made all visible things, and that he is supposed to dispense life and death, prosperity and misfortune to his creatures.360 The real religion of the Warundi, he tells us, consists in the worship of evil spirits whom they identify with the souls of the dead. Imana is a spirit superior to all the others; he is the first of the ghosts; he has ordered and arranged everything, and, in the view of the Warundi, he is the master of everything in our planetary system.361 Although the Warundi say that Imana has set everything in order, and that he still intervenes in everything, bestowing life and rain and the fruits of the earth, and healing diseases, yet their beliefs concerning him are confused and inconsistent; for sometimes they confound him with the spirits of the dead, and sometimes they regard him as a sort of Pan, who embraces and includes all created beings. Further, they look upon him as their national god, and think that he was the first ancestor of their tribe, of their kings, and even of the whole human species. In short, as 'Father Van der Burgt remarks, it is very difficult to form an exact idea of Imana, and the difficulty is increased by the loose way in which the Warundi employ the name Imana. Thus, they apply it to a sacred grove, to the king of Urundi, to a cock, to the sacred bull, to the sacred lance, to amulets, and so forth. Further, they call Imana by many different names, and confuse or identify him with many different deities.362 Yet they neither sacrifice nor pray to him. They seem to regard him as a Being too lofty to be approached by man, and they turn for help rather to the inferior deities, who, having been once men themselves, are believed to be more closely knit to humanity.363

Belief in a Supreme Being called Imana among the Banyaruanda of Ruanda.

The like vagueness and uncertainty characterize the conception of Imana in the neighbouring province of Ruanda. He is said to be the Creator, yet his relations to the inferior divinities are not clearly defined. The idea which the Banyaruanda have of him is dim and misty. He is said to have created the first man and woman and to have given them fire. He is the master of thunder, lightning, and rain; and people pray to him in some such words as these: “Be favourable to me, Imana, thou who hast made me, who hast made my father, and my grandfather, and my grandfather's father, and my grandmother, and my grandmother's mother, and my own mother. He has healed me, how has he healed me!” Yet the Banyaruanda do not sacrifice to Imana. Hence he plays no part in their worship, and his only function is to satisfy what we may call a theoretical or philosophical craving.364 His home would seem to be in the sky. He is spoken of as the King of Heaven, and he is said to have created animals and plants in the sky, where men at first lived with him in bliss, for sickness and suffering were then unknown.365 Besides his proper name Imana, the Supreme Being is known in Ruanda under various titles, such as Rugaba, “The Giver”, from a verb kugaba, “to give”; Rulema, “The Creator”, from a verb kulema, “to create”; and Rugira, “He who makes to possess”, from a verb kugira, “to make to possess”.366

Belief in a Supreme Being called Rugaba among the natives of Kiziba.

In Kiziba, a district of Tanganyika Territory to the west of Lake Victoria Nyanza, the natives entertain a similar idea of the Supreme Being, whom they call Rugaba. But they can give no exact account of him. He is believed to have created men and cattle, and so long as man lives he is thought to be in the power of Rugaba. Yet the people never sacrifice and seldom pray to Rugaba. It is said that only in the case of a difficult birth do they appeal for help to the Creator of Men.367 Thus the name Rugaba given to the Supreme Being in Kiziba coincides with one of the titles applied to him in Ruanda.

The Baganda of Uganda.

Their National Gods.

The worship of dead Kings.

The worship of ancestral spirits.

Of all the native tribes who inhabit the lake region of Central Africa, the Baganda, who give their name to the Uganda Protectorate, are probably at once the most powerful and the most advanced. They occupy the country which borders on the north-western shores of Lake Victoria Nyanza, bounded on the east by the head waters of the Nile, where the great river flows out of the great lake. The Baganda worship, or rather worshipped till lately, a number of national gods, who appear to have been at one time human beings, noted for their skill and bravery in their life, and raised to the rank of deities after their death.368 The theory of the human origin of the national gods of Uganda is strongly confirmed by the practice of worshipping every dead king in a special temple, where his jawbone and navel-string were preserved with religious care, and where his spirit was regularly consulted as an oracle by a medium or prophet, who was believed to be directly inspired by the ghost.369 “The ghosts of kings”, we are told, “were placed on an equality with the gods, and received the same honour and worship; they foretold events concerning the State, and advised the living king, warning him when war was likely to break out. The king made periodical visits to the temple, first of one, and then of another, of his predecessors. At such times the jawbone and the umbilical cord were placed on the throne in the temple, and the King sat behind them; they were handed to him, and he examined them and returned them to the custodian.”370 Yet even more important in the practical religion of the people appear to have been the ghosts of their own departed kinsfolk, for ghosts were believed to possess an incalculable power for good or evil, and they were worshipped in small shrines built near their graves, where offerings of beer and clothes were made to them by their relatives.371 Thus on the whole the religion of the Baganda may be described as essentially a worship of the dead.

Worship of a Supreme God called Katonda among the Baganda.

At the same time the Baganda acknowledged the existence of a Supreme God, the Creator, whom they named Katonda. He was called the Father of the Gods, because he had created all things, including the inferior deities, who, after appearing on earth in human form for some time, returned to God. However, not much was known about Katonda, and he received little honour and attention. He had a temple on the Banda Hill in the Kyagwe district, but it was only a small hut, much inferior to the temples of the God of Plenty and the God of War. He had a medium or prophet who gave oracles by night; no fire or light was allowed to burn in his temple. Offerings of cattle were occasionally made to him; some of the animals were killed, but most were decorated with a bell round the neck and allowed to roam about during the day, while at night they were brought to one of the huts. The king sometimes sent as a special offering an animal which was never killed. Indeed, he annually despatched a gift of an ox and a milch cow to the temple, and he worshipped the deity on behalf of his people and of the country. But Katonda never came to earth, nor did he take any active part in ruling the world; he left the management of affairs to the inferior gods, his sons. A common saying of the people was that the Creator had done his work, and there is no need to disturb him; the task of carrying on the business of this sublunary sphere had been deputed by him to other deities, whose duty it was to see that all went on smoothly.372

Descent of the kings of Uganda from Katonda.

The Sky-god Gulu is said by the Baganda to have been a son of Katonda and father of Kintu, the first man who came to earth, and who reigned as the first king of Uganda. All the kings of Uganda traced their descent in an unbroken line to Kintu and hence to his grandfather, the Supreme God Katonda.373.

The Bahuma or Banyankole of Ankole.

The negro aborigine called Bahera.

Ankole is a district lying to the south-west of Uganda. The country is hilly, interspersed with tracts of rolling grassy plain and valleys. A few of the hills are extinct volcanoes, in the craters of which nestle lakes of clear water embowered in luxuriant tropical vegetation.374 The climate is healthy and the country lends itself well to cattle-breeding; the “governing class consists of a people who are entirely pastoral in their habits. They are known among the neighbouring tribes as Bahuma or Bahima, though they themselves prefer to be called Banyankole. They are a tall, fine race, though physically not very strong. Women as well as men are above the usual stature of their sex in other tribes. The features of these pastoral people are good: they have straight noses with a bridge, thin lips, finely chiselled faces, heads well set, and a good carriage; indeed, apart from their swarthy complexion and short woolly hair there is little of the negroid about them. They undoubtedly belong to the Hamitic stock, and they differ from other branches of Bahuma in having kept their race pure by refraining from intermarriage with members of negro tribes. Their ancestors must long ago have invaded and conquered the aborigines, who were true negroes and devoted to agriculture. The conquerors did not exterminate the original inhabitants of the land but reduced them to a state of serfdom, in which their descendants continue to this day. These serfs or peasants are known as Bahera. They cultivate fields of millet for their own use, keep a few sheep or goats with which to buy wives or pay fines, and serve their masters the Bahuma or Banyankole, for whom they perform all the menial tasks and drudgery of transport, of building huts and cattle-kraals, and so forth, as well as supplying them with beer and any vegetable food they may require.375 This superposition of a tribe of conquering Hamitic herdsmen on an aboriginal negro population of agricultural peasants, with a consequent division of the people into two classes which differ fundamentally from each other in race, as well as in their habits and modes of life, is characteristic of other parts of the Lake region of Central Africa; it recurs notably in Bunyoro, as we shall see presently.

Ruhanga, the chief god of the Bahuma, dwells in the sky but is not worshipped.

The religion of the Bahuma mainly a worship of the dead.

The Bahuma are not a very religious people; the gods do not trouble them much, and they do not often trouble the gods. Their chief deity is named Ruhanga. He lives; or used to live, in the sky, and he is known as the Creator and Powerful One. The world is said to belong to him; his favour brings life, his anger inflicts sickness and death. Yet he receives no worship and no offerings; he has neither temple nor priest, and people do not pray to him. However, they utter his name in certain ejaculations, such as Tata Ruhanga, an exclamation of joy, accompanied by the clapping of hands, at the birth of a child. Also they sometimes cry out, “May Ruhanga heal you!” (Ruhanga akut-ambire). Still, everybody knows Ruhanga and acknowledges his existence; he is the great benefactor from whom they receive all the good in life as a matter of course and without any thought of making him a return in the shape of offerings. He is said to have created a man Rugabe and his wife Nyamate and sent them to people the earth. They had a son Isimbwa, who was the first of a dynasty of kings that ruled the country. These kings did not die, but became the gods of the land. They had no temples, but there were certain men and women who professed to be their mediums or prophets and claimed the power of healing diseases and otherwise helping the people.376 But, as happens with so many African peoples, the most important part of the religion of the Bahuma is the worship of the dead. All classes of the people, from the king downwards, have or had till lately shrines for their family ghosts, to whom they daily offer milk from certain cows which are specially dedicated to the use of these august beings.377

A Creator acknowledged, but not worshipped by the Bambwa.

Similarly the Bambwa, a turbulent tribe of mountaineers inhabiting the western slopes of the Ruwenzori range, acknowledge the existence of a Creator, but pay him no worship and make him no offerings. The only supernatural beings whom they believe to exert any real influence on their lives are the spirits of the dead, which accordingly require to be propitiated by offerings. Children are named after ancestors, because the ghosts are supposed to become the guardians of their youthful namesakes, the ghosts of men looking after boys, and the ghosts of women taking girls under their protection.378

Bunyoro or Kitara.

To the north-west of Uganda lies Bunyoro or Kitara, as it should rather be called, which was at one time the largest and most powerful of all the independent kingdoms in the lake region of Central Africa. It was not until some three or four generations ago that the territory and power of the kingdom began to dwindle in consequence of the encroachments of its great enemies, the Baganda.379 Most of the country is a rolling plain covered with coarse grass. Yet the flora is very rich and varied, though during the dry season little meets the eye but a scorched and arid waste. The advent of the rains produces a sudden outburst of tropical growth which transforms the desert as by magic into a beautiful garden. On the whole the country is best adapted to the rearing of cattle.380

The two races of Bunyoro, the conquering Banyoro (Kitara) and the subject Bahera.

The dominant people of Bunyoro or Kitara are not negroes, but a branch of the Hamitic stock, akin to the Bahuma of Ankole. At some early date their ancestors invaded the country, apparently from the north-east, conquering and subjecting to their rule the negro aborigines. These conquerors, like those of Ankole, were pastoral nomads commonly known as Bahuma; and the conquered negro aborigines, as in Ankole, were called Bahera, and subsisted chiefly by a rude sort of agriculture. The relations between the conquering herdsmen and the subject farmers were much the same as in Ankole, though in Bunyoro the division between the two races has not been maintained with the same rigour, the rulers sometimes allowing members of the subject people to rank as freemen and to marry women of the pastoral clans. The result of the inter marriage has been to modify the customs and to some extent the physical type of the dominant race and to assimilate both to those of the aborigines.381

Belief of the Banyoro in a god Ruhanga, the Creator and Father of Mankind.

No temples or priests of Ruhanga

The Bachwezi.

The Banyoro or Bakitara are reported to have had many objects of worship, but only one god, Ruhanga, the creator and father of mankind. With him were associated the names of Enkya and Enkyaya Enkya, two mysterious beings whose identity it is not easy to separate from that of Ruhanga. One of Mr. Roscoe's native informants asserted that the three were a trinity and yet one god; but as he had been for some years a devout Christian, in constant attendance at the Roman Catholic Mission Station, his statement may have been coloured by Christian ideas. The general impression which Mr. Roscoe received from his inquiries was that the belief of the Bakitara was entirely monotheistic, and that if the three beings were not one deity, then Enkya and Enkyaya Enkya were subordinate gods whose appearance in the native theology was later than that of Ruhanga. No temples or priesthoods were dedicated to any of the three; but in time of distress or need people called upon Ruhanga and more frequently on Enkya, standing in the open with hands and eyes raised skywards, while they prayed. Thus Ruhanga was apparently conceived of as dwelling in heaven. But on the whole he was supposed to have retired from active participation in the affairs of the world which he had created; and people generally turned for help, not to him but to a misty and somewhat bewildering collection of beings called the Bachwezi, supposed to be immediate descendants of Ruhanga, but completely subordinate to him. They were regarded as immortal and almost divine. After living as men in the country for many years, these Bachwezi suddenly departed, leaving behind them their priests, who could communicate with them and obtain blessings and favours from them for the people.382

Prayers and sacrifices to Ruhanga for rain.

It seems to have been especially in seasons of drought, when the ordinary means for procuring rain had been employed without effect, that an appeal was made to Ruhanga to have compassion on the people and unlock the celestial fountains. Thus, when the local rain-makers had sought in vain to wring the needed showers from the reluctant sky, when the crops were dying and the pasturage failing, the people used to petition the king, who accordingly instructed the chief rain-maker of the district to discharge his office, and supplied him with a red and black bull, a ewe, a black he-goat, and two white fowls, the colours of the creatures being chosen to represent the sky in different aspects, bright, dark, and variegated. The rain-maker told the king's messengers which of the animals he would require for the offering, and these were put in his hut and remained there all night Early next morning the rain-maker and his assistant set out with the destined victims for the sacred shrine. One of these holy places, where solemn intercessions were made for rain, Mr. Roscoe was allowed, to visit. It was a glade in the deep forest, where the overarching boughs of tall trees shed a religious gloom over the quiet place. At one end of the glade were two pits, of no great depth, which were said to have been dug by the hand of Ruhanga himself. A few feet away among the bushes stood some water-pots, which were used during the ceremony to work the sympathetic magic that formed an important element of the rite. When one of the victims had been killed, some of the blood was poured into each of the pits, and its body was cast into one of them. Then a vessel of water was brought from a neighbouring spring, and the rain-maker raised his hands and prayed thus to Ruhanga: “Ruhanga, bless us. Thou king of all the earth, hear us. The people are dying from hunger” With much ceremony the water was then poured into some of the pots and left exposed to the air, in order to draw down rain by sympathetic magic383. Thus in the ritual of the Bakitara, as in that of so many other peoples, religion is blent with and reinforced by magic.

White bull sacrificed to Ruhanga for rain.

Sometimes when rain failed to come, one of the rain-makers would send to the king to tell him that it was necessary to make a special offering at an empty pit far away in the wilderness. A white bull was demanded as the offering, and with it the rain-maker and his staff set off for the pit. There the bull was offered to Ruhanga and then killed near the pit, while prayers for rain were put up. It is said that rain invariably fell a short time after the ceremony.384

Ruhanga and his three grandsons.

Apparently Ruhanga was believed to be married, for a story is told of a dispute as to precedence between his three grandsons, which Ruhanga settled by means of three pots of milk which he gave the brothers one evening to hold and not put down. In the morning Ruhanga decided in favour of the youngest, Machuli, because his pot alone was full of milk, while the pot of the second brother was not full, and the pot of the eldest brother was empty. Ruhanga declared that Machuli, the youngest, should rule them all, that his second brother, Mugati, should look after his milk, and that the eldest brother, Musiganjo, should be the slave of all, to build, and to carry, and to eat potatoes.385

Story of the Origin of Death: the woman and the dog.

Like many other African tribes, the Banyoro or Bakitara trace the origin of death to a doom of their great God. They say that at one time men rose again from the dead and came back to their friends on earth. Only animals did not enjoy the privilege of resurrection; when they died they remained dead. Now there was a man who lived with his sister, and she had a dog of which she was very fond, and the dog died. When people rose again from the dead, it was the custom that all the living adorned themselves in their best to go and meet their risen friends. The man and his friends said to his sister, “Put on your good clothing and come to meet the risen”. But she answered, “No. Why should I go when my dog is dead and gone?” Ruhanga overheard her reply and was angry. He said, “So people don't care what becomes of the dead. They shall not rise again, for death will end their careers.” So now, when a man dies, he does not rise again from the dead.386

Another story of the Origin of Death: the woman, the chameleon, and the moon.

A different story of the origin of death was recorded by Emin Pasha among the Banyoro or Bakitara. They say that in primeval times people were numerous on the earth; they never died but lived for ever. But as they grew presumptuous and offered no gifts to “the great Magician” who rules the destinies of man, he was angry and killed them all by throwing the whole vault of heaven down upon the earth. But in order not to leave the earth desolate, “the great Magician”sent down a man and woman from above. Both the man and the woman had tails. They begat a son and two daughters who married. One daughter bore a loathsome beast, the chameleon; the other daughter bore a giant, who was the moon. Both children grew up, but soon they quarrelled; for the chameleon was wicked and spiteful, and at last “the great Magician “took the moon up to the place in the sky whence it still looks down upon the earth. But, to keep in remembrance its earthly origin, it waxes, growing large and bright, and then wanes as though it were about to die; yet it does not die, but in two days passes round the horizon from east to west and appears again, tired from its journey and therefore small, in the western sky. But the sun was angry with his new rival and burned him, and you may see the marks of burning on the moon's face any clear and moonlit night. As for the chameleon, his progeny peopled the earth; in time they dropped their tails, and the original pallor of their skin changed into a dusky hue under the torrid beams of an African sun. Down to the present hour the heavenly bodies are inhabited by people with tails who have many herds of cattle.387

The chameleon and the moon in stories of the Origin of Death.

This legend of the origin of death combines two mythical personages, the chameleon and the moon, who usually appear in different versions of the myth, in one of which the chameleon is represented as the messenger whose tardy pace robbed man of the boon of immortality, while in the other the monthly return of the moon after its apparent decline and destruction is contrasted with the fate of man, who dies and returns no more.388 Perhaps Emin Pasha's native informant confused the two distinct versions of the story.

The Basoga of Busoga.

Immediately to the east of Uganda, but separated from it by the head waters of the Nile, where the river issues from Lake Victoria Nyanza, lies the province of Busoga. Its native population, the Basoga, are pure negroes of the same type as the agricultural peasants of Bunyoro or Kitara. Their features are those generally known as negroid; the nose is almost bridgeless and fiat, the face round, with thick but not generally protuberant lips. The chief industry is agriculture, but cattle, sheep, and goats are reared, and most of the peasants keep a few fowls. In temperament the Basoga are much more submissive and pacific than the Baganda and Banyoro. From time immemorial they have been subject and tributary to one or other of the surrounding nations, particularly the Banyoro and Baganda; and this subjection to different foreign rulers may help to explain certain differences which have been noted in the customs of the several districts. The country is open, undulating, and remarkably fertile; travellers have long admired the vast stretches of arable land interspersed with great groves of plantains and plots of sweet potatoes.389 At the present day, unfortunately, under the rule of the native chiefs, the people of this naturally rich and fruitful country have sunk into a miserable condition, and famine has attacked them more than once.390

Belief of the Basoga in a Supreme Being called Katonda or Mukama.

Any child born with its teeth cut is regarded as an in carnation of Mukama. Ceremonies observed at the birth of such a child.

The Basoga retained the ancient pagan faith and practised their ancient pagan customs long after these were almost extinct among their neighbours the Baganda, with whom they are closely connected by language and habits. They believe in a Supreme Being whom, according to some authorities, they call Katonda, the name which the Baganda also apply to their chief or only god. The name is said to signify Creator, being derived from a verb kutonda, “to create”391 Perhaps the name may be due to the once dominant influence of the Baganda in the country. In the Central District of Busoga the Creator, who made man and beast, is named Mukama. At one time he is said to have lived in a deep hole on Mount Elgon, where, with his sons, he worked iron and forged all the hoes which were first introduced into the land. Thus far, therefore, Mukama would seem to be an African Vulcan rather than a Jupiter. However, he is also believed to be the creator of all rivers, which are said to have their source at his mountain home. Oddly enough, any child that happens to be born with its teeth already cut is taken to be an incarnation of Mukama. On its birth a hut is built for such a child and a high fence is erected around it; there the mother is lodged with her infant during the period of her seclusion. When that is over, the divine infant is exhibited to relatives and friends. A vessel of water is brought from Lake Kyoga, together with a reed from the papyrus-grass, by the husband's sister's son, who has to go secretly to the lake; nobody may see him either going or returning. He takes with him four coffee-berries which he offers to the water-spirit of the lake, as he draws the water. When the time of seclusion is over, two houses are built for the reception of the child, one for a sleeping-room, the other for a living-room. To this new home the mother and child are conducted with great ceremony. In front walks the husband's sister's son, carrying the papyrus-reed as a spear, and behind him follow a number of medicine-men. Next comes a woman carrying a native iron hoe, which she brandishes as she walks. She utters a shrill cry as women do in danger, in order to warn people of their approach. Behind her walk members of the parents’ clan, and the rear of the procession is brought up by the father and mother with the child. The mother is escorted into the living-room, where a sacred meal is partaken of, and after the meal the child is brought out and has its head shaved, the water brought mysteriously from the lake being used both to wet the head for shaving and to wash it after it is shorn. When the ceremony of shaving is over, the father gives his shield to the child. The company remain three days with the mother and the holy infant. On the third day the papyrus-reed is handed to the child, who is thereupon appointed governor over a portion of land. The mother remains with the child, for her husband resigns her to this pious duty, and her clan presents him with another wife to take the place of the Mother of God, whose time and attentions are now devoted to the care of the infant deity. For the child is regarded as a God, being no other than an incarnation of the Creator Mukama, and people come to pray to him for whatever they happen to want. When the god dies, for he is mortal, a medium or prophet is appointed to hold communion with his departed spirit and to impart his precious answers to the suppliants who come to consult the oracle.392 Thus we see that there is much virtue in being born with teeth in Busoga. It secures for the happy possessor of the teeth the reputation of being a great god incarnate both in his lifetime and after death.

Elsewhere in Busoga the Creator is called Lubare.

Elsewhere in Busoga the Creator seems to have been known as Lubare, which in Uganda is the general name for any god. Under this name he had shrines in different parts of the country, to which people resorted to pray and sacrifice. The priest presented the offerings to Lubare, then killed the fowls in front of the shrine, and divided them. One half went to the people who had brought the offerings, and the other half went to the priests.393

In Busoga the worship of the Creator is overshadowed by the worship of the dead.

But in Busoga, as in so many other parts of Africa, the worship of the gods, including that of the Creator, is overshadowed by the worship of the dead. On this subject I will quote the evidence of Mr. John Roscoe, our best authority on the peoples of the Uganda Protectorate, in which Busoga is included. He says: “In all parts of Busoga worship of the dead forms a most important part of the religion of the people, and the belief in ghosts and the propitiation of them are the chief features of their most constant and regular acts of worship. The gods, with fetishes and amulets, are able to do great things for the living; but, after all, it is the ghost that is most feared and obtains the most marked attention. In child-birth, in sickness, in prosperity, and in death, ghosts materially help or hinder matters; hence it behoves the living to keep on good terms with them. It is because of this belief that people frequently make sacrifices of fowls and other animals to the dead and constantly seek their help. First and foremost, it is because of the firm conviction of the presence of ghosts that the elaborate funeral ceremonies are performed…In the beliefs of these primitive people we must relegate gods to a secondary place after the worship of the dead.”394

Mount Elgon, its scenery and its caves.

Mount Elgon is a large range or rather group of mountain peaks rising in isolated grandeur on the borders of the Uganda Protectorate and Kenya Colony (British East Africa). It occupies an area of many square miles, and some of the peaks are very lofty, the snow lying on them for long periods of the year. Copious streams of water gush from springs far up the heights and flow down deep, luxuriantly wooded gorges, between which the ridges stand out like the ribs of a monster stretching away up the mountain sides. On these ridges are perched the villages of the natives, but at such wide intervals apart that, even with the cultivated ground about them, they appear but as specks on the vast slope of wild mountain. In some places the mountain breaks away in sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high, over the brink of which streams tumble into rocky basins far below. The faces of these cliffs are thickly draped with maiden-hair and other ferns, while a profusion of exquisite tropical or semi-tropical plants flourishes in the spray and moisture of the falling water. Most of these beautiful waterfalls are sacred, and the natives resort to them for the healing of diseases. Some parts of the mountain are honeycombed with large natural caves capable of holding hundreds of cows and several families of people. In these caves the natives, with their flocks and herds, used to find refuge when they were hard pressed by the raids of warlike enemies from the plains below. Most of the caverns are approached by steep and narrow paths, which can easily be defended against attack, and some of them were formerly always kept provisioned and ready for occupation in case of sudden need. So long as the raiders prowled in the neighbourhood, the cattle were kept in the caves during the day and taken out to graze by night. Some of these caves have been examined, but they showed no sign of permanent habitation, the floors being smooth rock without any deposits.395

The Bagesu of Mount Elgon.

Their harvest festival.

Cannibalism of the Bagesu.

The Bagesu tribe on Mount Elgon is one of the most primitive of the negro tribes of Africa, though they are surrounded by other Bantu tribes much more advanced than themselves. They are an agricultural people, supporting-themselves chiefly by the cultivation of millet and plantains, though they also keep a few cows, sheep, and goats.396 The clans into which the tribe is divided for the most part occupy separate ridges of the mountain and until lately used to be at constant enmity with each other, so that it was unsafe even for an armed man to wander in the territory of another clan. Only after harvest, when beer had been brewed, a universal truce was observed between all the clans; the people, unarmed, roamed from village to village, drinking beer, dancing, and singing by day and by night, the festivity degenerating into saturnalia, in which the sexes indulged their passions without any regard to the bonds of marriage. These orgies were all the more remarkable because at other times of the year the women of the tribe were strictly chaste, and the men guarded their wives with jealous care.397 Another proof of the savagery of the Bagesu was their cannibalism. The dead were not buried but carried out to waste land and deposited there. Then, when darkness had fallen, some old women, relatives of the deceased, stole out of the village, carved the corpse, and brought back the favourite joints to be cooked and devoured by the mourners. This ghoul-like feast lasted for days, until the flesh had all been consumed, and the bones burnt to ashes. The reason the people gave for not burying their dead was that, if they allowed a corpse to decay, the ghost would be detained near the place of death and would take his revenge by causing sickness among the children of the family.398 Thus with these savages the fear of the ghost was the source of cannibalism. It was also with them at least one of the motives which contributed to the prosecution of the blood-feud; for we are told that, when a man had been slain, his relatives would keep up a feud against the clan who had killed him and would watch, it might be, for years for a chance of slaying some member of the clan, in order to pacify the ghost of their kinsman, whose wrath nothing but blood for blood could appease.399

Belief of the Bagesu in a Creator called Weri Kubumba.

In spite of their savagery the Bagesu are reported to believe in a Creator, whom they call Weri Kubumba. But they did not often trouble him with requests of any kind. If there was a year in which the cows did not bear well, the herdsmen took them to a specially prepared shrine; one barren cow was offered to the god by the priest, who then drank beer, on which a blessing had been pronounced, and puffed it over the other cows. The cow was then killed and a feast made for all the owners of cattle, after which the herds were driven back to their ordinary pastures.400

Offerings to the Creator at the circumcision of boys.

Offerings were also made to the Creator at the elaborate ceremonies of initiation, when all lads about the age of puberty had to undergo a very severe form of circumcision before they were deemed fit to marry or to share in the councils of the men. These ceremonies commonly took place every second or third year in a district, but if the harvest happened to be a poor one and the supply of beer consequently scanty, the ceremony was postponed to another year. Early in the morning of the day appointed for the performance of the rite, the priest went to the mountain shrine of the Creator Weri, which was under the shade of a large tree and near a spring of water. He was attended by one or more followers, including the chief of the village in which the ceremony was to take place. They took with them a fowl, usually white, and two eggs; the fowl was offered to the god, and was then killed and left at the foot of the sacred tree, while the eggs were broken in the path for a snake which was supposed to live in the tree. In many parts of Africa a green snake, with a patch of orange under the head, haunts trees near springs, where it preys on birds that come to sip the water. Such snakes are always sacred. The particular tree-snake to which the Bagesu offer eggs may belong to this species.

Sacrifice of bulls or goats.

After the Creator had thus been propitiated with a fowl, and the tree-snake with eggs, the boys who were to be circumcised were taken by the priest and the chief into the forest for another sacrifice to the god. If among the lads were any sons of chiefs or wealthy men, one or more bulls might be provided for the sacrifice and feast; but if the lads were sons of poor men, the sacrificial victims would only be goats. One of the animals was taken with them into the forest and offered to the god, after which it was killed, and the contents of the stomach, mixed with water, were smeared over the bodies of the boys. A plentiful supply of cooked vegetable food and beer had also been brought, and the meat of the animal which had been offered to the god was cooked and eaten with the vegetables and beer as a sacred meal, while the priest pronounced the god's blessing on each boy.

Dances before circumcision.

When the meal was over and they had drunk freely of the beer, the boys returned at a run to the village. They arrived there about noon; dancing went on vigorously, and the excitement grew apace. Up and down in an open space, surrounded by a crowd of spectators, pranced the boys, brandishing heavy clubs, with which they were supposed to be repelling the assaults of an evil ghost; but too often they missed the ghost and hit the spectators, so that broken heads were the order of the day, and sometimes the wounded succumbed to their injuries. In thus laying recklessly about them with their bludgeons’ the lads were supposed to be under the influence of a spirit, to whose account the blood spilt, the eyes blackened, and the bruises inflicted were doubtless debited. The excitement spread also among the crowd: women often grew hysterical, and, shaking in every limb, joined in the frenzied dance. They, too, were believed to dance under the influence of the spirit.

The blessing of the Creator.

The circumcision.

By this time the day had worn on to afternoon. The declining sun marked the approach of the hour when the boys had to undergo the last, the fearful ordeal, from which, under pain of lifelong infamy, they dared not shrink. To brace them for it they had to repair once more at a run to the mountain shrine, there again to receive the blessing of the Creator conveyed to them by his priest. At the shrine the priest was waiting for them. To each boy he gave his blessing, and smeared the face and body of each novice with white clay. The visit to the shrine and the benediction at it occupied about an hour, and when it was over, what with the beer, and the dancing, and the prospect of the dreadful operation now looming immediately before them, the boys were wrought up to such a pitch of excitement that on their breakneck course back to the village (for they had again to go at a run) they needed guides to direct their steps and to help them along. Immediately after their return they underwent the operation, each at his own village.401

Sacrifice of goats to the Creator in sickness.

Sometimes, in serious sickness, a diviner discovered by the exercise of his art that the illness was brought about by the Creator Weri. Thereupon a goat and two long branches of a tree were brought to the house where the sick man lay. The branches were planted outside near the door to serve as a shrine or shelter for the Creator, and the goat was offered to him beside them. If the goat made water while the preparations for the sacrifice were afoot, it was a sign that the god accepted the offering, whereupon the animal was led away, with drums beating, to the forest, where it was killed and eaten. If, however, the deity did not thus signify his acceptance of the victim, the goat was taken back to the flock, and another goat was brought and tied near the tree for a short time, that it might be seen whether the god approved of it or not. If he showed by the usual sign that he accepted the offering, the goat was conducted to the forest and there sacrificed. After that the sick man no doubt either recovered or died.402

The Bakyiga clan also believe in the god Weri.

On the northern slopes of Mount Elgon there lived a clan called the Bakyiga, who, though they belonged to the Bagesu tribe, held little communication with the other clans. They, too, believed in the god Weri; but in their opinion ghosts were the responsible agents in the affairs of life, and to these powerful spirits offerings were made whenever the medicine-man called for them.403

Sacrifice for rain.

When rain was wanted, the rain-maker offered a fowl to rejoice the heart of the god, and he usually smeared some of the blood on his fetishes. Afterwards he sprinkled some medicated water upwards towards heaven and round him on every side, calling upon the spirit to give rain.404 This sprinkling of water heavenward suggests that the spirit who was asked to give rain had his abode in the sky, but whether he was identified with the Creator Weri we are not informed.

Were, the god of the Wawanga.

The Wawanga, a tribe of the Elgon District in Kenya Colony (British East Africa), recognize a god whom they name Were. In every village and on the path leading to the village may be seen small stones, usually oblong, which have been set up in honour of Were.405 Sacrifices are offered, libations poured out, and prayers addressed to Were and the spirits of the dead at a ceremony which takes place in honour of a deceased person at the season when the eleusine grain is sown; but we are not told that the Were of the Wawanga is regarded as a Creator or Supreme Being, nor that he is thought to dwell in the sky. Indeed, in prayers addressed to him he seems to be identified with the spirit of a person recently deceased.405 However, the similarity of his name to the Weri of the Bagesu suggests that perhaps in one of his aspects he may claim a lofty position in the celestial hierarchy.

The Akamba of Kenya their country.

The Akamba are a Bantu tribe who occupy an extensive territory in Kenya Colony (British East Africa), at a considerable distance to the south of Mount Kenya. Their country, known as Ukamba, comprises a series of granitic mountain ranges running roughly north and south, with great stretches of flat land lying between them. Many springs rise on the hills and at their foot, and the intervening plains sometimes present a park-like appearance, but oftener they are covered with thickets of thorny scrub. Great watercourses traverse these plains, but their beds are dry except at the height of the rainy season. However, water can generally be obtained by digging holes in the clean white sand. At these holes women will sometimes sit for hours before they can fill their calabashes with the water which slowly oozes from them. The country as a whole is treeless: only on the tops of some of the higher mountains may be seen small remnants of primeval forests. The woods which once clothed the hill-sides appear to have been cut down by the Akamba to make room for their fields. The western district, named Ulu, is the most fertile and best watered portion of the country; on the other hand, in the eastern portion of Kitui, which is the most easterly district of Ukamba, the rainfall is very fluctuating, and severe famines occur at intervals of seven or ten years. On the eastern borders of Kitui the mountains cease and are succeeded by a flat, waterless, bush-covered desert, which stretches away unbroken to the valley of the Tana River. The fertility of the soil in this desert is extraordinary, but unless the wilderness can at some future time be irrigated by water from the river, it must remain useless to man.406

The Akamba recognize a high god and creator called Mulungu or Engai, who lives in the sky.

The Akamba subsist chiefly by agriculture, but they also keep cattle and value them highly.407 They appear to recognize the existence of a high god, whom they call Mulungu or Engai (Ngai) or sometimes Chua, which means the sun.408 They look upon him as the creator of all things; hence they name him Mumbi, “the Creator”, from umba, a verb which means “to fashion”, “to shape”, and is most commonly applied to the shaping of pottery. Less often he is called Mwatwangi, “the Cleaver”, from atwangga, “to cleave into pieces”, because he is thought to have formed all living beings originally “as one hews out a stool or some other object with an axe”. He is believed to be above the ancestral spirits (aimu) and all the powers of nature. Yet he seldom receives worship in the form of sacrifice or in any other way. He dwells in the skies at an indefinite distance and is held to be well-disposed towards human beings, but beyond that he has nothing to do with them. The Akamba say, “Mulungu does us no evil; so wherefore should we sacrifice to him?” It is only on rare and special occasions that they pray to him. At the birth of a child they have been heard to say, “Mumbi, thou who hast created all human beings, thou hast conferred a great benefit on us by bringing us this child”. And when rain is wanted they sometimes pray, or seem to pray, for it to Mulungu-Ngai, yet such prayers, according to one account, are really addressed to the ancestral spirits.409

Different opinions of observers as to Mulungu or Engai.

But so vague and indefinite is the conception which the Akamba have formed of this high god that a careful observer of them has even denied that they have any word for God at all. According to him, the names Mulungu or Muungu and Ngai (Engai), “are merely collective words meant to denote the plurality of the spiritual world”.410 But this conclusion is rejected by Mr. C. W. Hobley, one of our best authorities on the Akamba. He says: “While it is recognised that great confusion of thought may exist on the subject among the bulk of the people, there is little doubt that the elders of ithembo, or tribal shrines, are quite clear on the matter. Great care was taken to record only such information on the question as was furnished by this grade of Kamba society. And as the elders of ithembo correspond, in a measure, to the priestly castes of more highly developed communities, their opinion has a certain value, and we therefore feel justified in saying that the Kamba religion contains the concept of a high god.”411 The same view is held by Mr. Gerhard Lindblom, a Swedish ethnologist who has made a very careful study of the tribe.412 Mr. Lindblom appears to be also right in holding that the Kamba conception of Mulungu is quite distinct from, and independent of, that of the ancestral spirits (aimu). He tells us that the natives generally, though not always, draw a sharp distinction between Mulungu and the ancestral spirits, and that Mulungu is believed to have created the first man who existed before death came into the world, and to dwell in the sky”among the clouds”, whereas the ancestral spirits are suppose to live in the earth or upon it These beliefs appear to be inconsistent with the hypothesis that Mulungu or Engai is simply the spirit of the first ancestor of the tribe, or that he stands for the whole body of the ancestral spirits collectively. At the same time Mr. Lindblom admits that the terms Mulungu and aimu (ancestral spirits) are often used by the Akamba indiscriminately, in particular that in their mouth Mulungu-Ngai is sometimes employed in the sense of aimu to denote the ancestral spirits.413

Prayer and sacrifice to Mulungu or Ngai in time of drought.

Sacred trees in the shrines.

To an agricultural and pastoral people, living in a country where there are no lakes, where the river-beds are generally dry, and where the rainfall is uncertain, drought is apt to prove a great calamity, and it is no wonder that at such times the Akamba should appeal to the Creator, Mulungu or Engai, to have pity on them and moisten their parched fields and pastures with the water of heaven. Scattered over the country are shrines or sacred places (mathembo, singular ithembo), where the people pray and sacrifice to Engai or Mulungu for rain, and where also they worship him at times when pestilence has broken out among men or beasts. Sacred places bearing the same name (mathembo) are also dedicated to the worship of the ancestral spirits (aiimu). But whereas the sacred places of the ancestral spirits belong to a group of two or three villages, the sacred places of Engai or Mulungu belong to the whole country, or rather to each of the large divisions of the country. But whether dedicated to the deity or to the spirits, these holy spots almost always include a sacred tree at which the sacrifices are offered. In the shrines of Engai or Mulungu the sacred tree is regularly a fig tree of the sort which the Akamba call mumo. On the other hand, at the shrines of the ancestral spirits the sacred tree may be either a fig tree of the mumo species, or another variety of wild fig called mumbo, or a tree called mutundu.414

Procedure at the sacrifices for rain.

Ceremonial purity of the officiating elders.

The victim and offerings.

When a sacrifice for rain is to be offered to Mulungu or Engai at one of his sacred places, the procedure is said to be as follows. The elders who are to take part in it must observe continence on the preceding night and for six days following that on which the sacred meat was eaten. No elder may participate in the rite who has the pollution of death on him; that is to say, if his wife or child has died, and he has not completed the ceremony of purification which their decease obliges him to perform; or again if he or one of his men has killed some one, and the ceremony of purification designed to relieve a homicide from the guilt or defilement of bloodshed has not yet been carried out. On the day appointed for the ceremony the elders assemble early in the morning and repair slowly to the sacred place, taking with them a male goat, usually of a black colour, as well as milk, snuff, and a small quantity of every kind of produce cultivated by the people. Among the produce thus conveyed to the shrine are millet, sorghum, bananas, sugar-cane, beans, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, also beer made from sugar-cane (honey-beer is forbidden), red beads, cowries, leaves of a sweet-smelling plant, butter, and gruel. The men lead the goat and carry the milk, gruel, snuff, and beer, while the other things are carried to the tree by old women.

The women in general are not allowed to approach the tree, but dance together some way off. Six senior elders and six old women are chosen and all proceed to the sacred tree. The men go first and taste a little of the milk, gruel, and beer, which they spit out at the foot of the tree, and then give way to the old women, who go through the same ceremony. After that, the men return to the tree and pour the rest of the milk and so forth at its foot Each elder now puts some of the snuff in the palm of his hand, takes a little and deposits the remainder. Next the women again come up and pour the foodstuffs at the foot of the sacred tree and smear the butter on the trunk. When the offerings have thus been deposited, the officiating elders pray as follows: “Mulungu, this is food. We desire rain, and wives and cattle and goats to bear, and we pray God that our people may not die of sickness.”

The sacrifice of the goat.

The sacrifice of the goat follows; but before the animal is slain, it is sanctified by being obliged to drink water mixed with the pulverized roots of two sorts of trees (the mriti and muthumba). This done, they lead the goat up to the tree, set it up on its hind legs before the trunk, and cut its throat, allowing the blood to pour over the offerings deposited at the foot of the tree. The upper portion of the skull with the horns is cut off and buried at the foot of the tree. Small pieces of meat are cut from every part of the carcase and from every internal organ and are laid also at the foot of the tree. The flesh is then divided; the left shoulder and part of the back are given to the old women, while the elders take the rest. Each party, that of the men and that of the women, lights a separate fire kindled with the wood of a mumo tree, not that of the sacred tree, but of another of the same species. The six men and six women each stick a fragment of the meat on a skewer of mumo wood, roast and eat it. This is a ceremonial meal, and when it is over they divide up the rest of the meat, and may use firewood of any sort to cook it.

The ceremony at the sacred tree.

The idea of expiation.

The sacrifice of the goat is called kutonya ngnondu, “to pierce the sacrifice”. But the word sacrifice hardly expresses the meaning of ngnondu, which rather implies purification, or perhaps expiation, the underlying idea being that the goat is an expiatory gift offered for the sake of relieving the country from the effects of the deity's displeasure and from the drought which is a consequence of his anger.415

In another account of these sacrifices offered to the deity for rain, the prayer uttered by the men on depositing the offerings is said to be, “We pray to God (Engai) that rain may bless all our country”.416 After the sacrificial meal the bones are collected and placed on the fire and covered with the contents of the stomach. The smoke which rises to heaven is said to be pleasing to Engai.417

Prayer to Engai for rain

A little house is always built at the foot of the sacred tree on the eastern side, with the door facing the rising sun; and two days before the time appointed for beginning to plant the crops a pot of water and one of food, as well as butter and milk, are placed in it These offerings are said to be for Engai; the pot of water is to remind him that rain is wanted, and the food represents the crops.418

The house of offerings at the tree.

Ceremonies to save the crops in drought.

The Akamba of Kitui, which is the most arid and rainless district of Ukamba, perform a curious ceremony when their crops are in danger of being blighted for lack of rain. They snare a couple of hyrax (Procavia sp.) and carry them round the fields of standing crops. Then they kill one of the animals and release the other. A fire is lit among the crops, and the heart, intestines, and contents of the stomach of the victim are placed upon it. The smoke of the sacrifice is said to be pleasing to the deity, that is, to Engai. The carcase is not eaten.419 For some reason the Akamba appear to attribute to the hyrax a power of fertilizing their fields. Hence in Ulu, a district of Ukamba, the people mix the dung of the animal and other ingredients with some of the seed which they intend to sow; the mixture is then burned in such a way that the smoke drifts over the field. The ashes of the fire are afterwards mixed with the seed which is about to be sown. In Kitui, however, it is said that a live hyrax is carried round the fields by the villagers in procession; the animal is then killed and its blood and entrails scattered over the field.420

Prayer reinforced by magic.

When a villager sees that his crops are suffering from drought or the ravages of insects, he will go to the bed of a river and cut the branch of a tree called kindio which grows there. He then digs a hole in the ground among the crops, and plants the branch in it, together with an egg. On doing so he prays to Engai, beseeching him to make his crops grow like the kindio tree, which never withers.421 Here the prayer to the deity is reinforced by the magic of the evergreen tree.

Sacrifice to Engai after capturing cattle.

On returning from a successful raid, the leader of the expedition used to sacrifice the largest ox of the captured cattle, and pray to Engai by way of thanking him for his favours. But the thanksgiving ceremony never took place at a shrine (ithembo) probably because the deity was supposed to shrink from personal contact with the man-slayers, at least while the blood or the smell of it was still fresh upon them.422

Rebirth of the dead.

The Akamba of Kitui believe that the spirits of their dead ancestors sometimes pray to Engai to give them another body, and that, if the deity grants their prayer, one of the spirits will be born again as a human infant. Their reason for thinking so is that a woman with child will sometimes dream of a dead man night after night, and if she afterwards gives birth to a son, they are sure that the child is no other than that same dead man come to life again; so the infant is given his name.423

Blood brotherhood sanctioned by Engai.

The Akamba of Kitui observe the widespread custom of blood brotherhood, whereby two men make a sacred and lasting covenant of friendship by exchanging and swallowing a little of each other's blood. If such a covenant is broken by the treachery of either party, the Akamba are very shocked, and believe that Engai will injure the traitor's village, probably killing him and his kinsfolk and his cattle. On this belief Mr. Hobley remarks that “it is often difficult to state with precision whether the high god or the ancestral spirits are meant when the term Engai is here used. In this case, however, the high god is probably referred to. And if the opinion be correct, it is a striking example of the belief in the concept of a personal God, who takes a continual and minute interest in the doings of His creatures.”424

Prayer to Engai in sickness.

When sickness prevails in a village of Kitui, the headman consults a diviner, who may declare that the spirit (imu) of some dead person is troubling the people and must be appeased. To effect this desirable end, the headman walks round the village with some ashes in his right hand and a fowl in his left; on reaching a point opposite the gate of the village he releases the fowl and lets it fly inside. Then the bird is caught again, its throat is cut, and the knife is afterwards buried in the cattle pen. The children of the village eat the flesh of the fowl. Thereupon the headman prays to Engai, begging him to remove the sickness and keep it from the village. Afterwards he prays to the spirit (imu) of the dead person who is supposed to have brought the sickness. They say that they pray to Engai first because the spirit of the dead man has gone to him. The spirits of the dead which chiefly afflict villages are those of deceased medicine-men who in their lifetime were believed to communicate with Engai in their dreams.425

Sacrifice of a goat and prayer to Engai to avert sickness.

Sometimes a goat instead of a fowl is employed to ward off sickness from a village. In that case the proceedings are as follows. The evening before the ceremony the headman puts a stone in the fire of the hut and leaves it there all night Next morning he calls a small boy and girl, and the boy leads a he-goat round the outside of the village, followed by the girl. For the success of the ceremony it is essential that the goat should be all of one colour; a speckled goat would be useless. When the procession reaches the gate of the village, the headman takes half a gourd of water and places it on the goat's head between the horns. ‘The stone is now fetched from the glowing embers of the fire in the hut; by this time the stone is red hot, and when it is dropped into the bowl on the goat's, head it fizzes and causes the water to boil and give off steam. A hole is next dug at the door of the headman's hut; the headman himself holds the stone over the hole and prays saying, “O Engai, I do not wish to see the sickness enter my village, so now I bury this stone and bury the sickness with it”. The goat is not killed, but allowed to go free, so that it is a little hard to see what part it takes in staving off the sickness. Apparently in this respect the chief reliance is placed on the fizzing hot stone, which, if it does not actually kill the sickness with which it is buried, may at least be thought to act as a powerful deterrent on his imagination in case he should meditate a fresh assault on the village.426

Engai lives in the sky or on a high mountain.

While we are told that Engai or Mulungu is vaguely supposed to live in the sky,427 it is also sometimes said that he dwells in the high mountains, inhabiting, for example, the lofty Mount Kenya,428 which, though it rises only half a degree south of the equator, is sheathed in glaciers for a perpendicular height of about four thousand feet429 So stupendous a mountain, towering far beyond the limits of perpetual snow, might well be deemed the home of an African Sky-god.

Engai associated with rain, shooting stars, and eclipses.

Other indications of the celestial abode of Engai are his association with the rain, with shooting stars, and with eclipses. The Akamba emphatically affirm that it is Engai, and not the ancestral spirits (aiimu) who sends the rain.430 When a shooting star appears to fall on a sacred place (ithembo) they think that Engai has descended to the shrine to ask for food; so to appease his hunger they take various kinds of food to the spot or even sacrifice an animal.431 Again, eclipses are said to be wrought by the high god Engai and to be an omen of sickness in the land. Accordingly, at an eclipse the headman of each village has to take two children and a goat. The goat is led round the outside of the village, and when it reaches the gate, an elder cuts a piece out of one of its ears and lets the animal return to the village. Then they smear white earth on the face, the stomach, and along the back of the goat to its tail.432 This remedy for an eclipse has never yet been known to fail; invariably, after the whitening of the goat, the sun or the moon regains its former radiance.

The first parents thrown down by Mulungu.

Yet another indication of the abode of the deity in the sky is the legend that the first parents of the existing tribes were thrown down by Mulungu from the clouds, bringing with them a cow, a goat, and a sheep. The very place where they fell and built the first village is still pointed out433 However, according to another and equally probable account, Engai produced the first man, the ancestor of the human race, out of an ant-hill by the sea. Hence the Kamba Adam is known as “He who came out of the earth”.434

Engai or Mulungu associated with sacred fig trees.

A very notable feature in the Kamba religion is the association of Engai or Mulungu with sacred trees; for almost always, as we have seen, his holy places are at sacred fig trees of a particular species.435 The way in which any fig tree came to be regarded as sacred and so to form the centre of a holy place, is said to have been as follows. In any particular village, long ago, there would be a woman who enjoyed a high reputation as a prophetess or seer, inasmuch as her prophecies always came true. At her death she would be buried in the village, and after her death her spirit (imu) would take possession of another woman of the same village, who, thus inspired, would speak in the name of the dead prophetess, saying,” I cannot stay here, I am called by Engai, and I go to live at a certain tree”, which she would name. The tree thus designated became holy henceforth. Four elders and four old women would then be chosen to go and consecrate it. They took with them earth from the grave of the prophetess, and one of them, a relation of the deceased, would take a goat Arrived at the tree, they deposited the earth from the grave at its foot and led the goat thrice round the trunk; the goat was then sacrificed, and the delegates prayed, or rather addressed the spirit of the dead prophetess, saying, “We have brought you to the tree you desire”. After that a small hut was built on the spot. From time to time it is usually rebuilt before a great ceremony takes place at the tree. The elders who build the hut must have their heads shaved next morning, but they are obliged to shave one another, no one else is permitted to discharge that holy office. The shorn locks are then hidden, probably to prevent an enemy from bewitching them by means of the clippings.436

However, this explanation of the origin of a sacred place would apply to the foundation of shrines sacred to ancestral spirits as well as to Engai or Mulungu; indeed, it appears to hold good especially of the shrines of ancestral spirits, since it is the spirit of a dead woman who is supposed to have been mainly instrumental in instituting the sanctuary.

The association of the Sky-god Engai or Mulungu with, a species of fig tree reminds us of the association of the’ Greek and Roman Sky-gods, Zeus and Jupiter, with the oak. But why a fig tree should be chosen for the honour does not appear. The reason for associating the oak with the Sky-gods Zeus and Jupiter probably is that in Europe the oak is oftener blasted by lightning from heaven than any other tree of the forest.437 The ancients themselves would seem to have observed this curious fact; for Aristophanes puts into the mouth of Socrates the remark that Zeus strikes his own temples and the great oaks with his thunderbolts.438 Can it be that in East Africa the sacred fig trees belong to a species which is often the target of heaven's artillery?

Association of Sky-gods with certain species of trees.

Story of the Origin of Death: Engai, the bird, and the chameleon.

Like so many other African peoples the Akamba believe that God originally designed to endow men with the gift of immortality, or at all events with the almost equally valuable property of rising from the dead after a brief interval, but that this benevolent intention was frustrated through the fault of one of the animals whom the Creator had sent to bear the glad tidings to his creatures. In the Kamba versions of the myth the two messengers are a chameleon and a bird, which is variously described as a thrush and a weaver-bird. In one version the two creatures are accompanied on their mission by a frog, but he plays no active part in the story, which runs thus. Once upon a time there were a frog, a chameleon, and a bird called itoroko, which is said to be a small bird of the thrush tribe (Cossypha imolaens), with a black head, bluish-black back, and a buff-coloured breast These three were sent by Engai, that is, by God, to search for human beings who died one day and came to life again the next. In those days the chameleon was a very important personage, so he led the way. Presently he spied some people lying like dead; so, while the three approached the seeming corpses, the chameleon called out to them softly, “Niwe, niwe, niwe”. But the thrush was vexed with the chameleon and asked what he was making that noise for. The chameleon replied, “I am only calling the people who go forward and then come back”, by which he meant people who die and come to life again. But the sceptical thrush derisively declared it to be clean impossible to find people who ever came back to life. The chameleon, however, stuck to it that the thing was possible, and added by way of illustration, “Do not I go forward and back?” alluding to the way the chameleon lurches backwards and forwards before he takes a step. By this time the three messengers had come up to the spot where the dead people were lying, and in response to the call of the chameleon sure enough the corpses opened their eyes and listened to him. But the thrush cried out to them, “You are dead to this world and must stay where you are. You cannot rise to life again.” Having delivered this discouraging message the thrush flew away. But the frog and the chameleon stayed behind. The chameleon now took up his parable again and addressed the dead in these words: “I was sent by Engai to wake you up; do not believe the words of the thrush, he only tells you lies”. But the spell of his power was now broken: his exhortations were of no avail: the dead turned a deaf ear to them and either could not or would not come to life. So the chameleon and the frog returned to Engai, and the deity questioned the chameleon as to the result of his mission. He said, “Did you go?” The chameleon said, “Yes”. The deity then asked, “Did you find the people? ““Yes, I did,” answered the chameleon. “What did you say?” inquired the deity. The chameleon replied, “I called out Niwe, niwe, niwe. I spoke very gently, but the thrush interrupted me and drowned my voice, so the dead people only listened to what he said.” Engai then turned to the thrush and asked whether that was so, whereupon the thrush stated that the chameleon so bungled his message that he, the thrush, felt morally bound to interrupt him. Engai believed the story of the thrush, and, being very vexed at the way in which the chameleon had executed his commands, he reduced that animal from his high estate, and ordained that ever after he should only be able to walk very, very slowly, and that he should never have any teeth. But he took the thrush into high favour, and commissioned him to wake up the inhabitants of the world every morning, and that duty the thrush discharges punctually down to this day; for he begins to sing every morning at 2 A.M. when all other birds are still fast asleep.439

Another version of the story of the Origin of Death; Mulungu, the bird, and the chameleon.

In a shorter Kamba version of the story the kindly intention of the deity is more plainly expressed, but on the other hand he is taxed with a change of purpose which bespeaks a certain vacillation or fickleness of character. The story runs as follows:

When Mulungu created man, he resolved to endow him with immortality. Now he knew the chameleon to be a very trustworthy animal, slow but sure; so he chose him to carry the message of immortality to the children of men. So the chameleon set off, but his duty sat very lightly on him, and he stopped now and then to catch flies. At last, however, he arrived at mankind, and opening his mouth proceeded to deliver his message of immortality. But unfortunately he was afflicted with an impediment in his speech, and when he attempted to speak he got no further in his message than this, “I have been commissioned to—I have been commissioned to—”. Here the deity grew impatient; he had now changed his mind and decided that man should die, “like the roots of the aloe”. The swift-flying weaver-bird was accordingly despatched post haste with the new, the fatal message, and he arrived while the chameleon still stood stuttering and stammering, “I—I—I have b-b-been co-co-co-com-missioned to—to—to—”. But before he could spit it all out, the bird cut in and delivered his message of death. That is why all men are mortal down to this day.440

The Akikuyu and their country.

To the north and north-west of the Akamba dwells another and perhaps kindred Bantu tribe called the Akikuyu. They inhabit a highland country which, though it lies nearly under the equator, enjoys a temperate and perfectly healthy climate on account of its great elevation above the ocean. It is a vast expanse of hills in the form of ridges, which, seen from a height, present the appearance of the billows of a troubled and tossing sea receding, wave beyond wave, into the distance, till they break at the foot of the lofty mountains that bound the horizon on nearly every side. These rolling downs would seem to have been once clothed with a dense forest of giant trees and impenetrable jungle;. but now only a few patches of virgin forest, where the axe of the woodman has spared the sacred groves of the sylvan gods, add here and there, a touch of verdure to the bleakness and bareness of the scenery. Yet is its monotony relieved by the view of the great mountains in the near or farther distance, above all by the sight of the magnificent mass of Mount Kenya rearing its mighty top, crowned with eternal glaciers and perpetual snow, far up into the blue vault of heaven. The prospect of it, at all times impressive, is perhaps most striking at early morning or towards evening, when clouds veil the lower slopes and the summit is bathed in the purple mist of dawn or lit up by the gorgeous hues of sunset. The glorious mountain dominates like an Olympus the landscape for miles and miles. No wonder that the Akikuyu place the home of their god on Mount Kenya.441

Engai or Mulungu, the high god of the Akikuyu.

Like their kinsfolk the Akamba, they call their deity indifferently Engai (Ngai) or Mulungu (Molungu),442 and their notions of him seem to be equally vague and floating, far indeed from being crystallized into the hard lines and inflexible shapes of a dogmatic theological system. Yet they regard him as the master of all, the being without whose permission neither good nor evil can happen to men. They offer many sacrifices to him, sometimes the first-fruits of the crops, but most commonly a sheep. The sacrifice is public and solemn, and it takes place at the foot of a sacred tree; for, like the Akamba, the Akikuyu regularly associate the reverence for sacred trees with the worship of the Supreme God. The aim of the sacrifice is to obtain some benefit, such as rain, from the deity. It is offered exclusively by the elders of a district. Women and children take no part in it. On the other hand, in the numerous sacrifices which they offer to the spirits of the dead (ngoma) the whole of the family, down to the little children must participate.443

The wild fig-tree sacred to Engai.

Among the Akikuyu the Supreme God seems to be known as Engai (Ngai) more commonly than as Mulungu.444 His sacred tree, as among the Akamba, is a species of fig, the great wild fig-tree (Ficus capensis), which the natives call mugumu or muti wa Engai. Dotted about the country are numbers of these sacred trees, many of which were formerly sacred shrines or places of sacrifice to Engai from time immemorial.445 No beast or bird may be killed or shot in a sacred tree, and if any impious person cuts off a branch or makes an incision in the trunk, dire results are believed to ensue. The elders oblige the sinner to pay a fine of a ram and a he-goat, and the animals are sacrificed at the tree. The elders apply a strip of the skin of one of the victims to the cut in the tree to heal the wound, and they anoint it with the fat and the contents of the stomach. Moreover, the breast of the ram is cut off and hung in the tree; but the remainder of the carcase and the whole of the goat are eaten by the elders.446

Sacrifices offered by the Akikuyu at the sacred trees.

Prayer to Engai for ram.

Sacrifices are offered at the sacred trees to procure rain, to obtain relief from famine, and to check the progress of an epidemic.447 On the day when a sacrifice is offered for rain, no one may touch the earth with iron; a sword or spear may not so much as be rested on the ground, else the Akikuyu believe that the sacrifice would be in vain. Nay on such a day, an elder may not even strike his staff into the ground in the usual way.448 Apparently the notion is that earth should not be wounded at the moment when she is about to be fertilized by rain from heaven. The victim offered is regularly a ram. One year it may be a black ram; but if in that particular year the seasons chance to be unfavourable, the Akikuyu conclude that the deity is displeased and therefore change the colour of the victim to red or white. When the ram is brought to the sacred tree, one of the elders lifts up the animal so that it stands on its hind legs facing the tree. A gourd of honey and another of beer, brewed from sugar-cane, are then poured out at the foot of the tree, and the elders call out, “We pray to God (Engai), we sacrifice a goat, we offer all things”. It is curious that the elders should thus say that they are sacrificing a goat, when the victim is really a ram. The victim is then suffocated and its throat pierced with the Sacrificial knife. The flowing blood is collected in a gourd and poured out at the foot of the sacred tree. The right half of the carcase is then skinned and removed, while the left half, wrapped in the skin, is deposited at the foot of the tree and left there. This portion is believed to be eaten by a hyena or wild cat which is moved to do so by the deity. The remainder of the flesh is cooked and eaten by the elders on the spot. In olden times the fire on which the sacrificial meat is roasted was always supposed to be kindled with new fire made by the friction of wood, but nowadays a firebrand is often brought from a village. None of the meat may be taken back to the village. The bones of the portion of the sacrificial ram eaten by the elders are each broken into two parts and deposited at the foot of the tree: the marrow is not extracted. After partaking of the sacrificial meal, the elders retire to a little distance and chant these words: “We elders pray God (Engai) to give us rain”. The night before and the night after the sacrifice the elders must observe strict chastity. A breach of the rule by any person present at the ceremony is believed to render the sacrifice ineffectual. No elder whose father is alive may attend the ceremony.449

Sacrifice at the sacred tree when the maize is ripening.

Every year, when the maize is just sprouting, the elders summon the chief medicine-men and repair with them to the sacred tree to offer sacrifice. One of the medicine-men pours “medicine” into the mouth of the sacrificial ram before it is killed, and he pours it also on the fire on which the meat is roasted. The bones of the victim are then burned in the fire, that the smoke of them may ascend into the tree and be well-pleasing to the deity among the branches. The flowing blood is caught in a half-gourd and placed in the horn of an ox. Half of it is poured out at the foot of the sacred tree; the other half is mixed with pieces of intestinal fat and put in the large intestine of the sacrificial ram. This large intestine, with the blood and fat in it, is next roasted over the fire and eaten by the senior elders.450

Sacrifice at the sacred tree at harvest.

Near the time of harvest, when the crops are ripe, but before they are reaped, the elders take a ram to the sacred place and slaughter it. They pour the blood at the foot of the tree and pray, “O God (Engai), we have to bring meat so that we may not fall ill, for we have good crops and are glad”.451 The elders then cat the meat. After the feast, they take the contents of the stomach of the sacrificial ram and sprinkle them over the ripe crops and also over the large wicker bottles and large gourds in which grain is stored. It is believed that if the elders failed to do this, the people would suffer greatly from diarrhoea.452

Besides the sacred trees at the communal places of sacrifice, the head of a village usually has a private sacred tree of his own, at which he sacrifices to the deity for good fortune or for help in time of trouble. Women are not allowed to attend a sacrifice to the deity at one of the regular sacred trees; but at a private sacrifice for good fortune, performed at a sacred tree belonging to a particular village, the village elders attend with their wives and children, their cattle, sheep, and goats. However, even then the women and children may not come near the tree, but must remain a little way off. When the sacrificial ram has been killed, the fat of the victim is smeared on the whole family as well as on the flocks and herds. The party then returns home, uttering the usual African cry of joy. After a private sacrifice the skin of the slain ram is carried back to the village and presented to the elder's chief wife, but this is never done after a public or communal sacrifice. The night before the sacrifice the elders must observe continence. On the morning after a private sacrifice the wives go to the sacred tree and deposit there offerings of grain, bananas, and other things. Two days after a private sacrifice a ceremonial drinking of beer takes place at the village, men and women drinking apart. During the ceremony they pray to the deity, saying, “We pray thee, O God (Engai), that you will give us all things, children, goats, and cattle”.453

Private sacrifices at sacred trees.

The sacred places of Engai are sanctuaries where criminals and foes can take refuge

The sacred places of Engai serve as sanctuaries. If a murderer or other criminal can escape to one of them and touch the sacred tree, he is safe from the vengeance of his pursuers. He cannot, of course, stay indefinitely at the tree, or he would soon die of hunger, but the elders come and take him away under safe conduct. His clansmen must go to the sacred tree and sacrifice a ram, which they are supposed to offer in exchange for him. The contents of the stomach of the victim are smeared on the body of the murderer, and a senior elder draws a line of white earth on his face from the forehead to the tip of his nose. The criminal is now ceremonially clean and may return to his family; until the purification had been accomplished, he might not enter the village. All the flesh of the ram is eaten by the elders; none is left at the tree. But some of the contents of the victim's stomach are sprinkled at the foot of the tree to cleanse the spot where the criminal stood. In war, if an enemy succeeded in taking sanctuary at a sacred tree, he might not be slain there, but he would probably be seized and killed at some distance from the holy spot454

The Akikuyu, as we have seen, offer many sacrifices to the ancestral spirits (ngoma) as well as to God (Engai). Indeed, they attribute the ordinary ills of life to the agency of the ancestral spirits, who have to be propitiated accordingly.455 But the sacrifices to the ancestral spirits are never offered at the sacred trees; they always take place in the village, close to the village shrine. The victim sacrificed is regularly a ram. The portions of its flesh which are eaten are roasted on a fire, which was formerly kindled on the spot by the friction of wood. Nowadays the fire is supposed to be brought from a village. An elder usually sacrifices a ram every three months or so at the grave of his father. He pours blood, fat, and beer on the grave, and leaves the ram-skin there. Sacrifices to the ancestral spirits must take place before sunrise, probably because the spirits are supposed to be on the prowl by night but to retire during the day. If on the occasion of a sacrifice at the sacred tree the elders chance to see a snake, they say that it is an ancestral spirit (ngoma) and try to pour a little of the blood from the sacrificed ram on the head, back, and tail of the reptile.456

Sacrifices offered by the Akikuyu to the ancestral spirits.

Primitive tribes on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Kenya.

Bordering on the territory of the Akamba and the Akikuyu are some small tribes who inhabit a rugged and not very accessible country on the south-eastern slopes of the mighty Mount Kenya. Here the declivities of the mountain are still to a great extent clothed with dense virgin forest, which is, however, slowly retreating before the encroachments of man. Here the rivers flow in deep rocky gorges, their heavily-timbered sides swept in the wet season by torrents of rain which render the paths across them, difficult at all times, then doubly precarious. On the ridges, parted from each other by these profound and sometimes almost impassable ravines, dwell isolated communities, which, secluded in the fastnesses of their wild highlands, have clung to their ancient modes of life and thought, while their neighbours in the lowlands have succumbed more or less to that restless tide of change, which even in Africa may be traced setting silently but surely in the direction of progress, wherever nature has not opposed insuperable obstacles to its current Altogether these mountaineers on the rugged slopes of the great extinct volcano remained very little affected by foreign influence down to the beginning of the twentieth century.457

The Chuka.

The two physical types.

The clans and their mode of life.

Among them, the most typical are the Chuka, who claim to have inhabited the country from time immemorial, though they tell of a race of hairy dwarfs who once dwelt in the depths of the forest, practising no kind of agriculture, and subsisting solely by the chase and by bee-keeping, while they lodged in burrows dug out of the ground and roofed over to keep out the rain.458 The Chuka themselves are apparently the nucleus out of which other less pure tribes in their neighbourhood have been formed by admixture of foreign elements on the north and west.459 Physically they are rather more thickset and muscular and decidedly darker in hue than their neighbours; their eyes are of the warm brown colour characteristic of the negro. Yet two distinct types of face occur in about equal proportions among them. One, which may be called the Bushman type, is marked by prominent cheek-bones, lumpy forehead, heavy jaws, and matted hair and beard. The other is a sort of Mongolian type, with narrow eyes, high cheek-bones, wide mouth, and slanting forehead.460 All the tribes are divided into clans which are exogamous, marriage within the clan being regarded as incest Descent of the clan is hereditary in the male line. Traces of totemism appear to exist in the special relation of various animals and insects to certain clans, which use them as signs or badges.461 The people subsist mainly on maize, beans, and millet, which they cultivate in the usual wasteful fashion by clearing patches in the forest, sowing them for a few years, and then suffering them to relapse into the wilderness. The men fell the trees, grub up the roots and bushes, and remove the stones, the women sow the seed and reap the crops.462 Some of the tribes keep a few cattle, the milk and flesh of which form part of their diet.463 But nobody will drink milk and eat flesh at the same time; strictly speaking, three months ought to elapse between a draught of milk and a meal of meat, but in practice the eater or drinker is allowed to purify himself by eating a small bitter berry that grows on a large tree, thus preparing his body for a change of diet. The motive for not allowing milk to come into contact with meat in the stomach is a fear lest such contact should harm, not the eater, but the cow that gave the milk; for the natives believe that she and her calf would break out in spots as a consequence of any breach of the rule.464 The people also keep goats, which they slaughter both for food and in a variety of ceremonies, though they do not drink the milk.465 Of the ceremonies in which the goat figures as a victim the most curious perhaps is one performed at the birth of a child; it consists apparently in a pretence that the infant has been born from a goat instead of from its human mother. A goat having been killed, its skin is spread on the legs of the child's mother; the baby is wrapped in it, and then snatched from the skin by old women, who in doing so utter the trilling cry which is usual at the birth of a child. Sometimes the intestine of a goat is tied round the mother's waist and is cut at the moment when the child is lifted out pf the goatskin, apparently in imitation of the severance of the navel string.466 A similar ceremony is performed on boys before circumcision among the Akikuyu.467 Other occasions which require the slaughter of a goat are purificatory rites intended to rid persons of ceremonial uncleanness (thahu) which they are supposed to have contracted through a great variety of causes.468

Meat not eaten with milk.

The ceremony of birth from a goat.

Scrupulosity as to ceremonial cleanness.

But while the whole social life of these wild tribes is permeated by a scrupulosity as to ceremonial cleanness which reminds us of the Pharisees, they are said to have very little religion, and in particular, unlike most African tribes, to have no idea of a life after death. Yet they certainly believe vaguely in a Creator, and the snowy cap of Mount Kenya appears to be generally regarded as his home; thus in the course of his incantations a wizard will address the holy mountain and pray for the divine approbation of the undertaking he has in hand. The name universally applied to the deity is the Masai word Engai. However, they seem to have very little idea of any definite control exerted by Engai over the affairs of ordinary life. Their theology may accordingly be described as a vague theism, the belief in a great First Cause, whose will may perhaps be thought to work automatically in the social laws of uncleanness, purification, and so on.469

Vague belief of the people in a Great or called Engai.

How men were deprived of the boon of immortality: the Sun, the mole, and the hyena.

Yet, like so many of the simple folks of Africa, these savages have meditated on the eternal problem of human mortality and have found what perhaps they regard as a satisfactory solution of it. They say that long, long ago the Sun desired that all men should rise from the dead. To give effect to this kindly wish he prepared a medicine which had the marvellous property of bringing the dead to life, if it were only smeared on their lips. This priceless drug he committed to the care of a mole with instructions to distribute it broadcast among mankind; and he chose the mole as his messenger because in those far-off days the mole was a beast that ran about on the surface of the ground. So off the mole set on the journey with the precious packet in his hand. On the way he fell in with a hyena, who stopped him to ask what errand he was running. In the fulness of his heart the mole confided to him the great secret and showed him the little packet that was to make all men immortal. At the news the hyena was struck with consternation, “For what,” said he, “am I to eat if there are no more nice fresh corpses for me to devour?” The bread would, so to say, be taken out of his mouth if the mole were to deliver the medicine at the correct address. But a thought struck him. “Look here,” he said to the mole insinuatingly, “you have always been a friend of mine, so do me one favour. Just give me the medicine that the Sun gave you, and take this here medicine of mine instead.” Now the medicine of the hyena was meant to kill all men so that there would be many corpses for him to batten on. The mole did not much like the proposal, but being loth to disoblige an old friend he swopped medicines with the hyena. Then, feeling some qualms, he returned to the Sun and told him all that had happened. The Sun fell into a passion and upbraided him in very bitter words. “You have lost the medicine”, he said, “which I had so much trouble in making, and now I cannot make any more. I trusted you to take my message, and you have failed. Henceforth you shall fear my face and hide when you see me.” The mole went away much ashamed, and since that time he has lived beneath the earth; if he sees the face of the Sun he dies.470

Belief in a Supreme God among the Nilotic or Hamitic tribes of East Africa.

Like the other tribes of East Africa whose beliefs concerning Sky-gods and Supreme Beings we have thus far been investigating, the Akikuyu and the Akamba belong to the great Bantu family, which, roughly speaking, occupies the whole southern half of Africa from the equator to the Cape of Good Hope, with the exception of the comparatively small area inhabited by the Hottentots and Bushmen. But in the part of Africa that we have now reached, which may be said to extend from the head waters of the Nile eastward to the Indian Ocean, there are a number of tribes which belong to an entirely different stock and speak entirely different languages. As many of them dwell in the valley and along the banks of the Upper Nile, they have been classed together, appropriately enough, under the general name of Nilotics. Racially they are usually assigned to the type known as Hamitic. They are tall thin men, with features which are not markedly negroid and sometimes resemble what is called the Caucasian type.471 Among some of these Nilotic or Hamitic tribes there prevails a belief in a Supreme God, who lives in the sky or at all events in the upper regions of the air, and who presents a more or less close analogy to the Sky-god or Supreme Being of the other African peoples whom we have thus far been considering. Accordingly I shall conclude this survey of the worship of Sky-gods in Africa by a brief notice of the similar deities worshipped, or at all events recognized, by the Nilotic or Hamitic tribes in question.

The Masai, their character and military organization.

Of these tribes the most southerly and probably the most famous are the warlike Masai, who inhabit an extensive region in Kenya Colony (British East Africa) and Tanganyika Territory (German East Africa), to the east of Lake Victoria Nyanza, and stretching from the equator to about 6 south latitude.472 They are, or were down to recent years, a race of nomadic herdsmen, devoted to war and the care of their cattle and despising the pursuit of agriculture. Their martial temper and their elaborate military organization long made them the terror of the neighbouring tribes and secured for them a predominant position in East Africa. Yet they never succeeded in founding, a state or polity like the kingdoms of Uganda and Unyoro. The reason probably was that these fierce warriors never bowed their necks to a monarchical yoke. The centre of political gravity was not with the chiefs or elders, but with a republic of young men, dominated by the spirit of soldierly comradeship and thirsting only for military glory. To retire at a mature age from the ranks of the warriors and to assume the dignity of chief was honourable, but seems to have been looked upon as a descent to a lower sphere of activity, a decline from the prime of manhood to the threshold of old age. The chiefs planned the details of the raids which the warriors desired to undertake, but their power of compelling these hotspurs to do anything for which they had no liking was slight indeed. The nearest approach to a central and supreme authority was made by a line of seers or medicine-men who exercised much influence over the people in virtue of the divine support which they were supposed to enjoy and of the divine oracles which they delivered under the inspiring promptings of honey-wine. Yet, great as was the power they wielded, they seem never to have availed themselves of it as a means of establishing a despotism like that of the sultans on the neighbouring coast or of the kings on the farther shore of the great lake.473

Belief of the Masai in a high god called Engai or Ngai.

The Masai think themselves the chosen people of Engai.

The prayers of the Masai to Engai.

A peculiar feature in the character of this turbulent and warlike people is their piety and their firm faith in a high god whom they name Engai or Ngai.474 This, as we have seen, is the name which the Akamba and the Akikuyu bestow on the same exalted Being, and it is probable that both peoples borrowed the name from their neighbours the Masai.475 The Akamba have long been in close, though for the most part hostile, contact with the Masai, of whom they formerly lived in great terror;476 and the high reputation which the Masai acquired by their warlike exploits induced many of the surrounding peoples to copy the Masai dress, customs, and rules of life. The Akikuyu, for example, imitate the dress and equipment of Masai warriors, including the badges on the Masai shields.477 It would not, therefore, be surprising if the Akamba and Akikuyu adopted the name of the great God who had so often led their dreaded foes to victory. Be that as it may, the Masai seem to repose an implicit faith in the great god Engai, who lives up aloft in the sky, as the Israelites of old did in Jehovah, and like the Israelites they firmly believe themselves to be the chosen people of the deity, and consequently they hold that all other nations, whom they brand with the title of Unbelievers (el meg) ought of right to be subject to them. In their view God made the earth and everything that exists upon it for the Masai Hence when they attack a neighbouring tribe, slaughter the men, and carry off their cattle, they are simply recovering the property which God had destined for them from the creation of the world, and which their impious and unbelieving foes had been most unrighteously with holding from them. Apparently the Masai conceive of Engai as an incorporeal being, as a spirit. Certainly they make no images or likenesses of him, and they appear not to have meditated on his outward form. But the stars which twinkle in the nocturnal sky are the eyes of Engai looking down from heaven on the slumbering Masai. A shooting star prognosticates the death of somebody, and at sight of it the Masai pray that the somebody may not be one of themselves, but an enemy, an unbeliever. The lightning is the dreadful glance of Engai's eye, the thunder is his cry of joy at what he has seen. During the long rainy season, when the cattle grow sleek, the raindrops are the tears of joy which the emotional deity sheds at sight of the fat beeves; and during the short rainy season, when the cattle pine for lack of pasture, the raindrops are the tears of sorrow wrung from the compassionate divinity by the melancholy spectacle. Then the Masai seek to allay his sorrow and assuage his grief by their prayers. In prayer they stand with uplifted hands and invoke the deity. Such prayers they put up before every raid and in all the undertakings of life. In their uplifted hands they hold bunches of grass, which has for them a sacred character, because it is the fodder of the cattle on which they depend for their subsistence.478 Altogether, the Masai are, or used to be, a most prayerful people. The prayers which they put up to Engai were incessant. Nothing could be done without hours of howling, whether it was to discover where they could best slaughter their enemies or how they could best ward off disease.479 If only the efficacy of prayer were proportioned to its fervour, the Masai ought long ago to have overrun the earth.

Belief of the Masai that Engai gave them all the cattle in the world, and that in stealing the herds of their neighbours they are only recovering the own.

The pious motive which prompted the Masai to steal the cattle of their neighbours was long ago observed and recorded by one of the earliest missionaries who came into contact with these devout and truculent savages. He says: “When cattle fail them they make raids on the tribes which they know to be in possession of herds. They say that Engai (Heaven) gave them all that exists in the way of cattle, and that no other nation ought to possess any. Wherever there is a herd of cattle, thither it is the call of the Wakuafi and Masai to proceed and seize it. Agreeably with this maxim they undertake expeditions for hundreds of leagues to attain their object, and make forays into the territories of the Wakamba, the Galla, the Wajagga, and even of the Wanika on the sea coast. They are dreaded as warriors, laying all waste with fire and sword, so that the weaker tribes do not venture to resist them in the open field, but leave them in possession of their herds, and seek only to save themselves by the quickest possible flight.”480

Story told by the Masai to explain how God (Engai) gave them all the cattle in the world.

The Masai tell a story to explain how God gave them cattle, and why the Dorobo, a tribe akin to the Masai, have no cattle and are obliged to support themselves by hunting. The Dorobo, Andorobo, or Wandorobo, as they are also called, inhabit forests that stretch from 1? north to 5? south of the equator.481 The Masai say that when God (Engai) came to prepare the world, he found three things in the land, to wit, a Dorobo, a serpent, and an elephant. At first all three lived amicably together, but in time the Dorobo accused the serpent of blowing on him and making his body to itch. The serpent replied, “Oh, my father, I do not blow my bad breath on you on purpose”. The excuse did not satisfy the Dorobo, and that same evening he picked up his club, struck the serpent on the head and killed it. Meantime the Dorobo had somehow or other obtained a cow and used to take her out to graze and to drink at the puddles of rain. But the elephant contracted a bad habit of wallowing in the puddles and stirring up the mud, so that the water was muddy when the Dorobo's cow came to quench her thirst at a puddle. So the Dorobo was angry, and made an arrow with which he shot and killed the elephant. The daughter of the elephant naturally resented the murder of her mother, and in high dudgeon went away to another country. “The Dorobo is bad,” quoth she, “I will not stop with him any longer. He first of all killed the snake, and now he has killed mother. I will go away and not live with him again.”

On her arrival at another country the young elephant met a Masai man, who asked her where she came from. The young elephant replied, “I come from the Dorobo's kraal. He is living in yonder forest, and he has killed the serpent and my mother.” The Masai, to make sure of the facts, inquired, “Is it true that there is a Dorobo there who has killed your mother and the serpent?” The reply being in the affirmative, he said to the elephant, “Let us go there. I should like to see him.” So they went and found the Dorobo's hut, which God (Engai) had turned upside down, so that the door of it looked towards the sky. God then called the Dorobo and said to him, “I wish you to come to-morrow morning, for I have something to tell you”. The Masai man overheard the remark, and next morning he went and presented himself to God saying, “I have come”. The deity, who was perhaps near-sighted, apparently mistook him for the Dorobo whom he had commanded to appear before him. At all events he told the Masai man to take an axe and to build a big kraal in three days. When it was ready, he was to go and search for a thin calf, which he would find in the forest. This he was to bring to the kraal and slaughter. The meat he was not to eat but to tie up in the hide, and the hide he was to fasten outside of the door of the hut; then he was to fetch firewood, light a big fire, and throw the meat into it. He was afterwards to hide himself in the hut, and not to be startled when he heard a great noise outside like thunder.

The Masai man did as he was bid. He searched for a calf, and when he found it he slaughtered it and tied up the flesh in the hide. Then he fetched firewood, lit a big fire, and threw the meat into it. After that he entered the hut, leaving the fire burning outside.

How God (Engai) let down cattle from heaven.

God (Engai) then got to work He let down a strip of hide from heaven so as to hang just over the calf-skin and immediately cattle began to descend the strip of hide until the whole kraal was full. Indeed, the beasts jostled each other so that they almost broke down the hut in which the Masai man lay hid. The Masai man was startled and uttered an exclamation of astonishment. Then he went outside of the hut and found that somebody had cut the strip of hide, so that no more cattle came down from heaven. God asked him whether the cattle that had come down from heaven were sufficient, “For”, said he, “you will receive no more because you were surprised”. The Masai man then went away and attended to the beasts that had been given him. But as for the Dorobo, he lost the cattle because he did not present himself before the deity at the critical moment as the Masai did. Hence the Dorobo have had to shoot wild beasts for their livelihood down to this day. Indeed, according to one version of the talc it was the Dorobo who shot away the strip of hide by which the cattle descended from heaven. How then could they reasonably expect to have any cows? But the Masai, who appeared before God at the right time and did his bidding, were given cattle by the deity. Hence nowadays, if cattle are seen in the possession of Bantu tribes, it is presumed that they have been stolen or found, and the Masai say, “These are our animals, let us go and take them; for God (Engai) in olden days gave us all the cattle upon the earth”.482

Belief of the Masai in two gods, a Black God and a Red God.

However, the religion of the Masai would seem to be far from a pure monotheism, it is even tainted with Manicheism. For according to one of their stories, there are two gods, a Black God and a Red God. One day the Black God said to the Red God, “Let us give the people some water, for they are dying of hunger”. The Red God agreed and told his colleague to turn on the water. This the Black God did, and it rained heavily. After a time the Red God told the Black God to stop the water, because rain enough had fallen. The Black God, however, was of opinion that the people had not had enough, so he refused to turn off the water. Both remained silent after that, and the rain continued to pour down steadily till next morning, when the Red God again said that enough had fallen. The Black God then turned off the water.

A few days later the Black God proposed that they should give the people some more water, because the grass was very dry. The Red God, however, was obstinate and refused to allow the water to be turned on at any price. They argued the point for some time, till at length the Red God in a passion, threatened to kill the people, whom he said the Black God was spoiling. At that the Black God bridled up and said, “I will not allow my people to be killed”; and happily he has been able to protect them, for he lives near at hand, whilst the Red God is above him. So now when you hear a great crash of thunder in the sky, you may know that it is the Red God who is trying to come to the earth to kill human beings; but when you hear the thunder rolling and rumbling far away, you may be sure that it is the Black God saying, “Leave them alone, do not kill them”.483

Masai prayers for rain.

Hence, if no rain falls, the old men light a bonfire of cordia wood and throw a charm into it. Then they encircle the fire and sing as follows:

Solo. The Black God! ho!

Chorus. God, water us!

O the (sic) of the uttermost parts of the earth!

Solo. The Black God! ho!

Chorus. God, water us!”484

Again, in time of drought Masai women fasten grass to their clothes and offer up prayers to God (Engai) for rain.485 Children, too, at such times may be called in to assist in invoking the aid of Engai. If the drought is prolonged and rain is urgently needed, the great chief sends a proclamation to the surrounding villages, requiring that on a given day all the children shall assemble and sing for the rain. This is done at seven in the evening. The children stand in a circle and each child holds a bunch of grass in its hand. Meanwhile, the mothers, also holding bunches of grass, fling themselves on the ground. No one else takes part in this ceremony, which is deemed an infallible means of bringing on rain.486

Prayer for absent warriors.

When warriors tarry on a foray, their mothers, sisters, and sweethearts gather outside the huts when the Morning Star is shining in the sky, and they pray to God (Engai). They tic grass to their clothes, and leave milk in their gourds, for they say, “Our children will soon be returning, and when they arrive they may be hungry”. When they have all assembled they pray as follows:

Solo. The God (Engai) to whom I pray, and he hears.

Chorus. The God (Engai) to whom I pray for offspring.

Solo. I pray the heavenly bodies which have risen.

Chorus. The God (Engai) to whom I pray for offspring.

Solo. Return hither our children.

Chorus. Return hither our children.”487

Sacrifice and prayer after a birth

When a Masai woman has given birth to a child, the other women gather and take milk to the mother; then they slaughter a sheep, which is called “The Purifier of the Hut” or simply “The Purifier”. They slaughter the animal by themselves and they eat all the meat No man may approach the spot where the animal is slaughtered. When they have finished their meal, they stand up and sing the following song:

Solo. My God! my God! (Engai! Engai!) to whom I pray,

Give me the offspring.

Who thunders and it rains,

Chorus. Thee every day only I pray to thee.

Solo. Morning Star which rises hither,

Chorus. Thee every day only I pray to thee.

Solo. He to whom I offer prayer is like sage,

Chorus. Thee every day only I pray to thee.

Solo. Who is prayed to, and He hears,

Chorus. Thee every day only I pray to thee.”488

A third god, Naiteru-kop, recognized by the Masai.

Story of the Origin of Death: God, man, and the moon.

Besides the Black God and the Red God the Masai recognize the existence of a third god named Naiteru-kop, but he is not so great as the Black God. According to one story it was he, and not Engai, who let cattle down from heaven by a strip of hide for the use of the Masai.489 Of this minor god is told the sad story which, in different forms, has met us among so many African tribes, the story of the origin of death. The Masai version of the tale runs thus. One day Naiteru-kop told a certain man named Le-eyo that, if a child were to die, he was to say when he threw away the body: “Man, die, and come back again; moon, die, and remain away”. Soon afterwards a child died, but it was not one of Le-eyo's own children, and when he was told to throw it away, he picked it up and said to himself, “This child is not mine; when I throw it away I shall say, ‘Man, die, and remain away; moon, die, and return'”. So he threw it away, and spoke these words, and returned home. Next one of his own children died, and when he threw it away, he said, “Man, die, and return; moon, die, and remain away”. But Naiteru-kop said to him, “It is of no use now, for you spoilt matters with the other child”. That is how it came about that when a man dies he does not return, whereas when the moon is finished, it comes back again and is always visible to us.490

Here we have the old story of the kindly god whose benevolent intention of endowing man with immortality miscarried through the fault of somebody. In this, as in some other similar stories, the blame is man's alone, and the gift of eternal life which he forfeited by his misconduct is transferred to the moon, which consequently never dies, or, to speak more correctly, which dies once a month and always comes to life again.

The primary idea of the Masai god Engai is perhaps rather the rain than the sky. Mr. Holli's account of Engai.

Finally, it would seem that the primary idea at the root of the Masai god Engai is rather the rain than the blue vault of heaven. On this point I will quote an instructive passage from the writings bf Mr. A. C. Hollis, our best English authority on the Masai and their language. He writes: “I have been asked to add a few words on the subject of eng-Aï the Masai term for God. Eng-AI, i.e. with the feminine article prefixed, means literally ‘the rain’ and though one occasionally hears other words used as the equivalent of God, e.g. Parmasis and Parsai, there is no other word for rain.

Resemblance of Engai to Zeus.

“To the Masai eng-Aï is of much the same general pattern as the sky-god, e.g. Zeus, was to the ancients. Joseph Thomson491 states that their conception of the deity, whom he called Ngai, was marvellously vague, and that whatever struck them as strange or incomprehensible they at once assumed had some connexion with Ngai. Thus, his lamp was Ngai, he himself was Ngai, Ngai was in the steaming holes, and his house in the eternal snows of Kilima Njaro. But Thomson was incorrect. It is conceivable that the Masai alluded to him, to his lamp, or to the steaming holes as e-ng-AI or le-'ng-Aï, i.e. of God, as this is the only term they have, so far as I am aware, to express anything super natural or sacred. Sickness, grass, the only active volcano in Masailand can all be, and indeed are, referred to as e-'ng-AI or le-'ng-AI, according to the gender of the substantive which precedes the expression. ‘God gave us cattle and grass,’ the Masai say, ‘we do not separate the things that God has given us.’ Cattle are sacred, and grass is consequently also sacred, i.e. it is of God. The volcano which Thomson and others called Donyo Ngai is known to the Masai as Ol-doinyo le-'ng-AI, the Mountain of God, or the sacred mountain. I am glad to see that in the newest maps the change in orthography has been made.

Engai a personal being who hears.

“That eng-AI is personified is apparent from the prayers given in my book,492 which are all authentic, as well as in the forms of blessing and cursing. In one instance, it will be remembered, it is said: ‘The God to whom I pray and He hears’.

“Eng-AI can also be used to express the sky or heavens, but the Masai equivalent for clouds, fog, cold, etc., may also be used in this sense. ‘Heaven’ in the expression ‘Heaven help you’ would be translated by eng-AI, whilst ing-atambo, the clouds, would be required in a sentence like ‘The heavens are overcast’.”493

The two races of Kavirondo, the Bantu and the Nilotic.

Kavirondo is a vast territory stretching round the north eastern shores of Lake Victoria Nyanza. It is a rolling grass country at an altitude of from 3800 feet to about 5000 feet above the level of the sea. The climate is fairly warm and sunny, yet the rainfall is abundant; the soil is well adapted to the agriculture practised by the people.494 The country is peopled by two entirely different races, one of them belonging to the Bantu and the other to the Nilotic family. The Bantu Kavirondo are physically much finer, though socially much less developed, than the Baganda.495 The Nilotic Kavirondo, whose proper name is Jaluo, belong to the same family as the great Dinka tribe of the Sudan, and are near relations of the Aluri and Acholi tribes, which live on both sides of the Nile near Wadilai, the differences being less marked than those which usually distinguish two adjoining Bantu tribes. Probably, therefore, the Jaluo originally formed one tribe with the Acholi. In appearance they are a fine race, not so much remarkable for beauty of face as for stature and development.496 Though the mornings and evenings are comparatively cold in their hills, the Jaluo go stark naked; indeed they object to clothes as indecent, and members of the tribe who have been abroad and have adopted clothing are requested to put it off during their residence in their old homes.497

Belief of the Kavirondo in a Supreme Being or Creator called Nyasaye, whom they do not worship.

Both the Bantu and the Nilotic Kavirondo are reported to believe in a Supreme Being or Creator, to whom, however, they pay no formal worship. On this subject I will quote the evidence of a missionary who has lived among the people. He says:

“Though entirely different in origin and language the religious beliefs of the two races are very similar, differing only in minor points of ritual. Both the Nilotic and the Bantu Kavirondo have a distinct idea of God, the Supreme Being. The first call him Nysaye (from sayo, to adore), and the latter Nasaye (from gusaya to beseech). He is considered to be the Creator or originator of all things. It is true, the Supreme Being is not adored, but, when a child is born, it is ascribed to Nyasaye; when any one dies, it is Nyasaye that has taken him away; and when a warrior returns safe from battle, it is Nyasaye that has given him a safe return to his home.

The Kavirondo worship the Sun and Moon and the spirits of their forefathers.

“As, however, no external worship is given to the Creator, it would seem to the ordinary observer, that the Sun is their principal deity and the Moon their second, whilst the spirits of their forefathers rank as minor spirits. In the early morning the Kavirondo may be seen facing the sun. His mode of worship is, to say the least, peculiar. He commences by spitting towards the East, in honour of the rising orb, then he turns successively to the North, West, and South, and salutes each quarter solemnly in the same manner, whilst he earnestly beseeches the Sun-god to give him good luck. A similar ceremony, if ceremony it can be called, is gone through when the new moon appears, in order to obtain good speed for that month. But we must not lose sight of the fact that though health and good luck are asked from the Sun arid the New Moon, life itself is ascribed to the Creator Nyasaye. In fact it would seem that the higher the particular object of reverence is in the estimation of the Kavirondo, the less ceremonious is his mode of showing his reverence. The Supreme Being, the Creator of all things and giver of life and death, has to be content with the mere acknowledgement of His existence; the Sun and New Moon receive a periodical expectoration; but the spirits of the departed, who are really the lowest in rank, are worshipped with an elaborate ritual.”498

J. Roscoe on the religion of the Nilotic Kavirondo.

To much the same effect Mr. John Roscoe has described the religion of the Nilotic Kavirondo. He tells us that “apart from worship of the dead and belief in ghosts, the people have little religion. They call the supreme being Nyasi, who, they say, is to be found in large trees. In times of trouble or sickness they make offerings to him of an animal which is killed under a large tree, and the flesh is cooked and eaten near by, though sometimes the meat is taken a little distance away and is not eaten under the shadow of the tree.”499

In these accounts of the Supreme Being of the Kavirondo nothing is said to connect him definitely with the sky; indeed the statement that he is to be found in great trees, where sacrifices are offered to him, would point to an arboreal rather than a celestial deity. However, we have seen that among the Akamba and Akikuyu the worship of Engai or Mulungu, who has some claim to rank as a Sky-god, is closely associated with sacred trees,500 and the same may be true of the Supreme Being of the Kavirondo.

The Nandi a Hamitic or Nilotic tribe.

The Eastern Nilotic Tribes.

To the north of Kavirondo stretches what is known as the Nandi plateau, a highland country which is one of the most fertile and beautiful regions of Kenya Colony (British East Africa). The tribe, who give their name to it, the Nandi, are akin to the Masai, and form one of a group of Hamitic or Nilotic tribes to which the Suk and Turkana also belong. All these tribes appear to be hybrids, perhaps formed by a mixture of Galla or Somali with negro blood; the Galla or Somali element is judged to be stronger in the Masai and Nandi than in the Suk and Turkana.501 Together the four tribes make up what we may call the East African section of the Nilotic family. The features which distinguish them from their brethren who inhabit the valley of the Nile, such as the Ban, Acholi, and Aluru, are that they are more or less nomadic herdsmen, and that their young men are organized as a special class of warriors. As, a result apparently of these institutions, which are perhaps due to an infusion of Galla-Somali blood, these tribes of warlike herdsmen have spread widely over East Africa. Their kinsfolk on the Nile, on the other hand, are settled cultivators of the soil; and though they fight on occasion and esteem bravery, they do not devote the prime of life exclusively to raiding their neighbours, nor do they despise peaceful labour. The nomadic and military mode of life is most fully developed in the Masai, who disdain agriculture and all occupations except fighting and herding cattle. One section of the Suk are tillers of the soil; the other section and the Turkana do little in the way of cultivation, but tend cattle and hunt. The various sections of the Nandi have taken to agriculture, seemingly within the last few generations, and they practise it in a somewhat desultory fashion.502

Belief of the Nandi in a Supreme God called Asis or Asista, whose name means “the Sun”

Two thunder-gods.

The religious beliefs of the Nandi are somewhat vague and unformulated, but they recognize the existence of a Supreme God whom they call Asis or Asista. His name means the sun. He dwells in the sky: he created man and beast, and the world belongs to him. Prayers are addressed to him. He is acknowledged to be a benefactor and the giver of all good things, and offerings are at times made to him in return for his benefits.503 Besides the high god Asis or Asista the Nandi believe in the existence of two thunder-gods, the one kindly, the other malevolent, who closely resemble the Black God and the Red God of the Masai. The crashing peal of thunder near at hand is said to be the bad thunder-god trying to come to earth to kill people, whilst the distant muttering or rumbling of thunder is supposed to be the good thunder-god protecting mankind and driving away his evil-disposed colleague. Forked lightning is said to be the sword of the bad thunder-god, while sheet lightning is thought to be the sword of the good thunder-god, who does not kill people. Whenever forked lightning—the flashing sword of the bad thunder-god—is seen, all Nandi women look on the ground, as it is deemed wrong that they should witness the havoc which the sun or God (Asista) is allowing to take place. During a thunderstorm it is usual to throw some tobacco on the fire, and the youngest child of a family has to take a certain stick, used for cleaning gourds, thrust it into the ashes of the fire, and then throw it out of doors. But the two thunder-gods are not worshipped, nor are offerings made to them.504

Prayers of the Nandi to Asista and to dead ancestors.

The commonest form of prayer is addressed both to the great god Asista and to the spirits of deceased ancestors. It is supposed to be recited by all adult Nandi twice a day, but it is more particularly used by old men when they rise in the morning, especially if they have had a bad dream. It runs thus:

“God, I have prayed to thee, guard my children and cattle,

I have approached thee morning and evening.

God, I have prayed to thee whilst thou didst sleep and whilst thou wentest.

God, I have prayed to thee. Do not now say; ‘I am tired’.

O our spirits, guard us who live on the earth, and do not say: ‘We were killed by human beings’.”505

Prayers in war.

When warriors have gone to the wars, the men's mothers tie four knots in their belts, and going out of their huts every morning spit towards the sun and say “God, give us health”. And the fathers of the absent warriors meet together regularly, and before they drink their beer they sing,

God guard our children,

That we may greet them”.

Then they sprinkle some of the beer on the ground and on the walls of the hut, and say,

“O our spirits, we pray to you.

Regard this beer, and give us health.”

If an expedition has been unsuccessful and a number of warriors have been killed, the survivors must all go to a river on their return and bathe. Then they hold a dance at which the women wail and cry at intervals. Afterwards an old man stands up amidst the seated warriors and says:

God, we admit ourselves beaten,

We pray thee, give us peace”.

Prayers for cattle.

When cattle have been carried off by an enemy or killed by lightning, a procession is formed, and the cattle that have been left are driven to the nearest river, and there every animal is sprinkled with water. One old man recites these lines, all present repeating them after him:

“God, guard these that are left,

We pray thee, guard these that are left”.

When disease breaks out in a herd, a great bonfire is kindled and the sick herd is driven to the fire. A pregnant sheep is killed and eaten, and the herd is driven round the fire, each beast being sprinkled with milk, whilst the following prayer is offered up:

God, we pray thee,

Guard these that an here”.506

Prayers at harvest.

While the eleusine grain is ripening, and after the grain has been reaped, the harvest ceremonies are held. Porridge is made from the first basketful of grain cut, and all the members of the family take some of the food and dab it on walls and roofs of the huts. They also put a little in their mouths and spit it out towards the east. The head of the family then holds some of the eleusine grain in his hand, and offers up the following prayer, everybody present repeating the words after him:

God, give us health,

And may we be given strength;

And may we be given in milk.

If any man eats of this corn, may he like it.

And if a pregnant woman eats it, may she like it507

After the harvest has been gathered in, each geographical division (pororiet) of the tribe holds its own feast on the top of a hill or in a large open plain, and all the warriors gather and dance the war-dance. A great bonfire is kindled with the wood of certain trees and shrubs, and when the flames blaze high, a sort of doorway, like that of a cattle-kraal, is built near the fire, and as the warriors file past, the old men, standing by the door-posts, take a little milk and beer and spit it on them. The old men then sing as follows:

God, give us health,

God, give us raided cattle.

God, give us the offspring

Of men and cattle.”

Before the assembly separates, the old men kill and eat a pregnant goat, and the women, who have oiled their bodies, proceed to the nearest river, where they take two pebbles from the water: one of the pebbles they place in their water-jars and keep it there till the next harvest festival; the other pebble, they place in their granaries.508

Prayers for rain.

When there is a long drought, the old men assemble, and take a black sheep, and go with it to a river. There they tie a fur cloak on the sheep's back and push the animal into the water. Next they take beer and milk into their mouths and spit them out in the direction of the rising sun. When the sheep scrambles out of the water and shakes itself, they recite the following prayer:

God, we pray thee give us rain.

Regard this milk and beer.

We are suffering like women labouring with child.

Guard our pregnant women and cows.”509

Prayers after childbirth.

Four months after the birth of a child a feast is held. An ox or goat is slaughtered, and after the mother, child, and animal have been anointed with milk by one of the elders of the clan, the child's face is washed with the undigested food from the animal's stomach. The elder then prays as follows:

God, give its health.

God, protect us.

O our spirits, guard this child

O belly, guard this child.”510

When they begin to build a house, they perform a short inaugural ceremony. The elders of the family pour milk and beer and put some salt into the hole that has been prepared for the reception of the central pole, and they say:

God, give us health.

God, give us milk.

God, give us power.

God, give us corn.

God, give us everything that is good.

God, guard our children and our cattle.”511

Prayer at Pot-making.

Among the Nandi, as among many savage tribes, the potters are women. When the pots have been baked, the potters recite the following prayer:

God, give us strength,

So that, when we cook in the pots, men may like them512

Prayer at seeking iron.

When smiths search for iron ore they pray, saying:

God, five us health.

God, give us iron.”513

Prayer of children at the extraction of teeth.

As a rule, children do not pray, but when the two middle incisor teeth of the lower jaw are extracted, according to the tribal custom, the child must throw the teeth away towards the rising sun, saying:

God, take these brown teeth and give me white ones,

So that I may drink calfs milk514

Thus the Nandi, like their kinsfolk the Masai, may be fairly called a prayerful people.

Is Asista a Sky-god or a Sun-god?

As Asis or Asista, the name of the Supreme God of the Nandi, is also the name of the sun, it might be thought that Asis or Asista is a Sun-god rather than a Sky-god. It may be so, but in all that is recorded of him there seems to be very little except his name to connect him definitely with the sun,515 though the customs of spitting and throwing teeth in the direction of the sun certainly admit of, if they do not require, a solar interpretation. On the whole it is perhaps safer to class the great god of the Nandi among the kindly Sky-gods, whose range is so wide in Africa, than to rank him with the pure Sun-gods, who, apart from their occurrence in ancient Egypt, appear to be on the whole rare in Africa. Similarly we saw that among the Wachagga of Kilimanjaro the Supreme God is known by a name (Ruwa) which signifies the sun, though his attributes are rather those of a Sky-god.”516

A. C. Hollis; on the religion of the Nandi.

On the Nandi religion and its relation to that of the Bantu tribes about them I will quote the remarks of Mr. A. C. Hollis, our highest authority on the tribe. He says: “It will be seen that the Nandi believe in a sky-god, whose name, as already stated, is synonymous with the sun. The Nandi also, like the surrounding Bantu peoples and unlike the Masai, worship and propitiate the spirits of deceased ancestors. As a general rule it may, I think, be said that prayer and sacrifice to the sun or deities in the sky are unknown among the Bantu tribes of Eastern Africa, whilst this form of worship is followed by all the Nilotic or Hamitic tribes. The Bantu Kikuyu, it is true, acknowledge a sky-god whom they call Ngai, but both the name and the worship are obviously borrowed from the Masai. The Chaga, too, who sometimes pray to a sun-god called Iruwa, and spit towards the east when they leave their huts in the morning, have probably taken these customs from the Dorobo, who are nearly akin to the Nandi.”517

Story of the Origin of Death: the dog and the moon.

Like so many other African peoples, the Nandi tell a story to account for the origin of human mortality; but unlike some of their congeners they appear entirely to exculpate the deity from all share in the unfortunate transaction and to lay the whole blame of it on a dog. What happened, if we can trust their account, was as follows. When the first people lived on the earth a dog came to them one day and said, “All people will die like the moon, but unlike the moon you will not return to life again unless you give me some milk to drink out of your gourd and beer to drink through your straw. If you do this, I will arrange for you to go to the river when you die and to come to life again on the third day.” But the people laughed at the dog and gave him some milk and beer to drink off a stool. The dog was huffed at not being served in the same vessels as a human being, and although he put his pride in his pocket and swallowed the milk and the beer, he went away very sulky, saying, “All people will die, and the moon alone will return to life”. That is why, when people die, they remain away, whereas when the moon dies she reappears after three days’ absence.518 If only people had treated that dog more civilly, we should all unquestionably have risen from the dead on the third day.

The Suk and their country.

The Suk belong, as we have seen, to the same group of Nilotic tribes as the Nandi and Masai, but they are much less homogeneous and compact. The physical type varies greatly from the tall handsome Hamite, with almost perfect features, to the squab, dwarf-like pigmy with spread nose and protruding eyes. Their original home seems to have been on the Elgeyo escarpment, to the east of Mount Elgon, in Kenya Colony (British East Africa). Timber and grass are plentiful there, and the rocky descent into the Kerio offers many natural fortresses. In these mountain fastnesses, accordingly, the Suk appear to have been joined by many broken men, refugees from tribes that had been conquered or exterminated by more warlike invaders. Hence the diversity of physical type which now characterizes the Suk. Of all the tribes that have gone to compose the Suk nation, none has so deeply influenced both the language and the customs as the Nandi.519

Belief of the Suk in a Supreme God called Torôrut.

The religious notions of the Suk are extremely vague; it is difficult to find two men whose ideas on the subject coincide. All, however, agree as to the existence of a Supreme Being; most of them call him Torôrut, that is, the Sky; but a few call him Ilat, that is, the Rain. A man named Tiamolok, one of the oldest of the Suk then living, and renowned for his knowledge of folk-lore, gave Mr. Beech the following outline of Suk theology.

A compendium of Suk theology.

“Torôrut is the Supreme God. He made the earth and causes the birth of mankind and animals. No man living has seen him, though old men, long since dead, have. They say he is like a man in form, but has wings—huge wings—the flash of which causes the lightning (kerial), and the whirring thereof is the thunder (kotil). He lives above (yim) and has much land, stock, ivory, and every good thing. He knows all secrets; he is the universal father; all cattle diseases and calamities are sent by him as punishment to men for their sins.

“His wife is Seta (the Pleiades), and his first-born son is Arawa (the Moon), flat (the Rain) is another son, as are Kokel (the Stars) his other children. Topogh (the Evening Star) is his first-born daughter. Asis (the Sun) is his younger brother, who is angry in the dry season. All these are gods, and all are benevolently disposed towards mankind.”520

Asis, the Sun, and Ilat, the Rain.

This is a clear and consistent account of a great Sky-god, husband of the Pleiades, father of the Moon, the Stars, and the Rain, and elder brother of the Sun. It will be observed that according to this account Asis, the Sun, who is the chief god of the Nandi, occupies only a subordinate place in Suk theology. Other Suk, however, say that the only god they know is Hat, the Rain, who is supreme and lord of life and death. Others, again, maintain that Hat is the servant of Torôrut, that it is his duty to carry water, and that when he spills the water, it rains.521

On the whole, Mr. Beech, our best authority on the language, customs, and beliefs of the Suk, concludes that “the general consensus of opinion inclines to the belief in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient being or entity, to whom it is advisable to make frequent prayers, and who is responsible, not only for the creation of the world, but for all the good and evil occurrences that have happened in it ever since.”522

The Alur, a Nilotic people of Lake Albert and the Nile.

The Alur are a Nilotic people who inhabit a considerable area on the western shore of Lake Albert and along the western bank of the Nile from the point where it issues from Lake Albert to a point a little north of Wadelai. Their language differs from that of all the tribes around them and is identical with that of the Shilluk, who inhabit the western bank of the Nile much farther to the north. Hence there is every reason to accept as probable the tradition of the Alur that their ancestors migrated to their present home from the north more than a century ago.523 They are an agricultural people, cultivating maize, sorghum, eleusine grain, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Eleusine grain constitutes their staple food. Men and women share in the labour of agriculture. But they also rear cattle, though they do not pay so much attention to the herds as do the Dinka and Ban, two other tribes of the Upper Nile.524

Belief of the Alur in a Supreme Being called Rubanga, who lives in the sky or the air.

The Alur believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, whom they call Rubanga. His home is generally supposed to be the sky or the air, but no bodily attributes are ascribed to him. He receives little or no regular worship; but when the harvest has been good, a number of communities will meet together and hold a festival under shady trees. Men and women share in the festivity, and all join in singing, eating, and above all drinking in honour of Rubanga. But in general Rubanga is only invoked to explain events of which the causes are mysterious or unknown, as, for example, when some one is suddenly cut off in the prime of life, when a fire breaks out in a village and the incendiary cannot be discovered, or when one man's herds multiply while his neighbour's cattle are dwindling away. In short, the Alur make of Rubanga a sort of stalking-horse to explain all inexplicable occurrences and to cloak their own ignorance. In ordinary life you may often hear such expressions as, “Rubanga has done that”; or, Are you Rubanga, that you give yourself such airs?”525

Belief of the Alur in spirits of nature and spirits of the dead.

Besides this mysterious being the Alur believe in the existence of spirits of nature, which dwell in the woods, the steppes, the river, and the wind. The river spirits are particularly feared, because the crocodiles do their bidding. Of a life beyond death the Alur are said to know nothing. Yet the spirits of the dead are believed to appear to them in dreams and to give them injunctions which it would be unlucky to disregard. But if a ghost persistently intrudes on somebody's slumbers, the sufferer will lay a small gift on the grave of the deceased in order to get rid of his unquiet spirit. But apart from such petty offerings occasionally deposited on the graves and left there for a short time, there can hardly be said to be any regular worship of the spirits of the dead.526

The Lango district.

The Lango district occupies a great region in the north of the Uganda Protectorate. Its area is between five and six thousand square miles, and it is inhabited by a variety of tribes, among which the Lango alone, who give their name to the district, number about a quarter of a million.527 It is a flat, savannah-like country, for the most part treeless, but covered with coarse spear-grass some eight or ten feet high, and intersected by innumerable marshy rivers, whose sluggish current is almost blocked by thick vegetation. But the yellow-flowering mimosa is everywhere to be seen, yellow-flowering leguminosae break the monotony of the unending grass, and a profusely flowering lilac adds a touch of colour to the drab landscape. Papyrus lines the river banks, and water-lilies, blue, white, and yellow, drape the surface of Lake Kwania. In general, the prospect is limited by the tall grass, but in August and September, when the flowers are in full bloom and have been refreshed by the passing of an occasional shower, the eye is pleased by frequent and unexpected patches of colour, where the Calotropis proccra, with its balloon-like fruit, the gardenia, petunia and aster, jasmine and gladiolus, lupin and the heavy-scented clematis are all ablaze. Later in the year nothing is to be seen but the parched grass and here and there the sere and yellow leaves of withered and stunted trees. Only in the north-eastern portion of the district, where the rivers flow in deeper beds, the gullies are fringed with magnificent trees mantled with convolvulaceae and lianae in tropical exuberance.528

The game of the district.

As might be expected from the nature-of the country, with its abundance of water and of cover, game is numerous and varied, including giraffe, rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo, eland, zebra, and many kinds of bucks. Wild boars are destructive of the crops; lions, leopards, and hyenas prey on the live-stock. Rats and voles are omnipresent. The hippopotamus is seen wallowing in some waters, and crocodiles abound in the rivers and lakes, except in Lake Kwania, where their numbers have been reduced by the Lango, who eat their flesh. Mosquitoes swarm everywhere, and at certain times and in certain regions sandflies are an unmitigated pest529 Thus man has many foes to contend with in this exuberance of animal life.

The Lango their physical characteristics and mode of life.

The Lango are a Nilotic people, and like other tribes of the same stock they are a narrow-jawed, long-limbed, dark-skinned race, lean, but muscular. Their lips are much thinner and their noses better formed, according to our European standard, than is usual among pure negroes. In contrast with the practice of Bantu tribes, the men do all the hard work of cultivation, and this, together with the pursuits of hunting and fighting, has given them a fine appearance of physical strength and activity, which is not belied by their powers of endurance and sustained exertion.530 They raise good crops, but their success is due to the fertility of the soil rather than to their skill as farmers; for they are agricultural from necessity and not from choice; at heart, like other Nilotic tribes, they are a pastoral people, who really love their herds. Not infrequently, when cattle have died or been carried off by raiders, the women raise the cry of mourning, as if for a dead man. The type of Lango cattle is the short-horned, bumped zebu. The owner of a cow milks her himself, or, in his absence, his children do it for him; but in no case may a woman perform the duty. The Lango also keep goats and sheep, but do not milk them.531

Religion of the Lango: their belief, in a high god called Jok.

The religion of the Lango is said to be composed of two elements, on the one hand, the worship of ancestral spirits, and on the other hand the worship of a high god whom they call Jok. This name for a Supreme Being is said to be known, in varying forms, to all the Nilotic tribes except the Jaluo, among whom, as we saw, the high god is known by a different name.532 The Lango conception of Jok is vague. They liken him to moving air, and a village in which many deaths occur is said to be on the path of the air or of Jok. He has never been seen, but he can be heard and felt; he manifests himself most sensibly in whirlwinds and circular eddies of air. Like the air or the wind, he is omnipresent; his dwelling is everywhere—in trees, in rocks, in hills, in springs and pools, and more vaguely in the air.533 Apparently, too, he inhabits the sky, for on rare occasions he has taken up people to it from the earth. One such visitor to heaven is known to have returned to this sublunary world after a stay of four days in the celestial mansions. He could not remember much of what he had seen; but he did know that there were a great many black, but no white, people in heaven; that they were just like people here on earth, except that they all wore tails, and that they ate nothing but fried flies, though there were cattle, sheep, and goats in plenty. As a diet of fried flies did not agree with him, and there was nothing else to eat, he begged Jok to send him back to earth, and with this request the kind hearted deity apparently complied.534

Jok as Creator and source of life.

Jok created the sky and the earth, which the Lango conceive as the two halves of a great sphere; and the births both of men and animals are still referred to his agency. For example, a goat which bears twins or triplets is garlanded or festooned with a particular sort of convolvulus in recognition of the favour shown by Jok to the animal;535 and of a human mother of twins it is said, “Jok visited so-and-so; she has borne twins”.536

Jok is kind but jealous.

The over powering energy of Jok.

In general, the character of Jok is benevolent. From him come rich harvests, and he ordered the seasons so that the rainy season should ensure abundant crops, and that the dry season should allow of the joys of hunting. Further he shows his kindly nature in being always accessible to the prayers and inquiries of the faithful, and through his seers he gives advice on all matters great and small, but specially on the important topics of war and hunting. Still he is a jealous god and punishes neglect with severity, demanding his meed of sacrifice and observance. Scoffers who openly profess that they do not believe in Jok, and that his oracles are worthless, are punished by him with leprosy or a painful death. Indeed, disease, accidents, failure in hunting, loss of cattle, and many other tribulations are commonly regarded by the Lango as punishments inflicted by Jok upon men for their neglect or their sin. So powerful is Jok that his proximity is dangerous to men, not so much because he bears them ill-will, as on account of the very nature of the divine essence, contact with which is more than a mortal can endure; some buffer must be interposed to screen humanity from the awful, the overpowering energy of the deity. Hence the Lango never build their villages on hills, because hills are vaguely associated with Jok.537

Jok takes up his abode in sacred trees, where he is worshipped and consulted as an oracle.

Nevertheless, curiously enough, there is no danger to be feared from Jok if he takes up his abode in a tree near the village, or even in the village itself, for he will not do so without warning, which gives time to propitiate him by offerings, the erection of shrines, and compliance with his instructions concerning religious observances and the rules of life. The effect is to mollify the deity, or at all events to neutralize the danger inevitably attendant on his personality.538

Indeed, the worship of Jok is specially associated with sacred trees. In this connexion he bears a special title, Jok Adongo, that is, Jok the Large or Powerful. Sometimes Jok will call a village headman by name at dead of night, and when the man answers, the deity will say, “Do not you or any of your people cut such and such a tree, for I am present in it, and it is sacred to me; nor may any one venture to pass under its shadow from otyeno (about 5 P.M.) till dawn”. The headman instructs his people accordingly, and that tree is for ever sacred. No particular sort of tree is thus dedicated to Jok, but fig trees and kigelias are the kinds he specially favours. Once the tree has been thus sanctified by the presence of Jok, the headman resorts to it for the purpose of getting advice on such subjects as war and hunting. He goes to the tree at dawn, alone and unattended, and standing at a safe distance asks the tree's advice and counsel, observing that he and his people have faithfully refrained from injuring the tree or passing under its shadow. The tree will answer, speaking with a human voice and saying that the people have no claim on its gratitude; “For where”, it asks, “is my shrine? and where are my offerings and sacrifices? “It then directs the headman as to the building of a suitable shrine. The shrine is thereupon built under the tree. It is a diminutive hut, consisting only of a grass roof supported on four posts about a foot high, the whole hut being no more than eighteen inches in diameter. Contented with this humble shrine and with the offerings at it, the tree, or rather Jok in the tree, will give an oracular response on any question which the headman may put to it, without the intervention of a seer or any other intermediary.539

Various titles of Jok.

Atida, the Mother of God, and her prophetess under a tree.

Though Jok is conceived of as an indivisible entity permeating the whole universe,539 and there is no plural form of his name,540 yet he is known under a variety of titles which correspond to his different manifestations and activities. Thus one of his manifestations, as we have seen, is in the form of a tree-god, in which character he bears the title of Jok Adongo. But his oldest manifestation, curiously enough, is in the form of a female called Atida, a name which may not be spoken by the vulgar, who address her as Min Jok, that is, “the Mother of God”. She is particularly associated with hunting, fighting, and rain, and her oracles are mainly, though not exclusively, delivered by prophetesses.541 For example, to the north of the River Moroto there is said to be a large banyan tree which for very many years has been sacred to Atida, the Mother of God, and under the tree sits the prophetess, a woman of great stature. In recent years the popularity of the shrine, has declined, but formerly the Lango resorted to it from far and wide to receive prophecies of war and of the chase, and they took with them presents of beer, or chickens, or goats. On the day of their arrival they would sit there in meditation, and next night they would lean their spears against the tree, in order that virtue might pass from the tree into the spears and give them success. In the morning they would proffer their request, and the prophetess would convey it to the tree and interpret the answer of the tree to the inquirers; for, though the tree spoke with a human voice, its words were understood only by the prophetess. In that respect the banyan tree of the Mother of God differed from the trees animated by Jok Adongo, for these latter speak in a language intelligible to anybody who knows the Lango tongue. After a successful foray or hunt the votaries would bring thankofferings of loot or game, which were hung upon the banyan tree.542

Annual ceremony and prayers to the Mother of God for rain.

At an elaborate ceremony, which is annually performed for the purpose of ensuring a due fall of rain, prayers are addressed to Min Jok, the Mother of God, and her help is besought at the festival. She is implored to send abundant rain and to give a good harvest, and further she is urged to disclose any persons whose hearts are evil, and who purpose to conceal or withhold the rain by magic. The ceremony takes place at a sacred tree, either a fig tree or a sycamore, and the men sit in orderly rows under the tree while the prayers for rain are being put up. The old men lead the prayer, and the others respond in a monotone, concluding each prayer with a long-drawn, deep-throated moan. After the prayers the men dance what is called the bell dance, in which all the performers imitate the actions of their totemic animals, whether the animal is a leopard, a monkey, a duiker, or what not. There is no instrumental music, but a singer stands in the middle of the circle of the dancers and sings while they dance. The ceremonies and the dances last several days. On the last day medicated water is thrown up into the air, and an old man climbs the tree and sprinkles the medicated water on its leaves, praying the while for good rains and harvest. The ceremony includes the sacrifice of a ram and a goat under the sacred tree. The members of one clan will use only a black goat for the sacrifice, because the black colour is symbolical of rain clouds. In no case may a red goat be employed as a victim. At the end of the festival the bones, heads, and skins of the ram and goat are taken away by an old man, who buries them secretly in a river or swamp.543

Jok as the patron of souls.

In one of his manifestations Jok is specially concerned with the souls (tipo) of human beings and animals, for some animals, such as giraffes, roan, elephants, rhinoceroses, and warthogs, possess souls, but others, such as lions and leopards, do not. In his capacity of patron of souls Jok is known as Jok Orongo.544 Indeed, the spirits of the human dead are believed to merge into Jok. We are told that the idea which the word Jok now conveys to the Lango mind is apparently “the sum total of the long departed merged into one pre-existing deity called Jok, a plurality of spirits unified in the person of a single godhead, a Spiritual Force composed of innumerable spirits, any of which may be temporarily detached without diminishing the oneness of the Force”.545

Shrines for ghosts.

But in spite of this general absorption of souls in the deity after death, it seems to be beyond question that a certain number of them do retain their individuality, sometimes indeed, a very marked and even obtrusive individuality, for a considerable time after their decease. For example, a ghost may demand that a shrine be erected for him. This demand he may either communicate personally to a relative, or he may so harass him by a series of petty annoyances that the man is driven to consult a diviner, who thereupon reveals the ghost's wishes to him. A shrine is accordingly built for him, and in this he takes up his abode, and if he is decently treated by the family he may favour them with as valuable advice as Jok himself, though sometimes, it must be admitted, the oracle is dumb, the ghost preserving an impenetrable silence. But whether he is taciturn or loquacious, his shrine exactly resembles those that are built for Jok, and at it he receives from time to time offerings of food and beer.546

The exorcism of a troublesome ghost.

But some ghosts are so unreasonable and fractious that not even the construction of a shrine in their honour can pacify them. They continue to haunt and plague their relatives, till it becomes necessary to lay them once for all. For that purpose a man of God (ajoka, literally a Jok man) is sent for. On his arrival he is presented with a he-goat He kills the animal ceremonially and smears some of the contents of its stomach on the chest of the man who is haunted by the trouble some ghost. Then he shakes a rattle to avert evil influences and places in readiness a new-made jar with a narrow mouth. In the jar he puts some of the goat's meat and a little of the sort of food of which the deceased in his lifetime was known to be fond. At the side of the jar he places the lid ready to be clapped on at a moment's notice. The trap is now set and baited; it only remains to lure the ghost into it. For this purpose the man of God shakes his rattle vigorously and calls loudly on the ghost by name. Suppose the dead man was named Okelo, the man of God will cry, “Okelo, come here and take your food”. The ghost accordingly arrives on the scene of action, but he is wary and suspicious.” How do I know that I may trust you?” say she.” There are none of my friends here. Where is Ngulu? “naming a former friend. But the man of God is prepared to meet this objection, for he has summoned the friends and relations of the deceased, and they are now at hand, ready to answer to their names in case the ghost should call for them. So Ngulu comes forward as a guarantee of good faith and sits down by the pot. The ghost then goes through the muster-roll of his old friends; they all answer to their names and come forward, or if any happen to be unavoidably detained, a satisfactory explanation of their absence is tendered to the ghost. The misgivings of the ghost are now dispelled, and firmly convinced that he is really being invited to a family feast, he, so to say, puts his head in the noose by entering the jar to partake of the savoury meat which his soul loves. But no sooner is he inside the jar than the man of God claps on the lid and fastens it down tightly. The ghost inside struggles manfully and raises a bitter cry, “Thou deceivest me, thou killest me”, but it is all in vain. The man of God turns a deaf ear to his remonstrances, seals the lid, carries away the pot, and buries it in the middle of a swamp. That is the end of the ghost as such. Henceforth his immortal spirit is absorbed in Jok, the deity.547

The release of a repentant ghost.

That may be taken as the regular method of giving a quietus to a troublesome ghost. But sometimes a ghost, on being safely caught and bottled up in a jar, is led to see the error of his ways and to promise amendment, if only they will let htm out. On the other hand he threatens that, if they persist in sealing up the pot and burying it in the swamp, he will kill every soul in the village. Alarmed at these sanguinary threats, and knowing that, if the worst comes to the worst, they can always pot him again, his relations take off the lid and let him out, and even build a shrine for him in the village. But beside the shrine they always set the pot as a reminder to the ghost of what he may expect if he should relapse into his former career of crime. It is to the credit of ghosts in general that no such case of a backsliding ghost is on record.548

State of the souls of animals after death.

How to lay the ghost of a rhinoceros.

Whether the souls of animals as well as of men are finally absorbed into the deity we are not informed; but it seems clear that some of them at least lead an independent life for some time after the death of the body. For example, if a hunter kills a rhinoceros, the soul or ghost of the rhinoceros if very vengeful and dangerous, and the slayer must at once return to his village and consult a seer as to what steps he should take to appease or lay the ghost of the animal. The ceremonies prescribed by the seer naturally vary with the circumstances, but they always include the sacrifice of a black ram at the door of the slayer's house. The carcase is dragged whole into the wilderness and left near a river, but the old men of the village may go and eat it there, provided that they burn the skin and bones and throw the ashes into the water. Having thus appeased the ghost of the rhinoceros, the slayer may return and cut up its body; but he may not bring the horns into the village, because in the case of a rhinoceros it is not physically possible wholly to eradicate the viciousness of the ghost. The same holds true in an even higher degree of the roan antelope, the ghost of which is most particularly vengeful, vicious, and dangerous.549

These facts are of interest for their bearing on the much-debated question whether or not animals possess immortal souls like those of men. In the opinion of the Lango some animals, such as elephants, rhinoceroses, and warthogs, certainly do possess souls which survive the death of their bodies, and their testimony on this important topic may be accepted for what it is worth.

The inspired interpreter of Jok's will is called a Jok-man or Man of God.

A man who interprets Jok's will for the benefit of his fellow-creatures is called an ajoka, that is, a Jok-man or man of God. Both men and women may hold the sacred office; indeed the most famous of these divinely inspired ministers have always been women. Women alone are competent to serve in the capacity of prophetesses at certain shrines, particularly at those of Atida or the Mother of God. While a man of God is engaged in ascertaining the will of Jok, he wears a serval skin slung down the front of his body, the forefeet being fastened round his neck, and he holds in his hand a rattle to avert inauspicious influences. An inquirer of the deity always prefaces his petition with a small present, generally some beer, flour, or cakes, part of which is offered at the shrine and the rest kept by the man or woman of God as his or her fee. If the petition is one of great importance a goat may be offered.550

Among the inspired interpreters of the divine will are epileptic patients, both men and women.

The treatment of epileptics.

The House of Exorcism.

Among these interpreters of the divine will a special class is occupied by epileptic patients, who may be either men or women, but are oftener women than men. For an epileptic fit is regarded as a sure and certain token of divine inspiration; the deity is thought to have entered into the patient and taken possession of him or her; they say that “God has seized him” (Jok omake). The first step in such a case is to serve a notice of ejectment on God, in other words, to exorcize him. In former days the ejectment often took a very forcible form; the patient was simply flogged to the accompaniment of drums and singing till God had left him, in other words till the fit was over. The present procedure is more elaborate. In every village, apparently, there is a small hut set specially apart for the use of inspired, that is, epileptic patients; it is quite distinct from the shrine (abila) either of Jok or of a ghost, and it bears a different name, being called a House of Exorcism (ot abani). It contains nothing but a sacred spear or spear of Jok (tong jok). Accordingly, when a person falls down in a fit, an exorcizer, who must himself be an epileptic patient, comes to the hut of his fellow sufferer with a sacred spear in his hand and conducts him to the House of Exorcism, at the door of which a goat has been tied. At entering the house the patient administers a kick to the goat, which is then removed and killed. A little of the meat is given to the sufferer, who eats it in the House of Exorcism. Meantime the whole village is engaged in drinking beer,’ dancing, singing, and making as much noise as is humanly possible in order to drive away evil influences. By this time the worst effects of inspiration are over; the convulsive stage is past, and though the patient is still possessed by Jok, he now lies passive, inert, and comparatively sane. The dance of exorcism is accompanied by the music of six large drums, and all the exorcizers who can be mustered for the occasion take part in it, carrying their sacred spears and shaking their rattles. On his recovery the patient has to pay the owner of the drums a goat and one hoe, and to supply him with new skins for his drums, as the old skins are presumably worn out with the hard usage to which they have been subjected in the process of exorcism. At night he is led back to his own house, but the exorcizer who came to the rescue at the first instance remains for two days without food in the House of Exorcism, for it takes him that time to complete the exorcism. If the patient succumbs to the treatment, his friends submit to the will of heaven; for they know that the day fore-ordained for him has arrived, and that Jok has sent his spirit to take him away. But if he survives, as he generally does, he is now a fully qualified exorcizer (abanwa) and man of God (ajoka), competent at any time to reveal the will of God to his worshippers.551

Oracles of Jok delivered by persons in epileptic fits.

Whenever Jok, in his special manifestation as Jok Nam, desires to communicate with a mortal, he always does so through one of these epileptics. When the chosen vessel feels the old symptoms coming on, he takes his measures accordingly. He hurries to the House of Exorcism, and there, the full force of inspiration descending on him, he falls down in a fit and writhes in the usual convulsions which attest the presence of the deity. In this divine frenzy, Jok Nam, speaking through the mouth of the epileptic, summons the person with whom he desires to communicate. On his arrival he receives the divine message from the man or woman in the fit, who thereafter gradually recovers from the delirium of inspiration and remains in his right mind until the next time.552

Exorcism of the ghosts of wild animals.

These exorcizers (abanwa) are invariably epileptic patients and can communicate the will of Jok just like ordinary men and women of God (ajoka), who are not epileptics. In certain cases, indeed, it is absolutely essential to consult them, as when a man has killed an elephant, a rhinoceros, or a warthog, and goes about in bodily fear of the ghost of the warthog, the elephant, or the rhinoceros. In such an emergency the only person on earth who can relieve him of his terrors by laying the ghost of the animal is an epileptic.v

A qualified practitioner can voluntarily induce a fit of inspiration, that is, of epilepsy, by dancing and other provocatives of violent excitement, and the words which in that state he utters are accepted by the inquirer as the words of God, a revelation of Jok Nam, Hut more usually he seats himself calmly in the House of Exorcism and falls into a trance, during which his soul leaves him and visits Jok, in his special manifestation as Jok Orongo, from whom the soul obtains the requisite information. On its return to his body the practitioner, still in a sort of trance, communicates the divine message to the inquirer, and then slowly returns to his normal condition.553

How the great god Jok can be outwitted.

But while the great god Jok is thus regarded as the supreme fount of wisdom, which may flow down to mortals through epileptics and other suitable channels, his intelligence would seem to be, in certain directions, of a limited order; for the Lango think that they can outwit and overreach him. For example, when the men are going out to hunt, they take the auspices, and it may be that the omens are unfavourable, prognosticating, for example, that one of the hunters will fall a prey to a leopard. To obviate this calamity, they mould clay figures of a man, a woman, and a leopard; the leopard is represented in the act of biting the man, and the woman is supposed to be the man's widow lamenting his death. The name of an enemy is given to the figure of the man, and that enemy, it is confidently anticipated, will be attacked and devoured by the leopard. This ingenious device is called “frustrating God” (keto Jok), because the wrath of God is thereby diverted from its proper object to another.554 Again, when the children of a family have died in succession, one after the other, the next born will be called by some such trivial or unseemly name as “frog”, “ordure”, and so forth. Thus dust is thrown in the eyes of the deity, who will not turn his attention to a child so named, and thus the life of the infant will be saved.555 From all this we may infer that in the opinion of the Lango their great god Jok is by no means infallible.

But while the great god Jok is thus regarded as the supreme fount of wisdom, which may flow down to mortals through epileptics and other suitable channels, his intelligence would seem to be, in certain directions, of a limited order; for the Lango think that they can outwit and overreach him. For example, when the men are going out to hunt, they take the auspices, and it may be that the omens are unfavourable, prognosticating, for example, that one of the hunters will fall a prey to a leopard. To obviate this calamity, they mould clay figures of a man, a woman, and a leopard; the leopard is represented in the act of biting the man, and the woman is supposed to be the man's widow lamenting his death. The name of an enemy is given to the figure of the man, and that enemy, it is confidently anticipated, will be attacked and devoured by the leopard. This ingenious device is called “frustrating God” (keto Jok), because the wrath of God is thereby diverted from its proper object to another.555 Again, when the children of a family have died in succession, one after the other, the next born will be called by some such trivial or unseemly name as “frog”, “ordure”, and so forth. Thus dust is thrown in the eyes of the deity, who will not turn his attention to a child so named, and thus the life of the infant will be saved.556 From all this we may infer that in the opinion of the Lango their great god Jok is by no means infallible.

J. H. Driberg on the religion of the Lango.

To conclude this notice of Lango theology, I will quote the words of Mr. Driberg, our best and almost only authority on the people. He says: “It cannot be too often emphasized that religion is a much more important factor in the secular life of primitive peoples than it is with civilized communities indeed, it is the most important factor of all. It enters into all their family and social relations, into their most commonplace activities and their daily occupations—in short, there is no aspect of native life which has not its religious significance, and which is not more or less controlled by religious rites or prohibitions. Jok is so intensely all-pervading that in all important events prudence compels that his will be ascertained, lest he be offended by an unintentional slight, or in order to profit by his omniscience in obtaining the best results of a contemplated action.”556

The Dinka, a Nilotic tribe of the While Nile.

The Dinka are another Nilotic tribe, or rather congeries of independent tribes who occupy an immense territory in the valley of the White Nile, situated chiefly on the eastern bank of the river and stretching from the sixth to the twelfth degree of north latitude. Physically they are a typical Nilotic people, tall, long-legged, slender, and with a complexion of the deepest black. They are essentially a pastoral people, passionately devoted to the care of their numerous herds of cattle, though they also keep goats and sheep, and the women cultivate small quantities of millet and sesame. But besides the comparatively powerful tribes who own cattle there are some small and poor tribes who have no cattle and hardly till the ground, but live in the marshes near the river and depend largely for their support on fishing and hunting the hippopotamus. Their dirty evil-smelling villages are built on ground that scarcely rises above the vast reedy expanse of the marshes. The pastoral people naturally depend for their subsistence in great measure on the regular fall of rain, without which the pastures wither and the cattle die. Rain accordingly plays a great part in the religion and superstition of the Dinka.557

The Dinka worship ancestral spirits (jok) and a high god called Dengdit, whose name means “Great Rain”.

The Dinka are a deeply religious people. They worship a host of ancestral spirits called jok and a high god called Dengdit, whose name means literally “Great Rain”. They also give him the name of Nyalich, which, literally translated, signifies “in the above”, being the locative form of a word which means “above”. It is, however, only used as a synonym of Dengdit. A common beginning of Dinka prayers is Nyalich ko Invar, that is, “God and our ancestors”. The phrase indicates the two main elements of which Dinka religion is composed, to wit, the worship of a high god and the worship of ancestors; and the order in which the two are mentioned in the prayer is significant of their relative importance, for there is no doubt that the great god Dengdit or Nyalich ranks above the ancestral spirits (jok). He is believed to have created the world and established the present order of things, and he it is who is supposed to send the rain from “the rain-place” above, which is especially his home. Nevertheless in the ordinary affairs of life the ancestral spirits (jok) are appealed to far oftener then Dengdit, and in some cases, in which the appeal is nominally made to Dengdit, its form seems to imply that he has been confused with the ancestral spirits.558

How the path between earth and heaven was cut off.

The Dinka have a legend that formerly earth and heaven were connected by a path, up and down which men used to pass at will, but that the path was unfortunately cut off under the following melancholy circumstances. Dengdit had a wife named Abuk. One day she was busy making men and women from a bowl of fat which her husband had given her for the purpose; for it appears that God had deputed to his wife the task of creating mankind. Softening the fat over the fire, she moulded the figures out of it with her hand, just as a Dinka potter moulds moist clay. As each person was completed in this fashion, he or she passed down the road to earth; for naturally the creation of human kind took place in heaven, the home of God and his wife. Well, while she was at work, God happened to pass by, and seeing what she was about he warned her against her father-in-law or brother-in-law Lwal Burrajok, with whom the deity was not on those amicable terms which might have been anticipated from their family relationship. But his wife forgot the warning and went to the forest to fetch wood, leaving the bowl simmering on the fire. Just then Lwal Burrajok strolled up, and seeing the bowl, drank some of the fat, spilt more of it on the ground, and out of pure mischief moulded what was left of the fat into preposterous figures, with eyes, mouths, and noses all bunged up and perfectly useless. He then went on his way, but fearing the wrath of his son-in-law or brother-in-law the deity, who could not be expected to take in good part this travesty of creation, he beat a retreat down to earth by the usual road. On her return, God's wife was horrified to find the spilt fat and the misshapen figures, and she hastened to inform the deity of the trick which his father-in-law or brother-in-law had played her. God was naturally indignant and started in pursuit of his waggish relative by marriage. But when he came to the path leading down to earth, he found to his surprise that the communication had been cut and the road rendered impassable. For the culprit, anticipating pursuit, had persuaded a certain bird to bite through the path with its bill. That was the end of the path that used to join earth and heaven. The bird that did this great mischief is a little bird about the size of a wren, with red and brown plumage; it builds its nests in the roofs of huts and is very common throughout the Sudan.559

Shrines of Dengdit.

Sacrifices of cattle to Dengdit at his shrines.

Shrines or temples of Dengdit appear to be scattered all over the Dinka country. Most Dinka tribes have one shrine in their territory. At these shrines the people present offerings.560 It is said that in former days a hut was built in every village to serve as God's house, and that sacrifices were offered at it.561 Of these shrines one of the holiest is at Luang Deng. The Dinkas visit it in great numbers. Its guardians are thought to be in a special sense the servants of Dengdit. Only they may enter the shrine. But a man desirous of offspring may bring cattle to the shrine and offer them to Dengdit, praying that the desire of his heart may be granted. The door of the shrine is regularly kept shut, but it is opened when one of the animals offered to Dengdit is slaughtered; and, peering in through the doorway, the worshipper discerns in the darkness the shifting shapes of men and animals, and even of abstractions like happiness, hunger, satisfaction, and cattle-disease. No sacrifice is made until Dengdit has sent a dream to the keeper of the shrine, authorizing him to accept the offering, so that worshippers are nearly always kept waiting for a few days till the keeper dreams his dream. But it rarely happens that a sacrifice is finally refused. It is thought that if a man be sent away without being allowed to sacrifice, he will soon die, or disease will attack his people. As the worshipper approaches, he is accompanied by two servants of the shrine, one on either side. The animal is killed with a spear kept specially for the purpose, and the spirit of the victim goes to join the other spirits in the shrine. Before the worshipper leaves the shrine, one of the servants of Dengdit takes dust from the holy precincts, mixes it with oil, and rubs the mixture over the body of the devotee. Sometimes a material object, as a spear, may be given to a man as a sign of favour and a guarantee that he will obtain his wish. In front of the shrine a low mound of ashes has arisen through the cooking of many sacrifices, and on it offerings, such as pieces of tobacco, may be thrown. The contents of the large intestine of the victim are scattered over and about this mound, and near it the worshippers thrust the branch of a tree called akoch into the ground.562

Worship of dead ancestors and sacrifices on their graves.

In the Shish tribe of Dinka, certain men who lived long ago were spoken of as “the sons of Dengdit”, though this expression does not imply a physical relationship; it appears that the Shish considered these “sons” as spirits that came from above to possess certain men who became known by their names. Each of these men is regarded as the ancestor of a Shish clan and has become a powerful ancestral spirit (jok) of the usual type. Every year, after the harvest has been reaped, ceremonies are performed at the graves of these men, four in number, whose names are Walkerijok, Majush, Mabor, and Malan. At this yearly sacrifice a man, in whom the ancestral spirit is supposed to be immanent, kills a sheep or a bull, and smears its blood and the contents of the large intestine on the grave in the presence of the descendants of the hero, for no person but the descendants of the hero may take part in the rite. The flesh is boiled, all eat thereof, and great care is taken not to break the bones, which are thrown into the river.563

Beliefs of the Dinka concerning the fate of the human soul after death.

Sacrifices to the heroic dead.

The beliefs of the Dinka concerning the fate of the human souls (atiep) after death are apparently not always consistent with each other. On the one hand they think that the spirits of the old and mighty dead (jok) and the spirits of the recent dead (atiep) exist in and around the villages in which their descendants live. Of these two sorts of spirits those of the ancient dead (jok) are the more powerful and energetic, and they sometimes have special shrines built in their honour. They are also supposed to have their home in the earth, in the immediate neighbourhood of their shrines. The spirits of the recent dead (atiep) are thought to be at their strongest immediately after death, and although funeral feasts are held for no other purpose than to propitiate them lest they should cause sickness and death, they gradually grow weaker, and in a very few generations may safely be forgotten. The spirits of the ancient or, as we may perhaps style them, the heroic dead (Jok) retain their strength and energy, and require to be propitiated by sacrifice. Nor are the sacrifices offered to them on stated occasions sufficient to satisfy their craving. They accept these as their due, but they also make known their wants by appearing to their descendants in dreams and demanding that a bullock or other animal shall be killed; or they may appear to a professional seer (tiet) and command him to deliver their message. If their demands are disregarded, they send sickness or bad luck, and the only remedy for these ills is sacrifice. Hut the spirits of the heroic dead (jok) may send sickness to mankind without warning them beforehand in dreams, and visions of the night; hence the usual treatment of all sickness is to begin by making offerings to the heroic dead or to the great god Dengdit, when he is confused with them.564

Belief that the souls of the dead go to Dengdit.

But side by side with this belief that the spirits of the dead are everywhere around them and mingling in the affairs of the living, the Dinka entertain another and apparently incompatible belief, that after death the human soul (atiep) leaves the neighbourhood of its body at the time of burial and passes upward to the great god Dengdit in his place between earth and sky, whence comes the rain from which the deity, as we have seen, takes his name. But the spirits that thus attain to the abode of Dengdit are not absorbed in him, for they retain their power of returning to earth. It is a common notion that the spirits of the ancient or heroic dead (jok) can pass to and from this earth to Dengdit, and one of the most familiar articles of Dinka faith is that these august beings come to every dying person to take and conduct his parting spirit (atiep) to its place of rest. The Niel Dinka believe that these angels of death, as we may call them, come in the form of their totem animals; for the Dinka are divided into totemic clans, and most of the clans speak of their totemic animals as their ancestors. Among the totemic animals, and therefore the ancestors, of the Dinka are snakes, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, lions, and foxes.565

Oaths by Dengdit.

The reverence which the Dinka entertain for Dengdit appears in their oaths. In small matters the Shish Dinka affirm the truth of their asseverations “by Nyalich”, which, as we have seen, is a synonym for Dengdit Among the Agar Dinka a form of oath is to place a spear or stick on the ground and jump over it, saying, “By Dengdit, I have not done this thing; if I have, may my spear be speedily put on my grave!” This refers to the Agar custom of putting a man's spear, bracelets, and shield on his grave for seven days. The most solemn and terrific oath of all is to go to the shrine of Dengdit and swear by it.566

Importance of rein-makers among the Dinka.

Lerpiu an ancestral spirit, thought to be immanent in rain-makers.

Sacrifices to Lerpiu to procure rain.

The need of rain for the pastures and hence for the cattle, which are the staff of life for the Dinka, has tended to invest the office of rain-maker (bain) among them with the highest dignity and power. The men who are commonly called the chiefs or sheikhs of the Dinka tribes are regularly rain-makers, actual or potential. A successful rain-maker is supposed to be animated by the spirit of the great rainmakers of the past, and his influence is very great, for in virtue of his indwelling spirit he is believed to be wiser than common men.567 One of these ancestral spirits supposed to be immanent in living rain-makers of the Bor tribe is called Lerpiu. In 1911 the rain-maker of the Bor tribe believed himself to be animated by the great and powerful spirit of Lerpiu, and he affirmed that at his death Lerpiu would pass into his son. There is a shrine in which Lerpiu is thought to reside more or less constantly. Within the hut is kept a very sacred spear, which also bears the name of Lerpiu, and before it stands a post, to which are attached the horns of many bullocks sacrificed to Lerpiu. The ceremony which is intended to ensure the rainfall consists of a sacrifice offered to Lerpiu for the purpose of inducing him to move Dengdit to send the rain; for Lerpiu is regarded only as a mediator between men and the great sky-god or rain-god Dengdit. The ceremony takes place in spring, about April, when the new moon is a few days old. In the morning two bullocks are led twice round the shrine and are tied to the post by the rain-maker. Then the people beat drums, and men and women, boys and girls, all dance round the shrine. Nothing further is done until the bullocks urinate, when every one who can get near the beasts rubs his body with the urine. After that all except the old people go away. Presently the rain-maker kills the bullocks by spearing them and cutting their throats. While the sacrifice is being prepared, the people chant: “Lerpiu, our ancestor, we have brought you a sacrifice: be pleased to cause rain to fall”. The blood of the sacrifice is collected in a gourd, transferred to a pot, put on the fire, and eaten by the old and important people of the clan. Some of the flesh of one bullock is put into two pots, cooked with much fat, and left for many months near a sacred bush (akoi), which is an essential part of the shrine, because the spirit of Lerpiu is believed to quit the hut and come to the bush during the great rain-making ceremony in spring. Hence the meat left in pots at the bush is no doubt destined for his consumption; indeed, it is expressly said to be intended for the ancestral spirit (jok). But the meat of the other bullock is eaten the same day. The bones of the sacrificed bullocks are thrown away, but their horns are added to the rest on the post.568

Sacrifices for rain at the beginning of the rainy season.

Besides the great rain-making ceremony performed at a central shrine, some tribes offer a sacrifice for rain in each settlement. Among the Shish Dinka this takes place before, or at the beginning of, the rainy season. The old men of the settlement (bai) kill a sheep, thanking and praising Dengdit. The victim is bisected longitudinally and horizontally, and the upper half is cut in pieces and thrown up into the air as an offering to Dengdit. As the pieces fall on the ground, so they are left and are soon eaten by dogs and birds. The blood of the sacrifice is allowed to soak into the ground, but the rest of the meat is boiled and eaten; the bones may not be broken; they are buried in the skin for seven days and then cast into the river. Some durra (a kind of millet) is boiled, thrown into the air, and then left lying on the ground just like the flesh of the sacrifice.569 The throwing of the offerings, whether of flesh or of grain, up into the air is a very natural way of presenting them, to the deity whose home is in the upper regions of the world.

The Shilluk, a Nilotic tribe of the White Nile.

The Shilluk are a Nilotic tribe or nation of the White Nile. Their country is a narrow strip on the western bank of the river from Kaka in the north to Lake No in the south. They also occupy a portion of the eastern bank, and their villages extend some way up the Sobat River. Their country is almost entirely in grass; hence cattle constitute their wealth and the principal object of their care, but they also grow a considerable quantity of durra (a species of millet), though not enough to support the dense population. The villages are built on the slight elevations which break the monotony of the plain. Physically the Shilluk conform to the Nilotic type, being tall, lean, and so dark in colour as to be almost black. The cheek-bones and lips protrude, but not excessively so; the nose in general is flat, but high noses are not infrequent.570

Belief of the Shilluk in a high god called Juok and in a powerful ancestral spirit called Nyakang.

Belief of the Shilluk as to the spirits of the dead.

The Shilluk believe in the existence of a high god whom they call Juok. He is formless and invisible, and, like the air, he is everywhere at once; he is far above men and even above Nyakang, the semi-divine ancestor of the Shilluk kings; nevertheless it is only through Nyakang, as mediator or intercessor, that men can approach him, for by sacrificing to Nyakang they induce him to move Juok to send rain. Although the name of Juok occurs in many greetings, as in the phrase, “May Juok guard you!” (Yimiti Juok) and although a sick man may, like Job, remonstrate with the deity, crying out, “Why, O Juok?” (Er ra Juok), yet it seems doubtful whether he is ever worshipped directly; and although some Shilluk may vaguely associate the dead with him, this feeling does not seem to imply any dogma concerning the abode and state of the dead. There is an undefined but general belief that the spirits of the dead are about everywhere, and that sometimes they come to their descendants in dreams and help them in sickness or give them good counsel. Yet, though, in the case of important men the funeral rites are neither short nor lacking in ceremony, nevertheless there is no such considerable worship of ancestral spirits among the Shilluk as there is among the Dinka. The explanation is probably to be found in the concentration of the religion of the Shilluk on the worship of Nyakang and of the divine kings in whom the spirit of Nyakang is believed to be incarnate. Thus, while the Dinka commonly attribute sickness to the action of an ancestral spirit, the Shilluk regard the entrance of the spirit of one of their divine kings into the patient's body as the most usual cause of illness. But probably it is only the ancient kings who are imagined to afflict people in this manner. Be that as it may, the practical religion of the Shilluk at the present time is the worship of Nyakang.571

Father Hofmayr on the Shilluk conception of Juok.

The Shilluk conception of Juok is thus explained by a Catholic missionary, Father Hofmayr: “The fundamental idea of the Shilluk word Juok is that of a Being who is unfathomable and unknown; to whom is ascribed everything that is gigantic and beyond the reach of human understanding; who stands high above the spirits of the dead and the evil spirits, to which he abandons the world, and who thus has nothing to oppose him. The good and evil that befall mankind are both attributed to him, for he is the Creator, the punisher of Sins, and the Author of Death. For the rest, he dwells high above and troubles himself not about mankind; good and bad luck he has committed to the care of the subordinate spirits. Hence, once born into the world—the only good turn which the Shilluk acknowledges that he owes to Juok—the ordinary man is no longer dependent on him; indeed, since everything comes to him from his ancestors and he knows Juok only as an avenger, he feels under no obligation whatever to do any reverence to his Creator and Lord. It is very seldom that he mentions the name of Juok, and then only in three forms of greeting, on arrival, ‘Juok has brought you’, ‘Juok has kept you’; and again at parting, ‘Juok guide you.’

“To Juok, too, is ascribed anything wonderful or monstrous. So, for example, when Halley's comet was seen here in full splendour, it was immediately entitled Juok or Juok's Star. When the first great Nile steamers passed by the lands of the Shilluk, the people said, ‘Such ships can no man make: they are the handiwork of Juok’.

“Lastly, the word Juok is mentioned in cases of sickness and death; at such times the Great Spirit appears only as the avenger of past sins. Thus, they say, ya da Juok, ‘I am sick’, or anake Juok, ‘He is dead’. Only on such an occasion is an offering made, and that is done, not to show reverence to the deity, but only to appease the spirit, and that in a mood of sorrow and dejection that accords well with the circumstances. If after such an offering the sick man recovers, strings of beads are tied round his feet, the cure is ascribed to Nyakang's intercession with Juok, and the convalescent belongs to the class of persons who are dedicated to King Nyakang…

The essence of Juok.

“As to the essence of Juok, he is yomo, that is, wind or spirit, able to be present everywhere, invisible, from whose hand everything has proceeded and can proceed. This Being can assume different shapes at pleasure, but he does not do so, at least not since the great kings have become his intermediaries.

The abode of Juok.

The idea of Juok modelled on that of an old chief.

“To the question where this great Being dwells, the Shilluk answers, e a mal, he is above, in the air, above the clouds, there he has a great house, there he lives, old and alone. Though the Shilluk stands at a lower level than the Mohammedans to whom he was once subject, he does not think, at least he does not speak, of life in the other world after so sensuous a fashion as his former rulers. When the sun is passing the highest point in the sky, it is said that he is going under Juok's house. Juok can certainly choose different places of abode, yet he does not do so and is usually at home, just like the elders of the Shilluk, who love to be in repose. He only comes to earth when something is to be created or when he visits the villages with sickness and death. What this Great Spirit does at other times, the Shilluk know not. Their notion of him is modelled on the mode of life of their aged chiefs, who, lacking nothing, pass their time in gossip. Of old, after the creation, men often got speech of God. Nyakang was the first and last Shilluk who conversed with the Great Spirit. Since he vanished from the earth, Juok has not deigned to deal directly with mankind, but does everything at the intercession of that first king.”572

The Shilluk story of the creation of men by Juok.

Of the creation of mankind the Shilluk tell the following story. They say that Juok, the Creator, moulded all men out of earth, and that while he was engaged in the work of creation he wandered about the world. In the land of the whites he found a pure white earth or sand, and out of it he fashioned white men. Then he came to the land of Egypt, and out of the mud of the Nile he made red or brown men. Lastly, he came to the land of the Shilluks, and finding there black earth he created black men out of it. The way in which he modelled men was this. He took a lump of earth and said to himself, “I will make man, but he must be able to walk and run and go out into the fields, so I will give him two long legs, like the flamingo”. Having done so, he thought again, “The man must be able to cultivate his millet, so I will give him two arms, one to hold the hoe, and the other to tear up the weeds”. So he gave him two arms. Then he thought again, “The man must be able to see his millet, so I will give him two eyes”. So two eyes he gave him. Next he thought to himself, “The man must be able to eat his millet, so I will give him a mouth”. So a mouth he gave him. After that he thought within himself, “The man must be able to dance and speak and sing and shout, and for these purposes he must have a tongue”. And a tongue he gave him accordingly. Lastly, the deity said to himself, “The man must be able to hear the noise of the dance and the speech of great men, and for that he needs two ears”. So two ears he gave him, and sent him out into the world a perfect man.573

Juok of the Shilluk compared with Jok of the Lango and the Dinka.

The names of African high gods: some of them equivalent to Sun, Sky, or Rain.

It is clear that Juok, the God of the Shilluk, is identical both in name and nature with the Jok of the Lango.574 But while both names agree with the jok of the Dinka, they differ from it in meaning, since in the Dinka language jok signifies, not a great God and Creator, but the spirit of a dead ancestor. From this it might perhaps be inferred that, if we could trace back the history of the Shilluk Juok and of the Lango Jok far enough, we should find that both these great Gods were men who had been deified after death. It may be so, but the analogy of African Sky-gods or Supreme Beings in general is against the hypothesis. For we have seen that for the most part the high gods or Supreme Beings are sharply distinguished from the ancestral spirits not only in name but in function; for while the task of creating the world and man is usually assigned to the high god, who generally dwells in the sky, or at all events in the upper region of the air, the work of carrying on what we may call the ordinary business of the world is commonly supposed to be deputed to the spirits of the dead; for it is from them that the African for the most part imagines that he experiences both good and evil, and it is they accordingly whom he feels bound to propitiate by prayer and sacrifice, while the Creator, having retired from the active conduct of affairs and committed it to the inferior spirits, is supposed to exercise little or no direct influence on human life and accordingly receives but scanty worship from his creature man. The meaning of the names of African Supreme Beings is commonly unknown or disputed; but it is significant that among not a few tribes of Eastern Africa the name of the high god undoubtedly signifies Sun, Sky, or Rain,575 while other tribes of Eastern Africa and many tribes of Northern Nigeria positively identify their Supreme God with the Sun, whether they call him by the name of the Sun or not.577 So far as they go, these facts support the view that African Sky-gods or Supreme Beings in general are not deified ancestors, but simply personifications of the great celestial phenomena, whether the sky, or the rain, or the sun.

  • 1.

    R. Pettazzoni, Dio, vol. i. L’ Essere Celeste nelle Credenze dei Popoli Primitivi (Rome, 1922).

  • 2.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan (paris, 1912), p. 74

  • 3.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, p. 83.

  • 4.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, p. 195. Throughout this discussion I use Heaven and Sky as equivalent terms.

  • 5.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, pp. 189 sq.

  • 6.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, p. 195.

  • 7.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, pp. 195 sq.

  • 8.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, p. 238.

  • 9.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, pp. 196 sq., 241 sq.

  • 10.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, pp. 272 sq.

  • 11.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Soudan, p. 328. In French the god's name is spelled One.

  • 12.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Yatenga (Paris, 1917), p. 377.

  • 13.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Yatenga, p. 694.

  • 14.

    R. Arnaud, “Notes sur les Montagnards Habé”, Revue d’ Ethnographie et des Traditions populaires, ii. (1921) pp. 241 sqq.

  • 15.

    R. Arnaud, “Notes sur les Montagnards Habé”, Revue d’ Ethnographie et des Traditions populaires, ii. (1921) pp. 255 sq. As to the High Priest (hogon), see id. pp. 249 sqq. He is the religious and sacred chief of a group of people; he is deemed to be something more than a man, and he has to observe many taboos.

  • 16.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Bondoukou (Paris, 1921), pp. 175 sq.

  • 17.

    L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Bonndoukou, pp. 353, 375, 379, 385, 407

  • 18.

    L. Tauxier, Nègres Gouro et Gagon (Paris, 1924), pp. 200, 248; compare id., p. 139, as to the Gagus, who similarly worship polished stone axes as thunder-stones.

  • 19.

    A. W. Cardinall, The Natives of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast (London, N.D.), pp. vii. 1.

  • 20.

    A. W. Cardinall, op. cit. p. 24.

  • 21.

    A. W. Cardinall, op. cit. p. 16.

  • 22.

    A. W. Cardinall, op. cit. pp. 22, 26.

  • 23.

    A. W. Cardinall, op. cit. pp. 23 sq.

  • 24.

    A. W. Cardinall, op. cit. p. 23.

  • 25.

    A. W. Cardinall, op. cit. pp. 22 sq.

  • 26.

    D. Westermann, Die Kpelle, ein Negerstamm in Liberia (Gottingen und Leipzig, 1921), p. 533.

  • 27.

    A. W. Cardinall, op. cit. p. 45.

  • 28.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa (London, 1887), pp. 1-4.

  • 29.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa (London, 1890), pp. v. sq., 8 sq.; id., The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa (London, 1894), pp. 32 sq.

  • 30.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, pp. v, vi.

  • 31.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti (Oxford, 1923), p. 214.

  • 32.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 86, 90 sq., 139 sqq.

  • 33.

    J. G. Christaller, Dictionary of the Asante and Fante Language (Basel, 1881), pp. 342 sq., s.v. Onyame; id., “Negersagen von der Goldküste”, Zeitschrift für afrikanische Sprachen, i. (1887–1888) p. 49 note2. Compare (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa, pp. 24 sqq.; id., The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, pp. 36 sq.; R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 48, 49, 86, 90 sq., 94, 141, 145, 1735 G. Cyril Claridge, Wild Bush Tribes of Tropical Africa (London, 1922), pp. 268 sqq.

  • 34.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, p. 35.

  • 35.

    Mary H. Kingsley, Travels in West Africa (London, 1897), p. 508. Compare R. H. Nassau, Fetichism in West Africa (London, 1904), p. 36, who gives as different forms of the god's name “Anyambe, Anyambie, Njambi, Nzambi, Anzam, or, in other parts, Ukuku, Suku, and so forth”. And on this Sky-god in general, see R. Pettazzoni, Dio, i. L’ Essere Celeste nelle Credenze dei Popoli Primitivi (Roma, 1922), pp. 234 sqq. Among the Ibos, an important people of Southern Nigeria, the name of the Supreme God is Cuku or Chuku; but he does not appear to be specially described as a Sky-god. See N. W. Thomas, Anthropological Report on the Ibo-speaking Peoples of Nigeria (London, 1913), i. 26 sq.; G. T. Basden, Among the Ibos of Nigeria (London, 1921), pp. 214-216. According to Mr. Basden (op. cit. p. 215), this god “is believed to control all things in heaven and earth, and dispenses rewards and punishments according to merit”. On the other hand, Mr. Thomas tells us (op. cit. p. 27) that “Cuku appears to play a relatively unimportant part in the lives of the people. I have nowhere found any sacrifice to him.” Suku is the name for God also in the Ovimbundu tribe of Bihe in Angola. See D. Campbell, In the Heart of Bantuland (London, 1922), p. 245.

  • 36.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, p. 35.

  • 37.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast, pp. 35-36 note.

  • 38.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 174.

  • 39.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 322 sq.

  • 40.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 176.

  • 41.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 86, 141.

  • 42.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 142, with the plate compare p. 51.

  • 43.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 312, with Fig. 125 facing p. 310.

  • 44.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 52.

  • 45.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 263 sqq.

  • 46.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 148, 165, 297.

  • 47.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 225 sq.

  • 48.

    Above, p. 42.

  • 49.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 145 sq., compare p. 54.

  • 50.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 111.

  • 51.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 48, 49.

  • 52.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa (London, 1887), pp. 24 sqq.

  • 53.

    The Tshi or Twi language is spoken in the southern part of the Gold Coast, including Ashanti; in the northern part another language, the Moshi, is spoken in many districts. See A. W. Cardinall, The Natives of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, p. 113.

  • 54.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa (London, 1890), pp. 36 sq.

  • 55.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 140 sq. Captain Rattray severely rebukes his superior officer, Colonel Sit A. B. Ellis (pp. 139 sq.), for his former view of the Christian origin of Nyame (Nyankupon), without noticing that the gallant and learned colonel had afterwards explicitly recanted bis heresy.

  • 56.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 164 note.1

  • 57.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 150.

  • 58.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, p. 216.

  • 59.

    R. S. Rattray, Ashanti, pp. 223 sq.

  • 60.

    J. G. Christaller, “Negersagen von der Goldküste”, Zeitschrift für afrikanische Sprachen, i. (Berlin, 1887–1888), pp. 51-55. I have reported this story elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 58 sq.).

  • 61.

    J. G. Christaller, op. cit. pp. 56-58. Compare E. Perregaux, Chez les Achanti (Neuchâtel, 1906), pp. 198 sq.; Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 59 sq.

  • 62.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa (London, 1890), p. 31; J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme (Berlin, 1906), p. 67*.

  • 63.

    J. Spieth, Die Religion der Eweer in Süd-Togo (Leipzig, 1911), p. 5.

  • 64.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, p. 424.

  • 65.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, p. 423.

  • 66.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast, p. 31.

  • 67.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, pp. 421–423.

  • 68.

    J. Spieth, Die Religion der Eweer in Süd-Togo, p. 15; id., Die Ewe-Stämme, p. 424.

  • 69.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, p. 423.

  • 70.

    J. Spieth, Die Religion der Eweer in Süd-Togo, pp. 25 sq. This story is told by the natives in the neighbourhood of Mount Agu. It presents a suspicious resemblance to the Biblical story of how Jacob, at the instigation of his mother, intercepted the paternal blessing which was designed for his elder brother Esau (Genesis xxvii.).

  • 71.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, pp. 67*, 419.

  • 72.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, p. 423

  • 73.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, p. 67*, compare p. 424.

  • 74.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, p. 424.

  • 75.

    J. Spieth, Die Religion der Eweer in Süd-Togo, pp. 15, 25.

  • 76.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, pp. 72, 432.

  • 77.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast, p. 34.

  • 78.

    J. Spieth, Die Religion der Eweer in Süd-Togo, p. 25.

  • 79.

    J. Spieth, Die Religion der Eweer in Süd-Togo, p. 27.

  • 80.

    Lieutenant Herold, “Bericht betreffend religiose Anschauungen und Gebräuche der deutschen Ewe-Neger”, Mittheilungen von Forschungsreisenden und Gelehrten aus den deutschen Schulzgebieten, v. (1892) pp. 141 sq., 149.

  • 81.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast, pp. 33 sq. Compare H. Klose, Togo unter deutscher Flagge (Berlin, 1899), pp. 266 sq., whose account of Mawu agrees in general with that of Ellis.

  • 82.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Eve-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast, pp. 34 sq.

  • 83.

    J. Spieth, Di Ewe-Stämme, p. 72*.

  • 84.

    See above, p. 100.

  • 85.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, pp. 435 sq. As to the ma plant, see id. pp. 421 sq.

  • 86.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, p. 436.

  • 87.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, pp. 436.

  • 88.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, pp. 436 sq.

  • 89.

    J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme, pp. 438 sq.

  • 90.

    Fr. Müller, “Die Religionen Togos in Einzeldarstellungen”, Anthropos, iii. (1908) pp. 275 sq., 277.

  • 91.

    Fr. Müller, “Die Religionen Togos in Einzeldarstellungen”, Anthropos, (iii. (1908) p. 279.

  • 92.

    Er. Müller, “Die Religionen Togos in Einzeldarstellungen”, Anthropos, ii. (1907) p. 201.

  • 93.

    Fr. Müller, “Die Religionen Togos in Einzeldarstellungen”, Anthropos, ii. (1907) p. 202.

  • 94.

    Fr. Müller, “Die Religionen Togos in Einzeldarstellungen”, Anthropos, ii. (1907) p. 204.

  • 95.

    Fr. Müller, “Die Religionen Togos in Einzeldarstellungen”, Anthropos, ii. (1907) p. 203. I have cited this myth elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 62).

  • 96.

    Fr. Müller, “Die Religionen Togos in Einzeldarstellungen”, Anthropos, ii. (1907) p. 208.

  • 97.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa (London, 1894), pp. 1 sq.

  • 98.

    (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast, pp. 35 sq.; Père Baudin, “Le Fétichisme on la Religion des Nègres de la Guinée”, Les Missions Catholiques, No. 776, 18 avril 1884, p. 191.

  • 99.

    Père Baudin, “Le Fétichisme on la Religion des Nègres de la Guinée”, Les Missions Catholiques, No. 776, 18 avril 1884, p. 191; (Sir) A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, pp. 36 sq. Compare P. Bouche, La Côte des Esclaves et le Dahomey (Paris, 1885), pp. 106-108.

  • 100.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria (Oxford University Press, 1925). i. 24.

  • 101.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 29.

  • 102.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 1 sq.

  • 103.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 28 sq.

  • 104.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 4.

  • 105.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 19, 27 sq.

  • 106.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 23.

  • 107.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 19 sq.

  • 108.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 24-27.

  • 109.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 23.

  • 110.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 29.

  • 111.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 58, 79.

  • 112.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 29 sq.

  • 113.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 87, 185, 220 sq.

  • 114.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 30.

  • 115.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 30. As to the tutelary genius (dodo), see id. ii. 18-21.

  • 116.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 30.

  • 117.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 106.

  • 118.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 30.

  • 119.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 30.

  • 120.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 30 sq.

  • 121.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 31.

  • 122.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 25. Among the Sun-worshippers the author here names the Kamuku, Berom, Galambe, Ganawuri, Mumbake, Vere, Tera, Seiyawa, Kagoma, and Jarawa, adding that some Gwari swear by the Sun.

  • 123.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 254 sq., ii. 163.

  • 124.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 62.

  • 125.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 254, ii. 62 sq.

  • 126.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, i. 255.

  • 127.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 60.

  • 128.

    C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, ii. 59-63.

  • 129.

    The custom has been described and discussed by me in The Golden Bough, Part III. The Dying God, pp. 9 sqq. The latest example of this wide spread African practice is reported from Uha, a district of Tanganyika Territory, at the north-eastern end of Lake Tanganyika. See Capt C. H. B. Grant, “Uha in Tanganyika Territory,” The Geographical Journal, November 1925, p. 419: “A sultan is never allowed to die, nor is he buried in the ground. When in extremis, he is either strangled or his neck twisted whosoever is present at the moment. Pandemonium reigns in the village at the death, and every one flees, driving away all beasts and seizing any article they can lay hands on. The Bihi (who are said to be the children of certain slave women) alone remain, and take charge of the body, and seize all stock, etc., left behind. A white cow is killed and the skin removed entire, the horns being detached from the skin. The body is placed in this skin with the head in the head of the skin, and the arms and legs in the four legs of the skin. The skin is sewn up, and the whole is dried over fires which are fed with milk. When dry, the body is placed in a canoe-shaped wooden trough, the whole sewed up in a cowhide, and carried to the burial-place of the sultans, and is there placed on trestles, and hut built over it.” See also below, p. 188 note4.

  • 130.

    N. W. Thomas, Anthropological Report on the Edo-speaking Peoples of Nigeria (London, 1910), i. 24 sq.

  • 131.

    N. W. Thomas, op. cit. i. 24.

  • 132.

    N. W. Thomas, op. cit. i. 25 sq.

  • 133.

    N. W. Thomas, op. cit. i. 30 sq.

  • 134.

    P. Amaury Talbot, Life in Southern Nigeria (London, 1923), p. 7.

  • 135.

    P. A. Talbot, Life in Southern Nigeria, p. 255.

  • 136.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 11. As to the fish-eagle, compare id. pp. 7, 14.

  • 137.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. pp. 7, 8, 11; D. Amaury Talbot (Mrs. Talbot), Woman's Mysteries of Primitive People, the Ibibios of Southern Nigeria (London, etc., 1915), p. 13.

  • 138.

    P. A. Talbot, Life in Southern Nigeria, p. 13.

  • 139.

    P. A. Talbot, Life in Southern Nigeria, p. 13.

  • 140.

    P. A. Talbot, Life in Southern Nigeria, p. 17.

  • 141.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 18.

  • 142.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 3.

  • 143.

    Above, pp. 113, 127.

  • 144.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 18.

  • 145.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 19.

  • 146.

    H. Goldie, Calabar and its Mission (Edinburgh and London, 1890), pp. 42 sq. The author spells the great god's name Abasi. For the sake uniformity I have adopted the form Abassi.

  • 147.

    Charles Partridge, Cross River Natives (London, 1905), pp. 281 sq. compare pp. 273, 284.

  • 148.

    P. Amaury Talbot, In the Shadow of the Bush (London, 1912), p. 13.

  • 149.

    P. Amaury Talbot, In the Shadow of the Bush, pp. 16 sq.

  • 150.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 16.

  • 151.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 16.

  • 152.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. pp. 70 sq.

  • 153.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. pp. 21.

  • 154.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 21 sq.

  • 155.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. p. 21.

  • 156.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. pp. 18-20.

  • 157.

    P. A. Talbot, In The Shadow of the Bush, p. 229. I have reported this story elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 58).

  • 158.

    P. A. Talbot, op. cit. pp. 370 sq.

  • 159.

    A. Mansfeld, Urwald Dokumente, vier Jahren unter den Crossflussnegern kameruns (Berlin, 1908), pp. 7 sqq. Compare P. Amaury Talbot, In the Shadow of the Bush, p. 1, “The Ekoi people are divided into two unequal parts by the boundary which separates the Cameroons from Southern Nigeria”.

  • 160.

    A. Mansfeld, op. cit. p. 7.

  • 161.

    A. Mansfeld, of. cit. pp. 210 sq.

  • 162.

    G. Tessmann, Die Pangwe (Berlin, 1913), ii. 12-19. The name of the Fan tribe is given in a great variety of forms by our authorities. Mr. Tessmann adopts the form Pangwe.

  • 163.

    G. Tessmann, Die Pangwe, ii. 30.

  • 164.

    See Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 63 sqq.

  • 165.

    Below, pp. 173, 177, 221, 255, 258, 672.

  • 166.

    Die Loango Expedition, ausgesandt von der deutschen Gesellschaft zur Erforschung Äquatorial-Afrikas, 1873–1876, Dritte Abteilung, Zweite Hälfte, von Dr. E. Pechuël-Loesche (Stuttgart, 1907) 1 pp. 1 sq.

  • 167.

    Proyart, “History of Loango, Kakongo, and other kingdoms in Africa”, in J. Pinkerton's General Collection of Voyages and Travels, xvi. (London, 1814) pp. 593 sq. Proyart's History was published at Paris in 1776.

  • 168.

    Die Loango-Expedition, ausgesandt von der deutschen Gesellchaft zur Erforschung Äquatorial-Afrikas, 1873–1876, Dritte Abteilung, Zweite Hälfte, von Dr. E. Pechuël-Loesche (Stuttgart, 1907), pp. 266 sq.

  • 169.

    E. Pechuël-Loesche, op. cit. p. 267.

  • 170.

    E. Pechuël-Loesche, op. cit. pp. 268 sq.

  • 171.

    E. Pechuël-Loesche, op. cit. pp. 269 sq.

  • 172.

    E. Pechuël-Loesche, op. cit. p. 271.

  • 173.

    E. Pechuël-Loesche, op. cit. p. 272.

  • 174.

    E. Pechuël-Loesche, op. cit. p. 274.

  • 175.

    Notes Analytiques sur les Collections Ethnographiques du Musée du Congo, i. (Bruxelles, 1902–1906) p. 146.

  • 176.

    John H. Weeks, Among the Primitive Bakongo (London, 1914), p. 276. The author lived for fifteen years among the Boloki or Bangala of the Upper Congo, and for fifteen more years in other parts of the Congo, including nine years at San Salvador and Matadi on the Lower Congo. See J. H. Weeks, op. cit. pp. 9, 19.

  • 177.

    The same epithet is applied to Nsambi (Nzambi) in Loango. See above, p. 139.

  • 178.

    J. H. Weeks, Among Congo Cannibals (London, 1913), pp. 246 sq.

  • 179.

    J. H. Weeks, Among Congo Cannibals, pp. 247 sq.

  • 180.

    For evidence of the scourge, see Folk-lore in the Old Testament, vol. iii. pp. 307-401, “The Poison Ordeal in Africa”.

  • 181.

    G. Cyril Claridge, Wild Bush Tribes of Tropical Africa (London, 1922) pp. 268-275. According to Mr. Claridge (op. cit. p. 269), the epithet mpungu is an absolute superlative, signifying “the utmost”, “supreme”. It can be applied to men as well as to God, for example in the phrase mpungu ngangu, “an absolute fool”.

  • 182.

    G. Cyril Claridge, Wild Bush Tribes of Tropical Africa, p. 269.

  • 183.

    G. Cyril Claridge, Wild Bush Tribes of Tropical Africa, pp. 270 sq.

  • 184.

    G. Cyril Claridge, Wild Bush Tribes of Tropical Africa, pp. 269 sq.

  • 185.

    Homer, Iliad, ii. 836, iv. 192, viii. 185, xxi. 43, 526, xxiii. 346, Odyssey, iii. 326, iv. 43, 313, viii. 43, xiii. 440, xiv. 48, 401, xvi. 1, 333, 452, xvii. 260, 507 sq., 589. For many more examples see H. Ebeling, Lexicon Homericum (Lipsiae, 1880–1885) vol. i. pp. 310 sq., 557 sq., svv. δι̑ος and ϴει̑ος.

  • 186.

    M. Lindeman, Les Upotos (Bruxelles, 1906), pp. 23-40. I have greatly abridged the story of Libanza.

  • 187.

    M. Lindeman, Les Upotos, pp. 43 sq.

  • 188.

    M. Lindeman, Les Upotos, pp. 23 sq.

  • 189.

    E. Torday et T. A. Joyce, Notes Ethnographiques sur du Populations habitant les Bassins du Kasai et du Kwango Oriental (Bruxelles, 1922), pp. 25 sq. The authors, in a foot-note, record that, according to another account, Vidia (sic) Mokulu is in the centre of the earth, and the souls of men go to him but return after a time, and are reincarnated, with the exception of such as have been guilty of crimes. For this account they refer to Schmitz, Les Basonge, p. 324, a work which I have not seen.

  • 190.

    Rev. H. Beiderbecke, “Some religious Ideas and Customs of the Ovaherero” (South African) Folk-lore Journal, ii. (Capetown, 1880) pp. 88-92; J. Irle, Die Herero (Gütersloh, 1906), pp. 72-74. The latter author notes (p. 75) the occurrence of the same divine name under various forms (Njambi, Njame, Onjame, Nyambi, Ngambe, Nzambi, Zambi, Ambi, Anjambi, etc.) in many widely separated tribes of the Bantu family.

  • 191.

    H. Tönjes, Ovamboland (Berlin, 1911), pp. 193 sq.

  • 192.

    Rev. H. Beiderbecke, “Some religious Ideas and Customs of the Ovaherero” (South African) Folk-lore Journal, ii. (Capetown, 1880) pp. 95 sq.

  • 193.

    E. Torday et T. A. Joyce, Notes Ethnographiques sur des Populations habitant Les Bassins du Kasai et du Kwango Oriental (Bruxelles, 1922), p. 293.

  • 194.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe (Neuchâtel, 1912-1913), ii. 389-391; id., Les Ba-Ronga. (Neuchätel, 1898), pp. 408-410.

  • 195.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, ii. 392; id., Les Ba-Ronga, pp. 410 sq.

  • 196.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, ii. 392; id., Les Ba-Ronga, pp. 410 sq.

  • 197.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, ii. 393 sq., 407; id., Les Ba-Ronga, pp. 411 sq.

  • 198.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, ii. 290-292.

  • 199.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, ii. 394; id., Les Ba-Ronga, p. 412.

  • 200.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, ii. 398 sq.

  • 201.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, ii. 296; id., Les Be-Ronga, p. 418.

  • 202.

    H. A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe, ii. 399 sq.

  • 203.

    E. W. Smith and A. M. Dale, The Ila-speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia (London, 1920), ii. 197 sqq.

  • 204.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 202, 204.

  • 205.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 204, 205.

  • 206.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 205.

  • 207.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. i. 345, ii. 206, 207, 211.

  • 208.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. 355.

  • 209.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 207.

  • 210.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 207 sq.

  • 211.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 208.

  • 212.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 208 sq.

  • 213.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 209. As to the worshipful ghosts or divinities, see id. ii. 164 sqq.

  • 214.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 210.

  • 215.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 211.

  • 216.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. i. 161 sq.

  • 217.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. i. 168.

  • 218.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. i. 102.

  • 219.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. i. 102.

  • 220.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 145 sq.

  • 221.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 144 sq.

  • 222.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 146.

  • 223.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 100 sq.

  • 224.

    Smith and Dale, op. cit. ii. 101.

  • 225.

    See above, pp. 105 sq., 117, 133 sq., 136.

  • 226.

    F. H. Melland, In Witch-bound Africa (London, 1923), pp. 154 sq.

  • 227.

    F. H. Melland, op. cit. p. 155.

  • 228.

    See above, p. 156.

  • 229.

    F. H. Melland, op. cit. p. 160.

  • 230.

    F. H. Melland, op. cit. pp. 156-159.

  • 231.

    F. H. Melland, op. cit. p. 159.

  • 232.

    Above, pp. 141 sqq.

  • 233.

    J. L. Keith, in F. H. Melland, In Witch-bound Africa, pp. 162 sq.

  • 234.

    J. L. Keith, in F. H. Melland. In Witch-bound Africa, pp. 164 sq.

  • 235.

    D. Campbell, In the Heart of Bantuland (London, 1922), p. 246.

  • 236.

    C. Gouldsbury and H. Sheane, The Great Plateau of Northern Rhodesia (London, 1911), p. 80.

  • 237.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Seconde Partie, Textes Soubiya (Paris, 1899), p. 102.

  • 238.

    E. Béguin, Les Ma-Rotsé (Lausanne et Fontaines, 1903), pp. 118 sq.

  • 239.

    Captain A. St. H. Gibbons, Exploration and Hunting in Central Africa, 1895–1896 (London, 1898) p. 130.

  • 240.

    E. Béguin, Les Ma-Rotsé, p. 120.

  • 241.

    E. Béguin, Les Ma-Rotsé, pp. 120 sq.

  • 242.

    E. Béguin, Les Ma-Rotsé, pp. 122 sq. Compare L. Decle, Three Years in Savage. Africa (London, 1898), p. 74: “The Barotse chiefly worship the souls of their ancestors. When any misfortune happens, the witch-doctor divines with knuckle-bones whether the ancestor is displeased, and they go to the grave and offer up sacrifice of grain or honey. They believe in a Supreme Being, ‘Niambe’ who is supposed to come and take away the spiritual part of the dead. Thus, to express a man dead, they say, ‘O Nkeloe had’ (he has been taken).”

  • 243.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Troisième Partie, Textes Louyi (Paris, 1901), pp. 116 sq., 118.

  • 244.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Troisième Partie, Textes Louyi, pp. 116 sq. Compare the Ila stories, above, p. 165.

  • 245.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Troisième Partie, Textes Louyi, p. 118.

  • 246.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Seconde Partie, Textes Soubiya (Paris, 1899), pp. 102-104.

  • 247.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Seconde Partie, Textes Soubiya, pp. 104 sq.

  • 248.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Seconde Partie, Textes Soubiya, pp. 105 sq.

  • 249.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Seconde Partie, Textes Soubiya, pp. 107 sq.

  • 250.

    See above, pp. 172 sq.

  • 251.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Seconde Partie, Textes Soubiya, pp. 109 sq.

  • 252.

    E. Jacottet, Études sur les langues du Haut-Zambèze, Seconde Partie, Textes Soubiya, pp. 111-114.

  • 253.

    L. T. Moggridge, “The Nyassa-land Tribes”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxii (1902) pp. 467, 468; A. Hetherwick, s.v. “Nyanjas”, in J. Hastings’ Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ix. 419; R. Sutherland Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja (London, 1907), p. viii.

  • 254.

    A. Hetherwick, s.v. “Nyanjas”, in J. Hastings’ Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ix. 419 sq.

  • 255.

    R. S. Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja, p. 198.

  • 256.

    R. S. Rattray, Some Folk-lore Stories and Songs in Chinyanja, pp. 118 sq., with the note on pp. 204 sq.

  • 257.

    A. Hetherwick, “Some animistic Beliefs among the Yaos of British Central Africa”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxii. (1902) p. 89.

  • 258.

    L. T. Moggridge, “The Nyassaland Tribes” Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxii. (1902) p. 468.

  • 259.

    A. Hetherwick, op. cit. p. 94.

  • 260.

    H. S. Stannus, “The Wayao of Nyasaland”, Harvard African Studies (Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A., 1922), p. 312. Dr. Stannus adds, “Nor is he ‘God the Creator’, of man or Earth”, which seems to contradict the testimony of the Rev. Dr. Hetherwick, one of our highest authorities on the tribes of Nyasaland.

  • 261.

    H. S. Stannus, op. cit. p. 313.

  • 262.

    A. Hetherwick, op. cit. p. 94.

  • 263.

    A. Hetherwick, op. cit. pp. 92 sq.

  • 264.

    A. Hetherwick, “Some animistic Beliefs among the Yaos of British Central Africa”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxii. (1902) pp. 94 sq.

  • 265.

    W. A. Elmslie, Among the Wild Ngoni (Edinburgh and London, 1899), p. 67 sq.

  • 266.

    Donald Fraser, Winning a Primitive People (London, 1914), pp. 120 sq.

  • 267.

    Donald Fraser, op. cit. p. 124.

  • 268.

    C. Gouldsbury and H. Sheane, The Great Plateau of Northern Rhodesia (London, 1911), pp. 80 sq.

  • 269.

    Gouldsbury and Sheane, op. cit., p. 81.

  • 270.

    Gouldsbury and Sheane, op. cit.. p. 81. Compare J. H. West Sheane, “Some aspects of Awemba religion and superstitious observances” Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxvi. (1906) pp. 150 sqq. According to Mr. Sheane (pp. 150 sq.), Leza “is the judge of the dead, and condemns thieves, adulterers, and murderers to the state of Vibanda, or Viwa (evil spirits), exalting the good to the rank of mipashi, or benevolent spirits. There is no special worship of Leza, for he is to be approached only by appeasing the inferior spirits, who act as intercessors.”

  • 271.

    Gouldsbury and Sheane, l.c. As to the spirits of nature (milungu) and the spirits of the dead (mipashi), see id. pp. 82 sqq.

  • 272.

    Lionel Decle, Three years in Savage Africa (London, 1898), p. 293.

  • 273.

    F. Fülleborn, Das deutsche Njassa-und Ruwuma-Gebiet Land und Leute (Berlin, 1906), p. 266.

  • 274.

    F. Fülleborn, op. cit. p. 316.

  • 275.

    F. Fülleborn, op. cit. pp. 316 sq.

  • 276.

    D. R. Mackenzie, The Spirit-ridden Konde (London, 1925), pp. 178 sqq 185 sqq.

  • 277.

    The title of the priestly king. Formerly he was not suffered to die a natural death; when he fell seriously ill, it was the duty of his councillors to kill him by stopping his breath. See D. R. Mackenzie, op. cit. pp. 68 70.

  • 278.

    D. R. Mackenzie, The Spirit-ridden Konde, pp. 179 sq.

  • 279.

    D. R. Mackenzie, The Spirit-ridden Konde, pp. 178 sq.

  • 280.

    D. R. Mackenzie, The Spirit-ridden Konde, pp. 181 sq.

  • 281.

    F. Fülleborn, Das deutsche Njassa-und Ruwuma-Gebiet, Land und Leute, p. 318.

  • 282.

    F. Fülleborn, op. cit. p. 320.

  • 283.

    F. Fülleborn, op. cit. p. 321.

  • 284.

    F. Fülleborn, op. cit. pp. 322 sq.

  • 285.

    F. Fülleborn, op. cit. p. 331.

  • 286.

    “Calabar Stories,” Journal of the African Society, No. 18 (January, 1906), p. 194. I have reported this story elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 63). See also above, pp. 105 sq.

  • 287.

    A. Hamberger. “Religiöse Über-lieferungen und Gebräuche der Landschaft Mkulwe (Deutsch-Ostafrika)”, Anthropos, iv. (1909) p. 295.

  • 288.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 305.

  • 289.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 308.

  • 290.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 305.

  • 291.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 305 sq.

  • 292.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. pp. 306 sq.

  • 293.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 308.

  • 294.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 304. I have reported this story elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 332).

  • 295.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 304.

  • 296.

    For examples see above, pp. 173, 174 and below, p. 201.

  • 297.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 300.

  • 298.

    See above, pp. 192 sq.

  • 299.

    Mgr. Lechaptois, Aux Rives du Tanganika (Algiers, 1913), p. 165. Both Monseigneur Lechaptois and Father Hamberger belong to the Order of the White Fathers. Father Hamberger is, or was, head of the Catholic mission of Mkulwe (St. Boniface).

  • 300.

    A. Hamberger, op. cit. p. 305.

  • 301.

    Mgr. Lechaptois, Aux rives du Tanganika, p. 165.

  • 302.

    Mgr. Lechaptois, Aux rives du Tanganika, pp. 165 sq.

  • 303.

    Mgr. Lechaptois, Aux rives du Tanganika, p. 166.

  • 304.

    Mgr. Lechaptois, Aux rives du Tanganika, p. 167.

  • 305.

    Mgr. Lechaptois, Aux rives du Tanganika, p. 168. Thus the author appears to distinguish the souls of the dead from the mizimu, which he seemingly regards as spirits of nature. But no doubt the mizimu are identical with the wazimu, which Father Hamberger expressly identifies with the souls of the dead (Anthropos iv. 305); and the same word, with dialectical differences, occurs in the sense of “souls of the dead” in many Bantu languages.

  • 306.

    Mgr. Lechaptois, Aux rives du Tanganika, pp. 170, 172.

  • 307.

    Mgr. Lechaptois, Aux rives du Tanganika, p. 195.

  • 308.

    See Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 66. For the Dusun version of the story, add to the references Ivor H. N. Evans, Studies in Religion, Folk-lore, and Custom in British North Borneo and the Malay Peninsula (Cambridge, 1923), pp. 47. 49

  • 309.

    E. Nigmann, Die Wahehe (Berlin, 1908), p. 3. The writer omits to describe the situation of Uhehe, the country of the Wahehe, but from the sketch map we gather that it lies somewhere between the valleys of the Ruaha and the Rufiji or Alanga Rivers.

  • 310.

    See above, p. 193.

  • 311.

    E. Nigmann, Die Wahehe, pp. 22 sq.

  • 312.

    J. J. Dannholz, Im Banne des Geisterglaube, Züge des animistischen Heidentums bei den Wasu in Deutsch-Ostafrika (Leipzig, 1916), p. 12.

  • 313.

    J. J. Dannholz, Im Banne der Geisterglaube, pp. 13 sq. The author spells the name of the Sun-god Izuwa, but says that the s is to be pronounced like the English th.

  • 314.

    E. Kotz, Im Banne der Furcht, Sitten und Gebräuche der Wapare (Hamburg, etc.: N.D. Introduction dated 1922), p. 192.

  • 315.

    E. Kotz, Im Banne der Furcht, p. 193.

  • 316.

    Hon. Charles Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People (London, 1924), pp. 11-27, 32 sq., 38. For another account of two partial ascents of Kilimanjaro, see Charles New, Life, Wanderings, and Labours in Eastern Africa (London, 1873), pp. 400 sqq., 419 sqq. Mr. New's description of the scenery on the ascent tallies closely with that of Mr. Dundas. On his second ascent, with much difficulty, he just reached the level of the snow. Of the landscape on the lower slope he says (p. 402): “Here are fairy woods and bowers, sunny hills and shady dells, murmuring brooks, bridges, viaducts, and, in fact, the whole collection of sylvan beauties and delights; enough to elicit poetry from the most prosaic of mortals”.

  • 317.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, pp. 32, 41.

  • 318.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, pp. 37, 41, 50 sq.

  • 319.

    Bruno Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger (Leipzig, 1909), pp. 177 sqq.; J. Raum. “Die Religion der Landschaft Moschi am Kilimandjaro”, Archiv für Religions-wissenschaft, xiv. (1911) pp. 192 sqq.; Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, pp. 107 sqq. The name is given as Ruwa by Messrs. Raum and Dundas, as Iruva by Mr. Gutmann. But in a later essay Mr. Gutmann adopted the form Ruwa. See his essay, “Feldbausitten und Wachstumsbräuche der Wadschagga,” Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie, liv. (1913) p. 509. Hence I have adopted the form Ruwa throughout.

  • 320.

    J. Raum, op. cit. p. 193.

  • 321.

    J. Raum, op. cit. p. 193.

  • 322.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, pp. 178 sq.

  • 323.

    J. Raum, op. cit. pp. 197, 200.

  • 324.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, p. 178.

  • 325.

    B. Gutmann, l.c.

  • 326.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, p. 107.

  • 327.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, p. 182; compare J. Raum, op. cit. p. 195. Another verb (itana) applied to the creation of man also expresses the work of a smith (B. Gutmann, l.c.). On the other hand Mr. Dundas tells us that “Ruwa was not really the Creator of Mankind, he merely liberated the first human beings from some mysterious vessel by bursting it. On this account he is known as Ruwa mopara wandu, God who burst (out) men” (Kilimanjaro and its People, p. 108).

  • 328.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, p. 180; compare Ch. Dundas, op. cit. p. 107.

  • 329.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, pp. 121-123.

  • 330.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denkender Dschagganeger, p. 185; J. Raum, op. cit. p. 193.

  • 331.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, p. 123.

  • 332.

    J. Raum, op. cit. pp. 198 sq.; compare B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, p. 185.

  • 333.

    Bruno Gutmann, “Feldbausitten und Wachstumsbräuche der Wadschagga,” Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, liv. (1913) p. 487.

  • 334.

    Bruno Gutmann, “Feldbausitten und Wachstumsbräuche der Wadschagga,” Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, liv. (1913) p. 509.

  • 335.

    J. Raum, “Die Religion der Landschaft Moschi am Kilimandjaro,” Archiv für Relìgionswissenschaft, xiv. (1911) p. 199.

  • 336.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, pp. 187 sq. As to the trenches, compare Charles New, Life, Wanderings, and Labours in Eastern Africa (London, 1873), pp. 403 sq.: “Issuing from the stockade, we came to a deep and spacious fosse, over which way had to make our way upon a narrow and very shaky plank. The whole of Chaga is surrounded by these trenches. They are well dug, and are wide, deep, and steep enough to make the passage a difficult operation to foes, particularly if defended by a few brave men. They are the work of former generations, and are being neglected in these days.”

  • 337.

    J. Raum, op. cit. pp. 196 sq.

  • 338.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, pp. 123, 311, 319, 321, 323, 325, 326, 331.

  • 339.

    See above, p. 208 note1.

  • 340.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, pp. 108-111.

  • 341.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, p. 190.

  • 342.

    B. Gutmann, Volksbuch der Wadschagga (Leipzig, 1914), pp. 119 sq.

  • 343.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, p. 124.

  • 344.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, p. 124; id., Volksbuch der Wadschagga, p. 156.

  • 345.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai (Oxford, 1905). pp. 271 sq.

  • 346.

    See The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead, i. 60 sqq.; Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 52 sqq.

  • 347.

    B. Gutmann, Dichten und Denken der Dschagganeger, p. 182.

  • 348.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, pp. 111-120.

  • 349.

    Ch. Dundas, Kilimanjaro and its People, pp. 120 sq. According to the legend reported by Mr. Dundas (pp. 114-117) the monster Rimu was commanded by Ruwa “to destroy all living human beings and animals, because the people have abandoned, the ancient customs and adopted evil ways; and they have oppressed the poor, and have followed indolence and pride themselves daily”. Accordingly Rimu passed over the earth devouring all mankind and all the cattle, goats, and sheep, until after seven days nobody and nothing was left alive but one poor woman, her infant son, and her cattle; for Ruwa guarded her, and prophesied that she and her son should rule the earth. And when her son grew up, he shot and killed Rimu with poisoned arrows. But in Chagga folk-lore Rimu seems to be the general name of a whole class of cannibal monsters, about whom many tales are told. See B. Gutmann, Volksbuch der Wadschagga, pp. 73 sqq.

  • 350.

    The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead, i. 69 sqq.; Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 66 sqq.

  • 351.

    Above, p. 199.

  • 352.

    N. Stam, “Bantu Kavirondo of Mumias district (near Lake Victoria)” Anthropos, xiv. xv. (1919–1920) p. 979.

  • 353.

    Le R. P. Colle, Les Baluba (Brussels, 1913), ii. 522 sq.

  • 354.

    Le R. P. Colle, Les Baluba (Brussels, 1913), ii. 507.

  • 355.

    A. Werner, “Two Galla legends”, Man, xiii. (1913) pp. 90 sq. I have cited this story elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 74 sq.).

  • 356.

    H. R. Hall, in The Cambridge Ancient History, i.2 295 sq. As to the trading relations of the Egyptians with negroes in the south, and the representation of negroes on the monuments, see A. Erman, Ägypten und ägyptisches Leben in Altertum (Tübingen, N.D.), pp. 659 sqq.; A. Wiedemann, Das alte Ägypten (Heidelberg, 1920), pp. 10, 271 sq. There is still no general agreement among critics and historians as to the probable date of the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt; but the tendency of recent inquiries seems to be to date the Exodus in the second half of the thirteenth century. B.C., under King Rameses II. or his successor King Meneptah (Merneptah). See The Cambridge Ancient History, ii. (Cambridge, 1924), pp. 356 note 2, 403 note 3, 694; A. Lods, in Revue de l’ Histoire des Religions, xc. (1924) pp. 134-138.

  • 357.

    J. Czekanowski, Forschungen im Nil-Kongo-Zwischengebiet, i. (Leipzig, 1917) p. 298; H. Meyer, Die Barundi (Leipzig, 1916), p. 119.

  • 358.

    J. Czekanowski, op. cit. i. 301; H. Meyer, Die Barundi, p. 120.

  • 359.

    J. M. M. van der Burgt, Dictionnaire Français-Kirundi (Bois-le-Due, 1903), p. 135

  • 360.

    J. M. M. Van der Burgt, Dictionnaire Français-Kirundi, p. 167.

  • 361.

    J. M. M. van der Burgt, op. cit. p. 214; H. Meyer, Die Barundi, pp. 120 sq.

  • 362.

    H. Meyer, Die Barundi, p. 120.

  • 363.

    J. Czekanowski, Forschungen in Nil-Kongo-Zwischengebiet, i. 301; A. Arnoux, “Le Culte de la Société Secrète des Imandwa au Ruanda”, Anthropos, vii. (1912) p. 285.

  • 364.

    Le P. Loupias, “Tradition et Légende des Batutsi sur la Création du Monde et leur Établissement au Ruanda”, Anthropos, iii. (1908) pp. 2, 3, 5.

  • 365.

    A. Arnoux, “Le Culte de la Société Secrète des Imandwa au Ruanda”, Anthropos, vii. (1912) p. 383.

  • 366.

    H. Rehse, Kiziba, Land and Leute (Stuttgart, 1910). pp. 125 sq.

  • 367.

    J. Roscoe, The Baganda, (London, 1911), p. 271.

  • 368.

    J. Roscoe, The Baganda, pp. 282 sqq.

  • 369.

    J. Roscoe, The Baganda, p. 283.

  • 370.

    J. Roscoe, The Baganda, pp. 273, 285 sq.

  • 371.

    J. Roscoe, The Baganda, p. 312; id., Twenty-five Years in East Africa (Cambridge, 1921), pp. 136 sq. Compare C. T. Wilson and R. W. Felkin, Uganda and the Egyptian Soudan (London, 1882), i. 206: “They [the Baganda] believe in a Supreme Being who made the world and mankind, and whom they call Katonda, or the Creator, but they offer no worship to him, as they consider him too exalted to pay any regard to mankind. Their principal objects of worship are inferior gods or devils called lubari”‘This statement must be corrected by Mr. Roscoe's fuller and more accurate evidence. It seems probable that other general statements as to African Supreme Beings, who are said nut to be worshipped, might have to be similarly limited or corrected if we knew more about the religion of the people.

  • 372.

    J. Roscoe, Twenty-five years in East Africa, pp. 137, 138 id., “Further Notes on the Manners and Customs of the Baganda”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxii. (1902) pp. 25, 26, with the genealogical table, plate ii.; id., The Baganda, pp. 136, 214, 460 sqq. In the tradition recorded in this last passage (pp. 460 sqq.) Kintu is said to have married Nambi, daughter of Gulu, the king of Heaven; but he is not spoken of as a son of Gulu. For the legend of Kintu and Nambi, see also Sir Harry Johnston, The Uganda Protectorate (London, 1904), ii. 700 sqq.

  • 373.

    J. Roscoe, The Banyankole (Cambridge, 1923), p. 3. Compare id., The Northern Bantu (Cambridge, 1915). pp. 101 sq.

  • 374.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, pp. 102 sq.; id., The Soul of Central Africa (London; etc., 1922), pp. 53, 56 sq.; id., The Banyankole pp. 1, 94.

  • 375.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, p. 131; id., The Banyankole, p. 23. In the former work the author gives the name of the chief deity as Lugaba.

  • 376.

    J. Roscoe, The Banyankole, pp. 25 sq.

  • 377.

    J. Roscoe, The Bagesu (Cambridge, 1924), pp. 148 sq.

  • 378.

    J. Roscoe, The Bakitara. or Banyoro (Cambridge, 1923), p. 1.

  • 379.

    J. Roscoe, The Bakitara, pp. 3, 5.

  • 380.

    J. Roscoe, The Bakitara, pp. 6;sqq, 12 sq.

  • 381.

    J. Roscoe, The Bakitara, pp. 21 sq. Compare id., The Northern Bantu, p. 91.

  • 382.

    J. Roscoe, The Bakitara, pp. 28-30.

  • 383.

    J. Roscoe, The Bakitara, pp. 31 sq.

  • 384.

    J. Roscoe, The Bakitara, pp. 336 sq.

  • 385.

    J. Roscoe, The Bakitara, p. 337.

  • 386.

    Emin Pasha in Central Africa (London, 1888), pp. 92 sq.

  • 387.

    The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead, i. 60 sq., 65 sqq.; Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 52 sqq., 60 sq., 63 sqq. See also above, pp. 136, 149, 163, 169, 173, 177, 217 sq., 221.

  • 388.

    J. Roscoe; The Northern Bantu, pp. 197-200; id., The Bagesu, pp. 97 sq.

  • 389.

    J. Roscoe, The Soul of Central Africa, p. 292.

  • 390.

    N. Stam, The religious Conceptions of some Tribes of Buganda”, Anthropos, iii. (1908) p. 217; M. A. Condon, “Contributions to the Ethnography of the Basoga-Batamba, Uganda Protectorate”, Anthropos, vi. (1911) p. 381

  • 391.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, pp. 248 sq.

  • 392.

    J. Roscoe, The Bagesu, p. 104. As to lubare, “god” (plural balubare), in the language of Uganda, see J. Roscoe, The Baganda, p. 271; id., “Further Notes on the Manners and Customs of the Baganda”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxii. (1902) pp. 73, 74.

  • 393.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, p. 245.

  • 394.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, pp. 161-163; id., The Bagesu, pp. 1 sq.

  • 395.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, pp. 161, 165 sq., 168; id., The Bagesu, pp. 1, 12 sqq., 17 sq.

  • 396.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, pp. 161, 164, 189 sq.; id., The Bagesu, pp. 3 sq., 15-17; id., Twenty-five Years in East Africa, pp. 241 sq.

  • 397.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, pp. 161, 177 sq.; id., The Bagesu, pp. 40 sq.

  • 398.

    J. Roscoe, The Bagesu, p. 23.

  • 399.

    J. Roscoe, The Bagesu, p. 8.

  • 400.

    J. Roscoe, The Bagesu, pp. 27-38.

  • 401.

    J. Roscoe, The Bagesu, p. 37.

  • 402.

    J. Roscoe, The Bagesu, p. 48.

  • 403.

    J. Roscoe, The Bagesu, p. 10.

  • 404.

    Hon. Kenneth R. Dundas, “The Wawanga and other Tribes of the Elgon District, British East Africa”, Journal of the R. Anthropological Institute, xliii. (1913) pp. 31, 37.

  • 405.

    C. W. Hobley, Ethnology of the A-Kamba and other East African Tribes (Cambridge, 1910), p. 3; G. Lindblom, The Akamba, Second Edition (Uppsala, 1920), pp. 22 sq., 26; Hon. Charles Dundas, “History of Kitui”, Journal of the R. Anthropological institute, xliii. (1913) pp. 480 sq.

  • 406.

    G. Lindblom, The Akamba, pp. 475 sqq., 501 sqq.

  • 407.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic (London, 1922), p. 62.

  • 408.

    G. Lindblom, The Akamba, pp. 244 sq.

  • 409.

    Hon. Charles Dundas, “History of Kitui”, Journal of the R. Anthropological Institute, xliii. (1913) p. 535.

  • 410.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 62.

  • 411.

    G. Lindblom, The Akamba, pp. 249 sqq. Mr. Lindblom says “Mulungu is not worshipped at all (or at least extremely seldom) by offering of sacrifices, nor in any other way” (p. 244). But sacrifices to Mulungu are recorded by Mr. C. W. Hobley. See below, pp. 247 sqq.

  • 412.

    G. Lindblom, The Akamba, pp. 245-247.

  • 413.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 35.

  • 414.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 53-55.

  • 415.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 57.

  • 416.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 57 sq.

  • 417.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 60.

  • 418.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 60 sq.

  • 419.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 76.

  • 420.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 140.

  • 421.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 65.

  • 422.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 159.

  • 423.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 249.

  • 424.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 138.

  • 425.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 139 sq.

  • 426.

    C. W. Hobley, Ethnology of A-Kamba and other East African Tribes, p. 85; compare G. Lindblom, The Akamba, p. 244.

  • 427.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and magic, p. 63.

  • 428.

    W. J. Sollas, Primitive Hunters, Third Edition (London, 1924), pp. 16 sq.

  • 429.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 63.

  • 430.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 64.

  • 431.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 259.

  • 432.

    G. Lindblom, The Akamba, p. 252.

  • 433.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 26.

  • 434.

    Above, p. 248.

  • 435.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and magic, pp. 6 1 sq.

  • 436.

    The Golden Bough, Part VII., Balder the Beautiful, ii. 298 sqq.

  • 437.

    Aristophanes, Clouds, 401 sq.

  • 438.

    C. W. Hobley, Ethnology of A-Kamba and other East African Tribes, pp. 107 sq. I have already cited this version elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 60-62).

  • 439.

    G. Lindblom, The Akamba, p. 253.

  • 440.

    W. S. Routledge and K. Routedge, With a Prehistoric People, the Akikuya of British East Africa (London, 1910), pp. 1 sq. As to the fine climate of the country, see P. Cayzac, “La Religion des Kikuyu (Afrique Orientale)”, Anthropos, v. (1910) p. 310.

  • 441.

    P. Cayzac, “La Religion des Kikuyu (Afrique Orientale)”, Anthropes, v. (1910) pp. 309 sq.

  • 442.

    P. Cayzac, “La Religion des Kikuyu (Afrique Orientale)”, Anthropes, v. (1910) pp. 309 sq.

  • 443.

    H. R. Tate, “Further Notes on the Kikuyu tribe of British East Africa”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxiv. (1904) pp. 263 sq.; W. S. Routledge and K. Routledge With a Prehistoric People, pp. 225 sqq.; C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 40 sqq.

  • 444.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 40; H. R. Tate, op. cit. p. 263.

  • 445.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 41.

  • 446.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 45 sq.

  • 447.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 47.

  • 448.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 42, 45.

  • 449.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 46.

  • 450.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, p. 46.

  • 451.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 46 sq.

  • 452.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 48-50.

  • 453.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 47 sq.

  • 454.

    W. S. Routledge and K. Routledge, With a Prehistoric People, p. 227; P. Cayzac, “La Religion des Kikuyu (Afrique Orientale)”, Anthropos, v. (1910) p. 310.

  • 455.

    C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 50 sq.

  • 456.

    Major G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya (London, 1925), pp. 17-25, 39.

  • 457.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 20 sq. The name commonly applied to these dwarfs is Agumbe, though the name Asi also occurs as an alternative.

  • 458.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 25-27, 42.

  • 459.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 42-44.

  • 460.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, p. 39.

  • 461.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 66 sq.

  • 462.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 117 sq.

  • 463.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, p. 100.

  • 464.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, p. 119.

  • 465.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 82 sq.

  • 466.

    W. Scoresby Routledge and Kathleen Routledge, With a Prehistoric People, the Akikuyu of British East Africa, pp. 151-153. Compare C. W. Hobley, “Kikuyu Customs and Beliefs,” Journal of the R. Anthropological Institute, xl. (1910) pp. 440 sqq.; id., Bantu Beliefs and Magic, pp. 77-79; Folk-lore in the Old Testament, ii. 7 sqq.

  • 467.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 181 sq.

  • 468.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 205 sq.

  • 469.

    G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya, pp. 216 sq.

  • 470.

    Sir Charles Eliot, in A. C. Hollis, The Masai (Oxford, 1905), pp. xi sq.

  • 471.

    Sir Charles Eliot, op. cit. p. xi.

  • 472.

    Sir Charles Eliot, op. cit. pp. xiv-xviii, xx. The fullest accounts of the Masai, their customs, beliefs, and legends, are contained in the German work of the late Captain M. Merker, Die Masai (Berlin, 1904), and in the English work of Mr. A. C. Hollis, The Masai (Oxford, 1905). Compare J. L. Krapf, Travels, Researches, and Missionary Labours during an Eighteen Years’ Residence in Eastern-Africa (London, 1860), pp. 358 sqq.; Joseph Thomson, Through Masailand (London, 1885): Oscar Baumann, Durch Massailand zur Nilquelle (Berlin, 1894), pp. 156 sqq.; S. L. Hinde and H. Hinde, The Last of the Masai (London, 1901).

  • 473.

    O. Baumann, Durch Massailand zur Nilquelle, p. 163.

  • 474.

    G. Lindblom, The Akamba, p. 247; W. S. Routledge and K. Routledge, With a Prehistoric People, p. 226.

  • 475.

    C. W. Hobley, Ethnology of A-Kamba and other East African Tribes, pp. 44 sq.

  • 476.

    C. W. Hobley, Ethnology of A-Kamba and other East African Tribes, p. 132.

  • 477.

    O. Baumann, Durch Massailand zur Nilquelle, p. 163; M. Merker, Die Masai, p. 196. As to the religious use of grass among the Masai, compare Joseph Thomson, Through Masailand (London, 1885), p. 445; A. C. Hollis, The Masai, pp. 288 sqq.; S. L. Hinde and H. Hinde, The Last of the Masai, pp. 103 sq. As to the term el meg, which the Masai apply to all people other than Masai, see M. Merker, Die Masai, p. 115.

  • 478.

    Joseph Thomson, Through Masai-land, p. 445.

  • 479.

    J. L. Krapf, Travels, Researches, and Missionary Labours during an Eighteen Years’ Residence in Eastern Africa (London, 1860), p. 359.

  • 480.

    A. C. Hollis, The Nandi (Oxford, 1909), p. 2.

  • 481.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai (Oxford, 1905), pp. 266-269, 271. The Dorobo are called Andorobo or Wandorobo by some writers. See A. C. Hollis, op. cit. p. 28 note 2. The Dorobo are said to comprise members of all three branches of the Masai mixed with the remains of another extinct race which, according to Merker, was Semitic. See M. Merker, Die Masai, 221.

  • 482.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai, pp. 264 sq.

  • 483.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai, p. 348.

  • 484.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai, p. 289. For the prayer, see id. p. 347

  • 485.

    S. L. Hinde and H. Hinde, The Last of the Masai, p. 102. The children's song for rain is recorded by A. C. Hollis, The Masai, p. 349. It does not contain a mention of Engai.

  • 486.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai, pp. 350 sq.

  • 487.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai, pp. 345 sq.

  • 488.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai, p. 270. Compare J. L. Krapf, Travels, Researches, and Missionary Labours during an Eighteen Years’ Residence in Eastern Africa (London, 1860), p. 360: “As to the origin of these truculent savages, they have a tradition that Engai—Heaven, or Rain—placed in the beginning of time a man named Neiterkob, or Neiternkob, on the Oredoinio-eibor (White Mountain, Snow Mountain, the Kegnia of the Wakamba) who was a kind of demi-god; for he was exalted above men and yet not equal to Engai.”

  • 489.

    A. C. Hollis, The Masai, pp. 271 sq. Compare the Chagga story, above, pp. 217 sq.

  • 490.

    Joseph Thomson, Through Masai-land, pp. 444 sq.

  • 491.

    The Masai. For the prayers, see prayer above, pp. 274 sq.

  • 492.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, Transactions of the Third International Congress for the History of Religions (Oxford, 1908), i. 90 sq.

  • 493.

    C. W. Hobley, Eastern Uganda (London, 1902), p. 13.

  • 494.

    C. W. Hobley, Eastern Uganda, p. 8.

  • 495.

    G. A. S. Northcote, “The Nilotic Kavirondo”, Journal of the R. Anthropological Institute, xxxvii. (1907) p. 58.

  • 496.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, p. 275.

  • 497.

    N. Stam, “The Religious Conceptions of the Kavirondo”, Anthropos, v. (1910) p. 360. In one place (the first) the writer spells the god's name Nysaye, but elsewhere consistently Nyasaye. The latter is probably the correct form. With the writer's account of Sun-worship among the Kavirondo compare G. A. S. Northcote, “The Nilotic Kavirondo”, Journal of the R. Anthropological Institute, xxxvii. (1907) p. 63: “The Jaluo religion is extremely slight. They worship the sun, and to a less extent the moon. They regard the sun as a deity seldom beneficent, more often malignant, and usually apathetic; as one of them said to the writer, ‘It does not matter bow much you pray, you fall sick and die just the same’. The offerings made at all important occasions in their daily life they make more with the idea of appeasing him than of obtaining positive benefits.”

  • 498.

    J. Roscoe, The Northern Bantu, pp. 291 sq.

  • 499.

    See above, pp. 248, 259 sq.

  • 500.

    Sir Charles Eliot, in A. C. Hollis, The Masai, pp. xi sqq.; id., in A. C. Hollis, The Nandi (Oxford, 1909). pp. xv sqq.; id., in M. W. H. Beech, The Suk (Oxford, 1911), p. xi.

  • 501.

    Sir Charles Eliot, in A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, p. xvii.

  • 502.

    A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, pp. xix, 40 sq.; id., “The Religion of the Nandi”, Transactions of the Third International Congress for the History of Religions (Oxford, 1908), i. 87.

  • 503.

    A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, pp. 41, 99.

  • 504.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 87 sq.; compare id., The Nandi, pp. 41 sq.

  • 505.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 88; compare id., The Nandi, pp. 42-46.

  • 506.

    A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, pp. 46 sq.; id., “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 89.

  • 507.

    A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, p. 47; id., “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 89.

  • 508.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 89; id., The Nandi, p. 48.

  • 509.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 89; sq.; id., The Nandi, p. 65.

  • 510.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 89; id., The Nandi, p. 15.

  • 511.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 90; id., The Nandi, p. 35.

  • 512.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 90; id., The Nandi, p. 37.

  • 513.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 90; id., The Nandi, p. 30.

  • 514.

    Compare Sir Charles Eliot, in A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, p. xix.

  • 515.

    See above, pp. 205 sqq. Other African Sky-gods whose names appear to mean “the Son” are Ilanzi, the god of the Wafipa, and Ithuwa, the god of the Wapare. See above, pp. 197, 201 sqq. Compare pp. 122-124, 170 sq., 173 sq., 279.

  • 516.

    A. C. Hollis, “The Religion of the Nandi”, op. cit. i. 90.

  • 517.

    A. C. Hollis, The Nandi, p. 98. I have reported this story elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 54 sq.).

  • 518.

    M. W. H. Beech, The Suk, their Language and Folk-lore (Oxford, 1911), pp. xi sq., 2, 3 sq.

  • 519.

    M. W. H. Beech, The Suk, p. 19.

  • 520.

    M. W. H. Beech, The Suk, p. 19.

  • 521.

    M. W. H. Beech, The Suk. p. 20.

  • 522.

    Franz Stuhlmann, Mit Emin Pascha ins Hers von Afrika (Berlin, 1894). pp. 492-494

  • 523.

    Franz Stuhlmann, op. cit. pp. 497-499.

  • 524.

    Franz Stuhlmann, op. cit. p. 528.

  • 525.

    Franz Stuhlmann, op. cit. pp. 528 sq.

  • 526.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, a Nilotic Tribe of Uganda (London, 1923), pp. 42, 50.

  • 527.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 43-46.

  • 528.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 46 sq.

  • 529.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 50.

  • 530.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 90 sq., 93, 94, 96.

  • 531.

    Above, p. 279.

  • 532.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 216 sq.

  • 533.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 217.

  • 534.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 223.

  • 535.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 222.

  • 536.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 218, 223 sq.

  • 537.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 218 sq.

  • 538.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 218.

  • 539.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 223 note 1.

  • 540.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 218.

  • 541.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 219 sq.

  • 542.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 249-253; id., “Rain-making among the Lango”, Journal of the R. Anthropological Institute, xlix. (1919) pp. 48-61.

  • 543.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 220. As to the souls of animals, see id. pp. 229 sq.The Lango word for soul (tipo) means “shade” or “shadow”. It is applied equally to the souls of persons, animals, and inanimate objects. See J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 228.

  • 544.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 223.

  • 545.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 231.

  • 546.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 232 sq.

  • 547.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 233.

  • 548.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 229 sq.

  • 549.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 234.

  • 550.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 237-239.

  • 551.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 239.

  • 552.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 239.

  • 553.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 113 sq., 224 sq.

  • 554.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 144, 225.

  • 555.

    J. H. Driberg, The Lango, p. 233.

  • 556.

    As to the Dinka and their country, see “E. de Preussenaere's Reisen und Forschungen im Gebiete des weissen und blauen Nil”, Petermann's Geographische Mittheilungen, Ergänzungsheft, No. 50 (Gotha, 1877), pp. 13 sqq., 18 sqq.; G. Schweinfurth, The Heart of Africa, Third Edition (London, 1878), i. 48 sqq.; The Golden Bough Part III. The Dying God, pp. 38 sqq.; C. G. Seligmann, s.v. “Dinka”, in J. Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, iv. 704 sqq.

  • 557.

    C. G. Seligmann, s.v. “Dinka”, in J. Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, iv. 707.

  • 558.

    S. L. Cummins, “Sub-tribes of the Bahr-el-Ghazal Dinkas”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxiv. (1904) pp. 157 sq.

  • 559.

    C. G. Seligmann, op. cit. p. 708.

  • 560.

    S. L. Cummins, “Sub-tribes of the Bahr-el-Ghazal Dinkas”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxxiv. (1904) p. 157.

  • 561.

    C. G. Seligmann, op. cit. p. 708. Dr. Seligmann adds the following note: “According to prevailing views, this shrine is situated in Nuer territory, though it was formerly held by Dinka, and there are Dinka priests at the shrine. The writer believes the distinction drawn between Dinka and Nuer to be erroneous, and that the Nuer are simply a tribe of Dinka differing no more from other admittedly Dinka tribes than these do among themselves.”

  • 562.

    C. G. Seligmann, op. cit. pp. 708, 709.

  • 563.

    C. G. Seligmann, op. cit. p. 709.

  • 564.

    C. G. Seligmann, op. cit. pp. 705 Sq., 711.

  • 565.

    C. G. Seligmann, op. cit. p. 712.

  • 566.

    C. C. Seligmann, op. cit. p. 711.

  • 567.

    C. G. Seligmann, op. cit. pp. 711 sq.

  • 568.

    C. G. Seligmann, op. cit. p. 712.

  • 569.

    C. G. Seligmann, The Cult of Nyakang and the Divine Kings of the Shilluk (London, 1911), p. 217; id., s.v. “Shilluk”, in J. Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, xi. 458; D. Westermann, The Shilluk People (Berlin, 1912), pp. xx-xxiii.

  • 570.

    C. G. Seligmann, The Cult of Nyakang and the Divine Kings of the Shilluk (London, 1911), p. 220; id., s.v. “Shilluk”, in J. Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, xi, 459, 462. Compare W. Hofmayr, “Religion der Schilluk”, Anthropos, vi. (1911) pp. 120 sqq.; D. Westermann, The Shilluk People, pp. xxxix sqq. Father Hofmayr spells Juok's name as Cuok, and Nyakang's name as Nykang. Mr. Westermann spells Juok's name as Jwok and Nyakang's name as Nyikang. For the sake of uniformity I have adopted the spellings Juok and Nyakang throughout, even in quoting from Father Hofmayr. As to Nyakang and the divine kings of the Shilluk, see also The Golden Bough, Part III. The Dying God, pp. 17 sqq.

  • 571.

    W. Hofmayr, “Religion der Schilluk”, Anthropos, vi. (1911) pp. 121 sq.

  • 572.

    W. Hofmayr, “Religion der Schilluk”, Anthropos, vi. (1911) pp. 128 sq. I have cited this story of creation elsewhere (Folk-lore in the Old Testament, i. 22 sq.).

  • 573.

    Above, pp. 292 sqq. It is notable also that the word tipo in the sense both of shadow and of the human soul is common to the Lango and the Shilluk languages. See J. H. Driberg, The Lango, pp. 228 sqq; D. Westermann, The Shilluk People, p. xlv.

  • 574.

    Sun among the Wagala, the Wafipa, the Wapare, the Wachagga, and the Nandi; Sky among most of the Suk; Rain among the Masai, the Dinka, and some of the Suk. See above, pp. 197, 201-203, 205-207, 211, 281 (as to the Sun); p. 288 (as to the Sky); pp. 227, 288, 304 (as to the Rain).

  • 575.

    See above, pp. 122-124 (as to the tribes of Northern Nigeria), 170 sq. (as to the Barotse), 173 sq. (as to the Louyi), compare p. 279 (as to the Kavirondo).

From the book: