Fetichism in West Africa

























(With horns, wooden mask, spear, and sword;
dress of leaves of palm and plantain.)



Forty Years' Observation of Native Customs and Superstitions

BY THE REV. ROBERT HAMILL NASSAU, M.D., S.T.D.

  FOR FORTY YEARS A MISSIONARY IN THE GABUN DISTRICT
  OF KONGO-FRANÇAISE

  AUTHOR OF "CROWNED IN PALM LAND," "MAWEDO"

WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS


  YOUNG PEOPLE'S
  MISSIONARY MOVEMENT
  156 FIFTH AVENUE
  NEW YORK

_Copyright, 1904_
  BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

  Published October, 1904

CONTENTS

Preface

CHAPTER I

CONSTITUTION OF NATIVE AFRICAN SOCIETY--SOCIOLOGY                      1

I. The Country                                                      2

II. The Family                                                       3

Family Responsibility.--Family Headship.--Marital
Relations.--Arrangements for Marriage.--Courtship and
Wedding.--Dissolution of Marriage.--Illegitimate Marital
Relations.--Domestic Life.

III. Succession to Property and Authority                            13

IV. Political Organization                                          13

V. Servants                                                        14

VI. Kingship                                                        15

VII. Fetich Doctors                                                  16

VIII. Hospitality                                                     17

IX. Judicial System                                                 17

Courts.--Punishment.--Blood-Atonement and Fines. Punishable Acts.

X. Territorial Relations                                           22

Tenure.--Rights in Movables.

   XI. Exchange Relations                                              23

  XII. Religion                                                        25


  CHAPTER II

  THE IDEA OF GOD--RELIGION                                             26

   Theology, Religion, Creed, Worship.--Source of the Knowledge
   of God; outside of us; comes from God; Evolution of Physical
   Species.--Materialism; Knowledge of God not evolved.--
   Superstition in all Religions.--Dominant in African
   Religion.--No People without a Knowledge of at least the Name
   of God.--Testimony of Travellers and Others.


  CHAPTER III

  POLYTHEISM--IDOLATRY                                                  42

   Religion and Civilization.--Worship of Natural Objects.--
   Polytheism.--Idolatry.--Worship of Ancestors.--Fetichism.

CHAPTER IV

SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN AFRICAN RELIGION                                  50

I. Origin                                                          50

Coterminous with the Creator.--Created.--Spirits of Deceased Human Beings; in Unity, Duality, Trinity, or
Quadruplicity.

II. Number                                                          55

III. Locality                                                        58

IV. Characteristics                                                 62

CHAPTER V

SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN AFRICA--THEIR CLASSES AND FUNCTIONS               64

I. Classes and Functions                                           64

Inina.--Ibambo.--Ombwiri.--Nkinda.--Mondi.

II. Special Manifestations                                          70

Human Soul in a Lower Animal; the Leopard Fiend.--Uvengwa, Ghost.--Family Guardian-Spirit.

CHAPTER VI

FETICHISM--ITS PHILOSOPHY--A PHYSICAL SALVATION--CHARMS AND AMULETS     75

Monotheism.--Polytheism.--Animism.--Fetichism.

The Salvation Sought: its Kind, Physical; its Source, Spirits, its Reason, Fear.

The Means used: Prayer, Sacrifices, Charms; Vocal, Ritual, Material, Fetiches.

Articles used in the Fetich.--Mode of Preparation: A Fitness in the Quality of the Object for the End desired; Efficiency
depends on the Localized Spirit; Misuse of the Word "Medicine"; Native "Doctors"; Connection of Fetich with Witchcraft.

CHAPTER VII

THE FETICH--A WORSHIP                                                 90

I. Sacrifice and Offerings                                         91

Small Votive Gifts.--Consecrated Plants; Idols and Gifts of Food.--Blood Sacrifices.--Human Sacrifices.

II. Prayer                                                          97

III. The Use of Charms or "Fetiches"                                 99

CHAPTER VIII

THE FETICH--WITCHCRAFT--A WHITE ART--SORCERY                         100

A passively Defensive Art.--Professedly of the Nature of a Medicine.--Distinction between a Fetich Doctor and a Christian Physician.--Manner of Performance of the White Art.--The Medicinal Herbs used sometimes Valuable.--Strength of Native Faith in the System.

CHAPTER IX

THE FETICH--WITCHCRAFT--A BLACK ART--DEMONOLOGY                      116

Distinction as to the Object aimed at in the White Art and in the Black Art.--Black Art actively Offensive. The Black Art distinctively "Witchcraft."Witchcraft Executions; claimed to be Judicial Acts. Hoodoo Worship. Christian Faith and Fetich Faith Compared. Deception by Fetich Magicians. Clairvoyance. Demoniacal Possession.

CHAPTER X

FETICHISM--A GOVERNMENT                                              138

Egbo, Ukuku, Yasi, and other Societies.--Their Power either to protect or oppress.--Contest with Ukuku at Benita, and
with Yasi on the Ogowe.

CHAPTER XI

THE FETICH--ITS RELATION TO THE FAMILY                               156

The Family the Unit in the African Community.--Respect for the Aged.--Worship of Ancestors.--Family Fetiches; Yâkâ,
Ekongi, Mbati.

CHAPTER XII

THE FETICH--ITS RELATIONS TO DAILY WORK AND OCCUPATIONS AND TO THE NEEDS OF LIFE      172

Hunting.--Journeying.--Warring.--Trading; Okundu and Mbumbu.--Sickness.--Loving.--Fishing.--Planting.

CHAPTER XIII

THE FETICH--SUPERSTITION IN CUSTOMS                                  191

Rules of Pregnancy.--Omens on Journeys.--Leopard Fiends. Luck.--Twins.--Customs of Speech.--Oaths.--Totem Worship. Taboo; Orunda.--Baptism.--Spitting.--Notice of Children.

CHAPTER XIV

FETICH--ITS RELATION TO THE FUTURE LIFE--CEREMONIES AT DEATHS AND FUNERALS         215

Sickness, Death, Burial, Modes of Burial.--Mourning, Treatment of Widows.--Witchcraft Investigations.--Places of Burial.--Cannibalism--Family Quarrel as to Precedence in the Burying.--Custom of "Lifting Up" of Mourners.--Ukuku Dance for Amusement.--Destination of the Dead.--Transmigration.

CHAPTER XV

FETICHISM--SOME OF ITS PRACTICAL EFFECTS                             239

Depopulation.--Cannibalism.--Secret Societies (Ukuku, Yasi, Mwetyi, Bweti, Indâ, Njěmbě).--Poisoning for Revenge.
Distrust.--Jugglery.--Treatment of Lunatics.--The American Negro Hoodoo.--Folk-Lore.

CHAPTER XVI

TALES OF FETICH BASED ON FACT                                        277

I. A Witch Sweetheart                                             278

II. A Jealous Wife                                                 281

III. Witchcraft Mothers                                             284

IV. The Wizard House-Breaker                                       287

V. The Wizard Murderer                                            289

VI. The Wizard and his Invisible Dog                               293

VII. Spirit-Dancing                                                 295

VIII. Asiki, or the Little Beings                                    299

IX. Okove                                                          302

X. The Family Idols (Okâsi, Barbarity, The Right of Sanctuary)    308

XI. Unago and Ekela (A Proverb)                                    318

XII. Malanda--An Initiation into a Family Guardian-Spirit Company   320

XIII. Three-Things Came Back too Late                                326

CHAPTER XVII

FETICH IN FOLK-LORE                                                  330

I. Queen Ngwe-nkonde and her Manja                                332

II. The Beautiful Daughter                                         337

III. The Husband that Came from an Animal                           346

IV. The Fairy Wife                                                 351

V. The Thieves and their Enchanted House                          358

VI. Banga-of-the-five-faces                                        367

VII. The Two Brothers                                               372

VIII. Jěki and his Ozâzi                                             378

GLOSSARY                                                             387

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Fetich Magician                                           _Frontispiece_

                                                              Facing Page

Native King in the Niger Delta                                        16

English Trading-House--Gabun                                          24

Fetich Doctor                                                         86

Elephants' Tusks and Palm-leaf Thatch. Two Hundred Miles up the Ogowe River               148

War Canoe.--Calabar, West Africa                                     174

Natives Trading in Plantains and Bamboo Building Materials.--Gabun                           182

Travelling by Canoe.--Ogowe River                                    198

A Civilized Family.--Gabun                                           236

Njěmbě. Female Secret Society.--Mpongwe, Gabun                       254

Ekope of the Ivanga Dance.--Gabun                                    296

A Street in Libreville, Gabun                                        300

Map of the West African Coast                                          1
































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