Arch. D’études Orientales


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The youths and young girls among themselves can also employ a sort of curse, which they lay on an unpopular person. If a girl gives evidence of . . . "self-will"—for example, if she refuses to take part in the dancing of the young people or the excesses connected with it—the young men assemble and strike their kithitu, consisting of a red china bead. . . . They all strike once with a stone, saying: "NN’s girl gives evidence of . . . [self-will]. If, after this, I dance with her, accompany her on the track, or even speak to her, may I be eaten by this kithitu!" The girls treat their comrade in the same way, and then the poor thing is absolutely isolated from the other young people. She cannot go to other people of the same age elsewhere, for as soon as they hear what has happened to her, they also shun her. Her position soon becomes unbearable—her parents also suffer—and sooner or later she gives way. Then her father goes to their dancing place . . . and arranges a day with the young men for his daughter to be allowed to come and be received into the young people’s circle again.

On the appointed day, the girl goes to the dancing place, taking with her two bunches of bananas . . . and two large calabashes full of porridge, mixed with a lot of fat. The former are presents to the men, the latter to the girls. She stands apart from the others, and a youth asks her if she is willing to abandon her defiant attitude. The answer is in the affirmative, and she may now choose out four youths and four girls, who bless her by spitting on her. The curse is thereby removed.

What makes this curse so dreadful is the belief that a woman who is under such a curse, can never, even if she manages to get a husband, be certain of being able to have children. And this implies something infinitely terrible to every Kamba girl.1

1Lindblom, G.n/an/an/an/an/a, "The Akamba," , 184–185.


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Chicago: "Arch. D’études Orientales," Arch. D’études Orientales in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed February 23, 2024,

MLA: . "Arch. D’études Orientales." Arch. D’études Orientales, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 23 Feb. 2024.

Harvard: , 'Arch. D’études Orientales' in Arch. D’études Orientales. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 23 February 2024, from