Jour. Anth. Inst.


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The elder of the clan then convokes the other elders and discusses with them what is to be done. If they agree, the date of the great festivity of the ancestors is fixed, beginning with the first meeting with them in the cemetery.

This ceremony consists of three distinct proceedings: (1) The ancestors are informed that they will receive the honors they claim, on condition that they restore the health of the patient and the prosperity of the clan; (2) the presentation of the small cattle to be sacrificed on the occasion and the fixing of the day of the ceremony; (3) the performance of the rite itself. . . .

The elder goes to the cemetery with his people, the members of the kindred. They bring five plates and five calabashes of palm wine, drawn from the flowers of palm trees. When the elder has arrived at the grave of his own predecessor, he kneels down and addresses all the ancestors as follows. . . .:

"Behold, we have come to you Whom you, forbears, have left behind [with the clan]. When you were alive, you told me: ’Thou shalt remain with the clan and the clan will help thee;

Take good care of the human wealth.’ But behold, how we stand: The earth is ill, the sky is ill. We are told: activate the fetishes. [This done] they repeat: ’More fetishes!’ We go to the diviner Who says: ’Attend to the graves of the ancients.’ This is the reason why we have come. . . . They say that you are seeking the honors of burial. But I declare, before you seek the honors Spare our young people in the village; Give us fecundity. At present we reap not the fruit Of our labor, I have not yet paid my taxes to the state. Whenever I have a franc, they say: ’Look after that woman,’ Whenever I have half a franc, they say: PThe child of So-and-so has died, Of this or that relative by marriage the brother died!’ Where is the labor which will allow me to afford the expenses of your grave? Today I bring you five plates, Eat the matondo, love procreation and human wealth. I bring you five calabashes of the rich wine nsamba. Favor procreation and human wealth. You have taught us the proverb: ’The drawer of palm wine with his palm wine, The hunter with his chase [obtain their needs],’ But I, whenever I earn a little money It is gone. I raise fowls And the weasel takes them; If I let the goats run about The leopard of the forest is on the lookout. And you, you ask for funeral honors! How am I to meet the expense? The hiding place of treasures, open it, Then I shall come again to your graves. When the young men go to the forest May they take big game in their traps, And he who climbs the palms May he descend with two calabashes filled. I stretch out my hands [to implore you], He who extends his hands cannot die! As we have no luck, Here are the presents, they are the last. Expect no more plates,

[Expect] no more palm wine, no more gunpowder: Where do you want me to steal them? Were I to do so, it would be said: that subject [of the clan] is a thief; Have his forbears left him no money [that he is reduced to steal]? Give us human riches That we, your subjects, may remain alive, That we may prosper. And if any of us were to go by night To the village of our female subjects [to eat, by witchcraft, their children] If you see him, capture him, Take him where you are. We, among ourselves, in the plains, Will mutually exhort each other [to abstain from evil]. All ye [ancestors] at the waters, be like the hairs of the dog Which lie all on the same layer, That we remain to see joy. If then the secret treasure is opened Your grave will be adorned. But if it is to the contrary, expect no more honors. But there, where we dwell, Come and take us, it matters not; When we all shall be exterminated We shall see who will honor your graves; whence will he come? And of the safu trees and the palms, who will eat the fruit? It will be foreigners, who will inherit your village As I have said. I have finished."1

Among the Bangala

if the family of the deceased man were troubled with much sickness, and a witch doctor said that it was due to the dissatisfaction of the spirit of such an one because no offering had lately been made to him, then the family would kill a slave as a sacrifice, and send him with a message to their troublesome relative, and a request that he would not cause them any further misfortune. We induced them to give up this custom, but the timorous ones compromised the matter by burying in the grave of their deceased relative some brass rods equal to the price of a slave.2

1Wing, J.Vann/an/an/an/a, "Bakongo Incantations and Prayers," , 60: 414–418.

2 Weeks, J. H., "Anthropological Notes on the Bangala of the Upper Congo River," Jour. Anth. Inst., 39: 454.


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Chicago: "Jour. Anth. Inst.," Jour. Anth. Inst. in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed July 18, 2019,

MLA: . "Jour. Anth. Inst." Jour. Anth. Inst., Vol. 60, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 18 Jul. 2019.

Harvard: , 'Jour. Anth. Inst.' in Jour. Anth. Inst.. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 18 July 2019, from