Op. Cit.


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[The defendant K had urged his wife A to remove with him from Ahliha to another village, in consequence of the death of his brother there. On her refusal K said:] "If anyone in Ahliha has anything to do with you I will kill you. When the hos [council of elders] delivered judgment in the matter between you and your former husband and gave you to me for wife, it would have been better, had they given you back to your husband and sentenced me to pay three or four bags of money cowrie."

The wife told this to her parents who felt they had been insulted by the statement. They asked whether they had committed a sin in giving him their daughter for a wife. When K heard that the parents knew of the matter and were angered by it, he bought two bottles of brandy with which to appease and reconcile the father-in-law and uncles-in-law. Y and his brothers did not accept the brandy, however, and said that they were offended by what he had said about them. Was the good they had done him an injustice? They refused to take the peace offering. But that did not prevent K from continuing to visit his wife in Ahliha.

One day K heard that A in Ahliha had been together with K’s wife. For this K demanded that a fine be imposed. The matter had not yet been investigated. One day the men of Ahliha had gone out with their women and children to work in the fields. Only a few men remained behind to do roofing. In the course of the forenoon a messenger suddenly came to M in the field. He said that K, in a very intoxicated state and carrying a knife, had come to kill M’s sister A. At this moment they were quarreling at the house. M said he wouldn’t go; he had warned his sister often enough, but she hadn’t listened to him; if K wanted to kill her, let him go ahead. The elder Kdz disapproved strongly of this attitude and said to M: "Return right away; you can’t take such a message lightly. I will follow you immediately." When M got back he saw that they were quarreling and that K had a knife. M took his sister to his own house at once. He said to her: "Haven’t I told you every day to stay away from K? And you have refused! It might have been the cause of your death." Hereupon K went after her with the knife; M however scolded him and said: "I will never permit you to come into my house to kill my sister." He pushed K outside with the words: "Go home, you have no business coming around A any more!" Three times he pushed him back to keep him from coming in. K remained, however, and insisted on coming into the house. M to K: "You reprobate, if you enter my house it will be the cause of a great lawsuit." K didn’t listen. Now Kdz arrived, too, and took the knife away from him. As K produced a second knife they also got this out of his hand. They told him to go home; he remained. Then M called the other people of the village and said: "Seize this drunkard for me!" whereupon they tied him up. When his brothers in Ahoe heard that K had been captured and held in Ahliha because of his wife, nobody went to help him. Only Am [brother of K] upbraided the chiefs and the inhabitants of Ahliha. Some people wanted to beat him [Am], but the elders prevented them. K wept and howled in his fetters. Kdz pleaded with M in K’s favor. When they had extracted the promise from K that he would return home quietly, they untied him and he went home. Before he went, however, he said that this was not the end of the matter, there would still be a lawsuit.

When the people of Ahliha returned home from the fields that evening and heard what had happened they were much angered. They sent their speaker (representative) YK to AY and B to tell them what had taken place between K and his wife. He also requested them to appear with K and his brothers in Ahliha early next morning. AY answered: "K is my nephew and if there is any complaint against him, I am the judge. God willing that we arise in good health tomorrow morning we will come." [KY also summoned the chief and representatives of the Ahliha district and] it was published in the village of Ahliha that nobody should go to the fields the next morning, since they had to assemble in court because of the trouble between K and his wife. . . .

First of all they gave K an opportunity to speak. He said, however, that he had been drunk, they should ask his wife. As a result they gave her the floor. She said: "Greetings! The speaker is to listen to me and pass my words to my father and the chiefs. About four years have now passed since my (first) husband left me. I became sick and dependent on my father. The missionaries took care of me, so that I got well again. K then entered into relations with me and I was agreed that we live together. We left his town, Ahoe, and went to my place in Ahliha. I worked and cooked for him, took care of everything for him, and went in the fields with him. My former husband became irritated over this and said that he would take me away from K. I refused, however, since I had no other intention than to remain with K. Because of this quarrel you, hos, gave me to K for a wife and I am now his woman. The whole blame in the matter fell on my former husband. I lived together with K. Then his older brother G in Ahoe died, whereupon my husband demanded that I leave Ahliha and move to him in Ahoe, where he wanted to bury his brother. I refused, however, and said that I could not be with him in Ahoe since I owned a little house of my own here in Ahliha. But in spite of that he still came to see me. When he had been drinking he always started to quarrel with me and said that since I did not want to move with him to Ahoe he would kill anyone who touched me. One day he was very drunk and insulted me, my father, and my mother. He said, if he had paid a fine of four or five bags of money cowrie1 at the time when the judges gave me to him for wife, that would have been better. When he took away the hoe and ax he had given me, I did not cook for him any more. Then when he noticed that everyone had gone to the fields, he got drunk, came with a knife, and wanted to kill me in the room. I held the knife and cried for help until my brother M came and took me to his house. K pursued me over there, too, in order to kill me in M’s house. My older brother came to my aid and tied K. That’s the reason why I don’t want to remain with him any longer. I am sorry that I still have yams on his field." The elders had these words of the woman repeated to K and then gave the latter a chance to explain.

K greeted those present and spoke: "A is my wife. I love her very much and never had any intention of killing her, which she herself knows very well. If I had been minded to kill her, I could have done that while the two of us were together in the fields, couldn’t I? If A says that I had a big knife in my hand to be used against her, that is not so. I didn’t have the knife because of her. I only had the knife of my brother G in my hand, the one with which he makes palm wine. That’s what I came with. To be sure, I began to quarrel, but never intended at all to kill her. I was drunk and therefore do not know anything at all about her statements. Drunk, that’s what I was, and I surrender to you with the promise never to do it again. Give me back my wife and let her stay with me."

Hereupon M [brother of A] got up and said: "Listen and tell the elders!" He then asked KD to listen and repeat it to K. "If K claims that he did not intend to use the knife against A, he lies; certainly he used the knife against her. The Ahliha people were all in the fields, only Kdz and a few others had remained home. Suddenly B came hurrying and said to me: ’K is causing trouble for your sister and wants to kill her.’ I pondered the matter a little and answered that I was not going to look after her. This was because I had so often told her not to stay with K any longer, since he was a bad fellow. But A paid no attention. My older brother now called out to me and said such a dangerous message was not to be taken so lightly; that I should leave for home right away and he would follow at once. I hurried to the spot and saw that K had a knife. I pushed him off and took A to my house. K pursued her, however, and tried to get into my house. I didn’t allow this and said that if he dared to come into my house, I would become as bad a person as he was because of him. But K refused to listen to reason and said he would get into the house and attack A with the knife. Suddenly my brother Kdz came with a few other men and took the knife away from K; when he pulled out a second one they took that away too. He was drunk; if he hadn’t been, we couldn’t have got the knife away from him and he would certainly have killed my sister. I begged K to go home, but it was all in vain. That is why I asked some of our people to tie him up, as was done. Then his brother Am came from Ahoe and upbraided us. We wanted to give him a beating, but the elders prevented us. You may consider B, who came and called me, a lunatic, but I know that he has sense. If he hadn’t called me, my sister would no longer be alive. If my sister has refused to live with K any more, I am in complete agreement. K ought to go home and A is to stay here."

Now GK, brother of K on the father’s side, began to speak. He greeted those present and said they should listen to him, so that the elders also could hear and then pass on his opinions to M and his brother. "What K has done is very bad; he was drunk when he did it. This grieves us, his brothers on the father’s side, very much. But we implore A’s father and mother, not to take his wife away from him. We shall also keep a sharp eye on him from now on, so that he does not attempt to hurt his wife again while he is drinking. This we earnestly request of you."

Kdz, M’s older brother, now got up, greeted the listeners and said: "The speaker will listen and repeat my words to the elders, to K Dz and to his brothers. I beg your pardon, (but) although K had already insulted us when the hos gave him A for a wife, he just hated us and did not see that we had done him a kindness thereby. Hasn’t KY’s wife, the sister-in-law of K who left KY, moved to Gbi and is still running around with a man there? Or did KY make a gift of his daughter to K? She cooks for him, fetches his water, and works in the fields with him. I and my brothers got no palm wine from K when he became engaged to A; whether he bought any for her father, I don’t know. He who comes to the father of a girl with brandy under his cloak can’t marry in our part of the Ewe country. Palm wine is the engagement gift in the interior of the land of Ewe. And if anybody comes along with a jug full of palm wine on his head and is asked about it, he answers that it is palm wine for an engagement which he is carrying to the house of this or that person. Nobody has drunk of K’s engagement wine. K didn’t let his marriage cost him anything. That’s the reason, too, why he pulled a knife on her with the intention of killing her. A murder committed as the result of a quarrel is very bad. And since A now refuses to be with K any more we agree with her. With knife or sword in hand one goes into the forest, but not into the house of one’s father-in-law or mother-in-law."

Now KY, father of A, rose up, greeted those present and said: "K Dz is to listen and repeat it to his brothers on the father’s side. K is my nephew, but he did not get A from me for a wife. Certainly I am provoked at K. That’s why I forbade my daughter to continue with K. But my daughter did not obey me; I spoke with her often, until I finally got tired of telling her. I stopped warning her and from that time on I only tried to see how they were living together. Esteemed fathers, I ask your pardon; do not feel hurt by what I am saying! It is you, hos, who gave my child A to K for a wife. Esteemed fathers, I did not disregard your decree, but left A at your disposal so that she became the wife of K. I have drunk none of K’s engagement wine, he has never worked in my fields. I know that between man and wife there is no end of small quarrels. K and his wife had a quarrel with one another and on that occasion reviled me and my brothers. He said to his wife, if he had been found guilty that time and had had to pay four or six bags1 of money cowrie, and if further they had taken away A from him instead of giving her to him, it would have been better. This statement irritated me greatly. Only a few days later K brought me two bottles of brandy and asked my forgiveness; he was very drunk when he spoke those words. I refused to accept the brandy and he took it away with him again. Shortly thereafter he tried to kill my child. Listen! He who enters the territory of murderers never returns, but he who goes to the land of those that do not kill people, he comes home again. The child of a man in Ziavi came from the field. Somebody meeting the little one pointed a gun at it. The gun did not go off, however. The child ran home to its father and said to him: ’I was just at that fence when a man tried to shoot me with his gun, but the gun didn’t go off.’ The father asked the child to precede him and show him the man. When they came to the fence of the man in question there was a report and the child lay on the ground and died in the presence of its father. They buried the child, it was lost to its father and mother and the murderer was sold, but he is alive to this day and still eats his salt. If you please, you hos, K is my nephew, to be sure, but if he had killed A, my child, I would have advanced on him and done him some violence. If my daughter does not wish to stay with K any longer, I am agreed; if she wishes to stay, all right, I am agreed to that, too. You are my fathers, and I do not refuse to abide by your decree."

Now chief AY got up, greeted those present, and stated that he had only a couple of words to say before they retired to discuss the verdict. They would listen to him and repeat his statement to the father and mother of the child: "So that is the reason for your gathering here today? All right. K is my nephew. I know that in the towns of Ahoe and Heve he is considered quite bad. Let M take notice! When they had bound K, did anyone come either from Ahoe or Here to help him? It is said that nobody but D Am came to his assistance. Well, he, too, is a bad one. That you tied him when he wanted to commit an evil deed, for that we can only thank you; you saved his life. We cannot blame you in any way. You, the inhabitants of Ahoe, Heve and the royal town, if you see anyone about to carry out a bad deed, put fetters on him! Nobody will come to the aid of such a criminal. When he came to his brethren with evil in mind, you saved him. For this we thank you! You have done no evil, only good. Nobody came to help him, therefore nobody has a right to upbraid you. If any inhabitant of Ahoe had mixed himself in this matter and begun to squabble because of it, we should know what to do with him. I sympathize with you!" YK now reported that the elders had arisen and would retire for the secret council meeting. Those remaining behind were to remain quiet.

The judges retired for their secret discussion and returned after about two hours. . . . Now the speaker AD stood up in the circle of elders, took white clay, and marked KY’s arm with it saying: "The elders uphold you; justice is on your side; you have our sympathy." Thereupon AD turned to KD and asked him to tell K as follows: "The old woman [the court] says that you are entirely in the wrong. No one goes into the land of murderers and comes back alive. If you K had killed your wife, could you awaken her again, could you breathe new life into her? This is the last time! The chiefs make known that you must pay a large goat, twenty-four hotu, and twelve bottles of brandy. If you have anything to say against the judgment, they will listen to it." KY and his brothers on the father’s side thanked the judges and said: "You have spoken." K and his brothers on the father’s side retired somewhat to discuss the matter. When they came back they asked the chiefs to reduce the fine somewhat. They agreed and now asked only twelve hotu, a goat, and six bottles of brandy. They also demanded two bottles of brandy from KY. The chiefs slaughtered the goat immediately, divided the meat, and drank the brandy. Then they gathered once more and said to KY that he should listen carefully: "We hos came together once before and gave A to K for a wife. For this reason all remains as before and she will continue to be his wife." The brothers of A both on the father’s and mother’s side objected to this and demanded that she be the wife of K no longer. But the hos said: "It will be as we have told you!" A, however, cried and assured them that she would not stay with K and would go where she pleased. But five days later she went back to her husband.1

1 As punishment for forbidden relations with A while she still was with her first husband.

1 bag = 10 hotu = 10 marks.

1 Spieth, J., Die Ewe Stämme, 168–180 (Dietrich Reimer. By permission).


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Chicago: "Op. Cit.," Op. Cit. in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed June 19, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NQ69GXNG1KV7XYZ.

MLA: . "Op. Cit." Op. Cit., in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 19 Jun. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NQ69GXNG1KV7XYZ.

Harvard: , 'Op. Cit.' in Op. Cit.. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 19 June 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NQ69GXNG1KV7XYZ.