Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/137

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of the Ba-Thonga. 121

gentlemen ; on the other hand, of their state of dependence (they have no longer any cattle of their own), which is caused by their duties as mothers of their children. I recommend the reading of this charming piece of common sense both to the enemies and the supporters of feminism.

If time allowed it I would read to you some of our pretty Ronga tales, with the charming little melodies which they sometimes contain ; but I must go on to the third domain, into which I intended to invite you to-night, the domain of the superstitions belief s oi the Kaffir tribes. I have tried in my book about Les Ba-Ronga ^ to give an extensive explana- tion of the religious system of these people. To get into it we must try to enter into the mind of these primitive men, to understand their animistic theory, that strange theory according to which man and nature are one thing ; nature in its various domains is endowed with intelligence, will, intentions, power, the man projecting into the outside world the qualities of his own mind and finding every- where spiritual forces which he must either fight with or make favourable to him.

I have with me a very curious object, a kind of amulet, which Ba-Suto as well as Ba-Thonga seem to appreciate highly. I had often noticed, in a little box carved in wood, in a bit of horn, a red seed which they carry suspended by a string around their necks. The seed belongs to a kind of leguminosa of the genus Ahrus. The Abrus precatorius is a shrub which bears large beans, and when they get dry, they open at once, and you see in them, appearing as fresh and highly coloured as possible, the seeds themselves like small beads of a charming coral colour with a black spot on one side. Now the natives take one or two of the beads and fasten them with wax into the horn, or into the tiny box, in such a way that the red appears half outside and the black also, to imitate a human eye. I wondered what it might

Les Ba-Ronga, Auinger, Neuchatel, 189S.