Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/227

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Reviews. 205

previously recorded, so far as I am aware. Her account of the death-customs is particularly valuable in this respect.

But that she has not gone far beneath the surface of things will, I think, be evident from the following observations. She speaks of native " schools " of girls and of boys, meaning the puberty customs. These customs are, we know, observed by the adolescent children in bands : hence, apparently, her notion that they are " schools." Her information about them is very vague, though perhaps she knows more than she cares to say, about the girls at all events, in a book intended for popular reading. At the best she seems hardly to have grasped their real significance.

"The Basuto," she says, "are the people of the crocodile (Kuena), or as it is in Sesuto, ' Bakuena,' the crocodile being their sacred animal." This is not quite accurate. The Basutos are, like most of the Basuto people around them, in a late stage of totemism. They are composed of six clans, one of which only is the clan of the crocodile. It is true, the crocodile clan is that to which the reigning chief belongs. It may be that in the decay of totemism the remaining clans have to a great extent abandoned their own totems and are becoming merged in the clan of the chief. Evidence to this effect would be interesting. The authoress does not supply it, because totemism is obviously a foreign subject to her.

Again, in her account of the death-customs she represents the mourners crying " Our God, hear us ! . . . May the old God pray to the new God for us ! " The word rendered " God " is doubtless Molimo, and Mrs. Martin has been misled in her trans- lation by the fact that it is the word adopted by the missionaries to translate our word God. The idea we express by " God " is, however, unknown to the Basuto. She might have been put on her guard by the fact of having used the same word in a plural form on the same page, where she says : " The cattle are called ' Melimo a'nko e metse ' (the spirits with the wet noses)." 1

Mrs. Martin seems also to have mistaken the motive for treating with indifference a child born shortly after the death of another child of the same parents, and for dubbing it Mose la 'ntja, " which means ' the dog's tail,' a term of the greatest contempt." M. Christol, a French Protestant missionary, 'in his sketches of

' See on this subject my Presidential Address, Folk-Lorc, vol. xii.. p. 25.