Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/274

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236 Revieivs.

among the Sahara negroes an objection to intermarriage with blacksmiths.

A considerable amount of controversy has been aroused by another work on the Masai, mentioned above, by Captain Merker' who holds that they are of Semitic origin and have preserved a number of cosmogonic and other myths, bearing a close resem- blance to those of the book of Genesis, but in some points more closely allied to the Babylonian form of the story. Unfortunately Merker has given us no definite information as to the persons from whom he obtained his accounts beyond the fact that they were the older men of the tribe, nor yet whether any were obtained through an interpreter or not. It is true we learn from the preface that a presumably competent Masai scholar has verified the narratives and the hypothesis of a mystification may therefore be dismissed. We cannot, however, overlook two other possibilities ; (i) that the Masai derived them from mission- aries in the hard times of the cattle plague ; (2) that in more remote times they came in contact with non-European Christians, (the Abyssinians are their near neighbours), or Mohammedans. One thing is certain and that is that Merker's account shows far more traces of foreign influence than Hollis's. Take for example the account of 'Ngai {eng-di) ; Merker describes him as Creator of the world, omnipotent, incorporeal ; the souls of all men go to en gatambb (Cloudland) and 'Ngai sends the good to Paradise to live at ease, the bad to a waterless desert, and condemns the half-and-half to hard labour, though they too are admitted to Paradise. Compared with the account mentioned above, this is obviously non-primitive and cannot but arouse some doubts.

Again, take the deluge legend. The Masai of HoUis seem to have no myth of this sort, though the Wandorobo, with whom they are closely associated, have an interesting but very unbiblical legend {Mitt, von Forsc/naigsreisenden aus den deutschen Schutz- gebieten, xiii. 168) in which the Masai also figure. Deluge legends are extremely common in all parts of the world except Africa; if, as has been pointed out above, the Masai are con- nected by language and physically with the Latuka, Dinka, and Bari, and if the Masai are really Semitic, and have preserved their ^ M. Merker, Die Masai, Berlin, 1904.