Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/495

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Colledmiea. 437

pluvium and a Spanish patio, some 15 or 20 feet square. On two sides were recesses, in one of which the chief's wives were crowded, and it was on the mud platform in front of this recess that the dancing took place.

Some of the wives played the drums, while others beat the beaded calabashes and sang the choruses to the songs of the different ladies who from time to time got up and danced and sang. Each lady was evidently famous for some particular song and step, but we preferred one that reminded us rather of one of our own round dances, danced to a song full of her husband's praise.

III. Secret Societies.

The object that most of the Secret Societies round about Benin seem to have at heart is to check the despotism of the rulers of the people, but often the ruler himself becomes a member of the Society and soon its leader thus secures its services in furthering his own despotic ideas.

The Bini call their Society Igtoomori, and it is said that while still a prince the late king, Overami, became a member of it. The first crime this Society committed on the death of king Adolo and crowning of Overami, and at the latter's sug- gestion, was to execute all the late Adolo's councillors. Overami then placed many of the Igwomori, many of whom were sons of the lately executed councillors, in their father's place.

The Secret Society of the Ishan people played a great part in defending the Benin City chief, Abohon, and other refugees after the British had taken Benin City in 1897-8.

There are Secret Societies at Owo and Akwe.

The Sobo Society is called Otrada, that at Ifton, Otu, while we have only just had a sad experience of the influence of the Ekemeku, or the Silent Ones, in the hinterland of Asaba.

In an interesting article, dated May 13, 1904, in the IVest African Mail, Mr. Hughes, an earnest student of African customs, writes :

"The Ekemeku Society has for long been in existence. The aim and idea of its establishment was :

I St. To settle any tribal differences amicably.