Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/148

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


12 2 Reviews.

between human and non-human beings. The fables of more civilized peoples have grown out of the same condition of thought; but while European fables are now, and so far as they have penetrated into literature, feigned, because those who tell them have outgrown the childish mentality of those who originated them, the Bantu still "really believe many of the actors in these tales to have had an existence, so that they are not merely stories to amuse children." The Bantu, in fact, are still struggling in the maze of shape-shifting and impermanence of form characteristic of archaic thought. Among the Negroes it is not an uncommon thing for such animal tales to be adduced, if not as precedents, at least as illustrations in solemn judicial decisions ; and probably Dr. Theal could from his own experience as a magistrate add similar instances among the Kaffirs.

The much-discussed incapacity of the Bantu for European education beyond a certain age has its due share of Dr. Theal's attention. The extracts he gives from the Report of the Cape Committee on Native Education and from the Report of the South African Native Affairs Commission do not lead to a very satis- factory result. Nor does he express any definite opinion on the causes or the extent of the incapacity, though he notes that there are numerous and important exceptions to the general rule. So far as can be gathered from the evidence brought together in these pages and elsewhere, it appears to be due to the awakening of, and the concentration of thought on, the sexual passions. The puberty ceremonies and other incidents of native environment encourage the attitude of mind thus induced, and effectually distract it from healthier influences. Similar results, though perhaps less intense, are observable in the youth of our own country. Released from the elementary schools, numbers of them speedily forget what they have learned there, and settle only too surely into a stunted life, in which the only subjects of interest are " sport " and the gratification of animal instincts. The remedy in both cases is the same. The education must from the beginning be less purely literary ; it must be concerned to a greater extent with the things of every day, with industrial training and natural surroundings ; and it must be continued through the dangerous period of adolescence, not merely for its