Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/63

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Bushongo Mythology. 45

learned to drink water, how the lake, whence they used to fetch their supply, was polluted by an obstinate woman, and how the palm-trees grew in consequence of this. The invention of iron is attributed to ghosts, who made their revelation to a man in his dream. It is said of Woto that, while travelling in the forest, the pygmies sprung out of the crevices of old trees in consequence of his magic incantation.

The above account, like the Bambala mythology, has, of course, not been related to me as a continuous story ; both have come to me in the shape of short stories, and it has been my work to put them together. Anachronisms are frequent, but I did not think it wise to try to have them explained to me, as questions of this kind invariably put the story-teller in a bad temper. I cannot now go into the details of the Baluba mythology. It may be sufficient to state that it resembles in its main points the account given of other Baluba peoples.

Mj'thology may contain a good deal of real information, however much clothed in fiction, for him who knows how to read between the lines ; for example, the Bushongo legends have enabled me to fix the ancestral home of these peoples. In this, of course, ethnography and physical anthropology are also to be considered, and it must give pleasure to the lovers of folklore to find that the cultural, linguistic, and physical features have all corroborated the evidence of mythology. But the stories I have related may possibly contain even more than mere information about the ancestral home of these tribes ; they may perchance give us an indication as to the civilizations with which this people, occupying culturally such a high position amongst Africans, have in remote times come into contact. History tells us that a great king of this people has travelled widely to the west, and this might lead to the supposition that European influence accounts for the cosmogony and the occurrence of very un-African patterns in their art. As