The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The Mafulu.

A young unmarried man, who has arrived at the marriageable age, must not eat in the presence of women.  He can eat in the bush, or inside the emone, but he must not eat on the platform of the emone, where women might see him.  There appear to be no other customs of mutual avoidance, as, for example, that between son-in-law and mother-in-law, and with reference to other marriage relationships, such as are found in some of the Solomon Islands, and among various other primitive races.

Children and unimportant adults must always pass behind a chief, not in front of him, and when a chief is speaking, everyone else, old and young, must be silent.

Young men and girls associate and talk freely together in public among other people, but no young man would go about alone with a girl, unless he was misconducting himself with her, or wished to do so.

Visiting is purely friendly and social, and there is no personal system of formal and ceremonial visiting, except as between communities or villages.

There do not appear to be any forms of physical salutation, but there are recognised ways in which men address one another on meeting and parting.  If A and B meet in the bush, A may say to B, “Where do you come from?”, and B will answer, “I come from——.”  A may then say, “Where are you going to?”, and B will reply to this.  Then B may put similar questions to A, and will be similarly answered.  These questions are not necessarily asked because the questioner is really anxious for information, but are in the nature of a formality,—­the equivalent of our “How do you do?” The system of asking and answering these questions, though well recognised as a social form, is not in practice strictly adhered to.  Also A, on coming to a village and finding B there, and wishing to salute him, will call him by name, and B will then call A by name.  Then A will say, “You are here,” and B will reply, “I am here.”  This form is more strictly carried out than is the other one.  Then when A leaves he will say to B, “I am going,” and B will answer, “Go.”  Then B will call A by his name, and A will call B by name, and the formality is finished.  If A, being very friendly with B, comes to his village to see him, on A’s departure B, and probably B’s family, will accompany A out of the village, and will stand watching his departure until he is about to disappear round the corner of the path; and then they will call out his name, and he will respond by calling out B’s name.

Gestures may perhaps be included under this heading, though there is apparently but little to be said about the matter.  When a question is asked, an affirmative reply is indicated by nodding the head, and a negative one by shaking it; and, though I asked if this was not probably the result of association with people who had been among white men, I was told that it was not so.  A negative answer is also often expressed by shrugging the shoulders, and a kind of grimace with the lips.  The nodding of the head to a negative question, such as “Are you not well?” signifies assent to the negative, that is, that he is not well, and so vice-versa with the shaking of the head.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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