The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Mafulu.

CHAPTER V

Community, Clan, and Village Systems and Chieftainship

Communities, Clans, and Villages.

The native populations of the Mafulu area are scattered about in small groups or clusters of villages or hamlets; and, as each cluster of villages is for many purposes a composite and connected whole, I propose to call such a cluster a “community.”  Friendships, based on proximity and frequent intercourse and intermarriage, doubtless arise between neighbouring communities, but otherwise there does not appear to be any idea in the minds of the people of any general relationship or common interest between these various communities of the area.  Each community regards the members of every other community within the area as outsiders, just as much so as are, say, the Ambo people to the north and the Kuni people to the west.  If a community, or group of communities together, were the subject of an attack from either Ambo or Kuni natives, each of these being people whose language is different—­as regards the Kuni utterly different—­from that of the Mafulu, there would apparently be no thought of other Mafulu-speaking communities, as such, coming to assist in repelling the attack.  Hence in dealing with the question of inter-village relationship, I have to fix my mind mainly upon the community and its constituent parts.

Concerning the situation as between one community and another, as they regard themselves as quite distinct and unrelated, the only question which seems to arise is that of the ownership of, and rights over, the intervening bush and other land.  The boundaries between what is regarded as the preserve of one community, within which its members may hunt and fish, clear for garden purposes, cut timber, and collect fruit, and that of an adjoining community are perfectly well known.  The longitudinal boundaries along the valleys are almost always the rivers and streams, which form good boundary marks; but those across the hills and ridges from stream to stream are, I was told, equally defined in the minds of the natives, though no artificial boundary marks are visible.  These boundaries are mutually respected, and trouble and fighting over boundary and trespass questions are, I was told, practically unknown, the people in this respect differing from those of Mekeo.

A community comprises several villages, the number of which may vary from, say, two to eight.  But the relationship between all the villages is not identical.  There is a clan system, and there is generally more than one clan in a community.  Often there are three or more of such clans.  Each clan, however, has its own villages, or sometimes one village only, within the community, and two clans are never found represented in any one village, [56] or any one clan spread over two or more communities.

Fig. 3 is a diagrammatic illustration of a typical Mafulu community, the circles representing villages of one clan, the squares those of another clan, and the triangle being the sole village of a third clan.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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