I have said that the entire community is for many purposes a composite whole. In many matters they act together as a community. This is especially so as regards the big feast, which I shall describe hereafter. It is so also to a large extent in some other ceremonies and in the organisation of hunting and fishing parties and sometimes in fighting. And the community as a whole has its boundaries, within which are the general community rights of hunting, fishing, etc., as above stated.
But the relationship between a group of villages of any one clan within the community is of a much closer and more intimate character than is that of the community as a whole. These villages of one clan have a common amidi or chief, a common emone or clubhouse, and a practice of mutual support and help in fighting for redress of injury to one or more of the individual members; and there is a special social relationship between their members, and in particular clan exogamy prevails with them, marriages between people of the same clan, even though in different villages, being reprobated almost as much as are marriages between people of the same village.
The Mafulu word for village is emi, but there are no words signifying the idea of a community of villages and that of a group of villages belonging to the same clan within that community. As regards the latter there is the word imbele, but this word is used to express the intimate social relationship existing between the members of a clan, and not to express the idea of an actual group of villages. Communities and villages have geographical names. The name adopted for a community will probably be the name of some adjoining river or ridge. That adopted for a village will probably be the name of the exact crest or spot on which it is placed, the minuteness of the geographical nomenclature here being remarkable. Clan-groups of villages, forming part of a community, have, as such, no geographical names, but a member of one such group will distinguish himself from those of another group by saying that he is a man of——, giving the name of the chief of the clan occupying the group.
I was assured that, when there are two or more villages of a clan with a common chief and emone, they have originally been one village which has split up, an event which undoubtedly does in fact take place; while on the other hand the several villages of a clan, presumably the outcome of a previous splitting-up of a single village, will sometimes amalgamate together into one village, which thus becomes the only village of the clan. But two villages of different clans could never amalgamate in this way. The following are examples of these village changes:—
Near to the Mafulu Mission station is a community called Sivu, which includes seven villages occupied by three clans, as follows :—