The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The Mafulu.
to the loss.  He will, however, claim from the wife’s people the price which he paid for her on his marriage.  This is sometimes paid, but not always; and, as the wife almost always belongs to another clan, and generally to another community, the refusal to pay this claim is one of the frequent causes of fighting, the members of the husband’s clan, and often the whole community, joining him in a punitive expedition.

When a man dies, or at all events after the removal by the widow of her mourning, she goes back to her own people, generally taking with her any of their young children who are then living in the house.  There is no devolution of the wife to the husband’s brother, or anything of that nature.  Nor, in case of the death of the wife, does the husband marry her sister.

Speaking of the people generally, it may certainly be said that sexual morality among men, women, boys and girls is very low; and there is no punishment for immorality, except as above stated.


Killing, Cannibalism, and Warfare


Individual killing in personal quarrel, as distinguished from slaying in warfare, is exceedingly rare, except in cases of revenge upon adulterers.  In these cases, however, it is regarded as the appropriate punishment; and even the family of the adulterer would hardly retaliate, if satisfied as to his guilt.  There is no system of head-hunting, or of killing victims in connection with any ceremonies, or of burying alive, [80] or of killing old and sick people, though the ceremonial blow on the head of a reputed dying man must sometimes be premature.

Abortion and infanticide, however, are exceedingly common, the more usual practice being that of procuring abortion.  Although sexual immorality so largely exists, and young unmarried women and girls are known to indulge in it so freely, and it is not seriously reprobated, it is regarded as a disgrace for one to give birth to a child; and if she gets into trouble she will procure abortion or kill the child.  The same thing is also common among married women, on the ground that they do not wish to have more children.  There is another cause for this among married women, which is peculiar.  A woman must not give birth to a child until she has given a pig to a village feast; and if she does so it will be a matter of reproach to her.  If, therefore, she finds herself about to have a child, and there is no festal opportunity for her to give a pig, or if, though there be a feast, she cannot afford to give a pig, she will probably procure abortion or kill the child when born.  I was told by Father Chabot, the Father Superior of the Mission, that among the neighbouring Kuni people a woman would kill her child for extraordinary reasons; and he furnished an example of this in a woman who killed her child so that she might use her milk for suckling a young pig, which was regarded as being more important.  Whether such a thing would occur in Mafulu appears to be doubtful; but it is quite possible, more especially as the Mafulu women do, in fact, suckle pigs.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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