Travels in the Interior of Africa — Volume 02 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 166 pages of information about Travels in the Interior of Africa — Volume 02.
feasts of this kind, and the ceremony was the same in each, whether the child belonged to a bushreen or a kafir.  The schoolmaster, who officiated as priest on those occasions, and who is necessarily a bushreen, first said a long prayer over the dega, during which every person present took hold of the brim of the calabash with his right hand.  After this the schoolmaster took the child in his arms and said a second prayer, in which he repeatedly solicited the blessing of God upon the child and upon all the company.  When this prayer was ended he whispered a few sentences in the child’s ear and spat three times in its face, after which he pronounced its name aloud, and returned the infant to the mother. {4} This part of the ceremony being ended, the father of the child divided the dega into a number of balls, one of which he distributed to every person present; and inquiry was then made if any person in the town was dangerously sick, it being usual in such cases to send the party a large portion of the dega, which is thought to possess great medical virtues.

Among the negroes every individual, besides his own proper name, has likewise a kontong, or surname, to denote the family or clan to which he belongs.  Some of these families are very numerous and powerful.  It is impossible to enumerate the various kontongs which are found in different parts of the country, though the knowledge of many of them is of great service to the traveller; for as every negro plumes himself upon the importance or the antiquity of his clan, he is much flattered when he is addressed by his kontong.

Salutations among the negroes to each other when they meet are always observed, but those in most general use among the kafirs are, “Abbe haeretto,” “’E ning seni,” “Anawari,” etc., all of which have nearly the same meaning, and signify “Are you well?” or to that effect.  There are likewise salutations which are used at different times of the day, as “E ning somo” ("Good morning"), etc.  The general answer to all salutations is to repeat the kontong of the person who salutes, or else to repeat the salutation itself, first pronouncing the word marhaba ("My friend").


The Mandingoes and, I believe, the negroes in general, have no artificial method of dividing time.  They calculate the years by the number of rainy seasons.  They portion the year into moons, and reckon the days by so many suns.  The day they divide into morning, midday, and evening; and farther subdivide it, when necessary, by pointing to the sun’s place in the heavens.  I frequently inquired of some of them what became of the sun during the night, and whether we should see the same sun, or a different one, in the morning; but I found that they considered the question as very childish.  The subject appeared to them as placed beyond the reach of human investigation—­they

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Travels in the Interior of Africa — Volume 02 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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