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