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THE term 'witch-doctor' is often loosely used, as if it were synonymous with 'witch' or 'sorcerer.' This is something like putting the policeman and the detective in the same category as the criminal. There may be witchdoctors who are-scoundrels, as there may be unjust magistrates or corrupt policemen; but, on the whole, the witchdoctor is a force on the side of law and justice, and one does not see how, where a belief in witchcraft is firmly rooted in the minds of the people, he could well be dispensed with. His office is to detect and prevent crime and bring offenders to justice, and his methods are on the whole less barbarous than those of Matthew Hopkins, the witch-finder.

No African would ever confuse these two personages: the 'doctor' is inyanga (mganga, sing'anga), the witch mchawi, or mfiti, or umtagati.

But the Zulu word inyanga, like our 'doctor,' covers a variety of meanings; properly it denotes a person skilled in any art or knowledge: a blacksmith, for instance, is inyanga yensimbi, "a doctor of iron." So the inyanga may be either a diviner or a herbalist, or both at the same time; possibly, also, a seer or prophet.

The Doctor's Training

The diviner and the herbalist learn their business in the ordinary way, being trained by a professional, to whom they act as assistants till duly qualified. The rules of the diviner's art have been carefully studied by M. Junod, and fully described in his book The Life of a South African Tribe.[1] The seer is usually a man of a peculiar, nervous temperament, either known as such from childhood or seeming to

[1. Vol. ii, pp. 493-519. Smith and Dale (The Ila-speaking Peoples, vol. i, pp. 265-272) enumerate nine methods of divination, all different from that of the 'divining-bones' used by the Baronga, Zulus, and others. An interesting point is the statement of a diviner, apparently made in all good faith, that the spirits of his father and mother were contained in his "medicine gourd," and it was they who gave the answers to the questions put.]

develop special powers after a dangerous illness. He has to undergo a severe initiation, spending a great deal of time alone in the wilds. Some say that this condition is brought about through possession by a spirit. The Lambas[1] think there are certain goblins (ifinkuwaila, already mentioned in Chapter XIII) with only half a body who wander about, invisible, in troops, hopping along on their one leg. Sometimes the fancy takes one of them to possess a human being, and then he or she (for they are of both sexes and all ages) hits some passer-by in the face. It is not clear whether the man feels anything at the time, but after reaching his home he is taken ill, and begins to see visions-perhaps a procession of "beings in endless march across the heavens, going westward, arrayed in feather headdresses and carrying their sleeping-mats." [2] He has then to be treated by some person already initiated, and is thenceforward known as a mowa. He can always see the one-legged goblins, which are invisible to other people; he becomes peculiarly skilled in dancing, and acquires the power of composing special songs and singing them. These people are called in to sing and dance at funerals and other ceremonies, and, being paid for their services, make quite a good thing of it.


The prophet is able to see what is happening at a distance, to predict the future, and to receive and deliver messages from spiritual beings, whether the ghosts of ancestors or others. The immense influence wielded by such men has been proved over and over again by such incidents as the "cattle-killing" of 1856, when Umhlakaza, passing on the messages received in trance by his niece (some say his daughter) Nongqauze, prophesied that when the people had slaughtered all their cattle and emptied their grain-bins, so as to leave themselves no store of food,. the old dead chiefs would come back, bringing with them huge herds of splendid beasts, and the white men would leave the country, never to return. The sun would rise blood-red, and

[1. Doke, The Lambas of Northern Rhodesia, p. 251.

2. Ibid., p. 253]

the pits would be miraculously filled to overflowing with food. All this was firmly believed by many people, and the resulting tragedy is only too well known. About twenty-five thousand lives are thought to have been lost in the famine.

Umhlakaza had an official standing as a doctor, and is said to have himself seen visions confirming what his niece had told him. The girl used to sit by a pool, where she saw faces of people and other images in the water-in fact, practised what is known as crystal-gazing, though she seems to have been subject to trances as well.


The trance is a familiar phenomenon among the Bantu tribes. Doctors induce it in themselves, or others, by means known to themselves, probably chewing certain herbs or inhaling the smoke of them when burned. The practitioners of the Wakuluwe [1] prepare a drink known as Lukansi, which gives the drinker "invulnerability, superhuman strength, and the power to know and see things withheld from ordinary people."

But trances also occur spontaneously. The Rev. Donald Fraser [2] heard of a man who had himself seen the abode of the spirits.

He was supposed to have died, and his body was tied up in a mat and prepared for burial, but . . . signs of returning life were seen. On his recovery he told how he had gone by a narrow road until he came to a great village where the people lived without marriage. He had spoken to them, but none would hold conversation with him. They told him to be gone, for he was not wanted there. He tried to tell his story, but no one would listen to him. They beat irons together and tried to drown his words, for he was too uncanny.

This is much the same as the tale of Mpobe and others like it, where people had similar experiences during their waking hours. But these are usually related as legends, not as having happened to people known to the narrators. There

[1. Melland and Cholmeley, Through the Heart Of, Africa, p. 21.

2. Winning a Primitive People, p. 126.]

is a novel touch here in the behaviour of the dead people. As a rule they are more civil, and, instead of silencing their visitor, content themselves with telling him not to talk about them on his return to the upper world.

Probably what happened to the man whose story was told by Antonio Lavadeiro [1] might also be described as a trance. He was either struck by lightning or stunned by a clap of thunder, and remained unconscious for two or three weeks, during which, according to his own account, he was caught up to the sky and very hospitably entertained by Nzambi Mpungu.


This trance state may be caused, according to African ideas, either by the person's spirit leaving his body and travelling off into unknown regions or by 'possession.' A Lamba man or woman may be possessed, as we have seen, by an ichinkuwaila goblin, but also by the ghosts of deceased human beings. There is quite an influential order of .people in this tribe who are possessed by spirits of Lenje chiefs, never by chiefs of their own tribe. The first sign of possession is a serious illness, for which no remedy seems to avail, and which brings on a state in which he "begins to speak in a weird way, using the most extravagant language, telling of wonderful things he says he has seen." [2]

It is the possessing spirits who enable such persons to prophesy. Sometimes their prophecies are said to have been fulfilled, as, for instance, that of those who told the people, long, long ago, "You will all drink out of one well," meaning that tribal differences would be disregarded, which was held to have come true when white men came into the country and put a stop to inter-tribal warfare.

Possibly some of these people are clairvoyants; others may have built up a reputation by means of some lucky guesses; but many, in Lambaland, at any rate, would appear to be unscrupulous impostors, who travel from place

[1. See ante, P. 228.

2. Doke, The Lambas ofNorthern Rhodesia, pp. 258-267.]

to place and charge substantial fees for their services. They deliver oracles from deceased chiefs, whose 'mediums' they are; they profess to bring rain in time of drought and to keep the birds from the crops; they practise incantations warranted to ensure luck in hunting and administer medicine to childless couples. Dr Doke knew a lazy ne'er-do-well who made quite a comfortable living in this way.

These wamukamwami are readily distinguished by their appearance; they never cut their hair, but wear it plaited in long tails, smeared with oil and red ochre and (in former times, at any rate) adorned with the white shell-disks which are the insignia of chieftainship. The 'ecstatic' seer of the Zulus seems always to, have a more or less unkempt appearance-which is only in character-but I do not know that he adopts any distinctive fashion. The getup of the witch-doctor proper is a different matter; of course, it varies locally, but an essential part of it is usually the tail of a zebra fitted into a handle and waved about in performing exorcisms or other operations. Bishop Peel of Mombasa used to carry a fly-whisk of this kind when on tour, and it was a favourite joke with his carriers to declare that he was a mganga.

The Lamba doctors proper, awalaye, are herbalists and diviners, and provide charms of all sorts, for protecting the crops and for other purposes. Charms of this kind are also supplied by the wamukamwami, a fact which illustrates the overlapping of functions already referred to.

Predictions fulfilled

More than one prophet is said to have foretold the coming of the Europeans-among others one Mulenga in Ilala (Northern Rhodesia). He said, "There will arrive people white and shining, their bodies like those of locusts!" Whether this description was recognized as fitting the first white explorers when they made their appearance does not seem to have been recorded. Ilala is the scene of Living stone's last journey and death, but the prediction was probably made after his time, Mulenga also foretold the cattle plague of the early nineties and the locust invasion of 1894.

Podile, a chief of the Bapedi "in old times" (but unfortunately there is no clue to his date: 'old times' might mean in the time of the speaker's grandfather), prophesied the coming of the Boers by saying that "red ants will come and destroy the land and another wise man, about the same time, said, I see red ants coming. They have baskets on their heads [hats]. Their feet are those of zebras [the impression produced by boots]. Their sticks give out fire [guns]. They travel with houses; the oxen walk in front. Receive them kindly." This was supposed to be fulfilled when Trichard's party arrived in 1837.[1] If the prediction was really made at the time stated it may be a genuine case of what is known in the Scottish Highlands as 'second sight.'


A famous seer in Mashonaland was Chaminuka, of Chitungwiza, in the Hartley district. He is called a 'wizard' by Mr Posselt, [2] but he seems really to have been a man of high character and unusual, perhaps abnormal, gifts. Lobengula used frequently to consult him, and for many years treated him with great consideration. He had remarkable power over animals, not necessarily of an occult nature: he kept tame pythons and other snakes; antelopes gambolled fearlessly about his hut, and his celebrated bull, Minduzapasi, would lie down and rise up, march and halt, at the word of command. He was believed to be the medium of the spirit called Chaminuka; his real name was Tsuro. He was credited with the power to bring rain and to control the movements of game; Frederick Courteney Selous, when hunting in that part of the country, was told by his followers that they would never succeed in killing an elephant unless they first asked Chaminuka's permission. When this was done he gave the messenger a reed which was supposed "to bring the elephants back on their tracks

[1. Hoffmann, Afrikanischer Grossvater, p. 285.

2. Nada (1926), p. 85.]

by first pointing the way they had gone and then drawing it towards him."[1]

In 1883 a man who believed Chaminuka to have been responsible for the death of his wife went to Lobengula with a false accusation of witchcraft against him. The king may or may not have believed this, but in any case he resolved on Chaminuka's destruction. He sent him a message, inviting him to Bulawayo on a friendly visit, but the old man was not deceived. He said, "I go to the Madzwiti [the Amandebele], but I shall not return; but, mark you, some eight years hence, behold I the stranger will enter, and he will build himself white houses."

The prophecy was fulfilled before the eight years were out, for the Chartered Company's pioneer expedition entered Mashonaland in 1890.

He set out, accompanied by his wife and two of his sons, and met Lobengula's war-party near the Shangani river. Most of the warriors kept out of sight; only a few headmen came to meet him. His wife, Bavea, who had been a captive of the Amandebele (she was sent to Chaminuka by Lobengula), said, "They are going to kill you! I know the Amandebele; I see blood in their eyes! Run! Run!" He refused, saying he was too old to run. "If his day has come Chaminuka does not fear to die; but bid my son, who is young and swift of foot, creep away in the bushes while there is yet time and carry the news to my people."

The little party were soon surrounded and all killed, except Chaminuka himself, Bavea, and his other son, Kwari, who was wounded in the leg, but got away. The old chief sat on a rock, calmly playing on his mbira.[2] His assailants tried to stab him with their spears, but could not even wound him. Some of them had rifles and fired at him, but the bullets fell round him like hailstones, without touching

[1. A Hunter's Wanderings, p.331.

2. An elementary kind of piano, with a set of wooden or iron keys fixed over gourd resonators on a semicircular hoop, which the player carries suspended round his neck by a strap.]

him. At last he told them that he could be killed only by an innocent young boy, and such a one, being fetched, dispatched him unresisting. The impi, having cut up his body in order to get the liver and heart, which were held to be powerful 'medicines,' went on to Chitungwiza, in order to exterminate Chaminuka's whole clan, as Lobengula had commanded. But Bute, the son who had been sent away, was fleet of foot, and reached the village in time, and when the warriors arrived they found only empty huts and such stores and cattle as the people had been unable to take with them. Bavea was taken back to Bulawayo, but escaped, and in 1887 told the story to Selous,[1] who saw her in Lomagundi's country (North Mashonaland).

The Rev. Arthur Shearly Cripps, who had abundant opportunities of hearing the stories about Chaminuka on the spot, has woven them into what might be called a beautiful prose poem, treating his material very freely, but never, one feels, departing from the spirit underlying the cruder native tradition. This, of course, has not been drawn upon here.

Mohlomi of the Basuto

I cannot pass on without a reference to another seer, Mohlomi, whom the Rev. E. W. Smith has called " the greatest figure in Basuto history." He died in 1815, long enough ago for legends to have gathered about his name, as, in fact, they have done, but not sufficiently so to have obscured the real facts to any great extent. Though in the royal line and called to be chief through the incapacity of his elder brother, he cared nothing for power, and much preferred to travel about in quest of knowledge, more particularly knowledge of medicinal herbs. He was renowned both as a physician and a rain-maker. There is no reason to suppose him an impostor in the latter capacity; he evidently believed in his powers, and his belief must

[1. Travel and Adventure in South-east Africa, p. 113. The account in the text is taken partly from this book and partly from Mr Posselt's article. Selous does not mention Kwari or the only way in which Chaminuka (whom he calls Chameluga) could be killed.

2 Chaminuka.]

have been confirmed by the cases in which, if tradition is to be believed, he was (possibly owing to some fortunate coincidence) successful. His prophetic career began at an early age, when) in the course of his puberty initiation ceremonies,[1] he felt himself, in a dream or trance, carried up to the sky, and heard a voice saying, "Go, rule by love and look on thy people as men and brothers." He had a strong influence over Moshesh, who, like other chiefs, frequently came to him for advice and, unlike them, often followed it. The mythical element in his story comes out in the assertion that he was "able to transport himself from one place to another in a supernatural way." In his last illness he prophesied a famine and a cattle plague; and when dying, on coming out of a kind of trance, he said, "After my death a cloud of red dust will come out of the east and consume our tribes. The father will eat his children." This has been taken to refer to the series of wars and migrations which began shortly afterwards and continued till the middle of the nineteenth century.

Only One Way of Death

It will have been noticed that, as in the cases of Liongo, Chikumbu and Chibisa, there was only one way in which Chaminuka could be killed. The usual account given of this is that the person in question had charms against every possible weapon, or other cause of death, but one, which, of course, had to be kept secret.

At Kolelo, in Nguu, Tanganyika Territory, there is a cave haunted (almost within living memory, if not still) by the spirit of a great mganga who in his lifetime was a chief in Ukami. In time of drought the headmen of the Wadoe and neighbouring tribes would come there to pray for rain. When they greeted him on their arrival they would hear a rushing sound, like that of an approaching rainstorm. Then, in some cases, a voice would be heard, saying, "There is an evil man among you," and would go on to describe one member of the party by his clothes. If such

[1. Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p. 90.]

a one was indeed present he was at once driven away. Then they put up their prayer, and if they heard the rushing sound a second time they knew that their request was granted, and went away happy. If there was silence in the cave, it was a sign that the spirit was angry, and they had to "go back in the sun," instead of being refreshed by a shower even before they had reached their homes.

This rain-doctor-his name has not been recorded-was reckoned invulnerable during his lifetime; none of his enemies could succeed even in wounding him, with arrow, sword, or 'gunshot. But unfortunately he happened to quarrel with his wife when a raiding-party was close at hand, and she got into communication with the raiders and, like Delilah, though not for the same reason, betrayed her husband's secret. His tabu (mwiko or mzio in Swahili) was to be struck with the stalk of a pumpkin: if this was done he would die immediately.

The enemies at once procured a pumpkin-stalk, and threw it so as to hit him. It did, in fact, kill him, but the manner of his death was not seen, for a mighty wind arose and carried him off to the cave of Kolelo, "where he is to this day," and no one could tell whither he went. After some days his clothes and weapons were found in the cave, but he was never seen again.

The woods near this cave are uncanny: drums are occasionally heard there, though no drummers are to be seen, also the trilling cry made by women at weddings. Sometimes the traveller comes on an open space among the trees, where the ground is clean white sand, smooth as if just swept for a dance: this is where the ghosts hold their revels.

Kolelo and the Majimaji Rising

The name Kolelo attained a certain publicity about 1905, but not in connexion with the haunted cave in Nguu. This Kolelo was a huge serpent, living in a cave in the mountains of Uluguru.[1] The Zaramo people tell how, once upon a time, two women went into the forest to dig up roots.

[1. Klamroth, in Zeitschrift für Kolonialsprachen, p. 139.]

Suddenly they heard a rumbling underground, but could see nothing to cause it. One woman ran back to the village; the other, known as Mlamlali,[1] stayed. Presently a great snake appeared, took the woman into its cave, and said, "The High God has sent me. I am to take you to wife so that you can carry my message to mankind. And you of the Mlali clan shall be my people and serve me for ever in this cave. I have two companions, and we are commissioned to restore everything which has been spoiled or ruined on earth."

Mlamlali was long sought for by her friends, but no trace of her was found, till suddenly she came home wearing beautiful ornaments and none the worse for her experience.

The message she brought was mainly concerned with directions for cultivation; but in 1905 occurred the rising (known as the "Majimaji Rebellion" [2]) with which Kolelo's name is chiefly associated. Two prophets appeared, who foretold that the sun and moon would rise in the west and set in the east, and other wonders would be seen. They forbade the people to pay taxes to the Government, and won over the adherence of a certain chief by showing him, as he was persuaded to believe, his deceased father in the flesh. It appears that they were able to produce a person with a striking resemblance to the dead man. The tribesmen were to arm themselves with millet-stalks, which would turn to rifles in their hands; they would be supplied with a certain medicine which would have the effect of turning the enemy's bullets to water (maji in Swahili). The failure of the rising did not put an end to the Kolelo cult; but his oracles from thenceforth seem only to have concerned themselves with agricultural matters. For instance, his

[1. Women's names are that of their clan, with the prefix Mla.

2 The rising was known as the "Majimaji Rebellion" on account of the belief in a certain sacred water, stated to have been obtained from the Sudan through Uganda, which was said to confer invulnerability in battle and to protect the user against every sort of evil. An account of the whole movement and of the secret society which is supposed to have originated it was contributed by Mr J. H. Driberg to the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. lxi, under the title "Yakañ."]

medium, Kiganga, forbade people to eat the leaves of the manioc plant (elsewhere a popular vegetable), perhaps because it is of comparatively recent introduction into Uzaramo. All Wazaramo know the name of Kiganga, but no one professes to have seen her. Two men, however, have met Mlamlali, who acts as caretaker to Kolelo's cave, and would not allow them to enter it. Another medium in residence at the cave is Mhangalugome, who interprets Kolelo's oracles, given in the same way as those of the Nguu spirit, by a rushing noise in the depth of the cavern, perhaps caused by an underground river. It is true that it appears to be intermittent, but this might be accounted for by varying currents of air.

Witches and 'Voodoo'

As to the activities of the witch proper, which it is the business of the mganga to check, very strange things are related. Some level-headed missionaries have witnessed occurrences which they could attribute only to unseen agencies. Bishop Weston, at Weti, in the island of Pemba) saw and felt lumps of clay thrown by invisible hands, one falling through the iron roof of the hut in which he stood, another thrown upward from outside. Pemba is a well known centre of witchcraft; anyone curious about such matters can find a detailed account of the witch-guilds and their horrible sacrifices in Captain Craster's book Pemba, the Spice Island of Zanzibar.

The doings of the wachawi (or wanga) there related are not unlike those we hear of in the island of Hayti-and we may be sure they lose nothing in the hands of romancers under the names of Obeah and Voodoo (or Vaudoux). The subject hardly comes within the scope of this book, but one thing may be pointed out: it is too commonly assumed that these doings are typical of African mentality in general, and constitute an essential part of African religion. But it is a very suggestive fact that the Pemba witch-guilds and those described by Dr Nassau in West Africa are recruited from the slaves, and the same is obviously the case in the West Indies. It should be remembered that many, if not most, of these people had been sold into slavery for their crimes, perhaps for this very crime of witchcraft. Dr Nassau says, in fact, that the Benga and neighbouring tribes credited the slaves as a body with addiction to unlawful arts, and if a free man died

suspicion almost always located itself on the slave community, for the reason that it was known that slaves did practise the Black Art, and partly because it was safer to make an accusation against a defenceless slave than against a free man. It resulted, therefore, that, just because they were defenceless, the slaves actually did practise arts in their supposed self-defence that gave justification for the charge that they were witches and wizards.[1]

I have been assured, quite seriously, by more than one person in the coastal region of Kenya Colony, that certain sorcerers, whom they called wanga,[2] were in the habit of coming to your door in the night and calling the occupant of the house. If you came out and followed them into the forest it was implied, rather than stated, that it was all up with you. It also seemed to be implied that once the intended victim had answered the call he had no choice but to go and, presumably, be killed and eaten.

The Resuscitated Corpse

Another belief, held strongly in practically every part of Africa, is that witches hold their revels at the graves of those recently dead, digging up and reanimating the corpse, and then killing it again, eating the flesh, and taking some of the parts as ingredients of the most powerful charms.

But this is not their only reason for resuscitating corpses. There is a strange and horrible superstition, widely distributed, with considerable local variations, to the effect that it is done in order to obtain a familiar, who can be sent about

[1. In an Elephant Corral, p. 155. The Benga live near Corisco Bay, in Spanish Guinea.

2. It is not clear what is the exact difference between wanga and wachawi. W.E. Taylor derived the former word from anga, 'to float in the air,' and seems to have believed seriously that these persons have the power of 'levitation.' But probably the word comes from the same root as mganga and (Lamba) ubw-anga, 'charm.']

on the warlock's evil errands. The Zulus call such a creature umkovu; it is supposed to be like a child in stature and to be unable to speak except in an "inarticulate, confused" sort of way, expressed by the word ukutshwatshwaza. This is because the owner has cut off the tip of its tongue, to prevent its betraying his secrets; he also, for what purpose is not stated, runs a red-hot needle up the forehead. It is employed, among other things, to place poison, or what is believed to have the same effect, in the kraals, and also acts the part of the Irish banshee, as a death is believed to occur when it has been seen in a kraal, and should anyone happen to be ill at the time the relatives would give up all hope of his recovery.[1] Another account says that they can make the grass trip up a belated traveller by twining round his legs, and (a touch recalling the wanga I was warned against at Jomvu) if anyone is foolish enough to answer when they call his name they cut his throat and, in some way, force him to become one of them.

The Yaos, and probably some other tribes, are terrorized by a thing called a ndondocha, of like origin with the umkovu, but in some ways very different. According to information kindly supplied by Dr Meredith Sanderson, on the day of burial, or within three days from that date, a wizard goes to the grave at night armed with a 'tail' or a horn containing 'medicine'; with this he strikes the grave, uttering the words, "Arise; your mother summons you!" The earth in the grave heaves and 'boils,' and the corpse emerges without any visible passage having been made. The wizard then carries it on his back to a cave, or to his house, where he keeps it in the verandah-room (a compartment partitioned off under the broad eaves of the hut). Here other medicines are used, and the legs are amputated at the knee-joint. The corpse is now in a state of semi-animation; it is fed by the owner, but cannot move without his orders. If it is not fed it cries unceasingly; its cry is like the mewing of a cat. It cannot speak. It creeps along

[1. Bryant, Zulu-English Dictionary, p. 322. See also Colenso, Zulu-English Dictionary, p. 282.]

the ground, propelling itself by means of the stumps of its legs and on its hands. The possession of a ndondocha gives supernatural power to its owner. It is usually employed for killing his enemies, and when people hear its cry they say, "It is ominous; the banshee has wailed," meaning that by morning somebody will have died. Should the owner die the 'familiar' will rot away for want of the necessary medicines to keep it alive.

The Tuyewera

Even queerer and more uncanny are the tuyewera of the Kaonde country, in Northern Rhodesia.[1] These are imps, having the figure of human beings, about three feet high though the Lambas say they are like a kind of wild cat-and are made, for a consideration, by sorcerers, not professedly in order to kill people, but to get wealth for the purchaser. They do this by (invisibly) stealing the food of his neighbours and adding it to his store. After a while they tell him that they are lonely and want company, and if he does not name some one for them to kill they will kill him. He names a person, whom they kill by sucking his breath when he is asleep; he then becomes one of them. The owner has to keep on supplying them with victims, and at last is himself killed, either by them or by his neighbours on discovering that he possesses tuyewera.

The Lambas occasionally procure these imps from the Kaonde practitioners, but for the purpose of counteracting witchcraft rather than of increasing their possessions. A man will come and tell the maker that he has lost. a number of his relatives in suspicious circumstances, and wants some powerful ubwanga to put a stop to this. He is supplied with a pair, takes them home, and makes a sleeping-place for them in the bush, not far from his hut. The witches are soon got rid of, but the tuyewera are by no means satisfied. The man has to name one friend or kinsman after another, and at last his wife. When he really has no one left to give them he

[1. Melland, In Witch-bound Africa, p. 204, and Doke, The Lambas of Northern Rhodesia, p. 315]

picks them up and carries them back to the maker, saying, "Here are your little things. The people are all finished." But so long as one of his kin remains they will not go."

The Baila call these creatures by a slightly different name, tuyobela,[2] and say they are the ghosts of men and women who have been killed by witches. These are said to raise up the dead person "as an evil spirit"; but from the accounts given it is not clear how this process differs from that of restoring the corpse to life, since the tuyobela are solidly material enough to bite people. Mr Smith's friend Mungolo had seen them, and at first took them for children, as they were only eighteen inches high, but "on looking again he saw that they had the bodies of full-grown men," and their faces were turned round the wrong way. Their activities are much the same as those already described: "they are sent out to steal, to make people sick, and to kill."

A West African Parallel

The Mayombe, in French Congo, have a belief in some gruesome beings which recall the above descriptions: they are small in stature, have legs cut off at the knee, high shoulders, and one remarkably long finger-nail; their skin is jet-black, and their hair long and tangled. They are called nkuyu unana. But, instead of being fabricated by sorcerers for their own evil purposes, they are the ghosts of witches who rise from the grave of their own accord. They wander about burial-grounds and deserted villages, approach people's houses by night in order to steal chickens; they frighten children, and occasionally attack grown persons. They speak through the nose, and may be heard moaning and complaining of the cold. Sometimes they play tricks on people by imitating children's voices. If a man should succeed in shooting one of these creatures he ought to burn the body-presumably to prevent its rising again. If he misses he

[1. Doke, The Lambas of Northern Rhodesia, p. 315.

2. Smith and Dale, The Ila-speaking Peoples, vol. ii, p. 132. The name is derived from kuyobela, 'to twitter,' because they chirp and twitter like birds. Perhaps the word used in Kaonde is a corruption of this, as I cannot find an etymology for it in that language.]

should pour poison into the hole by which it has been in the habit of leaving and re-entering the grave.'

After these the more ordinary witches' familiars and messengers, such as baboons, hyenas, leopards, wild-cats, owls, seem quite commonplace.

Spells or Curses

The Swahili and some of the neighbouring coast tribes have, as might be expected, modified their beliefs to some extent under Moslem influence. The spirits of the dead are sometimes called wazuka, but more often spoken of by the Arabic names jini and shetani, and though the mganga is still, if I mistake not, a power in the land, the charms he supplies are apt to be slips of paper with a verse of the Koran written on them, or a magic square bearing the names of the four angels (Michael, Gabriel, Azrael, Israfil), with other words of power. Women and children might often have been seen twenty years ago wearing the "amulet of seven knots," a cord of black wool over which the wise man, as he tied each knot, had repeated the Sura Ya Sin (the thirty-sixth chapter of the Koran).

One way of injuring an enemy is to get a duly qualified person to "read Hal Badiri" against him-that is, to intone the incantations contained in an originally harmless book of prayers offered in the names of those who fought at the battle of Badr (the Ahl Badri in correct Arabic). Again, the spiteful or vindictive person may go to the grave of a well-known saint (such as the site known as Pa Shehe Jundani at Mombasa) and leave an offering there, burning a little incense while uttering his or her desire. Not that all prayers put up at Shehe Jundani's tomb are necessarily malignant; no doubt there are many artless petitions akin in spirit to those one has seen pencilled on the walls of Saint Étienne-du-Mont, in Paris-for children, for success in love, possibly (since the "march of progress" has not left Mombasa untouched) for success in examinations. These, of course, could hardly be classed as magic-black or white.

[1. Bittremieux, Idioticon, vol. ii, p. 510.]

Next: Chapter XVII: Brer Rabbit in Africa