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THE Yorubas reckon time by moons and weeks. A moon, or month, is the period of time between one new moon and the next, and, as is the case with all peoples who count by lunar months, the day commences at sunset, that is at the hour at which a new moon would ordinarily be first perceived.

The custom of measuring time by lunar months appears to be common to all uncivilised peoples, the regular recurrence of the moon at fixed intervals of time affording a natural and easy mode of computing its lapse. The measurement of time by weeks, that is, by sub-divisions of the lunar month, seems, in the present state of our knowledge of the modes of measuring time amongst the lower races, to be rather exceptional; but the subject is one that has been much neglected by travellers, and there is but little information from which a conclusion may be drawn.

The Tshi-tribes of the Gold Coast have (as was stated in the first volume of this series) a seven-day week, or, to be more correct, they have divided the lunar month, which is approximately twenty-nine and a-half days long, into four parts, each of seven days and about nine hours. Hence, as before said,[1] each week commences at a different hour of the day, the reason of this arrangement being that twenty-nine and a-half will not divide exactly into halves and quarters. The first day of the first week of the lunar month commences when the new moon is first seen; the first day of the second week commences some nine hours later, and so on.

The Gã-tribes have an exactly similar mode of measuring time, but their names for the days of the week are not the same as those used by the Tshi-tribes. They are-

1st. Dsu.
2nd. Dsu-fo.
3rd. Fso.
4th. So.
5th. So-ha.
6th. Ho.
7th. Ho-gba.

which, it will be seen, seem to consist of three pairs and an odd one, the third day.

The Yoruba week consists of five days, and six of them are supposed to make a lunar month; bnt, as a matter of fact, since the first day of the first week always commences with the appearance of the now moon, the month really contains five weeks of five days' duration, and one of four day-, and a-half, approximately. The Benin-tribes to the cast are said to have a similar method, and the Yoruba-tribes have perhaps borrowed the five-day week from them.

The Tsbi and Gã-tribes thus add a few hours to each seven-day week in order to make four of these periods coincident with a lunar month, and the Yorubatribes deduct about twelve hours from the last five

[1. "Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast" pp. 215, 216.]

day week in order to make six of these periods agree with a lunar month. The reason is obvious. Twenty-nine and a-half will not divide, and the nearest numbers that will are twenty-eight and thirty. The Tshi and Gã-tribes have adopted the former as the integer to be divided, and consequently have had to add some hours, while the Yorubas have adopted the latter and have had to deduct.

We have said that to divide the lunar month into weeks appears to be exceptional among the lower races, but we have some examples. The Ahantas, who inhabit the western portion of the Gold Coast, divide the lunar month into three periods, two of ten days' duration, and the third lasting till the next new moon appears, that is, for about nine days and a-half. The Sofalese of East Africa must have had the same system, for De Faria says that they divided the month into three weeks of ten days each, and that the first day of the first week was the festival of the new moon.[1]

When a people has progressed sufficiently far in astronomical knowledge to have adopted the solar year as a measurement of time, the month, for the reason that an exact number of lunar months will not make up a solar year, becomes a civil period or calendar month, and is arbitrarily fixed at a certain number of days, or some months are made of one length and some of another. When this occurs, and the month is disconnected from the moon and its phases, it seems that the week-which was properly a sub-division of the lunar month, and was no doubt

[1. Astley's Collection, vol. iii., p. 397.]

designed to mark the chief phases of the moon-also becomes a civil period, and is a sub-division of the civil month. The ancient Greeks had a civil month of thirty days, divided into three weeks, each of ten days; and the Javanese, before the seven-day week was adopted from the Mohammedans, had a civil week of five days.[1] The former thus resembled the Ahantas, and the latter the Yorabas, and no doubt when the Greeks and Javanese reckoned time by lunar months instead of by civil, they, like the Ahantas and Yorubas, struck off the superfluous hours from the last sub-division of the month.

The names of the days of the Yoruba week are as follows:--

1. Ako-ojo. First day.

2. Ojo-awo. Day of the Secret (sacred to Ifa).

3. Ojo-Ogun. Ogun's Day.

4. Ojo-Shango. Shango's Day.

5. Ojo-Obatala. Obatala's Day.

Ako-ojo is a Sabbath, or day of general rest. It is considered unlucky, and no business of importance is ever undertaken on it. On this day all the temples are swept out, and water, for the use of the gods, is brought in procession. Each of the other days is a day of rest for the followers of the god to which it is dedicated, and for them only, Ojo-Shango being the Sabbath of the worshippers of the thunder-god, and Ojo-Ogun for those of the god of iron, but Ako-Ojo is a day of rest for all. A holy day is called Ose (se, to disallow), and because each holy day recurs weekly,

[1. Raffles' "History of Java," vol. i. p. 475.]

Ose has come also to mean the week of five days, or the period intervening between two holy days.

There appears to be good reason for supposing that the institution of a general day of rest, not only among the Yorubas, but in most, if not all, other cases, may be referred to moon-worship. The first day of the first week of the lunar month is reckoned from the appearance of the new moon, and was, we think, a moon-festival, or holy day sacred to the moon. This holy day, before the invention of weeks, recurred monthly, but after the lunar month was subdivided, it recurred weekly, and was held on the first day of the week. The Mendis of the hinterland of Sierra Leone, who reckon time bv lunar months, but have not divided the month into weeks, hold a new-moon festival, and abstain from all work on the day of the new moon, alleging that if they infringed this rule corn and rice would grow red, the new moon being a "day of blood." From this we may perhaps infer that it was at one time customary to offer human sacrifices to the new moon. The Bechuanas of South Africa keep the twenty-four hours, from the evening on which the new moon appears till the next evening, as a day of rest, and refrain from going to their gardens.[1] These are examples of monthly moon. Sabbaths observed by peoples who do not reckon by weeks.

The first day of the Tshi week, which in the first week of the lunar month is the day of the new moon, is called Dyo-da (Adjwo-da) "Day of Rest," and is a

[1. Livingstone, "Travels in Sonth Africa," p. 235.]

general day of rest. The other days of the week are, as with the Yorubas, days of rest also, but only for particular persons, and not for the whole community. The second day, Bna-da, is sacred to the sea-gods, and is the fisherman's Sabbath; while the fifth day, Fi-da, is the Sabbath of agriculturists. The first clay of the Gã week, which is also a general day of rest, is called Dsu, "Purification." Dsu seems also to have been used as a title of the moon, for we find silver called dsu-etci, "moon substance," or "moon stone," and in the cognate Ewe and Yoruba languages, the moon is called Dsu-nu and Oshu respectively. Owing to later and more anthropomorphic conceptions of gods moon-worship appears to have died out, though all these peoples salute the now moon respectfully when it is first seen, and a Tshi epithet of the moon is bohsun, "Sacred," or "God." When, however, moon-worship flourished, the moon would undoubtedly have been a general god, worshipped by the community as a whole; and hence the day dedicated to the moon is a general day of rest, and not, like the other days of the week, a day of rest for certain persons only. In the case of the Tshi and Gã tribes, we thus have examples of a weekly moon-Sabbath, observed by peoples who reckon by weeks.

It seems probable that the Jewish Sabbath was also connected primarily with moon-worship, and at first was a monthly festival like that of the Mendis and Bechuanas, but became a weekly festival after the Jews adopted the seven-day week from the Babylonians. In the historical books of the Old Testament, viz., Joshua, Judges, the books of Samuel, and the first book of Kings, there is not only no mention of a weekly Sabbath, which is first spoken of in II. Kings iv. 23, but there is evidence that such an institution was unknown; for the encompassing of Jericho,[1] the events described in I. Samuel xxix. and xxx., and Solomon's fourteen-day feast,[2] would all have violated the injunction, "Let no man go out of his place on the seventh day,"[3] had there been a weekly Sabbath. But while the weekly Sabbath is not mentioned we find a new moon festival spoken of. [4] In all the later works, written after contact with the Babylonians, we find frequent mention of Sabbaths, but nearly always in connection with new moons, and the day of the new moon was itself observed as a day of rest, or Sabbath.[5] That the Jewish Sabbath should come to be called the seventh day, though originally the day of the new moon, and consequently the first day of the limar month, can be readily understood. When a holy day recurs every seventh day, the day on which it is held is naturally called the seventh day. Thus the day of the Yoruba Sabbath, which recurs every fifth day, is called the fifth day of the week, though the meaning of the name ako-ojo is first day.

That, on a day dedicated to a god, no manner of work should be done by the followers of that god, seems to be a custom of universal application. Abstention from work was doubtless considered a mode

[1. Joshua vi. 13-16. t

2. I. Kings viii. 65.

3. Exodus xvi. 29.

4. Samuel xx. 5, 18, 24, 26.

5. Ezekiel xlvi. 1; Amos viii. 5. See also Nehemiah x. 23; Isaiah i. 13; 1xvi, 23; Ezekiel x1v. 17; Hosea ii. 11.]

of showing respect for the god, and Since a want of respect for a god would be commonly believed to be followed by some punishment inflicted by him, the proposition that it is unlucky to do work on a holy day naturally becomes accepted. Thus the Yorubas consider it unlucky for anyone to work on the alo-ojo, or general Sabbath, and for the followers of the gods to whom the other days are dedicated to work on those days. For a follower of a god to violate the day sacred to that god is as serious offence among the Tshi, Gã, Ewe, and Yoruba tribes, as to break the Sabbath was among the Jews; and, as with the Jews, is punished with death, the notion being that if the honour of the god is not vindicated by his followers, they will stiffer for the neglect. The Sabbath-breaker is, in fact, killed by the other worshippers of the god from motives of self -protection. On the Gold Coast any fisherman who dared to put to sea on Bua-da, the fisherman's Sabbath, would inevitably, in the old days, have been put to death. Persons who were not fisherinen, and who consequently were not followers of the gods of the sea, might do as they pleased; for in that spirit of toleration which always accompanies polytheism, they were held to be only accountable to their own gods.

Among the Yoruba tribes markets are held weekly, that is, every fifth day. The day of the market varies in different townships, but it is never held on the alo-oljo. From this custom of holding markets every fifth day has arisen another mode of computing time, namely, by periods of seventeen days, called eta-di-ogun (three less than twenty). This is the outcome of the Esu societies, or subscription clubs, which are general amongst the Yoruba tribes, and still exist, under the same name, among the negroes of Yoruba descent in the Bahamas. The members of an Elsu society meet every fifth market-day and pay their subscriptions, each member in turn taking the whole sum contributed at a meeting. The first and fifth market-days are counted in, and thus the number seventeen is obtained. For instance, supposing the second day of a month to be -a market-day, the second market would fall on the 6th, the third on the 10th, the fourth on the 14th, and the fifth on the 18th. The fifth market-day, on which the members meet and pay their subscriptions, is counted again as the first of the next series. These clubs or societies are so common that the seventeen-day period has become a kind of auxiliary measure of time.

Osan is day, in contradistinction to oru, night. The division of the day and night into hours is not known, but the day is divided into the following periods, viz., kutu-kutu, early morning; owuro, morning, forenoon; gangan, or osan gangan (gangan, upright, perpendicular), noon; iji-she kpale (shadow-lengthening), afternoon; and ashale, or ashewale, evening, twilight. The night is divided into periods of cock-crowing, as akuko-shiwaju (the cock opening the way), first cock-crowing; ada-ji, or ada-jiwa, time of second cock-crowing; and ofere, or ofe, the time of cock-crowing just before sunrise.

Odun means "Year," and, like the word ose, "week," also an annual festival which is celebrated in October, and the period of time intervening between two such festivals. The year is divided into seasons Ewo-erun, dry season; Ewo-oye, season of the Harmattan wind; and Ewo-ajo, rainy season. The last is again divided into ako-ro, first rains, and aro-kuro, last rains, or little rainy season.

Next: Chapter IX: Ceremonies at Birth, Marriage, and Death.