WORSHIP is an eminent part of every form of religion, but it is not essential to it. True, most religions have some form of worship. But a belief would still be a religion, even if it were so insignificant or so degraded or so indifferent as not to care to express itself in rites or ceremonies.
Fetichism, whose claim to a right to be reckoned as a religion some have been disposed to dispute, expresses itself by most of the visible and audible means used in the cults of other forms of religion.
The motives also that prompt to the performance of religious rites are not to enter into the question whether the beliefs associated with them are worthy to be dignified by the name "religion." Motives may vary widely, e.g., love in an evangelical Christian, pride in a Pharisee, sensual lust in a follower of Islam and in a Mormon, and fear in the fetich worshipper. Those motives, mixed perhaps with other considerations, are the dominant factor in the government of the religious life of each.
We have already seen in the previous chapter that the religious thought of the believer in fetichism does not concern his soul or its future. The evils he would escape are not moral or spiritual. The sense of a great need that makes him look for help outside of himself is not based on a desire to obey God's will, but on his and some spirit's co-relation to the great needs of this mortal life.
The salvation sought being a purely physical one, tho thoughts that direct the use of means to that end are limited to physical needs, and largely to physical agencies. But not entirely: for one of these agencies, as already mentioned in the previous chapter, is prayer; other agencies are sacrificial offerings, and the use of amulet charms, or talismans, known as fetiches.
1. Fetich Worship as performed by Sacrifice and other Offerings. Sacrifice is an element in all real worship, if by sacrifice, in the widest sense, may be understood the devoting of any object from a common to a sacred use, and this irrespective of the actual value of the gift (as is the case also with Chinese paper imitation money scattered around the grave, in Chinese funerals). The intention of the giver ennobles it; the spirit being supposed in some vague way to be gratified by the respectful recognition of itself, and even to be pleased sometimes by the gift itself.
(1) Thus the stones heaped by passers-by at the base of some great tree or rock, the leaf cast from the passing canoe toward a point of land on the river, though intrinsically valueless, and useless to the ombwiri of the spot, are accepted as acknowledgments of that ombwiri's presence.
"All day we kept passing trees or rocks on which were placed little heaps of stones or bits of wood; in passing these, each of my men added a new stone or bit of wood, or even a tuft of grass. This is a tribute to the spirits, the general precaution to insure a safe return. These people have a vague sort of Supreme Being called Lesa, who has good and evil passions; but here (Plateau of Lake Tanganyika), as everywhere else, the Musimo, or spirits of the ancestors, are a leading feature in the beliefs. They are propitiated, as elsewhere, by placing little heaps of stones about their favorite haunts. At certain periods of the year the people make pilgrimages to the mountain of Fwambo-Liamba, on the sununit of which is a sort of small altar of stones. There they deposit bits of wood, to which are attached scraps of calico, flowers, or beads; this is to propitiate Lesa.
"After harvest, for instance, they make such an offering. So when a girl becomes marriageable, she takes food with her, and goes up to the mountain for several days. When she returns, the other women lead her in procession through the villages, waving long tufts of grass and palms." 
(2) Other gifts are supposed to be actually utilized by the spirit in some essential way. In some part of the long single street of most villages is built a low hut, sometimes not larger than a dog-kennel, in which, among all tribes, are hung charms; or by which is growing a consecrated plant (a lily, a cactus, a euphorbia, or a ficus). In some tribes a rudely carved human (generally female) figure stands in that hut, as an idol. Idols are rare among most of the coast tribes, but are common among all the interior tribes. That they are not now frequently seen on the Coast is, I think, not due to a lack of faith in them, but perhaps to a slight sense of civilized shame. The idol has been the material object most denounced by missionaries in their sermons against heathenism. The half-awakened native hides it, or be manufactures it for sale to curio-hunters. A really valued idol, supposed to contain a spirit, he will not sell. He does not always hide his fetich charm worn on his person; for it passes muster in his explanation of its use as a "medicine."
That idol, charm, or plant, as the case may be, is believed for the time to be the residence of a spirit which is to be placated by offerings of some kind of food. I have seen in those sacred huts a dish of boiled plantains (often by foreigners miscalled "bananas") or a plate of fish. This food is generally not removed till it spoils. Sometimes, where the gift is a very large one, a feast is made; people and spirit are supposed to join in the festival, and nothing is left to spoil. That it is of use to the spirit is fully believed; but just how, few have been able to tell me. Some say that the "life" or essence of the food has been eaten by the spirit; only the form of the vegetable or flesh remaining to be removed.
(3) Blood sacrifices are common. In any great emergency a fowl with its blood is laid at that low hut's door. In time of great danger, an expected pestilence, a threatened assault
by enemies, or some severe illness of a great man or woman, a goat or sheep is sacrificed.
At the entrance to a village the way is often barred by a temporary light fence, only a narrow arched gateway of saplings being left open. These saplings are wreathed with leaves or flowers. That fence, frail as it is, is intended as a bar to evil spirits, for from those arched saplings hang fetich charms. When actual war is coming, this street entrance is barricaded by logs, behind which real fight is to be made against human, not spiritual, foes. The light gateway is sometimes further guarded by a sapling pinned to the ground horizontally across the narrow threshold. An entering stranger must be careful to tread over and not on it.
In an expected great evil the gateway is sometimes sprinkled with the blood of a sacrificed goat or sheep. The flesh is not wasted; it is eaten by the villagers, and especially by the magic doctor. Does not this look like a memory of a tradition of the Passover and its paschal lamb? And does it not suggest some thought of a blood atonement?
(4) 1 have not actually seen, or even heard of human sacrifices in the tribes I have personally visited. But on the adjacent Upper Guinea Coast, until ten years ago, there were human sacrifices to the sacred crocodiles of the rivers of the Niger Delta. In the oil rivers of that same coast there was, until recently, an annual sacrifice (as in the ancient Nile days) of a maiden to the river spirits of trade, for success in foreign commerce.
Treaties with foreign civilized nations have now prohibited this sacrifice, but the maiden has not gained much in the change. Instead of one being sacrificed to a brute crocodile to please the spirit of trade,hundreds are prostituted to please brutal, dissolute foreigners.
The thousands of captives butchered at the "annual custom" of Dahomey were claimed by its successive kings, in their answer to the protests of the ambassadors from civilized nations, to be required as offerings to the safety of the nation, the omission of which would be punished by the loss of the king's own life. Fearful as that annual barbarity was, I do not think that those kings should properly be called "bloodthirsty." It was their religion. All the more dreadful the religion that called for such deeds!
Here, again, the question presents itself whether Africa has gained much in the substitution of wicked white representatives of civilization for the heathen black representatives of fetichism. The Kongo River was rescued from the cruelties and loss of life in the foreign slave-trade, only to be subjected to greater cruelties, in its miscalled "Free State," under the control of Belgium, at the hands of men like Major Lothaire.
The following remarks of Menzies on the use of sacrifice by primitive man are descriptive of the interior tribes of Africa to-day: "Sacrifice is an invariable feature of early religion. Wherever gods are worshipped, gifts and offerings are made to them of one kind or another. It is in this way that, in antiquity at least, the relation with the deity was renewed, if it had been slackened or broken, or strengthened and made sure. Sacrifice and worship are, in the ancient world, identical terms. The nature of the offering and the mode of presenting it are infinitely various, but there is always sacrifice in one form or another. Different deities of course receive different gifts; the tree has its roots watered, or trophies of battle or of the chase are hung upon its branches; horses are thrown into the sea. But of primitive sacrifice generally we may affirm that it consists of such food and drink as men themselves partake of. Whether it be the fruit of the field or the firstlings of the flock that is offered at the sacred stone, whether the offering is burnt before the god or set down and left near him, or whether he is sum moned to come down from the sky or to travel from the far country to which he may have gone, it is of the materials of the meal that the sacrifice consists. In some cases it appears to be thought that the god consumes the offering, as when Fire is worshipped with offerings which he burns up, or when a fissure in the earth closes upon a victim; but in
[1 History of Religion, pp. 65, 69.]
most cases it is only the spirit or finer essence that the god enjoys; the rest he leaves to men. And thus sacrifice is generally accompanied by a meal. The offering is presented to the god whole, but the worshippers help to eat it. The god gets the savor of it which rises in the air towards him, while the more material part is devoured below."
The testimony of travellers in other parts of Africa, distant thousands of miles from the West Coast, show that the practice of offerings is almost identical all over the southern third of the continent, the lines of latitude of Bantu tribes being conterminous with their language and their religion.
Arnot  says that in South Africa, "when going to pray, the Barotse make offerings to the spirits of their forefathers under a tree, bush, or grove planted for the purpose; and they take a larger or a smaller offering, according to the measure of their request. If the offering be beer, they pour it upon the ground; if cloth, it is tied to a horn stuck in the ground; if an ox be slaughtered, the blood is poured over the horn, which, in fact, is their altar." (Ps. cxviii. 27.)
In that same region, among the Barotse, "Nothing of importance can be sanctified without a human sacrifice, in most cases a child. First the fingers and toes are cut off, and the blood is sprinkled on the boat, drum, house, or whatsoever may be the object in view. The victim is then killed, ripped up, and thrown into the river."
Dec1è also  describes the religious habits of the Barotse tribes of Southern Central Africa: "They chiefly worship the souls of their ancestors. When any misfortune happens, the witch doctor divines with knuckle-bones whether the ancestor is displeased, and they go to the grave and offer up sacrifice of grain or honey. . . . They also bring to the tombs cooked meats, which they leave there a few minutes and then eat. When they go to pray by a grave, they also leave some small white beads. Whilst an Englishman was journeying to Lialui, he passed near a little wood where there lay a very venerated chief. The boatmen stopped, and having sacrificed some
[1. Garenganze, p. 77.
2. Three Years in Savage Africa]
cooked millet, their headman designated a man to offer up a prayer, which ran thus: 'You see us; we are worn out travellers, and our belly is empty; inspire the white man, for whom we row, to give us food to fill our stomachs.'"
Among the Wanyamwezi, "Every chief has near his hut a Musinio hut, in which the dead are supposed to dwell, and where sacrifices and offerings must be made. Meat and flour are deposited in the Musimo huts, and are not, as with many other peoples, consumed afterwards. The common people also have their Musimo huts, but they are smaller than that of the chief, and the offerings they make are, of course, not so important as his."
The Wanyamwezi being great travellers, they have numberless ways of propitiating the Musimo. "The night before starting they put big patches of moistened flour on their faces and breasts. On the way, if by chance they are threatened with war or any other difficulty, some of them go on ahead in the early morning for about a hundred yards along the path over which they are about to travel. Then they place a hand on the ground,and throw flour over it in such a manner as to leave the impression of a hand on the soil. At the same time they 'wish' hard that the journey may go off well. On the march, from time to time each of them will deposit in the same spot a twig of wood or a stone in such a way that a great heap gets collected. If they halt in the midst of high grass each will plait a handful of grass, which they tie together so as to make a kind of bower. In the forest, if they are pressed for time, each will make a cut with a blow of a hatchet in a tree; but if they have time, they will cut down trees, lop off the branches, and place these poles against a big tree; in certain places I have seen stacks of hundreds of them around a single tree. Sometimes they will strip pieces of bark from the trees, and stick them on the branches, and at others they,will place a pole supported by two trees right over the path. On it they will bang up a broken gourd, or an old box made of bark. On some occasions they will even erect a
[1. I saw the same on the Ogowe.--R. H. N.]
little hut made of straw to the Musimo on the road itself; but this is usually done when they are going on a hunting expedition, and not on a journey. Near the villages, where two roads meet, are usually found whole piles of old pots, gourds, and pieces of iron. When a hunter starts for the chase, he prays to the Musimo to give him good luck. If he kills any big game, he places before the hut of his Musimo the head of the beast he has killed, and inside a little of the flesh." 
2. Just as worship is an eminent part of religion, prayer is usually a chief part of religious worship. But in fetichism, though it undeniably has a part, it is not prominent, and not often formal or public. It plays a less obvious and less frequent part than either sacrifices or the use of charms.
"Prayer is the ordinary concomitant of sacrifice; the worshipper explains the reason of the gift, and urges the deity to accept it and to grant the lielp tbat is needed. Tbe prayers of the earliest stage are offered on emergencies, and often appear to be intended to attract the attention of the god who may be engaged in another direction. The requests they contain are of the most primary sort. Food is asked for, success in hunting or fishing, strength of arm, rain, a good harvest, children, and so forth. They have a ring of urgency; they state the claims the worshipper has on the god, and mention his former offerings as well as the present one; they praise the power and the past acts of the deity, and adjure him by his whole relationship to his people (and also to his enemies) to grant their requests." 
Fetich prayer may be and is offered without restriction by any one, young or old, male or female; but to my knowledge it is seldom used by the young. A very intelligent woman, a member of my Batanga church, tells, me that when she was a child she possessed a fetich supposed to be very valuable, whicli sbe had inherited from her father. She says that when she would be going into the forest or
[1. These piles I have found at almost every village I have visited.--R, H. N.
2. Declè, p. 346.
where she expected difficulty or danger or trouble or was anxious for success, she would hold the fetich in her hand, and with eye and thought directed toward it and the spirit it was supposed to contain, would utter a short petition for aid and protection.
But practically formal prayer is rarely made. Ejaculatory prayer, however, is made constantly, in the uttering of cabalistic words, phrases, or sentences adopted by or assigned to almost every one by parent or doctor. They are uttered by all ages and both sexes at any time, as a defence from evil, on all sorts of occasions,--e.g., when one sneezes, stumbles, or is otherwise startled, etc.
The prayers which I have heard were of adults. On a journey, about 1876, stopping for a night in a village on the Ogowe River, I saw the venerable chief stand out in the open street. He addressed the spirits of the air, begging them, "Come not to my town!" He recounted his good deeds--praising himself as just, honest, and kind to his neighbors--as reason why no evil should befall him, and closed with an impassioned appeal to the spirits to stay away.
At another time, about 1879, in another Ogowe village, where a man's son had been wounded, and a bleeding artery which had been successfully closed had just broken open again, and the hemorrhage, if not promptly checked, would probably be fatal, the father ran out of the hut, wildly gesticulating towards the sky, saying, "Go away! go away! O ye spirits! why do you come to kill my son?" And be continued for some time in a strain of alternate pleading and protestation.
In another case I saw a woman who rushed into the street objurgating the spirits, and in the next breath humbly supplicating them, who, she said, were vexing her child that was lying in convulsions.
Observe that while these were distinctly prayers, appeals for mercy, pathetic, agonizing protestations, there was no praise, no love, no thanks, no confession of sin,--only a long, pitiful deprecation of evil.
There are also prayers of blessing. Parents in farewells to their children, or a chief to his parting guest, or any grateful recipient of a valued gift, will take the head or hand of the child, guest, or donor, and saying, "Ibâtâ!" (blessing), or adding a cabalistic ejaculation, will sometimes "blow" a blessing. From this custom has arisen the statement in some books of travel that it was an African mode of honoring a guest to spit on his hand. It is true that the sudden and violent expulsion of the breath in "blowing" the "Ibâtâ" from the tip of the tongue is apt to be followed by an ejection of more or less saliva, but the kernel of the custom lies in the prayer of blessing accompanying the act.
In auguries made by the mfumu, or witch-doctor, among the Wanyamwezi, "the mfumu holds a kind of religious service; he begins by addressing the spirits of their forefathers, imploring them not to visit their anger upon their descendants. This prayer be offers up kneeling, bowing and bending to the ground from time to time. Then he rises, and commences a hymn of praise to the ancestors, and all join in the chorus. Then, seizing his little gourds, he executes a pas seul, after which he bursts out into song again, but this time singing as one inspired." 
3. The third mode of worship has been already mentioned in a previous chapter, viz., the use of charms or fetiches. This is the mode most frequently used; and to the descriptions of their forms of preparation and manner, universality, and the various effects of their use, the following chapters are devoted.