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Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort, by Richard Edward Dennett, [1898], at


I now have the pleasure of enclosing two photographs, representing, the one a string of symbols or headings of a native song, and the other the boy singing the song from the string.

The song itself and the string came from the Mayumba district, i.e., that country to the north and east of Loango.

The string is composed of pieces of stick, shells, calabashes, and skins and feathers strung together.

1st line. A piece of rounded stick about an inch long.
2nd The shell of a peanut.
3rd A piece of rounded stick with two notches in it.
4th Two pieces of rounded stick (two wives of the dead represented by a small bundle of cloth).
5th A piece of rounded stick (ximanga liambu).
6th Two pieces of rounded stick (ngoma and mavungu).
7th line A piece of calabash (ntumbu).
8th Two pieces of rounded stick (two women).
    One little piece of mandioca.
    One piece of husk of palm-kernel.
9th One piece of rounded stick (one woman, Buketi).
10th with string round it (nganga nsassi).
11th (Buyali).
    One piece of hollow wood for canoe.
12th One rounded piece of calabash (sun).
One half-moon-shaped piece of calabash (moon).
13th One short piece of round stick (two notches).
    One small round stick (hammer).
    One small bundle of cloth (Bisakala).
14th One piece of wood in shape of cross supposed to represent man with drum between his legs.
    A very small piece of wood as drumstick.
15th One round piece of wood (xivunda).
    One smaller piece (son).
    A bit of the leaf of Indian corn.
16th A flat piece of wood representing bark of a tree.
17th Round piece of stick with string round top (Nganga bi yango).
18th Round piece of stick, one notch (son).
    Small piece of stick, drumstick (ngoma).
19th Flat piece of stick like spoon (cease eating).
20th Two little bits of stem of tobacco (pipe and tobacco).
21st Small flat stick (xibala. nganzi).
22nd Rather long round stick with forked stick tied round the top representing Father Makuika, a prisoner.
23rd Small piece of pipe.
24th Round piece of stick tied round the middle.
25th Small piece of grass.
26th Shell.
27th Imitation of a comb.
    Piece of wood like hand-mirror.
28th Round stick tied to string 3/4 way up.
29th Skin of Mpakasa.
30th Tail of Ngumba.
    Piece of skin.
31st Piece of skin of big antelope (sungu).
32nd Tail-feather of parrot (nkusu).
    Tail-feather of pheasant (mbulu nkoko).

So much, then, for the symbols; now for the song. One boy holds one end of the string while the singer holds the other; then, as the latter sings, his fingers touch the symbols. He sings a sentence, the other boy and the onlookers repeat it.

1. Xitini xinkondo xifumina ku Sundi. (Shoots of the silk-cotton tree came from Sundi.)[1]
2. Lunguba lu nkuanji lu fumina ku Sundi. (And peanuts, which are now so common also, came from Sundi.)[2]
3. Ma ngombi xinanga nquanga. (O, mother, ngombi dance the nquanga.)
4. Xibaiia niombo bakanga vulubongo. (Tie up the corpse in native grass-cloth.)
5. Ximanga liambu buna ku manga busu ku bititi. (The man who does not wish to hear the word turns his face to the grass.)
6. Ngoma i Mavungu ba nkote mi kunji. (Ngoma and Mavungu [Truth and Falsehood] are present at all palavers.)
7. Ntumpunganga ntumpu ilanga ma bungu. (Tell us openly the palaver you have hidden in your heart.)
8. Bilezi bixentu ku yolo, biyolo m'uenda ku lindaiia. (Two young ladies after smearing themselves over with takula, or red paint, go to visit their lovers.)
9. Buketi nkuendanga ku buala, keti nkuendanga ku buala kutanga babota. (Buketi keeps on going to town, going to town [because she is pregnant; may she]. bring forth her child well.)
10. Nganga Nsassi Kubéla ku mbéla. (Nganga Nsassi [Suamil is sick.)
11. Buyali ku buyali tuala ko nlungu, mino ku simika, nlungu. muana ku banda. ([A man on the other side of the river shouts] "Buyali, Buyali, bring hither thy canoe [I want to cross this river]," [Buyali answers]: "I am pushing my canoe along with a bamboo; my child is at the bottom of the river.")
12. Ntangu mu luanda, ngonde ne bi sunji. (The sun is always marching [as in a hammock], and meets the new moon on the beach.)
13. Nkubi nyundu 'mduda bi sengo, kududa, kududa, mioko u aka nxienzo, bonga bi sakala u dudila bi sengo. (The blacksmith by beating makes the hoe; he beats and beats the iron until his hammer [too hot to

[1. And now fishermen in Cabinda, etc., make their nets and floats from its bark.

Sundi is the grass country beyond the Mayomba district.]

hold] drops to the ground. [Says his friend:] "Take this bit of native cloth to hold your hammer with, and go on beating the iron and make your hoe.")
14. Akubemba ndungu kubemba i xikonko. ([He addresses the drummer:] "Take your drum and put it between your legs, and your drum-stick, and beat the drum.")
15. Xivunda xibuala xinkenia li sango, kukenia kukenia li eno li aka nxienzo; bikela muana mudidi ku manisia li sango. (When a man in town is old and eats Indian corn, he leaves some corn on the cob; and the corn he leaves, his son is forced to finish.)
16. Lubalu lubaluka vi xifumba? (How is it my family respect me no longer?)
17. Nganga biyango biyango ba sumuka. (Some one has touched my birth-fetish [nganga biyango], and it has lost its virtue.)
18. Muana mbèla ngoma mi ntomba. (My child is sick; fetch the ngoma [little drum.])
19. Bika i lia malandu e landu landu mabungu. (Let me eat malandu [a fruit] and remember the whole palaver.)[1]
20. Sungu mu xi timba, liamba mu nkondo. ([Put] tobacco in the pipe, liamba [hemp] in the calabash.)
21. Xibala nganzi balanga mabungu. (To think heavily, with a frown on one's forehead [nganzi], about the palaver).
22. Tata makuika bueka bonso mbi lilanga bueka ieka mu xivanga. (Father Makuika, who is a prisoner, is saluted by his sons, and answers: "Don't salute me; can't you see the yoke on my neck?")
23. Nkonko xitumba bakulu bito babika. (An old pipe left by a relation must not be thrown away.)
24. Muamba sango ntiti bilongo. (Renowned muamba [yellow-tree] is our medicine-tree.)
25. Xizika zika nzila nkulu ntu bititi. (Xizika [grass with great roots] is the old man of the road [nkulu ntu = wisehead. ])
26. Seve nganga sevanga mabungu. (The laugher hears good words and goes on laughing.)
27. Kusimba xisanu ku simbuanga In enuéno. (When you comb your hair, hold the glass before you.)
28. Xisinza mazila umananga milembo. (Stumps on the road keep on damaging one's toes.)
29. Mapakasa xinuaini ntuandi u tabuka. (The buffalo fights until his head falls off.)

[1. The malandu is a fruit given to a man to give him the power of remembering, and the will to speak all that is hidden in his heart.]

30. Nzau e xilanga, ngumba imimbiekesi. (The elephant has a tail [the hairs of which are a valuable ornament], the porcupine has spines.)
31. Sungu kulila mu binauga. (Sungu [the name of a very large kind of antelope] eats on the top of hills.)
32. Nkusu mu nkunda, nbulu nkoko kuta nilolo. (The parrot perches on a branch, the pheasant sings his song [ko, ko, ko, ku, ku.])

Next: Song Of The Burial Of The Fjort Prince.