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At the Back of the Black Man's Mind, by Richard Edward Dennett, [1906], at



The Leopard. -Witchcraft, -Story of Ngo as an Old Woman. -Xina. -Classes of Bina.-Tabu Animals.-The Formula.-Bavili Laws and Lessons.


THE King as NTINU LUKENE or the one who advises his people to fly from the custom of the Leopard.

NGO the leopard is the XINA of the people of KONGO (including the provinces south of the Kongo, as well as KAKONGO and LUANGO) and as such it is NKICICI It is the only animal having the title of Fumu. All palavers are commenced with the words NGONGONGO NGETE NZAMBI. NGO is the name by which a woman who is capable of bearing royal children is known; the wife of the first KONGO. The leopard's skin is used as a charm against smallpox, and the MANKAKA'S (captain executioner) hat of office is also made of it.

In Jan. 1902, the writer was standing near to his house when a crowd of natives passed him carrying the body of a dead leopard[1] to Luango for sale. The head of the beast was covered with a cloth so that its eyes should not be seen. And a lady called NGO who was standing near to him began to cry.

"Why do you cry?" the writer asked.

"Ah," she answered," the brutes would not have treated

[1. In Seven Years among the Fjort I give part of the custom attending the killing of NGO, and in notes on the Folklore of the Fjort I supplement this. Many of the stories also throw some light on the character of this animal. The skins of the leopard are sent to BUNZI when rain is wanted by the King for his people. See ante, p. 45.]

my namesake in this rough way in the olden days with impunity."

The BAVILI call the leopard XIKUMBUA, which might be translated as the calumniator, but the BATEKE still call it KENE, which might be translated, the one opposed to nobility.

As this animal is looked upon as the mother of all animals, we cannot be wrong in saying that she is descended from ZAMHI through XIKAMACI and her offspring XIKANGA and NXILUKA, who are said to be the parents of an animal and a wooden figure.

That the leopard is connected with witchcraft is certain, even if the words "NDONGO" and NDOXI did not so clearly point to the fact, for we were warned by MAMBUKU[1] at

[1. While at my frugal meal, MAMBUKU, who had been squatting on the ground near to me, got up and left me. I lit a cigarette and walked up and down in the moonlight by the side of the bananas MAMBUKU had planted as a kind of fence around a cleared space, within which his dwellings and outhouses were, built. At last I retired to rest upon the bed of boards prepared for me, but just as I was falling to sleep the midnight silence was suddenly broken by a shout. I recognised the voice of MAMBUKU immediately, and thought at first that he must have met with some accident. Another grunt-like shout, and I knew that MAMBUKU was simply calling the attention of his people to something he had to say to them. And this is what he -said:

"Ur! ur (to wake his people up).

"Nuvula (Listen!)

"Ngonde moci u bakana kubella, mukulu, abu mimibakana ku bella mu luzala." (Last month my mother had a bad leg, now she is sick in her finger.) "Manwela Ngoma! Manwela Ngomo! Anjea, unkruntu u kela ku ngandu.' (Manwela Ngoma! you are head man of the village.) "Mani ngombo! Anjea uzabici ma awso." (Mani ngombo, the name of his suffering mother, you know all about it). "Bene Bawso! Nu keba mbizi Xikumbu una untambala befi inu manga 'ntu ntese." (All of you! Beware that when the leopard comes you don't receive him, as we shall divine who be may be.) "Beno! Mundela naka kunxitula lau!" (All of you! The white man is sleeping in town, and if I make a noise he will think me a fool.)

There was a pause and a great silence; then MANWELA NGOMA from his corner of the village replied:

"Minu unkruntu, anjea veka Mani Puati, anjea veka bakaci libamba liaku, anjea veka ubakamba, minu bawso i bakambila baci kumpe, nsamu au ba veka." (I am the head man, you yourself are Mani Puati, you own us all, you have called upon me, I called upon all, they do not hear, it is their palaver.)

Then came another pause; after which up spoke the sick mother, Mani ngombe.

"Bobo ntubila xibene xiaku tata, ntuba minu muntu yaka kalilanga enxenzo mu nitu." (The father has just now told the truth, I tell you that I keep on suffering pain in my body.)]

XIMOKO that someone with "NDONGO" in his stomach, had willed the leopard to come to their town, or someone in that very town, perhaps, was ready to use the leopard as a means of destroying his neighbour's life. And someone also with evil thoughts was causing the mother to keep on suffering.

The BAVILI fully believe that certain BANTU A NDONGO have this power over leopards and crocodiles, and that others who have not the power themselves, knowing their brother NDONGO, ask them a favour of the loan of the wer-beast. The MUNTU A NDONGO, or wizard as you perhaps would call him, does not in this case change himself into the leopard or the crocodile, for he may be talking to you in one place while the beast is doing his will in another. Neither need he die first, so that what some people like to call his "soul" may enter and possess the animal.

The man who has NDONGO in his stomach will search out an NGANGA, or doctor, who has the medicine XIKUMBU XIMANPANDU, and ask him to sell him some. The NGANGA will ask him if he is really desirous to obtain it, and the MUNTU A NDONGO answers yes. The NGANGA sells him the medicine. The MUNTU A NDONGO says he cannot see the leopard or crocodile. Then the NGANGA takes the medicine and gives the MUNTU A NDONGO some, and rubs some into his eyes, and asks him if he can now see the leopard. The MUNTU A NDONGO answers yes, and goes his way conscious that he owns a leopard or crocodile to do his will.

All leopards do not lend themselves to these horrible practices, and such as do not are said to belong to the BAKICI BACI, or the people who are owners of sacred ground.

Since my visit to XIMOKO I have noticed the following sad cases of the ravages said to have been worked by the wicked class of leopards:

1. XIKAWMO is a man who has lived with white men all his life, can read and write, and wears European clothes. He was with his master in Somboa, quite near to Luango, and it was here that the following sad event occurred. Three boys, one of them the son of XIKAWMO, were sleeping in an outhouse serving as a kitchen. One night a leopard entered this place, and passing over one of the boys, deliberately attacked and killed the son of XIKAWMO, only wounding the boy nearest the door in his flight.

XIKAWMO went to MALUANGO, and after relating the whole affair to him said, "How is this? I want to know who had this leopard?" Then they set the NGANGAS to work, and it was divined that it was a man of the village of NTANDA BILALA who owned this particular leopard. Then XIKAWMO said," Very well; now I want to know who ate the flesh of this man of BILALA," for if one of his boy's family had not eaten the flesh [1] of the BILALA man, XIKAWMO reasoned that it was impossible that the BILALA man should have sent the leopard to "chop" his son. And here this palaver rests for the time being.

2. The Wife of XIKÄIA was in her house sleeping with another woman when a leopard burst open the door, passed over the other woman, and carrying XIKÄIA'S wife away, ate her up, leaving only her head. XIK)LIA called in the ZINGANGA, and they divined that MAXIENZI was the owner of that leopard. So XIKÄIA went to MAXIENZI'S town and destroyed his house and plantations, and then went to MALUANGO to complain about MAXIENZI. MALUANGO arrested MAXIENZI, and advised him to take nkasa at once. MAXIENZI said, "Let us first hold a palaver."

In the palaver it was proved that MAXIENZI had asked the acknowledged owner of the leopard to lend it to him. MAXIENZI protested, and declared that in this case he was innocent. MALUANGO then said that no one would believe him under the circumstances, and that the decision was in the hands of God, not his. Let him take nkasa. MAXIENZI went to MAMBUKU'S town, and demanded to be given the nkasa. It was given to him and he vomited, thus proving that he was innocent.

XIKÄIA and his people, however, said that MAXIENZI used his knowledge as a MUNTU A NDONGO to avoid the proper

[1. Eaten the flesh, i.e., done him an injury, perhaps by sending a leopard to kill some one of his family.]

and just effects of the nkasa. XIKÄIA and his other wife and family then left their town and went to live in the Mayombe, or bush-country.

3. A poor old man and his little grandchildren went into the woods to cut the fronds of the bamboo palm (ntombe), from the leaves of which he meant to make thatch to cover his house. Having finished their work, they picked up their bundles and were about to start homewards, when a leopard sprang out of the bush upon the old man. The children cried out, not being able to run away. The leopard. left the old man, and the party then took up their burdens and ran away in the direction of their village. At last the old man threw his bundle of leaves into the grass, and said he could go no further; he would rest and then come home. Shortly after he had stopped the leopard set upon him again. The little ones saw it, shouted to it to go away, and then ran home as fast as they could. The people of the village set out to look for the old man, but only found his head. How this palaver was settled I do not know.

These four cases in this district, then, have come to my knowledge within six months, and I give you the facts as related to me, and therefore with their native colouring and as they are looked upon by disinterested native third parties.


The story of how Xidiela exposed the witches.

(Xidiela means in XIVILI a man who humbugs people.)

Xidiela was not well treated at home, and was finally told by his people that he was not worth anything, and had better go away and earn his living as best he could; they were tired of supporting him. This rather sobered Xidiela, and as he was already a bearded man, he knew he would have some difficulty in getting his living in a decent way, and he dreaded the thought of having to turn his hands to any hard work. He approached a rich man and offered him his services as "boy" or cook.

"You are too old," said the rich man.

"Never mind that, try me. I will do my best for you."

And so he was engaged to clean plates, cook food, and cut wood. He continued to clean plates, and cook food, and cut wood for a long, long time. During all this time sundry Zi Nganga kept on telling him that he was serving a MUNTU A NDONGO, and Xidiela at last felt that there must be some truth in what he was told.

"Every Nganga that comes here says the same thing. What am I to do? How can I get the better of him?"

He once more cooks his master's chop, and then goes to him and says:


"What? I am a witch."

"No!" says his master. Yes, I am."

"Why, how do you know? " asks the master.

"Yes, I am a witch, but am ashamed, and take off my clothes only behind the shimbec."

"Never mind," says the master, "I am one too, and perhaps after all you are one, for it is to-day that we are going to kill the prince of the country, and it is to-day that you tell me you are a witch. We will go together; but go to sleep and wait until the evening."

Xidiela sleeps, wakes early in the evening, and goes to his master and wakes him.

"You are no witch," says Xidiela, "or you would not sleep like this,"

"Nay," says his master, "it is not time yet; you may sleep a little longer."

Xidiela goes to sleep again. Then they wake up, and start for the meeting-place of the witches. Xidiela goes ahead to show that he is not afraid. They come to a place where a great number of cloths and bracelets and leg-rings lie strewn about.

The master tells Xidiela to take off his clothes.

"No," says Xidiela; "when I do that people in town will dream that I am a witch, but when they see that I am dressed they will say, ' No, he cannot be a witch, because he dressed.'"

"Very well, then," says his master, as he takes off his own clothes; "go as you are, but take care of the others."

Then they walk and walk and walk, until they arrive at a place where all the ZINDOXI were in the grass.

"Mamboma Xinkanda"[1] says the old woman with sores, Nfumu Ngo (in her hammock), when she sees the boy. "Mamboma! Xidiela kalokaka mino mabola maka ku sungomina." (Mamboma! he is not a witch; he comes only to look on. As sure as I'm a nganga I divine it.)

And Mamboma replies, "Zibika munu aku anjea natanga mu xipoia." (Shut your mouth. It is because you are in a hammock that you say so.)

The old w man replies; "Maxi ku natua batu ku anganga." (It is not because I have a hammock, but because I am a nganga that I say this.)

Mamboma then says: "How could he enter here if he were not a witch? Give him a matchet,[2] that he may dance."

They give him a matchet. Xidiela takes the matchet, and dances away and dances back again, And the young women are very pleased, and cry out, "Tuala ntulu, return here."

And Xidiela goes to them and returns twice; but the third time he runs away, taking the machet with him. And the old woman with the sores cried out from her hammock to Mamboma, "You now see that I was right."

They all waited, and then exclaimed, "She is right."

They then set upon the master and thrashed him. (They did not kill the prince.) They then knocked their fetish,

[1. heard a little story of the Xinkanda (lemur). This little animal is looked upon to-day as the "Mamboma" of the princely 'Ngo, and was elected a prince of Luango in the following manner:

Ngondo (a long-tailed monkey) was very proud of the power his tail gave him in his hurried movements here and there, and upon this power he laid claim to the chief office in Luango, i.e., that of Mamboma. Now, the Xinkanda objected to this claim on the part of the Ngondo. The Xinkanda is a close-fisted little animal, and the Bavili say sticks hard to anything he clings to. They say it takes hours to get anything out of its hands, once they are closed on any object. The Xinkanda is said to have made some bitter remarks about the ngondo and his tail, and challenged him to call a meeting of all the animals to get at the general opinion of their world upon their merits. At this meeting the slow-moving but sure Xinkanda was unanimously elected Mamboma.

2. A kind of cutlass.]

crying out to Xidiela's Master, "You brought the boy here If you come back here you will die."

And Xidiela gathered up all the clothes and bracelets and leg-rings, and took them to his home. He made a fire outside his shimbec and waited for his master, but he did not sleep. The Zi-Ndoxi searched for their clothes, and thrashed the master again when they could not be found, and then they departed to their towns, dispersing in different directions.

And next day Xidiela remarked to all about him, "How is it that so many are wearing clean clothes to-day?"

And the master called Xidiela aside, and whispered to him that they had thrashed him.

"Who dared to thrash you?" shouted Xidiela.

"Don't shout," cried the master,

"Why?" shouted Xidiela.

"If you are a ndoxi, why do you act like this and get me thrashed?"

"I went simply to humbug you," replied Xidiela.

And each ndoxi brought fifty longs (125 yards) of cloth, or sheep, or presents, to get their clothes from Xidiela and to bribe him to say nothing about the affair. Thus he became very rich, and went back to his town and built a nice shimbec, and looked down upon his poorer relations.

Some time afterwards he went back in a hammock to see his master. His master called him a ndoxi, and dared him to take nkasa.

"Let us take it together," said Xidiela. And they both went far away, where they were not known, and took the bark

and the master died, and Xidiela escaped.

The above, of course, is merely a story; the following, however, occurred not so long ago, which proves how near fiction is to fact in the Bavili's mind.

Buite had been out fishing, and on his way home met the drunkard Mavungu, who asked him for some fish. Buite refuspd to give it, and Mavungu threatened to " do for him." Buite fell sick and died. Mavungu took nkasa and died. And it then turned out that the drunkard Mavungu had gone to his town in a rage and told his brother, who was also no friend of Buite's, that the latter had refused to give him fish. So they sought out one or two other Zi-Ndoxi, and they had determined to kill Buite. Buite, falling sick, called in an Nganga, who divined that he was bewitched, and that nothing could save him. When Buite died, Mavungu, who had thus been heard to threaten Buite, was accused of having been the cause of his death, and had to take nkasa, and died.

The Bavili say that supposing that Mavungu's brother had refused to join him in wishing the death of Buite, but on the contrary had said, "No! Buite is not bad fellow, and I do not wish him to die," Buite might have fallen sick, but would have soon got better.

ZAMBICI in some of the stories[1] is spoken of as the mother of all animals, as if she were the immediate mother rather than the Creator. This confusion is natural to degenerate people, who are apt to mistake the intermediate causes for the first cause. In the story that describes an old lady arriving at the town of SONANSENZI and asking for hospitality we have an example of this. NZENZ1 is the cricket, and the story therefore is an animal one; and the old lady so full of sores who chastised the people of the town for not giving her hospitality should perhaps be NGO, the leopard, and not NZAMBI Cl.


Mesu Mazenzi Mavili Matuninini say the BAVILI for a crooked palaver in which one is able to see the truth. You can cook the grasshopper or cricket, but its eyes remain, or, in other words, "The truth will out."

The cricket is XINA to SONJO.[2]

ZOMBO-BAWCI or BOCI,[3] the eel, is the XINA, or sacred animal of Kakongo.

An old lady is said to have been on a journey in Kakongo behind a place called FUTILA. She carried a child on her back, and asked some women who were planting in the fields for water. The women said that they only had enough for themselves, and that water had to be brought from a long distance. The lady eventually got a drink of palm wine

[1. See Folklore of the Fjort, p. 127.

2. SONANZENZI, Folklore of the Fjort, p. 122.]

3. These three words, Meci, Bawci, and Awci, all mean one-the seeing one, the instinctive one and the hearing one; Meci is equivalent to Mesu ma zenzi.]

from a young man who was tapping a palm tree. She rewarded the young man, and punished the women for their want of motherly instinct by turning the field they had been in into a lake (BAWCI), the fish of which is XINA to the women of NTUMPU to this day.

The third one[1] (AWCI or OCI) is MPAKASA AWCI, the wild ox or buffalo, the XINA of LUANGO.

When Maluango [2] first came from Kongo he brought this XINI which is NKICI'Cl with him. He is said to have asked some men for water and they refused to give it to him; hence he made the flesh of the MPAKASA XINA to their family BAKULu. These four,[3] great ones then are the XINA of the whole tribe and the three sub-tribes composing it, and the three are not only the sacred animals of the sub-tribes, but also the forbidden food of certain families in those sub-tribes. As we are treating only of LUANGO, we must restrict ourselves to its sacred animals.

MPAKASA AWCI is called the XINA XI BIKA MUANA BUKULU, or the four left by the offspring of the spirit of the ancient.

2nd Class. Each province under the rule of its Fumu has two XINA, as in the case of the province of XIBANGA, the SUSU or fowl, and the SEXI (duiker); these are called BINA FUMICI.

3rd Class. Then each district under its KONGO Zovo has its XINA, as in the chief district of the above province, the NZIKU, the chimpanzee. This kind is called XINA XICI, and is the sacred animal of the sacred grove of the district. Thus MPUKU, the rat, is XINA XICI of a family as well as the animal connected with the grove MPUKU NYAMBI as an omen.

[1. See note 3, p. 152.

2. The route of Maluango and Makongo from San Salvador to Luango and Kakongo is marked out by the ground where they rested becoming "xinkici a'nci," i.e., sacred ground. There are no altars made with tools, but as you wander through the woods you will at certain places come across a mound of earth and leaves. And as your servants pass this mound they will add their tribute to it. They say these mounds are marks which divide the frontiers (ndilu) of two provinces, and that in passing them they pick up earth and leaves and heap them up, so that they may not be accused, as they say, of bringing anything evil into the next prince's country. These mounds are called Lombi.

3. Including ngo.]

4th Class. Each person living under his KONGO ZOVO (head of family) with any pretensions to birth should have four BINA.

The XINA of each of his ancestors i.e., two XINA XIXINKAKA:

XI'XITATA, the XINA of his father's family.

XI'XIFUMBA, the XINA of his mother's family.

In connection with this class it is astonishing how few can trace their pedigrees back to their grandfathers. Take, for instance, the following examples:

TATI of BENGUELA says his father's XINA was NGULUBU, the pig; his mother's NGWALI, the partridge; and that he is

of the family of NZIKU.














ENGO of FUTILA (Kakongo)







or ancestors








A slave brought from the interior.














He does not know.


In the case of BAYONA NGULUBu and NYUNDU XIBANGA show the districts of his grandparents, while his father's XINA is KABI and his mother's NZIKU. Through his ancestors he is related to TATI, whose father had the pig as his XINA. Then TATI is of the family of Nzixu, the XINA of Bayona's mother, therefore their families may not intermarry.

5th Class. Certain offices or situations carry certain XINA with them.

The office of FUMU ZINKONDI or ZINKATA; the pig, NGULUBU.

The office of BADUNGU; the NZIKU.

The office of PUNZI; food cooked by an unmarried woman.

This class is called XINA XISALU.

6th Class. Each XIBILA has its XINA.

BUNZI hates unmarried women; XIKUMBI, the maiden, is therefore its XINA.

XIKANGA NXILUKA hate a noise; the goat NKOMBO is their XINA.

This class is called XINA XINKICICL

7th Class. When natives are sick and are undergoing treatment certain foods are XINA, and as often as not the patient is ordered henceforth not to allow a companion to eat certain flesh together with him.

This is called XINA XI BILONGO.

8th Class. Certain household fetishes, bracelets, etc., carry with their ownership certain restrictions as to food. The wearer of the NGOFO bracelet may not eat the fish MPULI with another person; he may not kill and eat an animal on the same day.


9th Class. Now, parts of some animals are found in the sacred grove. This summed-up class is called XINA XI BIFUMBA.

These BINA of the BAVILI are as follows:

The skin of the leopard finds its way into the XIBILA only as part of the dress of the individual. Neither the eel nor the cricket are found there, but the MPAKASA is the greatest of all the symbols entering the XIBILA of the BAVILI and so we will commence with it.

The wild ox in the stories of the Bavili is generally found acting as the servant or ambassador of either the Leopard or some princely animal. As often as not it is sacrificed while in the discharge of some duty. Thus when NZAMBI (NGO?) sent him for the wagtail's drum he was killed by the followers of that bird.

The tail of the ox called MAWSO is the sign of office of all the Kongozovo among the Bavili, thus the idea of obedience to the voice of one in authority is implied.

The wild ox is always on the alert for the slightest noise, it is peculiarly sensitive to sound. The horns and head of this animal are found in the XIBILA.

BAFU = the saw fish, the snout of which the BADUNGU carry as their sign of office. This snout is found in the XIBILA.

NKAKA = a kind of crocodile (opposed to the NGANDU or crocodile in the Kongo). This reptile is eaten by the BAKUNI or woodmen of the MAYOMBE district to the east of Malango's composite kingdom. It digs out its home underground in the banks of rivers. The hole is of the shape of the letter and great danger is encountered by the BAKUNI in hunting and killing it. The hunter by lighting a fire at the entrance (1) drives the reptile into the bend (2, 3). He then carries stones into the hole and blocks up entrance NO. 2, and lights another fire at the entrance NO. 3, and so suffocates his prey. Should the hunter venture beyond NO. 2 without having blocked it up the NKAKA is apt to slip through it and block up the main entrance with his body so that the hunter becomes captive and certain prey. One of the scales (MAKU) of this reptile is to be found in the XIBI LA.

BECI is what the Portuguese call silver fish. It causes great havoc with the fishing nets as it is a great struggler. The saying KUBELA NKANU, to lose right in a palaver, is connected with it. Its scales are found in the XIBILA.

SUSU = the fowl. White fowls are used as offerings by those going to the XIBILA to ask a favour. A fowl is generally found tied by a string to a peg in the ground in front of;a sick man the Nganga is trying to cure. It is a sign of good faith and is supposed to die if the Nganga in the presence of his fetish does not act fairly. It is killed and its blood used in certain medicines (XIMENGA). They call it MAFUKA the messenger among the animals, and there is a saying MUANA Susu KULEMBA KUCIATA KULALA NZALA.

A chicken goes to sleep hungry if its mother does not scratch for food for it. Its feathers are found in the XIBILA.

MAKUNKULA are the cockle shells that together with the oyster shells the people of Mamboma cast at the people of BUALI who have carried the coffin of NTAWTELA as far as the NUMBU tree. The saying MAKUKU MATATU XICI Ku BUNDUBUKU PE gives us to understand that it takes three ant hills for a pot properly to be balanced for cooking purposes. Many women and children are drowned each year by forgetting that when the tide begins to rise it is time to cease digging for cockles. A mound of these shells is found in the XIBILA.

NGWALI or NGUMBI or XILAWLOLO = the partridge, also a MAFUKA. The story goes that a Mr. Partridge fell in love with a Mrs. Fowl and went home with her, but passed a very wretched night in the coop owing to his fear of Mr. Fowl, and to the fact that the owner of the village gave loud orders at midnight to his people to kill a fowl in the morning before letting the fowls out, as he expected some friends the next day. The partridge got away. It is the bird that is killed by sons for their mothers when their husbands have neglected them for strange women. The head and feet of this bird are found in the XIBILA.

MAILI = oysters. The saying YAU MISAMU Y1 MATI MAILI gives us to understand that the palaver to be talked out is no small matter, and that it is as hard as an oyster to open. A mound of these shells is found in the XIBILA.

MBOMA the boa constrictor. Its skin is found in the XIBILA.

TELE the whale. Its vertebra (KALA KALA MBUSA) is in the XIBILA and is said to point out that people come there from all parts.

NKAWMBO the goat. When a member of a village has committed some crime worthy of death, a town's meeting is called and if there be one dissenting voice against his being put to death, his family supply a goat in his place. This is killed and every member of the community must eat a little of it. This custom is called MUNTU FUNDU NKAWMBO FUNDU. Thus both the goats and the fowl are XIMENGA (of blood).

The goat's skin is used in the XIBILA to sit upon instead of the usual grass mat. The animal itself is looked upon as noisy and lascivious.

SUNGU is a large antelope and the saying is (SUNGU MBAKALA MUNTU KE KULILA MU BINANGA) that the Sunga always feeds on the tops of hills and is therefore always ready to catch sight of his enemy. To look out becomes a habit of mind (SUNGA) with it. Its head and horns are in the XIBILA.

NZAU, the elephant. The chief of all the world the great giver of food (KULAWMBO NDUNDU KU MITEKA) for when it is killed people come with matets (baskets) and seem to be for ever coming and carrying its flesh away. It stands for the ideas of animal love and knowledge, and the story goes that it was led from Kakongo by a single string of piassava (NKAWXI BA KAWKILA NZAU Mu Luvusu). NZAU is pet name given to little babies. The hairs of its tail are found in the XIBILA round the necks of people.

MPILI. The spitting viper. This snake is said to object very much to noise or to being disturbed in any way. The people of the town of MPILI hold this viper in great respect, and will not allow the grass around the town to be burnt for fear of disturbing it. (LI very often takes the place of CI primeval) and PI means hush! silence! so that the word can be translated primeval silence. Its skin is found in the XIBILA.

NKALA (VUMA XIVANJI MANIA in full) the crab. After having held their breath with fright, the danger over, the BAVILI give vent to a sigh or groan of relief, this action they call Ku VUMINA and the word has thus come to mean to fear or respect. They liken this sigh to a rest, hence the word VUVUMA or VUVAMA, to be safe, or at rest. But the impression of fear remains, hence the saying, "KUFWA NKALA XIFUNDU MIZI," the claws of the crab nip even after it is dead. The crab, the sea, and sun, are opposed to NGO, the earth, and moon, that is to say "spirit," opposed to "matter." (KALA = to be eternally.) The claws of the crab are found in the basket of Bilongo, in the XIBILA.

NOUIMBI KE KU VUKA. The shark that devours. Thus we learn that the word VUKAI has the sense of devouring as well as that of copulating. The word QUIMBUKA is to fear (relating to that cringing fear caused by a guilty conscience). The KUBU or fin of the shark is found in the basket of Bilongo in the XIBILA. KUBU also means the curtain or partition that screens the bedstead (or the NKAKA NDILU).

NKUFU, the turtle. NUNI NKUFU U I NATINA MUANZA the husband turtle who carries the roof (of his shimbec) on his back. This animal has a very bad character; he is noted for his treachery and deceit, taking a mean advantage over those he has promised to reward. For instance, "he" is said to have made a trading compact with a man. They formed two traps to catch game. He chose the best one, the man agreed as they were partners, and he said it did not matter where the "game" was trapped as it would be shared between them. An antelope is caught by the turtle's trap. Instead of calling his partner to share the spoil he engages the ox to carry it to his town, promising him a share for his trouble. When the antelope has been cut up he sent the ox away to clean the plates, etc. Then he hid away the food in his strong shimbec. When the ox came back the meat could not be found, and he was much annoyed. He resolved to destroy the turtle's trap. Unfortunately he was caught in it. The turtle then called the leopard to help him, and played the same dirty trick upon him. The leopard swore vengeance, and went to the trap and so arranged it that it appeared that he also was caught in it. The turtle came along and gloated over his friend's apparent misery, but when he put his head out of his shell to have a look and smell at his victim, the leopard snapped it off. The leopard then went to the turtle's town and ate up all the food there, and then told the partner what he had done. The man recognised that the turtle deserved his fate. NKUFI means short in stature. The shell of the turtle is found in the XIBILA.

NVUBU (or NGUVU, the hippopotamus) UNILLA NGOLO, the hippopotamus that eats very much. There are many amphibious animals, but only four of which these words are used: NXELO KU BAKOKO NSAKTJSO KU VIA MBAZU. As

[1. See p. 71.]

a protection for the mouth of his bellows the blacksmith places an earthenware nozzle over it, so must men protect themselves against the fires which burn (ZINDOXI). These four are KIMBOLO, Nile crocodile; NGANDU, Indian crocodile (another way of calling a man a wizard); BAMBI, Monitor lizard; and the NGUVU or NVUBU. The word VUBA is to take altogether too much for one's self. The head of the hippopotamus is found in the XIBILA.

NKABI (the saddle-back antelope) Ku KABIKA NCITU MUNTU LI MONIO KU KABIKA BUALA BUANDI KUTUNGA (as) the antelope leaves the woods to die, (so) when the man leaves his town stockade he also dies. The word KABA is to divide. The horns of this antelope form the symbol of the parting of the ways. "We are all from one stock, and agree together along one road until we come to the parting of the way," says the sign.

MBAMBI NGOMBI (monitor lizard). They say that this lizard came along a road carrying a long basket or matet of salt. He noticed the little cricket NKAWLA resting in the leaf of the LICISA (string plant).

"Get off that tree" (sic), says the Mbambi, "and allow me to rest this load of mine against its trunk." "Why," answered the NKAWLA, "use such a false picture to deceive me; you know that this is not a tree, and you know that you simply wish to kill and eat me. I am here; kill me!" And the MBAMBI snapped at the NKAWLA and devoured it.

The skin of this lizard is found in the basket of bilongo in the XIBILA.

NSEXI (SECI or SACI), a kind of antelope that is also known by the name KINKUBA, an axe, and KIMPITI, half a matchet. What a beautiful yet deceitful and undutiful animal this is is well shown in the stories Nos. 4 and 19 in Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort.

NSEXI KU SEKA, say the Bavili, meaning the dust of corruption. Its head and horns are found in the XIBILA.

NVULI (the water buck). NVULI OBO, listen to what another says. Like the NKUTI antelope, the NVULI listens to the false cry of the hunter, and so often falls an easy prey to his destroyer. Its head and horns are found in the XIBILA.

NGULUBU NGULU MBAKALA KE KU MANA MAYAKA. It is the pig that steals the manioc (in the market). After certain palavers, certain household fetishes like MPUMBU are washed in the blood of the pig. Its dried blood also enters into many bilongo. It is the head of the pig that enters the XIBILA.


The strength (resistance) of the anvil (NYUNDU) demolishes the firmness of the waters, or the otter eats the fish called NGOLA.

The saying above is a figurative way of implying that the wife should satisfy the desire of her husband. The skin of the otter is used in the place of the proverbial figleaf as a dress. All princes in their visit to the XIBILA wear this skin.

There are five kinds of fish forming the class MBIZI XIBALA, the spikes of which enter into bilongo; they are XIENDO, MPUDI, NKOKO, NGOLA, and XIBUELA. MPUDI and NGOLA are the cat fish, the others are rays.

NZIKU (=the chimpanzee). XZIKU NKONDO, as the saying goes, "Be careful how you choose your friends."

NZIKA KE KU ZIKA MINA MUNTU, "an apparently friendly man may get one into a big palaver."

NZIKU is the XINA of mankind generally. It is not only that there is a certain resemblance between man and the chimpanzee in their outward form, but they have many habits in common. It carries its young on its back, and walks about the woods upon its hind legs with the help of a stick. It fights with a stick. But above all, it is very gallant, and treats its pregnant wife with the greatest respect, running away from her when she is annoyed instead of beating her. Unlike other animals, he is never caught in the act of copulation. But in spite of all this the Bavili say that man must not be led to believe that the chimpanzee is an animal that he can make a real friend of. Its skin is found in the XIBILA.

When a person wishes to refuse a request he has simply to mention his XINA. Thus, supposing his XINA to be NGWALI, the person says NGWALI, the words MINU I CIABAKOKO, I have it not," being understood. The word KAZILA (no road) is often used for the word XINA.

There is a class of people called MAVUMBU[1] (VUMBA to leak) living in different districts of Kakongo and just on the southern borders of LUANGO, who are not allowed to eat out of the same dish as the Bavili or people of Kakongo. Should one ask for food he must tell the people that he is MAVUMBU, but as it is a great disgrace to admit this, such a one seldom does ask another for it. I know one or two very rich and important men in the country, whose names I will not mention, who are MAVUMBU. But where these people come from I cannot find out, neither can I make out why they should be so cursed. MAVU=dirt, and so MAVUMBU may mean the essence of dirt.

We may now, I think, conclude that this remarkable word XINA means law, a thing forbidden, an abomination, and a totem.

It is said that the King Maluango has no XINA, but I think that this merely means that as NKICI CI he is in the place of God, and therefore above the law, for as Fumu his XINA is pig, and he must have his family BINA also.


Sacred Animals.


























[1. Father T. Derouet informs me that the tribe the Bavili call BAKUTU call themselves BAVUMBU Or BAHUMBU, and that their greatest fetish (sic) is NGO.

2. My linguister Bayonna who has lived among these people adds that when the father or prince Of the tribe dies his head (Father Derouet savs his hands also) is allowed to remain in the water until all the flesh comes away from it, when it is kept in a hut apart, and carried with the family should it remove to some other part. His penis is also cut off and smoked and then worn as a charm by his first wife's eldest son.

Can these people be the family or tribe from which the MAVUMBU have descended? And can NGO then be the sacred animal of not only the Kongo people but of all the Bantu?]

This formula differs from those which have preceded it. In connecting the animals. with the categories we must take account of the fivefold division of the laws; two families in the formula-the third and fourth-are classed together by them for this purpose; and the six families of the formula are harmonised with the five divisions of the law, which may in fact be regarded as prohibitions of the opposite of the categories; thus theft is associated with the idea of running away, and this is the opposite of love and union, two of the ideas associated with fire.


My friends have found no difficulty in placing these families in their order under the five great divisions into which their laws are divided. I give them exactly as they were given to me:-

1. XINA XIVANGA NZAMBI-against God and rulers.

2. XINA VA XIFUMBA -against parents.

3. XINA NKAKA -against neighbours.

4. XINA NSOKI or NSEXI -against covetousness.

5. XINA MVILA -against illegal marriages.

Xina Xivanga Nzambi.

As the KONGOZOVO armed with a tail of the ox (Mawso) punish offenders so does God-

The Badungu armed with the snout of the saw fish (bafu) are ready to avenge the abused authority of their king by punishing those who like the Mbambingombi would lead the people astray by false pictures (KUSALA Fumu, the magic mirror by which Nganga Nyambi is alone allowed to see the true picture of the prince to be elected in the place of the Ntawtela).

The Nkaka or executioner is ever ready to punish those who by their foolish talk disturb that silence (MPILI) ordered by the king concerning his name and that of God-Xibika Bakolu.

The above three commandments refer to God but also to Xifumba or the class that cannot be separated from God, in that God is man's father.

Xina Va Xifumba.

The Susu reminds the prince that on the fourth day (Sona) he must rest (Ku Kala vaci) and the people of the country (Beci) know that if they do not uphold the authority of parents and refuse to act as the Nsexi they will become corrupt.

Xina Nkaka.

The cockle shells (Makunkula) remind the people of the death of their king and how through loss of balance of mind they are led through vice to become murderers and the prey of that fear associated with the shark Nquimbi.

Desire is like the messenger (Nguali, partridge) that leads them to ask married women questions which lead to adultery and death if like the water buck (Nvuli), the woman listens to them.

Hard as it may be to open your mind (Maili) and tell the truth, it is better to say nothing than to bear false witness in a palaver like the turtle (Nkufu).

Don't let the snake Mboma usurp the place of your conscience and tempt you to act like the thieving pig (Ngulubu) that steals the mandioca.

Xina Nsoki.

Remember the size of the whale (tele) and the small size of the fish he swallows and don't be a glutton like the Nvubu and don't become a slave (Nkombo) through playing the goat but let your wife be all in all to you (Xingolo Xinyundu).

Xina Mvila.

Keep a sharp look out (as the Sungu) lest you fall into sin, and keep within the stockade of the law (Nkabi) of your own free will. Be loving and knowing as the elephant (Nzau) and as full of abundance, but take care how you choose your wife or companion and don't marry your Xina (Nziku Nkondo).

Be noble and serve and respect your God and those who are put in authority over you, and do not allow yourselves to come under the domination of fear (Nduma for Mboma).

This is the sum total of your duty towards God and man.

This XINA XIVANGA ZAMBI is connected with the category of water, through immorality and abuse of speech.

XINA VA XI fumba is connected with the category of earth through corruption (SEXI dust), which is looked upon as the opposite of solidity.

XINA NKAKA is connected with marriage and desire, through fear caused by their opposites, adultery and abuse of desire; and with motion and procreation, through the fear of punishment which causes the evil doer to run away.

XINA SOXI is connected with the category of plenty through the abuse of appetite and lust.

XINA Mvila is connected with life and birth, through the product of legal marriage.

Next: Chapter 16. Nzambi (God), the Word Nkici, and the Bakici Baci