Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/158

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134 Death and Burial of the Fiote.

(2) or that so-and-so has bewitched him, (3) or that he died because his time had come.

The relations then go to the Nganga of the fetish or Nkissi mentioned, and ask him if he remembers so-and-so knocking a nail into it, and if so will he kindly point out the nail to them ? He may say yes ; then they will pay him to draw it out, so that the rest of the family may not die. Or the relations give the person indicated by the Nganga as having bewitched the dead man, the so-called ndotchi (witch), a powdered bark, which he must swallow and vomit if he be really innocent. The bark named MBundu is given to the man who owns to being a witch, but denies having killed the person in question. That of NKassa is given to those who deny the charge of being witches altogether. The witches or other persons who, having taken the bark, do not vomit are either killed or die from the effects of the poison, and their bodies used to be burnt. Since civilized governments have occupied the country a slight improvement has taken place, in that the relations of the witch are allowed to bury the body. If events turn out as divined by the Nganga, he retains the cloth given to him by the relations or their messengers : otherwise he must return it to the family, who take it to another Nganga.

While all this is going on, a carpenter is called in to build the coffin ; and he is paid one fowl, one mat of rushes, and one closely woven mat per day. Rum and a piece of blue cloth are given to him on the day he covers the case with red cloth. Palm-wine, rum, and cloth are given to him as payment on its completion. And now that all palavers are finished, and the coffin ready, the family are once more called together ; and the prince of the land and strangers are invited to come and hear how all the palavers have been settled. A square in front of the shimbec'" containing

' Miss Kingsley kindly explains that shimbec is the " Congo name for any native hut, possibly a Portuguese word originally."