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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/167

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The Fetish View of the Human Soul. 143

all West African districts (not all, for it does not hold naturally in those where re-incarnation is believed to be the common lot of all human spirits), a class of spirits called the " well-disposed ones," and they are ancestors. Things are given to them — I do not say sacrificed, because sacrifice is quite another matter, but things are given to them — for their consolation and support ; and they do what they can to benefit their own village and families. Then comes another point, which I am much interested in, but on which I do not feel at present justified in stating an opinion, namely, the question of the immortality of the human soul. I have no evidence to lay before you to prove that this is believed in. That the soul survives the death of the body for a considerable period, whether any rites and functions are performed by the family or priests, or not, is quite certain ; but I think there is reason to believe that it does not live on for ever. I did my best to find out what had become of the souls of tribes remembered to have occupied districts I have been in, but which are now extinct, and found always it was taken as a matter of course that as the tribe was no more, so were the souls of it no more. And the anxiety to provide offerings for souls in the Tschwi, Srahmandazi, and the Gboniadse of the Oji points to there being a fear that, if neglected, these souls might suffer and in revenge inflict punishments on the living, or that they might perish and no longer be able to afford help. All human souls are not held to be of equal value, whether general re-incarna- tion is believed in or not. Among the Effek, for example, the greatest care is taken on the death of a person known to have possessed a really great soul. He may have been a great Fetish proficient, demonstrating he had the power to influence great spirits, or he may have been what we should call a successful man of the world, afgood trader. To secure that soul coming back to {i.e., keeping in) the house, is a matter of importance, and when the next baby is born to the house, means are taken to see which of