Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/76

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54
[ch.
Chiefs.

successor, by imparting to him his tindalo knowledge; but this "could not always be done, or the choice made might not be acceptable. The people then would choose for themselves, and make over the dead chief's property to their chosen head. Sometimes a man would assert himself and claim to be chief, on the ground that the late chief had designated him, or because he had already a considerable following (belonging perhaps to an increasing kema, as the dead chief to a decreasing one), or boldly standing forth and crying out to the people that he was chief. Without a chief a village would be broken up[1].

The very great part played in the native life of the Banks' Islands by the secret societies hereafter to be described, the Suqe and Tamate, has always obscured the appearance of such power as a chief would be expected to exercise. Any man whose influence was conspicuous was certainly high in these societies, and it would be wholly inconsistent with the social habits of the people that a man whose place in the Suqe was insignificant should have any considerable power. Hence chiefs as such have hardly been recognized by the missionaries engaged in this group, though traders have found chiefs and kings. When Mala many years ago forbade the use of bows, it was taken to be done by the power he had in all the societies

  1. Some years ago Lipa, the chief of Olevuga, was carried off as 'labour' to Queensland, and the chiefless place was in confusion; but Dikea of Ravu in the neighbourhood, one of the same Nggaombata family, sent directions to Olevuga that the people should choose their chief, and then came over with his party, and took Kosapau, whom they had chosen, by the hand, putting him forward as their chief. The people then knew that he would be supported, and obeyed him. But Lipa came back after a time, and Kosapau quietly took the second place. When Kalekona of Gaeta died there was no one to succeed him; the chiefs of the other districts, his cousins, came to get their share of the property, and were hospitably entertained; but the chiefs of Honggo, Liukolilia and Tambukoru, of the Manukama kema, would have attacked the Gaeta people in their headless state, if Charles Sapimbuana, the Christian teacher, himself a Manukama, had not got pigs and money together and bought them off. Without a chief the Gaeta people would have dispersed; no Christian could be a chief of the ancient sort, and the Christian teachers had all agreed among themselves that they would take no place of such authority.