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BELIEF IN GHOSTS.

■ , .AMONG THE BLACKS... Nowhere in Hi* world is the, influence of "the viewle>*-> . ones who rule, the silent pHaee-s ,of ,tii«> earth" more strong tlian* on,', the: west. coast of Africa. '■ Nowhere, perhaps,'vis the dividing line be-' ■ 'tween .the-see'u :a*id unseen.. woi'M less fixed or imjiassu^l^. For i>eople such as these there is net "Gateless- Barrier." • The Ancestral Shades still;, play their. 'part in- thtv life of the .Community.'' passing at will from one plane to another arid-hedpmg- in such mundaiie matters. a« trading ventures: and the catching oi'-'pl^ntitul haatls of fish. ...; At eveijy. dance • nml pla^ the spirits •.of the-.forefather's '"'ga.-theVround to en-. joy the-.Qft'er ings, and on each eighth /day, (Fene'.'Be&?l libations >ar-e poured .•■and chop ■.sj^r-'vi•'•■■ in■. the .household >lirinos bythe he-ad of the family, who ,al«3 acts a« .pripfit.;" Before 'rao«t meals, too,: both Kalahari and. Ibos take a l'ittie fw"l in liieir ■ fingers and throw it on the ground, calling upon the names ".of ti:<> aiioestors; and inviting these to e«t with them". This is done partly, in thanksgiving for'gifts already -granted,; and -partly^ to pray, ;the, ..ancestors to War in mind' 1 theirll needs and send further supplies. These: beneficent ghosts ars> snid to appeal in visible form to their awe-stricken de-: scendants at th? nvll df-titt)dern Witch-, •e-s of I£ndor, and pronounce judgment: on alll mn.fcteKvi.3i dispute bought■•them for arbitration, according to an article by I), and D,: A«'.am-y Talbot in the London- "Tim«*.->.t". ■•:■■ • '. ';• In important.-.', eases/, as \i% disputes, not -with indi7?duAJjj, but between■■■families or towns, tl:i>se who wish- to appeal to the ancestrn-iJ .shades used generally to go to tho-;Al.vr:ne ;of the Long Jtrju at Aro diulfu, siuce ■ iihis, was thought; to.be a placo of- specia.l)? sanctity., ■- .where, in con.w^,ut»nce, thef spirits of ..the,dead could uiore easily,-renter into ■communication; with the living. Kej course .was ,had to this Jti ju also when children apparently died without cause or a man experienced persistent illluck with his "dealings;- . r . -.; ■ '.

Another-. ppofc ot considerable repute where ancestral; .shades might be consulted was a-'cta.c** in a hill near Awka, where the great; 'ilxiri Juju lived.' 'Information as to this & given from hearsay only. . According to an Ibo named Obi Amaru, "the old woman who serves the Ja|u is called 'Mbafor.' She shows the oative doctor^ medicines to clare people. When any of the peo-, pie round her die .their spirits always pass through' the Eziri cave into the realm of the. <Jpad.' When a big man dies a" woman coo,ks choixs, ' and the chiefs send Bh'e€K>, goats, chickens, etc., to: the Juju,' IV a-ayone-dies,, and the; sons do not .know.'where...the money is ( buried; they 'toko sheep, etc.', to this' .Juju, The.,.;4ye*t Kmers ,m\ist not cry.; If. they ciy; tlw?7-.tan never '-see their; father, againi .& Vii^x .do ajofc,j cry, the ; n. the .dead 'niau out. ' You; are fit; to see-him and, ;sxJip,Y' .^^' and •a.'Sk: qu-es-tians. ""''•■ But.v'you";'cannot hear what^' .Ke' •^ys\"".bnly;--ti^-'' ip^U:*t-e^/'tells---y,ou--:-liris-. Words—where ; th* {money is; ■;and wha.t is. going, to happen tliat year;, who is going, to be itmrd-ered, .who will die, •aiid wfet..piccftti^/ ynVL be. bofn.'.' . : .On, another owasiion the procedure adopted at. this 6ar me was described by Obi Amara aft foilows:—- :,

.•■■""there 1 was on«r a- -dispute. about the ownership .of 'certain property , in ■our house.. Therefore- the . Juju< bade the disputants go to the : Cave of the Spirits, where imag men. may hear the judgment of the .dead*; This cave is •in two parts, separated; from one another by painted pillars.;- In; the first ■division the. ■.questioners', waited; the second was left empty- for the ghosts; while .in between, by *c pillars, stood the priestess, After, the proper 'invocations! had beea made all men could see the spirits, who came .from out the darkness at the back of the cave; but no-man could hear them speak, save, ohily the priestess,.-who questioned them/and gavf* forth'their'answers. I myself have twice been present when the ghosts were thn3 called, up to give judgment.*'-. ••.•..:. .- i . ... Throughout t-iie wihole region it is a matter of odmuip'a belief-that the soul leaves the body hj tho? mouth, on the last breath at:de»afch,. fls aiso at: ■ timesin dreams. &paf> very powerful wizui'ds are said to be able to bring the dead to life again aftex" the soul has gone forth b.y'placing "medicine" in the eyes, nose,, aad mouth, of th© corpse, in order to draw back the spirit into its for.sakea. tenement. • .

;Among the/natives, hereabouts: a niaii is^. thought to .ii!i'/g> two' cQrresi>p|iding U> the • Egyptian • Khii and, Ka—that, Assy the higher ..spirit • tir Ego, called by Ivalabari Teme and by : Ibos Maw, wbwi l is eternal; ' arid : the vital-.spirit or Life-force, which:-perishes with ,the body,,aeul *s termed.Bio'Mbaw (inner heart, or, [>a,u) by Kalahari' and ■Mkpuruk-Obi ,(!>ali heart) .by Ibos. Acooixling to, jw'/eral Ibo chiefs questioned on the «übj<?et, the ;last named is _th<? spirit (breath) iaside. a_ man, wliich may tei£i£>«>rarrly leave him on account of suddw fear or accident, but soon refcuriiH; for .should' it stay away too long, tat" man' must die.

When . death, oomes, \lbos says: "-IMkpuruk-Ob'i/. 'Mbafule"—-that is, "The spirit haw flown!" Under stress of great terror, too," the same expression may be used; for example, a man feuddenly at-tawke-i-' by a leopard said, in relating tlhe- experience: "My spirit flew away at sight of the beast."

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19190515.2.50

Bibliographic details

BELIEF IN GHOSTS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9610, 15 May 1919

Word Count
885

BELIEF IN GHOSTS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9610, 15 May 1919

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