Travels Of Richard And John Lander Travels in West Africa (Congo Francais, Corisco and Cameroons) by Mary H. Kingsley




















 -   But so great a faith have I in the lack of
inventive power in the African, that I feel sure - Page 440
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But So Great A Faith Have I In The Lack Of Inventive Power In The African, That I Feel Sure

All their customs, had we the material that has slipped down into the great swamp of time, could be traced

Back either, as I have said, to some natural phenomenon, or to the thing being advisable, for reasons of utility.

The uncertainty in the parentage of offspring may seem to be such a utilitarian underlying principle, but, on the other hand, it does not sufficiently explain the varied forms of the law of inheritance, for in some tribes the eldest or most influential son does succeed to his father's wealth; in other places you have the peculiar custom of the chief slave inheriting. I think, from these things, that the underlying idea in inheritance of property is the desire to keep the wealth of "the house," i.e. estate, together, and if it were allowed to pass into the hands of weak people, like women and young children, this would not be done. Another strong argument against the theory that it arises from the doubtful relationship of the son, is that certain ju-ju always go to the son of the chief wife, if he is old enough, at the time of the father's death, even in those tribes where the wealth goes elsewhere.

Certain tribes acknowledge the right of the women and children to share in the dead man's wealth, given that these are legally married wives, or the children of legally married wives; it is so in Cameroons, for example.

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