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There is another pretended demon, called Mumbo Jumbo, whose mysteries are celebrated in the nighttime. Several nights previous to his arrival, a great noise is heard in the adjoining woods. The men go out to meet him, and find him with a stick in his hand, decorated in a hideous and fantastic manner with the bark of trees. Preceded by a band of music, he approaches the village, where the women ranged in a circle fearfully await his arrival. Songs accompany the instruments, and Mumbo Jumbo himself sings an air peculiar to the occasion. The most profound silence follows. After a pause, Mumbo Jumbo points out those women who have behaved improperly during the year. They are immediately seized, tied to a post, and whipped by the mysterious visiter, with more or less severity, according to the nature of their offence. All the assembly join in shouts of derision, and the women are quite as ready to take part against their sisters in disgrace as they are accused of being in more civilized countries. When African wives are refractory, it is a common threat to remind them of the annual visit of Mumbo Jumbo, who will assuredly find out their faults and punish them accordingly. The dress in which he usually appears is often kept hung upon the trees, by way of admonition. This dreaded personage no doubt receives his information from the husband or father of the culprit ; but the secret of the institution is so carefully preserved, that a king, whose young wife had coaxed him to tell it, was afterward persuaded to put all his wives to death to prevent discovery.
The following is the air sung by Mumbo Jumbo, as he enters a village: ...Alle’tto. 0.
MANDINGO Air of MumboJumbo
Fan na boo la o fa na ma o
The Africans have a most terrific idea of the sea, which they always call the big salt water. Some of the priests describe it as a malignant deity, and forbid people to approach it. Beyond this big water they suppose there is a land full of white sea-monsters, cannibals, and sorcerers, who send to Africa and carry off great numbers of men, women, and children, on purpose to devour them. Poor Gustavus Vasa, who, with his little sister, was stolen while they were at play, was exceedingly terrified at the sight of Europeans in a vessel. “Where do these white monsters come from ?” said he “Do they always live in these immense dens upon the water? How can they move that great house, except by magic 3 * The Africans consider our color quite as great a deformity as we regard theirs. When Andanson entered a village at a little distance from the coast, the children ran away screaming with terror; and it required a great effort to persuade them to approach the white man, and touch his long straight hair. Many of them suppose that the pale color of Europeans is owing to a leprous disease. When Mungo Park was detained at Benown, the king's wives made him unbutton his waistcoat to show his white skin; and even after they had counted his fingers and toes, to ascertain that he was a human being, they could not refrain from a shudder whenever they approached him. The king's sons seriously proposed to put out his eyes because they so much resembled a cat. The wives of the Foulah king were more civil to the traveller, but they found his features and color equally disagreeable. Mr. Park says: “As soon as I entered, the whole seraglio surrounded me, some begging for physic, others for amber, and all of them desirous of trying that great African specific, bloodletting. They were ten or twelve in number, most of them young and handsome. They rallied me with a good deal of gayety on different subjects, particularly on the whiteness of my skin and the prominence of my nose. They insisted that both were artificial. The first they said was produced when I was an infant, by dipping me in milk; and they insisted that my nose had been pinched every day till it had acquired its present unsightly and unnatural conformation. Without disputing my own deformity, I paid them many compliments on African beauty. I praised the glossy jet of their skins, and the lovely depression of their noses; but they told me that honeymouth was not esteemed in Bondu. In return, however, for my company, or my compliments, to which they seemed not to be so insensible as they affected to be, they presented me with a jar of honey and some fish, which were sent to my lodging.” The prejudice with regard to a white skin is not to be wondered at, when we consider that nearly all the intercourse between Europe and Africa has been for the purpose of obtaining slaves; and to this circumstance must be added the natural tendency we all have to admire what we are most accustomed to in our own friends. Mungo Park feelingly describes the sufferings of some poor slaves that belonged to a caravan with which he travelled. He says: “One of the female slaves, numed Nealee, began to lag behind, and complain dreadfully of pains in her limbs. Her load was taken from her, and she was ordered to keep in front of the caravan. About eleven o'clock, as the party was resting by a small rivulet, a hive of bees, which had been disturbed in a hollow tree, attacked the people and made them fly in all directions. When the enemy had desisted from pursuit, and all were employed in picking out the stings, it was discovered that Nealee had not come up. She was found, very much exhausted, lying by the rivulet, to which she had crept in hopes of defending herself from the bees, by throwing water over her body; but she was stung in the most dreadful manner. When the slatees” had picked out the stings as well as they could, she was washed with water and then rubbed with bruised leaves; but the wretched woman obstinately refused to proceed any farther, declaring that she would rather die than walk another step. As entreaties and threats were used in vain, the whip was at length applied. After bearing patiently a few strokes, she started up, and walked with tolerable expedition for four or five hours longer, when she made an attempt to run away from the coffle, but was so very weak that she soon fell down in the grass. Though she was unable to rise, the whip was a second time employed, but without effect. They tried to place her upon the ass which carried the provisions; but she could not sit erect; and the animal being very refractory, it was found impossible to carry her forward in that manner. The day's journey was nearly ended, and being unwilling to abandon her, they made a litter of bamboo canes, and tied her on it with slips of bark. This litter was carried on the heads of two slaves, followed by two more, who relieved them occasionally. In this manner she was carried till the caravan reached a stream of water, where they stopped for the night. At daybreak poor Nealee was awakened; but her limbs were now so stiff and