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tack was begun at an opportune moment, when a long period of Ming misrule and her reduced vitality had so distracted China as to admit of her capital being taken by a coup de main. The importance of Nurhachu's work of training and preparation was fully revealed in this initial success and in the admirable temper of his successors, as they employed all the factors in their favor while pushing the conquest through to an end. But these factors were for the most part Chinese: the hopeless incapacity of the Ming pretenders, the willingness of the Chinese to fight for the foreigners, the schisms that separated north from south, faction from faction, province from province, the indomitable fortitude of a courageous people when once enlisted in their cause. It was the Chinese themselves who completed the conquest of China for the Manchus; it was the Chinese who suffered them to rule because they adopted their culture and institutions and took the natives into partnership in the management of the empire. No disposition of Manchu garrisons at strategic centers could have long upheld that rule or prevented insurrections had the Tartars departed from their policy and managed their great estate selfishly. And who shall say that those who, for fear or favor, cast their lot with the Manchus decided unwisely for their country? The sovereigns of China never had a broader sense of empire or a clearer idea of the physical confines and defences of that empire than under Kanghsi, the greatest of her modern emperors, whose expansion of her boundaries and increase of her prestige made her a greater power than ever before and strong enough to save her from subjugation by the predatory states of a newly awakened Europe.


Fundamentally, the aboriginal social institutions of the African tribes are substantially the same throughout the African Black Belt. An examination of the institutions of any single tribe will therefore give the social key to the African social situation. And for this purpose a representative ethnic group is selected from the peoples which now fringe the western border of the great African Sudan, commonly called the Vais.

The Vai tribe is one of the most interesting tribes in all Africa. It would be interesting if for no other reason than that, of the millions of Negroes of innumerable tribes, it has the distinction of being the only one which has its own invented national orthography.'

Ethnologically, the Vais belong to the Mánde branch of the Negro race. They are very closely related to the Soso, Bambara, Mendi, Cossa and Mandingo peoples, and like them speak a branch of the Mánde tongue. This family of the Negro race occupies the western part of High Sudan between the eighth and sixteenth degrees of northern latitude, extending as far east as Timbuctu. Between Senegambia and Cape Palmas, a narrow strip of lowland separates High Sudan from the Atlantic. The Mánde3 family extends into this lowland only at two points, one in the Mánde territory, the other in the country of the Vais. The tribes of this lowland speak varied languages, entirely different from the Mánde, among which may be mentioned the Basá, Kpwesi, Kirim, Nalu, Fúlup, Tímne, Baga, Balánta, Búlom and others.

1 Outlines of a Vai Grammar, etc., by S. W. Koelle, 11, London, 1854. 2 Races of Man, etc., Peschel, p. 466, London, 1876.

Mande and Mandingo from same root manatus, meaning a fish god, a creature worshiped by the people of Songhay tribe, Binger; also Affairs of West Africa, p. 211, Morell.

Generally spelled Pessey. This spelling according to system adopted in London for spelling African names: Liberia, Geographical Journal for August, 1905 by Sir Harry H. Johnston, K.C.M.G., K.C.B.


The Vai country is a portion of the great Negroland, the latter of which is inhabited by an estimated population of more than 30,000,000 Negroes. This Negroland was known among ancient geographers by different names, sometimes by Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigretia, Tekrour, but more generally by Genewah, from the last of which we have derived the word Guinea. The land of the Blacks, now generally known as the Sudan, is a broad strip of territory between the seventh and seventeenth parallels north latitude, extending across the African continent from the Atlantic to the southern mouth of the Red Sea, and marked by a water-belt of rivers and lakes from the Senegal to the sources of the Nile. Along the northern limits of the Sudan is the great desert of Sahara, beyond which lies the fertile strip along the Mediterranean, occupied by the Berber states. Connecting this fertile land of the north and the Negro Belt is the valley of the Nile, which suggests all those Arabian and Egyptian influences which for centuries have played upon the Negro peoples.


Rev. S. W. Koelle, who visited the Vai country about 1851 and who wrote a grammar of the Vai language, gives as his opinion that the Vais came from the interior. This opinion was based on the fact that the Vai language was bordered on the north and south by entirely different languages, the Kirim on the north and relics of the Déwoi on the south. He also found a tradition among the Vai people "that they emigrated from a district of the Mánde country." He thought also that the Mándes not only took the country but adopted the name of the conquered people. The tradition

S. W. Koelle, Vai Grammar, Preface, p. iii.

• There is a Mandingo word, andavai, meaning split from, and it seems very likely that the word Vai is derived from it. Vai scholars informed the writer that when the people now called Vais separated from the Mandingos, those remaining called those who left Vais in derision. Some stated the separation to have been caused by rival brothers contending over a Mandingan throne.

says that the Mándes were under the command of Fabule and Kiatamba.7

From what the writer learned in a trip across the Vai country, the opinion expressed by Reverend Koelle is not only highly probable but well attested by many considerations and facts other than those mentioned by him. The writer was informed by numerous chiefs and Vai scholars that the Vais came from the Mandingo country not only under the leadership of Kiatamba and Fabule, but Cassu and Manoba, his son. A story was told to the effect that a Mandingo king of Musardu had a son who broke a law, which according to custom forfeited his life. His father dearly loved him and escaped with him to the Tegya country and founded the Vai tribe, and later he and his followers pressed onward until the coast was reached. From all the obtainable data on the subject it seems pretty well settled that the Vais were Mandingos and came to the coast for commercial and other advantages.


Like most of the tribes of West Africa, the Vais are distributed over a thickly wooded country of wild and tangled forests, the natural abode of poisonous reptiles and the nightly haunts of ferocious beasts. Here may be found the prowling leopard, the fierce crocodile, and the man-like chimpanzee. Here may be seen the elephant, the buffalo, the hippopotamus, and the cruel, dreaded boa constrictor, lying for days in ambush for its prey.

This section is principally drained by the Manna, Marfa, and Little Cape Mount Rivers. At Grand Cape Mount is a lovely lake, extending for miles into the interior, and beside which is a range of hills whose insular crest at the coast is some 1065 feet above the level of the sea. For seven months there is almost continual rain, and for five months it is dry with transitions of intermittent showers. The climate is

'The spear which Kiatamba brought with him is said to be now at Bomie, and was exhibited to the writer during the ceremonies of the king who had just died.

damp during the rains except upon the mountains and warm during the drys. The mean average temperature at Monrovia is about 83° F. with daily variations from 77° to 90°. As in most of Africa communication is slow and difficult, and to those distant from the rivers walking is the only means.

Under these physical conditions the Vai people are scattered over the Vai country in towns and half-towns, connected with one another with narrow, winding foot-paths. The characteristic form of African society is the social group. Here isolation is not only unpleasant and exceedingly inconvenient, but absolutely dangerous and unsafe. Real native towns are the abodes of kings, past or present. In a town rice kitchens and the making of palm oil are prohibited. Towns are intended for comfort, pleasure, and the full enjoyment of the highest native life. Half-towns are for support, the main source and center of sustenance. All native towns or half-towns are built on sites for some or all of the following considerations: water, agricultural or commercial convenience, health, and military advantage. The towns are generally on hills difficult of approach to an attacking foe, while the half-towns are moved about in accord with convenience to gardens, farms and centers of trade. Commanding wide views of the neighboring country, many Vai towns are surrounded with two or three walls of barricade 25 or 30 feet apart. On the sides of approach, the ground is covered with large logs, at inconvenient distances or sharp sticks thickly stuck into the ground.

Towns are social, half-towns economic centers. In the latter are found the rice kitchens, the making of palm oil, and the raising of domestic fowls and animals. The towns consist of individual houses generally grouped together about an open space in the center and not far distant from one another with thoroughfares running both ways. With circular coneshaped roofs, the houses usually have dirt floors thrown up three or four feet above the general level. Covered on the outside with mud, the lower framework is selected from the varied and rare timbers of the country. is done with shingles made of palm branches. In the halftowns the houses generally indicate that they are temporary

The roofing

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