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ance as frightful as possible. A visit is recalled to Dàdoo, a Vai town, where the king had died only a few days before. The three "Country Devils" in attendance at the plays came suddenly through the streets about eight o'clock at night. Such terror! The women and children, in fact, everybody were running and screaming and falling over each other in an endeavor to get into the houses. This "Country Devil" is a woman dressed as a man. It is impossible for anybody to see the "Country Devil" from the "Devil Bush," except he belongs to the society.

The "Greegree Bush" has an industrial and educational side. The girls are taught to embroider with gold and silver thread the tunics and togas of kings and chiefs. Some of them become very artistic in working palm trees, golden elephants, moons, half-moons, running vines, flowers, nature scenes and other objects in nature for various articles in dress and apparel. The Africans have a number of neat ways of dressing hair peculiarly adapted to conditions and to them. Three methods are recalled as examples. Using the center of the crown of the head, one way is to plait it in rows in all directions with the ends turned in with a stick, comb or ivory instrument made for the purpose. Another is to plait it lengthwise of the head; and still another is to plait the hair with the ends out in single plaits, arranged in rows. The girls are taught hair dressing that they may plait, besides their own, the hair of the richer Vais, some of whom have their hair oiled and plaited two or three times a week.

Instruction is given in cutting inscriptions on shields, breast-plates, and the like, housekeeping, singing, dancing, farming, sewing, weaving cotton, dyeing, making nets and mats and many other articles of domestic and commercial utility, decoration and dress. The writer has seen many Vai women making some of the most beautiful African blankets to be found anywhere along the west coast. In this institution the girls are taught their duty to the king, the law, and especially that which refers to the women. Girls are taught their duty to their parents, to their future husbands, and the other duties belonging to the common lot of Vai women. Of course the influence of the "Greegree Bush" is


considerably weakened by the republican institutions of Liberia on the one hand and by the faith and practices of Islam on the other. The greatest power of this institution is now in the interior of the Vai country, and it is almost nothing near the Liberian settlements.


Courtship and marriage among the Vais seem very simple. The casual observer would think them devoid of love; but they have their romances, their loves and dreams, their Romeos and their Juliets. Behind what seem to be mere form and custom are sentiments, though crude in some, which in other races are called love.

It is customary for the father, when he thinks necessary, to provide his sons with wives. The son may be permitted to select his own wife. In either case the preliminaries vary but very little. If the girl is very small, a straw is put into her hair by the suitor or his father. When a young man sees a maid he desires for his wife, he calls upon her parents and presents them with a present, varying in value and amount according to his wealth and standing. This is required to insure good faith on the part of the suitor. The making of these presents is called a "dash," which is very popular among native West Africans. This "dash" may consist of gin, rum, brass kettles, cloth, etc.

At the time the suitor calls and presents his "dash" to the parents he also confesses his love for their daughter. If the proposal is accepted and the contracting parties reside in the same town, arrangements are made for the couple to see each other from time to time. Just as the father usually provides his sons with wives, so the parents of the girls generally arrange for their husbands.

Most of the girls are placed in the institution called the "Greegree Bush," and when they come out, if not already betrothed, are on the marriage market. Very few girls in families of standing are not engaged long before they enter the "Greegree Bush.' The statement is here made upon the best of authority that engagements have been made

When a girl is The washing is

before the child was born, on condition that it was a girl. The explanation of this is family prestige. about to be married she must be washed. supposed to wash away the "Greegree Bush Devil." For as long as unwashed she cannot be married. This washing is a ceremony with expense connected with it, which is paid by the parents of the bride to be.

When the man has built his home and is ready for his wife, her people dress her up and take her to him. The groom then "dashes" her entire family, leopard teeth, kettles, cloth, and one or two servants, the amount never to be less than the expenditures of the parents in the rearing of the girl, including her training in the "Greegree Bush." During the period of engagement the young man must present gifts, from time to time, to the parents of his betrothed, of such things as they may need and desire.

When a young man marries a girl from another town, she brings to her husband some of everything she has, such as rice, plattoes, worro, salt, pepper, honey, palm oil, water, and even small fish which she throws into the streams. She does this for independence. So that if at any time she is taunted by her acquaintances of the town, she may reply that she has brought her own things, and is therefore independent of them. Virginity is very highly prized by the Vais, as it is among most West African tribes unaffected by outside influences.

It is the custom of the parents to guarantee the virtue of their daughter given in marriage. If she is not a virgin, the husband may annul the marriage if desired and return the girl. He may recover what he has spent in "dashes" to the girl and her parents in his suit. On the other hand if she proves to be a virgin, the husband shoots a gun. He breaks the good news to his wife's family and accompanies it with presents. And for two or three days there is a general rejoicing in both families and among their friends.

The family among the Vais is polygamic. This form of marriage naturally leads to a broader definition than what obtains among the civilized nations of today. All of the relatives of a Vai man and wife are members of his family. Every man may have one or more wives but he must provide

a separate house for each. While every man may have plural wives, the most of them have but one. And yet the poor man is about as able to secure the poor women as the richer man the richer women. Moreover, the Vai women, when once obtained, are a source of economic strength. By their industry most of the farming is carried on, and most of the products for dress and domestic use are made by their skill and labor. The women also obtain and prepare many of the articles for domestic and foreign trade.

The Vai women are gentle to their children, and sometimes very loving. The rights of parents over their issue have been very great. At one time children might be killed for disobedience and disrespect, but Liberian and other influences have wrought important modifications. A child may still be pawned. Along the coast the marriage bond is very loose, but far into the interior a wife may not be put aside at the pleasure of her husband. When men are away for a time, upon their return, they test the fidelity of their wives by the sassawood ordeal. This ordeal involves the drinking of so much poisonous liquid made from the sassawood bark and is very much dreaded; and no doubt is a very strong deterrent to some who might be tempted to be unfaithful.

When the wife leaves her husband for another man, the husband may recover from the latter, in addition to the purchase money, the value of every article given to his wife during marriage. If she leaves for any other reason her husband may compel her return through her parents, or the return of the purchase money and the value of all gifts to the daughter. The ultimate social fact to which attention is called is that wives are not bought as commodities as so many believe and the gifts made in prosecuting the courtship suit are mere tokens of sincerity and good faith.

A wife may be divorced for witchcraft or adultery, but for the latter a valuable consideration in goods and money is sometimes accepted by the injured husband. When a Vai man has a number of wives he always has a headwife to whom the other wives are somewhat subordinate; and upon his death his wives become subject to his eldest brother. And the wife does not become the property of the eldest son, as

observed by Mr. Ellis among the Yoruba-speaking peoples of the slave coast of West Africa.


Witchcraft is common to certain stages of intellectual growth. Every great nation of the earth has had its beliefs in some form of witchcraft. This was true of the Arabians, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and even the modern nations of Europe. Shakespeare opens Macbeth with witches. Dr. Johnson was touched by Queen Anne, and Draper says that Luther was not free from witchcraft. The belief in the touch of the king as a cure for scrofula was once held by the University of Oxford and the clergy in the palmiest days of the English Church.

It is natural, therefore, that we should expect to find some strange superstitions among the Vais, surrounded by the peculiar and extraordinary conditions of West Africa. The Vais believe that their dead are transformed into animals and birds and return to certain persons who employ them to the injury of others. The varied and uninterpreted phenomena of nature have impressed them with the existence of countless invisible spirits which visit calamity and death upon them. They believe that these spirits are in league with or under the direction of certain people, commonly known as wizards and witches; they call them sua-kai and sua-musu, sua-kai meaning man and sua-musu woman. A person practicing witchery is called sua-mo, sua meaning milt, used to test the practice of witchcraft, and mo meaning man or person.

If anybody dies suddenly or mysteriously, it is believed that he is either a witch or has been witched. Everybody is examined at death except the Muhammudans and the chief women of the "Greegree Bush." On the postmortem examination, if certain portions inside are found black and the sua refuses to float, the person is pronounced a witch. According to sex the person is called sua-kai or sua-musu. The body is dishonored, deprived of all ceremonies, and is buried outside of the limits of the town. This disgrace is supposed to attach to the family of the discovered witch.

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