Table of Contents

Chapter One Politics of the Court and Bush
Springs of Political Authority 1 The Kinga in their Region 7 Circulation 9

Chapter Two Domain and Realm
The Way Things Worked 14 The Domain as a Chiefdom 18 (a) Allegiance and Munificence 20 (b) The Princely Office 23 (c) Centring the Polity 29 Problems of Scale 32 Competition and Systematic Change 37 Court & Bush: The Kinga Shift Dimension 44 Antipolitanism 51

Chapter Three Roots of Kinga Law and Right
Rule of Right, Rule of Law 54 Law & Social Structure in the Northern Realm 60 Lords & Landlords 68 The Logic & Spirit of the Law 72 Division in the Western Realm 77 Magoma 80 Rival Princes 83 Dynastic Claims 85


Chapter Four Concepts of Sanga Power
Kinga-Nyakyusa Expansion 92 History vs. Genealogy 95 Political Vitality 99 Conditions of Manipulative Power 102 Political Logic: Kinga / Mahanzi Differences 105 Social Control 107 The Ruling Establishments 110 Reassessing Domain & Realm 111

Chapter Five War Patterns: Politics & Ethics
War as Structure 115 War in the Social Memory 118 Territories 124 Profits of War 129 Faces of War 133 Heroics 135 Kyelelo of the West 139 Later Adventures of Kyelelo 145 Sham, Bluff, and Sacrament 149

Chapter Six Prince and Priest
Bush Doctor—Court Priest 154 Autochthonous Lore—Immigrant Authority 161 Localism and Ambience 163 Gardens, Boundaries, and Antidotes 167

Chapter Seven The Paranoid Prince
Managing Social Danger 189 An Exiled God 198 The Would-be-gods 210

Source notes ‡ 216 References 229




Springs of Political Authority
Kinga built the kind of polity which can be called a ‘protostate’. They institutionalized political authority without really abandoning the structural particularism of the simpler stateless society they would have known in the past. They place that past time some twelve royal generations before their short colonial age began. The kind of political growth they enjoyed is known world-wide among advanced agricultural peoples. Until modern times, it must have happened whenever a well-ordered system of local anarchy began to move toward trans-local politics. A people in the slow transition of a ‘protostate process’ doesn’t hold onto Gemeinschaft intact, but the political machinery of trans-local authority alters the terms of old social contracts. Kinga, under their Sanga chiefs, developed a culturally dual world drawing from two distinguishable repositories of social thought. It is appropriate to contrast the two as the ‘court’ and ‘bush’ versions of Kinga culture. Since Kinga chiefship gradually came to be backed by ceremonial religion and a standing priesthood, and since there were two tiers of chieftainship but no hierarchy, every local ruler headed an autonomous polity. The situation justifies calling every local ruler with his own court a ‘lord’, and calling a lord who takes tribute from his neighbours a ‘prince’. It is a system without room for a ‘king’ because it boasts no central direction. At first colonial contact there were four princely realms established, which I’ll call Central, North, West, and East. The West in particular, and the East less certainly, were beginning to break up or realign under new schemes of princely leadership. But since the German contact ended autonomy, there remained as the nineteenth century closed only four princely realms. ‡‡ [see source notes] What makes the Kinga case especially worth reporting is not the wealth of detail available but the special insight afforded by the social memory of Kinga elders, which I began to collect shortly before Tanganyikan independence in 1961. This is a case of protostates developing in a segmentary pattern—each of the four realms comprised a plurality of lordly domains—without lineages as building blocks. The key to understanding lineage organization is that it provides a segmentary structure into which


each component household fits in its one-and-only place. Achieving the same result in an amity-based society, where men form their alliances without reckoning on kinship, entails a ‘politics of amity’ which mainline anthropology hasn’t a model for. In this book I don’t offer such a model but concern myself with the empirical stuff on which it might be based. The well-known ‘segmentary lineage’ model accounts for the way new households are given each its one-only spot in a comprehensive topological model of political space in what then amounts to a trans-local community. A ‘segmentary amity’ model (if that is what we need) should do the same. In Twin Shadows I compared Kinga in a set series of reference frames with other peoples described for the Sowetan (for ‘southwestern Tanganyika’) region. In Four Realms my focus is still comparative but restricted to political process. I use the Nyakyusa studies of Godfrey and Monica Wilson again, and again make their Nyakyusa a foil for my efforts to understand the Kinga. I further pursue my theme of the ‘antipolitan ethic’—the moral position common to the men of both Kinga and Nyakyusa protostates— which allows that a man’s gift of loyalty to a ruler is retractable for cause. An earlier, ancestral community, such as would have been in place in the region early in the seventeenth century, would have continued to develop for some generations less politically and culturally than demographically. As late as 1800, if I could have observed it, I expect uKinga would have passed muster as an acephalous microculture (in French and more intuitively, a peuplade ), an autonomous folk community with a distinctive culture of its own. Each local settlement within the larger community, however, would have had its peculiarities, reflecting its own autonomy and self-sufficiency in everyday affairs. The presence of political authority would be more noticeable in some than other local communities, but a segmentary order would be developing—most local settlement areas would be articulated with a central settlement where moots would be held. In 1900, in addition to its handful of protostates, the broad region of Southwestern Tanzania still offered a variety of ‘prepolitical’ cultural-and-linguistic communities. Best known is the Pangwa. There, command over another’s action was not vested in office but in a particular role-relationship such as a kin tie (parent-child) or a contract (husband-wife). The dominant figure in a local settlement was, or was taken for, the eldest elder. Granting that even a young man under the rules of such political particularism, finding himself the eldest male of his household group, might owe obedience to no one, for the most part ethnographers have found that the path from childhood dependency to marriage is short in acephalous societies, and well policed by neighbours. Authority may stop at the limits of the family group, but no one is really expected to pursue his or her career


from any vantage point outside of family membership. By the time they must deal with each other as adults of the same sex, parent and child in daily interaction generally make do with the softer sanctions of reciprocity, and authority comes to be scarcely detectable. Father and son, elder and younger brother may have to settle their disputes as strangers do, depending on special institutions of peer-dealt justice. But the essential feature of acephalous social structure is that the socializing groups are domestic units or compounds recognizing mutual dependence and agreed to hanging onto it in face of trouble. Where close-kin groups are robust enough to handle disputes over land, property, and marriage rights, a society without any formal superstructure may achieve a considerable size and density. Sometimes, as probably was the case with Pangwa, the ‘eldest elder’ pops up when a local spokesperson is needed. But pop-up leadership with continued success on the score of growth and demographic density leads either to division (the ‘hiving off’ and migration of lineage or clan segments) or politicization. In the long run for kinship societies there must always be a rather nervous blend of the fight-or-flight alternatives. This leads eventually to the co-optation of the kinship order to oligarchic political management on behalf of a trans-local community. So, at least, goes one scenario most of us credit. But the major transition is so gradual, through the elaboration of existing institutions for managing conflict; through slow change or episodic explosions of warlike activity; through plague and pestilence and setbacks of every sort, that the brightest observer who had lived through most of it would still be hard put to say how such things happen. For Kinga, most of the tales are about warfare, about the relative poverty of their ancestors, about witches, and about mythical men of magical powers. Among Western scholars ancient Jewry is justly famed for hanging onto its historical narratives; but the accounts at least from Moses onward are of a literate people. The past an ethnographer can get—all I might have got with twice the time and diligence in the field—can’t come close to ‘history’. What I can do is reconstruct precolonial realities from the information of elders who knew them in their youths. It is an unlikely scenario for a proto-state to suppress any of the institutions of social control to which it is heir from prepolitical times. Politicians find it more prudent to develop existing custom and turn it to new uses. So dispute settlement moves from self-help actions by kin groups to mediation by court authority but does so by insensible steps. To illustrate, a hut-burning occurred in the Western


realm during my fieldwork. It was an act of self-help by an injured party from a neighbouring political domain, and was considered to settle accounts. The matter was never brought to court, having been resolved within the rules of the game in the ‘bush culture’: the local ruler at the time had more to lose by getting the incident into the colonial record books than by letting it pass unsanctioned. But the occurrence itself discloses the rather special pattern of history which marks Sowetan history. It is easiest to understand when it is considered as a temporal series of structural overlays. Rather than the new way of doing things replacing the old, you get an accumulation of law. An injured party can revert to an older scheme when the current institutions of government are inefficient or inaccessible. In this case, too, we have the evidence that the overlay pattern is as old as the institution of the royal courts among Kinga. The direct approach to redressing a tort—self-help, the transactional sanction—had to be one of the earliest ruling court’s targets in its takeover of the jural system. That it nonetheless persevered perhaps twelve generations later should not surprise. Traditional institutions for conflict resolution used by the Kinga and their regional neighbours were moots, courts, and ordeals. After sixty years of colonial rule, the jural proceedings I observed among the Nyiha (far neighbours of the Kinga, with a still strongly particularistic bush culture) preserved the atmosphere of the moot, where Bena, Hehe, and Kinga magistrates ran their courts in an authoritarian fashion superficially closer to that of a colonial magistrate’s hearing. But the history of these three peoples shows that the German and British models came on scene too late to be decisive. The difference in style between moot and court was a tangible sign of a difference, deeply rooted in precolonial times, between the region’s two sorts of political community.‡ Kinga in colonial times (as always before) would not have seen their courts exercising authority in a style calculated to erode the substance of justice rendered. In their hearings the final decisions were backed by the authority of high office, but always rendered in a manner dramatizing a consensus of peers, so capturing its legitimacy. To be “tried in open court” describes the Kinga court case exactly: the facts being quickly established, most of the talk you will hear is from the public, assigning judgement. When the tide of opinion falls back, the judgement is ready in the hands of the ruler. In this way, the kind of authority a traditional chiefly figure could exercise was set apart as an extraordinary instrument, different in kind to the ordinary authority exercised within a household. It was a power, like


witchcraft, to which ordinary men don’t aspire. In the case of the Kinga ‘high prince’ unkuludeva , the dangerous nature of this power was dramatized in special ways, including the sequestering of the ruler’s person. At a hearing in a princely court the ruler’s presence was felt not seen; the court’s decision remained tentative until the lay magistrate had amply reported it to the prince, and returned to the court to render it final. Procedures in lesser courts were not so elaborate but evoked the same principles. It has sometimes been thought that the simplest human societies were in one way or another controlled by tradition. But unless you like to think of culture as brainwash, this position requires you to supply some explicit social mechanisms. Gerontocracy might be such a mechanism, but societies which grant to elders as a class some authority over younger adults as a class, are rare. Age and gender, like the specifics of parentage, are quite often a basis for rank concession, but rank superiority is not to be confused with authority as such. For the most part, everyday authority in a micro-cultural setting is exercised within particularistic networks. There age or male gender not infrequently imparts a defined authority over ingroup juniors or women, generally reflecting the norms of domestic organization and the marriage system. Hence when anthropologists describe ‘ordered anarchy’ or label a society ‘acephalous’ they are noting not that authority has no existence there but that it has innumerable centres and forms, and can only be exercised at short range. The garden of government needs not planting so much as weeding in such circumstance. Some societies achieve a remarkable degree of social coherence through ritual rather than political means. But Kinga ceremonialism was developed in a manner meant to strengthen the position of a political ruling group, not to put the people directly in contact with supernaturals. An individual in desperate straits must seek to private practitioners for a cure. If that led eventually to open confrontation and an accusation of witchcraft, the court came to provide the necessary forum and means of settlement, but the court culture could offer no solace or teaching. It developed rather in the direction of building up an effective political régime, to which ritual and ceremony would be largely ancillary. The major institution of a Kinga court village was its barracks, a kind of college for bachelor men in their prime. The emergence of genuinely political institutions is (in the view I have to present) the emergence of universalistic authority, first in very limited roles but finally in a systematic fashion providing, in prin-


ciple, impartial coverage. In a fully centralized system, as Thomas Hobbes was so careful to note, the political problem is only negative— how to keep the top offices (or power élites) in check. Looking back from this end of our millennium to seventeenth-century England I see at once that the governments Hobbes could have had in view were— and I look away from the matter of scale—a good deal closer in style to the Kinga than to ours. The crisis of that century had to do with the balance of power in a monarchy formed from hitherto autonomous regional kingdoms. Kinga in the nineteenth century were engaged in testing the potential of a centralizing ‘kingship’ and of limiting regional autonomy, all on a smaller scale. The three centuries and more since Leviathan have given us plenty of practical experience with the problem of authority and power, but for most of us only a diminished sense of its transparency. Still, since the great source of complication in our own world has been the growth of bureaucratic government and industry, we can set much of our experience aside. First this plain definition: a polity may be called a state so far as a system of universalistic authority has been put in place, scanning all acts affecting the public interest. In a protostate this kind of authority has more limited scope. A by-product of the emergence of a state is some rule of territorial jurisdiction; but the essence of this rule connects it not with boundary maintenance, which is only instrumental, but with the universalization of authority. The same may be said about the legitimate access by authority to the means of coercion: since nothing less would be enough to establish a generalized system of authority, a ‘monopoly of force’ may be a necessary but need not be a defining condition of the state. How else do you get the kind of authority which in ordinary English we call political? One of the problems facing the world’s first politician was that of holding people. When a moment’s dissatisfaction is enough to prompt a man to pull up stakes and go off on his own or join another group, authority has no firm dimension in time. Even the tightest agnatic kinship systems do allow exit, but they so limit its marginal value (to a discontented or frustrated man of the lineage) that the rate of exodus is small. Universalization of authority is by definition not complete until belonging is forever, but practical political systems do not try to reach so far into the regions of the soul. It is enough that the thought of exit be unattractive to anyone with a stake in the system. In great urban societies personal mobility may even be protected by the laws of the state, but in the politics of particularism freedom has a different meaning. Consider the example of a ship’s captain and crew under the


traditional laws of the sea. While the captain’s broad authority remains tied to the time-scheme of a voyage, the crew’s obligations are contractual. If the captain’s sovereignty is universalistic in quality, it is not so in quantity, being limited in time. But let the ship be outlawed and the terms of the contract change. If the captain’s authority is to survive at all, it must become genuinely political. The pirate ship is a mock state. Let a man jump ship, he loses his stake. But on the mountain slopes of Kingaland, freedom to walk out has never been so tightly foreclosed. With half a day’s walk from the court centre you are in the bush and have the freedom of an acephalous culture. The social contract between yeoman and lord is limited by this. Reconstructive anthropology has to rely on analytical models, and the fashion in modeling seems fated always to change. That much given, there is a strong argument for using models based on the regional culture of the people under study. The region I’ve chosen is the Sowetan version of Eastern Bantu civilization. The setting is a migratory settlement area several thousands of kilometers from north to south, and varying hundreds of kilometers from west to east. The known time depth is in excess of two millennia. The entire civilization is a single linguistic province, with islands of ‘older’ language groups scattered through it, which show that the Bantu expansion was everywhere overlaid on an earlier, sparsely settled civilization. The possession of the arts of iron forging, and the agricultural tools so made possible, must have been the main factor in putting the Bantu in position to expand by colonization and assimilation, not the warlike conquest which eradicates the indigenous community. The survival of a (somatically) San population in Kingaland at least into my field period is a living remnant of the gradual settlement process which brought Bantu-speakers from lower parts of the Southern Highlands into the mountain slope region of the Livingstone mountains. Reconstructive anthropology has to be conceived in a broadly historical methodological frame. We have to read an ethnography of Kinga political and military institutions in the particular context of the larger regional culture in which Kinga partook.

The Kinga in their Region
The political culture in focus is that of a highland people of less than a hundred thousand, settled in a temperate part of Southwestern Tanzania. The region as a whole is one of some contrasts but


of uniformly agricultural settlement. I have elsewhere shown that a comparative ethnography of the Kinga and their neighbours can justify our grouping them conceptually as a single regional culture. If it was partly for convenience it was mainly to distinguish the cultural from the less well-defined geographic region that I have collapsed a longer phrase, giving me a ‘Sowetan region’ and a ‘Sowetan political archipelago’ within it, comprising Hehe, Bena, Kinga, and two Nyakyusa-speaking protostate systems. The Kinga rank, among the dozen or more Sowetan peoples who were generally recognized by colonial powers, middling as to population but fairly high with respect to security, general prosperity, and political development. Each of the four Kinga realms was governed by a prince of royal blood, and the princes though styling themselves as perpetual brothers persistently fought. Each realm was composite, consisting of the capital domain which was the seat of the prince ( unkuludeva ) and lesser domains whose rulers are lords ( untwa , pl. avatwa ). These last generally shared nominal kinship with the royal houses but exercised a local sovereignty which stopped the princely authority at their borders in every connection except those of ritual recognition and its material expression in tribute. The Kinga may be thought particularly prone to politicization for the reason that they emphasized lineage solidarity hardly at all, but a good deal of this is product not cause of their political development. Nothing suggests land or water shortage spurred development, but their active smithies must be considered. It is easier to argue their development was in reflex to that of trading partners to the east and west—which is to say, to deflect the question. Kinga were part of the rise of an extended political archipelago running in a crescent through the whole region. From linguistic evidence it appears the original centres of protostate development were well apart, with bush cultures always between. The most economical explanation would be local political entrepreneurship building centres of strength and stability in a region knowing increasing turbulence as pass-through country. This would have been a gradually expanding response to migratory drift through centuries of Eastern Bantu expansion. Kinga seem always to have organized their community life in small hamlets where the norm was free association or amity loosely based on (fictions of) kinship. The nearest picture we have to early Kinga conditions is Fr. Stirnimann’s ethnographies on the Pangwa, southern neighbours to the Kinga East realm. By the nineteenth century, marriage was usually virilocal but, wherever court culture ruled, was undertaken a decade or two later in life than nature allows,


so that in the formative period of adulthood men lived and slept with men, women with women, in the kind of association which is grounded in propinquity and mutual choice not the ascriptive ties of birth. Everyone had fast friends and a wide personal circle among his or her gender peers. This protracted bachelorhood for both genders neatly served the needs of the royal Sanga courts, and can hardly be explained in any less political way. Political authority for the Kinga in traditional times was almost unopposed by the claims of any private, agnatic or cognatic power system. They practised a mountain slope agriculture which tended to concentrate population in separated, if usually open, valley sites with a good deal of barren country between, always interspersed with grasslands suitable for goats and sheep. As a setting for achieving the good life through hoe-culture, and for the cultivation of political gardens on the side, uKinga was not a bad place.

Should we consider that Kinga, with their court/bush dichotomy, had evolved a stratified society? This is a key question concerning the degree of complexity their political economy had attained, and the answer seems to press accepted theories about the origin of states. But it is an awkward matter to settle in plain terms. What is the most elementary form of class stratification? There are semantic difficulties—a distinction worked out for occupationally variegated societies may be useless in the Tanganyika highlands. Even holding scale and technology constant, systems of stratification differ a lot from one culture to another. The same terminology which yields a lucid analysis of one case may only confuse the next. Efforts to extend the concept of caste to the New World and pre-colonial Africa offer a case in point. The simplest of human societies is not without a vertical status dimension, and this will naturally grow as structural complexity is added, locking in local peculiarities. For describing the Kinga I am particularly wary of the ordinarily static connotations of ‘stratification’ and ‘social class’, since the Kinga system of social differentiation seems to have functioned more as a spur to circulation (mobility) than as an impediment to it. It is proper enough to inquire whether the Sanga groups in each realm constituted a ruling class or aristocracy. But the most telling question is how far the Sanga reputation was a function of the system of


circulation which the princely courts were able to sponsor. One point which can be set right at the start is that the Sanga were only in the very loosest sense a ‘ruling clan’ or even a ‘ruling class’. Strictly, the Kinga had no clans at all, since there were no unilineal descent groups which regulated marriage. Local Sanga ruling lines considered themselves exogamous, but in practice extended their exogamic regulation no farther than was dictated by common Kinga incest rules. Political marriages between Sanga courts were sometimes undertaken, and may well have been common. Even the hint of preferred endogamy which the known cases offer turns the mind from ‘clan’ to ‘class’ in any event. The ethnography of the Kinga, like that of the culturally related Nyakyusa, suggests the use in English of labels such as ‘ruling group’ or ‘nobility’ or ‘aristocracy of birth’; but any such labels (including ‘kingship’) should be taken with salt. ‡ The Sanga royals were not the only élite group in Kinga society. Their importance would be obvious to any observer, though. Kinga are known by an own (given or chosen) name and a surname which is ordinarily a patronymic. In most parts of the land in 1960 eight or ten surnames would have included almost all the residents, but only the Sanga were an important grouping in all parts. They were generally the largest, comprising in all a third of the Kinga people. At one place young men even talked of abandoning use of the name because they felt it said nothing about their kinship connections. It is widely admitted that the Sangas are so many not through natural increase alone but through a kind of fosterage or identity-patronage which suited the political strategies of the Sanga courts in traditional times. There are said to be four kinds of Sanga to which a person of that surname might trace ancestry:

Royals are members of princely households and former members of reigning households. Royal kinsmen are more numerous, comprising all Sanga who can claim genealogical ties to a living ruler. In 1900 they must have been a more visible social class than they were in 1960: I had difficulty judging from reports because disinterested informants were hard to find, and whatever special prerogatives royal kinsmen may have enjoyed seem to have been subtle. Merit Sanga were commoners [Sw: raia — K: avavanda] who as courtiers had rendered meritorious service to a prince or princeling. The standard or at least the ideal procedure was for the ruler to


reward such a man by bestowing on him a royal princess and along with her the right to bear and pass on the Sanga surname.

Slave Sanga were the offspring of a ruler by hostage women who were not taken as regular wives but obliged to produce and nurse to weaning a child of the court before being returned (if they would) to their people.
From this is it clear that the Sanga name as such bore no certain implication of rank. It did carry an association with court culture and the princely system of rule wherever men loyal to the court circulated out to the peripheries, as they normally must at marriage. On the frontier, the Sanga were more nearly political missionaries than settlers by force of arms; but they had the arms of the court and the bearing of soldiers to make their message convincing. They were organizers, comprising as such a loose fraternity of political entrepreneurs. We might also think of them as war veterans. The open, peer-competitive basis of masculine association had to be deeply engrained in a male psyche after a long decade of growing up in the bush, and boys born at court weren’t set apart from this experience. It would have been anomalous if the same pattern of association had not continued among men in barracks. The overall congruence of domestic and political arrangements was hardly accidental, the peculiar organization of the court village owing only its barest essentials to what might be called the standard political system of the larger region. While birthright was a key to succession in princely office, otherwise a man’s standing at court was a reflection of his demonstrated capacities in fighting, hunting, and play. The stakes for the ambitious were personal recognition and even formal rank, but not elevation into a social orbit apart. Segregation was present in two conditions: the prince and his wives (with their infants) were wholly secluded in their private lives, and there was a special men’s barrack house ikivaga (pl. isivaga ) for the court community—for bachelor males of the royal or priestly households. The reason for segregating royal women was the sanctity of the princely sex life, which embodied the community’s hopes of fertility. The reason for segregating royal males was nothing of that kind but reflected the logic of the court village as a local settlement which, like any other, required a house where boys and bachelor men would live apart from their sisters. The other isivaga at the court were for commoners drawn from the countryside and had the age-structure of an adult barracks not a communal dormitory. Circulation began for men with a young commoner presenting


himself at court to demonstrate that he could be worth his keep. This he would usually hope to do by participating in cattle raids or equivalent exploits and excelling in the “schools” of war—or he might have a vocation as a minstrel, an alternative path to honour. The height of success for a warrior at court was to be taken into the royal guard avanyigoha ; but the guard was not separately quartered, nor was a royal Sanga in any way preferred to a commoner, as each man’s true prowess was a matter of public knowledge. I was told that a royal Sanga who proved a coward would be left in war to guarding women. A commoner of the same cast would simply not have or seek to gain entrée at court. When a man’s soldiering days were done he could expect to begin life anew as a farmer. The prince should reward him with a wife according to his due, and he would move out with friends to a place found suitable. There they could usually expect without any special show of force to be accommodated by neighbours. That was the logic inherent in the relations between court and bush cultures. Where there was doubt, there were ways of pushing the Sanga identity and reputation to legitimate what almost always must have been an intrusion from a position of power. The law of the bush gave a broad kind of ownership in land to the first settler, whereas the law of the court territorialized land. The spreading of the Sanga rule and the Kinga identity in this way must therefore have been experienced locally as a kind of micro-Anschluss. We can know from a few cases in the Western realm (still not consolidated at Contact) that the local bush leader was likely to be chased out initially, then called back as priest/rainmaker to give final confirmation to the new Sanga establishment, in cases where it had flourished so well as to have the makings of a minor court in its own right. The cycle of movement was complete when, a generation after the initial Anschluss young men from the new settlement began seeking back to the major court as the place to test ambition and make sensible contact with a wider world. At the heart of the Sanga system of circulation was an institution which made use of fosterage (in the broadest sense and in various forms) and ceremonial symbolism to support an expansionist military establishment within a framework roughly corresponding to Aidan Southall’s ideal type of the ‘segmentary state’ or protostate. The overall frame, considered as context for decision and action, will be discussed in later chapters. The questions which should concern us first focus on scale and proportion in the social system of a single realm. This is the territory within which armed fighting was admitted


to be illegitimate, and there was normally a peaceful deployment of personnel. It was the realm which comprised the setting within which an efficient political economy might evolve. What can we actually know about a system of rule which crumbled away in the first decade of the German presence and about which we have next to no useful records? My main sources of information are three: I talked at length in the field with old men who had been part of the precolonial court system. The oral history I recorded, along with some personal war stories, was made up mainly of tales which incidentally illuminated the institutional framework of the courts. Partly from discussion but largely also from observation in the field I acquired a sense for Kinga political thought. Unexpectedly, the last of these sources—observation of the way things were done under a colonial and post-colonial government—proved most valuable. One pertinent analogy would be the jig-saw puzzle: pieces don’t easily assemble themselves without a sense for ‘the picture’. The methodological position I am taking can be understood as a Gestalt-theoretical approach to history: the whole is, for intelligibility, prior to the parts. To my mind it is the only premise which legitimates interpretive reconstruction of worlds we have lost. That means putting all the bits we do know in a context which illuminates them. I don’t know of any scientific blueprint for the enterprise. ‡‡ Since it isn’t consistent with this position to burden a reader with evidential details without first sketching in the bigger picture, the following chapter is devoted to a veridical model of a Kinga realm. That is a generalizing model warranted to be consistent with the facts so far as known. The result should be suitable for reference wherever a functional (how-the-system-worked) perspective is needed. A veridical model is true only to the extent that its author knowingly hides or misrepresents nothing. It is an honest construction here intended, like a quick sketch-map, for someone new to a territory and wanting a sense of proportion. Quantitatively, how important were the offspring of captives? of non-Sanga from peripheral settlements coming into the barracks life? How authoritarian was the atmosphere in the barracks? Where I can’t now get solid answers for detailed historic reconstruction, with care I can at least rule out the worst distortions a hasty or myopic judgement might impose. If vagueness can’t be avoided when you have to bridge information gaps, half the cure may be organizing the main known facts at the outset, put just in the light of common sense. That is what I have in mind.



Domain and Realm

The Way Things Worked
Kinga ideas about political space were those of the Eastern Bantu, with a few adaptive elaborations of their own. Since those ideas are not transparent, and since Kinga political life takes its whole pattern from them, I start with this. Because a household can’t exist without fixed tillage rights, land in effect is held by households. From earliest times, in any settled neighbourhood a newcomer or a young person attaining maturity had to be granted those rights. In traditional law, the grantor would have been the head of the original household settled in those parts; and in traditional history every named settlement developed from such a first settler. Precedence was the basis of deference. But as settlement progressed with the continued southward spread of Eastern Bantu Iron Age farmers into the region, boundary problems brought the Kinga to move from depending entirely on private or ‘network’ arrangements to developing a public sphere. This entailed recognition of a central meeting place where moots could be held and binding decisions made through agreement by all parties. As with any crescive institution, the moot would have grown from informal to increasingly formal procedures; and with it the need for assigning someone to bear the responsibility of public office. The original political system was accordingly that of a pedestrian community whose household heads could all be assembled at call. This works out (by the usual rule of thumb in this mountain slope ecozone) to a typical maximum of about a thousand households, seldom more. These are the Kinga domains. There is no special word for them in the Kinga language—there are only a few in each realm , and everyone knows their names. Accordingly, Kinga lack any special word for the realm . The names of the four realms are in each case (as with us for ancient Rome) the place-name of its leading domain. Another historical analogue which may come to the Western mind is city-state


Greece, imagined in a formative stage. Up to a point, such models may be apt, if one will grope backward (say) from the Mycenaean ascendancy, imagining the polis of pre-urban, proto-state times in the Aegean world. Have in mind that even a thousand years later Aristotle would see agriculture as the occupation of our kind. My plan is to offer a sketch of the Kinga system first, leaned of ethnographic detail, because that seems to me the shortest way to lay down my analytical cards. This puts the interpretive purpose, portrayal rather than piecemeal description, up front. There is a special problem with the staging of this case. Kinga political culture, in harmony with the domestic system, is on the improbable side. It is not that there are massive internal contradictions. Everything dovetails nicely. I can think of no other society, unless it would be the Todas of Tamil Nadu, whose every institution is so irrevocably a part of one unique whole. But I’ve found that ready-made distinctions fail to sort out the Kinga puzzle. In both the public and domestic spheres, Kinga culture does include the standard round of Eastern Bantu institutions, but none of the actors wear their usual countenance, and things don’t work the same way. Perhaps Kinga have had more to do with the invention of their culture than their less isolated neighbours have with theirs. The present chapter aims to help a reader judge with open mind. Both in its court and its bush version, the folk culture was fully adapted to the Sanga political system, and the adaptation deeply affected domestic life. The psychosocial orientations of men and women contrast with those of their linguistic cousins in the region. Readers of Twin Shadows, which deals with these contrasts, will have some understanding. For others the sketch I present in these early pages may serve to introduce a story with an interesting plot. Historically, the Sanga system can be seen as an overlay on the proto-Kinga bush culture which had taken root during the Early Iron Age. Kinga occupy the heart of the Livingstone mountains, and iron tool production enhanced their economy from the start. By the end of the nineteenth century, Kinga had formed their special type of dual society—they had two systems going in symbiotic union. Court and Bush were connected through the circulation of men and women, as a feature of their life-cycles, between central and peripheral institutional settings. We can have no statistics, but the traffic between these two spheres and styles of life was enough, with the help of certain Sanga outreach tactics (a tax and a ritually elaborated agronomic calendar), to legitimate Sanga rule in all but the scattered hamlets of a frontier nature never quite pulled into the new order. Out


there a more pristine version of the Kinga bush culture prevailed, and militarism had no standing. What became uKinga under colonial rule comprised an unusual variety of microclimates and ecologies, all imposed by a broken terrain. In more accessible parts the Sanga system had a profound effect on the bush culture but without quite annulling the autonomous nature of the two lifestyles, court and bush. Politically, the Sanga courts were buffered by their marginally settled frontiers but poised to protect the hamlets from which the court recruited its age-class of warriors. It is inherent in the logic of any sort of evolution, social or biological, that it happens in a competitive context. Human institutions evolve in autonomous communities competing for a purchase on earth with other polities similarly organized. At whatever demographic scale you examine the Sowetan area, social space is allocated in blocs to social groups of a particular order. Ethnic groups, subregional segments, local polities, hamlets, households—this is a list which would fit uKinga into the regional plan. Competition in human society means rivalry governed by rules. Where the rules are clear and cogent, the rivalry can be accommodated without violence. Sanga militarism is best seen as effective in sanctioning internal rules at the level of local domains, and usually successful in keeping the peace within a realm. A plurality of realms was wanted, though, to make the system work. There was enough ‘controlled violence’ in the warring of realms to keep the militarism of the Sanga courts at a level sufficient to sanction their internal peace. This, as I see it, is the basic plan for the way the Sanga political system worked. I propose we look at Kinga political institutions, in particular the Sanga courts, in this light. The evolution of effective institutions is sharpened where competition is military. My guess is that Sanga institutions evolved rather quickly with a rise of the insecurity quotient in the Livingstone Mountains during the transition of Eastern Bantu civilization from a pre-political Iron Age to Medieval conditions. This (probably) means the seventeenth century or somewhat earlier for Southwestern Tanzania. The Mountain Slopes ecozone of Kingaland would have been heavily wooded in many or most parts during the early period of change, and served as a refuge for small parties of immigrants moving away from more troubled areas located mainly to the northeast. As a rate of settler immigration accelerated so would the insecurity quotient, and that would have been how and when the stage was set for the evolution of an effective political system. The Sanga lord could offer the protection of a standing military force in return for tribute and military service. As we shall see, the process of


change continued in living memory: the same institutions, beginning to form centuries ago, were still on the make. Warfare between the realms and within two of them could still go out of control. My approach to the political economy of Kinga communities in the pre-Contact period will be to focus first on practical, functional arrangements, leaving more speculative questions about style and motive—the expressive culture—for later discussion. This is not because style is something extra but because description of a rich compound has to begin with a recognizable ingredient. One point about Kinga style does belong here, though: their emphasis on heroics. Without it the system would not have worked. The way Kinga played upon their heroic themes was distinctly their own and not to be explained on simply circumstantial grounds. But the heroic fancy brought with it acceptance of the principle of personal leadership, which was able to override if not replace an underlying, contrary background ethos. For this ethos the available labels are such as ‘ordered anarchy’ and ‘egalitarianism’; but as pointers they are not really apt, and the matter needs thought. When German missionaries were first exploring Kingaland in June 1894 they easily found a ‘chief’ [Häuptling] in a given area and sent messages ahead to him announcing or arranging the terms of a visit. Apart from sensing the mutual suspicion and hostility prevailing in certain cases, the Germans were unable readily to learn what relations Kinga chiefdoms enjoyed with one another. Initially, they were all taken to be independent entities which, if practically not all of equal strength, were jurally and histrionically on a par. In this the Germans were not far wrong: their ‘chiefdoms’ were the ‘domains’ of my reference model not the ‘realms’, and whatever (had they been asked) the priests or princes of the time might have claimed about the integrity of realms, the only visible and psychologically substantive polis of Kinga life was the one the Germans intuitively identified. On the ground, the Kinga constitution would have looked only too familiar: each major ‘village’ had its own chief. The rest of the superstructure was real enough but perhaps more symbolic than mundane. Penetrating at first only the Western realm and arriving at a time when it was torn by internal war, the missionaries climbing up from Nyakyusa lands predictably found a continuation of the pattern they knew there. No local leader commanding an armed force would have referred them onward to a superior. If they did perceive ritual curbs on local sovereignty these would easily have been credited to priestcraft— that is, to ‘superstition’ rather than intelligible politics. ‡ The polity the Germans identified on the ground was a defended


territory with a capital village and a ruler who could claim a monopoly of legitimate force in that territory and was recognized by its people as competent to receive and negotiate with an emissary from abroad. Although there was a concentration of daytime population at the capital, and at least one court village in the Eastern realm seems to have been well enough palisaded and otherwise hastily fortified to offer substantial numbers a temporary refuge in case of attack, the military aspect of settlements was generally not obtrusive. People mostly lived then in small clusters among their fields, as the bulk of them still did two or three generations later. The palisades I know from oral history were royal enclosures meant to protect the ritual privacy of the prince’s sexual life, not the public safety. Domestic compounds were in precolonial times stoutly fenced against vermin but hardly against enemy attack—war, pursued Kinga-style, was not such. Still, the domain was the solidary entity to which a Kinga must belong in the event of war, and particularly in case of fighting within the realm itself, which arose from time to time despite nominal claims of unity. Jurally, the realm was closer to an alliance than a corporate entity, but psychologically when a realm was strongly ruled the tilt may have been the other way. Bachelor men were held to a court by its attractions not by roots in the soil, and the liveliest courts had the most to offer in spoils and high times. Kinga youth in 1960 knew the war games of yore as their supreme sport.

The Domain as a Chiefdom
All the Kinga in 1894 (first colonial contact) can be visualized as comprising a set of ritually and socially linked but politically independent chiefdoms , using that term in the generic sense which Elman Service gave to it. I offer my reasons later for talking of princes (with their realms) and lords (with their domains) rather than chiefs and headmen; but starting with the central idea in Service’s model will help to disclose important features of the Kinga system. He refers to a type of society characterized by a redistribution process centring in and conferring power on the chiefly office. The counters moved in the process are foodstuffs, goods the chief is free either to store (as by putting a gift-calf into his herd) or immediately redistribute to ordinary people (as he would naturally do with brewed beer). Ideally, all the alliances between domains were directly in accordance with avowed ritual links, and in theory the rituals would be held to commemorate ties of perpetual kinship laid down ‘in the beginning’ by a founding generation of Sanga rulers. This myth-model is far from sufficient to


have predicted the Kinga court, which embodied the rule of law and all the features of a ceremonial centre; but we are looking at redistributional aspects of the Kinga system first.<<[lit] What a chief does in redistribution is what the modern state claims to do with taxes—turn what was private property into a public good, and this without violating either the public trust placed in high office or the principle of law by which rights in property are guaranteed. The chief has an interest in developing and maintaining a system of redistribution because the process builds and reinforces political solidarity. By solidarity I don’t here mean a condition of the sentiments but one of structure—the readiness to act in concert, according to established rules of order, in undertakings understood to serve group survival. In chiefdoms, the ruler’s ability to initiate such undertakings is crucial, and that explains his interest in solidarity. Redistribution works symbolic transformations on three levels:
(a) On the surface there is a dramatization of popular allegiance to the chiefly office and of chiefly munificence. Feasting on spoils makes members of the public accomplice to the chief in plundering a private person’s wealth, transforming a paltry act of extortion into a show of lordly generosity. In the Kinga case there was a scalar relationship between eating an animal taken in tax (a less-than-grand occasion) and eating one taken in a raid beyond the boundaries of the realm. (b) At a slightly more reflexive level there is a transformation of the person of the chief, whose identification with a transcendent office is complete. Charisma is added. This occurs because the chief has shown himself a master of prestations to whom one may look for more in future, only provided one keeps faith. (c) At a more fully reflexive level there is a transformation of the political structure of the community. It becomes radically centred through the expectation that the chiefly office can be a source of beneficent authority.

This model of redistribution assumes the natural (pre-political) condition of a human community is molecular and that organization at the molar level is best understood when set out in molecular terms. Presumably the Kinga people, Sanga rulers and commoners, co-operated in developing the institutions of the royal courts under the spur of fear. It would have been socialized fear, consensually confirmed and fashioned into a political instrument by men claiming the talent to control. Fear of war was absolved by the show of arms at court, and fear of invisible predators was absolved by the show of mystical powers and controls there. Fear is no universally dominant social motive and would not have been the only one a lord or priest found useful, nor am I prepared to assert that chiefdoms by their nature


only arise from fear of war and witchcraft. But I do find reason to assert that these are old and characteristic motives throughout Eastern Bantu civilization and underlie the social contracts of many peoples other than the Kinga. I turn now to examine the way the three kinds of transformation proposed in the model were exhibited in practice.

(a) Allegiance and Munificence
The major tax which a Sanga ruler laid on his people was a marriage tax, called (in ikiKinga, the Kinga tongue) imongo, meaning otherwise ‘he-goat’. The amount actually exacted in the usual case by the close of the nineteenth century was a hoe, a bullock or cow, and a goat. The cow was “for the prince,” the goat “for the father of the bride,” and the hoe “for the petty local ruler untsagila ” who was credited with bringing the tax in. An approximate calculation suggests that, assuming a thousand married householders in a domain, you could anticipate something more than a marriage a week; just several hundred households would then provide one a month; and it is therefore reasonable to accept my informants’ assertions that this was the sole tax ordinarily levied by a prince or lord of a domain. For goods passing from lord to prince, though they might have included some of these taxed goods, we may reserve the name of tribute. Presumably, Kinga tradition is sound in holding that the name imongo reflects an original state of relative poverty when the tax was no more than a buck. Consider first the significance of the hoe. As it was carried back to the same hamlet whence it had been brought as tribute, one might think the political transformation worked by the prince was trivial. But the travels of the hoe made a point of order obvious. If the petty ruler had failed to initiate the payment it would have been exacted by force, and the delinquent untsagila sanctioned accordingly. It is the prince’s authority which has exacted the movement of the hoe from a bride’s father to a local officer of the crown. There is implicit in the hoe transaction the use of political power to oblige what is nonetheless publicly dramatized as a voluntary act of allegiance to an overlord. This is the very essence of what moderns call “politics” and it is an invention: it had not existed before. The actor constrained to play untsagila might be the politically senior person of a small lineage settlement anywhere in the prince’s domain. So by the very act of bearing tax-goods to court, a private citizen is made a petty official and a bush lineage becomes an outpost of the court. In the lord’s book, this


man or his ancestor was ‘sent out to rule’ that bit of the bush world. Over time, completed incidences of the same transaction define a ruler’s domain; and this means that boundary men, in a position to play one ruler off against another, must be courted. The rhetoric of action here says the hoe belongs to the lord as his due but he rewards loyalty with munificence. It is no less true being made the lesson of a set drama: the lesson will be reinforced on other occasions by gifts of impulse as well. The hoe which was part of a tax on a private citizen became tribute from a petty official, and then in being returned to him became largesse from the hands of the ruler—a staple feature in a developed system of patronage. The goat was slaughtered at court for the bride’s father and his party, people from the households of his hamlet. Since we know they were obliged to bring beer we know local women and maidens were part of the procession; it was their chance to sample the life of the court. We also know, from the presence of beer, that the style is celebratory. As a portion of the goat was to be carried home, the episode for the bride’s group followed the pattern of sharing a sacrificial animal which was the typical feast of solidarity in the bush cultures. Each hamlet would comprise an ikikolo (a local ‘lineage’ group, in fiction and sometimes in fact) and for the bride’s father to have slaughtered a beast without sharing it would have been to breach a grass-roots law of solidarity still universal for Kinga in 1960. ‡‡ The political transformation worked directly through the goat amounts to (i) making it a matter of law that the bride’s father should host a goat-kill for his local group or amity-based ‘lineage’, rather than leaving this to local norms and inclinations; and (ii) changing the venue of the feast to the court centre, where the visitors appeared as honoured guests sharing with their hosts. But the hegoat imongo is part of the tributary procession to the prince; and the part it plays in the dramatic symbolism of the institution named for it is like that of the untsagila ’s hoe. If the goat were not brought in with a show of voluntarism, and hence as tribute, it would be taken more obviously by force—seen then as tax—and consumed by the prince’s strongmen alone. Tax is dressed as tribute, and this is rendered back as prestation. The cow was the most impressive of the marriage goods offered to a prince. Cattle didn’t thrive in Kinga country, evidently for a variety of reasons including specific poverties of the soil. Still a prince must have an impressive herd, and this was kept in circulation even though he ordinarily received no bridewealth for his own daughters, who were not for courting but were given away in return for stalwart


service. In substitute, he took cattle from the bridewealths of his subjects, wherever they were sufficiently prosperous to own what were, by bush-Kinga standards, luxury animals. Where possible the cow taken would be a productive female and would not be sacrificed but exchanged by the prince for a bullock from his herd, reckoned suitable for slaughter. Cow’s milk was no part of an ordinary daily diet. The manner of the kill for a bullock at a princely court was orgiastic. The animal, being led to a great height above the dance ground, would be run down the hill in a state of frenzy by the young braves avanyakivaga armed as for war. The game was to slaughter the beast on the hoof, each rival group making as if to carve out its share of the meat (one of the four quarters or the head and neck) without actually stopping the creature’s career until it had been driven in. It is said men could be killed or maimed in the fracas without bringing it to a halt. All the action only added to the spectacle, and the expendability of men emphasized the extent to which, as the prince’s followers, they had become kinless. There could be no litigation or rancour over such deaths. The prince played a political game with his cattle, in which the imongo cow was one link. Cows kept in the royal herd were actively productive. Male calves were often awarded to servicemen settled in the periphery, in return for continued attendance at court, and would be reared to full size by them. When the prince required a bullock for slaughter the farmed-out animal would be called in and replaced with a female from the royal herd—an animal some of whose offspring would eventually return, in completion of the cycle, as imongo. This game was facilitated by the ecology and pattern of settlement. The uneven fertility of the country made it likely the central power would arise in the richest section of a territory, allowing a concentration of cattle there though elsewhere their viability was marginal. The more settled quality of the central section also reduced vulnerability to predators, furred and clawed or otherwise. The slaughter of a bullock was obligatory as part of the ceremonial reception of imongo. The main beneficiaries were the residents of the court village, particularly guardsmen, and guests—the rumour of a feast would bring former avanyakivaga in predictable numbers from their scattered hamlets. The redistributive aspect of this ritual transaction was powerful. The spectacle of an orgiastic killing, the festival atmosphere, and the open hospitality of the feasting and dancing which followed, were bound to swell the prince’s reputation for munificence. They served to balance but would never disarm his quotidian image as a harsh authoritarian. In Kinga country sound travels won-


derfully, and the sound of dancing works like a magnet on the mind even at a great distance down the long valleys. Analytically, the redistributive trick is again accomplished, and directed not to a private party but the public at large, dramatizing the pull of the court.

(b) The Princely Office
The power of a prince was built on a politics of open hospitality and oblique social control. Baldly stated, the court laid a tax on marriage and claimed a monopoly of both arms and protective ritual. Ideas about fertility lay back of both tax and rite. At the deepest ethical level Kinga had not abandoned the moral strategies of the bush with its values of self-reliance and the inalienable self-responsibility entailed. Princely power had to evolve from the culture of the bush. There had surely been no revolution and no foreign conquest. The prince took imongo on his own schedule, not immediately on the passage of bridewealth from the groom’s family to the bride’s. The court’s men were sent round with some regularity to all the hamlets and so knew where to send for the royal portion of a recent bridewealth, or go after it at need. The prince or his aides would sense when the time was right for a feast but the prospect poor for staging a successful raid. There were seasons and even periods of years when a Prince would be at peace with his neighbours; and night raids over the escarpment, to prey on rich Nyakyusa or Sangu herds, wanted a cautious eye to the massive retaliation they could provoke. Or the time would come (more often, I suppose, than informants cared to recall) when a raiding party, mounted with enthusiasm, had only been caught out and miserably failed. Then something was needed to pick up the young men’s morale. The running of a bullock, the feasting on braised meat and beer, and the long night’s dancing could be just right. The bride’s father at the close of the nineteenth century could expect a bridewealth of three hoes, one cow or bullock, and three goats. After meeting obligations to the prince, the bride’s maternal kin, and his neighbours the man would be left with a goat and a hoe. Are we to think this would compensate him for the permanent alienation of a daughter’s agricultural product? Assume the economic rationale was the guiding one in the marriage transaction and the bride’s father an entrepreneur out to profit from it: we should expect a sense of exploitation and resentment. The system would be transparently unfair. The British thought it was and abolished imongo . But


what may be quite properly assumed for some Eastern Bantu cultures, the corporateness of small agnatic lineages, doesn’t apply to the Kinga. Marriages were not generally arranged, and the idea of compensation was not applied to the loss of the product a man may have enjoyed as a free contribution from his daughter. Kinga institutions, and not least the autonomy fostered in women by their life in the isaka (here, the bachelor women’s hostel which was a prominent feature especially of the court villages), severely qualified the validity of any claims men might lay to possessing an effective lineage organisation. When Kinga say “the original Kinga bridewealth” was just two hoes they are, elliptically, betraying recognition of the economic growth fostered by the princely courts and tacitly accepting the rationale of a tax to support them. I found no evidence that lineage power ever had been sufficient to have established and sanctioned a bridewealth conceived as capital-goods exchange. We may know little about the way ‘capitalistic’ bridewealth systems evolve, but the vested interests which keep them in being are surely corporate, and for Kinga tradition the only such corporate groups were not lineages but the political establishments found at courts. As an institution imongo reflects the status of the women for whom bridewealths were gathered and transferred. Since lineage unity was problematic, sharing something out with kinsmen could (as at a funeral) help to sanction languishing ties. There was no capital transfer in the Kinga institution—no wealth in cattle which a man might use in turn to get himself or his son a new wife. In precolonial times a commoner woman decided whom she would marry and when. A bridewealth inflation during the British period does suggest a growing sense then of male ‘ownership’ of rights in women after the pattern of the wider region, but the courts and their communalism were then in stark decline. Imongo had been outlawed (as no tax might compete with the British) and bridewealth had lost its overtly political function. The royal courts had been active ceremonial centres. The energizing of the redistribution system came from war and belief in the invincible powers of medicines kept in the sacred groves. As these sources of energy declined the big isivaga barracks were deserted, no longer being sought to by youths, and maidens in like fashion took to living in smaller houses under the nominal protection of family. The society decentralized and family became more important in the organization of ordinary daily activities. In the absence of strong traditions of paternal authority, banking transactions (amassing the wherewithal to make a bridewealth on the one hand, dispersing it in obligatory gifts and in return for debts on the other) became a basis for the lineal and generational solidarity of males.


There was a notable ambiguity in 1960 in Kinga use of the word isaka , which in some parts of the land had been retained for the private girls’ houses and elsewhere had come to be used for a public hostel of more general description. The ambiguity reflects change but also disparity in the influence which the old court culture had attained in different areas. With the decline of courtly influences, bush culture predictably revived. With the pax britannica the politics of bridewealth took on a new importance in bringing currency into Kinga country from abroad. Accepting the need for bridewealth funds, expatriate workers dedicated themselves to saving for their marriage or, after the fact, paying it off. In this way the business of making marriages continued to mobilize resources and to do so in a manner significant at least for Kinga political identity and morale. At the level of deep structure political balance was still nourished by the economics of marriage. Marriage for Kinga had special meanings associated with their open sexual orientations and with dominance relations between the sexes. It is plain that a political dimension always adds to the meaning of marriage, but in this case we aren’t dealing with alliances between powerful descent groups. Kinga political institutions in their turn borrowed meaning from the seriousness with which marriage was regarded by men. The virtual taxing-away of bridewealths under the old court culture meant not only that the bride’s father was the less inclined to press her to marry but that the groom, whose payment would have so largely disappeared in the form of tribute, could hardly put a counter-claim upon his affines in case of trouble in the marriage. Further, the groom was expected in any event to earn and supply his own bridewealth. In this way the usual East African pattern, by which bridewealths seal alliances, gave way to a ‘nuclear’ marriage for which the couple were largely responsible to one another. In view of the late age at which court culture prescribed an end to bachelor living—about the middle of the third decade for women and the actual onset of middle life for men—this Kinga wrinkle should not surprise. ‡‡ Granted that marriage was not conceived as an exchange between lineages or extended families, is it that women were the pawns in some other sort of game? If so it must have been a political one, dealing in symbolic transformations not economic equivalence. Apart from the feasibility of the marriage taxes as a revenue base, what sort of thinking could have given rise to their appearance and public acceptance? Obliquely, the court would have known well enough that delayed marriage was an unmixed blessing at least with respect to the supply of military manpower and its logistic support: bachelor


men were free of home chores, women were the food producers, and bachelor women produced a surplus from the soil. It would be foolish to argue that the court establishments deliberately promoted homosexuality, female diligence, and extended bachelorhood as a solution to recruitment and logistic problems. We are not dealing with the kind of society which subjects major features of the life-cycle and gender career to diktat. But we are dealing with a rather special kind of society nonetheless: one in which the political establishment co-opts youth, fostering an extended bachelorhood in the court villages, and even directing a neo-local settlement pattern. Even the pattern of peer-socialization, rearing children from weaning apart from the parental domicile, so distinctive of Kinga culture at the courts and in the bush, is hard to conceive as a feature of pre-chiefly times. In all this, if women be pawns they are no more so than children and men. In claiming the better part of a maiden’s bridewealth, the prince obliquely claimed the role of sponsor in every marriage. At court he was regularly such a sponsor, since he could and (we are told) regularly did bestow on loyal followers commoner maidens who were no daughters of his own. On the symbolic plane, the prince was always ‘hot’ with heterosexual contact and was denied the more relaxing kind of relations men have with men. While it is far-fetched to argue that the rural groom, having in effect paid a bridewealth to the prince, found himself in ‘alliance’ with the royal household, he did fall into a position like that of the court serviceman for whom the prince had unilaterally arranged a match. Implicitly the marriage tax made the court, as holder of the cow of marriage, a silent partner and guarantor to the contract and so to all affinal ties in the domain. Divorce, though it seems not to have been explicitly disallowed, was as uncharacteristic as jealousy over women. Is it foolish to argue that the strength of the political establishment is visible in the stable quality of marriages made between partners whose childhood and early adult sexual orientations would seemingly have worked against it? We do have to account for the fact that non-royal Kinga marriages, though arranged by courtship not by parent or prince, normally were as dispassionately maintained as those initiated by the court. Perhaps we should reason that the ‘bridewealth tax’ was, in effect, a way of putting the court’s sanction on all marriages. But whatever the importance of court sanctions in traditional times, the locus of marriage politics in the British period came to lie in the kinship and friendship networks through which the relatively massive bridewealths were raised, and within which debts must be honoured. Young men came to be bound by long-term obligations to friends and older


men of their own or affinal families, in a pattern of mutual dependence and concern which stabilized social relations under what might otherwise have been anomic conditions of change and absenteeism. The new institution developed out of the old through a series of historical transformations in which the social interest in marriages was not lost, but the locus of concern transferred from court to people in consonance with the decentralising trends of the first half of the twentieth century. The failure of British-sponsored court authority, in spite of repeated efforts, to control the rise of bridewealths bespeaks the change which had taken place and points the contrast to earlier political conditions. Because of the size of the transactions by the end of the 1950s, when there was not a single private Landrover in Kingaland albeit men were paying for their brides the price of a usable vehicle, the debt-network entailed in a marriage would ordinarily go well beyond the limits of the individual ‘lineage’ settlement ilitsumbe. Indebtedness was beginning to knit together all the households of one domain through a web of bilateral, oral contracts. By contrast, when the princely courts were intact the unity of a domain was vested in a common allegiance and conscious dependency, of which the later British-sponsored law-courts were real but faint reminders. In the old culture the strategy for ruling a domain would have been to diminish the self-sufficiency of outlying settlements enough to create a measure of reliance on the centre, compatible with the prince’s need for a monopoly of force. This wanted a superstructure which would catch the imagination of the people at the same time that it functioned in satisfactory style on the practical plane. All the prestige and spectacle of the ceremonial centre, and all the impact of the ritual controls and medicines thought to be concentrated there, would never convince a farmer whose fear of hunger had outrun his faith in the system. Fear sets a man’s thoughts running in the witchcraft mode. All criticism of authority then becomes deeply implicit, the explicit accusations being nebulous at least until vindicated by divination, which for Kinga would (or should) always be done at court. But witchcraft suspicions are so far synergic with discontent as to be distinctly political in their implications. Even in the field of arms, the extent of the prince’s power to control events in peripheral places—in particular to protect subjects from enemy raids—must have varied with many unpredictable conditions. The raiding game depended on institutionalized terrorism in which one’s own and the enemy’s success were functions of surprise. To be able in spite of this to count on allegiance the prince could


hardly do without that non-situational, internalized political faith-inother, charisma, which we usually if not very cleverly consider to be a function of inherent personal qualities. It seems instead to be a character projected through collective behaviour upon the person of a leader (and willingly, of course, reflected back) in order to resolve personal insecurities arising among ordinary people. The fit of the public image to proven personal qualities is usually rather loose. But by denying disconfirmations and shamelessly exaggerating the leader’s capacities (and always in a manner which clearly lays out for him the image he must maintain) the fullest responsibility for the future is thrust upon him and his office, while the commoner and his powers of dissent are correspondingly debased. In this way a kind of atonement is achieved, as fear of one’s peers is allayed while faith in a collective future is confirmed. Charisma is generally built up by the attribution of positive qualities of luck, destiny, or grace to a person with the implication of invincible, very general powers. What Weber described as the routinization of charisma is for the most part the devolution of focus from person to office—not, of course, to a disembodied office but to the person of almost any legitimate incumbent. Some of the sacralizing procedures associated with ‘divine kingship’ (à la Monica Wilson) accomplished this for rulers of the best-established realms; others must rely upon a more dramatic sort of political theatre. But ‘charisma’ in a face-to-face community is not, in any event, what Weber could have had in mind. The greater Eastern Bantu civilization has had its prophets and its conquerors on the grand scale, such as Shaka the Zulu or Mkwawa the Hehe—both leaders (like Napoleon I) of newly reforged, polyglot nations. But when the tyrant’s alternative of revolutionary militarism, or dramatization of his person in acts of whimsical cruelty and the like, is not available, the leader may have to be curtained away from face-to-face contact with ordinary people. This was the Kinga and, with a difference, the Nyakyusa style. ‡‡ A number of East African societies required, as the Nyakyusa did in the case of the living Lwembe whom they shared with the Kinga, that a divine king be strangled as soon as hope was gone of hiding his ill-health. Whether or not such executions normally had to be carried out in fact, the belief that they must would serve the public purpose—the ways of apotheosis are many. Kinga seem to have circumvented this charismatic source of embarrassment in respect of the princes of their four realms and the petty lords ranged out around them. Kinga priests managed their myths as astutely as politicians anywhere, even employing a few of the special tactics we associate


with modern press agentry. They kept the high prince secluded in a hive of vitality which spoke for his own, a stockade full of vigorous women and their infants, with whom he had unceasing business, gratifying and begetting. In several domains I was told that a Kinga lord could choose to retire on account of age and live on privately. In the case of genuine impotence I suppose he would be obliged to, though no Kinga priest would tell me so. The principle on which all were agreed was that the fertility and munificence of the prince were two aspects of a single quality which every incumbent of the highest office must evince. The vitality of the princely household was manifest in a feast. Whether the meat had been exacted from a bush bridewealth or from the lush-seeming herds of neighbours conceived as enemy, the beer and staple foods came principally from royal gardens tilled by avehe and ing’engele , the wives and daughters of the prince. But a feast was most wanted when malaise was on the land and the drift of things must be turned. This made imongo a peculiarly useful device, allowing the court to operate with a reserve of wealth. The Kinga royal surplus was banked in the bush where cattle could be safely dispersed but, lying to the credit of the royal office, ever available on call. While the prince in person would perhaps play no visible role in the arrangement of a feast, inasmuch as all was done in his name the attribution of charisma to unkuludeva , prince and princeship, was predictable. Domestic life for the Kinga before Contact combined most of the insecurities of premedical culture and of pioneering as a way of life. Because the loyalties of sons were channeled first not toward family but peers, a man’s domestic establishment was not a solidary group into which he could easily withdraw from the men’s house and political life. The precolonial political system reflected these realities, as the later system would reflect altered circumstance. The charisma of the prince in the old culture matched the stakes for which the royal game was played, which then were hardly less than life and death.

(c) Centring the Polity
An archetypal redistribution system would lay down that all of a particular sort of staple belonged to the chief and must be brought to him; but that he in turn must feast the people on it without stinting, or see them shift their loyalties to a more generous man. The elements of the social contract are there. Power, privilege, and authority are vested in a single office—the people have conceded rank. But the


concession is conditional and it is made only in the context of chiefly competition for popular following. (I do suppose the Enlightenment philosophers were right in assuming that freedom is the pre-social or ‘default’ condition of a human community—about which more later.) Intermittently citizens will doubtless arise and demand their due. When they are gathered in numbers, as they must often be if authority is to be confirmed in a face-to-face polity, discontent can easily explode. That does not have to happen, only to prove itself possible, for the people to sense their overwhelming power. In precolonial East Africa all free adult males were offensively (and equally) armed, and numbers were strength. The theme of a gathering in strength at a Sanga court centre was either war or feasting, or it might be a dramatic fusion of both, the war-games occasion. What mattered politically was that the whole occasion be impressively managed, since that is what authority is about, and authority—a contrary force to freedom—is what differentiated the in chiefly politics of the court from that of the bush hamlet. A special facet of the Eastern Bantu court, the prevalence of intoxicants, can only augment the probability that unpopular rule will explode. Not only is the feast a condition of forming and maintaining popular loyalties, it is a test and dramatic proof of them. It may be only through conceiving the feast as political drama, through which tension is discharged and faith in the institutions of governance renewed, that we can catch the court atmosphere. Taken as a loose bundle of facts, the whole chiefly construction falls in as a muddle of inscrutable custom. For the participants, feasts work an elementary transformation. Where men felt hungry they are sated. Where they were discontent they are at peace. Where they felt ill-assorted there is atonement. A hundred anxieties are assuaged. The close relationship of theatre and politics in ancient Athens is widely appreciated in a civilization which sometimes traces its roots to Greece. The role of dancing at the Kinga capitals was the same and had its theatrical features. The transformation worked by a euphoric experience en masse was probably not quite what Emile Durkheim envisaged in Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse . Individuality would not have been lost unless for the most youthful—it was evoked and dramatized by a kind of star system in which paint and costuming served to amplify the impression of personal style and flair in the dance. But as men and women of the bush found their ways home from a celebration at court there could have been no doubt for them as to where the vital centre of their common life was to be found. The princely feast was an inversion of the young people’s drum-


ming dance out in the otherwise deep quiet of the bush, which seems to call one away from the ordinary centres of existence to a perch above them, a temporary but total autonomy. At the capital one learned to accept, on converted terms, collective dependency. ‡‡ A redistribution system gives importance to material things but works through personal experience and the communication of personal knowledge—exchanges which entail and in some measure depend on objects of economic value but which necessarily go beyond the economic and imbue them with values of another order. Picture a procession of men and women, driving animals and carrying their gift-hoes and beer to the capital for what is a special kind of marriage feast, and match that against a picture of the same persons returning, whether by night or the following day, with full minds and bodies. Now they are not in procession, having nothing to show. Fascination with surfaces has passed for the time. Spectacle has been taken in and fills each person’s inner vision. What constituted a domain in the Kinga political system was this experience of a ceremonial centre as an alternate locus of being, a dilation at once of primary group and political identity. A necessary part of the procedure was the predictable co-operation of the hamlet’s headman, owing to his personal expectation of reward. If he was not actually a man ( untsagila ) sent out from the domain court, he would have been co-opted to the role—as receiver of bridewealth he would accordingly partake as a patron of the marriage in the same way as the prince, albeit rus in urbe . At the same time, by coming forward with this share of the bridewealth as tribute, this headman identifies himself as client to the lord of domain: he mediates. Like the lord, he had an interest in seeing the maidens of his settlement safely wed; like the father of the bride, he only surrenders to superior strength goods generated by private effort and a private transaction. As participant in the tributary procession he walks with resentment contained, conformity signaled in externals. But the scope of the domain nonetheless was crucially defined by the presence of the taxpayer himself in the procession, and his full participation in the festivities his ‘tribute’ made possible. It was only at the main court centres I would be told at length about the further passage of imongo from the lord of a lesser domain to the prince of the realm. It would typically have been a grudging prestation, only rendered when the putative balance of debt and credit seemed to demand it—when princely emissaries could make a sufficient pressure felt. This further dispatch of imongo was the main act which constituted the ties of fealty binding the realm together


as a polity without internal war. The lesser prince would send not bring the tribute. This personal abstention marked the boundary of a selfcontained domain, and at the beginning of schism must often have constituted the manifesto of an untsagila (lieutenant) putting up a new barracks and proclaiming himself untwa (lord) of a petty domain. The dramatic significance of personal subjection was crucial—the true polis was the domain, the realm was a confederation and far less secure.

Problems of Scale
How grand an establishment could a Kinga prince afford to maintain? It would be easier to include scale in our model if we had— what we do not—an accurate set of estimates from German times. Direct statements of recall or hearsay from 1960 could occasionally be checked against conditions as I could reconstruct them on site; but figures remain in the air. In our favour is the evident fact that most Kinga local populations by 1960 had recovered to precolonial levels but probably not gone beyond them. This speaks to the question of overall population size for what became the British jurisdiction named Ukinga—say, fifty to sixty thousand souls. Still we are in the unfortunate situation of having to reach quantitative conclusions from qualitative analysis. What I propose to do is to use probabilistic analysis to work through the problems for one domain (Maliwa in the Central realm) of moderate size which remained comparatively ‘hidden’ from direct interventions during the colonial period—no roads, no missions. This will provide a base for assigning rough dimensions to a veridical model of the Kinga domain and realm. I assume the domains were usually not far from the mean size I posit, and from the record we know how few or many were linked together by lordly loyalty to the prince of each realm. The chosen example, Maliwa, is a self-contained and prosperous domain of the lesser order. The lord ruler of Maliwa sent on imongo to Ukwama. I was instructed that the ordinary muster would be a hundred or as many as two hundred fighting men. Since I was never in position to verify those figures in any way, I can only say they are easy enough to believe. The muster is to be taken from a total population of around a thousand and would comprise all the fighting men of such a domain. How many can we realistically suppose might have been barracked at court as a standing force? The decisive considerations


in the end must have been logistic. In seasons of heavy clearing and turning the soil all the men then as in 1960 were turned out to work in the fields—fighting forces would have been dispersed then simultaneously in all domains of the four realms of Kingaland and bordering areas of the highlands. But for much of the year the economic contribution of the bachelor Kinga male was, apart from occasional engagements with construction or crafts projects, restricted to clearing land, hunting (for meat and for the long- or short-term protection of fields and livestock), raiding, and repelling or discouraging raids on local herds and flocks. Most of these activities allowed a man wide license as to schedule, ambience, and degree of commitment. My reconstruction has to be based on the fragmentary information questioning could evoke. The main constraint on residence for an unmarried man was access to cooked staple foods—adult men didn’t prepare their own meals. The Maliwa lord’s women, wives and bachelor daughters, had to put up the food taken at barracks. But armed men, like boys, could expect to take food occasionally from many kitchen fires and regularly from those of close cognatic kin—a set of married women who would ordinarily be dispersed over several settlements within the (largely endogamous) domain. In turn, any man with a local food connection might share food with his traveling companions, subject to the general norms of kinship and friendship. In this way, the dangers of an unchecked foraging license were avoided, at the same time that the court’s men had access to living off the land. This arrangement facilitated the irregular eating habits of men, who would be content with a single full meal daily, picking up additional tidbits here and there, and generally obtaining a substantial part of their nourishment around the beerpot. This was a mobile, even restless population when one contemplates the demographic importance of bachelor males: in all but the least-politicized peripheries they would have outnumbered the married men and would have affected their style as well. Young men, generally bent on adventure, were as likely to be away from court at nightfall as to be present, except on official occasions. To ask how many were barracked at Maliwa court is therefore not to ask how many had their living there at the lord’s bidding. To that narrower question my answer would have to be nearer a score than a hundred. In effect, only an inner guard of chosen stalwarts would have been continually quartered and fed at the crown’s expense. Others living at court were at home there as offspring of the


prince or his predecessors, or offspring of the priestly families, and would be fed from family fields they helped to till. Altogether, the answer to the question of minimal scale for one of these royal courts has to be given in terms of a core, a casual complement, and a full muster. Although the prince of a realm or lord of any domain would be impressively polygynous by Kinga standards, the lord at Maliwa would unlikely have more than ten living wives, including those inherited. The prince of a realm might well have the double or more. There would have been two or three men versed in priestcraft at Maliwa, each with several wives; and at a higher court the numbers would increase proportionally. There would always be a few private households at any court, and various clusters with their plantings nearby. Witchcraft was often rumoured as between ruler and rival, and the admonitory founding myth of the Lwembe cult tells of an (illstarred) effort to banish this troublemaker-god, but overt and successional struggles for power were effectively finessed through the authority of the priesthood. The dying out of local royalties seems never to have occurred—the typical problem was rather dispersing the offspring of a fertile ruler, and this was normally managed by the mechanism of ‘sending out’ parties of (born or honorary) Sanga to settle and rule new outposts in the bush. Succession to office was always taken in hand by the priestly clique, whose major problem was to suppress the mobilization of factions. How far they might have to go may be seen from the case of Kipole in earliest German times. She was a strong-willed princess made Paramount ( unkuludeva at Ukwama) to serve as regent while a younger brother grew up. If she could have better borne the reproductive burdens of the office, it seems she might well have stayed on. As it might have been seen by the hawk’s eye at Contact, the royal village at Maliwa probably comprised about thirty marital households: the royals, the priests, and a few others. Two or three small hamlets lay close by, allowing daily intercourse. From these households and from the farther hamlets of the domain the lord’s court would have had half a hundred fighting men present to the trumpet’s call at any emergency—the core. There would have been several score more of casuals irregularly quartered in the royal ikivaga ; and married men formerly resident at court would often be in attendance for the moots, the beer, and the accomplishment of odd errands. The courts were, as they continued to be in 1960, centres of news, litigation, and negotiation as well as of conviviality. About scale, and in particular about military manpower, the result of this veridical review for Maliwa generally confirms the judgements of my


informants for other domains as well. The capital of a realm was unquestionably larger but still must recruit men mainly from within its proper domain—the difference was one of prosperity, of degree not kind. The flow of imongo from lesser lords could never have made up more than a fraction of the capital’s requirements, and in spite of marginally better locations the logistic problem at Ukwama (Central) or Uhugilo (Northern realm) would have been quite like Maliwa’s. There were four isivaga at Uhugilo, one for royals and offspring of court officials, three public. Raids and border wars were waged on a more regular basis, and men roamed farther afield—as far as uSangu for cattle, regularly into the Western realm for cattle and women. This called for a greater standing force, entailed a more extensive use of casuals when things were stirring, and justified a more elaborate ceremonial life. The highest estimates of their total muster I had from elders of Uhugilo were at 500 or so, and a conservative judgement was 300 at the war-games celebration. There must have been many occasions on which several hundred men would be sleeping at court; but I believe if we doubled all the estimates (for core, casuals, and full muster) from Maliwa we could not be seriously underestimating the scale of Uhugilo’s court at its height. If my numbers are ‘qualitatively’ derived they suggest at least an order of magnitude against which further qualitative information can be scaled. We are talking about domains of only 1000 to perhaps 1500 households, even in the case of the four capital settlements, finding a centre in a modest, partly-stockaded village housing seldom more than ten percent of the population and strongly biased toward bachelor males between the ages of fifteen and forty. The bachelor women of such a village would all have been under the age of twentyeight or thirty. They lived apart from men in dormitories ( isaka ) of their own where they regulated their own lives, always busy with food production and preparation, and enjoying special respect. Every warlike capital would include a few hostage women whose offspring were to stay on when their mothers were returned under treaty. These children and those of the priests and royals lived in the style of siblings or cousins in small, casually recruited groupings, again living each group to itself. While there is a parallel—in the disjunction of generations—to the age-village pattern of the Nyakyusa described by Monica Wilson, in uKinga there is not the same concentration of people, the bachelor men have their freedom under direct political not jealous paternal authority, and the vesting of property in lineages is no feature of the social organization. ‡‡ Kinga and Nyakyusa had in common the concentration of bach-


elor men under chiefly rule, their numbers augmented by the systematic postponement of marriage. The key in the case of the Nyakyusa was privileged polygyny, based on the reservation of cattle and brides to politically privileged elders—men who had officially ‘come out’ as members of a mature age-village. Nyakyusa fields were tilled and Nyakyusa cattle were kept mainly by the owner’s sons and their peers, while women’s productivity from an early age was domestic. By contrast, the economic engine in the Kinga case was the segregation of young women and the intensification of their agricultural productivity. At the larger court villages the concentration of labour in the princely harem alone was formidable. When to their productivity is added the youthful energy of their daughters, who would begin producing a surplus of food easily a decade before their marriage, and the work of widows and wives of collateral royal or priestly lines, the assembled workforce represented an economic resource of remarkable potential. May we assume 150 women in good health? Further assume that each produces only enough food for an average family, including one adult male, and the produce of their fields ought to suffice for keeping 300 men the year round, as the number of dependent children in such a community was always artificially low by (cross-culturally) ordinary ‘family’ standards. Nyakyusaland has been described in telling detail as a political community organised for the benefit of “men and elders,” and yet also as a community of peers focused in an ethic of “good company”. Ironically, it is this society, which gives women the easier economic lot, which appears to give them the less satisfactory sense for themselves and their modality of being. Kinga, partly by way of the balance effected through circulation, but particularly through the immunities associated with a genuine bachelor status for both sexes, created a social system in which the industry of women, and the high morale and moral autonomy which made it possible, were as prominent in their own way as the political and jural preeminence of men. ‡‡ For Kinga, domesticity in the usual sense was allocated to the bush, where for Nyakyusa it was associated with centres of wealth and power. For Kinga, bachelorhood was an elevated condition of life, associated with the “good company” of peer life for both sexes, and with the highlife of the courts which celebrated the values of war, where for Nyakyusa to be unwed was to belong to the junior, sexually and economically dispossessed sector. Young men, they said, were more aggressive in war because they had no satisfaction from women. It was a system masking deep psychological exploitation, but was probably much more rapidly expansive than the Kinga although internally less poised. There was a fundamental dualism in both cultures,


associated with the modalities of family and peer values. But where Nyakyusa might be torn between the obligations imposed by kinship and community—the classic instance being the funeral dance where youths of rival villages might so easily clash—peer and family life had different locales for the Kinga. Men learned to shift between them, if not quite without hurt, usually without violence. While the overall scale of Nyakyusa political society, taking in all the dialect communities north of the River Songwe who shared the diagnostic ‘age-village’ system, by Contact was two or three times that of the Kinga community, the tradition need not be rejected that, with respect to development of a ‘chiefdom’ configuration, historical priority belonged to the highland people. Mature Kinga men were not hell-bent, as Nyakyusa were, upon the accumulation of herd-animals, wives, and offspring; though they assiduously cultivated the arts of war, the expansion of their four realms by dint of those arts may indeed have been a gradual, even a comparatively peaceful process. ‡

Competition and Systematic Change
The stirrings of war spread throughout southwestern Tanzania during the latter half of the nineteenth century, bringing destruction on a new, barbaric scale. In this section I endeavour to take account of events as they impinged on structure in what I take to be the historical and proto-historical period we have to deal with. For the Kinga, and for the two main Rift Valley peoples below them to the west, the longterm state-building effect of invasion may have been paradoxically constructive. The Ngonde of northern Maliwa and the Nyakyusa north of the great lake comprise a single language group with important institutions in common. The threats they had to counter came originally from the south. Militant ‘Ngoni’ bands, originally displaced by expanding European settlers far to the south, were swarming northward, living off the land. At first, their ‘Zulu’ fighting style was invincible; their routine during their first-contact period was to decimate men, incorporate women and children as captives and cohorts, live on their stores, and move off with them in search of more. A parallel threat was coming from the expansion of Arab slave raiders and traders on Lake Malawi. The Ngonde pulled together under direct assault and developed a centralizing constitutional authority. The Nyakyusa, protected in some measure by geographic barriers, were less directly exposed to external attack and remained fragmented in scores of independent chiefdoms, corresponding for the most part to Kinga domains, sans


the higher-level realm organization. But the intensive emphasis on internal amity which was characteristic of Nyakyusa at European Contact (and is matched only by the theatrical bellicosity of their intergroup rivalries) suggests a level of politicization which may not have been much older than the warlike pressures stimulated first by the Ngoni trespasses of 1840 and after. Charsley summarizes the developing military capability of the Nyakyusa in the half century before German missionizing began, holding that a few princes became strong enough to beat off invaders without depending on broad alliances. Since a prince to command a large force must (given the Nyakyusa political cycle) always personally consolidate his realm by dint of arms, we may suppose that impressive power-building did occur within several Nyakyusa realms during the period in question. But it seems not to have extended to them all. ‡ What by comparison is distinctive of the Kinga is that hierarchization was virtually complete at Contact: there were no loose domains or single-village realms in the Kinga scheme. In their official view of themselves, all the locally organized polities (domains) were incorporated in pluralistically organized polities (realms) of a higher political order. The Kinga system seems never to have involved the effective banishment (or hiving-off) of a ‘younger-brother’ chief as did the Nyakyusa. The central political/religious myth of the Kinga can be read as an explicitly moral tale about the folly of such acts. Sanga braves who were sent out to the bush to rule were not banished as rivals to, but nominated as representatives of, the chiefdom they had left. Shouldn’t we suppose that the central political myths which a people celebrates will be a key to understanding the ritual re-enactment of the relevant mythical events? Then it is interesting that Kinga and Nyakyusa share—concelebrate—their central myth, which is the Lwembe tale, but live by rather different readings of it. Of the two protostates I see the Nyakyusa as the livelier, the Sanga the stabler. The fact that Kinga concepts of political order focused in what we can call (after Southall) a ‘segmentary state model’, and that this model posits an abstract unity, does suggest a more stable political system than the Nyakyusa, which favoured a political hiving-off—a systematic break-up of each chiefly domain at each generational succession. But how long the two systems had endured or would have continued remains a matter for speculation. By all accounts, the Nyakyusa culture was robust and expansive in the late pre-Contact decades. Possibly in 1890, could I have observed it then, the Kinga protostate would have seemed more shadowy than it


does now in the rather proud retrospect I got in the 1960s. ‡ The key to segmentary unity was the myth of a Sanga royalty, which kept the princes few by linking their offices through (fictionally) full sibling bonds. This meant the status of unkuludeva was won and held on sufferance of one’s ‘brother’ princes. In this the Kinga contrasts with the corresponding but logically less tight myth of an hereditary Nyakyusa aristocracy, whose progenerators are said to have migrated from Kingaland some centuries ago. In both formulae the claim (or allegation) of alien origin establishes a special social category for the rulers and imbues it with an ambivalent reputation. Priests not chiefs are the masters of the occult—of protective and divinatory rites. Chiefs not priests enjoy the gift of inherent power of the very sort we know as witchcraft. But if it seems to follow that the royals as a class are not one with their commoner friends, it would be hard to prove by those who never succeed to office. Those who do gain office must prove themselves by standards which as clearly set them apart from their fellow royals as from commoners. In drawing no class or caste lines from their myths the two social systems are alike. But the Nyakyusa coded into their celebrated “coming out” ritual for each new generation the idea of an indefinitely proliferating, bellicose aristocracy of militant leaders. For Kinga, the two historical figures of their own who came up to such standards appear as heroes, to be sure, but heroes of a sort men fear as much as they admire. The main mystique of political power for the Sanga rulers was supplied by the paraphernalia of the princely court, seen as ceremonial centre. To put the difference succinctly, conflict among neighbouring groups was attributed by Nyakyusa to the open and valorous rivalry of their rulers, by Kinga to the hidden and blameworthy enmity of princely siblings. There is no evidence that political conflict at the practical level was less intense among Kinga than Nyakyusa, or enlisted baser passions—only that it had a more shadowy ontological standing as a free-framed or extra-processual phenomenon. There is no rule which says how far behavioural realities will eventually bow to their framing myths; but equally there is no rule which says when and how the myths will be revised to fit prevalent practice. Christians are famous for proliferating their frames and deploring their praxis; democracies for praising their frames and subverting their meaning. Within what appears to be a uniform framing structure, even in the microcultures, the internal variety of conforming patterns is probably always far greater than an observer is apt to report. I must be silent, accordingly, on the matter of personal diversity among the Nyakyusa; I can only refer a reader to the four rich vol-


umes of Monica Wilson and state the impression I have from her, that a very considerable conformity of philosophy and conduct was imposed by age-village peers on their members; that women and young men felt subtly but implacably tyrannized by their (especially male) elders; and that I could never have described a code of ‘Kinga values’ with as little hesitation as she describes the Nyakyusa code under her five headings: good company, dignity, display, decency, wisdom. None of these headings seemed to hit the mark for any Kinga community I knew, though individuals might score high on such counts. Kinga, in any event, don’t just tolerate eccentricity and refrain from personal criticism but attach importance to a person’s right to choose a less-used path, to keeping one’s own counsel. ‡‡ Though Kinga, like Nyakyusa, are raised less by their parents than their peers, the Kinga choose their own friends individually and move in wider circles. No one in East Africa, I think, can be less vulnerable to tyranny than Kinga boys; no girls learn more self-reliance than Kinga girls. There is much to be said, and I have said a good deal in Twin Shadows , about the kind of society all this makes for. What is relevant here is that it makes for a community open to constructive political change. It is a great set of small sets which, usually in undramatic ways, tend to reinvent themselves with the passing of generations. I take a few simple examples: Each Kinga realm and domain seems to have kept its own version of Kinga history. The four external wars the historians of Maliwa report are the accidentally disastrous British invasion of 1914, the morally indignant German savagery of 1905, and engagements with “Arabs” and Ngoni raiders earlier. At Maliwa local boundary medicines are credited with keeping all four intrusions at bay. In other Kinga domains the Hehe-Bena ( Avajinga) appear in place of Arabs, and engagements with the Rift Valley Sangu are added in the West. In every case the object of an African invader would have been the capture of women, children, and/or cattle. By contrast, internal wars threatened only passing damage and would have mobilised more dimensioned energies. Accordingly, Maliwa seemed an especially comfortable, even sleepy place in 1960, as one came to it from the capital village of Ukwama, which I personally found more creepy than sleepy. Only the Western realm during my time was developing weekly markets in native crafts and foodstuffs, and exporting agricultural produce. The Northern realm, on the other hand, seems never again to have thrived as it did under the Germans; under the British it languished, exporting most of its men to plantation labour, welcoming an imported commodity economy, and leaving its Kinga past behind.


The earliest and even the latest British district records paint all the Kinga as I have painted Maliwa: an isolated and conservative people. As a Briton’s-eye view, that is not wrong. You have only to discount entirely the migrancy rate of the men and the wide perspective they brought back of the Tanganyikan people as such, and to ignore evidence of Kinga political competence. In pre-Contact times Kinga were insulated by their geography and the adequacy of their defenses from the worst ravages of alien war parties but were certainly in touch with events beyond their borders. They were themselves an expansive and militaristic people. Sanga were spreading their rule southward, eastward, and westward; they were chronically skirmishing with the Sangu and even hired Sangu mercenaries for an internecine Sanga war. Kinga raiders often by-passed or raided with relative impunity the less-organised and less-militaristic Wanji settlements to the north, which must have closely resembled the bush communities from which the Sanga segmentary state had grown. On the northeastern marches a number of Mawemba settlements were pleased to shift allegiance from the dominating Kinga to the Bena, when an opportunity appeared under the British. Some others (I often heard) played chameleon right through the colonial era, paying tax at neither court. These independent mountain people and the Kisi of the Nyasa/Malawi lakeshore were ethnic groups who remained intact under Kinga hegemony; but two or three peoples before them must have been assimilated, coming to know themselves within a few generations only as Kinga. As much is suggested by the pattern of Kinga dialects, and by some diversity of local traditions about origins. In this way, the internal Kinga mosaic was a microcosm of the whole Southwest region of Tanganyika, a world with great scope for and acceptance of individual differences—and alive, as it seems always to have been, with debate about its future. How recent a date might we plausibly put upon the origin of the Sanga political system we have discussed? While Sanga genealogists projected it back to the beginnings of Kinga time, some fourteen dynastic generations, a skeptical argument may be mounted. The segmentary order of the four realms proved its flexibility in the colonial years, surviving some quantum dislocations. There is no reason to suppose it was not just as flexible in precolonial times. Evidently, it would have evolved on top of a less comprehensive system, incorporating in a new superstructure the main lines of political architecture already evolved on a lesser scale. Thus each realm at the end comprised a plurality of domains, one of them serving as the capital on the familiar African pattern of primus inter pares . At a more inclusive level, the protostate ordered its several realms in the same way. We


can’t reject the possibility that it is the domain not the realm which is as old as Kinga political identity. In times of unopposed expansion into uncleared woodlands it is easy to imagine that the face-to-face polity represented the summit, that taxes and tribute were truly nominal, and the way open for a burgeoning settlement on the fringes of one domain to set itself up as another simply by withholding its participation in bonding (rank conceding) rituals. From what could still be seen in 1960, and from scattered testimony, I judge it was always a Royal Sanga and ‘court culture’ custom to establish one’s domestic privacy and public standing with a stout bamboo enclosure. Considered as a practical matter it helped to keep goats and people (inside) apart from vermin; considered as a gesture, though even toughened old bamboo is not the stuff of a stockade, it said something like, “Every Sanga a potential ruler!” Another thing it certainly said was, “Every ruler a polygynist!” It is possible we may one day learn from archaeology that, as distinct from fences for the fourlegged, stockades and the level of militarization they represent were unknown even in the capital domains before the period of Ngoni intrusions in the 1840s. Then, as the Germans appear to have judged, these stockades would have represented a sort of fort, symbolic if not altogether practical, as well as a seraglio. By the time the Ngoni scavenger bands were affecting the Kinga, the Sangu had already been mobilized as a powerful counter-force and Bena-Hehe communities were subject to mounting pressure from rising Ngoni kingdoms in Songea and western Njombe. In Kinga social memory their encounters with the Ngoni were stand-offs, the Ngoni were at least once granted passage but no plunder. Such memories operate so as to legitimate Sanga rulership. Perhaps this would have been the case in earlier times as well, at the first dawning of the idea of a highland-wide political order. It is a poor propagandist who can’t eventually turn an embarrassment into a credit. ‡ However the time scheme might have been (and I must bow to some future scholar on that), the Sanga régime would have been the product of systematic change generated by the competitive organization of the Southwestern region as a whole, and its several ecologically zoned sectors in particular. Sanga militarism revolved around warlike competition not unsystematic or inadvertent conflict, and around what we might call the routinization of heroics. Should we add ‘predatory expansion’? Better ‘assimilative expansion’, as the essence of the Sanga innovation was to expand the sphere of a court by recruiting men from the bush, socializing them to the ways of that court, and “sending them out to rule” the bush again. Sanga expansion


was more extractive and reconstructive than predatory. Evidently the analytical conception of social competition or rivalry has its primary reference to a segmentary system, whether we focus on a pair of siblings, a peer-group of Kinga goat-herds or gregarious maidens, a hamlet, a domain, a realm, or the Kinga protostate in its fullest development. Relations between Kinga and neighbouring peoples over whom they exercised no control were only ‘segmentary’ in a crude way. Thus Kinga shared a series of holy places with Nyakyusa peoples and at least one with Bena: there were mechanisms for stabilizing relations at an ideal level even while random, directly destabilizing interaction continued to characterize actual border areas. ‡‡ In effect, as one moves outward from the local domain, the ‘natural’ face-to-face polity of the region, to look at its putative subjective notions about more and more distant neighbours, one moves from structure to no-structure, segmentary order to predatory order, closed competition to Darwinian, a framed and seemingly predictable to an unframed and seemingly accidental—presocial—basis of order. But the subjective transition is never realized: the nearest neighbours often have tempestuous relations, the farthest enemies still are conceived in a higher-order frame as neighbours with admirable human qualities. The substance of social structure is found in precisely such ideas and feelings as these about political and cultural kinship, common interest and common standards, adding up to relatedness. The Kinga people, like peoples everywhere, had humane as well as occasionally barbarous relations with neighbour peoples of their region. To assume they did not or that they did not knowingly emulate their neighbours in any traits they found to covet or admire, is to assume the cultural isolation of an African ‘tribe’ in face of massive contrary evidence. The name I would give my chosen paradigm for the study of social and political evolution is regional pattern-rivalry. There may or may not be a region in the world which has seen the evolution of state-like institutions without war, without notable technological development, or without a priesthood—the paradigm leaves such questions open. If the Kinga were notable in the region for their militarism, their smithing, and their purposeful priesthood these may quite as well be counted symptoms as engines of their general social development. What is asserted in my focus on regional, contextual factors is that the competition of essentially autonomous polities within a common cultural frame is structurally generative. With the right mix of colour-differences in the local cultures the effect can be pronounced. Intergroup relations which can support mutual perspicuity


and stylistic emulation can produce a regional condition of pattern rivalry selecting for system, organizational efficiency, and moralemaintenance. Whatever in a particular case contributes to these ends—from the plainly material to the plainly ideal innovation—will eventually become a general property of the regional culture if it is an exportable trait, or an ingrained element in the system of one enlarged local culture if it is not. The end result of a fairly competitive regional process should be the evolution of political communities of increasingly complex organization and augmented scale. They will bear strong family resemblances but without losing each its ingrained individuality. It is a project of my ethnography to show that the case of the Kinga and their broader region comfortably lends itself to this paradigm.

Court & Bush: The Kinga Shift Dimension
The dual nature of Kinga society in traditional times would not have been obvious to a short-term visitor. There would not have been two distinctive dialects, though diglossia must have been in evidence wherever court-experienced men were returning to bush residence. There is a ‘shift dimension’ running between court and bush communities which is basic for understanding Kinga political culture. Role shifts are part of every human social system and comprise unknown territory to those sciences, such as the current version of sociobiology, which can’t deal with subjectivity as an object. The notion of a dual society usually comes up in reference to ethnic stratification. But it seems to me worth arguing for special attention to the case where a normal life-cycle carries individuals through both parts of a dual society. If anything can, I think this would deepen the average psyche. Roles run deep in the human psyche. The main obstacle to gaining general acceptance of that, and turning well-planned study to the matter of role strain and its opposite, role fulfilment, has been that individual psychology takes roles for granted as a quasi-environmental issue, and naturalistic observation is usually focused on structurally situated action, not the actors themselves. The penetration of human experience in every cultural context by social roles, the ineluctable sociality of the self, and the idiosyncratic rationalization of motive through ‘badly’ or ‘oddly’ coded early and continued socialization are three compatible conceptual approaches to inner human experience. Taken together, I believe they form the coherent basis of a distinctive science of the structure of human experience.


But the premises of that science would have to be informed by the idea of culture. That is the notion that human social systems comprise a unique domain of study, owing to the irreducible singularity of events we call actions. As for the duality built into the traditional Kinga culture, what is important is to see that for Kinga the life-cycle for either gender normally entailed a prolongation of youthful experience—informed by homophilia—well into adulthood, followed by rustication to a more settled life informed by domestic duties and more selective attachments. This meant for the bachelor maiden a profound shift in moral strategy. Her move was from a focus on recognition within a broad-based peer network, combined with junior status in cooperative work for her mother’s kitchen, to birthing and rearing young in an independent domestic setting. Kinga women still in 1960 were full-time, enthusiastic gardeners, and combined that work with maintaining fast friendships with age-peers by setting up their fields in friendship clusters. For the bachelor male the shift came perhaps a decade later in life, and entailed retirement from the barracks experience at court to life in a small hamlet, shared with a fast set of friends, and oriented to the role of elder. Life in the bush was a cleaner break from the bachelor world for women, who were fully busied with nursing and supporting a family. For men the shift was not a full break from the court life. As jurors, they were now able to gain respect in an unathletic fashion from their elder peers. They visited about, seeing friends from their youth. They took part in the same turf-turning teams they had joined as boys. They could take pride in their housebuilding, craft work, and firm connections outside the home hamlet. All of a woman’s time might be scheduled by her productive duties. Men had more time free for a special diversion, cross-talk over beer. I have suggested that motives come to be idiosyncratically motivated in adulthood, owing to ‘odd coding’ of individual experience during the long period of primary and secondary socialization. My premise is that people do most of their most characteristic learning by incorporating private experience privately into their moral strategies, which are of necessity deeply egoistic. This helps explain what role motivation does not, individuality, and exposes the fundamental lemma of our human sociality: that we must act on social motives, but the way to them can be intensely private. Because there are only vanishing rewards for us outside the moral order of community, we must act on rationalized motives, the public face of which anthropology commonly calls ‘values’. Values are hardly more than putative except as they are regularly validated in action; action is no more than tentative except as it is validated in comprehension at the level of motive; and motive is no more than rationalization until it has been


owned to by the self. Though there are inter-psychic moments in all of this, the main transformations are in-psychic and intensely private. They occur as the unseen context of action, occupying nanoseconds of consciousness (so ‘unconscious’ or ‘subconscious’ in still-current academic discourse) but accumulating over the years as ineradicable and idiosyncratic complexity—what in a technical language now beginning to seem too simple we still allude to as ‘personality’. It is worth insisting that diglossia is not the only manifestation of the subtle kind of role-shift found everywhere when individuals are pulled between conflicting situational norms. From the way Kinga handled their dual society there is a lesson for us if we would understand the importance of role shifts in social structure. In dealing with exotic societies ethnology has had to cope with the penetration of local experience by (to an outside observer, exotic) social roles. The shorthand notion we have usually adopted is ‘culture’: a word which says, in effect, “Here in this community, and only here, will you see it done in just this way.” But the result of this usage can be mistaken dogma, holding that ‘culture’ penetrates and impresses its forms upon everything human, with the implication that an ethnographer having won the ‘key’ to an exotic culture (by a process analogous to learning the language through participation in the language community) ought to be able to explain all that happens there. Social anthropologists have resisted, emphasizing rather ‘role’ than ‘culture’, but have not really escaped the deterministic assumptions of would-be holders of an interpretive ‘key’. Perhaps no one really thinks that knowing the role expectations imposed upon a ten-year-old girl in uKinga can substitute for having been one, but what is the implication for a monograph on an exotic people (about whom the reader can have no better source of information) reporting about girlhood nothing more than the pertinent roleexpectations, seen through an adult’s eyes? My favourite ten-yearold was a fiery teller of folktales, a tomboy goat-herd, and the promise of a magnetic adulthood able to improve anyone’s day with the wave of a hand. This goes well beyond role-expectations. The individuals who didn’t go beyond role-expectations were those I hadn’t got to know. It is no great exaggeration to hold that the accepted model of social structure has prompted observers to bracket away the individual mind, treating experience as subjective ergo ineffable, while trusting actual observation only where it seems to confirm actors’ preconceptions about their roles. Buried under the methodological arguments for such a procedure is the mischievous premise that an


informant’s discussion of role-expectations can replace an informed observer’s account of the way the informant and colleagues actually live. That is like saying all moms are alike in a traditional society. But if neither ‘culture’ nor ‘social structure’ alone offers the right prompts it is perhaps because they need to be brought into the perspective of a social psychology which relates self to both deep motivation and role. When a range of personal styles has presented itself to the observer of what conventional wisdom takes to be a simple society, it has been relatively easy to explain away the lack of uniformity. One blames anomaly: depending on preconceptions, anything from ‘deviant personalities’ to ‘oscillating equilibrium’. It would be better to assume that role-pluralism affects every normal human community in substantial ways, being the symptom of a fairly irreducible measure of existential freedom—or at the very least of a structurally necessary concession to privacy. The true anomaly, after all, is the humanoid spectacle Aldous Huxley gave us in Brave New World . Just as Kinga find it possible to lead ambisexual lives without a sense of contradiction, achieving satisfactory but qualitatively distinct adjustments with partners of either sex, they found it possible to move easily in 1960 between home and the migrant labour site well outside their own cultural boundaries. In 1860 the equivalent if somewhat less radical move was that between court and bush. At either date Kinga would have found it easy enough to shift ‘cultures’ as well, becoming Bena, Hehe, Sangu, or Nyakyusa as circumstance favoured the switch. It is the fact that Kinga like this kind of flexibility, not (what is common) just that they are capable of it, which distinguishes their culture. These are live-in roles, not put-on. A standard anthropological model of social structure begins with the social role, taken as a given, then builds roles into dyadic and network relationships or ‘role systems’, which in turn compose themselves as the parts of a comprehensive social system or structure. This is an admirable scheme when your intention is to describe a community in its aspect as a functional design for living, but in that case all social action seems to spring from predefined frames. Looked at in that context, roles have little depth, though they may be precisely and subtly defined. The alternative position in sociology, associated with the idea of symbolic interaction, begins not with frozen roles but with social situations perceived as problematic. Individuals enter in varying psychosomatic states, favouring distinct motivations on the level of sentience. Participants in a decisive scene enter each with a unique perspective deriving from overall role differences and dis-


tances, experience (confirming or disconfirming) of comparable situations, and distinct socialization histories (personalities). The definition of the situation which prevails is generally one which will sustain consensual action, though that is hardly guaranteed. Social situations are resolved only through interaction, which must be dealt with analytically as a stochastic process. The outcome of symbolic interaction is at best a matter for intuitive or wishful speculation as it plays within the definitional frames of the separate actors as each sets about exploiting a fresh situation. ‡‡ What this says is that roles, conceived as components of the social structure, exercise only indirect constraint on the patterns of social action comprising the actual and observable community life. But at the same time roles, when they are conceived as the ongoing social performances of individuals encountering one another repeatedly in problematic situations, provide all of the subjective continuity of personal experience in what would otherwise be a sheerly episodic existence. Without that kind of continuity, moral depth is unthinkable. A community of psychopaths? It is a role-expectation that a Kinga woman will go to work in the fields—her own or her friends’—at sun-up the year around. What happens there constitutes a very large portion of a woman’s life. She “is herself” or “is her own woman", as we may say, all the while she is working. She is living the story of her life, taking the ‘role’ of tiller-of-fields into herself and transforming it there into something of her own. People are normally engrossed in their roles because they are engrossed in their lives, and alienation (the separation of the two) is minimal. It is a role expectation that a Kinga woman will have so many friends that she will seldom be alone in her work—when she is not participating in a formal work party she will have made an informal arrangement. But the shifts of moral tactic which a man or woman must make every time partners change, or simply in the move from one sort of task to another in the same field, imbue every day with a different quality. They are small, almost unobservable shifts within the self. For Kinga women they were (not always but) generally less problematic than for Kinga men, who roamed farther afield and usually fancied they had more enemies. But the ability to remain one’s self while shifting among quite different social contacts is, after all, a human universal. Another exception to be taken from the ‘frozen role’ model of social structure is one which builds on the notion of socialization. To put the case simply, children learn to be of their sex by experiencing life within a sex role, to be of their age by experiencing the trials of successive age roles, and to deal differentially with others by endur-


ing an unremitting, emotionally intense participation with family, kin, and community in increasingly adult role capacities. Socialization in this light is seen to be a process which does not terminate with childhood but continues (for the adult, only more reflexively) to social death, always occurring within the context of structured roles and role-sets. It is true enough that the special demands of a role can strain the personal resources of an individual who somehow does not nicely ‘fit in’ to the (frozen) script supplied. I tried without much success to explain to some Kinga men why it is that in Ulaya (Euro-kind’s world) a ‘latent homosexual’ may be ‘trapped’ by marriage. But the obverse of role strain is role exploitation. You do not have to be a (literal or figurative) slave driver to enjoy the power your community accords you over your immediate inferiors. You cannot possibly enjoy the prestige of being a brilliant mathematician, the lush income of a popular media performer, or the private satisfaction of having helped someone worth helping without first cultivating the role-relationships through which such rewards are attained. In this connection a ‘role’ may be as big as a career, engendering a level and quality of aspiration unimaginable outside the world of possibilities this role has created. Court culture opened up for Kinga men, particularly, a potential for self-realization such as we usually do not associate with small-scaled traditional societies. When a young man felt himself called from the bush to a Sanga court he went seeking adventure or, as our tales have it, seeking his fortune, and he would have had his head full of the court lore which herd boys endlessly spun. When, as much as two decades later, the same man left the court for marriage and the civilian calling of a bush settler, he would be seeking his fortune again albeit with a different sort of lore in his head. From that time forward he would be able to shift between the two adult careers the Sanga régime fostered for men, whenever the season of war or other circumstance demanded it. Bush and court in this manner defined a major shift dimension of Kinga culture, prominently affecting men and, in part through them, the fortunes of women. Without role pluralism the whole pattern of delayed marriage, bachelorhood, and erotic inversion for either sex would have been finally unworkable. A shift dimension of this kind is like a class or ethnic division in one respect, as it defines separate cultural worlds. Unlike those divisions, the shift dimension as a product of circulation discriminates social roles not groups or monolithic subcultures. The ordinary lifecycle weaves the two principles together without blurring the distinct complexes of situational value and motivational lore belonging


to them. These are, roughly drawn:

Connubium: other-sex ties, privileged and lasting, carry a burden of reciprocal obligation. A sexual division of labour controls economic co-operation so that few tasks are not regularly assigned to one person or the other. Fertility is an object of the connubial alliance, if not a major concern of the man. Self-reliance: a voluntaristic ethic controlled residence and peer co-operation. Use of authority was kept minimal: among males by the boy avoiding his father, among females by the girl adopting a “junior peer” stance toward her mother. Property: the basis of personal security lies in the right to till good fields, in stores of produce, and the health of family members. Goats are, but houses are not, counted as wealth.

Gender segregation: same-sex ties are non-exclusive, cordial to intimacy, free of obligation, and situational. An age-ranked peer structure controls economic and military co-operation, much being done in small groups. Fertility is the concern of the prince or lord and his wives, who are segregated away. Regimentation: an ethic of compulsion controls residence and peer association. The use of authority is routine, the opportunity for unfettered selfexpression being concentrated in festive occasions in the public arena under royal sponsorship. Conviviality: the basis of personal security was comradeship, success in peer rivalries, and recognition by spokesmen for the court establishment.

How general are the phenomena outlined here? So far as court and bush are simple analogues to town and country we ought to suppose that every East African people must have known such differences, and some degree of circulation between the two spheres. But a shift dimension need not be based on court and bush. The Nyakyusa, close cousins to the Kinga in so many respects, lived compactly in highly politicized, if not courtly, villages. Their major shift dimension was that between kinship and friendship as modalities of association. At the one pole was a closed system, ascriptive and authoritarian. At the other, membership was open, and the ruling principles were voluntarism and equality. Men easily and women not-so-easily made the shift time and again in their daily lives. It may be that the Kinga are rather distinctive in the extent of cultural differentiation, consist-


ent with a high rate of circulation and an easy shifting of roles, which they made between court and bush.

It was a feature of the court/bush division in Kingaland that the court took over political work which in another version of Eastern Bantu civilization might have been assumed by kin groups, while these hardly developed beyond the level of family. While polygyny was no royal prerogative, big compounds were a sign of special political status or ambition. If there were localized patrilineages worth mention they were minimal or, where local descent groups had flourished in the bush in the past, atrophied. The lack of overriding kin ties to any particular place made it easy for a man who was restive under local authority to leave his jurisdiction in favour of another; and since the same freedom of movement, favoured by the voluntaristic basis of association under bush values, applied to jurisdictions at any level of inclusiveness, the net result was a degree of political emancipation which might seem to fly in the face of the regimentation and (nominally) unchecked tyranny which was characteristic of the higher court centres. Emancipation of this ambivalent sort is based on backlash, which already presupposes a fairly tight exercise of authority. The phenomenon is not general to the microcultures of the world but is characteristic of those, common in Africa and elsewhere, which combine a system of authority with an ethic of independence. It is more frequently found among pastoral nomads than farmers, but a slashand-burn system also favours freedom of movement. ‘Antipolitanism’ seems a proper name for the philosophy in question—it is a popular political ethic which allows the disgruntled man to ‘vote with his feet’ by crossing over to a neighbouring polity. The test for antipolitanism would be the (non-)feasibility of exile, and in fact I know of nowhere in the Sowetan region where exile would work as a sanction. It worked for the classically ‘politan’ Greeks because each city-state considered its neighbours (to which a person might be exiled) inferior, and accordingly refused ordinary privileges to any ‘inferior’ strangers who might take refuge within its own walls. Siberian exile worked in Russia and the Soviet Union for analogous reasons. The Nyakyusa case is particularly interesting. Men are often ‘exiled’ from the tight circle of their age-village on grounds of witchcraft. But it is hard to account for this as an act of sanctioning, as the man accused is so alienated by the treachery of friends that no one could keep him from leaving;


and because sanctions must reward or punish real behaviour, not imaginary. The founding myth of the Lwembe cult, the court religion of the Kinga, revolves about a banishment of this kind, but banishment of a magically dangerous royal, a younger brother with extraordinary gifts. The lesson is about the control of social danger and the nature of Sanga power, not citizenship: by the act of banishing his brother, the High Prince at Ukwama has irreversibly alienated a godling and lost crucial protective powers of the Sanga throne. In the myth as in reality, royal power is invincible to challenge from below but is also immutably local and mystically indivisible. It is in this way that the Lwembe religion of the Sanga court sets its mandate against the popular. When you turn back with this to the Nyakyusa ‘witch’ banishment, the meaning I find is that the community may change its mind and want their fellow back on side. ‡‡ Under low pressure, antipolitanism produces the famous ‘ordered anarchy’ of the stateless society. Large populations may maintain their hold on a territory in this manner, where regular expansion in space is the standard answer to demographic pressure. The pastoral Nuer of the Sudan are a celebrated type case, managing their expansion through ad hoc military alliances. That a horticultural people may exhibit an essentially similar political arrangement is shown by the case of the matrilineal Yao of southern Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi. Their use of a single language over a large contiguous territory bespeaks recent expansion. Their pattern and that of the pastoral peoples to the north suggest the kind of political system which may have ruled almost universally during the long centuries of migratory drift which saw the major expansions of Bantu-speaking peoples in the millennium before written records begin for Eastern and Southeastern Africa. The antipolitan system is better regarded as an extreme adaptation to political localism than as anarchy, since authority is not rejected in principle but limited in practice by an ethic of dissent and the right of exit. ‡ Population pressures build in a region during those periods of human history when a fresh economic adaptation has, by reason of its success, reached the limits to which it can expand without involutionary change. Then the effect of the antipolitan ethic is no longer to support the free propagation of small local communities but to further the elaboration of such phenomena as balanced segmentation and regional pattern rivalry. There is at least a broad, paradigmatic sanction in the study of organic evolution for holding that the simplest spatial structuring of human social life is granular, followed by a coalescing of institutional matter into increasingly large, complex life


forms, among which sophisticated patterns of opposition, symbiosis, and alliance may develop. An antipolitan society might stand comparison to a microscopic world of pseudo-organisms (the domains) actually comprising colonies of autonomous, unicellular creatures (the householders) free to move among the several collective hosts. Kinga young men were not expected to build near their fathers, though the youngest son might choose to move back there on his father’s death, perhaps with the thought of staying by a widowed mother. But even this could be a rule honoured mainly in the breach, since a widow young enough might choose to remarry (‘leviratically’ or otherwise), and a woman without strong ties where she married might opt to return to her earlier home. While women’s individual movements were thus few and, before the colonial pax, dictated by the marriage system, men were peripatetic from boyhood. Their sexual mores were such that a young man spending a few nights in a strange community would likely make a firm friend or two before he left. Thus older men would know and be known in many parts of the country their wives had never seen and, having settled in a new place, could safely send for their wives to join them there. In the broadest sense, choices of residence were for the man political, though they would often be couched in terms simply of finding better neighbours or, what comes to much the same thing, escaping from troubles of a mystical kind. Bad luck with crops or illness was always perceived as such trouble. The predominance of voluntarism in the pattern of association meant that when good relations broke down between neighbours only a jurally recognized local (rather than kin-group) authority could usefully intervene; and when one of the neighbours in the contest actually stood in that position of local authority and was entrenched there, the other’s leverage would be the threat of leaving. We might speak of a kind of ‘backlash democracy’ here, no doubt a step away from the open system of political localism natural to the bush culture, and a step perhaps toward the limited tyranny of the Sanga court, but a ‘democratically’ limited step so long as the populist, antipolitan ethic remained viable.



Roots of Kinga Law and Right

Rule of Right, Rule of Law
It is when a community recognizes that any escalating dispute over rights must be subject to procedural intervention, undertaken in the public interest, that we begin to have law. The rights and wrongs of actions in dispute need not be explicitly codified so long as procedures for settlement are laid down. In non-literate societies like Kinga (ca.1900) the existence of rules and sanctions for bringing a case under adjudication and securing the efficacy of judgements betokens the presence of law. Neither Germans nor British felt a need to transplant a court system to the region. There was no need for wrestling down an entrenched system of lineage rivalry, as there was among the Arusha in the Northern highlands. While Kinga hardly were without inter-sectional hostilities, war was not their way of settling a trouble case, as it might be among stateless peoples like the Lugbara of Uganda. As it was not deemed necessary for the operation of Kinga courts that native law be given explicit verbal formulation, scholarly efforts at codification were only unofficial (and, in the Kinga case, inconclusive) under both colonial regimes. In practice, judgement follows precedent at a given court, and precolonial procedures followed established scenarios rather than codes, so that adjective and substantive law were about equally ‘primitive’ as Western jurisprudence might have apprehended them. The error an observer of Eastern Bantu cultures ought to avoid is to suppose that the test of strength of their legal structures should be the formal replicability or completeness of their substantive codes.

So it was that Kinga law remained in 1960 an indigenous phenomenon. The main changes colonialism had wrought were the suppression of witchcraft actions, the removal of (rare) high crimes 54

from Kinga jurisdiction, and the introduction of monetary fines. While British officials considered the introduction of court clerks and books a major contribution, the records mainly served the European’s need for documentation. The local courts felt no need to refer to case records for precedents, particularly since the necessary abbreviation of such records, and the taxonomic reification of ‘precedents’ they induce, made them obviously inferior to the elders’ collective memory. The courts could easily handle even the problems of establishing and retiring money debts without writing. Kinga law in 1960 was old and well entrenched and directly useful for inquiries into the spirit of Kinga culture in past times. For clarity, I may indicate the approximate date (1860, 1900, 1960) to which ethnographic statements refer, but radical change of the sort which must alter the spirit of the laws really begins only after 1960 with national independence and the end of indirect rule. ‡ It is arguable that all laws deal with limiting cases, ideal types to which a court will expect actual offenses or claims to have no better than a loose fit. But ‘primitive law’ is less binding on a court than written or recited codes which sanctify detail at the expense of the spirit of fair play. Kinga substantive law is (ca.1960) treated by the courts as formulating only what everyone knows about rights and wrongs; and with one exception the court does not assume an ordinary person would transgress the law in ignorance or carelessly. Kinga law informs a world set apart only from women, children, and rustics who do not make a habit of attending court. The men who do attend are pulled there not pushed, as the court is a school which deals with the stuff of life in a way which deeply preoccupies the moral sense. Motive and circumstance are much inquired into, and the popular sense of right is confirmed in the rulings. The exception to the premise of lawful intent is adultery, and applies peculiarly in the not-quite-Kinga communities of Magoma. There the offense has become so frequent that the courts may even decline to investigate particularities in the usual way before assigning a standard fine. Although we have no record of the way adultery was handled by Magoma folk before (in the British period) they were brought under Kinga jurisdiction, they do not share the Kinga distaste for permissive premarital heterosexuality and hardly can be expected to adopt a matching attitude of moral indignation toward adultery. They suffer, in short, under an alien (Kinga, not their own) law in this case. It is a situation which can beget chicanery, and Kinga magistrates thought most of the cases in Magoma were played out in the mood of farce, barely concealed. Older, married men who were remaining at home had no ready source of cash other than the adultery payments their wives could collect for them, by 55

waylaying youths who had just returned with their pockets full from migrant labour abroad. The logic is not unlike that of the Kinga father who demands five times the new legal limit in bridewealth. But if this is the mood of the court in Magoma, where is Magoma law? However we may answer that question, the Magoma exception does serve to emphasize how much of the 19th century lingers in Kinga law (ca.1960). The British introduction of fixed cash fines and fixed rates of compensation for specified offenses and wrongs brought a gesellschaftlich strain into Kinga justice. The appreciative snickers of men, old and young, attending the Magoma court reflect an older concern for persons and the ever-interesting nuances of their involvements, which the procrustean stereotypes of Western law seem to render irrelevant. In general, it is the dramaturgical values which arise as by-products of settling trouble cases, which attract men to the local moot or to hearings at the Britishbuilt court, and lend vitality to Kinga justice. So far as Kinga law does remain un-procrustean or vernacular in spirit, rules operate as touchstones for the court not as literal imperatives. In Gemeinschaft there are few ‘suspects’ and little need for an adversarial system to pry beneath hard surfaces of sanctimony and untruth. The circumstances of an action are generally easy to establish and they point, as they come out in detail, to the private but hardly unknowable motives of the actors. Setting aside cases of witchcraft, which by African definition must entail duplicity, the court doesn’t often find itself confronting denial of responsibility for an act, only denial of its reprehensibility. Kinga elders don’t usually feel the law itself can illuminate degrees of blame and exoneration, trusting rather the collective wisdom of the court, which remains a popular institution. Hoebel in his early textbook summarizes cases of Australian adultery wherein “aggressive” repetition of the offense was wanted before the legally prescribed penalty of death would be invoked. This is one way in which an apparently rigid, unsophisticated system of law may be given flexibility. Ordinary offenders receive, as it were, suspended sentence. Old men in Lupalilo (new seat of the Northern realm) recalled a man who in precolonial times had become a “notorious thief” before being punished. But generally the Kinga, being litigious and hardly ever insensitive to opinion, achieve flexibility in a different way. This is illustrated by the law which gives a son demand-rights to a proportional share of his father’s home fields. The law stops there. Informants don’t follow up with elaborations, qualifications, or the citation of precedent. The best legal minds deal on the conceptual level only with the ideal-typical case: every man is 56

to be furnished with ample fields of several types close by his dwelling-place; his own claims to the land will be unambiguous; his several sons and daughters will be amicable, loyal, and undeniably his own. In such ideal circumstances any reasonable man will give adequate land to his son as soon as the young man is of age, in order to keep him at home, where he will naturally want to be. Presumably, every community knows of one or two fathers and sons who seem to conform to this type. But it won’t be they who test the law. ‡‡ A case which does get to court must have a difficult twist to begin with. For that matter, Kinga procedural law ordains that family quarrels devolve to the domestic courtyard, away from the authoritative atmosphere of the civil court, there to be settled by arbitration: where passions are highest, the intent of the court is not to pry into them but to smooth a new surface over what will always be a thorny relationship. Here the elders’ role is a patronizing one, allowing the quest for equity to melt before the superior imperative of evincing family solidarity. If a son’s demand-right must be put in abeyance to still a father’s sense of grievance the effort of the court would be to prevail on the son to be satisfied with substitute fields. In theory, the law holds that an only son could at any time return from migrant labour, marry, and claim half his father’s home fields. In practice the court would normally support a much smaller claim, honouring usage, which expects a son to hustle new fields not force his father’s hand. The law therefore stabilizes usage through court practice, though literally applied the law would be radically disruptive. What happens is that, the solution according to usage in any case being more reasonable than the law, the parties acquire a sense of moral virtue and even wisdom from their encounter. Father and son are each made out by the court to have epitomized Reason in the compromise they have chosen. The most thorough study of an Eastern Bantu system of law comparable to the Kinga is Gluckman’s work on the Barotse of Zambia. The Barotse court normally investigates a case in light of a principled query, What would the Reasonable Man have done in the situation? This is not an idea caught from British jurisprudence but a genuine case of convergence, as Gluckman is at pains to show . To the extent a litigant has behaved reasonably for a person of his status, he must be exonerated of fault. This is not a Platonic conception in any sense. Gluckman describes a conscious process of framing the construct: “the assemblage of norms, with defined leeways, into ‘the reasonable man’.” The principle is useless in assessing laws: a man might have good reason in his circumstance for contravening the law, but this can’t be turned around to impugn the reasonableness of the law itself. At any rate, where cases turn 57

on the adjustment of contradictory claims not the legal classification of acts this embarrassment doesn’t arise, and the touchstone of the Reasonable Man has broad scope. To this extent, because African courts are normally seeking “compromises” not “decisions”, the impression is justified (which a reading of Gluckman gives) of courts less rule-bound than our own and more concerned with equity than upholding the law against popular doubts about its dignity. ‡‡ Barotse, like the Kinga, can also strike us as quite unreasonable in their handling of witchcraft accusation, since a witch by definition stands outside the world of the Reasonable Man and his talent for compromise. Kinga (ca.1900) want to handle under the rules of adjective law what we would perceive as a substantive matter. Where our question would be whether an accused is guilty on ordinary evidence of wrongdoing, they refer only to the outcome of a narrowly formal procedure, the ordeal, for securing definitive evidence. Gluckman’s portrait of Barotse law is based in fieldwork done in the 1940s and refers to that and a subsequent period. In the late 1950s there was a considerable incursion of witchcraft cases into the Barotse courts, and a breakdown of the system of justice which had been encouraged under Indirect Rule. This cultivated system is the one Gluckman has so well documented. The anomalous events are recorded by Reynolds, and treated by him and even more specifically by Gluckman as phenomena of critical stress owing to social change. But the roots of Barotse witchcraft fears are admittedly very old, and conditions of stress in precolonial times could rarely have been less severe than they were in the 1950s. Gluckman made it clear that the suppression of official recognition and procedure against witches had little effect on popular thought. Accordingly, it seems fair to generalize (to Barotse culture as such) the insights Reynolds offers with his documentation of cases. If one were to attempt a reconstruction of Barotse law as it operated before the British, rules for handling witchcraft offenses ought to be included, so that the whole structure of law might be seen in its thenfunctioning balance. As well as may be, this is what I should like to do for the Kinga, though hard evidence for the old dispensation is bound to be scanty. ‡ There is a calculated risk in making law, rather than the system of social control as such, the object of investigation. The most obvious bias this can introduce is a predisposition to miscomprehend Kinga thought and practice in relation to witchcraft, because of dissonance with our sense for proper law-ways. A further risk is that where we ought to be finding the conceptual basis of Kinga 58

social structures we will be satisfied with rules: that is, formulations which, though practical products of key Kinga ideas, do not directly communicate them. But in my view the great risk is simply that the system of social control will be reduced to a skeleton of laws and customs, its logical and psychological bases being ignored. Two standing rules can be contradictory in the logical sense of implying contradictory instructions to an actor in a special situation. A man cannot always “obey the Prince” and yet “never desert a brother.” But logic also applies in the movement between rules and practices. The rule that a nubile maiden may be “reserved” by the fiat of the Prince implies the practice of withholding public sanction for private engagements to marry, such as any maid the Prince might choose would likely have entered already. The practice of secrecy in courtship is in this way logically implied but never explicit in several rules and standard practices affecting the status of youth; and this logical nexus comprises courtship, regarded as a jurally relevant system or ‘structure’. By focusing on rules apart from praxis we distort the cognitive map we would approximate. It is in sociology as in physiology: a better understanding of skeletal structure begins with recognition that the functional logic explaining the form of any bone can be grasped only by an observer imaginatively able to supply the flesh. Psychologically, Kinga law like the Barotse exhibits the hardedged boundary between Reason and Unreason, which evidently was a condition of the sweet sanity we sense in their courts of law. It was a boundary across which no logical nexus could lie. To put the matter in an (Aristotelian) ethical frame, Reason was the ‘virtue’ between unacceptable extremes of Unreason: on the one hand Folly, on the other Witchcraft. When from within the Sanga schema trouble seemed to arise from Unreason, jural procedures were deemed inappropriate. A fool might be subject to mock-trial, of course; but an accused witch could only be exonerated by ordeal. The pillars of Sanga power were three: militarism, law, and the occult. The court culture—the Sanga establishment—had to be seen to own authority in each of these fields. This wanted effectively managed spectacle in each field. As for the command of armed force, the big show was the annual war games. Control of pestilence and invisible enemies required the court to be seen as the single agency of communication with supernatural powers; this was achieved through ceremony—an elaborate calendrical schedule and various spectacular forms of divination and ordeal. But the everyday source of legitimacy for the Sanga ruler was his court of law, where his authority was demonstrated in the settlement of internal disputes of the kind that can generate conflict between households or 59

hamlets. To see how this self-legitimating secular authority would have been developed in pre-Contact times (say, 1860) I gathered what details I could of the political history of the Northern realm, where the Sanga system had been well established before 1900, and the Western realm, where expansion remained in progress. ‡

Law & Social Structure in the Northern Realm
Mwalukisa’s realm, the North, was called Lupalilo in 1960 although it had been centred at Uhugilo and consequently bore that name in 1900. The move was forced in colonial times and caused a break in tradition which left Lupalilo a more secular place. In British times it was denied a law court of its own, its business being allocated to Ukwama as seat of the Paramount chief. Most accounts of earlier times grant Uhugilo status as the second realm, next in historical precedence and rank to Ukwama. These were the two realms whose borders were well established when the Germans put a more or less peaceful end to Kinga history. The prince I had discussions with was a retired, pensionless subchief, Wikemana Mwalukisa (or Mwalukisa II). Our talks were illuminated by the presence of Mwanadyo, the man who had always been at Wikemana’s right hand, his umpapwa, executive officer. The succession as I recorded it for 1960 has two stages:
The first stage begins—as nearly as one can estimate—at about the end of the seventeenth century and comprises a lineage resident at Uhugilo, a place the Germans found inaccessible. After the Pax it was accordingly removed to Lupalilo, near the German Boma. This line brings us to the later decades of the nineteenth century. The names are: Nyaluvondu Gigijuka Usingu Ngwadilwa Widunda Kyavadala The second stage begins with the recognition of a satellite domain within the Northern realm. It occurs during the last reign or reigns in the list above. This stage in effect means the elevation of Uhugilo to what I have called ‘realm’ status. During the first stage Nyaluvondu’s line would have come to claim ‘younger brother’ status to the Mwemutsi line of rulers at Ukwama, but had no satellite domain of their own, claiming ‘younger brother’


status and plying them with tribute [imongo]. This changes when Ilevelo’s ruler, Mpetsi, assumes that role. The two heirs to Kyavadala are: Mwalukisa Wikemana [Mwalukisa II] The elder was ruler at the arrival of the Germans. He died late in their short period of rule. Wikemana succeeded and remained ruler through most of the longer British period; he was retired at last for incompetence, and a lineage stranger installed in the office shortly before Independence in December 1961. The more recent line, at Ilevelo, continued in office until national independence [December 1961]. The names are: Mpetsi (pre-contact) Ndwanga (German times) Kibudile (British times) William (to Independence)

There is only a little to be learned from such lists. The interesting details, the politics of each succession, are quickly lost in time if they fail to enter into legend, and the present incumbent is bound to believe that each of his predecessors was the eldest son of the chief wife of his predecessor on the list. It is generally known that Wikemana in fact was not, but replaced a brief-lived incompetent who was, and whose name would never have been included on such a list. The law of succession is like others, serving more often as a touchstone than as a restrictive rule. This fact of irregularity does mean, however, that a prince-list is likely to name only men whose reigns endured for a generation; and I take that to mean we may assign something like 30 years to a named reign. Seven ascending generations yield a respectable time depth from the Kinga point of view, but equal barely half the list which is offered at Ukwama, the Central realm. The slight logical paradox, considering that all the princely positions are supposed to be sibling offices, turned out to bother his informants even less than it bothered the ethnographer. ‡‡ Wikemana had the kind of strength his survival bespeaks, though his qualities as ruler were not often praised. In 1955, after his retirement, he was at about the age of 75 still officially listed as having eight living wives and ten children too young to pay taxes. But eight years later his one remaining wife was said to be failing. When I first came upon him I beheld a Gandhian figure, practically naked, bearing a huge tree trunk on his head like a woman—he was reduced to fetching his own firewood. My impulse was to suppose the 61

community in effect had stripped him down to this. Mwanadyo, his age mate, had always been better loved though he was a strong and decisive man. His bearing in 1960 bespoke the glories of their common past as Wikemana’s recorded the cares. Mwanadyo was (had been) a commoner whose stature, judgement, and fighting ability had won him a key position by the time German administrative authority began to be felt. Wikemana had only come to power in the ill-defined years after 1914, when Mwalukisa (I) had disappeared following savage treatment by the British military. But Wikemana, for all his heavy reliance on Mwanadyo, had ruled the realm for something like four decades. I had expected to find him living and comporting himself a bit more like a prince. That he did not seemed to be no sort of issue with him. He was self-reliant and intent on remaining so. If he had experienced bitterness over his personal and social decline he had outlived it. Perhaps he was, simply as an old man in Kinga society, past demanding more than life itself. When he died he would be buried in the royal ground, set apart—on the ritual plane his standing was unimpaired. For men of his generation, this was a more tangible fact than what an outsider could only see as poverty. In 1900 the standing of a prince had been exalted. Kinga often refer to princes of old by the Swahili sultani, and the connotations (setting aside silks, pillows, and jewels) are not wholly out of place. The stockade of the prince was a village in its own right, more imposing than any village in 1960, sequestering the prince with his women. The domestic life of the ruler comprised a privileged industry, hidden from the curious as something fraught with power and informed with danger, devoted to improving the fertility of the realm. The law required commoners of either sex to vacate the path precipitously for any of the royal women as they passed to and from their fields. A man bearing gifts to the prince and wanting to air a grievance must deal through intermediaries. Even for important persons of the realm there were elaborate routines of symbolic selfdiminishment required in an audience with the prince himself. As in European royal courts these included physical self-abasement and the use of flattering terms of address (to be uttered in a womanish falsetto). When the prince chose to travel outside the stockade he could move only in the midst of a guard bristling with arms. Other Eastern Bantu societies whose rulers two generations ago were comparably exalted have not been content to lapse into the egalitarian lifestyle of the Kinga, but continue to set up little princelings in their teachers, magistrates, appointed chiefs, even their successful merchants. It is arguable that the demythologization of Mwalukisa calls for special explanation. 62

Can the same law of deference to power be in one society an expression of character values, in another independent of them? Can the same values support sultanism in one century and democracy in the next? What is certain about Wikemana Mwalukisa is that what dignity he possessed was not Gandhian: Kinga men don’t conscientiously humble or exalt themselves on a spiritual plane. Old men don’t espouse a life of renunciation, embracing poverty to school themselves in virtue. The rules men live by are less introspective yet at the same time less explicit in their meaning as a system of life. In religion, and so largely in politics, Kinga are opportunists. Though Lupalilo/Uhugilo, as the realm most exposed to secular acculturation, had demythologized and democratized more completely by 1960 than the others, I believe it is the proper realm for a first consideration of what were in 1900 the popular bases of princely authority. I am dependent for intuitions of the old culture on what I knew of the old surviving in the new. For that the North has an advantage. As to the other realms, continuity was forfeit in the East by reason of the Maji-maji disaster there; in the West the Lutheran church was able to work a veritable transformation, superposing a new basis of order; and in the Central realm, though tradition may have died hardest there, there were factions (Old Guardists vs. Christians, secular progressives vs. know-nothings) and a crisis of legitimacy in 1960. By comparison, Mwalukisa’s in 1900 was representative of a Kinga realm in the steady state, and that condition had endured. Domain and realm will be portrayed here in that light. Kinga themselves emphasize the law of imongo tribute, not the procedural law of appeal, as definitive of relations among the several domains of a realm. Generally a ruler at any level had an interest in settling a case at home, and not merely because appeals meant local chickens lost to the communal pot. In the old Kinga constitution each ruler has primary jurisdiction in the same sense over issues at law arising among his subjects. To remove a case from the hamlet ilitsumbe where the litigants are at home is to remove it from the judgement of men who know character and circumstance, and who expect to live with any sequel the case may have, to a court which must deal with it in more abstracted terms. When a litigant will not accept the urging of elders gathered by the untsagila, this ruler must take it that his own influence has been set at naught. Referring the case to a higher court is in effect calling an end to the path of patience and sending the litigants to a court whose decision will be binding and enforceable. For litigants immediately subject to the untwa ruler of a domain, the court of first instance already has the


power and habit of enforcing its decisions and is unlikely to allow an appeal: the political styles of court and bush are not the same. Here is Mwanadyo, already something of a power at the court of Uhugilo in earliest German times:
Ikilunga kyale kyavatwa. The country belonged to the rulers. There was no litigation in the old days as we know it today, for the ruler made the decisions and all must respect them.

For a generation or two prior to the colonial reorganization of the courts and procedural law about in the early 1930s, there may have been (on my evidence) no cases of genuine appeal from domain to realm, untwa to unkuludeva, in the North. This is because civil relations were less centralized than ritual relations in the Kinga state, and because the North comprised just two domains, a difficult arrangement to stabilize. The civil duty of an untwa was to aggrandize his domain, strengthening the polity of his people. With respect to things civil, Ilevelo had chronically been in a state of limited hostilities with Uhugilo, the Mpetsi line challenging the claim of the Kyavadala (Mwalukisa) line to legitimate seniority. It was the job of the priests, arranging the payment of imongo, to settle such a dispute when the civil struggle proved inconclusive. Then, as there must arise from time to time private disputes within a realm wanting litigation not feud, but crossing the boundaries of domains, men would follow imongo to the central court of the realm as proper venue. That, on the other hand, could not happen as between separate realms or when, as here, a domain was engaged in a hostile attempt to force new terms on the alliance comprising a realm. Assuming that Gluckman’s sketch of the thoroughgoing appellate system of the Barotse does refer backward to precontact times, the political integration of the Kinga seems on this evidence only rudimentary by comparison. But the law of imongo did establish the unambiguous claim of one domain to being the centre of a realm, and we may therefore regard that law as the key constitutional provision bringing the realm into being. As Ihanga priests brought a hoe, a cow, and beer once a year (in December) to Ukwama in the Central realm, when civil disputing was in abeyance in the North, the priests of Ilevelo would have brought tribute to Uhugilo. The amount of this wealth was trivial, just as the standard bridewealth was at that time, but the constitutional implication of executing such a transfer payment was evidently not. ‡ “Realm” and “domain” must always be taken as my terms, not translations. Kinga orientate themselves particularistically in 64

political space. But they distinguish (ca.1900) “those who eat imongo” from those who do not; and among those who receive it they know well who passes a portion along to a ruler to whom he thus concedes rank. To be exact, the critical distinction is not who eats but who legitimately hosts the feast of imongo. Bearers of tribute always share in the eating. Though “imongo” means he-goat, and in this context marriage-goat, the law of imongo appears to have evolved beyond its origins, so that for Uhugilo in 1900 the standard transfer of a cow, a goat, and a hoe (or an equivalent value in another form) probably was common. The law was that the recipient of bridewealth owed imongo to his ruler—the ikikolo family of the bride was laid under obligation, and the court might call in the debt at its convenience. In effect, this meant the communalization of the institution of marriage, since the feasting of a marriage did not just aggrandize the bride’s house but the court claiming jurisdiction over it as well. Evidently the standard tax upon a bridewealth was a single goat, but in the best court circles the bridewealth and tax would have been appropriately swollen. Some informants recall both sets of parents, bride’s and groom’s, accompanying the payment. Mwanadyo claimed that out of a good bridewealth even the bride’s mother’s father would be feasted by his son-in-law with two goats. In the ideal type of the “court Sanga” marriage a procession would have moved to the court as to that father-in-law, and the two sorts of obligation, to affines and to prince, would be one. Then the voluntarism of kinship norms would, to make the ideal case, supplant the coercion of political authority.

Imongo cannot be dismissed as a tax upon the bush bridewealth, although it must from time to time have been no more than that. In the long run we have to deal with escalating lordly demands which would have been effectively passed on by the bride’s guardian to the groom’s, inflating bridewealths and even vesting (as it must sometimes have been) the interest of a father in his daughter’s continued bachelorhood. What was special about imongo was the ceremonial bond it made between court and bush, capital village and outlying settlement—and, on the more explicitly political level, between capital and satellite domains within a realm.
Wolff (1906) defines ikilunga as “Erde, Land, Welt.” The word is as broad as Swahili nchi; in English “country” is a reasonable translation. Rank-distinctions Kinga make among their countries don’t refer to the land or its people but to the powers attributed to a ruler; and I soon found that the short way to clarify the claims of any country was to ask about imongo. A ruler who claimed to have eaten it was claiming rank, in my scheme, as “lord of a domain.” If he further


received imongo from another lord he was also “prince of a realm.” The following lays out the relation between Kinga usage and mine:

Ikilunga IV [Segmentary State] Ikilunga III

Political Status
Avatwa [Ruling Class] Unkuludeva

Ukinga [Kingaland] Uhugilo
[ A Court Village]

Ikilunga II


[Satellite Court]

Ikilunga/ Ilitsumbe

[Local Headman]

[Bush Hamlet]

Kinga make a somewhat less ambiguous distinction of ranks when speaking Swahili than they do in kiKinga, and I have used that pattern of non-overlapping ranks: Two kiKinga words which had no Swahili equivalent are avaludeva, royalty, and avanyivaha, great commoners.


Sitting Rulers Monarch Headman Spokesman

Untwa Untsagila

Jumbe Kapitao

Two kiKinga words which had no Swahili equivalent are avakuludeva, the class of royals, and avanyivaha, non-royal courtiers.

One reason for the blurring of rank distinctions in kiKinga is that custom encouraged flattery in addressing a ruler, so that folk within his own country might take to awarding him a title he dare not boast across the realm. Another reason is that, since Kinga authorities (1900) functioned (or were conceived to function albeit through proxies) as rulers of their own localities first, a prince was seen as a lord, or a lord as a local ruler, with added reputation and powers. But the essential reason is that the Kinga constitution was a frame for ambition. When a powerful lord perceived weakness in his prince he perceived an opportunity to withhold tribute. Rank concessions were grudgingly and pragmatically given. The instability of the system at the narrative level is amply illustrated in all four realms in the generation before 1900, and generally in the politics of the colonial period 66

as well, though the ideal model of domain and realm holds constant in the Kinga if not in the British mind for the whole time before Independence. The rhetoric of rank and birthright served to stabilize the Sanga system as an ideal structure even while sheltering the flexibility of practical arrangements for the exercise of power. Mwanadyo, as Wikemana’s executive officer umpapwa, “spoke with the voice of the prince” but had no country at all in his own right. He was acknowledged to be, as no untsagila who brought him imongo would have been, of commoner lineage. It was known he had come into the court to seek his fortune from a border settlement one may pass through on the way to Ukwama. Being a ruler begins with “owning the country” to which others seek for settlement; and Mwanadyo as recruit was client not patron. In the British period Mwanadyo did eventually sue for a wage as jumbe headman at Lupalilo. As he was generally acknowledged to have been functioning in that office since the days of Mwalukisa I, the request was approved, and this is the way (1932) the constitution at Lupalilo was definitively anglicized. Not only was an acknowledged commoner for the first time brought among the ruling class, but an hierarchic principle was implemented whereby Wikemana Mwalukisa ceased to be lord of his own domain and ruler of his own locality. By 1936 Mwanadyo had under him a local ruler of Sanga lineage to handle village affairs. The law of imongo banned by the British and functionless since the decay of the war pattern, had by that measure ceased to give structure to the Kinga polity. But for Kinga purposes Mwanadyo continued to function as umpapwa, doing the work. Mwalukisa, the office of prince, had been transferred to the colonial theatre and rendered powerless at home. Still, as events in the other realms will show, that constitutional change might have remained an empty form. Power for the Kinga is vested not in the office but in the person who carries it. Wikemana, as Kinga knew and the British learned, hadn’t got the right stuff. While informants spoke of imongo as wealth “passed along” by lord to prince, they denied any fixed percentage was due—these were tributary prestations not taxes. A prince was due imongo for the lord’s own daughters, and as emissaries of the prince had entrée to the lord’s domain on ritual business of every sort, the higher court was well informed. One version of the old law is that the “younger brother” (the lord) always could visit the elder (the prince), as indeed in theory he might some day inherit office and country in the manner of domestic rules of inheritance, while the reverse pattern was on the same ground disallowed. But in fact such a visiting pattern probably always remained theoretical. Relations 67

were generally stiff. When the Germans called all the ‘chiefs of the Kinga’ together, they were meeting in person for the first time. Transfers of imongo from domain to realm (1900) were, I presume, typically solicited in an active manner by the courtier-priests from the capital and would have been sent on in company with emissaries of the same fraternity from the lord’s court. The law of imongo could be no stronger than the power of lord and prince to enforce it, but where that power was intact the law was no mere theory. The law making one ruler client to another was enforced by war—there were no constituted courts with jurisdiction. Local rulers were uniquely identified with the people of their countries and, vis-àvis others, the local interest. A recalcitrant untsagila must be intimidated or purged, since he was not contesting the law but his lord’s authority, and if he proved strong enough he would succeed. The same held for relations between lord and prince. To withhold imongo with impunity was to deny the concession of rank, and successfully to deny it for today was to wipe it out of history as well.

Lords & Landlords
A principle involved here is that Olympian politics can transcend the limitations of law without eroding its force at the grass roots. Kinga rulers were there for life: they should fear only poison on the one hand and defection on the other—poison from within the trusted circle of avanyivaha, defection from the ranks. Their reputation as magically empowered persons set them apart in the way the old Greek gods were set apart: they were models to be feared not imitated by the hoi polloi. In this world the rhetoric of war justifies what the rhetoric of right cannot. Law is only one of several touchstones which can legitimate action. The moral dualism affecting the privileges of high office can be an open matter in a segmentary order where alliance and power are the true dimensions of politics, not jurisdiction and authority. Since this is something we are familiar with in the segmentary orders of industrial society— political parties, churches, labour unions—and take for granted there, we have no call to classify such politics as “tribal”; but the manipulability of institutions is surely enhanced by the special qualities of an oral tradition. Ndwanga, Wikemana’s “younger brother” at Ilevelo, made a bid for the position of subchief (one of two positions for all of uKinga) when the British around 1928 were implementing their system of indirect rule; and extended hearings were wanted to establish Wikemana’s as the better claim. As leaders the “younger brother” was the stronger, though the “elder” 68

at the time enjoyed the favour of Suluvali Mwemutsi, the newly named Paramount. Confusions in Wikemana’s succession would have contributed to Ndwanga’s sense of opportunity, but he had been contesting Mwalukisa’s leadership in the North since before Contact. According to Ilevelo informants, though (understandably) not according to the Lupalilo elders in 1960, Ndwanga had been withholding imongo and styled himself unkuludeva. If Wikemana had been set down earlier by the British as incompetent to rule the Northern realm, even as late as 1928, Kinga might have told the British that Ilevelo was capital of the realm. Something of the sort did happen in roughly parallel cases elsewhere in uKinga. In that case, the turnabout from German times need never have appeared on the surface of the royal genealogies and histories of rule as they were crystallized in 1960. The Germans had dealt more directly and pragmatically with Kinga political leaders, taking little account of claims to precedence among the various local headmen. In Kinga logic, if Ndwanga is admitted as “younger brother” to Wikemana and he to Mwemutsi of Ukwama, Ndwanga himself qualifies as “younger brother” to the higher prince. Ergo he was “sent out to rule” from the Central realm, etc.—the substitution is readily accomplished. Ilevelo would have become the name of the realm as this anthropologist would have recorded it, and Uhugilo that of a lesser domain, habitat of a minor house with the name/title of Mwalukisa. Precisely because the Kinga didn’t legally sanction hierarchy, leaving it a child of custom, but patterned the relations of autonomous local rulers (of whatever self-asserted rank) on the model of perpetual kinship, readjustment of rank could occur overnight, almost imperceptibly. The analogue in the contemporary West would be to international, interdenominational, or intercorporate relations: rank-concession is on a bilateral or transactional basis, yet the system is conceived by all players to operate as an organic whole. The stability of Kinga polities which the royal genealogies boast is real enough at the schematic level of social reality, but the cautious mind will assume that on the tactical level opportunism rules. The scope of discretion left to manipulative tactics and rulings in the game of power raises a special question as to the way law does sanction a system of power, where law is conceived as the rules of that game. I believe the question is illuminated by asking how far the law of imongo can have been understood and accepted by the common man as a logical transform of laws with which he was familiar in the bush culture, where law was focused in kinship claim and obligation. Legitimacy and historical depth in such a case can be mutually reinforcing. 69

While in the structural schema of the Kinga world every ruler was unkilunga landlord in his own locality, many a Kinga landlord had no status as ruler. In 1960 there arose some agitation against the laws of land tenure because changes in the national economic system were tilting the logic of Kinga law, giving unfair advantage, as the dissenters viewed it, to private landlords. Men might enjoy rights to farmland well beyond what, after allowing for bachelor offspring and plural wives, a single domestic establishment could till. Normally a private person would have obtained these rights by a combination of inheritance (from father, brother, or father’s brother) and his own work of clearing new bush and forest. But in 1960 a handful of entrepreneurs had moved into the Kinga-Magoma borderland, claiming large parcels of hitherto marginal land, for a new kind of farming. They were growing pyrethrum (daisies) as a cash crop, using the hired labour of their neighbours and neighbours’ wives. Dissenters felt the workers had as much right to the land as the unkilunga in such a case, and should be encouraged to grow their own pyrethrum. This was eventually the direction the community took, tilting the logic of the law back to favour a communal over a capitalistic pattern of tenure. But the case serves to illustrate the role a land law may play in setting the stage for a superstructure with a particular cast. In 1900 a man could have been unkilunga landlord on a very small scale with almost no implications for politics. Anyone who disposed of a suitable spare field might agree to let it out for a year or two to an acquaintance, who would bring him a pot of good beer brewed from the produce. But a man who found himself with plenty of land might in this way become chronic host for the redistribution of beer and so must, even in spite of himself, become a man of importance. Land ownership in a subsistence economy might allow for exploitation, as cattle ownership so often does, by withholding from a whole ageclass the privilege of marriage and the independence it brings. But Kinga were not strongly polygynous. Their late marriages were unforced. What the ownership of land conferred can be summed up simply as importance. The law required a tenant to bring the beer, and the landlord was to claim the land back if this payment was not rendered when due. A tenant who had tilled a field for three years, rendering payment, was deemed to have served notice of claim. If at that point the landlord failed to repossess the field, whether for his own or a third person’s use, his claim to the land and to any further payment in produce from the field was allowed to have lapsed. An erstwhile tenant in this way often got clear tenure either with consent or by default. As an economic arrangement during the later colonial period, 70

when many landlords might be a decade or more away at migrant labour, the law of forfeit or default simplified what otherwise could have been a hopeless tangle whenever a native returned requiring land to till, or the heirs of a long-absent landowner came to claim shares. While the law would have functioned in the same way in the 19th century whenever a man went missing, its main economic significance was as a system for the voluntary transfer of holdings outside the network of kinship. Within the closed circle of the localized ikikolo lineage group, land was easily transferred and formal payments, constituting the acknowledgement of a contract, were not required. But outside that circle, since transfer by sale wasn’t countenanced, the law of lease-and-forfeit took its place. An outsider had to serve a trial period of three years on good behaviour before being accepted as a tenured neighbour: the logic of such a law is not purely economic. In schema the Kinga system of land tenure can be called communal in the sense that land not belonging to anyone’s tillage belongs or reverts to the ruler, who allocates it at need to members of the community in accordance with established rights. But the rules, being those of a swidden system, allow a private person to hold his claim on a field though he has temporarily dropped it from his tillage; and in respect of such a field he performs a political function in allocating values. This is a fair statement since payment of a pot of beer is virtually nominal and since the same payment is expected by a ruler, who is deemed to be landlord in view of his descent from the original clearer of the land. The law of forfeit, as I have called it, is also a law of citizenship. Conditions for settling new land in 1860 were in most parts not such as to encourage pioneering by self-reliant individuals but favoured the building outward of a polity-of-alliance. By this I mean that at a minimum each new settlement once established had to define its political status through contracting alliance with a stronger neighbour. As the fortunes of the several settlements in a given valley fluctuated so would the pattern of alliances, although the tendency would be to conceive an alliance in the manifestly stable terms of perpetual kinship, traced to an original hiving off when the “younger brother” was “sent out to rule.” So the alliance between Ilevelo and Uhugilo was expressed in genealogical terms and at a time-depth beyond contradiction by living memory. Mpetsi, or as some say, Sinalevi, is given as the founder-settler of Ilevelo, a younger brother to Kyavadala, who sent him out to rule. Here is the implied scenario: Mpetsi, being ambitious and finding favour at court, was given a mandate to clear new land at the 71

place which came to be Ilevelo. By his own effort and leadership he won good land from the forest and established himself as unkilunga landlord. His people prospered and grew strong. Everything went for him, in short, as the Sanga mythos would have it go. But if we are to find a version of this scenario which fits our observer standards of credibility, I think we must conceive the affair as competitive and transactional, not authoritative. Ilevelo was the only settlement in the North, aside from Uhugilo itself, which had attained the standing of a domain as defined by the assertion of a right to “eat imongo.” Other settlements near Uhugilo but toward the south and east were (more or less peaceably) orientated to Ukwama. The Northern realm was bordered by the exposed highlands of the Elton plateau, permitting only a thin series of settlements along the northeastern slopes of the high-mountain ridge separating the realms of North and West. Nothing in nature imposed a centring of the narrow realm in the one of its lordly courts or the other, since neither had special access to a rich hinterland. The man or men tradition calls Mpetsi, founder of the ruling house at Ilevelo, would have been one of several at the time, perhaps for a long century before Mpetsi’s final achievement, all of them establishing client or satellite settlements to Uhugilo. Mpetsi would simply have been the one who succeeded in attracting the best following and managing the most renowned system of ceremonial patronage. He would have become by stages a petty ruler untsagila and at last commander of a substantial raiding and fighting force maintained in chiefly style by the redistribution of meat and beer, of which a steady portion derived from imongo tribute. Our working model for the emergence of a domain is thus centred in the transformation of landlord unkilunga by degrees into untsagila ruler and so, possibly in just a further generation or two, into untwa lord of a domain, eater of imongo.

The Logic & Spirit of the Law
Is the law of imongo, tributary marriage dues, a transform of the law of land tenure and lease? The point is not hard to argue, though I think that may be to put too narrow a face on the problem. Whenever an untsagila was inclined to solemnize the dependency tie of his people to the lord of the domain—when women were unsure about their crops, animals or children were perishing, or otherwise there was unrest—he could tether a goat and prepare the beer for a journey to the lord’s court. This routine passing of the buck was particularly valued in the matter of weather control within the domain, since lesser rulers normally would have no rain shrines, while a lord’s court must. Rain might be delayed in its onset or might be 72

too persistent when crops were maturing. Priests who could read and interact with the mischievous rainstones kept in a sacred grove could intervene in a style beyond the competence of a peripheral ruler. The motivation of this rendering of tribute to an acknowledged ceremonial centre must be read on two levels. Below the surface there is a shifting of responsibility by the lesser ruler to the lord, an unburdening and deflection of antagonism arising from the fears and frustrations of ordinary people. The solidarity of the close local group was favoured. But on the surface antagonism is taken to be flowing the other way. The troubles of the country are caused by the displeasure of higher powers, requiring propitiation. The idiom of placation through prestation is in its most general sense present in all the acts we have been considering, as in ancestor propitiation. The main prestations are beer and meat, speaking the language of the belly. Of the two ceremonial staples, beer is the more egalitarian. It is prepared and transported by women, and the men’s pot is shared around among all present equally. A cock, goat, sheep, or bullock is a more ingratiatory prestation. Coming from the masculine domain, it is a concession of rank, man to man, by giver to receiver. But it is also a claim to rank by the giver, since the number of animals, their size and quality, are crucial variables. The honoured lord in turn admits his powers of mystical intervention by receiving the gift, and accepts the responsibilities of rank by turning back designated portions of a sacrificed animal to the suitor. What seemed to colonial administrators a mere system of taxation, rivalling their own, on examination reads otherwise. Elders of Lupalilo sketched the schematic structure of the Northern realm in this account of imongo:
Under Mwalukisa there was only Ndwanga and no others of his rank. The tribute he brought to Mwalukisa was by way of respect, for he would say to himself a man must respect his older brother. On receiving a man with his imongo, Ndwanga would from time to time say, “Let us go on to Mwalukisa.” In late times the amount of imongo for a man well off would be a cow, a hoe, and a pot of beer, though three goats would substitute for the cow at need. The two guardians linked by the marriage go together to the lord Ndwanga, who sends an important courtier along with them to Mwalukisa. The prince slaughters the bullock, giving one leg and part of the lung to the father of the bride and dismissing the father of the groom. But the bride’s father signals to the other to wait, for he will divide his own share with the other before they go their separate ways. The courtier who took the party on from Ilevelo will also get his share, perhaps a leg or lung, which he returns to Ndwanga. Otherwise the bullock may be split lengthwise in half, the one part to stay here, the other to return to Ndwanga and his people, in particular of course to the two older men who have been linked by the marriage.


Rules governing the sharing of goods and pooling of labour are basic to the structure of the local community ilitsumbe, which will be schematically conceived in kinship terms as a localized lineage group ikikolo or may comprise several such groups conjoined and recognizing one untsagila captain. It is a generally acknowledged rule of ilitsumbe citizenship that a man should never sacrifice a goat without freely sharing the meat among all men present. Throughout the region and from time immemorial the killing of a goat has been associated with sacrifice to one’s ancestors, and the rule of sharing associated with neighborhood is thus a transform of the rule of sharing with kin. While kinship for Kinga is reckoned bilaterally, it is men who sacrifice and always the core of their beneficiary group is an ascending series of ancestors comprising a putative patriline. But there are no occasions on which a visible patriline assembles as an exclusive group. Sacrifice is to placate an ancestral hierarchy. Every sacrifice is commended ultimately to the universal ancestor Unguluve (though that name has now been borrowed for the Christians’ god). So far as I know the Kinga pattern for sacrifice at any level is that the ritual act should be removed from the public eye. What a man does to placate an ancestor is not to officiate at a ceremony but to take himself away into the edge of a wood, sometimes at an ancestral grave site where he himself is stranger, in order to dedicate a minimal, prescribed portion of meat to the dead man and invite him to participate, in this rather private way, in the feast of the living. The ethic of publicity and non-exclusion applies to the feast itself. Semani insisted that if he wanted to kill a goat, even if he found himself among strangers in a place he had first seen two hours since, he was obliged to share the meat just as though he were among close kin or neighbours. In rendering imongo the goat’s owner accompanies the animal to court, attends the feast there as special guest, and bears a share home for those who stayed back. The same scenario is followed when a diviner prescribes expiation: tethering a goat, the man goes off with it to find distant kin, shares the sacrifice with them, and returns at length with a portion for those who stayed behind. Every sacrifice establishes a communion. But no religious ritual is connected with the sharing of imongo at court. When I asked Suluvali Mwemutsi, still the paramount chief in 1962, about this he said a man might do as he liked about slipping off to the woods for communion with an ancestor, but “we have got imongo and that is our only concern.” The prince, after all, in the secular rite is not in the role which compares with the suppliant in the religious version—the prince’s counterpart is the ancestor with the power to heal and restore. He could hardly turn around and “sacrifice” the goat he has just received; yet he can claim full credit for the feast, which conforms to the pattern of chiefly redistribution as does, in 74

spirit, the feast of sacrifice as well. In all this the moral-political ethic of magnanimity may be seen to be doing double service. Another familiar rule of bush culture relates to the way a man might inaugurate ties of clientage to the ikikolo ‘extended family’ of his wife. To begin with there is marked constraint. The new son-in-law has no freedom at his wife’s place. He finds he is held suspect and treated coldly. This is only ended when he tethers a goat (or in the best of times a bullock) and delivers it in festive spirit to the community from which he has taken a working member. Henceforward all who partook of that feast are expected to remember the man “who brought us the goat” and treat him as a welcome kinsman. Now as a matter of course he will be offered food at every kitchen and reminded of his property rights should he elect uxorilocal residence. By 1960 this rule had been made redundant by the new pattern of setting substantial bridewealths. But in 1900 the law was that a girl had married a man the moment she permitted him full sexual intercourse: there and then she must “follow him home.” For that earlier Kinga society the rule of the marriage animal looks like a post-hoc bridewealth law. As with imongo the actual marriage imposes a tension only to be relieved by that peculiar sort of feast at which the chief guest supplies the meat. I realized after some months in the field, dealing with inconsistent testimony even from the most thoughtful informants, that the whole truth about either imongo or the bridewealths upon which they were logically based was not to be discovered. The “original” Kinga bridewealth of just two hoes, which the historian Tunginiye was ready to vouch for, I allocate to bush culture norms. The inflation of bridewealths in this century kept pace with the decay of the custom of imongo or “taxing bridewealths,” as colonial administrators understood it. The Germans very soon put an official (if not very effective) end to imongo, seeing it as a tax competing with their own, though complaints against a headman for soliciting tribute are to be found in the British records as late as 1928. Long before that the new economic activities generated by colonialism, all of which for Kinga took some form of migrant labour, had supplanted the war pattern and the ikivaga barracks life; and the general effect on society had been to decentralize and shift the public focus from political to economic concerns. Imongo gave way to private bridewealths. ‡ I have no doubt imongo was a kind of tax; it clearly functioned to keep the government in business, as taxes are supposed to do. It also can be seen as a kind of ‘protection racket’, wherein a comparatively small number of aggressive patrons claim payment for protecting a larger number of peaceful clients from the aggressive 75

demands of other patrons. But human institutions are universally overdetermined, taking meaning from all the sources of authority in our lives; and the facet of imongo I find most enlightening was its ability to use the available ritual symbolism of the regional culture to create a secular affirmation of the primacy of politics over kinship. The law is a society’s schematic model of itself written in the command mode. Law defines those rights and obligations which are effectively sanctionable. The Sanga system of internal revenue was, like systems everywhere, one which put the legitimacy of the government on the line every time a collection was made. This would have been particularly clear all around when a court was on the make, trying to extend its revenue base into peripheral settlements or escalate its rate of assessment. But the successful collection of taxes, even against open resistance, is not just a function of legitimacy but an engine of it. The inner logic of imongo was compounded of three basic themes: war, hospitality, and fertility. Sanga revenuers were small war-parties which would walk about the countryside trouble-shooting, accepting hospitality, hearing grievances, and assessing the revenue potential of each ilitsumbe community. These parties from the court expressed authority, but it was the act of driving one’s animals to court for the bilateral but hardly symmetrical drama of the imongo feast which at once imparted and legitimated a structural sense of belonging to a court-centred domain. As to the theme of fertility, “marriage tribute” seems to have been a strictly Kinga, strictly Sanga idea. Heterosexual themes in every society, I suppose, have deeply ambivalent semantic reverberations; but few societies can be so frankly ambisexual as the Kinga. For Kinga, the work of a prince was maintaining the fertility of his many wives, as the work of marriage for ordinary men was first and foremost satisfaction of a woman’s urgent needs on the plane of sex and reproduction. All the urgency attached to reproduction was referred by Kinga men to the woman’s sphere, and her desperate need in the prime of her life to have a nursling with her. The inner structure of a Kinga marriage is notable, and possibly unique within the broad East African region, for its nonpossessive ethos, which is visible in the self-reliance of women and the detachment characteristic of filial relations from the age of weaning. Kinga men do not often withdraw so fully into their nuclear or compound families as do Nyakyusa (say) or Hehe. Imongo was a revenue system which seized upon the openness, stability, and dutiful ethos of Kinga marriage, and its rationale in fertility rather than possessive eroticism, to claim in effect that the Sanga courts maintained the fertility of women as well as that of their fields.


Division in the Western Realm
The final moves in the building of the West realm took place under the British—one might better say, under the noses of the British—and offers a tale of Sanga politics at its best, though without the old heroics. The context of ethnic diversity facing the Kyelelo throne was perhaps no greater than had faced other wouldbe Sanga princes before him; but the trail was still fresh enough in 1960 to promise me some insight into the way political entrepreneurship actually worked. I begin not with the drama itself but the setting. The exercise and legitimation of power always has a cultural context, and an important dimension of it will be the measure of spontaneous order the culture provides as a background to political (manipulative) action. Spontaneous order is what Malinowski wanted to comprehend under the master concept of “reciprocity” and Adam Smith under his Unseen Hand. I find the philosophical case is weak for resting any sort of order in human affairs on nature. But as with the proverbial iceberg, the main source of order must all the same be inherent and free of any sort of conscious unilateral control. The most common generic name for it is structure. There is a healthy array of theories about structure and how it should be studied but little sure consensus. Probably the worst mischief has been done by those who have held you must ignore ‘culture’ to perceive ‘structure’. That position, at least, can be set aside here. What matters is to see how the rules which an ethnographer may find implicit in the spontaneous structure of a traditional society may be transformed into laws by way of a developed capability of political intervention— that is, vested authority. ‡ A culture which produces intense ambivalence and stressful interaction in both public and private domains besets its politicians with a background noise over which they must use strong voices to be heard. It may help to think of this as the ‘neurotic load’ the cultural community has to carry (by analogy to the biologist’s ‘genetic load’). Other cultures simply produce more governable populations. Political philosophers are right, I suppose, when they hold the ideal polity would want the least manipulation; and it must be true that in the total absence of spontaneous order political society is quite unthinkable. But it will always be important to ask about the ‘noise’ or disharmony level of the culture we have to deal with. The success stories of the Sanga élites in what became their protostate begins with their finding a fairly harmonious people in a 77

relatively spacious and well-protected place. Were the founders, as the myth says, outsiders? All through the iron age in this region a certain fraction of any community would have been newcomers. The ‘Sanga system’ comes into being when Kinga begin to find that they live under a ‘rule of law’ which transcends and can pre-empt social control by private enterprise—self-help operating under the (far slacker) ‘rule of custom’. The development and spread of the Sanga system must have been multi-centred from the very start, and synonymous with the growth of the court culture. The process by which force, persuasion, and more spontaneous forms of political evolution might be combined in the consolidation of a realm is particularly clear in the West, where the Kinga were in contact with another people, the Mahanzi, enough like themselves to make mutual appreciation and moral reciprocity likely, but different enough and sufficiently coherent to remain a distinctive cultural group. By the start of the German period the Mahanzi, without ever having been conquered, had been drawn deeply into the Kinga protostate. Still at Contact there were within what was to be confirmed as the Western realm of the Sanga system four politically distinct and potentially opposable populations, the Mahanzi, the Magoma, the Kinga of Prince Vululile, and the Kinga of Prince Kyelelo. The two Sanga princes were rivals for a single throne. It was a situation which could not have arisen in law. While there could be a rough equation drawn between Mahanzi and Bush Kinga, the Mahanzi showed less disunity than most of the border peoples which the Sanga came to dominate. Their selfconception in 1960 was that of a Kinga community predating the Sanga protostate. Mahanzi building techniques were substantial in 1900, their villages compact and well situated. Their mortuary routines were certainly distinct from their neighbours’ and a focus of distinctive religious beliefs. Their local rulers were in position to exercise an effective authority, in every way comparable to that of a Sanga of untwa standing. What was missing was the high court culture of ceremony and militarism. It is part of the final Sanga myth that the whole Kinga people had been politically unified before European times. As seen by their neighbours to the west (Nyakyusa-speakers of the Rift valley in Tanzania and Malawi) the Mahanzi are in fact the quintessential ‘Kinga’ people. They owned a particularly fertile country. In 1900 they comprised a compact community, and to judge from German observations (or alternatively from backward extrapolation of the settlement pattern recorded in British times) they were as densely settled on the land as the neighboring (non-Mahanzi) Kinga. While I 78

suppose there could have been no such fertile lands left in the hands of pacifists so late as 1860 (whereas a century earlier that could have been the predominant temper of these peoples) the Mahanzi may well claim that war has always been forced upon them. In the history of the Eastern realm they are known as the bloodiest mercenaries of the Germans in the Maji-Maji episode. They scourged the land of males and carried off women who didn’t manage to flee. They were redoubtable warriors. Ironically, since it was the Bulongwa missionaries who had made close contact with Mahanzi from the beginning, Christianity must be said to have prepared their solidarity with the Germans and, in consequence, participation in the ferocious campaign of ‘pacification’ which the panicked Germans unleashed in 1905. From the lucid eye-witness accounts I had in 1960, there can be no doubt the Mahanzi took to butchering Kinga of the East with a vengeance. But many of the women carried away preferred, when recovery came, to stay with their captors; and that must also be a measure of Mahanzi character at the time. During the final third of the nineteenth century they had been subject to intermittent warfare under Sanga leadership, fighting off Kyelelo, the celebrated tyrant-prince of the Western realm. They seem to have consolidated as a polity under this régime, adopting important elements of Kinga court culture. Nonetheless the Mahanzi form of speech remains distinctive, and the difference of style as one moves into their settlements from the Kinga is unmistakable. This is in face of the prevailing amity, with intermarriage, which has prevailed now for several generations between the two peoples, and their interpenetration as agriculturists. The position of the Mahanzi as a distinctive ethnic group in the Western realm contrasts in its history and quality to that of the Magoma, whose language is (I was told) kiMahanzi with kiNyakyusa admixtures (and/or kiSangu? kiWanji?—I used only Swahili there). The ethnographic error in ignoring the Magoma has been discussed. It was firmly established in German times and perpetuated by British administrators as a matter of convenience. British were determined ‘lumpers’ where small peoples were concerned, and content to know that kiMahanzi, kiMagoma, and kiKinga tongues were mutually intelligible for the purpose of the baraza court of law. But there was a real basis from the beginning for European attitudes in the mutual stances of the Kinga and Magoma themselves. Kinga never had conceptualized the country of their western neighbours as uvuMagoma, a distinctive Magoma polity. Whatever unity was achieved there dates from British times. In 1900 Kinga regarded the Magoma as a handful of transhumant (seasonally shifting) bush communities recently joined by some refugees (the Fungo) from recent lowland wars. As for the Magoma themselves, they found it convenient to 79

avoid political contact with the Europeans until the British got around to them in 1926.

Magoma people before Contact were content with a “bush” strategy of survival through volatility. Much of their country through much of the year is quite hidden by clouds (as one would say if one were approaching from below the escarpment) or by fog thick enough to stop most curious visitors. As a boundary people the Magoma shared in 1900 an adjustment still noticeable in 1960 among some Mawemba settlements and a few Mahanzi-Kisi pockets hidden away in the dramatic landscape of the escarpment. Magoma had adapted to horticultural transhumance, spending half the year cultivating just such hidden pockets of fertile soil and favorable climate in the limbo-land between lake plain and highland. On the evidence, until 1900 the Magoma seem to have comprised less a nation than a refugee population collected in marginal, broken country. They were comparatively safe from the great movements of warring peoples stirred up by the slave- and ivory trades, and at least initially from the probings of European settlers, entrepreneurs, missionaries, and official colonial agencies. Architects of the Sanga expansion could accordingly afford to ignore the Magoma as a nation, just as the Mawemba had been ignored in the northeastern borderlands. These were ethnic communities apt to be recruited piecemeal to court culture. There was no nation here either able to make war as equals or waiting to be conquered. But the special position of the Mahanzi stands out in contradistinction. In one section of Magomaland a ruling élite, the Fungo, can claim to have established themselves in a manner parallel to the Sanga elsewhere. The Fungo comprised in 1900 a recent immigrant or refugee population, a remnant group from the Sangu tyrant Merere’s defeat by Hehe. They seem to have arrived without women and very likely without even cattle. They were able nonetheless to establish themselves before 1900, and are said (by Kinga) to have been incorporated into the imongo network of the Sanga. To judge by later performance, they counted among them political entrepreneurs of talent. But they hadn’t had time to set up a Magoma establishment with a local legitimacy like that of the Sanga in Kinga or even in Mahanzi country. An instance of the political worldview which simply overlooks the existence of Magoma stands in my record of the first interview I was able to conduct directly (in Swahili, November 1961). Lusayano 80

Nsulwa of Bulongwa was a respected Kinga elder who had grown up there under the earliest German mission influence. I asked what had been the main divisions of the Kinga people in precolonial times. He named the waMahanzi, waWanji, waKwama, and waSokile. I recall that what struck me most at the time was his designation of the Kinga people proper (to use my labels) as waKwama, people of Ukwama. I recognized the sobriquet of the Kisi (waSokile) from preparatory reading as based on their habitual kiNyakyusa greeting. I was hazy enough then about history to miss seeing how inappropriate it would have been in 1900 to have designated the Wanji people as a division of the Kinga, but I was interested to hear the Mahanzi called such. German references had not made clear how independent the “Mahasi” would turn out to be. I failed entirely to register the omission from Lusayano’s list of the Magoma. I had encountered no reference to them as a people—“Magoma” appeared in documents only as a place name. Nyakyusa simply call them Kinga, and are apt to attribute their qualities to all Kinga, in a manner which tended to confuse early ethnographic records. At the time I was talking with Lusayano the scene I had to gaze upon from his well-kept dooryard was, if I had known it, the country of Magoma, lying at an easy halfday’s distance across the Rumakali river. I was looking across country constantly traversed both by Kinga and Magoma in 1960. Why would a responsible informant cut the Magoma out of his world while including others evidently less important? I never got back to Lusayano on that point. Even if I had done I doubt he would have admitted to having validated the Magoma claim to a special, non-Kinga identity. The Kisi are both less numerous than the Magoma and less Kinga, yet Lusayano counted them in. I think the right answer will focus on the Kinga social worldview. In 1900 Kinga were best prepared to recognize (to use my labels) not “ethnic groups” but “nations”—that is, tangibly political entities attached to a territory by a traditional presence. The Kisi, being pacific, had no chiefly organization but nonetheless proclaimed a special identity in their occupational specialization and reliance on trading relations (in pottery and fish) with their various neighbours. But Magoma had featured only as a marginal geographic group, half of them immigrants from Usangu, in Lusayano’s boyhood, and his attitude toward them had not been changed by the new ‘nationalism’ of their ex-lowland leaders. Unlike the Magoma, the Mahanzi people had under Sanga leadership come to constitute a compact territorial force. It is true enough that a more politically oriented informant than Lusayano could have found reason to suppress information tending to support the Magoma claim, particularly active in the months prior to national Independence, to their own court jurisdiction. But Lusayano was not canny in that particular way. What he 81

would have had in mind was that they never had had a court of their own; that is, there never had been a body of Magoma law. It is a question, of course, of the respect due to a court as against the denizens of the bush. Prudence would have set my fieldwork in the Livingstone mountains at least a decade earlier. It is owing only to the ‘colonial deep-freeze’ that other issues of ethnic identity and freedom of affiliation did not boil up before 1960 around the margins of Sanga court dominance. Earlier fieldwork would have allowed a peripatetic ethnographer the chance to see the Sanga regime from the sidelines. As it happened, I was lucky to have got an authentic view from the centre. And as it happened, doing that was higher among my priorities than gathering information on the transition which began with Independence. Kinga social memory has been subject to changing forces since the colonial interlude ended, but I expect the different regions still see their histories as ‘Kinga history’ yet see it differently. Since one of my tasks is drawing boundaries on a cultural map, I have to decide whose categories to put on record. The Magoma through their local ruler Isaac Mwezi did make their voice heard. But Kinga, contrary to the received stereotype of a selfcontained and ethnocentric microculture, are always aware of others on a continuous scale of linguistic and cultural distance. No one is more admired among them than a polyglot. Kinga do not think of their neighbours primarily in terms of tribal (or equivalent) categories. In the stories I would hear of migrant labour at Mufindi or Kilosa the ‘tribal’ affiliations of the principals was never a feature. What we may think of as language barriers within the region most Kinga men perceived as clines. Within Southwestern Tanzania a migrant could acquire facility in a new place without exchanging his linguistic templates. He had only to extend his own language piecemeal, a process simpler by an order of magnitude than learning Swahili or, especially, English. Kinga moving about in their own country or the broader region generally try (1960) to take on local coloration wherever they stay. They disappear quickly as strangers and take pride in this rather than sporting a tribal identity, Kinga or other. The Magoma persons with whom Lusayano would have had to deal in daily intercourse spoke a dialect somewhat farther than kiMahanzi from his own, but this would never have occupied the foreground of his attention when dealing with them. That he did award the Mahanzi a distinct identity was probably less a measure of the cultural distance he felt in relating to them than of his respect for a political/military tradition. In the regional culture as it had evolved by 1900, the essential feature of the politically 82

developed community was a secular court prepared to supplant selfhelp in the settlement of civil disputes. Without it, power could only remain dispersed, authority situational and impermanent. By pressing for such a court under the British, the Magoma were aspiring to parity with neighbour peoples.

Rival Princes
German missionaries climbed the escarpment from Nyakyusaland into the Western realm to find it bitterly divided. The trouble seemed to be a quarrel between brothers—Kyelelo, the acknowledged senior, and Vululile, who controlled the area they had chosen for their mission, Bulongwa. The earliest general account which the visitors were able to compose merits quoting at length for what it reveals about Kinga political thought at the time. The passage is taken from the diary of a reconnoitring trip taken eastward from Bulongwa through the three as-yet unknown Kinga realms. The observations are those of missionaries Wolff and Schumann.
It is positive that the first chief who came here had four sons, the first Unkwama or Muibuka, the second Umhugilo, the third Unlupila, the fourth Ulubumbu. After the first the region about his capital is called Ubukwama, that of the second Ubuhugilo, of the third Lupila, that of the fourth Ulubumbu. For a long time these names were carried on, until the most recent Ulubumbu, who had two sons (Kielela and Bululile), let the region be divided. So now there are five great, genuine chiefs Muibuka, Umhugilo, Unlupila, Kielela, Bululile. In quite recent times Untandala and Maliba have been added, both sons of Muibuka in secondary or tertiary line, that is of a lesser wife. Both got chiefly capitals and people in Muibuka’s region with orders to stand behind Muibuka with their people in time of war. Over the years both took themselves free, as the Muibuka concerned was a weakling. Both are now their own bosses, especially Untandala, who calls his region Tandala, in less degree Maliba (BMB 1897:200).

The favoured Kinga device (what Malinowski liked to call a Just So story) of the younger brother (son) “sent out to rule” is intact even in face of the bold evidence of realpolitik: power here as elsewhere in the world is actually won by dint of arms, not awarded as a gift by the magnanimous elder-brother figure to which Kinga thinking so readily turns. The contradiction would not have bothered the Kinga who were the source of this little history, though they certainly knew at the narrative level that domains like Tandala and Maliwa, or Vululile’s half-Mahanzi community were born of war not any sort of inheritance. The more general lesson a properly curious European might have drawn even as early as this would have 83

concerned the lack of fit between Kinga cognitive schematics and actual political practice. About Tandala we have little detail, since the German military administration quickly repolarized power in Kingaland about its garrison station at Mwakete, close by. But the story of the division of the Western realm, here given such a sanitary dressing, was not to stay hidden. The matter comes up persistently in German and British records, and tales about Kyelelo the Cruel were as vivid in 1960 as they might have been in 1900. I think Wolff and Schumann were able to see the secessions in the Central realm for what they were, though the rulers at Tandala and Maliwa of course never began with “a people” already aligned under Sanga authority. It is harder to see the Western realm’s division as the maturation of a process of segmentary secession. Untandala could, so the record shows, win a skirmish with Ukwama, hold back imongo for a while, and then resume it at his own discretion, expressing a great degree of autonomy and a more sublimated kind of clientship but no radical shift of orientation to power. Vululile had been cast for a more difficult role. He falls somewhere between an adopted champion and a colonizing patron for the Mahanzi. But it may be best to begin with an official version of the facts. Following is the account set down in the Tukuyu District Book by a British administrator after a safari in the Livingstone mountains probably in the early 1920s. I preserve his spellings of names, trusting they may be recognizable; but since the cast of characters at this point begins to grow long, I give numerical references to the genealogies which will be found at this chapter’s end, a few pages on.
It was reported that Mwakalukwa (1) was originally a capitao of Chilero (2), but on the arrival of the Germans he was appointed to be a headman; on this point careful enquiries were made, and it was eventually ascertained practically the whole of the history concerning these two headmen, and the way in which Mwakalukwa (1) came to be a chief. The grandfather of the present Chilero (2) was one of the big Ukinga chiefs, and he had three sons Ndungiri (3), Burubili (4), and another. Ndungiri (3), the father of the present Chilero (2), killed his father and took the chieftainship; Burubili (4) the father of Mwakarukwa (1) had lived for a long time in the village of Mbemba, and was friendly with the Amahanzi Tribe, and, on hearing that his father had been killed by his elder brother, immediately declared war on him. Burubili (4) is looked on with great respect by all the Wakinga and apparently was beloved by a large number of the people of his father, as, on his


declaration of war against his brother, a number of people came over into the Amahanzi country and joined him. Burubili was assisted by the Amahanzi chiefs, Mbemba (5), Mwandilawa (6), Mwenetera (7), and Maramila (8); and eventually Ndungiri (3) was driven out of a large part of his country back to the hills which lie between Mwakete and Bulongwa, his kraals being burnt and cattle taken; it is noteworthy that the historians say that the huts of the people were not burnt, but that the conquerors confined themselves merely to burning and damaging the personal property of Ndungiri alone. The country that was taken was handed over to Burubili (4) who became the chief; peace was made, and the two brothers became friendly again and had the usual feast. After several years Chilero (3) again became restive and made more trouble by killing the eldest son of Burubili (4); and again there was war between the two chiefs; Burubili was again assisted by the Amahanzi, and again defeated Ndungiri (3). When the Germans arrived in Ukinga...Chilero (3) demanded that Mwakalukwa’s (1) country be handed over to him but he was refused in this... [Njombe District Book I]

A reader must supply logical corrections. Underlying references are often to a lineal office rather than a particular incumbent, and a man of earlier generation is often referred to by the name of a successor. I have nonetheless indexed references in the text according to prima facie meaning.

Dynastic Claims
The political genealogies which follow should be treated as Kinga-schematic not ethno-historical, as each is my armchair synthesis of varying versions collected in the field. I shall be at some pains later to indicate how little they are to be trusted as histories, because I want to dwell on the difference between public law and public morality, political constitution and political practice. The formal implication of a political genealogy is that actual blood ties (let us say descent through eldest son of a chief wife) account for successions to office over the generations. Every Sanga ruler lays claim through his genealogy to a ruling privilege which, being grounded in nature, social thought cannot gainsay. Where two or more lineal offices are linked in common descent, the claim is extended to set up a natural relationship between two polities. The kinship metaphor nicely qualifies their mutual autonomy. 85

The fiction is rather like the ‘gold standard’ for inspiring confidence in international finance, in that the trick works not because it really takes people in but because the conventional wisdom shows a terrible void where suitable alternatives would have to be. I try to give an acceptably Kinga version of the ruling lines in the Western realm, leaving some questions about hard historical fact to later annotation. The result of adopting the perspective of oral history will be to move from a distant past of remarkably uneventful successions to a recent period of dynastic turmoil. Presumably, more light on the darker past would match it better to the times we know. Details 1-3 (ending this chapter) present kinglists for the main ruling houses. I went into the field with armchair skepticism about such lists and emerged confirmed in it. Informants with a little encouragement may stretch a short list of ancestors to match the (stretched) lists of neighbour houses, but all the same the fieldworker has to pull out as many names as will come. A still more industrious anthropologist could presumably have made all the lists come out with an equal number of generations. In some cases there were historians present to correct or otherwise steer an incumbent, but generally I got the genealogy he in the presence of his elders saw fit to volunteer. These are, as it were, practical genealogies and by that token they are genuine. Every Kinga feels he or she ought to be able to name the three men comprising the ascending patriline defining a boundary for exogamy, and few commoners can add more names: by their standards even the shortest of these ruling lines is impressive. Where I was aware of irregularities needing to be hidden it was never very hard to dig out facts, or at least rival versions of events, but I have no way of knowing how many skeletons were left in the closet. Once or twice I may have elicited more or less genealogical pride than I ought, and I have probably not seen all the systematic sources of distortion. These lists are not pretended history but tools of inquiry into political conditions in precontact times, and it is as such they are serviceable. The names on each list referring to post-Contact incumbents will indicate the distance being bridged by oral history in each case, with the attendant dangers. A short list prior to the Pax suggests a short history of effective ‘chiefly’ rule in that domain, and a more recently awakened interest in lordly bearings.
Documentary sources have understandably been of little use in confirming the oral history of the Kyelelo-Vululile wars, which I had from Kinga informants in 1960. Non-partisan historians would have been scarce in 1900. The series of battles appears to have been spread over twenty years or more, with both sides claiming victories


and Kyelelo (Untowanilo the Cruel) exhibiting prodigious energy in the building of a following. However infrequently he may have received imongo [marriage tax] from a Mahanzi (or Vululile’s Kinga)—and it is unlikely he ever did—Kyelelo continued throughout to claim it as his right. Vululile struck the German missionaries as the “superior chief” owning the most fertile and densely populated part of Ukinga, having five “subordinate chiefs” (three Mahanzi houses, Mwenentela [7] from Magoma, and Mwakagile the Sanga). To the Germans and British, successive representatives of the Kyelelo line claimed to have conquered all the Mahanzi and Magoma long before Contact, and hence to be the rightful rulers of a united Western realm. But I suppose an even more preposterous claim was accepted somewhere else in East Africa by the Europeans of that day. In 1960 Vululile partisans convincingly denied that successful version of history, assuring me that Kyelelo (Ntowanilo) for his double parricide had been cut right out of the central rituals at Ukwama. But if that ever happened he had seen himself or his heir restored to favour by 1900, very likely through a show of power and personal prowess. His son, to whom he handed power before his death, was always a favourite at the German District Office at Mwakete Boma. As for Vululile, before his death in 1909 he had fumbled his relations with Mwakete (presumably not without a little deft assistance from Kyelelo), and the Vululile successor Mwakalukwa was reduced to the rank of local ruler [ Stationschronik pg.7]. Under indirect rule, effectively from 1926-8 when the Kinga Native Courts were set up, Kyelelo (Ndunginiye) regained the realm and began to exercise a degree of centralised control which had never before been enjoyed over so extended a region. He had his father’s charisma but combined it with diplomacy and a silver tongue. The early missionaries estimated the population of Vululile’s country, with Kyelelo’s, at something over 5,000 persons. According to a census of March 1928, there were resident in the same region 3,252 persons, of whom 1,463 were children, 1,025 women, and 764 men. In the following year Subchief Kyelelo reported 290 births and 168 deaths, of which 94 were deaths of infants. In short, the population was growing. Adjusting the 1928 figures for temporary migration of men (it is realistic to assume a rough parity as between the sexes, and exclusively male migration) the total comes to about 3,500 persons. They were divided about equally among seven local rulers, of whom Kyelelo himself was one. Whatever else should be said of the legendary warrior Kyelelo (Untowanilo the Fierce) he could not have been easily intimidated. Simply within the realm he had determined to


claim for his own he would have been outnumbered about six to one if he’d ever found all his enemies aligned against him in the field. It is owing to the atomistic quality of political life prior to the Sanga protostate mobilization that such massive confrontations could not have happened. Whatever population catastrophe is attributed to colonial disruptions in the generation before 1928 (whooping cough, measles, and a European war were brought to Ukinga) we are dealing with small, face-to-face polities. The typical local ruler would have had to deal with perhaps 200 arms-bearing men of all ages. I believe the numbers before Contact, though they probably were somewhat higher, were of the same order of magnitude. What is obvious is that the Western realm—though by 1960 well established and apparently ‘ancient’—was in fact first formed after the coming of a pax germanica . But the forces which finally did succeed in forming a realm in the West were the same which had been in process throughout the Sanga expansion: forces of entrepreneurial power politics flying the Sanga banner.


Detail 1: Sanga ruling lines of the Western realm to about 1960

Southern Domain Lingundya
“Mwakalukwa” (1926 Title)

Central Domain Luwumbu
“Kyelelo” (1926 Title) Ukiganga (b. Ukwama) Umbunganya (b. Ihanga) Ungavila (Luwumbu) Ukinoto Unkingilo

Western Domain Bulongwa
“Mwakagile” (1926 Title)

Kiponzuvutwa Uvusuka Usakalang’i ........... Pax begins......... Mwakagile (I)

Mwangawa ........... Pax begins ......... (4) Vululile (d.1909)

Umwikusi Untowanilo (The Cruel)* ........... Pax begins ........

(1) Mwakalukwa (3) Ndunginiye Kilolelo/Salile* Mesiye (2) Ukingatavwo (‘Tsila’) Sunguluma Mwakagile (II)*

* At Kilolelo’s death, his ‘younger brother’ Salile was made regent until the heir, Mesiye, reached his majority. The choice of Salile was made after much discussion and his subscription to a ‘contract’ to withdraw at the appointed time. Mwakagile (II) was a regent not even closely enough related to his predecessor to be called his ‘younger brother’—but nonetheless able to assume and retain the succession. Kyelelo the Cruel is by some informants placed one generation earlier than in this ‘official’ version of the line. The informant in each case is the last ruler on the list. These offices were notretained bytheindependentgovernmentofTanganyika,later Tanzania.


Detail 2: Mahanzi ruling lines (Western realm) to 1960




(Founder of the line)

(Founder of the line)

(Founder of the line)

(1926 title)

(1926 title)

(1926 title)
Ungatisanyi (b. Ihanga)

Kapola Gutsungwa

Umwenekivu Mwenefikilo Umbatsi Ndakulima

...........Pax begins..........
(8) Malambila Mwapongela Legezamwendo (d. 1956) Aroni

..........Pax begins.......... ...........Pax begins..........
Selemba (6) Mwandilawa Mwimbilile Luka (5) Mbemba (I)(d. 1904) Mbemba (II) Jila

* The Eastern and Central domains trace back to a common founder, Kyando, but gave me no details of the subsequent division of their two lines. Mahanzi rulers gave less attention to lineage history than Sanga, and evinced less interest in or deference to their office holders. Missionary Hübner (BMB 1900: 25)has a somewhat different account of the situation he found on arrival. His three chiefs before the Pax (in the order as above) called themselves Mwakasula, Mwandilaba, and Mwifikilo. Only the first of these presents a problem. It is likely enough Mwakasula was short lived and forgotten, or a regent.


Detail 3: Magoma ruling line to 1960 Central Domain
Lumage “Fungo” “Mwenentela”

Northern Domain
Misiwa ** “Mwakalila”

(1926 title)
Mwakadege (b. Lumage) Njalayivava Ukyeve ** **

(1926 title)


........ Pax begins....... .........Pax begins........ (7) Mwenentela Mwasonya Mukoli Mwezi Isaac* Mwakalila Mwakipesile Mwalawil ** Isaac*

* Isaac Mwezi, a person of charismatic stamp, lost the Central domain in a tangle with the British administration, then became a peripatetic ‘allMagoma’ leader with a series of minor posts, including headship of a new domain he was able to set up out of the Central about 1935. He regained favour with the British by revealing a unique touch as tax collector in an area bedeviled by a series of ‘incompetent’ (i.e. ethnocentric) short-run or probationary rulers. It was largely through Isaac’s initiatives that Magoma (after several reorganizations) had achieved an effective local government by 1960. ** Nominally, the earlier incumbent continues. Probably his place has in fact been passed on to an heir who, in local custom, can choose to reign under the same name/title.



Concepts of Sanga Power

Kinga-Nyakyusa Expansion
It is within the Western realm we can best investigate the probabilistic history of the Kinga state: the processes, including war, by which Sanga rule and its extension were established. We are looking for the rules of the board on which the game had to be played, not particular outcomes. That other (the “outcomes”) strategy will be familiar to some readers from Monica Wilson’s impressive collation of certain Nyakyusa chiefly lineages. Her chart of “chiefs of Lwembe’s line” places 181 names on an integral generational grid which charters 29 chiefdoms. It is as though Nyakyusa polities were generated in real time and space in the way a genealogical tree grows downward by ruled lines, from the single mythical ancestor at the top to the full proliferation of the twentieth generation, packed like piano keys across the bottom. That is certainly not the way proto-state politics worked. Nyakyusa traditions hold that their aristocratic political system was an extension of the Kinga; it is likely the two systems did develop in parallel, and it is certain they bear strong family resemblances. But the mechanisms of expansion were distinct. ‡‡ For convenience in sorting a lot of names a genealogical tree, however artificial, has no substitute; but the danger is that the chart may become an end in itself. We need to see it as an artifact of the reconstructive mind. Charsley usefully contrasts Merensky’s 1894 genealogies with Wilson’s made in the 1930s, and the Rungwe District Book records the expert Masukulu Nsamba’s charting of some of the same material at an intervening date. R. de Z. Hall’s record of 1938 (Mbeya Provincial Book) appears also to be intermediate, suggesting that Wilson’s adjustments in 1955 may have been rather substantial. Comparing these progressive versions one is witness to the cooking up of data or, as it might be construed, the making of a myth. I conclude that the introduction of written records by


missionaries, administrators, and sociologists bolstered a spontaneous liking for systematization among certain Nyakyusa elders, who cooperated in the final editions of these charters of ancient unity. ‡ In fact, Wilson’s chart of the twenty-five Kukwe chiefdoms was based on data two local enthusiasts had compiled out of their own interest and turned over to her—her part being to reconcile disagreements. But the chart I need for my work with Kinga history is of another kind. At the end of a considerable survey of European observation and analysis of Nyakyusa custom I remain unsure of my answer to the most practical of questions: how far a ‘superior’ chief or prince actually could expect to control the decisions of ‘subordinate’ rulers within his sphere of influence, and how such arrangements were sanctioned. The Germans observed political hierarchies among the Nyakyusa and at least the Western Kinga, though among both peoples they further noted a pronounced and countervailing local autonomy. What we lack in either case is an emic picture—how political dependency played in the everyday imagination. We’d have needed a contemporary observer with that special interest. Only one point seems quite clear: genealogical links and orders of precedence did not comprise systems of sanction but were systems of notation, vehicles of discrimination. Concentration upon our charts as though they were more would probably only get in the way of understanding. “It is clear,” writes Gulliver, “that, immediately before the colonial era, the Nyakyusa were not arranged in a number of determinate petty chiefdoms, as later evidence has had it. The indigenous political system was more fluid than that.” One of the major puzzles about the local organization of plains-dwelling Nyakyusa at contact was the clustering of villages rather tightly together, though in scattered places, leaving wide stretches of fertile but uninhabited or minimally exploited land between. This is a puzzle if you assume the radical thrust of each princedom was toward independence—unqualified autonomy. On that assumption you would expect each prince to distance himself as well as might be from each of his neighbours, so that the good land would be evenly (if, at the time, still thinly) settled. But the assumption is wrong, and the principles of cohesion, responsiveness, and flexibility inhering among princedoms only begin to emerge when the extraneous hypothesis is abandoned. To say it briefly, it seems to me that the principle of “good company” adumbrated by Monica Wilson is matched for Nyakyusa by a strongly countervailing principle. It should be called something like “passionate rivalry” not, as Wilson dubs it, passive “admiration of truculence.” Such a passion requires the proximity of stranger-familiars, that is, persons outside the scope of


the neighbour-love ethic, yet within the scope of acquaintanceship and network connection which makes personal rivalry possible. ‡ Wilson discusses Nyakyusa violence under the general rubric of selfdisplay as a culturally patterned value; but I don’t think that would have been good enough in 1890. MacKenzie offers graphic descriptions of the wildness and frequency of Nyakyusa drum dances. They are “indulged in with great zest, and, as the night advances, with complete abandon, moral and physical.” Evidently Nyakyusa dancing possessed a “pagan” authenticity which impressed the German missionaries, as well as the British, against their scruples. Fülleborn judged the dances wholesome “in spite of their gestural allusions to sex.” The violence of the dance at funerals was proverbial and intensely attractive to young men. MacKenzie writes further, it “is not seldom an unrestrained orgy of emotion lets loose. If spear and shield are carried, fighting may take place, ending in wounds and death, especially at the burial of a chief, who should not go to his ancestors unattended.” There is surely no profit in setting aside such valuable notes on Nyakyusa character as we work toward a model of political expansion below the escarpment. Human societies everywhere thrive on ‘contradictions’ between their values and the equally characteristic histrionics which proceed from more spontaneous urgings. What we need to see is how Nyakyusa go about discovering what makes life worth living, how their pursuit of it would have contributed to the vitality of their political system, and how all this compares with and illuminates the situation of the Kinga. Take it for granted that both peoples, since they both built well, would have been doing justice to ‘rational self interest’ in the way they served universal human ends—the goals of ecological, economic, and organizational adjustment. And take it for granted, of course, that the deeper human sources of vitality in each case would have been unique. ‡ In their different ways both Kinga and Nyakyusa societies were expansive and were growing through the export of politics as well as people. Difficult though it may be to find a model which will disclose the inner genius of either society, I am inclined in both cases to begin with an appreciation of the way ritually amplified personal power can serve to lend vitality and coherence to fluid political systems. We have in the ‘predatory expansion’ of Sahlins a disclosure model of the working of a strongly segmentary, acephalic, warlike society. Fashioned to suit a couple of extreme examples, its fit to the Nyakyusa or Kinga cases is not good enough to throw much light. Our two peoples both abridge local autonomies, allowing for shifting alliances and lines of cleavage, and both make important structural use of friendship as a counteragent to kinship solidarity. At what constitutes an opposite extreme to ‘predatory expansion’ we have Southall’s model of Alur expansion through what we might call ‘friendly takeovers’. Here a polit-


ically advanced community expands by incorporating acephalous neighbours. It is a process of colonization by impressing the rustics with your superior management skills. But both Kinga and Nyakyusa depended more on political theatre than on either the pragmatic appeal the Alur had working for them or the land-grabbing and cattle predation Sahlins was concerned with. ‡‡ We have a puzzle in a paradox: Because Kinga-Nyakyusa society is less atomistic than either of the extreme cases we have considered, it depends more on individuals and their energies—the phenomenon which (on the confused political scene of the industrial world) we tend to understand as leadership. Yet what especially seems to distinguish Kinga political culture is the retreat of the prince from public life, in seeming contradiction of Sanga expansive claims. What is a “big man” who hides behind a stockade, who evacuates it (bush-culture fashion) at news of an approaching missionary (BMB 1898:119), or (alternatively) offers through intermediaries his very territory in return for powerful patronage (BMB 1897:198)? In transmuted form these traits are shared by NyakyusaNgonde culture. Why, in a region so far south of the classic examples in eastern Africa, do we have the appearance of that peculiar phenomenon we have come to call ‘divine kingship’? To the extent that we are dealing with an institution the two peoples hold in common, a solution to the puzzle for either culture might prove transferable. There are some clues to be found by looking at the way power was won in Kingaland. ‡

History vs. Genealogy
Something of the colour missing in the kinglists can be grasped from a look at events behind one particular succession. Consider the ruling line in Bulongwa (kuVulongwa—the capital was about a kilometer south of the mission site so named), the house lately called after Mwakagile Sanga. As an exogamous ruling lineage, conceived as a branch of royalty, the family is locally known as Sanga Mwihomeke, Pierced Sanga, though I was unable to get details of the event so commemorated. Sunguluma, the incumbent in 1960, admits that Kiponzuvutwa “was only of unyakivaga guardsman rank when he left Ihanga,” which is regarded as the parent domain. That means he would have had no special hereditary claim to rule—he was not a favoured son of Umbunganya, as the political genealogy seems to imply. “When he arrived there were Kyando and others [= other Mahanzi lines] here but they had no political system. They lived like goats.” Kiponzuvutwa “taught them how to be subject to him” and they, the Mahanzi natives, “had no power to resist him.” They “learned from


Kiponzuvutwa the advantage of organizing against one’s enemies.” On his arrival practically the whole of what he was to make his domain was woodland, not yet cleared. Maize, beans, and finger millet were the crops, all planted according to tradition in imigunda swidden gardens cleared on a steep slope. The new Sanga rulers from Ihanga took over control of the wooded land, “letting it be known that all others should get permission to build and clear the land.” The Sangas organized the clearing of larger areas, grouping many imigunda gardens together so that they could efficiently be fenced and defended from wild pigs. “Before Kiponzuvutwa settled here the folk of Ihanga feared the witches and spirits of this country; but after he led the way they followed in great numbers.” Sunguluma’s history seemed to me sober and straight, once the mythical primitivity of the aboriginal Mahanzi had been bracketed away. Different versions of the ruling line emerged from questioning. Sunguluma himself reduced his recital to a father Mwakagile, grandfather Uvusuka who didn’t see the Germans, and the founder Ikidagile, alias Kiponzuvutwa, who had left Ihanga. Padili Kyelelo also accorded the line only four significant tenants, giving Usakalang’i as actual father to Sunguluma, becoming Mwalukisa (II) on assuming office. Sunguluma later added that Mwilola, elder brother to Mwakagile, had actually been the ruler when the Germans came; and so on. I never aspired to setting down a “true” genealogy or record of office. On a very simple level there is confusion like that Charsley confronted in his effort to sort out the Nyakyusa princely genealogies in the light of historical references to actual nineteenth-century rulers. He seems to discover a major source of uncertainty about generational succession in “a title effectively outliving the generation of its origin,” and holds this to be “a basic feature of the indigenous princely system.” While it may be basic it is obviously not a feature consistently applied. A prince’s name must be regarded as a title if it is only imposed or adopted on his assumption of office; but we generally lack any information as to the names of personages appearing in the ruling genealogies, as they had been in private life. We only know, for Nyakyusa and Kinga alike, that from time to time a successor chooses to make the name of his predecessor into his personal title. ‡‡ The Nyakyusa evidence does permit a canny guess. It looks unlikely that the ritual preservation and passing on of body-part essences to a successor ‘chief’ (i.e., the ‘divine king’ procedures) were used in any but the quite special cases of true succession to office. One of these is the ‘living Lwembe’ succession at Lubaga. But there are supposed to have been others. The Coming Out procedure normally allowed an old chief to retire from the political arena without a successor. This is Charsley’s main critique of the Wilsons’ monographs, and his reason for using ‘prince’ in


place of their ‘chief’. But when a chief actually dies in office in his prime, he should be succeeded by a brother or son, because the chiefdom itself is not ready for a Coming Out. The ‘divine king’ rituals would then be available for passing on the name and chiefly identity to a lineal successor. The choice would be made and implemented by a local congress of priests—acknowledged elders of the chiefdom which originally sponsored the now-deceased chief at his Coming Out. The sole Kinga case for which the specific motivation of the choice to continue a name was made clear to me was that of Kyelelo—the name belonged to an alien hero, was originally awarded to the incumbent at Ihanga as an honour, and was claimed by successors in the same spirit. That is to say, successors are claiming to wear the mantle of the founder; or, put otherwise, they identify their office with a princely tradition having a specific charter in heroic legends about past holders of the name. In Kinga law as in English common law a person has the right to be known by whatever name he or she may choose, and new names are often taken to mark a personal transition. Without knowing more than we generally can about long-past Kinga political events, we can’t explain the life of a title at one particular place or the apparent absence of such continuing title at another. An economical formula would put all in the language of glory. At least in the twentieth century it has been, on the whole, the more conspicuous rulers who have lodged their claims to the grace of tradition by adopting lineage titles. But glory is an elusive commodity, whether in retrospect or prospect. Expedience may be a better explanation when a community is not ready for the ruler’s death, and a successor ought to be seated expeditiously: let him then just take over the established name. It is clear enough that, once the colonial era began, the main consideration in holding onto a name would have been to keep the Serikali Government out of local business, while keeping the tiny wage of service coming from a source which knew the names but hardly the faces or even the putative ages of its agents in a system of thoroughly indirect rule. ‡‡ Another source of confusion in the telescoping of generations is common in folk retrospection. This is quite likely wherever a title has outlived the generation of its origin. The German Stationschronik from Bulongwa shows that Mwakagile died of consumption in 1901, and that the succession was irregular. Without that specific information, and despite inconsistencies in the oral history I collected, I might have had to accept Mwakagile as the personal name of a long-lived ruler surviving from German times to Sunguluma’s succession in 1931. It is even likely that Sunguluma himself accepted that conflation, since he could have been no more than an infant when the first Mwakagile (or was it his elder brother Mwilola?) died.


From their earliest contacts the Berlin missionaries, carrying a Nyakyusa orientation over to the Kinga, vacillated between “Mwenentela” and “the Mwenentela,” “Muibuka” and “the Muibuka”—it is hard to know how far they may have helped to foster a liking for titles, or how far they and the “Langenburgers” [= the German military presence], with whom they were often if never willingly identified, constituted a meaningful audience at the successions of, for instance, Mwakagile II or Mbemba II. (“The old Mbemba died 1904. Into his place stepped a kinsman, the now-living chief Mbemba”—Stationschronik: selected dates.) Quite apart from the indirect influence of regional norms on Kinga political practice, which must have been real over the long term from (at latest) the mid-nineteenth century, it is characteristic that Kinga retailing family traditions will telescope their forebears under the name of a recently dead personage, personally remembered. Historic encounters are attributed to father or grandfather as if his name were a title and one could regard successive incumbents as incarnations of one individual. But when this tale-teller’s rubric is the operative mechanism the “title” shifts along with the generation of the teller, being typically the own-name of his grandfather. For maintaining an oral tradition this strikes me as efficient enough—the past is kept vividly near at hand. But where systematization is wanted fixed local titles can be useful, and there was probably some resort to them before Contact. The manifest time-depth of the Kyelelo title (per 1960) may be properly represented in the four generations Padili gave me from Untowanilo the Fierce. That would put the legendary hero’s wild exploits to the period of invasive turbulence in the mid-1900s. But we should reserve the possibility that some telescoping of names has occurred even there. In the case of Umwemutsi we know this was the title (“Mwemusi”) by which the British administrators knew the man whom they decided to designate Paramount Chief. The title has generally not been confused with the individual names of successive incumbents of the office, and doesn’t appear as the name of the line’s founder in any recorded genealogies. The title attributed to the line by early missionaries was Unkwama or Muibuka, and each of these was used as if it might refer to the founder or could be the personal name of the incumbent. Yet these are not names appearing on any documented kinglists! Linguistically, since there is no way in which the Kinga or Swahili languages will distinguish “Umwemutsi” from “the Umwemutsi,” the problem of titles presents itself more explicitly to the European systematizer than to the indigenous one. In sum, there are separate principles enough, cultural and historical, which have operated upon the self-designations of Kinga ruling lineages and their personnel,


that no genealogy, however carefully corrected, can serve to document the real political history of a single domain.

Political Vitality
Political technique may have been less important than political vitality in the Kinga-Nyakyusa expansion. Though the dynamic was lodged in a system of rule, the princes were recruiting people to it rather than imposing it forcibly as the modern administrator has done under systems of direct rule, or as the Romans and so many others largely did. Even in 1960 I found, as I moved from one domain or realm to another, variety in the nomenclature of offices and public buildings. This was a reflection of the local roots of Kinga political culture, just as a rigidly consistent system of titles would have reflected an opposite bias toward central direction. The genealogical frame by which Kinga princes modeled the ideal ties of the peripheral realms to the centre was a charter not for power but for loose alliance. By contrast, the intense hostility between the Kinga followers of Vululile and those of Kyelelo was a source of personal power for both of those princes, generating new structures in the Western realm. When we later on get into some details of that civil struggle, as preserved in popular imagination, we shall see how far hero myths could legitimate a new kind of authority contrary to (yet hardly diminishing) a prevailing egalitarian ethic. But the manifestation of segmentary opposition within a realm ought not to be taken as a key to relations among the realms. The model of self-escalating segmentary opposition which we know from a few stateless societies has no real carry-over to chiefly polities. ‡‡ Princes in both countries drew power from their rivalries, but in neither case was the rivalry powerful enough to generate (as among neighbouring Hehe and Sangu peoples) struggle for dominance over a politically consolidated universe. There is massive evidence in early German reports for the prevalence of alliance in the Nyakyusa war pattern, but the alliances we know of were situationally contracted without abridging the weaker ruler’s autonomy. In Kingaland the same principle meant that within his realm, vis-à-vis the lords of other domains than his own, a prince ranked only as primus inter pares. The peculiar role-differentiation as between prince (chief) and village headman (great commoner) among the Nyakyusa has been sketched by Godfrey Wilson and reviewed by Charsley (1969). Kinga militancy was normally concentrated at the level of the domain, where it was centred in the capital village with its barracks isivaga. When realm fought realm the contest was in effect between the warriors (aided


by priests) of two court villages. The opposing forces were then drawn from two princely domains, they were not armies drawn from all the domains within each realm. What the princely court could do, though, was draw its youthful recruits directly from any of those satellite domains. Its power to draw them was in good part a function of heightened political theatre at the great capitals. Young men were always prepared to trade on a new friendship to visit across any political boundary. That was the nature of the boundaries—for men bent on trade or visiting they were open—and the footloose nature of youths, with few commitments binding them to place, and always prepared to charm a charming stranger. ‡‡ The priority given to autonomy for the domain even within the alliance I have called a ‘realm’ contributes to an understanding also of the chronic rivalry in the Northern realm between Ilevelo and Uhugilo. When regarded as a kind of segmentary opposition, the rivalry does illuminate the internal mobilization of each domain; but this ought not to be dismissed as an intermediate level of segmentation which would automatically be submerged in any cross-border conflict between a Northern party and (say) a Western. The Kinga constitution is not a simple permutation either of the stateless Nuer (who are said to escalate their warfare in that fashion) or of the Alur, whom Southall put forward as a type case for his model of the segmentary state. The Kinga/Alur contrast is particularly instructive as to the place of political technique in the process of expansion or, as befits the Alur, domination. ‡‡ Southall describes the Alur as “introducing chiefless peoples to a superior political order” and finds that “serious warfare mobilized forces representing at least the majority of groups in a chiefdom.” If the same phrases were applied without qualification to the Sanga transformation of Kingaland (granted that chiefless peoples are those who, in Sunguluma’s phrase, “live like goats”) they would mislead on two counts: (i) as noted, the vitality of Sanga politics was more significant than its techniques, which were embedded in and communicated through the court culture; and (ii) the active mobilization of a realm as such, and especially of several realms in concert, is not recorded and must have been extraordinary. Political relations within a Kinga domain were domestic; between domains relations were external, carrying no strands of authority or material patronage. In the North the pre-eminent claims of Uhugilo were strictly expressed in certain ritual and ceremonial observances. Whatever the actual number (a score or more?) of imongo goats which passed during a year from Ilevelo to Uhugilo as tribute, this was to be reckoned as wealth of the court not of the people. The prince at Uhugilo could not collect imongo directly from Ilevelo subjects, and no more could he command their military services, whether directly or through their ruler. If he had recruits in his barracks


from the other domain, they were his own to feed and command. If common political cause were to be made between one domain and another it would be within the boundaries of a realm (so much being assured by the regular observance of rite and ceremony) but it would also represent the free decisions of the two rulers to combine toward some particular end. The passage of imongo from Ilevelo to Uhugilo, or Maliwa to Ukwama, bespoke not a social contract—there was no feudal bond or notice of subservience—but a ritual condition. The message of the goats sent over to the Prince was parallel to that accompanying the hoes sent, in the major Kinga religious ceremony, to the ancestral god Lwembe in Nyakyusaland: in effect, “One who claims powers of mystical intervention, in receiving these gifts, is made beholden to the giver.” In this way imongo along with various more strictly ritual procedures within the realm amounted to a statement of community, a recognition that politically autonomous domains were nonetheless subject to forces beyond their control and that in respect of them the several populations of a given realm shared a common fate. It may be deemed there was an exception to the rule in the relations of Vululile to the Mahanzi rulers, avowedly his loyal allies in the civil war he waged against Kyelelo; but I think consideration of the evidence will leave the rule intact. Vululile fled to Mbemba’s village, the Southern Mahanzi domain, at the start of his insurrection. He stayed for some years without acquiring any local command or tenure for his Kinga followers there. To build a power base he had to establish control of a suitable territory still thinly settled and attract a sufficient Kinga following to clear and possess it. The place chosen was Lingundya, which Vululile made the fifth or Southern Sanga domain. The Mahanzi, according to their traditions, accepted Vululile’s leadership in the first war against Kyelelo and pushed their common foe across the Lumakali river, confining him to a fraction of the realm he later claimed. In effect, he was beaten back to the domain of Ihanga. Only later did he move his capital westward into some unsettled country at Luwumbu, ostensibly in token of an ancient mandate from Ukwama to “go out and rule the West.” In choosing to support Vululile at Lingundya his three Mahanzi allies were putting a buffer between themselves and Kyelelo the Fierce, a move dictated by ordinary selfinterest. They were also creating, as some of them must have hoped, a realm ritually on a par with all the Sanga realms, in which they would have the full standing of autonomous domains. Such information as we have suggests that the settlement of Lingundya followed the pattern of Sanga expansion elsewhere, perhaps accelerated only by a rush of followers to the winner of an unusually decisive victory. Had Vululile established himself with a fifth realm, and the Europeans not intervened, would the Mahanzi rulers eventually have turned


up under the Sanga name? At least one seems already to have taken on something of the Sanga style by building up a priestly establishment; but other ruling houses would perhaps have had to settle in the end for priestly status for themselves, ceding secular power to a Sanga claiming royal descent, coming to them from Lingundya. The Sanga strategy of expansion was first to push into a new territory, then take it over. It is hard to reject any of the possibilities I have raised—any of them might play some part in a Sanga take-over. It is not even certain that Kyelelo, though assuredly a colourful tyrant and indomitable fighter, was more truculent than Sanga princes in the older realms had been before him. The pioneering phase of a new realm begets militancy. Ihanga, the ancestral place for the West, is a pleasantly enclosed and verdant land only a few kilometres across a hilly belt from Ukwama itself. Before the expansion attributed to Kyelelo, Ihanga would have been a comparatively quiet “vassal” or “satellite” domain of Ukwama’s realm, low-lying and locked away. Luwumbu by contrast lies higher in rugged landscape, looking westward up a narrow but gentle valley toward Bulongwa and Magoma country. An ambitious ruler would know the direction his expansion must take.

Conditions of Manipulative Power
I have found it easy to fall in with the tradition that the West was the last of the realms to be formed. My only doubt would concern the East, whose history was lost in the Maji Maji massacre of its men, but which in the accounts I had appears to have been expanding at the time of first Contact. In the West, we are evidently the beneficiaries of dramatic elements in Kyelelo’s career—we are comparatively well informed. The particulars of the story by which war and the threat of war was stirred up among the “chiefless peoples” and led them to accept the need for chiefs must have been unique in each case, but some measure of warfare would have been a constant ingredient of the process by which the Sangas spread their court culture. His erstwhile Mahanzi hosts were soon rendering tribute to Vululile at Lingundya: a credit, I think, to the strength of his Sanga political ideas and energy, exhibited as much in his consolidation of the peace as in his feats at war. The most general analytical frame with which I have wanted to explore (now taking Southall’s phrase) “the processes and types of domination” in Kingaland is that which distinguishes spontaneous and manipulative order. Here they are represented by constitutional law, properly understood, and personal power. By its nature human spontaneity


isn’t absolute but relative to some fixed structure of expectations. What could be more spontaneous than jazz? But an indispensable basis of the most inspired jazz performance is, beyond conventions of phrasing and form, a tune simple enough to be held in one ear while the other is used to think. In human relations spontaneous order is relative to a frame of law and the ‘logic of actions’ it creates, the if-then nexus of reciprocity which ties an act to its predictable consequences within an institutionally given context. Order of this kind underlies most of what we deem to be everyday interaction in human communities; it is order which results from the predictable operation of the law and its logic upon the action of any ordinary person intelligently aware of the rules. A familiar example of spontaneous order is the marriage system of a society like the Nyakyusa or Kinga. Innumerable spontaneous decisions by individuals, subject to the rules of exogamy and contract, result in the orderly circulation of women without violence, the formation of a systematic web of affinal ties among communities, and the unambiguous allocation of responsibility for children. Manipulative order is achieved, to use Bohannan’s nice phrases, by extra-processual or extra-constitutional events. These are not events proper to the system of ordinary social control by which rules are defended against their ‘offenders’; manipulative order ignores or dispenses with rules, going around or beyond as necessary. An obvious example is the social system created around a charismatic leader. It will be recalled that Max Weber considered that charisma’s normal cycle ended in successful routinization, that is, the reduction of leader-follower relations to rules and roles. Bohannan’s example is a type of anti-witchcraft and anti-power movement which from time to time has arisen, always with a somewhat new face, among the inveterately anti-authoritarian Tiv of Nigeria; which breaks down established systems of personal power; and which then itself dissolves, leaving the constitution of the society intact. The trouble I have with this is that the Tiv constitution seems to me intact after such a purging movement only in the barest schematic sense. For practical purposes the office holders appointed or anointed by the British will have been swept away, and the Tiv polity will have reverted schematically to its ideal pre-British condition. But as the situation is not pre-British, the post-purge polity will have to reinvent itself in some way that practical people will accept. Bohannan’s extra-processual movements have, like charismatic secular leadership in some presentations, architectonic significance in relation to the established or traditional social structure—tending to bring the law more directly into harmony with character values. What then? Suicide cults manage to do this very nicely but they are not in the usual sense practical. What has to happen in Tiv communities after the


ravages of an anti-power movement is the reassertion of spontaneous order under refreshed anti-authoritarian norms. But in practical terms this only means general acceptance of a ‘kinder, gentler’ system of authority run by a new set of faces. We can assume that each time a purging movement passes through, it will leave something more of the new authority structures behind. That is, the progress of the political entrepreneurs will be steady in the long run but fluctuating in the short. Thus Monica Wilson on zig-zag change among the Nyakyusa: she asks us to see “a pattern of waves advancing and retreating in a tide that is flowing in one direction.” What this comes to is that Tiv struggle with the problems of structural change through something we could call ‘anti-manipulation movements’ which are in themselves hugely manipulative but mask their authoritarian character by resort to the histrionics of mysticism. The need for such movements arises when the times are out of joint owing to unprogrammatic change. My point in introducing the example of the chiefless Tiv is to afford a clue to the success of the Sanga leader in his claim to charisma and his offer of a tangible programme. ‡ What we have to consider in the case of the segmentary expansion of a chiefly people into chiefless lands is the bringing of a new law through a sort of extra-processual activity combining various power attributes (not excluding either charisma or witchcraft, which is a kind of crooked charisma) employed in the interest not of restoration but change. That is, from the viewpoint of the chiefless community the result of the Sanga intervention is certainly not a restoration of the status quo ante; although from the viewpoint of the Sanga courtier “sent out to rule” the change he would bring about in a frontier village is a replication or ‘restoration’ of the social system he has known at court. The Kyelelo of Kinga masculine memory in 1960 was called the Fierce and the Cruel with ungrudging admiration. These epithets speak to qualities of the soul, not ‘Kinga values’. Whether the heroic figure of ‘Kyelelo’ thus remembered was in fact one man or two, father and son, was irrelevant to the matter of his memory in myth. The message is that each of the Kinga realms had been put together by dint of arms; that the qualities crucial to those times were the qualities figured in the Kyelelo mythology; and that once the kind of unity had been achieved which meant an end to active campaigning, the situation would nonetheless always be volatile. The new realm would still require at its centre a Kyelelo figure, a Prince unkuludeva larger than life. The capital would have to retain its militant character. It could never do for the untsagila, sent out to rule a border domain, to ‘go native’. He should be sending his best youths to the court to learn the skills of war and the manners of the courtier. The court of the realm’s capital, as distinct from the lesser court of a peripheral domain, must become a ceremonial centre conspicuous for its feasting and for its patent on mystical remedies for


the many recurring afflictions which beset the community at large. It could never do for the prince himself to fraternize with his men; he must be seen to embody the transcendent powers of his court to maintain the fertility, prosperity, and secure well-being of a people. The distinctive character of the Western realm, which may in part account for its being the last to be incorporated into the Sanga polity, derived from the relative parity (in political terms and in respect to population density and agricultural intensity) between Sanga and the Mahanzi communities they would take into their sphere. But the greater ambience and energy of the Sanga may be read from a careful comparison. The same comparison will help to show why, by reason of the ‘logic of actions’ embedded in Sanga court culture, the domain had pre-eminent significance in the Kinga version of the segmentary state. Stated generally, my thesis is that spontaneous order is a crescive phenomenon which can be diffused but not imposed, and personal power against a predominant background of spontaneous disorder is impossible. The reason Nuer groups, ordinarily at war with one another, can unite against a common enemy is firmly connected with the absence of personal authority among them as a basis of political unity. In any segmentary society whose politics is based on personal power, only one level of structure can enjoy it. In the Kinga context personal power can’t be achieved over two domains otherwise opposed and at liberty to fight. The failure of German and British administrators to comprehend that neither Vululile nor Kyelelo was or could have been in the European sense the ruler of the West sprang from their unfamiliarity with segmentary structures. When the logic of Sanga politics is well understood it makes clear why there must have been princes as well as lords; but also why, the better established the realm of a prince might be, the less personal power he could be expected to wield—why, in short, the High Prince at Ukwama must have been a recluse, and the true ruler at Uhugilo a commoner.

Political Logic: Kinga / Mahanzi Differences
The solid family resemblance between Mahanzi and Kinga schemes of life allows me to represent Mahanzi as a version of Kinga culture suggesting what the Sanga court system would have evolved from. The two languages are mutually understandable by virtue of similar syntactic structure and a generous overlap of vocabulary (unfortunately not yet measured). The phonetic differences are such that hardly a phrase can be uttered, however, without deliberately choosing the one language or the other. Though I had been working on, if not through, kiKinga for about a year when I first tried to converse in kiMahanzi I found I understood the new


language better, from the first, than the one I had been straining for so long to hear. In spite of some disparagement on the point from linguists I believe the reason was not in my having had prior experience with Mahanzilike aural discriminations but an inherent difference between the two languages, a difference which in some measure bespeaks the separate characters of the two cultures. In relative terms kiKinga is esoteric while kiMahanzi is exoteric: the Mahanzi do not require in their manner of speech so long and fine a tuning of the stranger’s ear as do the Kinga. On the other hand, the Kinga are content that a stranger hardly ever learns their speech—Kinga will readily acquire the other’s. It would be hard to miss the special fit of this formula to Kinga sexual self-awareness. They are the adaptable ones where others can’t be expected easily to acquire Kinga sensibilities. Another true picture the language paradigm affords is that of a highland society ‘farthest in’ and ‘least accessible’ in the regional context of Southwestern Tanganyika, whose people have always been more likely to visit others than they to visit Kingaland. The Mahanzi are on several counts less closed socially than the Kinga. Mahanzi traditions freely recount a long-continued practice of emigration westward, but without any implication of historic destiny. The famous emigrants of the Kinga are gods like Lwembe and Kyala who have not lost their Kinga identities but return by underground travel or uncannily on the wind to trouble the land and its people. Kinga project upon them the ambivalence of an intensified ethnic self-awareness, a Kinga mystique. I think this contrast has a good deal to say about the transformation the Sanga had worked on the Kinga communities of the Central, Northern, and (presumably) Eastern realms before the German contact. From the Mahanzi I learned that Kyungu, the divine king of Ngonde, emigrated from Mbemba’s village, now called Utengule. But unlike Lwembe whose leaving Ukwama was under duress and eternally resented, Kyungu though an equally powerful figure was not assumed to be resentful or, indeed, otherwise mystically or emotionally tied to or mindful of Mahanziland. The attitude is simply secular. “He is a great chief in Karonga. He is well educated, he has askaris and cars.” His supernatural powers having evidently never been the subject of belief, the exoteric qualities of fame and fortune were enough to remark. The Mahanzi ruler at home was likewise never made the object of cult, though his rank was recognized in special burial customs. A Mahanzi untwa is honoured in death by the slaughter of a black sheep whose skin is spread over the corpse (already wrapped in its containing mat) at burial. Continuity of the ruling line is symbolized in the refusal of elders to mention the death directly until there is a successor. They say, “Tufumbilwe, untwa asikuli — We are in bad straits, the ruler is nowhere to be found.” When the successor is installed he must sit along


with his priest on just such another black sheepskin spread over a rolled-up mat. His throne is not the tyrant’s symbol, the leopardskin of the Kinga prince, but a sober reminder that the greatest of men is mortal. A Mahanzi untwa ruler was honoured with house burial, as were his wife and son, but the interment itself was a rather simple procedure carried out on the first night after the death. The emphasis of the funeral was on festivities, that is, on renewal and not on the mystical dangers of the passing of a cult figure, as at Kyelelo’s court. From the accounts on which I must rely it appears that the most impressive feature of a rulingfamily member’s mortuary ceremonies, comparing them to those accorded a commoner, was the conspicuous consumption entailed in closing up a house to make it a memorial over the grave. Commoners were buried in their courtyards. Since identical honours were accorded a ruler, his wife, or his minor son, they must be read as betokening the rank not the sanctity of the Mahanzi untwa. This contrasts directly with Sanga customs at the ritual level of the princely office where even burial is effectively refused on account of dangers lodging in the royal corpse. At lesser levels Sanga rulers and their close kin are interred in a ground of their own—the important statement is only that theirs is a race apart. But Sanga royalcourt rituals of burial say that the death and bodily corruption of a prince puts all his land in jeopardy not because of his public attributes but by reason of unseen qualities of the person, generating forces which only the priest-adept can control. Sanga customs are discussed in detail in the next chapters.

Social Control
In another respect the Mahanzi had an open society as compared to the Kinga, and that is in their system of social control. While it is hard to prove on summonable evidence, the Mahanzi seem to have had a far less developed jural system than the Kinga. This is consonant with the relatively undeveloped character of the Mahanzi ruler’s authority. Mahanzi were given to handling ordinary trouble cases by way of self-help vengeance raids, placing responsibility at the level of local kith/kin groups not politically integral domains. For example, a Mahanzi man whose wife eloped with a visitor from some distance away could lead a private raid on the herds of an intervening group: they must compensate themselves by action against the original culprit. All this would involve three avatwa rulers, three separate domains, but without their authoritative intervention at any point. The contrast to Kinga country, where the court intended to maintain


a monopoly of force, suggests the real political achievement of the Sangas. Mahanzi rulers do have traditions of yearly war games but emphasize that blood was never shed. There never were standing forces at the ruler’s court—his ikivaga was, in the strict sense, for visitors. Missionary Nauhaus (BMB 1897:197f.) was once overtaken by darkness and, being put up in such a hut, was rewarded by the company of a herd of goats with their young keepers. In the morning it was explained that the ruler had not wished the visitor to be uneasy and, seeing the guest’s own retinue desert him at bedtime, had sent in local support. This “countryman’s hospitality” may be compared with the firm exclusion of missionaries in the same period by Kinga rulers in the Central and Eastern realms. Where the Mahanzi made the rationalist’s assumption that they could know the stranger’s mind, the Kinga were rather inclined to fear the intentions and powers such a mind could harbour, trying either to keep the uncanny stranger at a distance or, failing that, to fix him in ties of patronage. In this light it is notable that Missionary Hübner’s great success in establishing local Lutheran congregations was, apart from the Mahanzi areas, only with the Kinga of Mwakagile, whose people were not well integrated into Kyelelo’s sphere—the extent of the Christian region in 1914 was impressive, but it stopped short of Kyelelo’s own domain. Missionary Wolff’s assiduous efforts in the more stabilized Northern realm had come practically to nought. An important part of the difference can be attributed to the Mahanzi being comparatively open-minded, the Kinga comparatively closed and even doctrinaire. Once converted, Sanga Christians of Bulongwa had their great success as evangelists among the Mahanzi, continuing an old pattern of exporting new and prestigious ideas. By Contact the Mahanzi had been affected for some time by the Sanga presence. Their own close alliance with Mwangawa and his heir Vululile led to intermittent attacks on their country and the need to match the ferocity of Kyelelo (Untowanilo) with a show of solidarity and perseverance. Hence Mahanzi memories of pre-German times may be supposed to bear a bias toward picturing their rules on the Kinga (authoritarian) model. The difference nonetheless is tangible. A Kinga ruler dealing with a witch and finding him to be dangerous would order the execution like a good ‘African despot’. The imperious utterance, Kantagi kuluganda!, orders a form of execution treating the offender as untouchable dirt—the witch is strangled at the middle of a long rope and cast off a cliff to rot on the rocks below. When a Mahanzi ruler, often by means of the same dog poison oracle the Sanga used, discovered a dangerous witch there seems to have been no need for the ruler to demonstrate supereminent personal powers. Mbemba’s successor claimed only, “I’d give them leave to kill him.” Mbemba


was not a raider of the cattle of strangers but called his men together only in the name and occasion of defense. This was “the Mahanzi way.” Lumenyano of Bulongwa said that Kyelelo’s authority was often exercised arbitrarily. At random he might confiscate a cow for a feast, then compensate the owner by going next door for a maiden whom he would present as the price. “If the father objected he would be killed.” This general account of Sanga high-handedness is corroborated elsewhere though it belongs most particularly to Kyelelo’s fame. He played a fast reputational game. Lumenyano, not of the ruling line, beheld the game as an outsider must with that respect one develops for a kind of strength one does not covet. Padili Kyelelo and his elders discussed princely authority in another light. They portrayed the same measures of power-assertion in terms of majesty and the prince’s pressing need to provide magnanimously for his fighting men, whose countervailing power always expressed itself in resentment of illiberality. Since a Mahanzi ruler must personally lead his men in battle if he would have their support at all, and since his strategy for war was purely defensive, he had not to maintain the same ‘chiefly’ standing in ordinary times. That is to say in English idiom, where the Kinga lord “embodied” his domain the Mahanzi ruler only “headed” his, and where the integration of a Sanga’s people was “political” that of a Mahanzi’s was only “social.” A Mahanzi untwa did eat imongo—at least in the final phase before Contact that appears to have been so for all of them. But if the Mahanzi law of imongo was formally modeled on the Kinga its meaning at the schematic level was not the same. There was no gap between court and bush cultures, no recruitment of youth to the ikivaga barracks life by an ambitious lord, no expansive movement or quest for the signs of translocal power. Where the powerful Sanga lord held his war games in an aggressive spirit, pitting squads of fifty men against one another in a massive demonstration announced by the sounding of war-trumpets, the games at Mbemba’s in Mahanziland were done with ankle-bells on. They presented a spectacle of mock ferocity. “Untwa adindilwe,” the elders would announce to call the people: “The ruler is entertaining.” The time should be one for youths to show their skills and study the fighting styles of older men, always vying to please the ruler, obliging him to serve more food and beer. The festivities should last until dawn, and the crowds then disperse. If the Sanga encampment evolved from such an institution, the process entailed the appearance of militarism as a distinct phenomenon contrasting in mood and style to the evening’s dancing, as well as by enlargement in time and scale.


The Ruling Establishments
Judged by degree of role-differentiation, the Mahanzi was no more than an embryonic version of the Kinga superstructure as that was to be found in the Northern or Central realms. It is true the contrast with either Mwakagile’s at Bulongwa, with whom all Mahanzi seem to have been on easy terms, or with such as Lupila’s in the East, would not have been fully so clear. Mahanzi tradition has it that Mwakagile “begged” territory from them and continued to be dependent on their medicines for smallpox. The Mahanzi ruler Malambila had two priests, Tamapa who kept the rainshrine and Mwadepela who prepared the medicines (a potion and a topical salve) for pox. The term ruler/rulers for the Mahanzi was untwa/avatwa as for the Kinga, but applied without differentiation to all the men of the ruling family, that is, men removed from the incumbent ruler by four steps or less of consanguineal kinship. In effect, this is to make a distinction between highborn and commoner but to make it in a way which hardly could have yielded a sharp line, and to distinguish no special secular positions at court. In fact, usage here reflects the true absence of a court establishment. As the priests were all likely to live spatially apart from the ruler, in the manner of private consultants, and the exaggerated polygyny of the Sanga ruler was absent, a Mahanzi capital was more hamlet than village. Mahanzi informants said that Selemba (but they really were referring to his father Umbatsi) had been granted superior standing among the three rulers before German times, relating this to the prolonged period of war with Kyelelo. I would also relate it to the fact that Vululile had managed to install a Kinga witchfinder, Kyalawe Ngulwa, at Umbatsi’s court. Kyalawe’s son Jobo, a Christian, told me the Germans had detained his father and questioned him. He readily confessed to having killed people: “Yes, I killed witches but always by authority of our old Government.” In accordance with then-prevailing German notions of right, he was released. Still his unprotected status as outsider in the Mahanzi community is apparent in this. The more closed and solidary ruling establishments of the Kinga capitals, though surely responsible for far more witch-killing, were fully legitimate in the eyes of their people and escaped being troubled by grievances brought to the German authorities. Vululile bestowed on the Mahanzi ruler Umbatsi the Kinga insignia of power, ilikule and ingalape, ulwanzisi and ikinyawangula: drum and trumpet, otterskin crown and throne stool. “Mbemba” and “Malambila” were not given these insignia of rank but were reduced each (in the reckoning at least of Umbatsi’s supporters) to the standing of untwa unya’nekelo ruler of the propitiatory rite. However, Malambila’s heirs assert he wore otterskin necklace and crown, Umbatsi’s that he wore the induma leopardskin cape of


the prince; and both Malambila’s heirs and Mbemba’s report they sent imongo to Vululile directly, not to the Mahanzi Umbatsi. Such realm structure as there was could not have been clearly delineated, I think, whether before or after Contact. Tradition in such matters only too quickly accommodates to any changes which are plainly accepted by the people; and this would account for differential social memories in the separate domains, since tradition also can go underground. Selemba/Mwandilawa of the Mahanzi Central domain is said to have been recommended by Mwemutsi as deserving a separate court of law when these were being set up by the British in the late 1920s. Supposing that for whatever reasons of administrative convenience this idea had not been rejected, I have no doubt tradition in 1960 would have had less to say about Mahanzi-Kinga political integration in precontact times. But however the evidence be read it does not justify the view that Mahanzi communities were fully linked into the Sanga political system and rapidly becoming Kinga at the cultural-linguistic level. We may judge the process was well begun though, and progressing. By 1960 the Mahanzi communities settled in Kinga domains had gone over to speaking kiKinga at home. This could have happened in a single generation, considering that boys and girls would have lived always apart from their parents, and supposing that the youth houses would have been ethnically integrated from the start. But the time scale we ought to assign must be an open one: how long were any of the Kinga realms in forming? How deep were the pertinent cultural differences between the two peoples? Mahanzi elders averred they would have accepted a retiring ruler’s choice of a successor even if they thought him unpopular; but the reason they gave was not that the ruler’s choice was law but that it couldn’t matter a great deal who was chosen—the elders would reform his character in any event. They felt they were dealing with a low-pressured polity. I never sensed that was the case with the Sanga.

Reassessing Domain & Realm
Whereas the domain was a corporate entity the realm had a composite nature. While we can’t be sure how often over the generations the several domains of any realm may have found themselves united in warfare we do know that no kind of military command was claimed by a prince over men of other domains than his own. Vululile (Mwangawa) and the three Mahanzi rulers seem to have held a united front for something like a generation against the attacks of Kyelelo; but Mwakagile, nominally subject to Kyelelo in that he sent him imongo, was never embroiled in these


conflicts. Men fought for the ruler who could feed them, and in the Kinga system that meant the military unit was the domain. A prince, having to feast a standing establishment and from time to time a massive military encampment, had no more than modest assistance from the imongo tribute sent on by the lesser rulers of his realm— the economic substance of his own domain was always crucial. It is the ceremonial redistribution of consumable goods which marks the ‘chiefdom’ in standard political theory. Service ties redistribution to specialization in production; but in the Kinga context specialized craftsmanship was linked more clearly to apolitical trade. In a discussion otherwise echoing Service, Fried identifies redistribution as a form of pooling which creates a characteristically political triangular relationship between a community (“the village or even larger organizational unit”), its productive capital, and “the consumable yield of that capital.” Precisely this triangular relationship accounts for the leverage of the political office which mediates among the three elements. The Sanga ruler was in position as unkilunga owner of the soil to allocate land; as eater of imongo and beneficiary of any successful raids launched from his ikivaga he intervened regularly in the transfer and disposal of stock. The political uses and rationale for the conversion of great quantities of grain to beer in East African societies are well understood, and though neither meat nor beer were in any sense reserved for politically sponsored gatherings by the Kinga, these goods were always more liberally dispensed there than privately—granted that where beer or meat are being served a “private” gathering is a bit of a misnomer. ‡ Finally, by assuming some responsibility for the orderly settlement of new territories and their continued affiliation with the court centre, the Kinga rulers materially affected the idea of the community, its claims on individuals, and its boundaries. But the same political triangle was not much developed among the Mahanzi, particularly not in their Eastern and Southern domains, where they were less affected by Sanga court culture. On the other hand, though it was the ranking prince unkuludeva who most freely manipulated community, capital, and produce to political ends, his powers over the factors of production were practically limited to his own domain. That is why we find him consolidating his princely realm through the implementation of extra-economic strategies. For Kyelelo (about 1860) the requisite strategy was war. For the more established princes a variety of ritual devices came to have more significance. The important difference between Mahanzi and Kinga polities can be expressed in terms of the amount and quality of power each type-system would have generated. While I have had to deal perforce with social structure not social organization (in the sense of Raymond Firth), since I can deal with cases only in legendary form, I think we must recognize that


there are not structures of power, only structures for power, which is an attribute of persons and personal groups. Firth defines social organization in contradistinction to structure in order to draw attention to individual and social planning, to the prevalence of case-by-case resolution of conflicts of interest in human society, and to the everyday possibility of loosening constraints, felt to be excessive, inherent in the law. A wellstructured game, despite the clarity of its rules, requires intense concentration by the dedicated player, never reducing to repetitive routine; yet that routine to which only a truly dull game can deteriorate is the model for many accounts of custom. It is true of all departments of life, but particularly of politics, that a routine style of play has never allowed anyone to dominate a game. ‡‡ Kinga culture comprised, perhaps more than most microcultures do, a shifting congeries of games, energetically played. In the Kinga courts the games were played for power, that is for the experience of winning in a competitive game whose framework of rules is designed to rank players in proportion to success, strengthening always the position from which a winner will continue to play. The essence of the political game for Sanga rulers was strategy, with success being measured by the size and temper of your following. For Mahanzi, politics was settling disputes within a fixed community. This is of course to say that the Kinga court, in contrast to the Mahanzi or (putatively) the bush-Kinga community in which the political logic of the Sangas originally took root, introduced a liberating opportunity structure to a traditional social order. Ndwanga of Ilevelo nourished ambitions for the standing of his domain in the realm, taking any opportunity to enhance his own rank and the depth of his practical command. Mwalukisa, retaining by ritual participation in the larger Kinga polity his secure position as the “first younger brother” to Mwemutsi of Ukwama, could afford to delegate the political game of housekeeping in his domain to a commoner whose position was achieved and maintained through personal ability and effort. Vululile could attract ambitious Mahanzi youths to his court, offering an alternative to premature domesticity. In Kinga historical theory, which is to say in the model of national origins propounded at Ukwama court, the first Sangas came directly to Ukwama from Nyumbanitu (54 kilometres as the crow flies) and moved always westward as their rule extended. They had been preceded in this movement by the Mahanzi, then by a group of more loosely allied descent groups, none of them yet pressing upon the others by strength of arms. The country was heavily wooded and sparsely settled when the last immigrants arrived; only as this ceased to be so did the Sanga war pattern emerge. This native theory does not account for Sanga expansion eastward, establishing hegemony over Mawemba or proto-Pangwa commu-


nities. Yet we know from German maps and records of the British administration’s efforts to establish proper “tribal” boundaries that Kinga had crossed the river Mgiwe to the southeast and settled 36 kilometres from Ukwama in an enclave in what has since been called uPangwa; and we know from Kinga oral history, though the facts are submerged in German official documentation, that Lupila (as the real centre of vitality in the Eastern realm) was an aggressively expanding domain at Contact. We lack the details of persons and places which an interested ethnohistorian might have gathered in German times—the anthropologist wanting to discover patterns is not embarrassed by a surfeit of data. The picture of the Northern and Western realms is less obscure than the rest, in good part because these realms enjoyed less troubled times in the colonial period, and because missionaries provide us with some documentation. In any event, our sense for the political pattern would not be rendered simpler by our knowing more. What we do know of the four realms suggests that the same ideas and values would generally inform the social and political activities of Kinga whether they were expanding westward with their storied destiny or against it. The avatwa of the Eastern realm did bury their rulers to face the setting of the sun, symbolizing in this just what the rulers of the other realms did: not that they followed the sun earthward in death but that in life they were destined never long to stand still. ‘Migratory drift’ may properly describe their ancient habits of movement from an observer’s (etic) point of view, but this was ‘drift’ with a purpose. An old man’s burial elsewhere in the region might tell the young to stay, cleave to their kin, and honour their special place on earth. Kinga took other advice: they could seek their fortunes where they would.



War Patterns: Politics & Ethics

War as Structure
It is conceivable the Sanga polity in Kinga country was formed under essentially peaceful conditions, the war pattern having been added at a later stage. More likely, war and politics evolved together interactively, and that will be the assumption I lean toward here. Owing to the ravages of the Ngoni and the depredations of foreign traders in ivory and slaves, activities which intensified about 1840, the nineteenth century saw a revolution in the scale of warfare in Southwestern Tanzania. If we thought the Ngoni from the south or slavers from the coast had brought war to an erstwhile peaceful people, we might want to assume the Sanga system of rule was fullblown by 1840, having been set up in an administrative spirit with taxation, redistribution, and dispute settlement as its work, with little concern for organized aggression apart from sporadic feuding. We could then suppose a war pattern had been added without greatly altering the system in a structural sense. But that would be taking an unrealistic view of the region’s history on at least three counts: (1) Early Iron Age conditions, which seem to have permitted easy migrant drift—cumulative, small-scale population movements in a colonizing spirit—had started winding down some four centuries earlier. The many open populations of the Eastern Bantu expansion were beginning to firm up ethnic boundaries, and the rise of the Sanga system in the Livingstone Mountains was paralleled elsewhere in the region. The general effect was the rise of a “political archipelago” dispersed across the region in areas where intensified agriculture and population density prompted institutional growth. I have treated this subject at length elsewhere. ‡ (2) Constitutional patterns in the region allow for strong rulers but subject them to ritually entrenched restraints. The courts settle


disputes; the strength and legitimacy of the ruler is the guarantee of his court’s jurisdiction, and his endorsement is required for the use of force in applying the court’s decision; but the ruler does not embody the law as reported for some other Bantu regions. Priestly ordeals settle the guilt or innocence of an alleged worker in evil; but the standing of the priest, and the power of the court to enforce findings of the ordeal, depend on the legitimacy of princely power. In short, the general pattern is not that of a militaristic regime. The exceptions (Sangu, Hehe) date from after 1840—they were military dictatorships but fell back toward the regional pattern once their wars of expansion were ended. (3) The particulars of Sanga oral history which I collected contradict the notion that war came to Kinga communities in response to foreign predation. Kinga country was invaded by Ngoni and Hehe hordes; but the wars which remained central to Kinga thinking were domestic—wars of rivalry between the four princely realms. A near-ceremonial pattern of war was structural to the Sanga system of rule. The domestic aspect of princely rivalry can best be appreciated by considering the implications of the internal constitution of a realm. It was an association of sovereign domains. Within it, the centrality of one (the princely) domain had to be maintained by political theatre: the prince and his court had to exert a magnetic influence (first) on the lords of lesser domains associated with his, and (second) on the marginally committed bush communities of his own domain, on which the standing of his court ultimately depended. This paradox is essential to any understanding of the nature of these proto-states: war, or the appearance of warlike might, was a crucial tool of a politics which could not resort to naked force in establishing its own internal rule. Comparison with another proto-state region may be helpful:
Alur political structure...did not favour the use of force in purposeful political expansion, yet it evidently provided a more widely based and satisfactory security than the surrounding tribes were able to achieve within their own systems. ‡

That is, the peacemaking element in the process of domination consisted in the derandomizing of violence—control in that sense— not necessarily in its decrease. Likewise the Sanga introduced war and the rule of law in place of a pattern of self-help. Since this older pattern survived (quite unofficially) in some bush-culture areas to the time of my fieldwork, I was


actually able to observe the process of change and form an idea of how slowly it must have been working over the generations and centuries which Sanga oral history pretends to cover. The paradox I observed was a bush culture basing solidarity at least as much on amity as kinship, yet given to a system of justice based on the idea of those infrangible group ties which only a rigid kinship society can boast. When you burn a man’s hut because his brother stole your wife you may have sanctioned him effectively; but when the culprit was only his tentative friend ? For Kinga, at least, the great social transformation which we usually see as the move from kinship to political community was a move toward voluntarism and the liberation of individuality which that implies. As said, the change was gradual and never complete. I see no argument here for an ‘evolutionary’ approach (in the popular sense) to the modulation of violence in Kingaland. Nothing prevents our supposing the Sanga reforms might have increased the frequency and intensity of armed combat. Kyelelo apparently did just that in the Western realm in quasi-historic times. Demographic increase must have played an historic role, as always, but we can’t control the detailed facts. What is surely the case is that the Sanga chiefs were doing in their own way what many other chiefs were doing in their own ways at about the same time, up and down the long spread of Eastern Bantu civilization. The political archipelago I have mentioned had that vast an extent—it comprised islands of chiefly organization scattered over stretches of bush settlement, less elaborately organized, from the Interlacustrine states to the Southern Bantu. In all of this the importance of war was such that we have no fair view of Kinga court culture until we can examine it in its aspect as an institution for the controlled deployment of armed force. The difference between random violence and a war pattern is not just predictability but meaning. Self-help typically begets meaningless violence, men dying or suffering ruin for no good reason, particularly where kinship solidarity is more apparent than real. Purposeless (and by that token, dysfunctional) violence is, as every sociologist knows, the stuff of anomie. Dramatic values are lost. Social contracts lose scope and binding power. A theatrically enhanced war pattern absorbs all of this into a universal drama of sacrifice and vindication which assigns to even small acts and events an unambiguous public meaning, clothing what might otherwise be haphazard victimization with an air of nobility. What is the most likely circumstance for promoting the


evolution of an elaborate political/ritual superstructure? Probably that which finds everyone in agreement that disagreement is the problem. A general escalation of violence and personal insecurity may eventually breed such agreement among the most egalitarian of peoples. As for the association of war and politics in an Eastern Bantu context, I suppose the only real questions are how early? and how much? Kinga themselves have no hope of knowing through tradition even the little an archaeologist may some day demonstrate on that score. But by examining the Kinga war pattern in some detail, exploring what we do know, we can improve our position for speculating about a past which will soon be slipping completely from our grasp. Careful speculation, in our circumstance, being the best we can do for science, the key principle has to be respect for the dangers of interpretation. The facts we have to deal with are not elemental, are seldom objectively falsifiable, and can be genuinely illusory. The general view we take will impress itself on all the particulars. Though that is the best reason for treating the Kinga view of their own past with caution, it is a good reason for beginning a study with a critique of their view. If we conceive that war is a feature of Kinga social structure as it was played out in the court culture, the feelings and ideas about war which Kinga still agreed on in 1960 are clues to the way it would have worked in practice.

War in the Social Memory
The social memory of a closed society tends to form a hard surface, shell-like and seamless, so that on quick inspection it appears to be complete, though it be in fact completely superficial history. What is underneath is not so much hidden as disregarded, being by comparison disorderly and implausible, fragmentary, yet everywhere having the ring of truth. Whoever would convert this oral history from its ‘storage’ form to a written account begins perforce with the shell, the coherent construct from which all informants take orientation, exploring only as data allow the piecemeal additions and revisions which also come, with coaxing, into an observer’s net. A number of ancient and august citizens of the Northern realm talked to me about war. Fighting but not feuding, they said, could take place between men of the same domain. When a man was killed his kin ought to mount a raid on the settlement of those who were reported to be responsible, trying to kill in vengeance or at least to come away


with stock in compensation. So the ethic and practice of self-help were still in place to the end. But my informants went on to say that within a domain there was a strong sense that warring was only killing one’s own folk, a resort of fools. Therefore quarrels, even murderous fights, were quickly referred to the ruler’s court for judgement. Someone in the aggrieved party would tether a goat and bring the matter to authority for settlement. The goat secured the intervention of the ruler, since he could not make a feast of it until he had found a satisfactory resolution of the trouble case. No one could produce a recital of cases from so long ago, but once the ruler had accepted jurisdiction his prestige was staked on making peace, and I was assured he “could not fail” to do so. Yet of course the untwa could fail. As lord of a local domain his authority was not deniable in the settlements close to his court. But since for power he must rely on his own persona and the style and energy of his court, his hold on the imagination of the many more remote hamlets and isolated homesteads could waver and break under the impact of events. The politics of passion is a theatre of its own. Under the stress of mortal danger or fired up in anger, a man defines his own turf and needs no distant politician to tell him who are his friends and who his enemies. So trouble which begins at home within the untwa ’s domain can quickly involve strangers to his jurisdiction. What happens then is what we call self-help, a category of events which lie only just below the surface of Kinga social history. Anecdote (which is the native equivalent of the foreign observer’s ‘extended case history’) is social memory in a different mode, ignoring the norms and revealing the normal. The untwa could afford to leave passion to run its course. Selfhelp across a jurisdictional border could only strengthen the vigorous rivalry among neighbouring domains in a realm and so strengthen the untwa ’s legitimacy. He need assume no responsibility—except as it suited his purpose—for aggression at this level. As with us, the scope of Kinga politics was the scope of the pragmatic mind. Lacking priestly sanction, the dynamics of a self-help affray were not licit, not a part of the court life and history but in that view a lingering phenomenon of the old bush culture, peculiar to the ill-defined borderlands which characterized the Kinga and many comparable segmentary polities. It would have been in such communities that a show of force in the collection of imongo was most needed, since the (antipolitan) ethic of independence could not but flourish there. But where has a tax not produced a grudge against the takers? The meaning of an


outward act of surrender is clear enough but often leaves a residue of inner doubt. Men who held themselves apart from the political theatre of the court, whatever their private reasons, would know themselves as the clients of warlords not the subjects of a great princely house—the social contract of the Sanga revolution had not been sold to all the natives. The Sanga dispensation was defined in inter-personal not intra-territorial terms. Territorial standing can be made an unambiguous criterion for political identity. Personal followings, being only as constant as the human heart, are contingent and generate a different kind of politics. The most troublesome (an ‘extra-processual’) kind of warring would pit domain against domain within a single realm. Since it was conceived by my informants as civil war—something having no place in the Sanga scheme of things—they had no cases to offer. Logically, if a prince could not prevent civil strife from escalating to a warlike level, his rule over one of the two domains was necessarily forfeit and the ‘civil’ nature of the conflict would have to fall away. How many times in a distant past the Kinga ‘four realms’ had been five or six or three we can hardly hope to know, though the history of the Western realm in the nineteenth century and the Eastern in the early twentieth, after their devastation by the Germans, suggests that Sanga politics never failed for lack of flexibility. An important guerrilla activity was raiding a far target outside the realm. Raids of this kind could be private—prepared in secret by bachelor youths bent on adventure and a chance for glory. The court, though surely aware of any such undertaking, would hold back its official blessings. Well-wishers could only wait the few days out in suspense to hear the outcome. In the event of debacle a prince’s hands were clean; but if cattle were won and no men lost, the sound of a victory horn approaching from the hills would signal preparation of a royal welcome and feast. Cattle surviving that feast would be turned into the lord’s herd—the raiders themselves, being propertyless youths attendant at his court, could only stand to gain from this. I believe this account offers a valid measure of the extent to which political order had supplanted the kinship principle in a welldeveloped Kinga realm. These ‘unofficial’ raids reflect a degree of peer-group organization among bachelor men you would more likely expect of age-grade organization than of agnatic lineages. The fact that small private byres were not always practical in a mountainslope environment hostile to dairying can help to explain the growth of armed courts and the movement of young men to them. But the softening of an agnatic kinship ideology in favour of peer amity can


hardly be explained as a simple reflex of such independently-driven structural change. The new moral strategies which loosened the kinship bonds on youth were driving forces in themselves, making available a bachelor labour force to sustain and protect the central court as a thriving public institution. To be sure, the court was best able to protect big animals and had a ready use for them. It can also be seen as a ‘greedy institution’ in the sense of Lewis Coser, requiring the undivided commitment of its labour force. Or it can be seen in broader, ideal-typical terms as a Bantu version of the ceremonial centre which has been a feature of pre-urban civilizations in many parts of the world. But the Sanga mix had a formula of its own with ingredients ranging from ritual formalism to entrenched autocracy, peer solidarity, and youthful spontaneity. ‡‡ The model Kinga war pattern evoked when you stirred the social memory in the early 1960s was not the raid (unscheduled or official) but the steady war of rivalry between princely realms. This was supposed to have originated not in any private encounters or grievances but in deliberately provocative cattle raids by one court upon another. The very fact that a choice for war could be reserved in this way as a court prerogative says in itself that kinship loyalties at the high-court level of the Sanga dispensation were weak. Under the norms of bush culture the unit of retaliation was only the neighbourhood, ikikolo —the literal meaning of the word is local lineage. Self help (or private enterprise) was the normal form for raiding in bushculture relations with stranger peoples like the Wanji, north of the Elton Plateau, with whom intermarriage was rare and peace treaties were never attempted. Kinga-Wanji relations were not political (prior to colonial times) but ethnic; and that meant that as the Sanga progressively asserted control the intent of a raid still could not be provocation as such, only the loot and glory to be won from an anonymous other. But within what was becoming the Kinga protostate, though it remained a loose political entity, that anonymity was dispelled by the metaphor of fraternity among Sanga princes. It was a metaphor which had become a mechanism for recruiting men to war as well as for establishing the historical depth and grandeur of the high courts. A man has a privileged relationship to his brother, whether or not the peace is being kept between them. Elders of the Northern realm said:
The chief’s first call would be to a council of war. Then he would tell them, “When I call for the second time you are to come prepared for war with Kyelelo, for I hear there are cattle there.”


Spies would be sent out to locate the cattle in Kyelelo’s country—or it might be in the Central realm, in one of the three domains with direct approach from Uhugilo: Kila or Tandala, Maliwa, Igolwa. But when neighbour domains were raided in that spirit, once the peace was broken a cycle of warfare was knowingly begun, which only the oblique diplomacy of priests (with their professional talent for manipulating the meanings in events) could eventually bring to an end. This kind of guerrilla activity was by no means the spontaneous thing a group of youths would spring. Logistically, raiding was the more difficult the more distant the target, especially as darkness was required to cover the whole operation. If cattle could not be rustled well away by stealth, the owners might quickly form a superior party to run down the burdened thieves. The style of a Kinga cattle raid would hardly have satisfied a Turkana tribesman or, indeed, the very Nyakyusa or Sangu herdsmen whom Kinga youths considered their most eligible victims. As lowlanders, these peoples had larger herds and faced greater difficulty in retaliating. Ironically, though such a target might be thought formidable, the unheroic style of a Kinga raid may sometimes have accounted for its success. It is harder to raise a posse to chase down a sneakthief than to hammer a brazen enemy. No doubt, raiders everywhere are drawn by dreams of glory, and a raiding pattern does not persist where these values can’t be realized when needed in actual combat. The intrepid persona of youth was much made of in Kinga warfare but didn’t preside. Heroics were something the Kinga put on well enough, but the dominant theme in night-raider accounts I had was not bravado but ritual precaution. The outcome of a raid could seem to depend on the performance of medicines not men. Kinga heroics will deserve their chapter but in another context. Setting aside the raiding on neighbour realms, intended to spur or heat up princely rivalries and augment the call for showdown battles between drawn armies, most official raids would have been made on the ethnic strangers most conveniently located. For Northerners it was Wanji cattle, often herded in the grasslands separating the two countries, which were most often the target of official raids. Spies were sent out first, armed with magical medicines and powerbinding equipment. They would be only a few men. For reconnoitring on the open plateau they carried fronds to camouflage themselves and avoid giving alarm. If caught in the open you must stand stock still on one leg, so that in your fronds you will be taken for a tree. Having seen the arrangements and assessed the defensive strengths of the herdsmen, noting how long it might take them to summon reinforce-


ments, with the coming of darkness the spies must actually approach the byre and take footprints of the lead cow, secreting them in a special calabash. A pole from the byre gate must also be carried away. At home the bark of the pole would be stripped and mixed with contents of the calabash. Then the raiding party, thought strong enough to succeed, would start out by daylight, lying quietly on the way the first night while scouts went ahead again. The actual raid was mounted the following night. The lead cow whose footprint had been ritually bound would be enchanted by the calabash, and the other animals should readily follow. Behind the herd, specialists would busy themselves with medicine horns of the type that spread protective vapours. When pursuers reached a place treated in this way their feet must grow heavy. They might well give up the chase. But on their side as well there could be powerful medicines used. The raiders’ own footprints might have been found and bound up in the calabash of a Wanji specialist—Kinga would know this when their own legs grew unaccountably weary. Generally the raiders would not hope to escape without giving battle, but would try only to harass and delay the pursuers, allowing the lure-calabash to lead the herd into safe country. It can be seen that the style of fighting on an ‘official’ cattle raid was not that of a razzia. One did not set upon the herders in their huts or otherwise try to overwhelm them. Kinga did not pridefully identify themselves with a massed force, whether in the manner of the Ngoni band or of the Hehe armies, but looked cautiously for the chance to show individual boldness. It was enough that a few men on a raid distinguish themselves. The avanyivaha great commoners of the court who, as magical specialists, were directing the course of the raid would observe and report to the prince. A youth who entered combat for the first time became unyangoha a man of war; a warrior who proved dauntless, vanquishing the foe on each encounter, was known as untenzi a proven fighting man. Heroes of a successful raid, being those survivors who had truly distinguished themselves, should be awarded each a bullock for his own byre, but the lord or prince would take the fertile cows into his greater herd, which seems to have had a significance for the country’s fertility like (if less explicit than) that of the royal harem. When at a later date the lord required a bullock for sacrifice he could call in one of the captured animals, replacing it with a female from which he had already got young. In this way, though a ruler would not farm out the royal animals


chiefly to decentralize his herd—they were few enough that they were best protected at the heart of the realm—he could still combine feeding the court with building his own and the smaller herds of his most stalwart cohorts. As cattle failed to breed well in most parts, capital stock had to be maintained by persistent and reasonably successful raiding. Next to this, if the Northern realm may be taken as a model for the Sanga political system more generally, border wars over territory were less important. Even where elders did discuss wars of that kind with me (the wars with Kyelelo) they emphasized the business of raiding for cattle and women.

What was the value of territory in a circulatory political system which depended on the magnetism of its courts and failed to ascribe corporateness to its kin and local groups? That wars might be fought over territory at all—and the saga of Kyelelo the Cruel in the Western realm is evidence enough that they might—suggests an element of territoriality affecting if not determining the character of the war pattern. But this case at its core is that of a prince understandably bent on extending his realm over independent domains on its margin. That is, the central issue is the extension of the Sanga hegemony and with it the Kinga political identity over a small neighbouring ethnic group, the Mahanzi. This ought not to be confused with a war between two parties over the rights to settlement and exploitation of some given territory. It is the entanglement of Kyelelo with rivals for a stolen throne which gives his saga its special twist. Setting that case aside, I believe all the evidence is consistent with the idea of a segmentary protostate comprised essentially of groups not lands. But this is not to say territory never featured among the spoils of war. When the Northern and Western realms fought over the marginal highlands lying between them there was no thought that occupants of any land won or lost would be transferred to the jurisdiction of the victor. Kinga everywhere live in hamlets not on plots or farms; land ownership is vested in a political community not a lineage or ‘clan’; men and women always work an assortment of fields widely scattered among the several arable zones of a domain; women characteristically retain the right to work a field in the home domain even after marrying outside it. No one occupies a borderland grazing area. It is perfectly conceivable that some particularly favoured and fertile spot in a settled area might have been quarreled over by a people of


un-Kinga culture; but in fact the territory Kinga (in their own way) did fight over had little or no economic value to them. As with all borderlands in a society whose political centres naturally sprang up in the most favoured parts, fought-over land would likely be marginal to begin with, and the insecurities of warfare could only reduce its attractions for any purpose but seasonal grazing. But a number of special considerations apply to the matter of men’s coveting land, and some of them must have been important in inspiring Sanga leaders engaged in extending and consolidating their local hegemonies. By 1960 the progressive clearing of forest land for farming had produced a shortage of firewood in the most settled areas, though not universally. Clearing was men’s work, and the investment of labour in it gave new land special value to the entrepreneur who had cleared it, even beyond the extra fertility of its first years of use. But if clearing so viewed was private enterprise, in the Sanga dispensation it was no less political; if the first ‘pioneer’ in a new forest area was not sent there from a Sanga court, the next party to show up would be. Without its avatsagila , trusted men of the court ‘sent out’ to settle and govern its frontiers, the Sanga system of rule could not have achieved the stability it did. Before the advent of colonialism and its roads, which tended to attract and stabilize settlement, movement toward various natural resources (fuel, water, better soils, ores and charcoal, building materials, and above all new land) meant that a court had to service and keep watch on a mobile as well as an expanding population. More than one Kinga ‘pioneer’ must have felt the irony of a political system (not in this respect a ‘modern’ invention) which depends on individualism for the forces of growth, then follows it up with the burdens of taxation and control. The ordinary advantage of a marginal location, compensating the relative poverty that may go with it, is a measure of immunity from the demands of a central government. The Sanga lord can’t exact imongo where there is no visible wealth, or expect military service from a man who dare not desert his family to attend court. All considered, some men raised in the bush culture would have found it congenial to accept the court’s patronage at the greatest practical distance. And since that in itself could only help to keep the system growing, a prince would have found this arrangement congenial as well. Some principles apply the world around. Still, from the court’s practical point of view any territorial extension was motivated by princely rivalry and ambition, and found its meaning in the joys of conspicuous prowess. It was the extent of


country settled by a lord’s known followers which marked his putative borders, not any lines conceived to be inscribed (map-fashion) on the land itself, whether by medicine horns or otherwise. The uncertainty attaching to the boundary man did not usually pertain to the question which side he would fight on if obliged but whether and in what circumstances he might be made to feel obliged at all. A man with little invested in his situation can only be pressed so far before he vacates it for another. Short of that, hill people can (as the Mawemba were still doing in 1960) keep a weather eye out for the revenuer and rarely be found at home. In the norms of bush culture men, women, and children are together in the fields during the day, leaving their settlements empty. In barren country the predators are few and herdboys always in position to give the alarm. Staying free of political entanglements is rule one. The closest ties of authority were those between a ruler and the avanyakivaga fighting men quartered at his court. They were the bachelors who remained at court through their young manhood and were not free to marry at will but were usually described as being awarded wives by the ruler and then ‘sent out’ to settle away from the court. It was primarily on these settlers, not the marginal householders lacking court connections, that the ruler must rely for personal loyalty. The war pattern represents the maintenance of these ties of loyalty beyond the ikivaga bachelor house at court. The raiding pattern, for which men were not called from the margins, was probably a more efficient (and generally sufficient) technique for supplying the royal barbecue. But war was needed as a matter of Sanga statecraft to maintain the integrity of an extended, expansive domain. The strong ties to any peripheral settlement thus depended on embedding the Sanga identity in the avanyakivaga during their bachelor years at court. Trusted men sent out at marriage would have adopted the Sanga name and would take up land not within their original communities but in new and sparsely-settled (yet not ecologically marginal) sections. It is hard to imagine that the scattered bush Kinga whom a capable Sanga settler encountered would have been converted without active and prolonged encouragement to the new political religion and its distant ceremonial complex. But by the ethnographic timeline set by my eldest informants the slow process of forest clearance, using native iron tools, and political consolidation was well advanced, particularly in the Central and Northern realms. A particular motive for war was the prestige value attached to the capture of women. They were styled as servants to a man’s wife, functioning roughly as short-term concubines. Under the raiding


pattern there was no effort made to take other human captives unless the specific (and official but top-secret) purpose of the raid was acquiring not booty but a single human ritual victim. But under the war pattern as such, in the rivalry between realms, women were often taken. Custom had it that a captive woman should conceive and bear a child, rearing it through infancy and leaving it then as ransom when, eventually, arrangements were made for her to return home. Mwanadyo said:
Captive women were divided out among their captors, but the Prince kept one or two to be his concubines and the servants of his chief wife. By such a captive woman the Prince might beget two children before peace was made at last with Kyelelo. The Prince then would either return the woman or marry her by paying the husband bridewealth. This man would come after her once the peace was made. If the Prince wanted to keep her he must pay five hoes and three or four goats—perhaps two goats with another owing if animals were scarce. This was a full bridewealth then [1890]. But if the woman preferred her original husband he should have her back, only the children born here must stay. Some captive women might please no one. They would be given out to commoners to work for their wives as servants. When the husband came seeking such a woman he would be told where to find her: “No one would have her, she has only eaten our food.” And the man would pay a spent hoe and get her back.

Missionary Hübner retailed the custom of keeping war-captives from the viewpoint of a victim whose experience he felt able to interpret. A reader today may find his account affected by some un-Kinga family values:
These old people, the parents of our Elisabeth Kabayale [a convert], in their lifetime have had to endure hard times enough. As a young wife the mother was captured by enemies, together with her son of about four years. Once the warriors were returned home the captured women were obliged, among other tasks, to gather firewood; however, to hinder flight on these outings the women’s children were kept in camp. But the love of this woman for husband and homeland was greater than that for her child; she fled and fortunately reached home. She bore her husband three more children, two daughters and a son... [ BMB 1900:26].

Though the Kinga did not marry the people they fought as a matter of preference, the war pattern did create ties across lines of enmity, stabilizing them. I know of only one case of decimating war within Kingaland, the scarcely-documented Mahanzi rape of the


Eastern realm under German instigation during their Maji Maji reprisals. The two native communities in that case had no common border and no seam of kinship. The regular pattern of ethnically internal warfare, Sanga camp against Sanga neighbour, contradicts the usual assumptions coded into the word internecine —that civil war is the most vicious. This was collectivized quarreling not kin to the heedlessly destructive interethnic warfare of which we have a first-hand account from Elton (1879). His encounter was in Sanguland, which he approached by descending to the rift valley from the Wanji highland. The attackers were the same Hehe force which on some earlier occasions had in similar fashion invaded the Kinga domains bordering on Bena country. These foreign wars, though seemingly brought about in each case by chance intrusions of marauding bands not in the modern sense fullscale invasions, are significant for a comprehension of Kinga history. They give us a measure of the amount and quality of the external pressures which would have helped fuel the Sanga political machine. My informants in 1960 attributed wider and crueler killing to the Hehe than to the Ngoni, who nonetheless had had an intense psychological impact as genuine invaders in search of land as well as loot. There were several encounters with the Hehe or Hehe-Bena hordes Avajinga. On one the Kinga tell of taking to a mountain top and driving the invaders back by causing avalanches, while in another they recall only defeat, unspeakable cruelties, and rape. Men were left “as if standing” impaled on sharpened stumps. Women and children were carried away, some to return only decades later, in German times, with scant memory of the homeland and its tongue. Four Ngoni incursions were recalled, three in which Kinga communities were raided for women, children, and cattle. Historical sources place the first of these incursions about 1845, fully a generation before the Hehe threat appeared. Eventually the passive tolerance of Kinga was secured by an Ngoni group for mounting a raid on Nyakyusaland from the southeast, running through Kinga hill country rimming Lake Malawi. The final contact Kinga recount is of their own victory over an invasive Ngoni settlement. The enemy were entrenched with women and children at Umpombwe, east of the Lumbila river and a few kilometers upland from the shore. The band in question had been unable to establish itself in the richer country of uNyakyusa. The community was routed and fled southward under a bow-and-arrow attack led by a commoner hero from the Central realm. His novel choice of a weapon usually reserved for hunting is said to have caught the Ngoni by surprise and demoralized them. From the quickly abandoned gardens


Kinga say they acquired the sweet potato [Sw: viazi vitamu ; K: ama javo ]. The hero untenzi of this exploit was enthusiastically rewarded with a princess in marriage for his daughty deed; but it is given as a private undertaking not a ritually sanctioned act of war properly creditable to the court of Ukwama’s High Prince. In social memory this hero was popularly renowned as much for his potato as for prowess. ‡] Altogether, the external threat seems to have come late in the evolution of Sanga systems of rule, and never to have become its central preoccupation. We may even want to conclude that the Sanga were not set up to fend against invasion and were fortunate in never having broken the independent spirit of their people. Their relative immunity owed a good deal to geography: the very broken nature of the high mountain country and the natural dispersal of settlements and herds there. With the availability of forest cover, most Kinga communities were a good deal easier to disperse than conquer. I take it this sort of ethnographic situation favours the growth of political power through influence, and perhaps through bullying, but not that amalgamation through massive defeat and coercion which after 1850 gave the Sangu their dictatorial hegemony in Uwanji or the Hehe theirs in Ubena.

Profits of War
All considered (I propose) the Kinga for all their relative poverty were not the natural victims but, in their hilly-flank setting, the natural raiders of the Sowetan region. This looks to be the frame we should adopt for thinking out their history until about the middle of the nineteenth century, when the region as a whole was being militarized. The opportunity for Kinga to raid their neighbours with impunity in the earlier period would have been a function of their own elusiveness but afterward of their defensive strength and warlike reputation. The strategy which evolved was a form of armed theft, the maximum use of stealth backed by a readiness to mount a daunting rear-guard action. This was the pattern still living (not merely lodged in the social memories of old men) in 1960. How much should we presume to read from it? As their own and the neighbouring populations grew (let us say, by the end of the eighteenth century) the occasions of predation would multiply and the defense of mere volatility would increasingly fail. A stronger armed presence would be wanted on any major raid,


calling for direct court sponsorship, tactical planning, and the introduction of elaborate ritual precautions to discipline the actual operation. It follows that in a general way the raiding pattern can account for the rise of Sanga power and its militaristic ethos. But right along with this rise the importance of the war pattern would have grown; for it was a segmentary political order, organized by war, which had evolved by the time we begin to have genuine historical knowledge. What material things Sanga lords found to fight over among themselves must have been only the wealth common to their country; and this means that in the long view the prizes of war were economically less important than the booty of a successful raid. Cattle were psychologically important as a quite special form of wealth, but we have no way of knowing how many actually changed hands through acts of violence. It would ordinarily be a good deal easier to take cattle where they prospered and were plentiful (from the Sangu, Nyakyusa, or Bena) than it could have been to count on getting them through war, in which stealth played no part at all. War was noisily prepared, fought only in broad daylight, and subject to enough red tape in the form of ritual precautions to argue clearly against our assuming the aim could be deep penetration into enemy country. Yet without it the hope of finding cattle would have been slim. Goats would have been easier to find, though not necessarily to take; they were not, in any event, fit prizes of war. A goat was the proper object of a raid by a band of boys of an age to herd not go to war. Land for tilling could rarely have inspired war in the formative periods of a Sanga polity since slash-and-burn strategies don’t foster the possessive sense for land which intensive farming generates. The staple crops were grown in scattered swiddens. Men did the clearing, men and women together turned the soil, women cultivated and did most of the harvesting. At any given time, several fields would be lying fallow for each field under cultivation. Even in 1960 there simply were no domains (no ‘local courts’) in Kingaland without access to swiddens enough, whether by clearing forest or retaking fallow, without resort to poaching on some other domain. It would not have been until the nineteenth century (or call it the ‘classic period’?) that the pattern of local loyalties would have come together in something like the political plat the European administrators would subsequently freeze. Demography was prior to geography in the ordering of the Sanga world, and leadership was a personal enterprise. Any death in high office, if not universally expected, had to create a political vacuum. How far would a successor be able, once chosen and properly consecrated by the resident priestly contingent, to take over and


retain the core of a strong man’s able-bodied following? It would always depend on subtle matters of character and social alignment, subject to the press of chance events and, as often as not, the mischief of political rivals either at home or in a neighbouring camp, who might draw men away. A little rumination suggests that the telling profits of war were not material gains but the other kind—the kind so hard to pin down that we are inclined just to call them non-material. Emile Durkheim found much to say about ‘social solidarity’; in the ethological frame we have more lately found ‘male bonding’; social psychology over the century past has moved through a series of analytical models from ‘in-groups’ to ‘ego-involvement’ and all those rewards which have been found to be implicit in the dynamics of ‘identity’; over the same period depth psychologists have launched half a hundred schools of thought on the matter of human motivation; and anthropologists have had almost as much to say under the general rubric of ‘culture and personality’—I shall not try to recapitulate so much wisdom. Perhaps before a captive woman is taken in she might be thought a ‘material’ thing for the Prince to distribute as he will; but surely her value to members of the court and community accrues over an extended sequel and has a thousand ramifications only some of which are ‘material’ rewards. The greatest prizes in life are often hardly material in any sense: where is the limit to what a political community may do in the name of so intangible a good as its ‘security’? For Kinga I have tended to emphasize princely rivalry as an organizing principle. I can’t imagine a segmentary social order from the oldest and simplest to the latest and most complex which was not at once stabilized and invigorated by some such games operating within appropriate institutional forms. In any serious game, what are the rewards of success? And then there is failure, which in games of rivalry may be softer than success but which also, unlike success, can be forever. A polity grows through its inner turbulence, and political authority develops through the effort of men to contain that growth. The Kinga protostate as it began to take its classic form would have come to be more permanent than any of its parts. Between domains within a realm there would have been war whenever the order of dominance, as crystallized in the customary passage of imongo and other rank concessions, was challenged. This allows that the whole purpose of war could be to achieve a psychologically clear victory in the field, to be followed either by restoration of the old order or accommodation to the new. The scripted model of a Sanga realm was momentarily set at nought


by any such serious falling-out. We know of a few battles within the Central and Eastern realms; we know that even when a prince was clearly defeated within his own realm there was no simple reversal of rank order. The challenger could aspire to full independence and might even eventually achieve some measure of priestly confirmation of his claim to princely rank; he might take on the trappings of royalty and set up client domains to pass on imongo . But this is the work of a strenuous lifetime not a single victory in battle. Inside the limits of population, space, and time which comprised Kinga ethnicity in 1900, the actual formation of new realms by fission of this kind could not have been achieved more than three times. It was a function of priestly activities to give structure to war and regulate its rhythms, reinforcing the separation of domains and realms by powerful markers, yet at the same time iterating their overarching mystical unity. This is a notable facet of war which I must set aside for want of a sufficient focus on the priesthood here. But whatever the importance of ritual as a mechanism of definition, power feeds on practicalities. Kinga priests were respected rather than powerful men, and I think we should understand it as a practical circumstance that Sanga power could build itself around war only by limiting its destructive potential. This was done by transforming armed combat in a manner reminiscent of the fencing duel, boxing match, or bullfight in European traditions, moving in the direction of orderly control, subjecting spontaneity to rules of the kind which justify use of the ‘game’ metaphor. Shall we simply conclude that the ‘real gains of war’ were organization and the substantial goods, moral and material, to which organization was the key? I am mindful of the danger in taking war for a demiurge in history, but (Aristotle and others to the contrary) men do not naturally organize their affairs in a manner we should call political. If the primate which succeeded Neanderthal deserves a latin tag it might be H. recusans , the natural condition of a human community being general dissidence only sporadically relieved by dangerous personal liaisons. We peek at our peril, to be sure, under the mantle of culture, and so can know little enough about our natures—I only want to point up the strong probability that the evolution of a Sanga protostate in the three centuries after 1600 didn’t happen without the tireless input of intelligent political effort at a level well above the human condition as furnished by nature. ‡ The forested parklands of 1600 have been denuded in the interim with the use of home-made iron tools; the gardens and plantations which have replaced the trees present an impressive sight.


Though the land itself is not favoured by reason of its altitude, the expansion of Kinga population and settlement appears to have kept pace with that of the Nyakyusa-Ngonde peoples and the Hehe, though on a proportionally smaller scale. Regional conditions fairly independent of zonal ecological variations seem to have favoured the rise of politically complex communities; but regional conditions did not oblige the Kinga to surpass the Mahanzi, the Wanji, or the Pangwa; nor were Kinga mere recipients by diffusion of political institutions evolved elsewhere.

Faces of War
Kinga doubtless did their raiding in their own way, and the degree to which the court-sponsored raids were encumbered with ritual may set them apart, but it is the war pattern I find distinctive. Is “Apollonian war” an oxymoron? At any rate, it points to the Sanga emphasis on social forms meant to contain the passions. That is, in its ideal form the Kinga war pattern did not make violence a licensed end in itself. War games focused on martial arts, and the rules of the game even laid a ban on public recognition of accidental wounds or death. Yet in practice war within a realm must have been bloody enough; it was often socially disruptive. Since political ambition seems always to have been the open motive of such wars, they would have strained the system’s legitimacy. According to what Malinowski would call ‘native theory’ an internal war was never actually initiated from below but always provoked from there. War then took the form of a disciplinary or pre-emptive strike by the prince, putting down a presumptuous lord for arrogating to himself some special trappings of rank. Gauntlets were thrown down and taken up. Upset victories are of course not countenanced as such in native theory. They do crop up anecdotally. Every domain was a would-be realm. On any of its levels the war pattern would have shown alternate faces from time to time, according as the perspective shifts from winners to losers, or from the offensive to the defensive side. War could energize segmentary expansion, though ‘predatory expansion’ in the sense of Sahlins’s ideal type does not apply. The other face of war was defensive. For the lord there was the problem of being seen to be the protector of his people: keeping the boundaries in an unbureaucratic world. For subjects there was a bigger and stronger alternative to neighbourhood self-help. I find no reason to suppose the two faces of war, offense and defense, were philosophically more distinct in the Kinga mind than they have generally been for modern military élites.


The reasoning which led to elaborate ritual precautions on a cattle raid was followed also in full-scale war, encumbering it with a wealth of medicinal procedures and caveats. The fact that a small raiding company could easily have dispensed with its priestly component, while the much greater forces drawn up for war itself could not do so without undermining the Sanga system, is worth pondering. It accords with the interpretation that raids, like war-games, were schools. I have found it characteristic of the Sanga mind to put the art of war ahead of sheer warmaking power. By this I don’t mean to suggest that armies like that of Shaka Zulu were not skilled; but what distinguished them was their commitment to a fierce kind of total war then quite new in all of Bantu history. Sanga rulers met this new spirit of war a generation later with the Ngoni intrusions but (like the Nyakyusa) weren’t affected by it in the way the Sangu and Hehe were. It is first with the German suppression of the Maji Maji uprising that war of this kind came to Kingaland. The Sanga courts were tuned to an older, medieval Bantu model. The Sanga treatment of women taken in external (inter-realm) war parallels that of cattle taken in an external (inter-tribal) raid in that the specific prize in each case is the reproductive capacity of a female. Once the captured cow had produced a calf the prince had had his due and the cow could be let out to the man who had taken her— her owner, as it were, in common law. Once a captured woman had produced viable offspring she was likewise returnable. The conversion of a captive concubine to a wife was only possible through payment of bridewealth, and that only after the period of indenture had been played out. At that point, in good Kinga fashion, the woman was free agent and any arrangement would be voluntary, acceptable to the woman as to the men, a contract sealed by the transfer of wealth. The manifest function of woman-taking was the depletion of the enemy (rival) community and the corresponding repletion of one’s own. (Some informants thought a woman would often have produced two children to weaning, a matter of some eight years or more, before she would have been given the chance of repatriation.) But as opposing sides in this kind of warfare were about equal in strength and organization, such calculations must have been mutual and, on the demographic balance sheet, mutually canceling. Warfare informed by rivalry tends to find its balance if only because that is so explicit in the concerns of all the participants. It is true that an able and willing Kinga woman is economically productive well beyond what she and her child consume; and it is true that even the female children of captive women would, owing to the


Kinga child-rearing pattern, owe unflinching loyalty to their adoptive communities; but all this does not mean that border warfare could have been a materially profitable enterprise. Rates of reproduction were not enhanced, nor one lord’s population in the long run swollen at the expense of another’s. War was an integral facet of Kinga court culture and not in some simple way reducible to un-peculiar human motives.

The Kinga war pattern would appear less peculiar among East African examples were it not for the elaborate war games held at a Sanga court. These were most developed at the four princely centres but would be held by ambitious local rulers on an appropriate scale. A lesser training game found everywhere in Ukinga was the stick fight for youths, often staged by their elders. Two sides would be drawn up, each fighter getting himself a handful of cudgels, which he would let fly close to ground level. Legs might be broken and boys possibly killed, but the game was generally deemed salutary—it was certainly saltatory. The stick fight was good training for dodging spears but hardly could have been for hurling them, since the cudgel was much lighter and was flung gyring. No shields were used, and each boy fended for himself, finding his own style for fighting. Training with spears and shields began with own-made weaponry among the herding bands. A lad could expect his first experience with combat defending his little herd from the ambitions of neighbour bands. Skills and armament would naturally escalate, if he survived, with bodily growth until as an aspiring young man he put in his appearance at court. But the transition was probably gradual for most recruits, since the smallest local settlements would have had some political presence: chicken, goat, and cattle politics graded into one another in practice if not in the ideal model of the social memory. The following description of the war games is for Uhugilo, the Northern realm, late in the precontact period. The informants were Prince Mwalukisa (II) and certain of his elders. I hold myself narrowly to their (Lupalilo, 1962) telling.
After taking office Mwalukisa (I) never took part personally in war or in the war games held at his capital. Makolovolelo was his unyakivaga general officer, a man of Mahenge (a commoner) lineage. Umumikilo, his lieutenant, was a Sanga but not of royal birth. They were appointed by Mwalukisa on the strength of their recognized standing among their fellows, having proved themselves in the games and in war itself. The avanyigoha royal


guards appointed by the prince were about twenty; among all the men barracked at the court it was they who enjoyed special rank and trust. Some were avapapwa men of royal lineage, but the proportion of royals to commoners was not ascribed but determined strictly by individual prowess. These guards could expect to be continuously feasted, always having more than enough meat, beer, and other foods. Some were married men who during periods of peace lived with their wives near their fields at a distance from court; but they were always quickly summoned by the sounding of the war-horn ingalape. [This was a ten-foot pipe of reedy wood whose tones traveled out to the borders of a domain.] Far more numerous than the guards, and generally less well entrenched at court, were the ordinary barracksmen avanyakivag. The rule was that all male offspring of the royal lineage were members of the prince’s ikivaga, but commoners to gain tenure there must prove themselves of value. Lacking special talents, a youth must prove himself valiant by a challenge at arms. He would be matched against an experienced fighter and must acquit himself well. The opportunity for such a challenge was afforded by the schools or games of war which the court held from time to time as public means and the public mood dictated. Even in times of peace this would mean once a year, either during the rains of in the dry season, when men could be spared from the fields. A school lasted four or five days, with continuous feasting. An experienced barracksman might challenge a guardsman to a duel with amagoha spears, ihula sword, and ingwembe shield. The first wound ended the trial; even if it were mortal there could be no jural consequence. A challenger who triumphed was much loved by the prince, becoming himself a guardsman for life, but if he failed he was disgraced. The common trial of prowess was the contest of teams or crowds isipuga lined up in opposing ranks across a great field. The teams were fifty men against fifty, chosen by the prince so as to mix them well by their origins, cutting lineage and locality so that brother was pitted against brother, father against son. Even fratricide or patricide in the war games could have no social consequence, for ordinary law did not apply. The trial must end in victory for one team or the other, awarded for inflicting the first wound. There were teams enough, with feasting and dancing between, to fill the days of the festival, as the assembly of men would reach from two to five hundred all told. The combat itself began with much feinting and taunting, until spears began to fly. The man who drew missiles and dodged them boldly was much honoured while the shirker was quickly noticed and classed as such—undwatsi coward. He would be relegated henceforth to guarding the women who were the bearers of supplies and spare arms in warfare.

Avapapwa barracksmen of the royal lineage were allowed to remain at court (having no other home) even though they were not temperamentally fit for front-line fighting; and an ordinary barracksman who once had earned a place could lose nerve or strength, becoming in this way a supernumerary of the court. A man who had joined the barracks life in his youth might find himself after a decade or more unfit to marry and establish himself neolo-


cally: he too could become an aging hanger-on. It was the hero untenzi who married first and moved on to the pioneer’s life, while the coward undwatsi held back in courting as in war. The two men lived and ate together in the ikivaga as equals, but no one had secrets there.

Ilelo twibiha kugelana iligoha! “Today we are going to try each other in war!” By that announcement all men of fighting quality in the domain were summoned to court. There were no prohibitions of sexual congress, no food taboos or restraints on drinking—men were expected to act in high spirits the whole time. Along all the paths to the capital, parties of maidens and women from the farms would be bringing in supplies. They would stay until their pots were empty. It was a time of general festivity for which beer and food must not fail, and in which the broad community participated.

As for war itself there were occasions on which it offered more spectacle and less bloodshed than the games or schools. These were the occasions on which the two sides were arrayed opposite one another, and it was settled that victory should be decided by a duel of heroes. The name Kyelelo is said to have been brought to the Kinga by a Sangu mercenary, a famous fighter of the day whom Mwemutsi had brought in to lead his forces against an obstreperous challenger from the West. Here is the history as it was given me by Kyelelo IV (Padili) in June 1963.
The first war of Ntowanilo the Cruel was undertaken against Mwemutsi of Ukwama. Ntowanilo wanted to conquer the capital, displace the prince, and rule there himself. Though he failed he continued to make trouble for Mwemutsi, who called upon the Avahumbi (Sangu) for support. They responded in good number under a hero named Kyelelo. Then Mwemutsi sent a challenge umpavo to Ntowanilo, who presented himself with a full fighting force at Ukwama. When the two armies were drawn up, Mwemutsi challenged, “If you are man enough, attack!” But Ntowanilo held out for a duel of the heroes, pitting himself against the Sangu Kyelelo. The two fought fiercely, hurling each a fistful of spears at close range, but neither had been able to wound the other. Each parried one spear with his shield and evaded the rest. Then Mwemutsi stopped the fight, declaring the decision was to be made by measuring the rents in the two shields. They found that the Sangu was hit fairly in the centre of the shield, Ntowanilo only glanced high and right, by the shoulder. The Sangu embraced Ntowanilo and presented him with his own name Kyelelo, which he did in respect for prowess, taking the name Ntowanilo in return. But the Kinga prince Kyelelo, as he now was to call himself, returned to his home at Ihanga. Though he had won a personal victory he had failed in his political aim. His failure to fight a war when challenged signified his submission to Mwemutsi, and henceforth Kyelelo turned his attention to expanding westward.

While there are many uncertainties in the subsequent story of this Kyelelo and his successor, their popular notoriety has assured the preservation of certain details of the Kinga war pattern which


otherwise would have been lost. They are details which offer insight into the precolonial world of southwestern Tanganyika, but for assessing their significance the general historical context wants to be furnished, and I therefore propose to give it in as tidy a fashion as information permits. I shall also take note of uncertainties, though I do suppose the general proportions of the model I have developed are correct and deserve to be given as history not hypothesis. Some of the uncertainties derive from the two Kyelelos having been conflated in the popular mind by 1960, and the several famous exploits of “Kyelelo” attributed variously to father and to son. This kind of mix-up yields to detailed comparisons of information from different informants, and in this I have had to rely on my own judgement. I doubt we shall ever be clear how the two predatory princes (Kyelelos I & II) differed in character and military qualities, or know under what conditions the succession took place. It is clear, though, that they share the credit for putting together an integral Western realm under the Sanga name, as eventually sanctioned by the German administration at century’s end. As for the gap between Sanga theory and the telling of this history at the level of local events, I think we should accept the view of elders I consulted that these events constituted a restoration of Sanga unity—that is, a reintegration of the kiKinga-speaking settlements in the West—which had broken down in the original furore around the Napoleonic aspirations of Kyelelo I Ntowanilo. At the same time I find it unlikely that the pre-existing unity had ever amounted to anything as systematic as the Sanga model calls for. There was a loose and fluid alignment of independent Sanga settlements conceptually polarized by the Sanga myth of a settling-andruling élite. From time to time the domain-and-realm structure was confirmed by public acts of rank-concession within a realm—the rendering of nominal imongo tribute by lord to prince, as at Ihanga or Ukwama. But between the realms the only vessel of structure was the verbal formula maintained (and updated at need) by a ubiquitous priesthood: the supposed order of seniority among the four siblings imagined to have founded four separate realms at the beginning of Sanga time. Measured by his impress on the Kinga mind, Kyelelo I Ntowanilo was a phenomenal figure; and we have already seen that in the genesis of the phenomenon there was a direct intrusion of Sowetan regional into local history: you do not import a mercenary hero from a neighbouring people unless your war pattern is the regional one. The Kinga polity after about 1840 must have been increasingly responsive to the changing temper of the regional culture which, caught up in the continental turbulence of mid-century, was rapidly losing its isolation


from world events. At least three Sowetan peoples responded by moving, each in its own way, to central direction. Godfrey Wilson (1939) concluded that Ngonde centralized around a single ceremonial court in response to the ivory trade on Lake Malawi. Redmayne (1964; 1968) shows that both the Sangu and Hehe military states were formed Zulu-fashion: a single local chief rises to an external challenge and wages a successful war of amalgamation on his neighbours, creating a novel and formidable offensive force. Kyelelo would have been such a conquering hero if the Sanga polity had been open to amalgamation. A closer look at this, the only Kinga hero-figure of genuinely historic times will illuminate both the way the Sanga system expanded and the stubborn strength of its segmentary form. If a centralized state is a product of political evolution from the relatively atomistic structure which characterized at least the Sangu and Hehe subregions in 1800, a segmentary state is the product of political involution —I follow here the discussion by Geertz of Goldenweiser’s concept—from comparable conditions. Without denying that there may have been a period of fluidity in political identities throughout the region during the (putative) major transition in agricultural technics reflected in the shift from ‘original’ to ‘classic’ food crops, I think the Sanga polity had left that period far behind. My contention is that centralization was inconsistent with the logic of the Kinga war pattern, which was concerned with heroics not conquest, and which required segmentary opposition within a culturally integral community. That is, Kinga had taken an historical path which insulated them from the conquest-state scenario; they had made a transition from the condition of a plurality of local polities each constituting its own ethnic identity to that of a protostate within which an array of local polities share a common ethnic identity. Segmentary opposition is the formula by which such a protostate can be organized and maintained. ‡‡

Kyelelo of the West
The manifestly expansive wars of Kyelelo against a KingaMahanzi alliance, far from being an exception to the stability of the Sanga pattern, bear out my contention about it. What made these fights so fierce and memorable was their character in the Kinga mind as jurisdictional rivalries between princely siblings. The central concern was dominance and privilege not territory. The prize was always a (nominal) transfer of imongo between courts, an act of rank concession, not the (far more substantial) bounty of a right to


collect imongo at the grass roots in an expanded domain. But on this point the evidence wants a close review. The earliest recorded account of the patricide by which Kyelelo I Ntowanilo seized power is that of Missionary Hübner, published in 1900:
17th January (1899). That Bulongwa stands on a place where earlier Chief Mwakagile’s people have lived, I already reported once earlier. Collapsed earth dwellings, thorn fences gone wild, and turned-up garden beds, which naturally are overgrown with grass, are witness still today to this fact. But until now I had been able to learn scarcely any details of the earlier course of events in Kingaland. Today two Kinga Christians talked to men on the subject, and as it is not without interest, I am recording the story in my daybook. Kielela’s father (Ntowanilo) was in earlier years the high chief of the whole country. A younger brother named Mwangaba [Mwangawa] was the father of our present regional chief Bululile [Vululile]. The country lived in peace except when the sole enemy of Kingaland, the Gwangwala [Ngoni] destroyed it through the raids they periodically undertook. Yet the rugged, wooded mountains generally offered salvation for people and cattle before this fearful enemy, only the houses were a prey to the flames. Then all at once through the now still living, then still young Kielela, discord came into the land. In order to seize power he had his genetically own father murdered. Mwangaba, father of Bululile and brother of the murdered man, punished Kielela for his outrageous deed by taking from him a whole section of his country. Peace seemed to be restored and Mwangaba was high chief. But one day Kielela had his uncle Mwangaba called to him; the man, suspecting no evil, went thither but was straight away taken prisoner and killed. When the news of the imprisonment of Mwagaba became known among his subjects they sent ten cattle as ransom; this was indeed accepted but without leading to the release of the hostage. [BMB 1900: 24-5]

The historical transition implicit in this tale is from the war pattern of the bush culture (a harmless people flees to the forest, abandoning its villages to fire) to that of court culture (power and its legitimation are the precipitates of princely exploits). In another aspect the transition is from peace in spite of external pressure to war in spite of that pressure’s absence. To say that peace was made and Mwangawa was high chief was, of course, to say that Kyelelo was sending rather than requiring tribute. The universe of discussion throughout the missionary’s account is the Western realm not Kingaland as a whole. The interim peace is explained by the fact that Ntowanilo would have had little claim to rank. Since Kyelelo IV Padili’s account [June 1963] of the double patricide treats it as a direct sequel to the ambivalent performance of the naming duel at Ukwama, it is clear we


should picture the Ntowanilo of the duel not as a prince or even a lord but (at best) an unkinga heir-apparent of Ihanga. He would have been the war-leader for a secluded ruler:
When he turned away from Ukwama, Kyelelo I seized the power of Ihanga through the murder of his own father Umwikusi [otherwise Ndutukutuku], the fifth lineal ruler of that place, fourth since its founding by Ukiganga, a Sanga sent from Ukwama to rule there. The full brother (one mother) of Umwikusi, whose name was Mwangawa, regarded himself as the rightful claimant to power but fled westward before Ntowanilo’s determined insurrection. Later Mwangawa was murdered in the same (treacherous) manner as his brother. But followers of Mwangawa rallied to his son Vululile rather than accept Kyelelo. Vululile was beaten back in subsequent wars by Kyelelo, who was able to extend his realm to include Luwumbu domain. It was there he established a new capital and continued to fight Vululile and his Mahanzi allies. [Field summary of responses to group interview, 6/93]

Did annexing the new capital constitute a territorial expansion of Ihanga? In the de facto sense it must have done, as it entailed pushing into relatively unclaimed lands; but Kyelelo seems never to have seized land directly from his enemies. The problem then remains whether that was the aim of his incessant war-making, only frustrated by the superior numbers of the five domains allied against him, or whether the logic of the conflict dictated other goals. Luwumbu in early German times was a populous domain, though as a natural setting for agriculture the hinterland to this new capital must have been overstrained. Kyelelo I Ntowanilo had made war from camps by Luwumbu, at least according to popular memory, but must have continued to enjoy most of his logistic support from the people and fields of Ihanga. In German times Luwumbu at first appears (from any surface signs) to be a separate domain under “Kyelelo’s son”—the good missionaries always refer to Ndunginye thus patronymically— while the aging but still vigorous and peripatetic father reigns at Ihanga. This place is pleasant, relatively open, and fertile. To the end of colonial times it remained isolated from the new wisdom and a repository of the old. Remarkably, Ihanga never became a jumbeate in its own right, even though (as Tunginiye [March 1963] could positively assert) Kyelelo I Ntowanilo had never actually ceased to dwell at Ihanga, only “sending out” his son to colonize Upangulwa-Luwumbu across the river Lumbila. Kyelelo the Cruel died early in the new century, receiving military honours from the Germans, and his successor was invested at Luwumbu, taking the name Kyelelo but remaining at his own court, Luwumbu. That neither the Germans or British left records of any pressures from Ihanga for separate recognition positively indicates that the people of Ihanga-Luwumbu, in


spite of the six or seven kilometers between, and despite the anomalous duality of their leadership during the early period of contact, remained in their own view a single if twin-centred community. Ndunginye must therefore be regarded as [ unkinga ] heirapparent to the domain of Ihanga-Luwumbu, as he first appears in missionary records. This in turn positively implies that no conquered community formed the core of Ndunginye’s following at the place Luwumbu. In short, further investigations do not confirm Kyelelo IV Padili’s foreshortened tradition of a “move to the west” by the original prince of his name. Tunginiye [June 1963] judged that the only territorial changes effected by Kyelelo, father and son together, had been the annexation of six mountain hamlets which had been living anarchically. Such a change bespeaks only the consolidation of a domain in accordance with the Sanga pattern; and this would presumably have come about in pace with a general population expansion. The ultimate reason for moving the princeship westward may have had more to do with the success of the Bulongwa mission in attracting new settlers—or with maintaining access to that other new centre of vital energy in the changing Kinga world, the military post at Mwakete [founded 1902]— than with precolonial Kinga politics. It is not irrelevant that the division of function between priest and prince had been carried unusually far by Kyelelo I, who remained an active warrior instead of withdrawing to his harem in the manner preferred by priestly advisors. The geographic separation of spheres was consistent also with the new kind of secular emphasis Kyelelo II Ndunginye adopted under the German régime: the mediating role of the chief in a dual society. ‡ Mwangawa, though he is pictured by Kyelelo’s heir as “fleeing” Ihanga on learning of his brother’s murder, appears on other evidence to have had an established court from which he rendered imongo transfers to the ruler of Ihanga, acknowledging him as “elder brother.” Since, when he was murdered, the act was universally called a patricide, we may conclude that Ntowanilo—to have settled with him in the intervening period—must have reversed the tribute, calling Mwangawa by the one appropriate term, “father.” But quite apart from Kyelelo’s uncomfortably slumbering ambitions, there would have been anomalies after the first patricide. In the nature of Kinga politics, succession was a time of danger and structural instability which a court might survive happily (that is, without losing much of the old leader’s following) only by a lucky combination of personal and ritual forces. The unkinga should already have proved himself in war—Kyelelo


had done so when he first came to power, but Vululile had not. In Kyelelo’s case, having seized a crown by foul play, there would have been a stigma to outlive before he could lead men with confidence into a major conflict. But the priestly powers of his avanyivaha viziers were there to be used, and informants all supposed that his ritual installation would have been properly executed at Ihanga. Since no one had defeated him he retained the sacred things of princely rank— supposing, that is, that they had indeed belonged to the throne of the “father” he first murdered. It is not really unlikely that his challenge of Mwemutsi and the honour he won in the duel from which he took his name first opened the way for a ruler at Ihanga to claim brotherhood with the high prince at Ukwama and call himself unkuludeva . But whatever the historicity of their claims, Kyelelo’s priestly viziers would have remained more powerful by public reckoning than Mwangawa’s until their medicines had been mutually tested in battle. The elders of Ihanga [May 1963] stated that whereas rulers at Ihanga had propitiated ancestors at Ukingilo nearby, Mwangawa had made sacrifice at Pivutsavanu, west across the Lukameli river and, in fact, beyond Vululile’s eventual capital at Lingundya. The significance of this, given the symbolic importance to Sangas of a westward movement in history, is that Mwangawa could not himself have been born at Ihanga. He could claim no more than lineage brotherhood with its ruler. But at the same time Mwangawa was by common consent “older brother” not “father” to the Bulongwa ruler. The last was Usakalang’i of the Mwakagile line. The mandate of that line was traced to Ihanga directly, not to Pivutsavanu or Lingundya. That is, though imongo, in following the fortunes of war and military repute, did (in passing from “younger” to “elder”) centre the Western realm for some time in Mwangawa’s court, there were latent structures in the realm which still favoured re-establishing Ihanga’s ruling house. This would account for the bitterness of the contest, after Mwangawa’s murder, between the two camps, Lingundya and Luwumbu, facing each other across the Lukameli valley. The prize, as we shall see, was the assignment of imongo from Mahanzi rulers, who had now been firmly drawn into the Sanga sphere. Lingundya was a new capital, and its establishment followed the retreat of Vululile with a following from his father’s abandoned court, to Mahanzi protection. I think the reason for this retreat is not far to seek, though some details are obscure. Vululile was nominally, at least in popular retrospect, unkinga heir-apparent at Mwangawa’s court but still unmarried. He was quick to take a Mahanzi wife and otherwise


show himself ready for leadership but evidently found he’d need more of the Midas touch to rally his predecessor’s following. Sanga leadership depended on a bountiful reputation. Some Mahanzi informants (at the place of Kilanzi/Utengule where Vululile stayed, married, and saw the birth of his son Mwakalukwa) thought Mwangawa had himself been in retreat and had been lured back to an abandoned capital by Kyelelo’s promises of peace. However that may have been (and it is not admitted by Mwangawa’s heirs) it is certain that Kyelelo I retired to Ihanga after Mwangawa’s death, having sown confusion but owning no loyalty in his enemy’s camp. Though the manner of Mwangawa’s death would have brought scorn on Ntowanilo—now a double patricide—the fact of the death would have itself deflated the standing of Mwangawa’s court, even if it was quite intact at the time, to the point of throwing the men into disarray. This is partly because of the importance attributed to priestly medicines, whose popular ratings could soar with success but would plummet with failure. Here is Tunginiye’s description [June 1963] of the second patricide:
When Mwangawa heard his “older brother” had been killed by his son at Ukwama (sic), he sent word that Kyelelo was not to cross the river Lukameli into Mwangawa’s domain on pain of death. But Kyelelo had ambition to rule that whole country. He sent two cows and pombe native beer by his avanyivaha priestly elders to Mwangawa. The prestation was “to make peace and calm his sorrow, for Kyelelo knows he has done a wrong.” Mwangawa at length accepted the gifts and granted permission for Kyelelo to come to him, for the priests from Ihanga made representations that their lord “wanted to meet face to face and contract peace.” As it turned out, Kyelelo was only plotting with his avanyivaha to feign sorrow ukulila ikililo in order to accept the embrace of his “father’s younger brother” after the Kinga fashion. “I shall lock him in my arms. You are to charge in, sweeping his feet from under him. As soon as my arm is free I shall bring down my battleaxe upon him.” It happened just so. Everyone who saw the deed took flight. Kyelelo himself seized the moment to flee, returning to Ihanga to prepare for war.

Some informants insist that Kyelelo’s avanyivaha , though they would not warn the intended victim, washed their hands of the killing itself. However that may have been, the success of the venture proved Mwangawa’s medicines worthless, confirmed the terrible personal strength of Ntowanilo, and perversely enhanced his claim to a high personal destiny. Vululile’s heir at Lingundya in 1960 was Mesiya. He described


Mwangawa as a man “much loved throughout his country,” and so well established as to provoke Kyelelo’s envy. In Mesiya’s retrospect, Vululile had fought Kyelelo to a standstill, the Mahanzi joining in as natural allies because Malambila of Kavale, a Mahanzi, had long been Mwangawa’s untsagila. That is, a good portion of the Mahanzi folk already fell within Mwangawa’s domain. Mwangawa’s personal charisma, Mesiya assured me, commanded tribute from countries Ihanga had never claimed: “He received imongo from all the Mahanzi, from Mwakagile (Bulongwa) and from Ukyeve (“Mwenentela” in German times) in Magoma. These were not wholly vain boasts. After all, the German missionaries had found his successor in office the “superior chief” of all the western domains but Kyelelo’s. But Mesiya exaggerates Mwangawa’s position, underrating the personal achievements of Vululile and the unifying mechanisms of war where men can be aroused by outrage and inspired by a common fear. At the village Pivutsavanu/ Witsavanu in Mesiya’s domain, the site of Mwangawa’s old capital, I consulted the ranking priest, a Mahanzi by lineage, and the local elders. Mwangawa, they said, had cordial but co-equal relations with the other avatwa local lords: the three Mahanzi, the other Sanga at Bulongwa, and the Magoma. “He did not rule over them.” Later, Vululile came to do so in the final period of Kinga history before the pax germanica . “Because they feared to be killed at the hands of Ntowanilo, they freely joined together to support Vululile as protector of the country.” No unification of these people on such a scale had been known before.

Later Adventures of Kyelelo
I suppose a people disposed to understand its history in personalistic terms will be disposed to experience current events with the same unconscious bias. If it was not in objective fact “Mwakagile and Mwangawa” who departed in the same generation from Ihanga—before Kyelelo’s time—it would have been lineal predecessors of those two Sanga lords. If they were not each given sections in which to build in peace by cordial Mahanzi rulers, the relations between immigrant Kinga and resident Mahanzi communities soon enough did come to be conceived in terms of the separate personal dominions of rulers who were able to divide land and jurisdiction by agreement. There is some admission by Mahanzi that Mwangawa originally came on in force, but the element of voluntarism is stronger in every version of the history I collected from either cultural group. The


Mahanzi univocally deny that either Kyelelo (Ihanga) or Mwangawa (Pivutsavanu) had authority beyond their own domains until the unification under Vululile; and there is no convincing evidence that this unification was solid before Kyelelo (Ihanga-Luwumbu) succeeded in turning seniority claims (as “elder brother” to Vululile) into a command rank under the Germans and a jurisdictional fact under the British. A truer picture of the colonizing of the domain the historic Mwangawa would rule seems to linger in the tradition within his own domain that the whole Kyando line of rainmakers fled before the original “Mwangawa” into uSafwa in the Poroto mountains. Their flight was followed by drought in the country, particularly in Ng’ondong’i where the immigrants had settled. At length a Mwangawa sent his priest-elders to Usafwa, where travelers had reported flourishing crops, to persuade the Mahanzi rainmakers to relent and return. Mwangawa allowed them henceforth to carry on their sacrifice as of old, respecting their religion and granting them a section (Unkumbulu/ Unyampeke) which has since been an integral but clearly Mahanzi part of this Sanga domain. The story constitutes a charter for the continuation of a Mahanzi culture and identity within and effectually subject to the Kinga. Mwangawa’s priestly heritors nonetheless picture him as “opening this country” and as having recruited many Mahanzi to his following. The ambiguity of his own identity as a leader emerges from the tradition of his burial on a hill “more or less Sanga” in the borderland of his domain toward Ihanga. The priests who buried him were his own countrymen: though the place of his death was his own capital they did not find it proper he should be buried there “in Mahanzi territory.” According to local tradition these priests were afterwards targets of unceasing night raids by Kyelelo. He did eventually succeed in killing one of them, Kyakunzi, at his residence Ludihani deep in Vululile’s territory, on the Bulongwa march. It was some years later, on just such a night raid into Mahanzi country, that Kyelelo I Ntowanilo had his most famous escape from death. It is said he had determined to kill all the Mahanzi heroes, and on this occasion he brought war to Kilanzi, the southern domain of the Mahanzi, by-passing Vululile. Since his prize was to be the imongo transfer-tribute which Kilanzi was sending to Vululile, this sneak attack on the tributary himself was an obvious piece of indirection, but no one seems to have expected less of Kyelelo. He met the Kilanzi hero and, failing to score a wound with all his spears, flung down his shield to grip his sword ihula two-handed. He rushed the enemy fiercely and left him dead but had exposed his flank to a Mahanzi spearman. This was no formal duel on the Sanga model but a quite irregular encounter by night. Both sides fled in disarray,


and Kyelelo managed to break off the spear in his side at its shank. He then hid in a millet bin. There he was found in the morning by a woman who proved willing to assist him. She gathered men who would bear him to Ihanga. Safely arrived, Kyelelo toasted them with beer, sending them home as his “brothers” with two cows. It was Vululile rather who had a claim to fraternity there: this was the community which had sheltered him for three years while he established his leadership, and his chief wife was from there. But social memory carried no hint of moral indignation at what an observer might take for treachery. The tyrant’s rescuers are assumed to have acted as free persons should according to their own best information on the man and the matter. As for Kyelelo’s wound, he soon had a strong sapling tied like a great bow to the ground, put a taut rope to the barbed spearhead, and ordered six men to hold him down while a seventh cut the tie of the sapling. So he lived up to the reputation for personal heroism which had moved Kilanzi’s men to bear him home. Mahanzi informants tell that Kyelelo’s men were badly beaten; but the death of a local hero and the survival of the notorious prince, albeit by the mercy of his enemies, left the Kyelelo myth intact. His heirs even claim that, though Vululile continued to take imongo from Kilanzi, he had to appease Kyelelo when he recuperated (from what was by all accounts a long convalescence) by sending on a fraction of the Kilanzi tribute. The claim is not confirmed elsewhere. Kyelelo’s final war was in an early stage when the Germans’ arrival intervened. He had determined to make use of Sangu mercenaries. These are identified as Gogo warriors who had joined Merere, the Sangu sultan, in his warring with the Hehe avaJinga. They carried Arab knives, long and sharp, a number of which were taken as trophies when this invitational invasion was beaten off. Kyelelo’s final move was an effort to import muskets from the Sangu. He had not accumulated a sufficient arsenal when European conquest put a stop to the trade. The tradition of his erstwhile enemies is that he paid off the Sangu mercenaries in women, some of them his legitimate daughters ing’engele and some captives. Raiding sorties from Luwumbu were a regular feature of the early dry season during these years. The earliest missionaries to climb the escarpment from Nyakyusaland found the alarm had gone before them—they were supposed to be a party of Sangu raiders approaching. Their way was bristling with armed bands ( BMB 1895:471). The introduction of guns to Kinga warfare would have been a powerful event to add to Kyelelo’s reputational legend. It was an escalation for which Vululile could not have been prepared but hardly one which would have disconfirmed his opinion of this old enemy.


Why was Kyelelo, found wounded and disarmed in an enemy’s millet bin, allowed to survive? Tunginiye denied that there had been laws or rules of warfare which could have protected him. Instead the reason must be that a commoner would not have dared kill a prince sultani , enemy or not, unless in the heat of battle. Other wellinformed elders thought Kyelelo must after all have taken grain from the bin and stolen away under his own power. “If they had seen him they would have killed him.” I can’t reject either view out of hand. What we do know is that the social memory after 65 years of colonial peace and war liked the tale as told here. Where war takes its style from the surprise raid mounted by a small band of adventurers, and where armies may be drawn up in full regalia to witness the duel of just two heroes, the deep rationale of the martial exercise revolves in good medieval fashion around notions of manly valour. We must try to judge how far the great fear of Kyelelo’s threatened conquest was an artifact of political theatre and, at a deeper level, a sign of the kind of public unease which, in his generation, had been inspired by confrontations with truly unknowable enemies from outside. Kinga knew a great deal about the world beyond their mountains. Their contacts with Rift Valley Nyakyusa, Safwa, and Sangu were particularly intense, being always balanced between raiding and trading in iron wares, both activities requiring a keen awareness of the others’ customs, their leaders, and their seasonal movements. But Kinga were not in important spheres of life actually borrowers. They set their own style. To evaluate Kyelelo, the rulebreaker, we should be aware how agonistic the Sanga war pattern remained to the end, though the contest was between rival lords and factions not artificial teams of fifty. War was an exercise of youths and heroes. It was seasonal, and the growth of population, which we have noticed, during the whole period of escalating warfare indicates it was not decimating in its net consequence. I don’t suggest war did not affect ordinary lives harshly but I do mean it did not infect them. A parallel might be industrial carnage in any modernizing society. It may be salutary to notice that Kyelelo was not found in a millet bin by his enemies but by common people subject to them. Political enmity was a phenomenon of the court not the bush.


Sham, Bluff, and Sacrament
The hierarchic order which Vululile introduced, particularly in his relations with Mahanzi rulers, seems to have had no profound effect at the grass roots, if the matter can be judged from later events and folk memory. By this I mean that, though Vululile recognized the standard three ranks of the Sanga system and published them among the Mahanzi on a note of fear and necessity, lordly rankconcession had no more power in the West than in the North, Centre, or East to quell popular claims to independence. Among the Mahanzi the ruler of lowest rank was untwa unya’nekelo master of the sacrifice. The rank corresponds to the (quite differently conceived) Sanga untsagila who, being of the line “sent out to rule” from the capital, was thought to owe his old host the duties of a junior. Since the Mahanzi local ruler was patently not “sent out” from an alien immigrant’s capital, Vululile’s term for him associates him with local non-military court responsibilities. But one Mahanzi ruler, Selemba of the Mwandilawa line at Ulumba (the central domain), was elevated above the others. His insignia, presented by Vululile, proclaim the military competence of his court. He received ilikule and ingalape , master drum and trumpet; ulwanzisi otterskin crown, and ikinya’lwangula royal stool. He bore a large imatsi spiral shell ornament at his breast and donned the iduma leopardskin on occasion. “ Vatetsage untwa : The people always called him lord.” Nonetheless when I inquired about war games I found they had acquired little of the Sanga style. The drum ilikule was used to assemble the warriors yearly “to prepare for possible war. The Lord wants to know who has died and who remains—how many are his avanyigoha warriors.” The gathering served as a display of martial conformation without martial energy. As to actual armed contests there were none, for “they feared some would be killed, and they could not afford the loss.” The Mahanzi were, in short, sham Sanga; and the symbolism of rank was lost on anyone outside the circle of the ruling élite. Kyelelo with his incessant threats and intermittent raids, stealing cattle and even goats, taking women and children captive, and his reputation of having vowed to kill every hero the Mahanzi might put up against him had made it possible for Vululile to organize Mahanzi and Magoma alike on a military model. But the structure of the polity remained segmentary not hierarchic. Vululile’s relations with his avatwa vassal lords are reflected in his ability to bestow rank and honour upon them in return for fast alliance. Since he sent witch-finder priests to live with each of them— with the Mahanzi Selemba and the two Magoma rulers—he controlled (so to say) their secret service and was well informed. Kyalawe,


Selemba’s unyivaha witch-finder, can be seen from his own admission to German authorities, to have exercised the full powers of a witchridder. He was of Ngulwa lineage, which was still in my time represented in strength only in Vululile’s domain Lingundya. But the process of imposing a Sanga political system here in the West had not had the time to ‘take’ as it had done in the other realms, before the German period. Vululile himself was certainly styled unkuludeva prince, and there is general agreement except among informants from what was Kyelelo’s camp that Vululile in the precontact period had established ritual links directly with Ukwama—links from which Kyelelo was cut out. That is, Vululile might in a pinch have made good a claim at that time to being the only prince unkuludeva and the legitimate ruler in the Western realm. It was not in fact until preparations were under way for the 1926 constitution that Kyelelo’s claim to seniority was examined and validated at a general conclave of local rulers. The strength of this claim at that time lay in the admission that all Sanga rulers in the West had their origins at Ihanga: it must follow that the ruling house there was the senior one. Old enmities and the alliance of Mahanzi with dissident Kinga, which had been based on those enmities, had come to have little meaning on either side. Mahanzi elders even at Mwangawa’s old capital told me [June 1963] that there would have been no disputes over jurisdictions in the West during British times, had colonial officials been prepared to grant two courts (and the nominal salaries of two rulers): one court should have been for the Mahanzi-Magoma peoples (“We are like one kin”) and one for Kyelelo and his Sangas. They seemed to have no doubt that in those days the supplementary court would have been awarded to Mwandilawa in the Mahanzi domain which Vululile had raised above the others. “Even the Paramount Mwemutsi knew Mwandilawa, though he would not have recognized a Magoma ruler.” And that is to say that the Sanga-Mahanzi alliance, having fallen apart at the top, had ceased to have meaning by 1960 if not by 1925. An older ethnic cleavage had asserted itself instead. One particular history, when examined, reveals in a nice way the salient character of the Sangas: their solidarity above and beyond their bitter rivalries. This is the case of Lugendile and his heirs. I give the tradition as I had it from one of them, Lukasi Petro, son of Missionary Hübner’s rock, Petele Ngasika.
Lugendile was tight-fisted and that is why he failed to get the rule. He was elder brother to Kyelelo and due the office but was cheated of it, being outsmarted by Kyelelo. All this happened when the time was drawing near for certain solemnities. There came a stranger from the bush country while


Lugendile was withdrawn with the avanyivaha councilors of the place and certain emissaries from the neighbour realms. These emissaries were the chief priests of Mwemutsi at Ukwama, of Mwalukisa at Uhugilo, and of Ndwanga at Ilevelo. [At the time Ndwanga called himself unkuludeva and rejected the claims of Mwalukisa to imongo—they were at war.] The stranger, a fellow from Mwalukisa’s country, was denied hospitality. Three times he cried his greeting at the doorway, Mapembero!, and three times he was sent away. But he had heard the talk of the avanyivaha within: at the first cock’s crow before dawn they would beat the sacred drum ilikule and blow the sacred trumpet ingalape pronouncing Lugendile untwa ruler of an autonomous domain. The stranger left and, walking on about a mile, found a gathering of men eating and drinking at a private house. This was the place of Kyelelo, who straight away welcomed the stranger to take food and drink. Now Kyelelo, hearing the stranger’s tale, was full of resentment that he had not been informed of his brother’s impending elevation—he, Kyelelo, had been barred from being a member of the inner circle and was left to entertain himself and his friends apart. So he gathered together these friends and together they raided the ritual centre at midnight, well before cock-crow. They beat the drum and blew great blasts upon the horns. Lugendile heard the sound and cried, “Vanyengile, ndilinyengwa! They have cheated, I am deceived!” This is the tale of how his lineage became Sanga Nyengwa, the Cheated, while Kyelelo’s line is Sanga Mbetsiwa, the Denied, referring to the tight-fistedness of Lugendile. [May 1963]

The Kyelelo of this tale is Ndunginye, Kyelelo II as he became much later, at his father’s death. Because a man may “enter the country of his father” though a father may not inherit his son’s, Kyelelo I at Ihanga could make his son an autonomous ruler at Luwumbu without begetting an irreversible segmentation of IhangaLuwumbu. Thus the occasion is not a succession but the inauguration of a new court at Luwumbu. The events prove that the prince at Ihanga, though the mightiest of tyrants in Kinga memory, had to put this affair in the hands of his avanyivaha priest-elders; and that they in turn would not try to legitimate the installation without competent witnesses from abroad. It is elementary that once the sacred instruments, drum and trumpet, have uttered the act no mortal move could reverse it. The events also show, of course, that Kyelelo II Ndunginye came to office in almost as enterprising a manner as his father had done. But the sequel is particularly instructive. Lugendile moved on to Bulongwa, where he died without acquiring office. Then in German times (1901) the Bulongwa local ruler died without leaving a competent heir; and the elders chose the son of Lugendile as the rightful successor. Ngasika, soon to take the name Petele, declined. He was already taken with Christianity. But his election bespeaks the existence of an inter-jurisdictional Sanga élite whose ambience was not restricted by even the most embattled boundaries.


To illustrate the way the Sanga successions worked, let us imagine that Ngasika/Petele had not chosen the mission and, surviving to 1926, had then laid claim through his lineage to seniority among the rulers in the West. Succeeding in this, he would have become known in accordance with Kinga usage as Kyelelo III, bumping the man of junior lineage, a son of Kyelelo II, who actually did take that title. In each of the princely realms we seem to have an unbroken hereditary line of rulers bearing always only the one name, identified with the office itself. The impression of continuity is, of course, intended. Kinga do not distinguish their lordly incumbents by their ordinal rank in time—a tale about Kyelelo is not normally told in such a way as to identify him by the name he bore in youth or his place in the succession of incumbents. Over time, all tales about princely deeds in the past begin to accumulate to a syncretic ‘Kyelelo, Prince of the West’ or the like, though it was not too late in 1960 to do some useful sleuthing. Had I not done some, I might well have left Bulongwa in 1963 believing, as I had been led to believe, that the capital of the Western realm had always been just there where the mission, market, court of record, and population centre were found, the place to which the one approach road led. In fact, only Ukwama was a capital village in 1900; the other three capitals had been displaced as new settlement patterns developed. From all that I did learn I infer that the realms which matured earlier than Kyelelo’s West did so more quietly—that the violent history of this latest addition to the Sanga system reflected the turbulence of the Sowetan region as a whole in the critical years. But I don’t doubt that, had I been able to stay at work for only a few more months I would have had a richer and better history to write. For one thing, I’d have got a better sense for just how cruelly warlike the original Kyelelo had been; and what, in spite of his fearful reputation for truculence, accounted for the strength of his following among an altogether amiable people. It is arguable (to pursue this speculative thinking further) that as an articulate person with an ability to command—as shown in his mission career—but no special instinct for combat, Petele Ngasika ought to be considered a neo-classical type among Kinga leaders, harking back to earlier decades of the nineteenth century, before the press of an accelerating war pattern had made itself felt. When Missionary Hübner discovered that his station was built on the ruins of a burnt village he well understood why the village had not been rebuilt on the same site, though the people had survived well enough simply by taking flight. The site of his station is pleasant, high, and


open to easy approach from two directions. The old site of the village evidently had been chosen without any compulsion to think first and foremost of defense.
Moreover the Kinga have built, as we were soon enough to experience, mainly on sites difficult to approach, as they live in constant fear of attack from their neighbours. From their villages located on high mountain tops they are able to command an excellent view of their country, and any suspicious phenomena are communicated from hill to hill—a kind of telephone, and the Kinga are master shouters. Everywhere we were obliged to announce ourselves through a shouter if we did not want to find empty villages. [BMB 1895:471]

But it is only the earliest travelers who report heavily concentrated villages and defensive stockades, and these only in special areas—notably in the Kinga parts of the Western realm and in the East, the two countries where Sanga rule was most actively expanding. Of the Mahanzi scene Merensky writes on the basis of early reports from Missionary Nauhaus, who climbed up from Lake Malawi through the settlements least accessible to Kyelelo:
For the most part the people live in scattered and isolated huts. A larger settlement was reached, however, whose farmsteads lay in the midst of green fields planted in peas. [BMB 1896:222]

This was the pattern quickly reasserted also in the embattled sections of Kingaland once peace had been imposed. It was, after all, the fear of aggression not aggression itself which struck the Berliners as the key to Kinga character and policy.



Prince and Priest

Bush Doctor—Court Priest
In 1960 there were a number of medicine men practising in Kingaland, each on his own account, and German records suggest it was ever so. The priesthood never quite had a monopoly on the magico- chemical arts. Some medicines, intended for curing, are not considered dangerous. From one doctor I obtained a potion for the cure of convulsions. It was his one specialty and was credited with several cures but contained (on laboratory analysis) “no alkaloids.” In every community the Rural Medical Assistant or mission nurse would be aware of competition from local men of knowledge, some few well established in the profession. None could be called ‘full-time’ doctors, though. Their medicines were less often potions than pastes administered by rubbing into superficial incisions. The official doctrine at the treatment centre in Lupila was that the two kinds of medicine could well coexist but should not be compounded in one patient at one time. Otherwise no sense of risk attached to the use of Kinga curative medicines, although there is no comprehensive categorical distinction between curing and the harmful or exploitative transformations for which medicines may be used. The reason for this is possibly that the medicines in themselves are thought not dangerous unless in the hands of personal or political enemies. That is, the person and his or her malevolent intent would be the true source of danger. The one shamanistic personage I encountered in person was Pakipande, famous in the Central and Eastern realms. ‘Shaman’ is not the usual word employed by Africanists, but it suggests the extent to which Pakipande relied on personal qualities and reputation in addition to medicines. If he ever dealt in curing as such, that was not the basis of his local fame. He was a master of pyromancy, putting on a spectacular show of lie-detection. Doctor, plaintiff, and suspects


sit about an open fire, which is described as flaring up in the manner of fireworks, but managed so that the fire itself seems to single out a culprit. Persons of his stature would have been more common in the precontact culture, if only because men of all types then had to find their careers at home.‡‡ Missionary Wolff describes another technique of divination using fire, which he gives an inquisitorial character. As the procedure borders on public torture, it must have been practised by doctorpriests acting under sanction. I give the passage in extenso because, for all the puzzles it leaves us, it remains the best description we have of early practices in the Northern realm.
23 June [1899]. Today I learned that the Kinga also have a kind of ordeal by fire. For example, should the victim of a theft report the robbery to a witchdoctor, of which there are plenty to be found, the victim must bring to the spot those persons he suspects. The sorcerer takes a calabash cut off at the neck, anoints it with sorcery-medicines, puts some fire in it, and then rubs the vessel back and forth on the subject’s body, the opening turned against it. If the vessel sucks itself fast, searing the subject’s hide, he is convicted of the theft. The sorcerer says isoe [iswe] or yesoe [jiswe] “He has died” (that is, the dog). This kind of judgement comes from the custom by which very poisonous medicines, which also in other ways are employed as vouchers for guilt or innocence, in recent times have been administered to dogs—as earlier happened with human beings. If such a substituted dog should die, the thief or the like is unmasked. If he throws up the medicine that is called ivexile [ivekile] or jidexile [jidekile]—[the man] has withstood or (the dog) has vomited—and the subject is free of guilt. It is first of all the victim of the theft who must stand this ordeal by fire, for the thief may be in his own kin group—if so he is burnt himself, and the case is settled. But once he is proved innocent the suspects are taken in turn. He who is burnt is the thief: the calabash can only by force be removed from the subject’s body. The thief must pay. The procedure is called ukupokola [ukupukula= to divine]. In like manner lagula, as it is known in Kondeland [uNyakyusa] and also here, is practised. Here a wooden cup, opening downwards, is rubbed back and forth on the ground... Some sorcerers operate with a kind of die. Three iron nails with heads graduated in mass are put into a narrow bamboo cup. Should the one for whom the dice are consulted be guilty, the nails unite; should he be guiltless, each nail stands alone. Should a thief caught in this way still protest his innocence, they will pierce one of his ears and put, or if necessary force, one of the nails through it. When it goes easily through the subject is innocent, but failing that the nail may remain with its head stuck in the ear so that nothing will dislodge it.


Oftentimes one and the same person will try all four types [of divination by going round to] various sorcerers and will, though innocent, be declared guilty by all four, especially if the complainant has paid the sorcerer a nanny goat or the like a short while in advance. Then the doctor may be reviled as the kind who will seize the wealth of people for nothing and worse than nothing; but the next time they will none the less be sought out. Only a few persons desiccate themselves fully from the chicanery, which is only too conspicuous. ‡

The facts must stand as Wolff has given them, as I was not able to observe divination in the field. I find it reasonable to assume there would have been a manifestly random mechanism employed in each case. The nail would be chosen by a random throw, and the autonomy of the rubbing oracle would be dramatically shown. This allows participant and observer to impute something like divine intervention or communication; and it is this invisible backdrop to the visibly arbitrary action which Wolff has not seen fit to credit. But I am inclined to take seriously the implication of this account that thievery tended to be handled in a local and voluntaristic fashion, at least in the neighbourhood of Wolff’s Tandala station, which occupied a borderland position with respect to the Northern and Central capitals. As one moved closer to the centres of political power the bush culture with its anarchic ethos would have given way before the Sanga court’s interest in all transactions of a jural nature, and the fees which might be attached thereto. I am nevertheless disinclined to accept the missionary’s view that the diviners he describes deserve to go down as unscrupulous exploiters of a gullible Kinga countryman. A diviner’s clientèle would have been chosen from the full range of intellectual powers and sophistication represented in the Kinga people. In 1960 the diviner Pakipande was assured of respect wherever he went. He was no carnival trickster but a centre of expectation in any group. He hardly lacked the qualities of discretion and dignity. By all accounts in the actual practice of his profession he carried himself with incontrovertible authority. In compliance with his responsibilities as clerk of the Ukwama court in 1937-38, Tunginiye undertook to scrutinize the conduct of a local witchfinder, a woman who sold a sweet, curative medicine to anyone she identified as a witch. Unfortunately the medicine was credited with killing one woman and producing a miscarriage in another. The diviner Hikadiseku had a Pangwa assistant, Boimanda son of Mjoukalala. He took a half shilling for the medicine, which was his own preparation, sharing the returns with Hikadiseku. When she was questioned by Tunginiye she said, “I create rain and rid the land of


witchcraft.” She called on Lwembe and the entire Mwemutsi line by name, calling them gods who lived in her body. She said they gave orders for everything she did. “Their shadows [ imyitsitsi gyavene ] have built in me.” She divined by possession: first going into trembling, then falling down in trance, kicking the fire about as she thrashed (upsetting the onlookers) while speaking in tongues. Then she would achieve calm, sit up with gravity, and receive—now as embodying the whole princely line—honorific greetings from the assembly. The client would have explained his grievance earlier; now she communicated the gods’ answer. They were always of one mind. Hikadiseku divined by night or day and took clients from beyond uKinga’s borders, in constant procession. Should an accused witch deny guilt, the whole household was threatened with death. But Tunginiye found she had the Paramount’s support. “Hikadiseku would name her fee: your basin, your sheep, your cow—bring it! and she became very rich.” But when she had meat she would slaughter by night and in secret send a portion to the Paramount. “He received this as tribute. He had found by independent investigation that her claims were sound. His ancestors had chosen to build in her body.” I know of no other case in which so much power and legitimacy has been claimed by a self-sponsored diviner. In the 1930s the princely establishments at the court villages were greatly diminished by loss of their rationale in warfare. The royal isivaga [barracks] were fewer, smaller, and uncrowded—a function of the disappearance of imongo and the necessity all men faced of seeking to migrant labour, to earn the head tax which must be paid in East African currency. But the priestly establishment was more nearly intact. Its toleration of Hikadiseku seems to me a valid echo from precontact times. The style of the court villages had never been set by a closed, self-recruiting élite. In the isivaga the sons of the royal line avapapwa, despite the great size of a princely harem, were overshadowed by commoner recruits. In the same fashion, the priesthood was open to individual talent, whether by apprenticeship or co-optation. Still, so great a claim to power as Hikadiseku’s, a claim to be sole channel of communication with the reigning ancestors of the domain, could hardly have been lodged or accepted in precontact times. The exaggeration of the claim I take to have been a phenomenon of the disorganization of tradition. The case of Mwakanema, culminating at about the same time at the capital of Ukwama, illustrates the way sorcery can be credited with a part in political breakdown, complementary to the part it was conceived to have played earlier in building up Sanga power.


Mwakanema was younger brother to Mlambikyuma, the Paramount chief originally confirmed by the British. Mlambikyuma had been the boy called Dembademba for whom a regent was ruling in early contact times. Divination concerning deaths in the royal household gradually revealed that Mlambikyuma was under powerful attack by Mwakanema, who was out to destroy his house and take over the Paramountcy. The sorcerers employed in the attack were the most renowned in neighbouring uPangwa; defenders were the avanyivaha of the Ukwama court. The battle is said to have been drawn out over a long part of Mlambikyuma’s reign, with death after death in either house blamed upon the other. At last Mwakanema was defeated, being left altogether alone. None of his wives or their children survived. His medicines were seen to have met a superior power, which turned their withering potency back upon him. Though he himself survived both Mlambikyuma and that chief’s successor-son Suluvali, Mwakanema in later life had no expectation of power. In late midcentury Kinga culture I found him a withdrawn and bitter old man, representing defeated principles of conservatism and, as he came to be seen by the independent Tanzanian government, superstition. The long internecine struggle had seen the debilitation of orthodoxy at Ukwama, not its confirmation in the nominal victory of an incumbent Paramount. Unlike a factional schism in which the people must participate and political loyalties at least are sharpened, this was a falling out without popular drama, an acting-out, even as the people mainly saw it, of decadent values. The powers Kinga attributed to doctors like Pakipande, Hikadiseku, or the Pangwa sorcerers alleged to have been enlisted by Mwakanema were of the same order as those attributed to the priesthood. But because power was in the one case vested, in the other not, its circumstance and scope were different. A self-sponsoring diviner who once had begun to attract a significant clientèle must be ready to make peace with vested power. In the precontact culture this would have entailed a visit not from a clerk of the court but the avanyivaha themselves, accompanied by a band of armed guards. The only issue could be a tightening of ties to the centre. Powers attributed to a person (not an office) and going beyond what can be won through lore and medicines may be deemed transcendent in the Kinga world. Such were the powers of Lwembe and also of Hikadiseku. There are no medicines which will cause the gods to build in your body. The powers of the priesthood, on the other hand, must be conferrable. In this sense the relation between the doctor and the priest is that between charisma and its routinization, even though certain priests have always been personally ‘feared’. In unsettled


times prophecy is decentralized, and established power decides either to crush it or co-opt. On the whole, the strategy of the Sanga courts seems to have been co-optation. In this way, all the conferrable arts, however occult, known anywhere in the realm would eventually find their way to court to strengthen its establishment, while the non-conferrable arts as well would be subject to the court’s review and its expectations of tribute. We can’t know how many men of mystical power at a given court would have been recruited on a charismatic basis, and how many were local apprentice-heirs to the established avanyivaha . My incomplete information confirms, so far as it goes, the pattern one might expect: Sanga rulers in the manifestly newer (Eastern and Western) realms enjoyed less-established priesthoods than those of the older (Central and Northern) realms. But the fact that priests in any realm might live at a distance from the court village, never comprising either a community to themselves or an adjunct to the royal residence, expresses their independence of secular power as well as the autonomous character of their recruitment procedures. Although Kinga lore abounds in references to witchcraft rivalries, I got little specific information about times, names, and places. In an important sense witchcraft can always be the creature of politics, insofar as we are dealing with personal powers known but rejected by a political system strong enough to have co-opted it. In Kinga bush culture or, as one might say, in the politically disaffiliated view, witchcraft is only the dangerous aspect of a superlative human power. Who would not like to enjoy the scope of the untwa [lord]] or unkuludeva [prince] who has but to point a finger—a sight no man wants to see—for some troubled wretch to wither and die? Or who would not like to fly as a fireball cycling through the air, master of the night? Who has not played at possessing the diviner’s rod which flies up of its own force to strike the guilty and drive him off like a jackal? Kinga were from childhood witness to the impotence of their kind in face of disease and accident, pestilence and deceit. Magical power was the universal antidote. Being private it must be two-valued—one man’s helpmate is another’s peril. What if Mwakanema had triumphed? He would have been Paramount, with all the legitimacy that implies. The moral of the witchcraft tales is not immanent justice. As we view electricity the Kinga view magic, uvuhavi . No one supposes those who benefit from power are ipso facto good or that lightning only strikes the wicked. But when a political system co-opts certain men of power it necessarily disestablishes others who had opposed them. Or to put the matter in another frame, as political


power centres emerge, tending to claim authority in all spheres of life, private power is forced underground. It is a complication of all this but hardly a contradiction that uvuhavi remained attractive, being seen in the perspective of bush culture, in 1960. The baraza , the native court in the colonial scheme, was an assembly for judging civil disputes and offenses, a court whose British-style, categorical condemnation of witchcraft belief merely discountenanced it, offering no antidote. In 1860 the court perspective was firmly expressed in its powers of summary execution. How many avahavi [witches] once found out were actually put to death we are not to know. How many were found, under what conditions, and of these how many would have been subjectively guilty remains just as obscure. What is clear is that witch-finding was an instrument of Sanga expansion and must have recreated over the centuries the profile of the witch it would find. A ‘doctor’ in the sense I use the term is first a finder and publisher of hidden truths, only derivatively a curer. ‘Witch-doctor’ or ‘finder’ applies then to one of the roles a Kinga priest [ unyivaha ] would be called on to play. The unteketsi or celebrant roles may have been delegated in some cases to other individuals. But regardless of what informal division of specialties there may have been within the college of priests, since the strength and structure of the establishment always varied over time and with local conditions, the avanyivaha constituted a close-knit profession on a culture-wide basis. ‘Priest’ has seemed appropriate on that account, in that individual identities were subordinate to a system of roles or offices; and if ‘priest’ also implies the possession of public sanctioning authority the term is the more appropriate. The fact that the sacra to which Kinga priests had exclusive access were in many cases conceived as medicines— dangerous but manipulable substances—may be said to qualify the Kinga religion as to its historical and ethnographic place. It is a religion which exhibits its kinship to sorcery. It is not therefore the less a religion, serving to define matters of ultimate concern. In the best translation I can offer, unyivaha means powerful one, officer. Sacredness is not implied. The priests were part of the court, sitting with others in the judgement of cases brought to it, differing from them in the ground of their claims to élite condition but sharing with them a generalized responsibility for the functioning of the court and the morale of the realm.


Autochthonous Lore—Immigrant Authority
The non-Sanga origins and identities of priestly lines all over Kingaland gave them a charter as watchdogs for what I have called the bush culture with its distinctly egalitarian values. This is to say that dualism at the level of culture was mirrored in a role-opposition at the level of power. In general, the result was that consensual decisions of the court represented a synthesis, the product of a frozen dialectic. Sanga principles called for an unmitigated pursuit of gain through cattle piracy; but the scruples of the priests produced a considerably mitigated final pattern. Sanga principles would have taken the young men out of farming; but priestly coordination of planting for each of the main traditional crops meant that all the men could be returned to the fields for the predictable season of intensive labour without jeopardizing the defense of the realm. Sanga values would have maximized tribute and feasting; but priestly concern with scarcity and the popular disaffection it could produce demanded moderation. Sanga values tended to legitimate arbitrary rule, but the same priestly concerns acted again for moderation. While I don’t mean to suggest daily life at the court nicely articulated itself as a clear-cut structural opposition, I think such ordering of thought and event had categorical importance warranting consideration. In the ordinary affairs of a community a Kinga priest had to look to his own rights and immunities on the same basis as a warrior of the royal line or a man from the bush. The main line of segregation at the capital was that which set aside the prince, his harem, and his marriageable daughters. This was a line all commoners must recognize; and though a similar boundary was not to be found between commoner and umpapwa [warrior of the royal lineage], the privileged familiarity of a man who called a queen ‘mother’ and a princess ‘sister’ set him apart. In this sense the underlying structure of court life was class—dominance and counterdominance. The role of the priest was to represent people to prince, not vice versa . Thus: The Classes as Culture Frames
noble..........commoner court custom...........bush custom manly vitality..........fertility of the fields pragmatism..........religious scruple ceremony..........ritual competition...........cooperation rank...........equality warrior..........priest


Such an alignment of cultural features helps to make clear why Kinga mythology attributes the civilizing mission, the introduction of fire, to autochthonous commoners not to the immigrant rulers. Kilimba, the founding prince at Ukwama, ate raw meat until he was taught by a traveller from Mavindi (southeastward, now in uPangwa) the art of making fire with log and drill [ ikivanyina n’ululindi ] and again the art of burying brands in their ashes to keep overnight. In the myth, the symbol of Kilimba’s special power is the bow and arrow, said to have amazed natives of these hills. For hunting the small game which then abounded there, arrows were far better suited than the spear. The bow is also a formidable weapon of war, when used with great skill. In the Kinga division of labour, fire is used by men for clearing forest land or reclearing fields which, under the prevailing swidden system, have reverted to bush. But the cooking fire is (by half-strict custom) in the domain of married women. There is an opposition here between ‘manly’ and domestic arts which illuminates one of the creative tensions at the heart of Kinga culture in the nineteenth century. The prince or lord alone among men was bound wholly to the heterosexual life; the priest with other officers of the court mediated between the prince, withdrawn in his harem compound, and ordinary men. But throughout the domain the strongest representatives of the ordinary man were householders who, having completed their bachelor service at court, had married (perhaps a princess, awarded for merit) and been rusticated to a greatly changed style of life, focally heterosexual and domestic. It is true that Kinga legend describes this rustication in martial terms—a favoured warrior is sent out to rule a new country, a new seat is established to the greater glory of the realm. Hence there is a sense in which a marriage should be understood as an elevation to nobility. A commoner receiving a princess in marriage becomes a Sanga, moving thereby from the status of subject to that of a petty ruler even while moving from the sexual condition of bachelor to that of married householder. Still in a broader view the move remains one of rustication. The court with its manly arts was undoubtedly the centre of a Kinga realm. High deeds were those of war, of dispute settlement, of ritual action. The hinterland was given to agriculture and domesticity. In the myth, Kilimba’s wives are away, as he is, when the traveller with the art of firemaking chances by, so it is a daughter of the prince who is taught the art and in turn teaches the Sanga men. In gratitude to the traveller who has so sweetened his meat, and in altogether fitting return, Kilimba gives him the girl in marriage. This may stand as


the primordial act from which the Kinga polity has been derived. We have a social contract by which the manly arts of the immigrant warrior-hunter and the domestic values of the autochthonous farmer are joined to form an expansive new society. In his study of the Shambaa kingship Steven Feierman finds that the king must be a ‘lion’ free to destroy the wealth of the countryside, or he will not be reckoned strong enough to guarantee its fertility. In Kinga myth the lion-king (Lwembe) was expelled from the land at the start of the social contract. Like the Shambaa founderhero Mbegha, Kilimba brings the strength of wildness to the order of domesticity; but for Kinga culture it is domesticity which predominates in the final synthesis.<<[lit] The priest installs and instructs the prince. Sanga legitimacy may be said to hinge on these functions, a presupposition being the absolute immunity of the avanyivaha from arbitrary action by the prince. Masonzo of Igumbilo domain (Eastern realm, 1963) explained:
The priests [avanyivaha] of this domain are of two lineages, unrelated. But that is not to say there are only two priests. The calling is hereditary, but two of my sons may decide to follow me. There have always been two or three priests or more attached to the court here. The untwa [lord] has no power to select these men, to limit their numbers, or dismiss them. If he should interfere, the avanyivaha would react as one man: they have the power to seize a bad chief and judge him, though they have no power to kill him.

Whenever Kinga priests talk of this right and duty to instruct a ruler they envision a fundamentally reasonable client who will be prepared to accept their counsel in good faith—one who could not conceivably reject the premise of moral authority upon which the priests as a group have acted. They argue always that the people will leave if mistreated, never that the people will rebel. The ruler, though he is headstrong, will respond to the persuasion of practicality and common sense, respecting the traditional wisdom of men who are constitutionally his elders.

Localism and Ambience
It seems plain to me that the foundation of the priesthood among the Kinga was the social fact that they could control the rain. Next to this, witch-finding looks like psychological fireworks, and the Lwembe cult was no stronger than its pageantry. While a 'priest' is correctly to be seen as a 'doctor' transgarbed, there is more to the


difference than shallow public acceptance. As 'doctor' a practitioner of magical rites is inevitably embroiled in interpersonal relations which will tend to generate private claims upon him, and require him to provide himself with private immunities. But rain or the want of it affects all farmers equally, and a 'doctor' who has once been credited with the power to control the rain—to endanger or to benefit the whole community as one—has by that fact been elevated to a status above the private. As broker for mankind vis-à-vis the source of all mortal danger, this is a doctor cast as the sublime prevaricator: if he won't send rain he can't pretend he can't. He deserves to be called a priest. Tunginiye was able to draw out Mwemutsi (XII) Suluvali on the subject of the rain shrine uluvya , producing the following document, which I give in fair translation:
The uluvya is a chest-high Kisi-made pot, comparable to a huge beerpot, and in it there are four small calabashes. One is for Unkuludeva Mwemutsi [Central realm], one for Untwa Mwalukisa [Northern realm], one for Untwa Kyelelo [Western realm], and one for Jumbe [Headman] Kiswaga [of Igolwa, old capital of the Eastern realm]. The uluvya was originally provided by a certain man of uKisi named Mwakadili, living in the village Lumbila. The uluvya [is the vessel in which] they mix medicines and the blood of a black sheep. The meat is for the officiants, of whom there are four, to consume, and they must finish it completely. Outsiders are strictly forbidden to eat the meat. Inside those calabashes there are special pebbles which were put there by that man of uKisi in ancient times. They were originally collected from the sea. Should there be one calabash which has disappeared, then the officiant priests will have word brought to the ruler (Mwemutsi) to this effect. ‘One of the rain-things has escaped, it is gone from the uluvya.’ Of course the ruler will tell them, ‘Ye must continue to search it out until ye have got it back.’ Only a short while later they will bring news to the effect, ‘Lo, the rainthing has returned of its own accord and has been found in the uluvya.’ Then the ruler will offer beer, cooked meal, and meat, so that all feast well and are glad.

The initiation of the rain sacrifice is as follows:
The chief wife of the ruler [unkuludeva] will stir up a small amount of eleusine (finger millet) beer, mixing in with it some well-pressed-out castor beans in her own calabash. At length she will tell the unkuludeva that the beer is ready, and the ruler will call together the same officiants, saying, ‘The time is come for ye to make the rain sacrifice.’ Then the officiants will take the special beer from the royal wife, putting a tiny bit in each of the four calabashes inside the uluvya. Next they will sift out about the amount of one cooking bowl from the ruler's sacred finger millet, putting it on a special shard. Then they will remove the four calabashes and pour from them over the millet grains which are lying on the shard, taking them out to


the place of the eleusine garden known as ilyagano lya’nkuludeva to be planted in the special mound prepared there. The season is November, and that very day the rains will pour down. Upon this the ruler will tell the officiants, ‘Now ye must see to it the people all begin to plant their own finger millet.’ ‡‡

Tunginiye felt Mwemutsi had spoken freely, telling what he knew on the subject, and I think we can accept that the ruler would ordinarily know little more that his own side of such transactional formulae. In any event, Mwemutsi's account is characteristically dry and cursory. From the point of view of the agricultural community the whole significance of the rain shrine was practical, and there was a clear understanding that weather control depended on crucial acts of cooperation between the royal household and the priests of the realm. Evidently, prohibitions on planting before the signal was given from the capital were taken seriously at least by farmers near the court village. The supposed penalties for a breech included an automatic failure of your crop. But the information I was given by actual officiants in the rain sacrifice tended to emphasize not the political-agricultural functions of the cult but what we may call the implicit theology of it. It is difficult for me to assess (since the cult was languishing by 1960) how far I had been able to penetrate secrets simply by inquiring into them. But Syenemwaka's enthusiasm for his subject was unmistakable and derived from a professional involvement, not the sort of personal mystique Pakipande, as a self-sponsoring diviner, had had to cultivate. Syenemwaka was officiant of the (minor) rain shrine in Lupila domain, Eastern realm:
The rain shrine is only found when you have come to the innermost part of the sacred wood, a place dangerous to everyone, even to me. Every week without fail an officiant must enter to inspect the shrine, seeing that all goes well. On these occasions he performs no sacrifice, but each month when the moon has waned away there will be a celebration with beer, a gathering for sacrifice. If we failed to sacrifice the weather would go awry. When the rain has been too abundant this is what we do: There are two pots, one of great size and one smaller. In them are kept the ing'ala—round, black pebbles which generate their own moisture. One is male, the other female. In the dry season they are gestating, in the rainy season lo! there are four. The two have reproduced their kind. To control excessive rain the officiant removes (say) two of the four stones from the greater of the pots, putting them in the smaller. They must be carefully covered, for they want to run away, having wills of their own.


When the rainstones run away, as soon as this is discovered, all the officiants will be called to search and recover them. For this you need a black sheepskin bag. As you find the stones you stow them safely away. Only the children run away, the parents have not got the same wilfulness. When there is thunder and lightning over the country you know the parents are beating the children, and you may expect the children soon to run away again. These pebbles are simply called isula [meaning rain or rain-thing]. The officiants may fail to find the children and must consult a diviner to learn how they are to be recovered. If the children were truly lost the rain would inundate the land, and it would split apart. This is the reason for the upheaval only this year in the Western realm [a landslide which took a number of lives], and for many such an event which is remembered in this domain. The true reason for keeping the shrine under such close watch is that we must know, when the rains have begun, how many children have been born to the parents in the greater of the pots. Perhaps there are five—too many, the number must be cut down. You place the surplus children in another pot, which you must keep covered with a black sheepskin. In fact, there may be many such smaller pots to accommodate all the surplus children. The parents came from uKisi many generations ago and they are the self-same stones. You cannot go and get more if they should be lost. But the children are trying to return to uKisi. That is why they are forever running away. Now when that happens, when the children really disappear from the sacred wood, all the officiants must take a beer basket filled with millet (or bamboo or eleusine) drink to uKisi. The great rainmakers of that country are called the avasusi (singular unsusi = stirrer of water). They must concelebrate with the party from this domain of Lupila in doing sacrifice down by the lakeshore. In ancient times it is true the avasusi journeyed up to our country as well, but since the British years this has not happened.

At Igolwa, old capital of the Eastern realm, tradition holds that Ngotwilwe, founder-lord of Lupila domain, departed from the capital some few generations ago, accompanied by three or four avanyivaha [ritual specialists]. At Igolwa though not at Lupila the specialists in 1960 were all of one commoner lineage, Tave. Their information was that Syenemwaka always had been the understudy of one Sanavule, who had died recently and remained unsucceeded. The office was in process of eroding away. While Sanavule lived he was yearly called to sacrifice at Igolwa shrine. This means that his office was recognized as filial to the priesthood of the old realm's capital, in spite of a general reluctance on the part of Lupila domain to recognize the junior standing implied. The priests at Igolwa said, 'His sacrifice at Lupila is the small one, the great one is here.' (It is also true that initially they wanted me to believe that no rain shrine at all was to be found at


Lupila.) But the yearly sacrifice to which they refer is one which required Sanavule's attendance. He brought prestations, including a special hoe, to the Igolwa shrine. Following Sanavule on that journey would, I believe, take us onto the second level of priestly activity associated with the sacred groves, which are found in each domain but are tied like the ruling houses by a network of filial obligation. At the primary level of ritual organization each shrine is autonomous. It is the agency of first resort when there is trouble—most often, concern about the crops—in the country. The metaphorical drama of the rainstones connects each domain separately to an external centre or mystical authority in (for the Eastern realm) uKisi. The language of the rainstones is clearest when we have in mind the condition of the mountain farmer at the height of the rains. Every stream has become a torrent. The rivers are impassable, rushing headlong down to uKisi. In simple fact, every domain is isolated from its neighbour by this rush of water, by the difficulty and discomfort of travel, and by the necessity of devoting one’s self to one’s cultivations in a time of riotous growth. The undisciplined fertility of the shiny black pebbles in their great round pots is an adequate objective correlative for the face of nature in this season. The elemental forces which have been unleashed have as their backdrop the inscrutable laws of nature, which we conceive in terms of gravity, convection currents, or the molecular nature of water and air, but which the Kinga refer not to natural but supernatural agents. The priests, in their mediating role, confirm the reality of an ordinary man’s removal from the true sources of power over nature, but do so without presenting the case as hopeless. Within the sacred grove itself, the relation between the priest and the errant rainstones comes to model man’s struggle to survive, to exploit the great energies of nature, armed only with human knowledge and with the recognition of a power greater than man’s own. But the rain shrine, contained in its Kisi-made pots, comprises only a part of what is housed in the sacred ark [ inyumba imbalatse ] in the grove kept by the priests. The other sacra are such as to bind a domain into the Sanga political system, sustaining the translocal identity of being Kinga.

Gardens, Boundaries, and Antidotes
What it means to be Kinga derives essentially from the political-ritual transformation of bush culture. In its more secular


aspects, I have identified this shift with the institution of the Sanga court. The less-secular aspect of the same historical transformation stands out when the Kinga is contrasted with its neighbouring cultures to the south and north. Setting aside late-precontact incursions of (respectively) warlike Ngoni and lowland Sangu detachments, the Pangwa and Wanji represent the least-politicized cultures of the region which ethnography records. (The culture of the Mawemba is still and seems likely to remain undescribed.) Pangwa religion is discussed in exemplary detail by Hans Stirnimann in a work ostensibly devoted to the traditional economic life, and this description is generously complemented and amplified in his later work on social organization and ritual. The Pangwa share much the same, rather broad-vistaed, mountain environment as the Kinga of the Eastern realm, with whom their boundary remained even in 1960 a particularly open one, reflecting the persisting atomism, or localism of Pangwa social organization. Here (in my translation) is Fr. Stirnimann’s introduction to the role of the medicine specialist:
In itself ukuvanga [the medicinal art] is a neutral power, which in any instance according to the wish of the mkanga [doctor], with the help of visible instruments (medicines), can be made effective toward good or evil ends. People are convinced that, for example, one set of medicine men use healing remedies to help the sick, while another set can use ‘medicines’ to cause hailstorms and cloudbursts wherever they wish. Rainmakers are in the position with their ‘medicines’ to give the soil fertility, the land rain. Since harmful magic is not restricted in its scope to one particular lutanana [local descent group] but can propagate infertility and starvation without heed to boundaries, [this magic] is for the most part employed by ill-disposed foreigners, occasionally also on orders of an embittered kinsman.‡

This passage refers not to a barely remembered but a living world. To be sure, the traditional culture of the Pangwa was in process of supersession in the period (1964-1970) of the fieldwork; and the new generation of Pangwa farmers was not the source of Fr. Stirnimann’s patiently-gathered ethnography. But it is a reflection of the shallow quality of the political process sponsored in uPangwa throughout the colonial period that the most elemental concerns of the peoples, their health and well-being, remained untransformed. The colonial polity in uKinga was no less shallow, but the starting points for the two societies at the turn of the century were distinctly different. In uKinga the circulation of persons by the court made the importance of descent-group organization slighter. Emphasis on land-clearing expansion within the boundaries of a domain, bearing


with it the promise that a ruler would always provide fields for his followers, reduced individual land disputes to an innocuous level and made territoriality among the quasi-descent groups [ isikolo ] a politically manageable problem. But a condition of this secular transformation was a corresponding shift of responsibility in religion from ikikolo [lineage] to ikilunga [domain and realm]. The improbability of achieving clean separation between the political and religious levels of collective concern, which is to be felt even in the least-sacerdotal industrial societies, is overwhelming in such microcultures as the Kinga or Pangwa. ‘Ultimate concern’ as a theological concept is sometimes taken to mean ‘concern for matters transcending the present and practical’; but if a religion is not concerned with health, religious concern with life and death is by so much diminished. A religion not concerned with material security is by so much the less relevant to the handling of human anxiety. A religion without Angst is one without its antidote. Obversely, a political system which in the Pangwa or Kinga contexts commanded only loyalties independent of the religious would not enjoy much sway. ‡‡ Available sources on the Wanji are not adequate for making a comparison of their religion with the Pangwa. But a certain light was thrown on Wanji cultural organization when colonial authorities in the 1950s found that socially disruptive, ‘primitive’ practices persisted. By 1960 a number of Wanji men and women had been rusticated to a neighbouring tribal area nearer the Njombe District boma for implication in a cult (of long standing) which was alleged to prepare garden medicines laced by soft parts of the human body, collected from unwilling donors. A segment of the Wanji population had been terrorized, according to official information at the boma, by a recrudescent sodality of homicidal witches, the dreaded wanyambuda. For us the interest in the affair is that the cultists clearly were not and never had been politically connected. They were neither established nor disestablished, sheltered by the secular powers nor condemned. A cult which was believed to be victimizing the few to benefit the many, but which itself comprised a non-élite secret society of only a few members, if it had been found in a properly Kinga domain, would have signaled a complete breakdown of the Sanga court culture there. Real or imaginary, we are dealing here with a ‘bush’ institution in such a case. What had led to the official rustication of the suspected wanyambuda from uWanji was a series of earnest complaints to the boma by kinsmen of recent victims. So far as the boma knew, the Wanji were subject to the Kinga Paramount and shared an identical political structure. The subtleties of local political difference, the distinction of a court from a bush culture, had not entered the ken of the colonial


powers. The boma , in short, never supposed that local headmen or chiefs would have any effective way of coping with such a cult. Yet the traditional religious practice of the Sanga courts entailed human sacrifice in behalf of garden medicines, for which the victims were taken by stealth and violence. The Germans had easily suppressed this practice through the established (and quickly co-opted) system of political authority they had found in being. It was a system to which the doctor-priests were explicitly accountable. It is this nexus which Wanji and Pangwa specifically lacked. Both the Wanji belief in the efficacy of living human victims and the Pangwa belief in maleficence behind bad weather are significant elements of traditional Kinga religion. There is an as-yet obscured regional culture pattern of which these are only two particular facets. But in Kinga society the regional pattern is transformed through its incorporation into something like a ‘state religion’—having in mind that the state in question is radically segmentary in form, and that the phrase should not be made to borrow inappropriate meaning from the grander contexts in which it has more often been used. Certain peculiarities of the established religion of the Kinga emerge from a consideration of the way priests adapted the medicines of the bush culture for implementing purposes of the court. I shall discuss this under three headings: gardens, boundaries, and antidotes.
GARDENS. Fertility rites entailed medicines prepared at the rain-shrine uluvya and were associated with the crops Kinga consider to be their oldest. But at the hierachically basic level of Kinga religious organization, garden ritual was performed without the uluvya , which we must therefore associate with court culture as such. While this association does not necessarily imply that rainstones ing’ala and their special shrines are a late feature of Kinga culture, we can assume they represent a specialized ritual invention which was not part of the bush culture but developed and propagated by a Sanga-established priesthood. It is appropriate to consider first certain garden rituals as they were described for me at Maliwa, a Central Realm domain dependent on Ukwama for the benefits of a rainshrine but governing its own agricultural cycle.

At Maliwa court the avanyivaha are of a nameless lineage whose members, if required to give a descent group, will call themselves Sanga. They have always lived right at the court, constituting a tightly-knit group under the direction of a senior member known simply as unyivaha . Whereas the untwa [lord] normally remained in his stockaded compound the unyivaha walked the country representing


the lord’s wishes to the people. The unyivaha was also directly in command of the avanyakivaga barracksmen. Thus in his compact domain there was no division of function between secular and religious commoner-officers. On one level, the priests were the sole mediators between prince and people. On another level, the priesthood constituted the executive. If this overstates the case for the importance of the avanyivaha , it would be in respect to the administration of the law. The untwa in such a domain was in person court-convener for hearing civil disputes or sanctioning misdemeanours. But his task was to preside not decide. Procedure was governed by the assembled elders, among whom certain priests would be prominent spokesmen. In the trial of a witch, priests would manage the ordeal and, in the event, execute the lord’s sentence. A ruler might (but need not) be strong-willed and directive. The part of the priest must be to complement the ruler’s personality. But the responsibilities of the avanyivaha remained very general. the title of unteketsi [officiant at sacrifice] was thus an understatement of the priest’s role— unyivaha [big man] was just. A well-featured grainfield at the court was set aside each year for the tributary crop of bulrush millet uvupemba which Maliwa would send to Mwemutsi at Ukwama. The field was called ilyagano lya’nguluve [field of the primal ancestor] or otherwise ilyagano lya’Mwemutsi the field consecrated to Mwemutsi. The planting and harvesting of this field were ritually safeguarded pilot operations, upon whose successful realization uvupemba gardens throughout the domain might be planted/harvested with confidence. By 1960 the ritual and collective discipline associated with this royal garden had been reduced almost to gesture: in the ‘very, very early morning’ a small group comprising the oldest men and women of the community would go out to the royal field and formally go through the motions of clearing, preparing, and planting a single mound (a very small fraction) of the millet garden. Then the group would offer beer, and when that was consumed the unyivaha would announce to the community that uvupemba was ‘released’ [ ukutavula ] for planting. The royal field by 1960 was actually being tilled by ungovi [collective labour] along with ordinary fields. What had once been god’s little acre had become the private care of the surviving unyivaha . Formerly, the ritual and its safeguards had been considered crucial to the welfare of the domain and were undertaken with high seriousness. The traditional significance of the single mound (which used to be cleared, tilled, and planted secretly by night) was that the sown seed must actually sprout before the crop could be released to the people. That is, before any ordinary uvupemba garden could grow, a manifestly miraculous or


spontaneous growth of uvupemba must be discovered in the sacred field—a sign. The secret participants were first the avanyivaha themselves, to clear; then a few of the oldest women of the court, to sow and cultivate. When the first sprouts were confirmed the ingalape [trumpet] of the court was sounded from the hills, calling all the avapapwa [agnates of the ruling house]—in Maliwa they were settled at a distance—to bring in a work force to clear and plant the remaining mounds of the royal garden. All this took place in the season for starting uvupemba , which is January, in the thick of the rains. The season for harvesting this crop comes in Maliwa at the height of the cold-dry season, in August. First the avanyivaha will harvest the initiatory mound, taking the millet for seed, which will be kept safe from vermin in a crock in the sacred wood, to be sown January next. Then the citizens who have tilled the royal garden will harvest it and carry the grain in isitovu [small measuring baskets woven of grass] and isidoto [plaited baskets of bushel size] to the prince at Ukwama. The party will number some fifty men, women, and maidens—a basket is carried in balance on the head, and this is an art no man has mastered. The distance is a little over ten kilometres by a reasonable path. But the procession is not undertaken in the usual exuberant spirit, as the burdens must never be set down, and greetings along the way are disallowed. At the prince’s court the party is rewarded by the gift of a bullock for slaughter and beer enough for a feast—gifts which are taken back to Maliwa for celebrating there. The beast is slaughtered at the house of the unyivaha charged with keeping the sacred field, and it is he not the untwa who is the host at the ensuing feast. Throughout the times of clearing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting the sacred uvupemba the untwa stays secluded, getting news of the work but shunning any part in it. The fertility of soil and of a man’s loins do correspond but only as values which, though equivalent, bear opposite signs. ‡‡ Although I have styled the first sprouting of the secretlyplanted uvupemba of the initiatory hillock as manifestly ‘miraculous’, Kinga generally attribute the wonder to medicines. This is not to say they perceive the secret performances of their priests as mechanical magic, for medicines are not classed as merely inert devices of man. Medicines are entities of opaque nature, operating in a field imperfectly known. Mwambokela, in his account of garden rituals at Selemba’s capital, the court centre for the Mahanzi domains, described how the sacred seed eleusine is mixed with medicines from the uluvya and with beer at the planting:


We say we shall try it to see if all is well. This is the reason for planting secretly by night. It is later the permission will be given everyone to start. Anyone who plants before the ritual sowing has succeeded will get no crop at all. Of course there can be no feasting, as only we priests [ avateketsi ] are in the know. Between the secret planting and the appearance of the grain we make only secret sacrifices in the sacred wood. Each year we have had to prepare new medicine for the rainshrine, the seed is mixed in and poured out for planting, but until we see it sprout we dare give no sign to the others. These others will be saying, ‘Why does the priest not burn the ilyagano ? Why does he delay so? The rain will come and spoil the fields before they are burnt!’ On his business a priest at this time talks to no one. It is taboo to greet him on the path. We must complete our reading of the signs and know that all is well.

In the case of Maliwa the consecrated millet was uvupemba for the good and practical reason that uvuletsi [eleusine], which all agree was the original millet of the Kinga people, did not thrive near the Maliwa court. The other domains of the Central realm, and those beyond it for which I have information, focus on the ritual cultivation of eleusine. This exception in the case of Maliwa, together with the rather variant local customs connected with other crops (roots and pulses), bespeak both the prevailing localism in Kinga culture and its tolerance of diversity. Kinga show a sensible resistance to closure in religious matters. I reckon this as a feature of the philosophical foundation of the Kinga priesthood and its special achievement in building, on the basis of avowed localism and in face of inveterate enmities, a cosmopolitan pattern of ritual exchange and cooperation. The Sanga royal courts were linked by what might be called an appellate system of sacrifice. Elders at Lupalilo (Northern realm) had the rule that if local efforts to bring rain were not successful after three days, a messenger would go to Ukwama (Central realm). There a day would be planned for a sacrifice which priests from each of the four realms must attend. Ilevelo, considered as a lesser domain of the Northern realm and lacking an uluvya [rainshrine], was in a position relative to Lupalilo (or the former capital Uhugilo) paralleling that of Maliwa in relation to Ukwama. The belief was that the proper ritual planting of uvuletsi in the consecrated garden would be sufficient, if all was well, to bring the rains on at the right time—once the gardens had been made ready. But where is a community with a persisting consensus on the weather? There was always ground for anxiety. An appeal to higher ritual centres was seldom made without the manifest rationale of settling unrest. Eleusine marks what is func-


tionally the new year, the start of the rains in November, before which the fields have been cleared, the organic material piled up for drying, and the fields finally fired. Ritual concern for uvuletsi stands for a diffuse anxiety about the renewal in nature on which the human community absolutely depends. Any dramatically convincing procedures for dealing with such public anxiety, provided they filled in the needed length of time, would have served a clear purpose. It could be quite wrong to suppose that Kinga thought ritual was needed to bring the change of seasons. The annual cycle was conceived to be as natural as the diurnal or the mensual. But the rains are never quite the same from one year to the next, Kinga kept no exact calendar, and no agricultural year will ever be without its tribulations. Disasters were long remembered. A wise man may take a confident or a pessimistic posture at the new year, but only a fool can be secure. Garden ritual here is legitimating that confident posture which tends to smooth a way forward even when crops clearly are in danger and more is to fear than fear itself. The priest, once he has claimed special knowledge, knows his vulnerability and the need for visible ritual. Semani, an ebullient man with enthusiasm for everything quintessentially Kinga, and an inexhaustible source of magic lore, insisted on the efficacy of initiatory garden rites. The most ancient Kinga rootcrop ing’ing’i , which the Germans called ‘original Kinga potatoes’, is set in long mounds running down a gentle slope, prepared in the dry season and fired in September. (It looks like an icicle radish and can be digested raw, but tastes bland.) In the Northern realm such a garden is the joint enterprise of a local group and comprises a mound or row for each household participating. Each in turn, following the lead of the untwa , will sponsor an ungovi [work bee], offering a pot of eleusine beer. “Even though it is the dry season,” Semani announced, “when the fire has got to the bottom end of the ruler’s mound, that very day it will rain. Absolutely.” Semani’s praise of magic reflected as much his natural salesmanship as his credulity. He was one who preferred to deal in absolutes where others might hedge. Kinga ritual did not any more than ours sink or swim on the basis of instant results. Each level of ritual was thought to be effective in itself, yet known to be less sure, in face of difficulties, than the next level of appeal. As root crops are not harvested all at once but kept in their mounds until needed, there is no celebration or discipline at harvest. Only in the case of millet is the ruler’s party required to lead each operation in the cycle—clearing, firing, planting, weeding, harvesting. At harvest a small calabash of the consecrated grain must first be


taken, brewed, and offered to the forbears of the untwa . But the general harvest does not wait upon this sacrifice, which is private and represents the first direct participation of the untwa in the agricultural cycle. The ‘release’ of eleusine for harvesting is accomplished by the unyivaha . He takes a little pumpkin grown according to traditional practice, in the same mound with the millet. He cooks this together with a few ing’ing’i , chews the food and spits it ceremonially in all directions. The whole community should be assembled for this ceremony, after which they disperse to their fields for the harvest. Garden medicine is mixed with the seed in ritual planting, and commonly consists in eleusine beer [ uvugimbi ] with specially added ingredients. Privately, garden medicine may be employed in secret to enrich one’s own crop at the expense of others’. This amounts to uvuhavi [witchcraft], at least from the point of view of a selfconceived victim. The fluid medicine amakwego is prepared in secret by an individual who steals out well beforehand while the gardens are still in a preparatory stage. He will plant a very small part of his own garden, mixing his seed together with the medicine and bits of dirt taken from the neighbouring gardens. Then he (or as it may well be, she) proceeds ostensibly to till the garden and sow it in the usual manner. The witchcraft is only to be known later on when it is seen that among the several equally favoured fields only the one has flourished. After allowing for the fact that the ungovi custom of collective work on a mutual basis does much, when neighbours are on good terms, to allay suspicion, a measure of the success of Sanga court culture is the extent to which priestly garden ritual pre-empted and supplanted such private efforts to manipulate chthonic forces. The witchcraft idea belongs to a set of premises which predisposed Kinga to view private success within the frame of ‘limited good’. Solid standing as an agent of public trust—what we call ‘office’—alone bestowed the power to transcend that zero-sum calculus. ‡ Some agricultural societies at a comparable stage of social evolution develop a form of chiefdom far more tyrannical than Kinga did, because all power comes to be centred in a single, awe-inspiring office. The man who alone stands above the envy of his fellows is transfigured by envy’s little brother, adoration. The standing of the Kinga priests allowed them to cultivate the use of ritual and medicine, even medicines entailing human sacrifice, without becoming hated or adored. Their power to check and balance the princeship was expressed each time the prince must turn to them on account of their medicines. The priests must grow the prince’s millet, which in turn (transformed as beer) is the universal ingredient of all garden


medicine. The prince himself cannot thus beget food and has for himself no access to medicines. There is no need to invoke economic determinism to make the point that rain and garden ritual were the foundation of priestly power. The people’s own livelihood was understood to hinge on the success of a priest in bringing seed to life each year, and he was not begrudged the powers and immunities which enabled him to do it. On the other hand, the priest’s own dependence on medicines for power was well understood; and it was known that the medicines were too dangerous for a priest to keep on his person or hide in his hut. Apart from his office and access to the sacred ark, he was not fearsome.
BOUNDARIES . Medicine is used in three ways in connection with

boundaries: in magical crop-theft, in fortifying a frontier, and in strengthening warriors to break through such a fortified boundary. The medicinal preparation amakwego which is used to increase the yield of your seed at the expense of your neighbours’ is only discovered by its effect. Though the plant sources are not generally known they are believed to be fairly common. The art is said to be taught to a child by its mother, with the result that its geographic distribution is unpredictable. In fact, I found no one willing to cite any local case. I take it that the real amakwego, if it could be found, would be understood by its owners to be a family charm, a sort of gardener’s talisman. There are thus two myths, for insiders and outsiders. Regarded as an outsider myth, the belief in amakwego can be said to reinforce two motivational patterns: (a) When Kinga are exceptionally successful in gardening, compared to many neighbours, they will sense their own vulnerability. Perhaps they will evince especially friendly feelings toward their neighbours and be careful not to flaunt their wealth. (b) Though the sense of private property in one’s fields may be residual when the land is lying fallow, it will become intense and even jealous when one is deep in the labour and expectation of gardening. I know of no use of protective medicines by private persons to bound their own fields against natural hazards or amakwego . Stirnimann in his thorough study of garden rituals and medicines reports none from uPangwa. The main expression which throws light on the actor’s view in this is the verb ukudinda [Pangwa: uxudinda ], which is used of protection by medicines and rites. The word means to close, lock, or seal shut. Its converse ukudindula means to open or unlock. The simplest object would be a box or a house—something with a readily defensible interior. By extension the word refers to a social circle, a community. Medicines are known to protect house and family, byre


and herd, country and polity. In all of uKinga I only once saw a field fenced (against goats), and I think it is generally regarded as impracticable. A field’s boundaries are ruled, hardly ever naturally given. There is no bounding substance as there normally is (a stream, a cliff, a ridge) for a country [ ikilunga ], and the contents of a field, the objects of value there to be protected, are removable and soon enough in the normal course of events taken away. ‡ Apart from these cognitive premises there is a complex strategic calculus. To demand private protection would be to admit political failure, as if to cry aloud, “Ye/we are all witches here!” The dependence of Kinga and Pangwa farmers on collective measures of crop protection, worked on politically bounded territories (isilunga ; Pangwa inana— sing. lutanana ) not private holdings, seems to be fundamental. If there was justification, as some still concede, for Malinowski in treating Trobriand garden ritual entirely under the rubric of magic, it is because the unit of protection was the private garden. In the Pangwa case, gardens are protected by medicines which seal the collective lutanana boundaries against hunger, pestilence, and disease. While persons not of the proprietary lineage may not take the principal roles in these extensive rites, they are manifest participants and beneficiaries. This means that the rites only provide protection against outsiders, and outsiders not in the restricted sense of lineage strangers but in the territorial sense of persons not enclosed by the protective boundaries of the polity as and when ritually drawn. Here, in a form which would have warmed the heart of Professor Lowie, who found it lurking in unexpected places, is the territorial tie at the heart of the political. But since boundary rites and medicines must treat the polity as integral they do not protect a person from near neighbours—from witchcraft [ uvuhavi in both languages] or the antisocial use of medicines [Pangwa: uvukanga ]. These are threats internal to the polity. ‡‡ The management and control of dissension is the generic project of politics. But when a grievance system encodes transgressions in mystical terms, trouble cannot be brought to the surface without breaking the communion from which religious ritual takes its strength. The inner circle to which, when that break takes place, a person must fall back for support may be little more than a fragmentary kin group whose boundaries are ill-defined. The Nyakyusa hold that “quarreling weakens medicines of all sorts and renders them ineffective.” In consequence, to restore the supposed source of their collective security, they must be prepared to banish an individual offender, whatever ties of kinship and amity need be broken to do it.


Their political struggle is to maintain amity in the village and chiefdom. Quarreling is distinguished from warring by just those boundaries. The use of medicines in quarreling leaves the parties stripped of the protective clothing the priests’ medicines weave. The Kinga case is in some measure parallel: a condition of grace is achieved for everyone or for no one. But the differences among these three neighbouring societies are also deep. ‡‡ This may be the proper place to draw a lesson from a fact we have learnt from the case of Mwakanema of Ukwama, that in a power struggle having resort to uvuhavi a Kinga royal who is conceived to have lost all his offspring and all his wives, until he is left standing alone, can be seen by his neighbours under the sharp light of poetic justice. Not many Kinga men have or aspire to have compound families. A man who deliberately sets out to build one for himself will be seen as expanding his social presence and probably as gaining political weight and aspiration in the process. It will not be surprising to see him coming into conflict with established power. But in the traditional culture of the Nyakyusa, domestic expansion is the normative moral strategy for every successful man in his later life: polygyny is the rule, and lends a man both wealth and power. Africa offers many examples of this dispensation, but also many of the quite different pattern which Stirnimann describes for the Pangwa. The ‘local descent group’ [ lutanana ] there is described as a veritable Gemeinschaft in which “political relations quite broadly coincided with kinship relations.” The Mwakanema tale fits neither of these neighbour cultures of the Kinga. Pangwa are seen to have a system which offers only the possibility of schism, the hiving off of a minor kinship segment, as a solution to internal strife. Nyakyusa, like the ancient Greeks, offer only banishment to the man who will set himself against the general will. If Kinga once were bound (as Pangwa are in the picture they gave Stirnimann of their tradition) to a comparatively rigid descent-group structure, the measure of internal mobility introduced by the Sanga transformation must be judged to have made a striking difference. From a sheerly theoretical point of view it is worth exploring. Nyakyusa and Kinga polities are alike in building their expansion only secondarily on predation beyond their outermost boundaries, primarily on warlike segmentary opposition within those ‘tribal’ boundaries. Pangwa, true to the more pacifist norms of the region’s bush culture, suppose that survival depends on keeping within the boundaries meant to protect one’s own kind. ‡‡ While we can’t be sure that Kinga bush culture had developed as full a system of local-territorial protection as Stirnimann reports


from uPangwa, it is not unlikely. No human community is actually as inflexible as its own tradition paints it—Kinga could still see themselves as a kinship society in 1960. A seminal feature of the Sanga court culture was the achievement of balance between prince and priest, such that each might embody a separate principle. The Pangwa mkoyo is lineage headman, active as a work leader and (presumably) in the past as warrior, while at the same time he is the highest authority on religious matters:
They see no contradiction, either, if the mkoyo of the lutanana, who is always the main officiant in the making of sacrifice, performs the duties of head medicine-man for the precincts of the lutanana and plays a leading role in the rituals of protection. In both functions he is serving the whole lutanana, both are to be traced back to the Founder, and on these functions depend the social rank, the prestige of the “great elder”. ‡

It is a consequence of the combination of this universalism (with reference to internal relations of the descent group) and the particularism of descent itself that the one political boundary in uPangwa is that of the localized and so-called agnatic group:
Mkoyo Ndumilila of Lihanjo vehemently repudiated the request that he make a common sacrifice for rain with the neighbouring lutanana Macheke: “How could I, the mkoyo of Mvanga group, sacrifice to the fathers of the Macheke? They know nothing of me. I am not their child! You can recite prayers at sacrifice only to your own ancestors.” The idea of a universal power of the mahoxa [ancestors], which could extend beyond the precincts of the lutanana, is wholly foreign to Pangwa religion. ‡

Pangwa share with Kinga the ingimo (Pangwa: ing’imo, a plural form) medicine of defiance. The mixture is kept in an iron rod whose length is from a man’s elbow to his opposite palm, arms outstretched, and into the top of which has been fashioned a small medicine horn. The peculiarity of the instrument is that the celebrant can blow medicine from it while it is firmly thrust into the ground at a boundary. Though Kinga use the ingimo in war, they compare it to a woman’s walking stick not a spear. The horn is blown in the manner of a panpipe, producing a sensible vapour. Pangwa conceive the rod to have quite general protective powers because the medicine [ilihomelo ] will spread darkness in the way of an approaching storm, a swarm of locusts, epidemic illness, or a human enemy. ‡ Kinga, though they favoured the view that major tribulations were sent by Lwembe and required propitiatory action, also had faith in the use of magical weaponry against any sort of threat from without. Their ingimo, however, was pre-eminently the one set aside for war, ingimo ija’ligoha . Tunginiye made careful inquiries at Ukwama,


finding that this rod with its medicines was kept in a proper storage vessel in the sacred grove, under the keeping of a specially-recruited warrior-priest. This man must have proven himself first in war as untenzi [hero] and only then might be selected by the avanyivaha to be apprenticed in the new calling. The major rule was avoiding contact with the ingimo while in a sexually soiled condition. For the Kinga this meant the prince, whose destiny was never to escape that condition, must have nothing to do with the very medicine horn by which, as all were convinced, his hold on power was maintained. It is thus the power balance was struck. In war between realms one ingimo inevitably must be pitched against another, the relative virtues of their compound medicines being measured by the result. “We have advanced our ingimo to the farther stream!”—such would be the claims. Yet the warrior-priest who carried the medicine is pictured as keeping well to the rear of the fighters, one hand ever covering the medicine for fear of mischief. In a well-prepared war defensive boundaries will have been drawn during the night by priests on either side. Kyelelo (I) Ntowanilo is said to have suffered his one ignominious defeat (and a grueling night in a Mahanzi woman’s millet bin) because he neglected to prepare his ritual defenses. He was overconfident. But at the battle of Iboma everyone saw how one ingimo can overpower another. Iboma was a sparsely settled area of Mahanzi farmers into which Kyelelo (II) Ndunginiye (or as some say, his father) moved to establish a stockaded village. He was attacked by Vululile, who saw his own medicines overpowered and was driven back. Vululile’s warrior-priest Kyakunzi himself unwittingly crossed Kyelelo’s magical boundary and was killed. The reason for the priest’s confusion was possibly that he failed to define the territory he was entering as enemy-held, regarding it as traditional Mahanzi country in which Kyelelo’s medicines could have no power. The general verdict after the fact was that he had miscalculated. Kyelelo had proved his strength. Vululile did not challenge him there again, though Mahanzi even in 1960 could still talk of their ‘captive’ compatriots at Iboma. The importance of the ingimo transcends that of the virtue medicines ingimo [plural form] used to prepare warriors for battle. These medicines were dispensed from an elephant tusk before a party was to set out from the court, the concentrate being infused in beer. This custom was not diagnostically Sanga. Mahanzi war medicines were also kept in an ivory horn which they called ingimo and which did not have a Kinga origin. But the same medicines (occasionally with new-found additives) were employed by Kinga priests to achieve the


clear definition of jurisdictional boundaries. Ritual sanctions here extend beyond the scope of the jural. The case of Iboma illustrates the operative principle. If the claims of the two sides are found to overlap, only the outcome of battle can be decisive. So war has become a superlative act of divination. Ordinarily the strategy of each side was to advance its claims only with great caution. The result of this was that warfare could be pursued within a sparsely settled noman’s land, rarely spilling over the inner lines of defense drawn by the priests. These lines, if long established, would be marked by tall stones placed at each turning point to commemorate an occasion on which the priests of both sides had assembled to settle a boundary under dispute. Each realm and domain remained, in keeping with the general pattern of the segmentary state, open or ill-defined as to boundary in any direction in which a chronic war policy was not maintained. This provided avenues of peaceful expansion through gradually more intensive settlement, backed by demonstrable power. Another source of flexibility was the expectation that when a reigning prince died his successor might choose to repudiate old agreements. It was the calling of the priest to make boundaries and perhaps by protecting the new prince tame him. But the priest’s calling was not to make the peace. He was only the broker, though not without influence. Poison [ unkali ] and antidote [ ikivyuka ] feature in private and in public life. In the traditional culture the favoured explanation for internal pain (of the sort I would ascribe to gastric disorder) was intentional poisoning. The experience of pain, evoking this diagnosis, was the more probable with advancing age and among men, who consume far more beer than women and are less regular in working it off. From the surface facts it seems that Kinga culture exhibits the same radical irony so noticeable in the social use of alcohol the world around, the manifest vehicle of good fellowship becoming the great source of dissension, magnified hostility, and Angst. What is characteristically Kinga, though, is that conflict should not explode but implode. Fantasies of victimization, attributing secret power to others, are preferred to fantasies of selfimportance. The dramatic meaning laid on Kinga princeship is not wholly heroic. The prince is also victim. The medicines prepared for him by the priests feed both personae.

The ordinary Kinga word for medicine [ untuguva ] may apply to healing or to otherwise active substances. It is untuguva you want to regain your potency or trap the affections of a maiden who will not notice you. The same category applies to those grotesque mail-order


wares from Johannesburg which are powerful enough to cause a man to conceive a passion for his own mother or sister, or which may be used to hang-up an adulterer like a dog so that the husband must be called to release him. It was a particular untuguva which enabled certain avahavi [wizards] in the past to appear in two distant places on the same day. Untuguva translates the Swahili dawa . The word ikingila is reserved for medicines of royal power, isingila sya’vutwa . Their purpose is fortifying and preventive. They are not cures, and the prince is not perceived as a healer—his person is dangerous. He is regarded as the natural object of hostility, if only because other men of power envy his wealth; and at the same time his well-being is thought to be essential to that of his people. In particular his continued sexual potency and the fertility of his wives are concerns of the people. His domestic life is a microcosm of the realm’s. At Ukwama it is said that the medicines [isingila ] used to be mixed in the skullcap of the Founder, Kilimba. I got two recipes and offer a composite, which I assume to have at least suggestive accuracy:

one small, jet black pebble [ ikisi ] one matching pure white pebble [ulutondwe “star”] a bit of crocodile skin, dried one leopard testicle, dried a quantity of leopard brain, dried a quantity of python faeces, dried other ingredients unspecified

The fact that I could be told these ingredients reflects the priest’s understanding that none of the medicines is truly potent in itself. The power is emergent. The effective operation was the mixing, or compounding, about which I know little. All the component medicines were ground to powder and made into a paste which was compressed in a bamboo mortar with the oil of black castor beans, the preparation being kept in a small calabash [ ikidili ] in the sacred wood. Of the ritual associated I know nothing. Since the operation was the collective responsibility of the avanyivaha of the pertinent domain or realm, and supposing they would be glad of any such means for solemnizing their estate, I assume it was dramatically performed and followed a suitably esoteric script.


The category isingila is extended to the medicines of a different sort kept in a horn or tusk [ ulusuga ] beside the calabash. These are medicines of power not protective antidotes, and are meant to energize the prince. The power they generate is that of fearsomeness not fertility, yet I was assured the medicines of the ingimo ija’ligoha [iron horn of war] were quite distinct. The isingila sya’vutwa are brought to the prince first at his inauguration. The priest says, “ Let’untuguva ugulimungata ndusuga lwa’tsungwa n’ugulimungata munkidili. Munywese . [(My helper,) fetch the medicine kept in the antelope horn from the special crock, and the medicine kept in the calabash. (My prince,) you are to drink.]” Thereafter whenever the prince feels indisposed, or when he dreams of being bewitched, he will call for the same medicines. Even in the best of times the priests will bring them twice a month to maintain, especially, the prince’s immunity from the witchcraft of his brothers, who are known to covet his power. Alye isingila syoloso— they repeat the formula: He has taken all the medicines. He is secure. Actually keeping the prince fearsome seems (from this) to have been a secondary concern. The special protective medicines of the princeship are shared with the umwehe umbaha [great wife] of the prince, for she has a central role in the garden ritual. But the particular mix of the ulusuga [for fearsomeness] seems not to have been shared either with her or with the warriors. Still, many of the same ingredients were used in preparing the warriors’ drinking horn. Even the python and leopard medicines may not have been absolutely reserved for the isingila at all the courts. The horn or tusk [ ingimo ], required to strengthen and protect men in battle, was necessarily the possession of every untwa [lord of a domain]. The horn would be in the keeping of priests not the ruler himself, and the potion made from its medicine was to be drunk by each of the assembled warriors on the morning of battle. The medicine is classed as ikivyuka [antidote] because it is wanted not for giving a man bravery, which is a moral quality he would not be without, but to protect him from the medicines of the enemy, whose pernicious effect could be to blind him or steal or paralyse his native courage—give him a dose of ersatz cowardice. Elders at Lupalilo said only their “big twenty” chosen heroes were given the war potion. Priests took beer into the ulusuva [small, leatherbound calabash] consecrated to this purpose, mixing in a very small quantity of the ingimo paste. In addition, the untenzi [hero] who wears the ulwanzisi [otterskin crown] in battle will be fortified by the same medicine rubbed into its inner surface. Mwemutsi (XII) Suluali told Tunginiye about the specific effect


of leopard medicines. I translate Tunginiye’s Swahili original:
The leopard is sacred because when it is killed the ritual specialists of the court must flay it with care, the skin being used to enthrone the ruler on the day of his inauguration. Further the brain matter must be removed from the cranium, for it is to be mixed with various royal medicines which are for the ruler’s exclusive consumption. Should it happen one day that someone provokes the ruler to anger he will roar savagely. That is when people say, “Ilelo unkuludeva amapigi gapikitwike, inogwa ukubuda umunu.” The meaning is, “Today the prince’s fearsomeness has been aroused, he wants someone to kill.”

This legitimation of the leopard’s powers in the person of the Sanga prince has to be understood in light of a bush culture belief in were-leopards, witches able to assume the form of a leopard and prey upon their victims directly, and wizards able to attract rogue males to a victim’s homestead by insinuating there some medicines made from the glands of a leopard female. Beliefs of this kind are general to the regional culture and help to explain the jealousy with which Kinga princes insisted on their monopoly right to leopards killed within the realm. It was pre-eminently this monopoly which gave the Sanga régime its regal trappings, and in turn on the level of public symbolism served to distinguish court from bush politics. Without its special medicines of power, it was said, the court’s authority would be lost, and society would revert to the relative anarchy prevailing at the margins of the Kinga world Mwanadyo, umpapwa [royal spokesman] of the Northern realm, considered that the most important medicine of the priests was ikivyuka [an antidote to divisiveness]. Success in war, he argued, was a function of the solidarity of one’s own people. Yet internal division always threatened. It was the major task of the avanyivaha of Uhugilo to travel the realm making peace within the isikolo [kin settlement groups]. The quarrels they must resolve were those among intimates, not to be expressed legitimately in outright fighting. The medicine, infused in a special calabash of beer, was taken by the priest into his mouth, then spat upon any who had been party to a quarrel. The whole calabash must be drained, and even the ruler, lord or prince, who had been embroiled in a dispute must submit. The rite was conducted in public even when it was the prince himself who had fought with a wife. It appears in this account that priests possessed a specific cure for ing’ani [dissension], though I can’t be certain when they would have turned away from this ‘psychiatric’ approach and more aggressively blamed internal strife on witchcraft or the malevolent use of medicine. Can an antidote [ ikivyuka ] be required to counter a danger


inherent in human nature itself? I think it more likely this rite was conceived as a cleansing and protecting act, perhaps even a sort of absolution. But I was not skilful enough with either Swahili or ikiKinga to engage Mwanadyo and his elders on the point, and Tunginiye (who was so quick to draw the right Swahili expressions from me) was not at hand. Similar questions about the nature of medicines and antidotes emerge from the use of medicines against disease, where the disease principle is directly addressed by the priest, quite in the manner a daimon [ unguluve ] may be addressed. Sunguluma, who was in 1960 the long established untwa of Bulongwa domain in the Western realm, said it was the business of the priests to visit any settlement troubled by deaths or disease and cleanse both place and people by cooking up a special medicine. The cooking pot was a large one, so big one arm would not span it, and was set up at the crossing of two paths outside the affected community. Each resident must bring seed, and this was cast into the boiling mix. When it was ready all must drink of it. A priest would take a leafy branch to sprinkle them as well. Householders would bring little calabashes to carry broth home to the children’s houses. The officiant poured the same medicine out along the paths away from the settlement, commanding that the troublesome disease take itself elsewhere. “Go to uPangwa!” or “Go to uWanji!” In this Sunguluma pictured the priests as mere servants of the community, obedient to its untwa . He was disinclined to attribute them special powers apart from their medicines and formulae. But this is neither the common view nor the priest’s own. The medicines correspond to valuable knowledge, and priestly utterances carry authority. We must put Sunguluma down as beholden to the new, secular dispensation under which he held power, and no longer to a set of pagan priests. I see no reason to suppose that in olden days they were mere midwives to the action of their medicines. Still I am left with a question: Were Kinga medicines enlisted to combat anti-life forces of the same order (i.e., natural compounds) or was the disease principle thought to have inherent intelligence—malevolence? The logic of the rituals, so far as I have grasped their meaning, is consistent with the view that diseases are, like locusts, animate but limited beings. Gods, having special knowledge, can manipulate them to men’s harm, and men should try to protect themselves in like manner, by godlike means. Stirnimann’s Mapanga informants (who regard themselves of Tweve lineage, which is important in the Eastern Kinga realm as well as in uPangwa) show that medicines, though contributing to the show of


authority with which a priest can address disease, do not themselves attack it. They are used to repair a circle of defense behind which the subject community is to find shelter. As Sunguluma’s officiants bade the troubling disease go to uPangwa, their Mapanga cousins bid theirs go to uKinga. That is, the disease like a visible cloud of locusts could be fought off by sealing one’s boundaries against it. This makes it clear how a single ritual, albeit employing many and compound medicines, can protect a community against pestilence, plague (or disease of any sort), and human enemies as well. In the rite of ‘sealing the country’ [Pangwa: xudinda umlima ] there is indeed use of the medicine ukwavusiki which casts a veil of darkness before an enemy’s eyes “so that he must turn back.” But this need not imply an anthropomorphic (over, say, an acridomorp h ic) notion of the enemy. In the rite, ukwavusiki is used untactically, without the pretense of an active threat. This medicine like the others repairs and strengthens a boundary. The aim is intactness, defense not counter-attack. Monica Wilson writes of Nyakyusa political-ritual ideas:
The shades, medicines, and witchcraft are distinguished and are thought to operate independently, but they are all manifestations of a mystical power which is logically one, though none of our informants saw it as that. ‡

That is, the web of religious thought has no obvious seams. I believe the logical connection between medicine and witchcraft or ghosthood is less than identity, all the same, whether in Nyakyusa or Kinga culture. I find no evidence that protective medicine can be simply used to neutralize the working of an opponent’s destructive medicine. Ghosts manipulate the world in a manner men (even when armed with sophisticated medicines) cannot. Medicine among the Nyakyusa as among the Kinga can be used to confer immunity on a man. We see this particularly in the protective medicines (K: isingila ; Nyakyusa: ifingila ) of the rulers. The same medicines confer special transitive powers as well. Throughout Southwestern Tanganyika medicines, local or imported, are employed in divining, exacting vengeance, releasing fertility, and enhancing the chance of success in a variety of private undertakings. In Nyakyusa thought there is identity between the medicines of chiefly power and witchcraft, as the case of Mwaipopo and Mandala shows. But the effect of the medicine is to give the possessor new powers, not to effect tangible changes in his relations with others. For his acts of will it is he and not the medicine which is accountable. While Kinga like Nyakyusa surely “regard medicines as an ultimate source of power” able to help a man accomplish anything other men have done, the important consequence of


this belief is its effect on the supposed distribution of power among men, and the moves by which a balance may be changed. Medicines are manipulable. Power achieved by their means is never more secure than conspiracies through which the secret lore of making it was acquired. Bought medicines, disingenuously used, are known to turn back on the buyer. In a radical sense power of this sort is political. ‡ There is not a great distance between the principle that power is known by its visible fruits and the principle that might makes right, but they are nonetheless obverse principles. Visiting Kinga priests told Kasitile, the Nyakyusa ritual specialist, that he was ailing because “they had not given him medicine,” and that in turn was on account of a moral fault. This calculus makes power a volatile product because the significance of any move depends on its reception by others, which in turn will sensitively reflect a community’s actual political structure. Mwaipopo was able to make a scapegoat of Mandala because he could pretend the commoner, having arrogated chiefly medicines to private use, was an actual threat to constituted authority. Kyelelo (I) Ndunginiye was able to inaugurate himself in place of his elder brother Lugendile (referred to earlier) because the medicines of power were left unguarded, and the fait accompli was accepted because the brother, being thought ungenerous, was unpopular. If medicines could confer a fabulous power limited only by their inherent nature, duels of witches would not be restricted to the throwing of fireballs, fleetingly witnessed by night. Medicine men would be rich and powerful, having no need of stealth. If antidotes acted ‘chemically’ on the magical poison itself, the witch would not have to be found out, made to confess and neutralize the magic, or be killed. Ancestors would not have to be implored to guard boundaries already sealed by ritually buried powders and fabulous ointments. It is because medicines do not transcend society as they may be seen to transcend nature that they can at once be “an ultimate source of power” and a force for order. ‡ Stirnimann presents the symbolism of Pangwa medicines and ritual as a subsurface system of meanings: rain, fertility, the male and female sex organs, and sexual congress are each represented by any of the things or acts on a substantial list. The five lists Stirnimann gives are his own, corroborated by his analysis of contexts of use. Monica Wilson found that the meaning of Nyakyusa ritual symbolism was mainly explicit. In 1935 the whole catalogue of traditional rituals survived and “formed a coherent system” in which older participants were “conscious, in greater or lesser degree, of the symbolism implicit in the actions they performed.” Concerning


medicines and their meaning the anthropologist was able to conclude that, apart from certain quite practical pharmaceutical items, “the imagination of doctors works within the general symbolic system.” If we allow Pangwa and Nyakyusa to represent the ends of a scale, Kinga culture falls fairly between. ‡ Pangwa ritual specialists are home grown, schooled only by apprenticeship. Beyond the lutanana community of some few hundred souls there is no ritual cooperation and no likelihood of developing an exoteric symbolism. Nyakyusa ritual, on the other hand, has evolved in a society which is a model of multiplex social structure. Although kinship is not a basis of settlement, rituals of kinship constitute a major emphasis. Although the political units are forever splitting and moving, communal rituals are equally important. Ritual serves the recruitment and intensification of loyalties, but to do so ritual requires a style of high communicability. The Kinga priest enjoyed an ambience others of his domain, even the ruler, did not. The schooling of a priest, through ritual cooperation within the domain and realm, and through the common participation of priests in the cult of Lwembe imposing a sojourn in Nyakyusaland, tended to generate a common but esoteric language of ritual and medicine. For Kinga culture, loyalties were not split between locality and kingroup. A ceremonial centre pattern based on chiefly redistribution of meat and beer, on massed war games, dance, and war itself, provided a sufficient project to give order to this court life, and exoteric ritual was not required. What was required was that the priesthood, having to function as a kind of proto-bureaucracy, be known for its substantial monopoly on medicines of special power. This the Kinga priests were able to assure for themselves. ‡ If there is any one explanation for the success of the Sanga courts in combining so much voluntarism with so much central direction, it would be the effective way the priests went about their business. It is their rhetoric which builds the ritual drama, assigns particular values to the great variety of medicines and gear which are counters in the Kinga security game, and so lays down the symbolic infrastructure on which the collective life of the community, a life of events, will take its ephemeral forms.



The Paranoid Prince

Managing Social Danger
The management of a prince began with his inauguration to office. However successful the avanyivaha may have been with their coaching of his predecessor, they were starting over again with a new champion in hand. The narratives of the two Kyelelos and Vululile during the formative history of the Western realm show us princes who personally dominated their domains, commanding the direct, personal loyalty of substantial military followings, and running free of whatever cautionary warnings their avanyivaha might have had in mind for them. If you were to compare the Kinga polity, as represented by Kyelelo’s precontact Western realm, to the ideal type of ‘African despotism’ put forward by G. P. Murdock in his Africa , you would find the Kinga conforming on at least a dozen of Murdock’s eighteen diagnostic criteria. Yet the stabilized Sanga realm as we find it in Ukwama or Uhugilo, Central and Northern realms, was deeply un-despotic. All the earmarks Murdock lists—the absolutism, the regalia and protocol, the ritual isolation of the ruler, the court functionaries, the royal women—are there on the surface to be observed, but the deeper quality of the political life has been tempered by the countervailing position of the avanyivaha , and by the persistence among the people of all the traits Murdock has earlier listed as earmarks of a quite different style, the “primitive democracy” he finds typical of African bush cultures. Armchair taxonomic ventures seldom appeal to anthropologists whose work has taken them close to the complexities of life in any particular ethnographic region, but this is a problem inherent in the project of the social sciences. It is worth asking how the ‘taming of the African despot’ was managed in the Sanga case, if only because its untamed version is so much more prominent in the annals of pre- and now post-colonial history. It is a matter of hard and soft, direct and indirect politics. ‡‡


The power of a prince, taking that word in its sociological sense, was in good part a function of his personality and stage of life. The ministrations of the avanyivaha [the professional group at a court, which I usually tag as ‘priests’] created a path of least resistance, a sanctioned role, which in the long run incumbents must have seen fit to follow. A prince was continuously plied with beer by day and women by night. He was not encouraged to hold public court in person but to deal with the realm’s affairs remotely, from within his stockade, through functionaries. Unless he was personally attracted to the public life he would come to be seldom seen by the people, a mythical as much as an actual presence, becoming in his later years a true recluse. Custom has it that on the occasion of his actual death the people would be called to the capital for an extraordinary month of feasting and dance. No one, they say, need call attention to the prince’s absence—let the myth live on. Even Kyelelo (I) Ntowanilo seems to have become something of a figurehead in his later years. But though the institution patterned and invited a certain demeanour no one was in position to command it. The man who was expected to succeed to a princely throne [ ikinya’lwangula ] was known as unkinga ; but the title was bestowed on a nominal heir only as it was earned. He must prove himself untenzi a leader in war, a man favoured (to use an un-Kinga phrasing) by the gods. An eldest son unable to shine above his brothers knew his risk, and the actual inauguration was therefore a personal triumph, as the case of Lugendile “the cheated” and Kyelelo (II) Ndunginiye makes plain. The transformation of such a man into royal recluse could never have been immediate. The history of any reign would have depended much upon persons at court but also upon the relative importance of human and natural threats to well-being, and on the security of the court’s leadership position as pre-eminent among the domains of the realm. Thus Ukwama, in the history we have, appears more secure in the Central realm than Uhugilo in the Northern; the power struggle in the Western realm was cut short by the Germans’ arrival, and the history of the Eastern realm was all but obliterated by their askaris during the Maji Maji suppression in 1905. The fearsomeness of a prince might be fashioned into an effective instrument of authority, attractive to men, as it was in 1960 by Sangilino of Lupila domain in the East. Or the same quality differently framed in public perceptions of a prince, might prove unpredictable, divisive, even politically counter-productive as happened during the foreshortened reign of Mwalukisa (II) Wikemana in the North. In the West, the two Kyelelos had before contact attracted to their domains a greater share of the broad realm’s


population than ecology would have allotted them. They were fearsomely attractive both to their people and to the German administration. Kyelelo (IV) Padili, whom I knew, had been deemed exceptionally able in his youth and in the early years of office, but had (as both British and Independent régimes perceived him) tended gradually to withdraw, spending more time with a few close supporters, travelling less, preoccupied with beer and the other furnishings of high office. But he was still young when the office was revoked by the Independent government, and the personal change proved reversible. He came back very much on personal merits, showing himself to be bright, communicative, and a rather less devious politician than his erstwhile advisers. The role to which a prince without great personal strength would accede in the traditional culture can properly be described as paranoid. The fortnightly administration of antidotes was premised on an unrelenting danger of witchcraft and poison attacks. As the avanyivaha viewed the matter, the good prince could trust no one outside the inner circle of the court. Even family and favourites must be suspect. Kipole, who succeeded Mwemutsi (X) Nyanzululu as regent at Ukwama (Central realm), had been his favourite daughter, yet it was generally theorized she had laced his beer with poison, being set on by an embittered mother, the chief wife, who had got the unkali [poison] at the court of her own father Kyelelo, prince and perpetual ‘brother’ of Mwemutsi, at Ihanga (Western realm). Nyanzululu died without warning illness while his heir was still a boy, shortly after the first contacts with Berlin missionaries. Matching the prince’s private fears was the public fear of his person, serving to isolate him from ordinary social contacts. Court etiquette defined the prince and his household, particularly his wives, as dangerous to the common folk by reason of inherent qualities, magnified by the medicines called isingila . The qualitative gulf between royals and commoners was projected mainly as rank distance, easily stabilized by institutional norms; but for the prince personally there was the fearsomeness [ amapigi ] to maintain, and the need to keep up a mystique of sexual fertility as well—matters less easily routinized. A sexually active, perfectly potent man who has a few unhealthy or infertile wives, or who loses small children to epidemic disease, has begun to lose the mantle of sexual adequacy. The linking of rank and fearsomeness to fertility made the royal privilege a troublesome burden. Tunginiye learned that priests could supply no medicine for infertility or impotence. In this the prince was like another man. The reputed restorative for declining fertility in a male is called untuguva


ugwa’nyengela [medicine of the rebrewing], a metaphorical reference to the custom of rebrewing beer by adding new hot water to release fresh strength from the solids at the bottom of a crock. The prince must send to a private herbalist for such a cure, of which the ingredients remain trade secrets unknown to the priests. A prince whose fertility failed in fact would face the probability that the avanyivaha would conspire to send a younger brother in secret into the royal harem. In view of that, I think the loss of fertility must have seemed more than ordinarily threatening to a prince, as his brother would be the man before all others with whom he had avoided intimate contact since taking office. A prince dare never share a meal with a brother for fear of predictable malice.
The prince’s plight stands out sharply when seen in its cultural context. Unguvu, a commoner, acquired a young wife. He was rich, and the girl’s father had initiated the match with an eye to a fair bridewealth. A few weeks after moving to her new community the girl composed a song which she began to sing in the fields with her new women friends, “You look upon a married woman, but she might as well still be living with her father!” Unguvu was moved to approach his son Kivuke to take the girl in secret to prevent her running off. Otherwise he would have had to send her to a stranger, admitting his failure, so as to recoup the bridewealth. Kivuke sired three children for Unguvu, then inherited the woman and sired three of his own. It is said Unguvu would not have chosen a son, had he only a younger brother (by his own mother), for brothers are close. People even expect they may quietly share a wife. It is only a prince who must fear his own. Like his unalloyed heterosexuality, gnawing distrust of his own brother marks the powerful throne with paradox. Once it is established that a ruler’s sexual powers are wasted the priests will begin to talk of succession. “The royal house must continue to grow.” But the prince need not die. At least in theory, as given to me and to Tunginiye, an aged ruler might retire to a shadowy existence with the eldest of his wives. It is clear that the elder Kyelelo (I) passed over the sword to his son, retiring from rule of the realm in this manner. The prince at Ukwama was primus inter pares only, not a divine king and not therefore by law put to death when failing. There is no relevant case of senility among the recent reigns at Ukwama or Uhugilo, Central and Northern realms. Those royal wives not past child-rearing may not follow a retiring unkuludeva , though some might choose to go to his brothers—we see him here retiring to what we might call ‘civilian’ status. The heir, unkinga , long since turned out of the royal enclosure as


a potential rival, on his accession becomes its owner and takes over the royal herds. He will invite the royal women (excepting any who trace descent cognatically, as his mother’s sister would, from one of his own great grandfathers) to style themselves as wife to him instead of mother. As with a commoner’s widows, a wife who finds no one suitable ‘within the house’ is free to go outside, a suitable bridewealth being payable to the young heir. He will shortly be taking more wives of his own, among them the chief wife [ umwehe umbaha ] who is to bear him his own eventual successor. But until his accession to rule, probably in what we call middle age, the unkinga lives with many companions in the royal ikivaga . His fall from bachelorhood is precipitous. Kinga men generally consider there can be no compromise with a woman’s sexual needs. When a child has been weaned, the mother’s need for erotic consummation is aroused like that of a new wife. Forgetting the troubles of pregnancy and the pain of parturition, she wants intercourse and pregnancy as one end. This private intensity will not lapse until her fertility is gone, and her claims on a man with it. The intensity of a woman’s need is reinforced, if not instigated, by her doctrine that the probability of impregnation is a function of the cumulative frequency of intercourse had before a night’s sleep. The same belief fires her sense of moral indignation toward a husband unable to perform to the standard implied. Older men may find keeping a young wife a fair challenge, but when they can no longer meet it they must expect, with or without regret, the cohabitation will end. An older man whose spouse has reached the age of infertility is often content to have an honourable end to their sexual relations. The duty of mutual service otherwise is retained, though the underlying self-reliance of men and women in the traditional culture is expressed in the custom of domestic separation. If a prince were an ordinary man, his retirement in advanced age to an inconspicuous life, ending all erotic ties to women, would be in no way remarkable. A sufficient reason is usually given why the classic ‘divine king’ of an African state is not allowed to step down when declining bodily vigour renders him unfit. He comprises a natural symbol of national well-being. A closer look at the relation between Mwemutsi and Lwembe, the mortal unkuludeva and the immortal daimon who inhabits one mortal priest-king’s body after another, can help to discover some of the meanings which are packed into the classic institution. From the Kinga viewpoint, the Lwembe site or sacred grove at Lubaga in Nyakyusaland is an external shrine, but the incumbent Lwembe, heir to the perpetual office there, is a Nyakyusa priest. The daimon who


has elected to enter his body is/was a Kinga royal whose powers were greater than those of the court priests [ avanyivaha ] at Ukwama where he was born, and who proved to be unmanageable—indeed, immortal. The main spectacle of the Sanga court’s religion commemorates his banishment and is required to placate his anger; it entails obeisance done him by the heir of the first ruling Sanga prince, his elder brother, who banished him. There is a clear message implied, that the mortal prince acknowledges an eternal debt of guilt, that the plagues and pestilence Lwembe annually visits upon his people are justified, and that the powers of a Sanga prince are less than daimonic. It would have been excellent to have found a recent case of a retired and rusticated unkuludeva , especially a case from Ukwama, a reliable account of whose burial rites could be put on record. This is because the Kinga-Nyakyusa evidence puts a special twist on our interpretation of the nature of godhead in a whole series of African states and protostates. Is there a simple answer to the question, why if a Lwembe must be put to death when he weakens, a Mwemutsi must not? The essence of the Kinga polity lies in its balance between despotic rule and free tradition, the standoff between the embodied power of a prince and the power-knowledge possessed by the priest. Lwembe is of course an invention of the Kinga, and specifically of the avanyivaha , the priestly mind. He is separately an invention of the Nyakyusa, who have a distinct institutional niche for him. If the mythical Lwembe had not been driven out of uKinga, he would surely have become the greatest of princes there, at whatever capital, and continued to rule through repeated reincarnations. He would have been intractable to the ‘soft’ techniques of the Kinga priesthood, and their balanced polity would have been impossible. So the myth of Lwembe itself is a coded constitutional law for the Sanga polity: in the tale and its ritual remembrance the limits of princely power are irrevocably laid down. The dramatic values which delineate Lwembe’s character as a player on the political stage have to be seen cross-culturally. The southern wing of the broadly Nyakyusa-speaking culture area lies in Malawi, where a relatively well-integrated protostate, uNgonde, took shape during the nineteenth century. The Kyungu of the Ngonde people is most easily described as an example of the divine king. He fits the ideal type better than Lwembe, since his court was the centre of secular as well as mystical power for a pyramidally organized segmentary protostate of a more or less ‘classic’ African


kind. Compared to the Ngonde, Nyakyusa communities in the Tanganyika Corridor region are better seen as a shifting congeries of chiefdoms each with bilateral relations of alliance or opposition with some neighbours, but lacking overall constitutional structure. ‡‡ My reading of the evidence is that the Nyakyusa political system was ‘domain’ centred and lacked any level of organization comparable to the Kinga ‘realm’. The system was expansive by nature, since it provided for the ‘hiving off’ with each generation of a wellordered group of military colonizers—young families with cattle, arms, and implements—from each of an expanding core of established domains. Being better organized than the bush-culture folk they were colonizing, they were in position to absorb them through intermarriage and informal alliance. The established core had been strong enough, up to the pax germanica , to minimize predatory incursions by their several strong neighbours to the north. They were protected by natural barriers from other directions. It is easy enough to project a gradual evolution in uNyakyusa toward greater consolidation and a more integral constitution in an imaginary future—a twentieth century which had left them to their own devices—but I would expect the result to have borne only a family resemblance to either the Kyungu’s protostate in uNgonde or Mwemutsi’s in uKinga. As we find the Nyakyusa in the ethnographies recorded during early generations after contact, the strain toward unity is pegged to the frail Lwembe figure in his sacred grove at Lubaga. At first sight, this makes the case for one Nyakyusa ‘people’ (as distinct from a congeries of peoples) look pretty weak. It would be hard to make the case at all for calling Lwembe a ‘king of the Nyakyusa’. In the usage of Jacques Maquet a ‘chief’ is a monarch who rules directly, a ‘king’ governs a more complex polity requiring the delegation to officials (G. P. Murdock’s ‘ministers’) of a power which nevertheless derives from and can revert to the monarch. It is not certain that even the Kyungu’s condition ever met these criteria. Mwemutsi’s satellite domains clearly would have reverted always to local autonomy. We can’t even talk about Lwembe as secular ruler even of a local community at Lubaga. Still I think that the ideal type of the ‘divine king’ can be helpfully applied. ‡‡ It is reasonable to assume that divine kingship constitutes a strategic response to the difficulty for a pre-bureaucratic society of delegating authority without decentralizing power. Under that heuristic assumption the Lwembe in Nyakyusa society falls close to one logical extreme of the ideal model of ‘divine kingship’ seen as a political system. There is a maximum delegation of authority to the


‘chiefs’ (M. Wilson) or ‘princes’ (Charsley), so that powers remaining to the ‘king’ are only the mystical. But the work of a religious agency is to ward off, rid out, or bear and contain social danger, mystically conceived. This is the part of the Kinga and Nyakyusa priests who periodically attend the shrine of Lwembe at Lubaga. But the deathless Lwembe himself is not, like the taboo-ridden priest who is his medium, religion’s man. The scene at the Lubaga shrine which Kinga priests describe is one of fury. The mortal Lwembe has a daimon on his back. He becomes an embodiment of the mystical danger against which the community’s religion is pitted. The esoteric drama played out at Lubaga, has the combined priests of two peoples struggling to control the daimon. Exoterically the danger is known when plagues and pestilence, drought and disease affect the region on an epidemic scale. It is also known when rumour spreads that the mortal Lwembe is showing new signs of his mortality. When the priests assemble to manage the difficult task of reestablishing the daimon in a new mortal body, their first task is to strip the living body of the old Lwembe of hair and nails, all the parts which grow from him like plants from the soil. Then all the body holes must be plugged. The body is sealed with what it contains. The anus is as important to stop as the seven holes of the head. This Lwembe is officially held to have passed over already to the world of the dead, so soon as illness is noted. “I have eaten food in the land of the shades.” First he wills his growing excrescences to the people he is bound to leave, then his body is sealed, he is smothered, and he is gone. Installing the new Lwembe in a manner to assure his containing the daimon is a separate operation, concerning which Monica Wilson has a number of suggestions, though details of the rite itself are not on record. We may understand the murder of the living Lwembe as a continuation of the priests’ ministrations throughout his tenure in office. They have caged him, scolded him, placated him always knowing that the daimon must be contained at any cost. At Lwembe’s displeasure he has released a storm, a flood, a withering of crops or drying up of cattle, the sudden deaths of children. Undisciplined, the mortal Lwembe can bring inadvertent catastrophe. Simply by continuing to bathe in the river, as he has done all his life, a newly installed priest-Lwembe would expose the land to inundation. He is often lectured by the priests who minister to him. Their role is tutelary, like the role of Kinga priests toward their prince. The man must be patiently fashioned to the ideal, mythically real type. The difference is that where the Sanga prince embodies the fertility of land and people, the living Lwembe embodies godhead. ‡


It may seem paradoxical that the men of religion show so little fear and awe in dealing with godhead. But the first principle in understanding animistic religions is the premise of egoism: the gods (spirits, daimons, nats) are neither noble nor otherwise ethically superior beings. They are seen as ex-humans always armed with a robust, egoistic self-concern. They are troublesome because (being invisible and voiceless, yet needing the care and attention of the living folk they remain among) they are only too easily neglected in favour of the visible and vocal neighbour whose needs are immediate. Like living folk, the spirits use black magic to get their way or get revenge. Their ‘other world’ is not a radical transformation of the one mortals know. The job of a doctor or priest of religion is to protect a set of mortal clients from the great variety of perils these non-mortal and invisible beings are able to visit upon them. The living Lwembe remains the priests’ man in the same degree that a Kinga prince ought to be. But the living heir to Lwembe’s godhead is unable to contain it without great effort and skill, exercising his fullest human powers. He must ‘contain’ in the specific sense of localizing divine anger, so that the priests can cope with it. The priest Lwembe must sleep every night alone at Lubaga. But without the help of an elaborate and systematic ritual drama the living, mortal Lwembe cannot ‘contain’ (in the other sense, of ‘controlling’) the daimonic anger of a banished and cheated god. When the Kinga prince dies, far from sealing the body up to secure the inner identity, priests see to it that the flesh has swollen and burst before they publicly discover the death and simultaneously inaugurate a successor to office. The body cannot be buried but remains deep in the sacred grove lifted above ground on a closed platform protected from scavengers. It is the stench of this rotting body which, filling the grove and reaching the capital village, signals the passing on of the princely powers to an heir. The capital meanwhile will have been transformed into a fairgrounds, for the folk will have been called together without explanation for a month of feasting and games. While in the case of Lwembe at Lubaga everyone who might be called to succeed to the office is known to fear it and loathe the day of the incumbent’s death, with the Kinga throne it is quite otherwise—the incumbent goes daily in fear of rivals who would take his place. The Lwembe, in his fearsomeness, is left to a remote existence in life. He needs no stockade to keep improper visitors away, as reputation is enough. The Kinga prince, though he shares that fearsomeness, is yet the central figure of magnanimity in a redistributive system dealing in food and drink, manly honour, recognition, and women. He must close himself away in life for fear of the


brotherly envy his privilege inspires, though his death will mean rotting away in the open air, far away from the living men and women gathered to drink and feast from his store in their ceremonially perverse way of doing him honour. The newly chosen Lwembe has to be trapped and forcibly submitted to the rite of transformation which makes him a beleaguered king. But once installed and schooled to the role he is conceived to accept death freely, as only a further step in the metamorphosis he has already endured. The Kinga prince covets office, yet once installed and schooled he comes to live in fear of death. Even supposing that individual men rarely lived up to all the requirements of the two roles, I think their logical opposition on the level of cultural prescription is not overdrawn here. And when the contrast is properly understood we ought to know the meaning of the Sanga prince’s patterned paranoia.

An Exiled God
Tunginiye recorded the Lwembe myth in Swahili on the basis of recitations (in ikiKinga) at Ukwama in the 1930s. Though his original was lost, I found a Swahili typescript secreted (?) behind a radiator at the ex-British Boma and confirmed it with the author. I present my translation:
In the ruling house Mwikolongu sired a child by his second wife, and the child’s name was Lwembe. As a boy he tended his father’s herds along with comrades. Now here is what he could do: He took two twigs and two pots, putting the twigs on the ground and covering each with a pot. Then he called his companions to gather round and behold a wonder. As soon as his friends came up they saw the pots were beginning slowly to rise, the twigs going through a transformation until one turned into a lion and the other a leopard. Then the lads set up a clamour, saying we are your friends but we are afraid of these monsters we see. Then Lwembe slapped the creatures down, and they turned back into pots and twigs as before. When his companions got home they told the father our dear Lwembe has been doing things out there which have got us frightened. He takes little twigs and turns them into a lion and a leopard and then back again to what they were. Thereupon the father said it is time I settled two wives on him, then I shall have him move off to a far country lest he take the throne away from my eldest. So he bestowed two maidens upon the lad and showed him to a place called Upinga, but Lwembe kept right on working his wonders, surpassing all his comrades among the children of the ruler. Wanting to find out the truth of these matters, the father ordered two of his children, Lwembe and a companion, to fetch two goats from the high grasslands


where they were being herded, bringing them right to the father. But the comrade left by himself while Lwembe only stayed behind where he was. The companion returned with one of the goats and brought it to his father, who challenged Lwembe, “How is it you stayed behind here without fetching the goat I asked for?” There and then Lwembe produced the goat before his father’s eyes and the elders, saying, “Isn’t this the goat I was sent after?” Then the father and the elders were dumbfounded, seeing, “In truth this child has surpassed us all! How could it happen that, though he stayed just here without any chance to go out to the grasslands, yet this goat—how has it appeared right here before our eyes?” Therefore the father and the elders were agreed they must hold council on the matter of sending Lwembe into exile. Fearing, “He is a great god who will destroy us all,” they could not find agreement on a way to kill him by themselves. But they used another stratagem, sending word to their ally Prince Mwalukisa, whom they bade waylay the lad as he came passing through—kill him along with his wives and children. So the father and the elders approached Lwembe, saying, “You are to move out of here and go to the far country of uNyakyusa to rule there. Later on we shall follow after, bringing what equipment we can get together. Lwembe agreed to move out through the country of Uhugilo/Lupalilo [Mwalukisa’s]. So when Prince Mwalukisa saw Lwembe passing by, he set out to kill him. Lwembe, when he saw Prince Mwalukisa laying an ambush for him on the path, took out the same little twigs and threw them down. One turned into a leopard and led the way in front. The wives and children were in between, while Lwembe himself rode behind astride a lion, and a swarm of bees hovered in the air above their heads. Lwembe was holding a lyre, which he played as they went along. Then Prince Mwalukisa and his party were beaten. They couldn’t kill the man but returned home trembling with fear. Prince Mwalukisa sent the news to his father [sic] that Lwembe had defeated him and was a great god. As for Lwembe, he continued on his way. He entered Nyakyusa country and built a place there which he called unyaLwembe, and which is there to this day. The place is located in the country of Prince Mwaipopo [at] Lupata [Lubaga*] where the headman is Mwakisisya. This Lwembe is worshiped by the house of the great prince of the Kinga, and all the members of his lineage, holding that he is the greatest of gods, send their sacrificial offerings to him even today. When a prince of this line dies, people say he is going to be transformed into a great god, which is why within this house those who are under the princes keep up their sacrifice and divinatory rites more regularly than other folk. * ‘Lupata’ would be the unknown typist’s error.

Tunginiye’s telling of the myth does not tie Lwembe’s powers so closely to agriculture as do some other versions. Monica Wilson had an account from the Kinga priest Kikungubeja [Kikunguvija] of the Western realm [Bulongwa]. Here Lwembe makes live cattle from little clay models he has fashioned, and transforms a handful of dirt into


beans or millet grain. In this and another version also collected in the 1930s Lwembe has herds and two companions as well as his wives and wild animals. He enjoyed the protection of isingila immunity medicines and could turn into a stone when attacked. In dry weather he would simply strike the earth to produce a spring. At Lubaga, Nyakyusa priests added an account which provides a charter for the regular propitiation of Lwembe by Kinga priests bearing gifts. When Lwembe was first driven from the mountains, the crops immediately began to wither. When the priests at length found him at Lubaga, he promised to restore their gardens but called for a quid pro quo . They were to bring him his promised ‘equipment’ which had been left behind, with beer and twenty iron hoes to boot. The Wilsons’ most consistent informant on ritual, Kasitile, cites Lwembe’s message to Mwemutsi: “I want my hoes, especially my great, eyed hoe ilikumbulu ilya maso. ” ‡ The manner of the Kinga priests’ propitiation of Lwembe is that of rendering imongo [tribute] not ikitekelo [an oblation]. The ruler of a tributary domain who withheld imongo tribute from the realm’s prince could expect to reap his anger; and so it is with the Kinga people and the erstwhile annual procession in tribute to Lwembe. Mwemutsi (XII) Suluvali, reflecting on the lapse of the ritual expedition (attempted, he thought, only once since the early 1940s), without abandoning Kinga syntax adapted two Swahili expressions with a primary reference to money debts: “ Tuli n’ideni tudajiva! ” [“We have such a debt owing!”] It was said with a great burden of feeling, unusual for Suluvali. He conceived of Lwembe as a jealous power. ‡ The procession of priests to placate Lwembe used to take place yearly, or so it is claimed, unless the times were particularly good. There was no calendrical scheduling, as the undertaking would be styled as a response to the building up of popular concern, first expressed through lesser ritual channels. Considering the kind of preparations called for, and the problems of coordination, it is plain that the time elapsed between start and finish must always have been several months. Each cycle required in particular the manufacture of a new hoe for consecration, under solemnly safeguarded conditions. This was a ‘doubled’ as well as a bored or eyed hoe, specially requisitioned by the priests at Ukwama in the name of the high prince. The yearly rites taken as a whole entailed the three stages of preparation, procession, and propitiation, but of these only the second might be of fixed duration, replicating (according to Mwemutsi to me in 1963) the four days of Lwembe’s original journey into exile. But even here the timing is uncertain. Elders in the Northern realm thought the four days in uKinga would be followed by


four like stops in uNyakyusa, and in the West I was told of divinations which might require backtracking and other delays. This would have been enough to put a crimp in the ‘military season’ in some cases. I concluded the procession itself would often have taken place in July, but that divination (with changes in the weather and the political situation) would often enough have prescribed procrastination for as much as another year. I want to be sure to provide enough evidence to counter a colonial myth about Kinga religion, which suggested there were hints of monotheism. The roots of ancestor religion, at least in the cultures I know something of, are not to be sought in theological thought, since ancestors are propitiated not worshiped. Kinga religion comprises no sort of theism. Their spirits or gods have no plans for mankind, no control over human destiny, only personal needs and a measure of ordinary wizardry by which they can oblige their living descendents or wards to supply these needs. Yet the Kinga have a political religion. Its burden in praxis is political unification. It seems to have tasted enough like a monotheism to have encouraged early missionaries to look for the Kinga word for God by asking, in effect, for the name of their most-hallowed tribal ancestor. At sacrifice, Nguluwe is the Adam or unknown ancestor at list’s end. We see a transitional kind of belief system in Homer: a man or woman might by chance have the love of a god but hardly a generous one, as mortals were only pawns in the sport of these Olympians. The Homeric epics are not adorned with rites supposed to ingratiate a man with a god. These gods didn’t share themselves in that way but were strictly self concerned. This is the heritage of animism, a worldview which once seems to have been universally human and allows that the gods are not morally superior beings, only difficult ones armed with dangerous if limited powers. I suppose the Aztecs discovered the greatest of these gods, requiring to be fed the most sacred of all foods lest they should stop the heavens from their steady movement. A pure ancestor religion, on the other hand, is a particularistic system in which the spirits only bother their descendents. Kinga society lacks the overwhelming emphasis on ancestor spirits which some readers might expect of an African people. The royal Sanga ancestors have taken centre stage and give us a modestly developed political religion. Ancestor propitiation remains to the commoner but is private, scarcely serving as a basis for the social organization of kin communities in the manner reported for so many other Eastern Bantu peoples. The Lwembe cult, though universalistic in conception, is modestly so. Neither Lwembe nor Nguluwe have the ineffable


qualities wanted of a god who made the world go around. At least for Kinga, any talk by whatever name of an ‘otiose god’ who fashioned this world can only refer to creation lore, not to the object of religious practice. Lwembe’s creative powers made live animals from clay which was certainly there before he was born. ‡‡ Pursuing the Lwembe narrative in more detail will bring us closer to the way Kinga did their religion. Lwembe, of course, was not alone. My spokesmen among the avanyivaha made it clear that the procedural reason for turning to Lwembe would always have been lack of success in ritual operations at the local level, where the propitiatory (or otherwise manipulatory) effort must begin. An accumulation of local failures throughout the several realms would eventually move the avanyivaha at Ukwama to initiate the manufacture of a fresh double hoe at Ihela. Their priestly counterparts at Uhugilo [Northern realm] would in like manner see to the making of a single bored hoe for their own sacred grove, replacing the one they would send on to Ukwama. I inferred from what oral evidence I could gather that the third or Eastern realm before the Maji Maji catastrophe would have done the same. I have no idea how the Kyelelo-Vululile standoff in the Western realm was handled before the pax , except that there would have been a good deal of divination required to legitimate whatever decisions were made on any particular occasion. Throughout the four realms, the priests would be calling for the presentation of tributary hoes (of the secular trade variety) from each local ruler [ untsagila ] of standing. Formally, the trade hoes were to serve as prestations to Lwembe. In practice this seems to have meant the hoes were traded to Nyakyusa priests at fair barter value. In the absence of reliable estimates of the number of trade hoes a procession would carry, I can’t say how far they merely served as a convenient way of provisioning the Kinga party in its sojourn out of the country, but there is evidence the party could expect to bring cattle back to the court villages in the mountains. Informants said the ordinary hoes were distributed fairly among the several Nyakyusa lineages descended from Lwembe, and bullocks slaughtered in return. In principle, only a procession having its origin at Ukwama, claimed as his place of birth, could be said to re-enact the myth of Lwembe’s own departure, and so to represent the Kinga people as such. The procession in fact always began with a feast on the spot which is supposed to have been Lwembe’s site at Ukwama. The ‘cow of the way’ was supplied by the prince and cannily eaten at home, not squandered on folk of another domain. But beyond firmly tying the ritual to the myth there seems to have been no intention of dramati-


cally recreating the spectacle of the god’s going into exile. The priests blew the kudu horn trumpet [ ingalape ] and beat the war-drum [ ilikule ] as they left, but neither seems to have been conceptualized as the voice of lion, leopard, or Lwembe. The focus of attention was on performing appropriate ceremonial acts at each place along the route where, as it was agreed, Lwembe himself had stopped, leaving a noumenal influence—some fraction of his mystical identity. At least three overnight stops would be made before the descent to Nyakyusaland, providing a basis for ritual and moral communion with local elders of the Northern and Western realms, and of course a good deal of bickering. Direct participants in the procession from the start were about a dozen persons, including two or more priests from each of the four domains, a porter, and an errand boy. (There was no talk in this connection of a boy being taken for human sacrifice. Narratives on that score were never placed in a datable historical context. But as a banner-myth the scenario was real enough.) These pilgrims seem to have been joined on each leg of the journey by a changing company of local avanyivaha or lesser specialists in ritual, and below the escarpment by Nyakyusa priests. The procession’s baggage, beyond its burden of sacred and unconsecrated hoes, was light: I was told only of a small bag of the flour made from roast dry peas for offering, and of some ritual-ceremonial paraphernalia. The way had been well prepared in advance by peripatetic priests from Lingundya and Bulongwa in the Western realm, and the party could rely absolutely on local hospitality. The special genius of the Lwembe cult was its universalistic orientation to social dangers arising from nature, and its strength was in good measure a function of the gradual and ad hoc style of its preparation. The overriding concern of one year was not necessarily that of the next, and each concern had its appropriate season. The mechanisms of the Lwembe cult were adapted either to waiting out minor contingencies in favour of a major one, or to absorbing and accumulating a variety of special petitions in periods of comparative well being. For purposes of the cult, hoes can be said to have been ‘banked’ in the sacred groves of each realm, ready to move at need. The system was that each implement should move one step at a time, remaining for a year (or until the next safari to Lubaga), when it would be replaced and move onward through the channels of a ritual network which modeled the ideal constitution of a Sanga segmentary state. The cosmological premise seems to have been that the hoes functioned as ‘gates’ between this world and that of the dead—gates which ought to be in place at each of the groves where men must deal


with gods. Gods in this region travel through the air or the earth from one sacred grove to another. The bored or ‘eyed’ hoe was special to the Lwembe cult but reflects the more general regional cosmology in that the sacred groves served to localize ritual danger and enable the doctor-priests to control it. The cognoscenti would know from a special stirring of leaves in the grove that a supernatural visitor had arrived, and would know how to divine its nature. Lwembe, the original, had descended into an underground aquifer at the end of his mortal life, and tended to travel as pythons are thought to do through the earth. The ‘gates’ presumably contained him when he visited local sacred groves, so that his demands could be dealt with, and eventually all of these powerful emblems took their place around the Lwembe site at Lubaga, where some were photographed in German times. ‡‡ While the Lwembe cult was, taken in context, universalistic and even evangelical, matching the generalized mandate of the unyivaha , one particular pestilence descends on Kinga fields so swiftly as to want a more responsive mechanism than the Lwembe pilgrimage. This long-cycled threat is the never-predictable swarming of the locust ilikevale . Kinga doctrine ascribes this pestilence to Usweve, whose shrine is in uSafwa, north of Nyakyusa country. Doctrine links him by simple mythic narrative to Lwembe. Thus elders of the Northern realm called Usweve a younger brother to Lwembe, even having him accompany Lwembe into exile. These two brothers each with one wife all mounted the lion and travelled together. Usweve is said to have moved on north from Lubaga to settle and ‘rule’ elsewhere. Propitiatory gifts to Usweve include a bored hoe and a bored knife of the sort used (when without the ‘eye’) for harvesting eleusine in the Safwa manner. Delegations were sent to Usweve only in times of grave danger, but elders recalled years when the tributary hoes were equally divided between Lwembe and this brother, the division being made at Uhugilo [Northern realm] where the path to Usweve takes off toward the high Elton plateau. The fact that the Usweve cult is grafted so easily onto the Lwembe narrative can hardly surprise us, given the political importance of Ukwama and its development as a ceremonial centre. Here is a ‘younger brother’ who gets on as he ought with his elder, complementing the main cult without competing with it. Usweve, in fact, would offer a quick safety valve should locusts descend just when the rather more predictable anger of Lwembe has been publicly assuaged. The shrine of Kyala in uKisi (on the near lake shore south of uNyakyusa) is similarly assimilated to the Lwembe myth in the testimony Monica Wilson took from Kinga priests in the 1930s, and


there are scattered if vague indications in my notes suggesting Lwembe might have had quite a series of ‘brothers’ with fabulous powers, all of whom were better known in the past. If the Sanga dispensation had collapsed before the pax it is likely enough the pluralistic particularism of a surviving bush culture would have resurged. Something a few shades closer to monotheism was more useful to the priests in their management business. I should note that the movement westward of the consecrated double hoe [ ilikumbulu ilinya’vumongolo, hoe of the gateway] follows the historical movement of the Kinga-Sanga people. Sanga trace their origins to the southern highland regions now occupied by Bena and Hehe peoples. Kinga communities generally accept that their forebears were immigrants following the same routes as the latercome Sanga. There is thus a general belief that the movement of the Sanga (Kinga) is always toward the west. Sanga royals cite this principle when explaining why they are buried lying on the right arm, so as to face westward. They know that more commonly in Eastern Bantu civilization the dead are buried facing the graves of their forebears—which in this case would be eastward. “The bulk of the Nyakyusa say that they came from the east, eight or ten generations ago, down the Livingstone Mountains into their present country; and it is to the east that they face in death”—Monica Wilson. Tunginiye was confident that, in addition to the Nyakyusa, all the highland peoples except the Kinga were buried facing eastward. As I gathered no detailed information on burial position among the various divisions of the Kinga, I can only assume that most variations would have shown up in the marginal, bush culture communities. ‡ It is not irrelevant that Lwembe’s magical escape was westward, or that the principal customers of the Kinga smiths were there in the Rift Valley. The hoe was the obvious choice for Kinga when looking for a prestation embodying more grace than a goat in cattle country. The very widespread regional traditions of migratory origin most likely do go right back to the long centuries of Bantu expansion in the first millennium of the present era, when pre-Bantu settlers and nomadic groups were replaced or absorbed. The myth-like reach of oral history in this case was driven home to me when I was introduced to a married couple—“pure Kinga”—who seemed to have been displaced from the Kalahari. They were, on the score of physical traits, perfect San (Bushmen) but their speech was a perfect and clickless ikiKinga. Many more Kinga showed a ‘Hamitic’ facial cast. Unguluwe, the region’s Adam figure, was said to have been light in skin


colour. No one supposed these remnant somatic features, special to their mountain slopes, had been brought in by migrants. Many wellestablished Kinga surnames trace back explicitly to place-names on the map, several days’ journey eastward. The immigrant ancestry of the Sanga and a number of other Kinga groupings is not denied. The holiest of hoes, embodying the inner mystique of the Lwembe cult, was smithed of native iron at Ihela (hamlet Lupumbwe) in the eastern marches of the domain of Maliwa, which comprises the eastern section of Ukwama, the Central realm. Fabrication was initiated and supervised by the avanyivaha [priests] at the capital village. The responsible smith was considered an officer of that princely court, and would apprentice a son to that position. During the forging, they and any helpers were under strict taboos, holding themselves away from women. The finished object was transported in the manner of a cadaver, with which any contact is polluting. The danger of the thing is contagious. Wrapped in a black sheepskin, the double hoe was suspended for transportation from a fore-and-aft carrying pole [ ilyenekilunga ] ‘master of the country’. The party of avanyivaha court ritual specialists skirted the country of Maliwa, staying to the mountains because their burden was particularly dangerous to gardens, whose fertility it could destroy as if by burning. The purpose of this preliminary procession is only to bring the finished hoe to Ukwama, where it should rest, safe in the sacred wood, until replaced by a fresh hoe in another year. So far as I know, this means that only the Ukwama and Lubaga groves sported these doubly powerful ‘gates’, and I suppose they constituted a sort of ritually effected ‘hotline’ between the Lwembe and Mwemutsi groves. A great amount of procedural lore, which would have clarified the conception and use of these shrines, perished with the old-guard avanyivaha , the last of whom would have been there for me, had I been able to do my work a few years earlier. On its first day the procession from the smithy at Ihela made about twelve kilometers, stopping at Masasatu, west of Maliwa court, until the following day. All tilling of the soil in Maliwa domain was halted for the whole period of about a month set aside for the making and transportation of the consecrated hoe; tilling was resumed only when it had been got safely away. Maliwa had no sacred wood capable of containing the dangers which the priests attributed to their artefact. Its name [ ilinya’vumongolo ], meaning hoe of the (royal) gateway, made no reference to the visible gate of the prince’s stockade. A nearer analogue would be a Christian’s ‘gates of hell’. In its black sheepskin the mysterious object was borne into the grove by


priests who would reveal little to others about it or about other sacra in their care. Later the hoe (or the older one which had been doing guard duty at Ukwama’s grove?) would be moved on westward, following the trail of Lwembe. As said, I found no evidence the great procession otherwise mimed his myth. The burden was not spectacle but mystery. It is a measure of the hoe’s special qualities that while the Ihela craftsmen were busy with its fabrication they must be segregated in a wood which hid their smithy from view, and that their wives must put on all the appearances of widowhood. All the paths to and from the community were sealed. Even in its incipient stages the hoe was conceived to threaten the fertility of women and gardens. I believe the connection of this danger to Lwembe derives from the Kinga belief in him as the creator-source (and hence master) of all fertility. “ Ikitupa syoni . He gives us all the foods.” The sense of ‘public’ danger here has to be read as a vehicle of that demiurgic universalism which distinguishes this cult from the particularism of ‘private’ ancestor propitiation. The Lwembe-Mwemutsi relationship is carefully structured. Mwemutsi (XII) Suluvali said he would have to take a quick look, dreaded and done from a safe distance, at the sacred hoe in order to validate the proceedings. The priests would very briefly uncover it for him only, outside the grove. The ‘hoe of the gateway’ would have been particularly dangerous to a Mwemutsi because the ‘eyes’ categorically inverted the symbolic sense in which one might behold this primary instrument of the soil’s magical fertility; and also because Lwembe was held to be, instrumentally, creator-source of the ruling office. There is paradox in this, since Mwikolongu—son and heir to the Founder and first to bear the high princely title of Mwemutsi—was the father not the elder brother of Lwembe, and the one to banish him to prevent his succession by virtue of an extraordinary magical power. Yet when a priest propitiates Lwembe he prays for forbearance in terms which imply the divinity’s virtual omnipotence:
...that the rule of the princes [ uvutwa ] shall not fail. ...that the rain [ isula ] shall not fail. ...that the foods [ isinu ] shall not fail.

A Kinga son’s rigid avoidance taboos on indirect bodily contact with his father appear in this tale of fathers and sons. In Tunginye’s telling, the father projects distrust upon the prescriptively close brotherly bond between the nominal heir, Mwikolongu, and the younger Lwembe. Kinga are acutely aware of the exceptional character of their


sexual preference, symbolized in the love between brothers. That Mwikolongu becomes the first Mwemutsi defines his station as ‘brotherless’. The great procedural reason for safeguarding the hoe made at Ihela was that its peculiar form should be kept a secret known only to the narrow circle of men directly concerned with its making and management. Though this sacred ‘hoe of the gateway’ was physically no more than a compounding of two of the simpler ‘eyed’ hoes, about which there was common talk if not direct knowledge among Kinga, in the compounding the symbolism of the ‘eyes’ had been unmistakably altered. Why would a sacred object, hoe or knife, be marked by the possession of a single eye? Freudians understand the cyclopean eye as unambiguously phallic, but this identification is not compelling. I am rather inclined to compare these consecrated utensils to the holed pot so often included with burial goods: we have an ‘eye’ to be sure but one associated with the dangerous communion between the living and their dead. Monica Wilson associates this ‘eye’ with “other rainmaking instruments.” As a sign of taboo-danger the eye is of so nearly universal distribution, we should perhaps not expect to find a more specific meaning here. But in the case of a pot, the hole negates—subverts—its practical function. In the case of the hoe which guards a sacred grove, I find the meaning cognate: the holed implement signals the threshold of a sacred place where visible and invisible, practical and sacred worlds are not kept apart. ‡‡ In the compounded version of the consecrated hoe I suppose the two ‘eyes’ would be called by any clear-eyed Freudian a sexual orifice, the tangs phallic. The long tang of each one passes through the ‘eye’ of the other, so that the two pieces, though separately forged, are locked together as a single object. Symbolism apart, a single ‘eyed’ hoe is not quite so useless for practical purposes as an ‘eyed’ pot, but this does not apply when there are two, locked in such intimate embrace. Ludwig Weichert’s photograph, which I reproduce in digital form in the Source Notes, makes clear how the single and compound hoes were actually used in the ritual drama at Lubaga. The single stood in a path to warn away intruders from the sanctuary, the long straight tail thrust firmly into the soil (Fig. 2). The interpenetrating tails of the compound hoe were used to weld the blades together, still letting the finished artefact ‘gate’ the shrine effectively. A magical object which faces both ways must warn the dead against walking the earth, just as it warns unprepared mortals away from sacred portal connecting two worlds. But to see that, we may


have to move our minds into a community whose whole existence is made possible by the ten-pound blade of an iron hoe. The peculiar ensemble bears analogy to the arm’s length hug of greeting which among Kinga marks the reunion of two men or two women after a separation. The greeting at first puzzled me. It seemed unduly prolonged and ceremonious to mark what in many cases would have been no more than a short time apart. As I came to understand the Kinga life cycle better, I saw that the carefree manners of youth would disappear with marriage and procreative householding. Old friendships, once but no longer intimate, needed reinforcement to dispel thoughts of disaffection and betrayal. The two stand stiff-armed, gazes meeting, endlessly repeating a simple litany of friendly greeting. A person does not share such old friendships with someone of opposite sex—the stiffness of this embrace speaks to a recognition of distance but also to mutual belonging. When it comes to reading the symbolism of ilikumbulu ilinya’vumongolo ‘the hoe of the royal gateway’ it would be difficult to argue the case for heterosexual embrace, as the component parts are identical and unambiguously male. But a case can be made for brotherly embrace. A reasonable reading of the oddity is that it models that idealized fraternal love which was betrayed in illo tempore, in the birth of the Sanga dynasty, with the banishment of Lwembe. The singular trials of a people are so made consequent to a Founder’s difficult personal destiny. I find this the stuff of which political religions are made. The narrative of Lwembe’s exile takes on meaning in relation to the condemnation of the unkinga [heir to the throne]—once seated at Ukwama—to an exclusively heterosexual life. This high Sanga prince must be withdrawn now from all the peer relationships which have been the pleasure and sport of his bachelor life. In the cause of fertility for his land and people, sterile sex relations have had to be excluded. It is Lwembe not Mwemutsi who embodies the sexual ambiguity of Kinga manhood. Lwembe’s fertility requires no women, yet he can take wives and found his own ruling dynasty in exile without ever abandoning the magic of his youth. Lwembe figures the relative freedom enjoyed by a younger brother with whom the prince, separated from the easy delights of bachelor camaraderie by the burden of rule, aspires to reconciliation. Lwembe in exile figures in myth the paranoid fix of the prince, who must accept alienation from his own as a condition of survival laid upon him by high office. The fertility of the Kinga people is, in practical terms, a function of the commitment of men after marriage to the sterner demands of heterosexual bonds. This is the commitment modeled in the prince-


hero’s career. But the prince’s fear of poison incorporates a deeper fear of the potential poisoners, the brothers who are his erstwhile comrades, and so models the universal plight which a male must face as he leaves the bachelor life of the court. The exile of Lwembe is relived in the career of the ordinary man ‘sent out’ from the life of the court to marriage and homesteading. Particularly is this the case for the royals, avapapwa [‘those whom one has borne on one’s back’]. As younger brothers of the heir [ unkinga ] they have never known any life but that of the court. The transition from that existence to the more self-reliant life of the bush and marriage ideally can be bridged by a fostering elder brother who has gone before, and with whom one makes one’s peace—in whom one may place one’s trust, in the manner of a gift. It takes only a small stretch of the scientific imagination to regard wonder-working as the quintessential fantasy of the sexually autonomous young male. Lwembe’s magical offspring, begotten on dust in a womb of clay, would have permitted an everlasting world of men without women. This is the magic of omnipotent egoism. The unusual prolongation of this stage of life among the barrackroom bachelors avanyakivaga of the Sanga courts was a distinctive feature of their culture and was not without its peculiar strains. We can’t be surprised to find them figured in its myths.

The Would-be-gods
The informing theme Monica Wilson found in the rites at Lubaga, which she got to know almost at first hand though always from the viewpoint of the Nyakyusa officiant, was moral unity. Dissension would spoil the rites. Only when they commanded the fullest participation of religious and secular powers across the land could officiants count on the effectiveness of their efforts. The same theme is not as clear in my Kinga materials. Though dissension is clearly an issue for Kinga priests, unatoned conflicts at home will not disqualify an offering properly made. The issue of dissension is ritualistically conceived in both cultures, but there is an added moralistic tone taken by Nyakyusa. They say the people have insulted Lwembe by failing to propitiate him, so provoking his anger. Kasitile felt his ill health could be owing to quarrels with other priests, not by way of their resentment but Lwembe’s. The Kinga priest recorded by Godfrey Wilson, who was a direct observer, interpreted the matter otherwise. Interrupting an argument about a Nyakyusa priest who had refused to participate on account of a fancied slight, the Kinga officiant said,


“Ignore him if he refuses to come. If it were us we should leave him and celebrate without him, but you Nyakyusa are all witches, and you fear to ignore a man who refuses to come to a ritual, saying that he will bewitch you. You are cowards, you are!”. ‡

What is missing in the Kinga worldview is the Nyakyusa value emphasis which Monica Wilson portrays in Good Company. We might describe this as a universalistic application of the ideals of neighbourliness, such that everyone with whom a man has civil dealings must either be brought within his circle of trust or be labeled enemy. To speak badly of witchcraft was to inject realism (in the speaker’s view) but also to betray a boorishness only hill people would display (in the audience view). Monica Wilson cites Kasitile’s understanding that the Kinga princes had been taught by Lwembe (acting as usual through seemingly arbitrary transformations in nature) to seek atonement before making their offerings. But as ethnographer for the Kinga I perceive this as a projection of Kasitile’s own worldview. In fact, the extent of the division within the Western realm of uKinga, the one with which Nyakyusa did have some acquaintance, seems not to have been comprehended by its lowland neighbours. Among Kinga informants of the several realms and domains I found consistent bias toward local self-importance in the social memory of their common ritual. This bias puts one in mind of the parable of four blind men describing an elephant after each examining quite different body parts. It is not surprising that Nyakyusa priests think of Mwakalukwa’s domain (Lingundya, inherited from Vululile, Kyelelo’s foe in the Western realm) as central to the Lwembe cult, as this is the Sanga domain with best access to Selya, scene of the Wilsons’ study. The Lingundya priest Unsanyilwa regularly prepared the way in advance for the main procession from Ukwama. But Kinga from other realms would not have given Unsanyilwa the rank he was able to claim from the Nyakyusa. ‡ For Kinga the all-important principle of amity is not reinforced by ‘the breath of men’, the legitimate anti-witchcraft power to which the Nyakyusa attach so much importance. This power is always generated by an integral polity and may be deployed by its constituted head to cause illness in a wrongdoer. Where Nyakyusa boys are serious agriculturists Kinga boys are hunter-herdsmen ‘whose work is to be hardy’. Where Nyakyusa boys live in assigned age-villages, which tend to separate brothers in favour of unrelated peers, Kinga boys live in smaller groups wherein the bond of full brotherhood can be a central feature and archetypal ideal. Kinga conceive of fraternity and friendship in dyadic terms and look for friends outside their domestic


group of peers. A father hardly features in a boy’s socialization. A Kinga youth would often find himself free to shift about from one boys’ house to another, for he lived within a voluntaristic network formed by kinship, acquaintance, and attraction until he was ready for the adult life of the ikivaga (barracks) at court. The Nyakyusa lad, though sometimes recruited to his village on a less-than-prescriptive basis, was always obliged to develop his lifelong loyalties there. This was a permanent political community. The greater voluntarism of Kinga life reflects an impermanence of associations and absence of the village as such, in both early and later decades of a man’s life, away from the ceremonial centres. The central rite of Kinga religion is organized not as a sanctioning of unity by authority but as a transactional response to the several and possibly conflicting demands of many constituent groups. I don’t suggest that the orderly assembly of hoes from domain and realm did not symbolize the unity of a Kinga people, nor that the inclusion of Mahanzi (though not Magoma) as full participants in this tributary rite was not of critical significance in pegging the limits of the Sanga polity. But the shape and tendency of the polity was differently seen from each vantage point. Elders of the Eastern and Western realms left the Northern quite out of their accounts to me. There can be no reconciling the itineraries for the same procession given me in the North and the West. Altogether there is far more agreement about the route followed in Nyakyusaland than about the touchier issue of the proper route to be taken through the highland realms. On what I took to be my crucial question, how many bored hoes would be carried in the procession, I got no satisfactory answer. In the North it was two, in the East one. At Ihanga [Western realm] I was told three hoes always were made at Ihela, including one for the Eastern and one for the Western prince (i.e., Kyelelo), all ordered through Ululemile, the chief priest of Mwemutsi. My reason for posing the question was an earlier description of the shrine ‘kwaLuaga’ [Lubaga] where Lwembe was supposed to dwell, which gave it four gateways. This was given me by Mwambokela, an elder of the central Mahanzi domain, who said there were two huts (or a double hut) each with two entrances. It looked likely that one hoe would be sent from each of the four Kinga realms, to stand in one of those gateways. Mwambokela demurred, the gateways were taken in turn over a fouryear cycle, and the hoes of however long ago were not removed but stood in the paths to mark the threshold of sacred danger. But neither Mwambokela nor any other informant of mine could boast of making the pilgrimage in person. Like me, but with an advantage in authenticity, they were drawing on indirect knowledge.


Mwambokela did say, now using Swahili, that the three Sanga rulers of the West and his own Mahanzi untwa were of mlango mmoja— one door, one path, one kin. This could not have been meant in a strictly genealogical sense but clearly was meant to explain how one hoe in this rite could serve all those four domains. The same would apply to contending rulers within each of the other realms. Because each community was thought to enter into this ritual drama in response to needs of its own, not simply on call from the priests of Ukwama, the nominal solidarity of each realm came predictably to expression. But how much real political unity would be claimed, how convincingly, on any particular occasion of the rite would have been a function of the pattern of amity actually prevailing then. The typical cycles of inter-realm warfare were such that a few years of peace would alternate with a few of chronic hostility. In a year of natural crisis sufficient to displace thoughts of military sport, there would have been peacemaking, but whatever the scheme for matching ‘gateposts’ with ‘gates’ at Lubaga, I expect the cause of all-Kinga unity would usually have been served in piecemeal fashion. Peace within a ‘village’ is one thing. Within a domain, realm, or proto-state it is quite another. Collective rites always do express an ideal unity of purpose. Ukwama religion made use of the leverage fickle nature supplies, the threat of wholesale misfortune, to launch concerted action. However much bickering was required along the way, a quantum of lasting moral solidarity would presumably emerge, as it often does from bargaining. If a Nyakyusa village took its strength from lifelong loyalties among male peers, this was in competition with another set of lifelong loyalties focused in the dispersed agnatic kin groups controlling heritable wealth. The moral career of a Kinga male had to be worked out in a quite different structural context. The Kinga village was not an association of male peers destined to form domestic groups pitched to the maximizing of cattle herds and wives. In uKinga the villages were the political centres of domains comprising many scattered hamlets. The ruling village gave authority to an executive coalition of secular and hieratic officers while depending for productive power on the extended bachelorhood of its men and the unusually prolonged maidenhood of its young women. The exaggerated polygyny of the prince, who needed some thirty wives, corresponded to his need of an agricultural workforce—women—to maintain the prosperity of a village peopled largely by men living in barracks, whose contribution to work in the fields would have been energetic and important but restricted to those shorter periods of the year when major planting was in preparation. The prolonged maidenhood of the royal ing’engele [princesses] corresponded to the same need for a


balanced labour force in a culture especially reliant on the steady work of women in the growing, reaping, and preparation of foodstuffs. By keeping his mature daughters unmarried at court, the prince could afford to keep their prospective husbands there as well, while by reserving to himself the privilege of bestowing these young women (or some of their friends) upon his warriors in reward for service, the prince had direct population control. This was sufficient to obviate the need for fissive mechanisms like those (the Coming Out) for which the Nyakyusa age village is justly famed among anthropologists. The equation of procreational and agricultural fertility was more tightly represented in the Kinga case, as Nyakyusa youths did herding, fighting, and gardening in their bachelor stage of life. It is arguable that, whereas the Nyakyusa enjoyed a problematic social organization and a reasonably even life-cycle, the Kinga were in the reverse situation. Political problems in the court villages were reasonably well under control, but ties of the court to the larger domain and realm depended on the strength of men’s continuing loyalty to an institution served in early adulthood but largely irrelevant to the daily concerns of the rusticated householder. Economically, when you married and moved out you turned from being a net receiver of benefits from the prince to being a net supplier. This could only have strained loyalties, and it was partly through religious doctrine that they must have been reinforced. This was the doctrine of the priests that they could control hunger, disease, and fertility through ritual operations geogonically centred at the court. That is, a condition of the continued existence of the small hamlets and scattered households, with their mundane daily concerns, was supposed to be the maintenance of a high courtly culture and ritual under the purview of the prince and his avanyivaha . Doctrine was directly taught, as in any other culture, but there was no formal school. Like the smiths, the avanyivaha took on apprentices on a selective basis, so that doctrine remained esoteric and uncodified. The standing of the court depended on political theatre: the military complex, the civil courts, feasting and dancing, and solemn ceremony, either calendrical or (like most of those we have been reviewing) circumstantially contingent. How far the exoteric symbolism, the spectacle, of the solemn procession to Lubaga instructed the general populace I can’t estimate from what could be learned after 1960. What is certain is that it lent dramatic values to the Lwembe narrative and made it an Everyman’s myth. Were the priests playing god to the prince’s Caesar? We have to balance the priestly and the politic in the worldly ways of the


avanyivaha . They comprised in their ranks the whole intellectual élite of the court: doctor, ritualist, magistrate, manager. The same man might bear the tokens of secular, ceremonial, and divinatory powers. Individuals were respected for their authority and knowledge, not as specialists but as avanyivaha , great men of the court. They seem always to have worked as a group not as contending individuals. Their thinking is definitively masculine—extra-domestic, as Lwembe’s was not. If by ‘playing god’ we mean holding the high ground against all comers, even up to Caesar himself, that does seem to have been the notion they had formed of their calling. We may trace it back to the reclusive rainmaker but should add-in the equally reclusive smith who deals as deftly with magical fire, and the husbandman of the bush culture, concerned as much about justice as substance in the fabric of community life.



Source notes ‡
These annotations have two purposes. One is to clue documentary sources to the text of the book. This will serve an occasional student wanting to explore petty points. The other purpose of the notes is to enlarge on my analytical strategies where they build on an older literature and on work Africanists may not be familiar with—or where I think my African cases have special significance for general knowledge. During the several decades after mid-century last, the mood of discovery was still peaking in anthropology. Most of us were, to cite one disapproving colleague, “still struggling with ideas.” His thing, of course, was science. Mine is, too, but with a difference. My social anthropology is scientific principally in its insistence on developing its theoretical frames to fit a reality directly observed. In its peak time, that meant direct observation of extraordinary cultural communities. This is no longer happening. Cultural differences are on the one hand melting away and on the other reinventing themselves so quickly that the culture observed yesterday will not be there tomorrow. These notes annotate my sources and draw attention to areas of a vibrant and relevant literature which, though belonging now to a past time, can’t safely be left on the shelf. The process of distilling the ideas of twentieth-century social anthropology has barely begun. I have meant my work on the Kinga and their neighbours to contribute to a scientific syncretism within social anthropology. I have been steadily “struggling with ideas” since leaving the field, and have left a paper trail through the decades to which I make occasional reference. It is a fugitive literature, yet all of a piece. My theoretical course has been guided consistently by the need to interpret observations made in uKinga while 1900 was still alive in memory. If I knew one thing quite clearly when the fieldwork was done, it was that the Kinga puzzle was deeper than my ken. The writing would not be a task to have quickly done. My appreciation for ethnographic realities has matured with wide reading, largely of titles since published, and of relevant archival sources. This is the second of three volumes now completed, all of them comparative, dealing with the Kinga in their regional culture. The first is Twin Shadows, dealing with Kinga moral strategies. The third and final is A Politics of Fear, a Religion of Blame.

Chapter One
p 1 For a broad historical perspective on Southwestern Tanzania see the articles by Park & Nurse in SUGIA 1988 pp. 7-204. For the extent of Kinga participation in a regional culture see Twin Shadows. I argue there that regional cultures should not be regarded as relics of earlier genetic relationships among the peoples but as actively maintained social constructions. Are the Nuer Dinka? Are the Ngonde Nyakyusa? the Bena Hehe? the Magoma Kinga? The questions dissolve when we see that both (arbitrarily) named groups in each pair belong to a more inclusive culture still harder to describe than any of its components. The grandest culture we have to deal


with here is Bantu civilization, the smallest a hamlet or domestic group. The quite grand and the very small are perhaps the hardest of all to describe. Anthropologists tend to find their ‘cultures’ at mid-range. p 4 For Bena, see Marc Swartz (1964). For Hehe there is a magisterial source in Nigmann (1908). p 10 The peculiar conditions which can be held to favour the formation of ‘endogamous clans’ are not found in the Eastern Bantu civilization. A ‘clan’ is a trans-local political unit which regulates membership through marriage and descent rules, most simply through exogamy and the unilineality which exogamy helps to define. The so-called ‘dispersed clan’ is something else and decidedly deserves another name. Quite simply, for Kinga and some of their neighbours the identity tag which sorts you with a particular subgroup of your people has social not directly political significance. The best term for this is ‘surname’. Kinga share several surnames with Pangwa and other political neighbours. That kinship is a political construct is sometimes obscured by our preconceptions. p 13 Formerly, anthropologists wrote about ‘primitive states’. They were accustomed to the adjective and seemingly unconcerned about its implications. Their meaning is best understood as part of the series ‘primitive to ancient to medieval to modern’, once accepted as the history of humankind in a nutshell. The world has grown less simple as we have watched since then. The only anthropologists studying ‘primitives’ today are paleo-archeologists looking at extinct forms of early hominids. I offer the term ‘protostate’ as the label for small, independent societies which have developed the use of authoritative sanctions on a trans-local basis. Aidan Southall’s model, the ‘segmentary state’, was first proposed in Alur Society (1954) and later generalized (1988). My term is not linked to a structural model but to the existence of translocal sanctioning. The Kinga and Konde examples discussed in this monograph would have to be portrayed by separate ‘models’. They are assuredly ‘segmentary’ as in a very general way all human societies tend to be, but they are not ‘states’ unless you want that word to signify a society without fast territorial borders and the governmental machinery wanted to manage them. Borders in the best of states may seem porous. But in protostates the principle of territorial citizenship is unknown. Nyakyusa chiefdoms before colonial times were virtually nomadic. Kinga rulers fought for followings not for territory. Much scholarly misunderstanding has followed from the assumption that their political thinking was ‘state-like’.

Chapter Two
p 17 The first-contact account is found in BMB: 295. p 18-19 The source for chiefdoms as an ideal type, centered around ‘redistribution’ of goods is Service (1971). p 21 Ritual sharing in the sacrificial offering, when seen as gestural rhetoric, says the local hamlet is a kin group. Though friendship decides where a man will build and stay, the prevailing fiction of agnatic kinship


among males serves to stabilize a hamlet. But when amity fails, a man may decide to build elsewhere. It is in fact the women, agnatically unrelated, who always sleep at home, and it is when they develop a sense of solidarity that a hamlet comes to thrive. p 24 I have discussed the Kinga bridewealth elsewhere (1964, 1994b). In traditional times it was nominal, while in British times it grew phenomenally. In each case it was well suited to its times. p 28 For the classic idea of charisma see Max Weber (1947: Part III Sections ii, iv, v). Weber’s explanatory genius regularly drew on his three ‘grounds for action’: rational motivation is matched to legal authority, tradition sponsors a sort of prudential deference to established authority, while affect arising as devotion to individual leaders allows them charismatic authority. For my part, I see tradition as role-motivation, rationality as a quality of role systems, and charisma as an occasional feature of political theatre. The Kinga hero, Kyelelo the Cruel, was certainly ‘charismatic’ in the sense of drawing young men to his ranks while he was a fighter, and stands comparison to Mkwawa of the Hehe, on a reduced scale. But with age he passed leadership in war to his son and ruled, now as unkuludeva or Prince, through his avanyivaha, elders of the court at Ihanga. Monica Wilson argued (1959b) the case for ‘divine kingship’ among the Nyakyusa. The term is a relic of past times in anthropology. It was introduced a century ago to account for the ritual killing of a ‘king’ on his losing bodily strength. It was supposed he must keep his health or the kingdom would go sick with him. Nyakyusa have such notions. They are discussed in later chapters. A quick source for Shaka is an encyclopedia, and major studies will be found in scholarly libraries. Mkwawa is less famous. An available source by a field anthropologist is Alison Redmayne, ‘Mkwawa and the Hehe wars’ (1968). p 30-1 ‘Solidarity’ lurks behind much Durkheim said in his Elementary Forms. He describes society itself as ‘a synthesis of human consciousnesses’ (1947: 431) which he attributes to the enthusiasm encountered in ‘the school of collective life’—what boils down to religion. It is not ‘individuality’ to which Durkheim gives too slight attention but competition— cherished rivalries celebrated in dance. p 35 The age-village is described by Godfrey Wilson (1951: 269ff) and Monica Wilson (1951). There is no equivalent for girls. Boys are recruited to a peer village before puberty with the expectation of staying with the same age-mates through life, wherever the village may choose to move. The village is not a place but a primary group, comparable to a family or brotherhood. In like manner a village or a chiefdom is not a place. This has hardly failed to confuse Europeans since German times. p 35-6 Reconstruction of precolonial conditions is difficult, but a concise review can help at this point. A longterm (30-year) political cycle is posited for Nyakyusa ‘chiefdoms’. Charsley (1969: 94-8) would have us rethink the version Monica Wilson recorded (1950) but disputes her interpretation not her facts. My position is distinct but again deals with interpreting facts already in hand. In the final act of the cycle a chiefly union might comprise (say) eight villages of senior men, each of them with several


wives and offspring, plus a dozen and more boys’ and bachelor men’s agevillages off-sprung from the eight. Two of the eight senior villages, one on each ‘side’ of the community, are alternate residences of the ‘chief’. A new cycle begins when seniority is passed on to the new generation of men, with a mandate addressed to certain picked leaders, each with other peer villages in train, to amass cattle and wives. This gives rise to an entrepreneurial period of political realignment and redistribution of wealth, partly by inheritance, partly by competitive raiding, and partly by the politics of clientship, resulting in a settling down after thirty years into a mature chiefdom rather like the original. There is again one chief sitting on two ‘sides’. Demographic expansion, if any, is not expressed in a change in the structural plan of the new union, though small independent ‘chiefly’ groups may have formed wherever they have found space—perhaps eventually to grow. There is no need to regard the successor union as ‘the same chiefly union’ since after thirty years neither the people nor the places will be the same. But the politics of chiefly titles is another study. p 36-7 I have discussed Kinga acquaintance with war, and the indirection lent to it by ritual interventions, in ‘Peace and power’ (1994a). p 37-8 For Charsley on Nyakyusa militarization: (1969: 94-8). p 38 For the Lwembe myth and ceremonial see Monica Wilson 1959b and Park 1966; also ‘An exiled god’ in chapter seven below. For an historian’s reconstruction of Nyakyusa beliefs about and political uses of their Lwembe cult (envisioned as one of several within the ‘heroic tradition’ of the region) see Marcia Wright 1972. p 38-9 The sources for Southall’s ideal type are found in his monograph on the Alur (1954) and in a later explanatory revision placing the type in broader historical context (1988). For the Nyakyusa form of ‘hiving off’ (the Coming Out) see Monica Wilson (1951: 22-30). p 39-40 The major sources on Nyakyusa (and to a fair extent the ‘Konde’ culture area they share with the Ngonde of Malawi) are Monica Wilson (1951, 1957, 1959a, 1977). The last is an adumbration of case evidence and reassessment of earlier interpretive judgements. p 42 A brief account of the militarizing period in the southern highlands after 1840 will be found in Oliver (1963: 209-10). p 42-43 The original model of ‘predatory expansion’ supposed a tight kinship system behind the segmentary structure. See Sahlins (1961). But an equation of war with lineage patriotism is misfit to the Sowetan region. For example, Mkwawa ruled by breaking down ‘tribal’ loyalties in favour of a Hehe nation. p 48 I wrote a book (1974) on the theme that the rules of the game called ‘social structure’ hardly hint at the excruciations and high drama of play which draw us in. p 56 ‘Cult’ is probably the right word for the relationship the Sanga system cultivated with the external Lwembe shrine. The procession of Kinga priests to the shrine (as done in traditional times) clearly drama-


tized the natural clientage of their people to an exiled divinity. But Lwembe’s status among Nyakyusa is not one of a patron saint and his congregation. The shrine there is one resource among many to which people may turn when they find themselves made powerless by events. Such territorial shrines appeal most strongly to publics at a remove beyond the horizon of familiarity. But when parties are seen to ‘shop about for a cure’ I think ‘cult’ is always the wrong word, even if it is the readiest to hand. For the Yao: Clyde Mitchell (1951 & 1956) provides a thorough study and bibliography. p 57 For a clear, distinctly abstract model of social structure as ‘frozen frames’ look first to S. F. Nadel’s Theory (1957). I proposed a less abstract view, more consistent with an interpretive and motivational approach to action, in Idea (1974). The approaches are complementary and conflicting. p 51-2 For the Kinga version of the Lwembe myth see Park (1966) and the indexed passages in the current volume, in particular Tunginiye’s account in Chapter Seven, pp. 234-6. p 52 Understanding the ‘antipolitan ethic’ gives you a basis for understanding the difference between political and bureaucratic (administrative) systems of order. The social contract of loyalty implicit in accepting another person’s authority is in the one case retractable for cause, in the other without alternative. In the modern democracy, party switching illustrates the antipolitan approach, rigid party loyalty the other. Politics can’t deal with pure eclecticism. The antipolitan ethic reduces it to manageable proportions. If you have sometimes noticed it is the illusion of democracy which makes democracy work, you know where the Kinga householder stands relative to his prince.

Chapter Three
p 55 Marc Swartz (1964) has discussed continuities in the Bena system of law from pre- to late-colonial times, the Culwicks (1935) saw no bar to discussing the full range of Bena law in a roughly pre-colonial ethnographic present, and Nigmann’s early and careful study of Hehe legal traditions (1908: chapter 3) manifestly refers to the same regional culture. Kinga, Bena, and Hehe are three versions of what is fundamentally the same body of law. On linguistic and other para-historical evidence I find it probable the groundwork was laid down in the later centuries of the Early Iron Age, and that structural differentiation among these three Southern Highlands peoples largely developed in medieval times—from about the sixteenth century a.d. See Park (1988) and Nurse (1988). For an overview of Iron Age cultures of the Eastern Bantu civilization I have depended largely on Phillipson (1985) and his sources. p 56-7 Hoebel (1954) makes a clear distinction between ‘demand-right’ and ‘privilege-right’. The application is to torts. As this might apply to Kinga, the difference had better be seen as one of degree: Kinga were


jealous of privileges a ruler might claim. They mocked self-important men taking others to court on small matters. p 57-8 Gluckman’s two monographs on Barotse jurisprudence model an approach applicable (though seldom to this date applied) to many systems of justice working without written codes of law. The problem before the court is not so often establishing who did what as whether, in the given circumstance, a reasonable person would have done the same. Criminal proceedings in a face-to-face society are sui generis. See Gluckman (1967:389) and (1972:20f.) On ‘compromise vs. decision’ compare Bohannan (1965). p 58 Reynolds (1963) focused on factual reportage based on court records and impounded items associate with witchcraft. He deals tangentially with court procedure. On Gluckman’s response see his (1967:423ff. & 98). p 59-60 On ‘calendrical schedules’ see Park (1966) p 61 The matter of generation spans has been much discussed. No rule of thumb has been shown to be transferable from one case to another. Fortunately, historical linguistics and archaeology are combining now to give us an alternative basis for approximating time depth for Eastern Bantu peoples. I have discussed the prehistory of the Sowetan region elsewhere (1988). For present purposes it is enough to say that ‘king lists’ here refer to a medieval period with roots in the later Iron Age, always bearing in mind that the Sowetan political archipelago would have arisen from a series of separate beginnings and irregularly. p 64 For appellate systems as indices of unity: (Gluckman 1967:13). p 75 I have discussed the structural significance of the bridewealth change elsewhere (Park 1994b; for an earlier and different analysis see Park 1962). p 77 My views on the importance of sanctioning systems and the transition from transactional systems to authority were worked out in The Idea of Social Structure (Park 1974, especially pp. 313-336). p 86 In theory, every Kinga youth should be able to name all eight greatgrand-parents and all their descendants, in order to avoid an illicit marriage; but I never found anyone who could. Lore shows a preference for the patriline, though exogamy is bilaterally defined in law. It is wise to warn a reader that the jurisdictions under the British dispensation, which are the basis for my ‘kinglists’, were derived from but not regularly faithful to the supposed pre-German mapping of political domains. The domain presiding as the capital village of a realm will always be styled ‘oldest’ for sound political reasons, and rival domains may each style the other ‘recent’.


Chapter Four
p 92 We have no sure ground in this region for estimating population expansion during any ethnohistoric period. The concept of ‘expansion’ in my accounts is always political expansion. For Nyakyusa ‘kinglists’ see Monica Wilson (1959:3,27). p 92-3 For Charsley’s critique see (1969: 20-1, 38-9). p 93-4 Gulliver’s comments are found in his Introduction to Charsley (1969: ix). p 94 See M. Wilson (1951: 80), MacKenzie (1925:159-162; Fülleborn (1906: 339). p 94-5 A chiefdom may ‘export people’ without overall demographic expansion, as out-marriages always entail such export. In political expansion the main propellant was normally (armed) colonization, associated rather with cattle raiding than conquest or displacement. Where cattle are important, the powerful keep themselves wealthy and, through use of bridewealths, keep trading out cattle in return for brides. In this way they expand demographically. It is this growth through asymmetric exchange which is particularly characteristic of uNyakyusa and sets it boldly apart from uKinga. For the ideal type case of ‘predatory expansion’ see Sahlins (1961). p 95 For arguments supporting the application of ‘divine kingship’ to the Kinga-Nyakyusa cult of Lwembe, see Monica Wilson 1959b. p 96 For Charsley on a “princely system” see (1969:22). Monica Wilson could offer no evidence on frequency of use for the ‘divine king’ procedure, but left the implication that special renown was entailed. There are altogether too many short-lived chiefdoms generated by the Coming Out ceremony, to suggest otherwise. The thirty-year cycle for that ceremony virtually entails the use of succession in case of premature death of a highly successful chief. Charsley’s challenge to Monica Wilson is much discussed in Politics of Fear. p 97 German records suggest this kind of covert succession in several cases. See examples in the following paragraph. The same subterfuge was regular practice in British times at least for the lesser ‘headman’ positions. The incumbent ruler in Maliwa during my visit was a good generation or more too young to have been in office since the officially recorded date of his accession. But I’m unsure what this implies about pre-contact practice. p 99 The self-escalation model was primarily derived from a study of the warlike Nuer, Nilotic cattle herdsmen. Whenever there is internal dissension, the face-off escalates according to the structural proximity of the disputants. It may be homestead vs. homestead or village vs. village, all the way up to segments at a ‘tribal’ level. The Nuer offer an example of rigorously systematic transactional sanctioning. The ethnographer calls it “ordered anarchy”—Evans-Pritchard (1940: 296). In my terms, authorita-


tive sanctioning is restricted to the established ‘true’ or ‘free’ Nuer homesteader, who may have a not-quite-true-Nuer homesteader allied and subject to him. The wobble factor here is obviously cattle, as a man who, in the warlike rivalry of Nuer with Dinka, loses his cattle can only survive by conceding rank in order to join forces with a cattle-rich compound. Refer to: (Park 1974a) (Southall 1976). p 99-100 Godfrey Wilson (1951:280-8) is reviewed by Charsley (1969). For Southall on the Alur see his (1954:146). I come to grips with the Nyakyusa statuses of ‘chief’ and ‘headman’ or ‘great commoner’ in Politics of Fear. The most important point to have in mind is that commoner village rulers who survive to elderhood function as priests and may (or may not) in traditional times have deferred in some matters to the ‘chiefly’ or hereditary priests, who are fewer. p 100 All-realm escalation could have happened but didn’t in response to the Avajinga [Hehe] rape-invasion about 1875; evidently there was not sufficient forewarning to prepare a collective response. The Eastern realm, according to its traditions, successfully repelled the second incursion but did so through a less than complete muster. In ordinary feuding of Sanga with Sanga, it seems allies would abstain. p 103-4 On charisma and the ‘revitalization movement’ see Wallace (1956). On zigzag change see Monica Wilson (1977: 28-9). p 104-5 For ‘extra-processual’ events see P Bohannan (1958). For Tiv . sociology see Laura and Paul Bohannan (1953) and Laura Bohannan (1958). p 112 For redistributive systems see Service (1971:134). For Fried’s triangle: (1967:117f.). p 112-13 On ‘social structure not social organization’ see Firth (1963:36). Social organization translates as a phrase referring to social structure ‘on the ground’ or ‘as embedded in situated action’. Firth used it to escape the snares of abstraction typical of ethnographic discourse at the time. My position (1974ab) has been that motivation is normally embedded in the social role which affords a person status in any social situation, but may also be reactive (sentient motivation) or personal (as in social involvements which may engender ‘extra-processual events’ and, in Goffman’s sense, a shift of frame). On frame analysis see Goffman (1974) and Park (1990a).

Chapter Five
p 115 For my scheme for naming and dating prehistoric periods in this region—since I am not convinced one label fits all Eastern-Southern Bantu areas—see Park (1988). p 116 Alur citation: Southall (1954: 7) p 120-121 Coser’s model was meant to fit industrial society but applies only better to a small scale community with, as here, overpowering political


institutions. It would apply also to cattle-centred communities whose social institutions are severely skewed by the effort to maximize the herds. In the Nyakyusa case, as also in the Kinga case in late British times, the greedy institution is the bridewealth. But the obverse of the same coin is ‘cultural emphasis’, a value-positive term. p 128-9 For the date 1845 I follow Oliver & Mathew (1963). p 132 As to the limiting of war’s destructive potential, I have elsewhere (Park 1994a) discussed the way war games and ritual intervention in the procedures followed in war had a limiting function. John Nef (1950) offers a balanced discussion of the ‘economic functions’ of war in an historian’s perspective. p 139 On earlier uses of ‘involution’ in ethnographic analysis see Geertz (1963: 80-2). Whereas he views involution as a dead-end process, I am only suggesting that it generates a safe ‘plateau’ on which the Sanga system could perpetuate itself while keeping aloof from the nineteenth century’s ‘winds of change’. Kyelelo did not, as Mkwawa did for the Hehe or Shaka for the Zulu, amalgamate the Kinga. Had he done so, with the segmentary system of ‘frozen warfare’ gone, the distinctive character of the Sanga dispensation would have been swept away. Now where is the ‘dead end’ in this? p 142 For the chief’s position in colonial times see Lloyd Fallers (1955). For the idea of a ‘dual society’ and its application to colonialism see Boeke (1953, 1955).

Chapter Six
p 154-5 Unfortunately, our unanticipated meeting was sterile. Pakipande struck me at once as manipulative and seemed to present an unsympathetic persona, masking intensity. In short, I scored badly with him. I later learned as much about Pakipande as I could from others but never managed to meet him again in person. Given his calling, I expect he learned what he wanted about me, as well. An outsider’s curiosity couldn’t have pleased him, I think. If my impression of his conservatism was correct, he would have been avoiding ‘European’ colonial officials. So I dare discuss him by reputation only. p 155-56 Citation of Missionary Wolff: BMB (1900: 33-34). p 163 For the ‘lion king’ see Feierman (1974:59). p 164-5 The missionaries would have the sacred plantation a ‘garden of God’—an overstatement stemming from their wanting to express a concept missing in Kinga language and thought. p 168 Stirnimann (1976: 111-12). Hans Stirnimann’s two volumes (1976, 1979) are extensively used and reviewed in A Politics of Fear, a Religion of Blame, the third monograph in the present series. All translations, as usual, are mine.


p 169 If this discussion seems to finesse the problem of theodicy in animisms, it is because the problem does not exist where the only gods are known to be, as in ancestor cults they once were in life, ultimately governed by existential concerns of their own. p 172 This observation, of the perverse quality of the ruler’s sacred powers, I take as a clue to the ‘paranoid’ quality of princely importance: the more successful the prince, the more dangerous is his person, the more necessary his isolation from other men, and the greater his distrust of them. During my fieldwork the Mwemutsi still had a eunuch in attendance. A prince’s brother, always the kinsman a Kinga youth must be able to trust implicitly, was a prince’s most feared enemy. p 175 For envy and the doctrine of limited good see Foster (1965, 1972). p 176-7 Source for Stirnimann on medicines is (1976: 110-28]).

p 177 But Malinowski (1935: v.1—particularly chs. 2,4,7) is dealing with an involuted ceremonialism. Every possible niche for ceremony is filled. Only bits of ‘magic’ are done privately or simply without spectacle. By Malinowski’s definition of magic (as transformative acts filling-in where practical knowledge fails) all ritual is included. Magical acts in my book are religious gestures. In his Origin of the State (1927: 51-73) Lowie argued that the shift from ‘blood ties’ to ‘territorial ties’ would always have been gradual. p 177-8 Monica Wilson’s meaning is that quarreling is dangerous in neutralizing protective medicines (1959: 146-7). p 178 Stirnimann is cited from (1979: 149). His ‘local descent group’ is an emic not an etic phenomenon. p 179 The two citations on this page are from Stirnimann (1976: 115 & 181). On the place of medicines in Pangwa defensive magic (1976: 180-81). p 186 Monica Wilson (1959: 61). p 187 For Mandala’s banishment see Monica Wilson (1959:59-60). For types of medicines see (1959: 142). For the chiding of a Nyakyusa priest by his Kinga counterpart see Monica Wilson (1959: 124). p 187-88 Stirnimann elaborates on his list of five natural symbols: (1976: 224-5, 153). On the explicitness of Nyakyusa symbolism: Monica Wilson (1959: 211). p 221-2 For the full cycle of kinship rituals among Nyakyusa see Monica Wilson’s volume on it: (1957).


Chapter Seven
p 189 For Murdock’s discussion of “primitive democracy”, and that on “African despotism” see his Africa (1959: 33, 37-9). Such ideal types—if seldom canonical—work as touchstones. These two focus attention on an arbitrary scale from ‘sheer democracy’ to ‘sheer despotism’. A student of the Kinga would quickly learn from this touchstone how many qualitative considerations go into judging the slant of the dominance curve in a comparatively uncomplicated social system. Another heuristic exercise: compare Kinga and Nyakyusa. Each case has to be seen through the lens of the other. p 194-5 Ethnographically, the Corridor can be defined as ‘the Nyakyusa and neighbours’. But Monica Wilson (1958) saw it as a migratory funnel for people and ideas obliged to pass between the two lakes (Tanganyika and Malawi). Though the great Eastern Bantu expansion constituted a gradual flow from north to south, salient linguistic and political traits of the Corridor peoples would have come on historical currents from every direction. p 195 For Maquet’s political model: (1971: 90). Here is another ‘ideal’ pairing of opposites which, as touchstone, can help lend definition to a range of African ethnographies. p 196 Many details were recorded by Godfrey and Monica Wilson in the 1930s. See M. Wilson (1959a: 22, 25 & 1959b). p 199 The identity of Mwakisisya with chief Mwakilima ruling at Lubaga in the 1930s is made in Monica Wilson’s chart, Chiefs of Lwembe’s Line, and her Map II: (1959a: 3, 87).] p 199-200 Monica Wilson describes the Lubaga scene and the myth of Lwembe’ sacred hoes through Nyakyusa eyes (1959a: 8-10). p 200 For tribute vs. oblation see Park (1966). p 201-2 Inga Clendinnen (1991: 236-9) sensitively discusses the problem of godhead in Mexica (Aztec) thought. Viewing the New Fire Ceremony would the ordinary observer see a god saving the world from chaos, or a priest successfully charming an invisible being to so act? Kinga priests had it both ways at Lubaga, though the layman might see only the priests’ success: Lwembe’s godhead remained in hiding from lay eyes. I have elsewhere discussed the attainment of apotheosis by priests as a feature of ceremonial religion (Park 1990a: 267-70). How close does the possessed Lwembe in the sanctuary at Lubaga come to this standard? p 203-4 Ludwig Weichert’s photograph of eyed hoes standing erect at one of the four Lubaga ‘gates’ is appended to these Notes. The ‘doubled’ hoe is best described as two ‘eyed hoes’ locked in sterile coition. The scene as a whole evokes the Kinga-Konde view of a sanctum sanctorum which only initiates dare visit. See Weichert (1928: 128-9). p 205 Citations are from Monica Wilson (1959a: 7ff. & 1957: 16).


p 208 Another symbol, associated with the accession of a new Lwembe, is the ‘headpad’ (a small wreath) brought by the Kinga, on which the selected priest must sit. Instantly on so sitting, he is invested with the spirit and godhead of Lwembe. He is born anew. Here a single ‘eye’ communicates the genius of a god to man. Just such head rings serve as symbols of taboo-protection of a plantation. The ring may suggest the walk-around of a priest with leafy medicines, which traditionally secures a field (Monica Wilson 1959a: 22, 146; Stirnimann 1976: 140ff.). p 211 Citation from Monica Wilson (1959a: 390). For the priesthood of Lwembe and for Unsanyilwa (a.k.a. Unsanyigwa) see Monica Wilson (1959: 24-5 & 33). For Nyakyusa anti-witchcraft instruments and for the separation of brothers see her Good Company (1951: 91 & 21).


Figures 1 and 2 here. 1 = Digital version of Weichert’s photo 1928 2 = Digital enhancement of the compounded hoe




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Wright (Marcia) 1971: German Missions in Tanzania. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Wright (Marcia) 1972. Nyakyusa cults and politics in the later nineteenth century. Pp. 153-70 in Ranger & Kimambo.

Other sources:
BMB: Berliner Missions-Berichte [1895...1915].

Stationschronik, Berliner Mission Station Bulongwa [1895 et seq., ms.].
Kinga Field notes (1961-1963) George Park. Selected Boma Files a) Njombe safari reports 1954-5 & half-yearlly reporta 1928-9 b) Njombe monthly & quarterly reports 1926-31 c) Njombe tour reports 1926-1930 d) Rungwe tribal notes 1926-1931 e) Iringa Provincial Commissioner’s circular letters 1926-31 f) General Land Report, Njombe District 1939 g) Fragebogen: Wabena Law & Custom. [Redmayne 1983 has source data] h) Njombe District annual reports (1926-1936) 1) Njombe District laws concerning native courts (1931-1954)