Jour. Anth Inst.

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The administration of justice among the Ba-Mbala may be summed up in the single word milonga (palaver); round this system their whole life centers, and all disputes, whether between two Ba-Mbala or a Mo-Mbala and a member of a neighboring tribe, are settled by this institution. In explanation of the proceedings a typical case, such as occurs every day in this country, may be given. A, of the village X, steals a goat belonging to B, of the village Y. Under pledge of the greatest secrecy, he boasts to some friend of his feat, and the result is that before the end of the day B knows who the thief is. B then sends a messenger to A asking for kama-kumi, that is, a few djimbu, (shell money) a little salt, a fowl, or in fact anything of little value. If A refuses, and this is rarely the case, war is made on his village; if, as usual, he consents, it means that he admits the crime and is willing to accept responsibility for the act. B’s next act is to send an arrow to A’s chief, marked with a number of incisions indicating the number of days in which the milonga will be held. When the day arrives, not only the whole population of the villages of A and B, but of all the neighborhood, flock to B’s village, all armed with bows and arrows (in this respect custom differs from the proceedings on the Lower Congo), to take part in the trial. There is no judge, but the decision is left to the crowd. Men of noted eloquence speak on behalf of each party, and the discussion begins. A admits that he has stolen the goat, but did not B’s grandfather seduce his, A’s, grandfather’s wife? B allows this, but asserts that his father had a fowl stolen by A’s grandfather. A does not deny the offense, but recalls the fact that a pig was stolen from his uncle by a slave of B’s grandfather’s brother-in-law. And so the case, proceeds, the assembly declaring after each charge and countercharge that the matter is compensated. Eventually he who can bring the greater number of charges against his adversary is declared the winner, and claims compensation.1

1Torday, E.n/an/an/an/an/a, and T.A.Joycen/an/an/an/a, "Notes on the Ethnography of the Ba-Mbala," , 35: 414–415.

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Chicago: Jour. Anth Inst. in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed July 21, 2024,

MLA: . Jour. Anth Inst., Vol. 35, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 21 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , Jour. Anth Inst.. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 21 July 2024, from