6 SEPTEMBER 1913, Page 25

Report on the lbo-Speaking Peoples of Nigeria. Part I. "

Law and Custom of the Ilso of the Awka Neighbourhood, Southern Nigeria." Part II.: " English-Ibo and lbo-English Dictionary." Part III.: "Proverbs, Narratives, Vocabularies, and Grammar." By Northeote W. Thomas. (Harrison and Sons. 4e. net per Part.)—This report, which has been compiled by the official anthropologist of Nigeria, is an example of one of the most praiseworthy developments of British government in Africa. The first part is, naturally enough, the most generally interesting. Unfortunately we have no space to do more than indicate roughly some of its principal features. Very curious is the system of " bans," nominally abolished since 1911, but still:to a great extent in active existence. Tnfant exposure was largely practised, twins being invariably thus treated, as were children born with teeth or lame, babies who did not cry within twenty-four hours after birth, and those born when no one was present to help the mother, the reason in the last case being that the child touched the ground—the power in whose name all these bans are imposed. Other curious restric- tions are that a husband may not carry his wife, or a wife whistle for her.husband. Many strange barbaric customs also exist with reference to birth, marriage, and burial, and cannibalism has but recently disappeared. Mr. Thomas gives a minute analysis of the tribal laws, which seem to vary widely in different districts. Those of succession allow certain domestic property to pass in the female line—a most sensible practice. The folklore is on the whole disappointing, though there is a remarkable story of a girl who married a " mwo " (a kind of evil bird), and did not discover her mistake till the " limo," who had approached her in human form, got her into his house and took off his nose, his face, his feet, and his bands. The proverbs, tales, and conversations printed in the third part of the report give an excellent idea of the native habits of mind and expression.