Congo: The Fetish Sunga

You will see that Dennett collected this story from someone who has a family story to tell, a story about his own uncle and a fetish (a female fetish) that has the name "Sunga."

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Congo unit. Story source: Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort by Richard Edward Dennett (1898).

How The Fetish Sunga Punished My Great-Uncle's Twin Brother, Basa.

BASA was my great uncle's twin brother, and a very clever fisherman. Every day he used to go out fishing in the river, and every day he caught great quantities of fish which he used to smuggle into his house so that none should know that he had caught any.

His brother and relations used each day to ask him: "Basa, have you caught any fish?" And he would answer "No," although his house was full of fish going rotten.

All this time the fetish Sunga was watching and was grieved to hear him lie thus. So one day she sent one of her moleques, or little servants, to the place where Basa was fishing to call him to her.

It happened that upon that day Basa caught so much fish that he had to make some new matets, or baskets, to hold it all. He had already filled two and placed them in the fork of a large tree when he heard three distinct clappings of the hands, as if some child were saluting him, and then he heard a voice saying: "Come to my mother."

Then Basa was greatly afraid and answered: "Which way? Please show me the way."

"Follow me," said the voice of the child as she led him to the river.

When they stepped into the river, the waters dried up, and all the fish disappeared, so that the bed of the river formed a perfect road for them. Even the fallen trees had been removed that Basa might not meet the slightest difficulty in the way.

When they had reached the watershed of the river, there in the great lake he saw a large and beautiful town. Here he was met by many people and warmly welcomed. They led him to a chair and asked him to be seated. But he was alarmed at all this ceremony and wondered what it all meant.

Then Sunga laid a table before him, and loaded it with food and wine, and asked him to eat and drink. But he was still afraid and told Sunga that so grand was the feast she had placed before him that the smell alone of it had satisfied him. Then she pressed him to eat and drink, and finally he did so, drinking all the wine that there was.

Then Sunga deprived him of the power of speech that he might lie no more, and bade him depart to his town.

And so for the future he could only make his wants known by signs.



(fishing on the sea coast;


(500 words)






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