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By Melville Jean Herskovits

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Sample text

It is, however, good for agriculture and for hunting. Z5godu is the most favored day, one on which one may begin any venture; and it is held especially propitious for marriages. On it one gives food to the gods, to the ancestors, and to the spirits that actuate one's personal charms, for it is said that on Zogodu the gods listen to all men. Adjaxi is also favorable, in the sense that there are no special prohibitions See above, p. 35. 1 1 53 DISTRIBUTION attached to it, but it is particularly auspicious for sacrifices to the ancestors and gods, though for such a matter as the initiation of a venture, it is less auspicious than ZSgodu.

Djidja, some twenty-two kilometers north of Abomey, for example, is a farming center. The village lies surrounded by large fields, and it has a wholesale market to which sellers of cereals in the retail markets of Abomey and nearby cities come. Much of the land about the village proper was not being cultivated in 1931 because, as explained, this land had been exhausted through too intensive use, and would have to lie fallow. The length of time is not fixed, but there are tests by means of which the cultivator ascertains when cultivation may be resumed.

One may produce millet, another maize, and a third yams, although in some exceptional cases, all three crops may be grown by the same planter. Under the old regime, every dignitary had a number of plantations and was therefore one of the gletanu. Yet in the main the cultivators of large areas were, and still are, men who live on their farms, tilling them with the aid of their families and, in former times, of their slaves—men who rarely come to the centers where the great markets are held, and all of whose life is given to hard work.

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