Part 2 out of 15
It is almost needless to add that the "proper treatment"
has always contained in it the essential element of slavery,
namely, compulsory unpaid labor.
One section of this body, under the late Mr. Hendrick Potgeiter,
penetrated the interior as far as the Cashan Mountains,
whence a Zulu or Caffre chief, named Mosilikatze, had been expelled
by the well-known Caffre Dingaan; and a glad welcome was given them
by the Bechuana tribes, who had just escaped the hard sway of that
cruel chieftain. They came with the prestige of white men and deliverers;
but the Bechuanas soon found, as they expressed it, "that Mosilikatze
was cruel to his enemies, and kind to those he conquered;
but that the Boers destroyed their enemies, and made slaves of their friends."
The tribes who still retain the semblance of independence
are forced to perform all the labor of the fields, such as manuring the land,
weeding, reaping, building, making dams and canals, and at the same time
to support themselves. I have myself been an eye-witness of Boers
coming to a village, and, according to their usual custom,
demanding twenty or thirty women to weed their gardens,
and have seen these women proceed to the scene of unrequited toil,
carrying their own food on their heads, their children on their backs,
and instruments of labor on their shoulders. Nor have the Boers
any wish to conceal the meanness of thus employing unpaid labor;
on the contrary, every one of them, from Mr. Potgeiter and Mr. Gert Krieger,
the commandants, downward, lauded his own humanity and justice
in making such an equitable regulation. "We make the people work for us,
in consideration of allowing them to live in our country."
I can appeal to the Commandant Krieger if the foregoing is not
a fair and impartial statement of the views of himself and his people.
I am sensible of no mental bias toward or against these Boers;
and during the several journeys I made to the poor enslaved tribes,
I never avoided the whites, but tried to cure and did administer remedies
to their sick, without money and without price. It is due to them to state
that I was invariably treated with respect; but it is most unfortunate
that they should have been left by their own Church for so many years
to deteriorate and become as degraded as the blacks,
whom the stupid prejudice against color leads them to detest.
This new species of slavery which they have adopted serves to supply
the lack of field-labor only. The demand for domestic servants
must be met by forays on tribes which have good supplies of cattle.
The Portuguese can quote instances in which blacks become so degraded
by the love of strong drink as actually to sell themselves;
but never in any one case, within the memory of man,
has a Bechuana chief sold any of his people, or a Bechuana man his child.
Hence the necessity for a foray to seize children. And those individual Boers
who would not engage in it for the sake of slaves can seldom resist
the two-fold plea of a well-told story of an intended uprising
of the devoted tribe, and the prospect of handsome pay
in the division of the captured cattle besides.
It is difficult for a person in a civilized country to conceive
that any body of men possessing the common attributes of humanity
(and these Boers are by no means destitute of the better feelings
of our nature) should with one accord set out, after loading
their own wives and children with caresses, and proceed to shoot down
in cold blood men and women, of a different color, it is true,
but possessed of domestic feelings and affections equal to their own.
I saw and conversed with children in the houses of Boers who had,
by their own and their masters' account, been captured,
and in several instances I traced the parents of these unfortunates,
though the plan approved by the long-headed among the burghers
is to take children so young that they soon forget their parents
and their native language also. It was long before I could give credit
to the tales of bloodshed told by native witnesses, and had I received
no other testimony but theirs I should probably have continued skeptical
to this day as to the truth of the accounts; but when I found
the Boers themselves, some bewailing and denouncing, others glorying in
the bloody scenes in which they had been themselves the actors,
I was compelled to admit the validity of the testimony, and try to account
for the cruel anomaly. They are all traditionally religious,
tracing their descent from some of the best men (Huguenots and Dutch)
the world ever saw. Hence they claim to themselves the title of "Christians",
and all the colored race are "black property" or "creatures".
They being the chosen people of God, the heathen are given to them
for an inheritance, and they are the rod of divine vengeance on the heathen,
as were the Jews of old. Living in the midst of a native population
much larger than themselves, and at fountains removed many miles
from each other, they feel somewhat in the same insecure position
as do the Americans in the Southern States. The first question
put by them to strangers is respecting peace; and when they receive reports
from disaffected or envious natives against any tribe, the case assumes
all the appearance and proportions of a regular insurrection.
Severe measures then appear to the most mildly disposed among them
as imperatively called for, and, however bloody the massacre that follows,
no qualms of conscience ensue: it is a dire necessity for the sake of peace.
Indeed, the late Mr. Hendrick Potgeiter most devoutly believed himself to be
the great peacemaker of the country.
But how is it that the natives, being so vastly superior in numbers to
the Boers, do not rise and annihilate them? The people among whom they live
are Bechuanas, not Caffres, though no one would ever learn that distinction
from a Boer; and history does not contain one single instance
in which the Bechuanas, even those of them who possess fire-arms,
have attacked either the Boers or the English. If there is such an instance,
I am certain it is not generally known, either beyond or in the Cape Colony.
They have defended themselves when attacked, as in the case of Sechele,
but have never engaged in offensive war with Europeans.
We have a very different tale to tell of the Caffres,
and the difference has always been so evident to these border Boers that,
ever since those "magnificent savages"* obtained possession of fire-arms,
not one Boer has ever attempted to settle in Caffreland, or even face them
as an enemy in the field. The Boers have generally manifested
a marked antipathy to any thing but "long-shot" warfare,
and, sidling away in their emigrations toward the more effeminate Bechuanas,
have left their quarrels with the Caffres to be settled by the English,
and their wars to be paid for by English gold.
* The "United Service Journal" so styles them.
The Bakwains at Kolobeng had the spectacle of various tribes
enslaved before their eyes -- the Bakatla, the Batlokua, the Bahukeng,
the Bamosetla, and two other tribes of Bakwains were all groaning
under the oppression of unrequited labor. This would not have been felt
as so great an evil but that the young men of those tribes, anxious to
obtain cattle, the only means of rising to respectability and importance
among their own people, were in the habit of sallying forth,
like our Irish and Highland reapers, to procure work in the Cape Colony.
After laboring there three or four years, in building stone dikes and dams
for the Dutch farmers, they were well content if at the end of that time
they could return with as many cows. On presenting one to their chief,
they ranked as respectable men in the tribe ever afterward. These volunteers
were highly esteemed among the Dutch, under the name of Mantatees.
They were paid at the rate of one shilling a day and a large loaf of bread
between six of them. Numbers of them, who had formerly seen me
about twelve hundred miles inland from the Cape, recognized me
with the loud laughter of joy when I was passing them at their work
in the Roggefelt and Bokkefelt, within a few days of Cape Town.
I conversed with them and with elders of the Dutch Church, for whom
they were working, and found that the system was thoroughly satisfactory
to both parties. I do not believe that there is one Boer,
in the Cashan or Magaliesberg country, who would deny that a law was made,
in consequence of this labor passing to the colony, to deprive these laborers
of their hardly-earned cattle, for the very cogent reason that,
"if they want to work, let them work for us their masters,"
though boasting that in their case it would not be paid for.
I can never cease to be most unfeignedly thankful that I was not born
in a land of slaves. No one can understand the effect
of the unutterable meanness of the slave-system on the minds of those who,
but for the strange obliquity which prevents them from feeling
the degradation of not being gentlemen enough to pay for services rendered,
would be equal in virtue to ourselves. Fraud becomes as natural to them
as "paying one's way" is to the rest of mankind.
Wherever a missionary lives, traders are sure to come;
they are mutually dependent, and each aids in the work of the other;
but experience shows that the two employments can not very well be combined
in the same person. Such a combination would not be morally wrong,
for nothing would be more fair, and apostolical too, than that the man
who devotes his time to the spiritual welfare of a people
should derive temporal advantage from upright commerce,
which traders, who aim exclusively at their own enrichment,
modestly imagine ought to be left to them. But, though it is right
for missionaries to trade, the present system of missions
renders it inexpedient to spend time in so doing. No missionary
with whom I ever came in contact, traded; and while the traders,
whom we introduced and rendered secure in the country, waxed rich,
the missionaries have invariably remained poor, and have died so.
The Jesuits, in Africa at least, were wiser in their generation than we;
theirs were large, influential communities, proceeding on the system
of turning the abilities of every brother into that channel
in which he was most likely to excel; one, fond of natural history,
was allowed to follow his bent; another, fond of literature,
found leisure to pursue his studies; and he who was great in barter
was sent in search of ivory and gold-dust; so that while in the course
of performing the religious acts of his mission to distant tribes,
he found the means of aiding effectually the brethren
whom he had left in the central settlement.* We Protestants,
with the comfortable conviction of superiority, have sent out missionaries
with a bare subsistence only, and are unsparing in our laudations of some
for not being worldly-minded whom our niggardliness made to live
as did the prodigal son. I do not speak of myself, nor need I to do so,
but for that very reason I feel at liberty to interpose a word
in behalf of others. I have before my mind at this moment
facts and instances which warrant my putting the case in this way:
The command to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature"
must be obeyed by Christians either personally or by substitute.
Now it is quite possible to find men whose love for the heathen and devotion
to the work will make them ready to go forth on the terms "bare subsistence",
but what can be thought of the justice, to say nothing of the generosity,
of Christians and churches who not only work their substitutes
at the lowest terms, but regard what they give as charity!
The matter is the more grave in respect to the Protestant missionary,
who may have a wife and family. The fact is, there are many cases
in which it is right, virtuous, and praiseworthy for a man
to sacrifice every thing for a great object, but in which it would be
very wrong for others, interested in the object as much as he,
to suffer or accept the sacrifice, if they can prevent it.
* The Dutch clergy, too, are not wanting in worldly wisdom.
A fountain is bought, and the lands which it can irrigate
parceled out and let to villagers. As they increase in numbers,
the rents rise and the church becomes rich. With 200 Pounds per annum
in addition from government, the salary amounts to 400 or 500 Pounds a year.
The clergymen then preach abstinence from politics as a Christian duty.
It is quite clear that, with 400 Pounds a year, but little else
except pure spirituality is required.
English traders sold those articles which the Boers most dread,
namely, arms and ammunition; and when the number of guns
amounted to five, so much alarm was excited among our neighbors
that an expedition of several hundred Boers was seriously planned
to deprive the Bakwains of their guns. Knowing that the latter
would rather have fled to the Kalahari Desert than deliver up their weapons
and become slaves, I proceeded to the commandant, Mr. Gert Krieger,
and, representing the evils of any such expedition, prevailed upon him
to defer it; but that point being granted, the Boer wished to gain another,
which was that I should act as a spy over the Bakwains.
I explained the impossibility of my complying with his wish,
even though my principles as an Englishman had not stood in the way,
by referring to an instance in which Sechele had gone with his whole force
to punish an under-chief without my knowledge. This man,
whose name was Kake, rebelled, and was led on in his rebellion
by his father-in-law, who had been regicide in the case of Sechele's father.
Several of those who remained faithful to that chief were maltreated by Kake
while passing to the Desert in search of skins. We had just come to live
with the Bakwains when this happened, and Sechele consulted me.
I advised mild measures, but the messengers he sent to Kake
were taunted with the words, "He only pretends to wish to follow
the advice of the teacher: Sechele is a coward; let him come and fight
if he dare." The next time the offense was repeated,
Sechele told me he was going to hunt elephants; and as I knew
the system of espionage which prevails among all the tribes,
I never made inquiries that would convey the opinion
that I distrusted them. I gave credit to his statement.
He asked the loan of a black-metal pot to cook with, as theirs of pottery
are brittle. I gave it and a handful of salt, and desired him
to send back two tit-bits, the proboscis and fore-foot of the elephant.
He set off, and I heard nothing more until we saw the Bakwains carrying home
their wounded, and heard some of the women uttering the loud wail of sorrow
for the dead, and others pealing forth the clear scream of victory.
It was then clear that Sechele had attacked and driven away the rebel.
Mentioning this to the commandant in proof of the impossibility of granting
his request, I had soon an example how quickly a story can grow
among idle people. The five guns were, within one month,
multiplied into a tale of five hundred, and the cooking-pot,
now in a museum at Cape Town, was magnified into a cannon;
"I had myself confessed to the loan." Where the five hundred guns came from,
it was easy to divine; for, knowing that I used a sextant,
my connection with government was a thing of course; and, as I must know
all her majesty's counsels, I was questioned on the subject of
the indistinct rumors which had reached them of Lord Rosse's telescope.
"What right has your government to set up that large glass at the Cape
to look after us behind the Cashan Mountains?"
Many of the Boers visited us afterward at Kolobeng, some for medical advice,
and others to trade in those very articles which their own laws
and policy forbid. When I happened to stumble upon any of them in the town,
with his muskets and powder displayed, he would begin an apology,
on the ground that he was a poor man, etc., which I always cut short by
frankly saying that I had nothing to do with either the Boers or their laws.
Many attempts were made during these visits to elicit the truth about
the guns and cannon; and ignorant of the system of espionage which prevails,
eager inquiries were made by them among those who could jabber a little Dutch.
It is noticeable that the system of espionage is as well developed
among the savage tribes as in Austria or Russia. It is a proof of barbarism.
Every man in a tribe feels himself bound to tell the chief
every thing that comes to his knowledge, and, when questioned by a stranger,
either gives answers which exhibit the utmost stupidity, or such as he knows
will be agreeable to his chief. I believe that in this way
have arisen tales of their inability to count more than ten,
as was asserted of the Bechuanas about the very time when Sechele's father
counted out one thousand head of cattle as a beginning of the stock
of his young son.
In the present case, Sechele, knowing every question put to his people,
asked me how they ought to answer. My reply was, "Tell the truth."
Every one then declared that no cannon existed there; and our friends,
judging the answer by what they themselves would in the circumstances
have said, were confirmed in the opinion that the Bakwains actually
possessed artillery. This was in some degree beneficial to us,
inasmuch as fear prevented any foray in our direction for eight years.
During that time no winter passed without one or two tribes
in the East country being plundered of both cattle and children by the Boers.
The plan pursued is the following: one or two friendly tribes
are forced to accompany a party of mounted Boers, and these expeditions
can be got up only in the winter, when horses may be used
without danger of being lost by disease. When they reach the tribe
to be attacked, the friendly natives are ranged in front,
to form, as they say, "a shield"; the Boers then coolly fire over their heads
till the devoted people flee and leave cattle, wives, and children
to the captors. This was done in nine cases during my residence
in the interior, and on no occasion was a drop of Boer's blood shed.
News of these deeds spread quickly among the Bakwains, and letters
were repeatedly sent by the Boers to Sechele, ordering him
to come and surrender himself as their vassal, and stop English traders
from proceeding into the country with fire-arms for sale.
But the discovery of Lake Ngami, hereafter to be described,
made the traders come in five-fold greater numbers, and Sechele replied,
"I was made an independent chief and placed here by God, and not by you.
I was never conquered by Mosilikatze, as those tribes whom you rule over;
and the English are my friends. I get every thing I wish from them.
I can not hinder them from going where they like." Those who are old enough
to remember the threatened invasion of our own island may understand
the effect which the constant danger of a Boerish invasion had
on the minds of the Bakwains; but no others can conceive how worrying
were the messages and threats from the endless self-constituted authorities
of the Magaliesberg Boers; and when to all this harassing annoyance
was added the scarcity produced by the drought, we could not wonder at,
though we felt sorry for, their indisposition to receive instruction.
The myth of the black pot assumed serious proportions.
I attempted to benefit the tribes among the Boers of Magaliesberg
by placing native teachers at different points. "You must teach the blacks,"
said Mr. Hendrick Potgeiter, the commandant in chief,
"that they are not equal to us." Other Boers told me,
"I might as well teach the baboons on the rocks as the Africans,"
but declined the test which I proposed, namely, to examine whether
they or my native attendants could read best. Two of their clergymen
came to baptize the children of the Boers; so, supposing these good men
would assist me in overcoming the repugnance of their flock
to the education of the blacks, I called on them; but my visit ended
in a `ruse' practiced by the Boerish commandant, whereby I was led,
by professions of the greatest friendship, to retire to Kolobeng,
while a letter passed me by another way to the other missionaries
in the south, demanding my instant recall "for lending a cannon
to their enemies." The colonial government was also gravely informed
that the story was true, and I came to be looked upon
as a most suspicious character in consequence.
These notices of the Boers are not intended to produce a sneer
at their ignorance, but to excite the compassion of their friends.
They are perpetually talking about their laws; but practically
theirs is only the law of the strongest. The Bechuanas could never understand
the changes which took place in their commandants. "Why, one can never know
who is the chief among these Boers. Like the Bushmen, they have no king --
they must be the Bushmen of the English." The idea that any tribe of men
could be so senseless as not to have an hereditary chief
was so absurd to these people, that, in order not to appear equally stupid,
I was obliged to tell them that we English were so anxious
to preserve the royal blood, that we had made a young lady our chief.
This seemed to them a most convincing proof of our sound sense.
We shall see farther on the confidence my account of our queen inspired.
The Boers, encouraged by the accession of Mr. Pretorius,
determined at last to put a stop to English traders going past Kolobeng,
by dispersing the tribe of Bakwains, and expelling all the missionaries.
Sir George Cathcart proclaimed the independence of the Boers, the best thing
that could have been done had they been between us and the Caffres.
A treaty was entered into with these Boers; an article for
the free passage of Englishmen to the country beyond, and also another,
that no slavery should be allowed in the independent territory,
were duly inserted, as expressive of the views of her majesty's government
at home. "But what about the missionaries?" inquired the Boers.
"YOU MAY DO AS YOU PLEASE WITH THEM," is said to have been
the answer of the "Commissioner". This remark, if uttered at all,
was probably made in joke: designing men, however, circulated it, and caused
the general belief in its accuracy which now prevails all over the country,
and doubtless led to the destruction of three mission stations
immediately after. The Boers, four hundred in number,
were sent by the late Mr. Pretorius to attack the Bakwains in 1852.
Boasting that the English had given up all the blacks into their power,
and had agreed to aid them in their subjugation by preventing
all supplies of ammunition from coming into the Bechuana country,
they assaulted the Bakwains, and, besides killing a considerable
number of adults, carried off two hundred of our school children into slavery.
The natives under Sechele defended themselves till the approach of night
enabled them to flee to the mountains; and having in that defense killed
a number of the enemy, the very first ever slain in this country by Bechuanas,
I received the credit of having taught the tribe to kill Boers!
My house, which had stood perfectly secure for years
under the protection of the natives, was plundered in revenge.
English gentlemen, who had come in the footsteps of Mr. Cumming
to hunt in the country beyond, and had deposited large quantities of stores
in the same keeping, and upward of eighty head of cattle as relays
for the return journeys, were robbed of all, and, when they came back
to Kolobeng, found the skeletons of the guardians strewed all over the place.
The books of a good library -- my solace in our solitude --
were not taken away, but handfuls of the leaves were torn out
and scattered over the place. My stock of medicines was smashed;
and all our furniture and clothing carried off and sold at public auction
to pay the expenses of the foray.
I do not mention these things by way of making a pitiful wail over my losses,
nor in order to excite commiseration; for, though I do feel sorry
for the loss of lexicons, dictionaries, &c., which had been
the companions of my boyhood, yet, after all, the plundering only set me
entirely free for my expedition to the north, and I have never since
had a moment's concern for any thing I left behind. The Boers resolved
to shut up the interior, and I determined to open the country,
and we shall see who have been most successful in resolution, they or I.
A short sketch of African housekeeping may not prove uninteresting
to the reader. The entire absence of shops led us to make
every thing we needed from the raw materials. You want bricks
to build a house, and must forthwith proceed to the field,
cut down a tree, and saw it into planks to make the brick-moulds;
the materials for doors and windows, too, are standing in the forest;
and, if you want to be respected by the natives, a house of decent dimensions,
costing an immense amount of manual labor, must be built.
The people can not assist you much; for, though most willing
to labor for wages, the Bakwains have a curious inability
to make or put things square: like all Bechuanas, their dwellings
are made round. In the case of three large houses, erected by myself
at different times, every brick and stick had to be put square
by my own right hand.
Having got the meal ground, the wife proceeds to make it into bread;
an extempore oven is often constructed by scooping out a large hole
in an anthill, and using a slab of stone for a door. Another plan,
which might be adopted by the Australians to produce something better
than their "dampers", is to make a good fire on a level piece of ground,
and, when the ground is thoroughly heated, place the dough
in a small, short-handled frying-pan, or simply on the hot ashes;
invert any sort of metal pot over it, draw the ashes around,
and then make a small fire on the top. Dough, mixed with a little leaven
from a former baking, and allowed to stand an hour or two in the sun,
will by this process become excellent bread.
We made our own butter, a jar serving as a churn; and our own candles
by means of moulds; and soap was procured from the ashes of the plant salsola,
or from wood-ashes, which in Africa contain so little alkaline matter that
the boiling of successive leys has to be continued for a month or six weeks
before the fat is saponified. There is not much hardship in being
almost entirely dependent on ourselves; there is something of the feeling
which must have animated Alexander Selkirk on seeing conveniences
springing up before him from his own ingenuity; and married life
is all the sweeter when so many comforts emanate directly
from the thrifty striving housewife's hands.
To some it may appear quite a romantic mode of life;
it is one of active benevolence, such as the good may enjoy at home.
Take a single day as a sample of the whole. We rose early,
because, however hot the day may have been, the evening, night, and morning
at Kolobeng were deliciously refreshing; cool is not the word,
where you have neither an increase of cold nor heat to desire,
and where you can sit out till midnight with no fear of coughs or rheumatism.
After family worship and breakfast between six and seven,
we went to keep school for all who would attend -- men, women, and children
being all invited. School over at eleven o'clock, while the missionary's wife
was occupied in domestic matters, the missionary himself
had some manual labor as a smith, carpenter, or gardener,
according to whatever was needed for ourselves or for the people;
if for the latter, they worked for us in the garden, or at some
other employment; skilled labor was thus exchanged for the unskilled.
After dinner and an hour's rest, the wife attended her infant-school,
which the young, who were left by their parents entirely to their own caprice,
liked amazingly, and generally mustered a hundred strong;
or she varied that with a sewing-school, having classes of girls
to learn the art; this, too, was equally well relished. During the day
every operation must be superintended, and both husband and wife
must labor till the sun declines. After sunset the husband went into the town
to converse with any one willing to do so, sometimes on general subjects,
at other times on religion. On three nights of the week,
as soon as the milking of the cows was over and it had become dark,
we had a public religious service, and one of instruction on secular subjects,
aided by pictures and specimens. These services were diversified
by attending upon the sick and prescribing for them,
giving food, and otherwise assisting the poor and wretched.
We tried to gain their affections by attending to the wants of the body.
The smallest acts of friendship, an obliging word and civil look,
are, as St. Xavier thought, no despicable part of the missionary armor.
Nor ought the good opinion of the most abject to be uncared for,
when politeness may secure it. Their good word in the aggregate forms
a reputation which may be well employed in procuring favor for the Gospel.
Show kind attention to the reckless opponents of Christianity
on the bed of sickness and pain, and they never can become
your personal enemies. Here, if any where, love begets love.
When at Kolobeng, during the droughts we were entirely dependent on Kuruman
for supplies of corn. Once we were reduced to living on bran,
to convert which into fine meal we had to grind it three times over.
We were much in want of animal food, which seems to be
a greater necessary of life there than vegetarians would imagine.
Being alone, we could not divide the butcher-meat of a slaughtered animal
with a prospect of getting a return with regularity. Sechele had,
by right of chieftainship, the breast of every animal slaughtered
either at home or abroad, and he most obligingly sent us a liberal share
during the whole period of our sojourn. But these supplies
were necessarily so irregular that we were sometimes fain to accept
a dish of locusts. These are quite a blessing in the country,
so much so that the RAIN-DOCTORS sometimes promised to bring them
by their incantations. The locusts are strongly vegetable in taste,
the flavor varying with the plants on which they feed. There is
a physiological reason why locusts and honey should be eaten together.
Some are roasted and pounded into meal, which, eaten with a little salt,
is palatable. It will keep thus for months. Boiled, they are disagreeable;
but when they are roasted I should much prefer locusts to shrimps,
though I would avoid both if possible.
In traveling we sometimes suffered considerably from scarcity of meat,
though not from absolute want of food. This was felt more especially
by my children; and the natives, to show their sympathy,
often gave them a large kind of caterpillar, which they seemed to relish;
these insects could not be unwholesome, for the natives devoured them
in large quantities themselves.
Another article of which our children partook with eagerness
was a very large frog, called "Matlametlo".*
* The Pyxicephalus adspersus of Dr. Smith. Length of head and body,
5-1/2 inches; fore legs, 3 inches; hind legs, 6 inches.
Width of head posteriorly, 3 inches; of body, 4-1/2 inches.
These enormous frogs, which, when cooked, look like chickens,
are supposed by the natives to fall down from thunder-clouds,
because after a heavy thunder-shower the pools, which are filled
and retain water a few days, become instantly alive with this loud-croaking,
pugnacious game. This phenomenon takes place in the driest parts
of the desert, and in places where, to an ordinary observer,
there is not a sign of life. Having been once benighted
in a district of the Kalahari where there was no prospect of getting water
for our cattle for a day or two, I was surprised to hear
in the fine still evening the croaking of frogs. Walking out
until I was certain that the musicians were between me and our fire,
I found that they could be merry on nothing else but a prospect of rain.
From the Bushmen I afterward learned that the matlametlo makes a hole
at the root of certain bushes, and there ensconces himself
during the months of drought. As he seldom emerges, a large variety of spider
takes advantage of the hole, and makes its web across the orifice.
He is thus furnished with a window and screen gratis; and no one but a Bushman
would think of searching beneath a spider's web for a frog.
They completely eluded my search on the occasion referred to;
and as they rush forth into the hollows filled by the thunder-shower
when the rain is actually falling, and the Bechuanas are cowering under
their skin garments, the sudden chorus struck up simultaneously from all sides
seems to indicate a descent from the clouds.
The presence of these matlametlo in the desert in a time of drought
was rather a disappointment, for I had been accustomed to suppose
that the note was always emitted by them when they were chin-deep in water.
Their music was always regarded in other spots as the most pleasant sound
that met the ear after crossing portions of the thirsty desert;
and I could fully appreciate the sympathy for these animals shown by Aesop,
himself an African, in his fable of the "Boys and the Frogs".
It is remarkable that attempts have not been made to any extent
to domesticate some of the noble and useful creatures of Africa in England.
The eland, which is the most magnificent of all antelopes,
would grace the parks of our nobility more than deer. This animal,
from the excellence of its flesh, would be appropriate to our own country;
and as there is also a splendid esculent frog nearly as large as a chicken,
it would no doubt tend to perpetuate the present alliance
if we made a gift of that to France.
The scavenger beetle is one of the most useful of all insects,
as it effectually answers the object indicated by the name.
Where they abound, as at Kuruman, the villages are sweet and clean,
for no sooner are animal excretions dropped than, attracted by the scent,
the scavengers are heard coming booming up the wind. They roll away
the droppings of cattle at once, in round pieces often as large
as billiard-balls; and when they reach a place proper by its softness
for the deposit of their eggs and the safety of their young,
they dig the soil out from beneath the ball till they have quite let it down
and covered it: they then lay their eggs within the mass.
While the larvae are growing, they devour the inside of the ball
before coming above ground to begin the world for themselves.
The beetles with their gigantic balls look like Atlas
with the world on his back; only they go backward, and, with their heads down,
push with the hind legs, as if a boy should roll a snow-ball with his legs
while standing on his head. As we recommend the eland to John Bull,
and the gigantic frog to France, we can confidently recommend this beetle
to the dirty Italian towns and our own Sanitary Commissioners.
In trying to benefit the tribes living under the Boers
of the Cashan Mountains, I twice performed a journey of about
three hundred miles to the eastward of Kolobeng. Sechele had become
so obnoxious to the Boers that, though anxious to accompany me in my journey,
he dared not trust himself among them. This did not arise from
the crime of cattle-stealing; for that crime, so common among the Caffres,
was never charged against his tribe, nor, indeed, against any Bechuana tribe.
It is, in fact, unknown in the country, except during actual warfare.
His independence and love of the English were his only faults.
In my last journey there, of about two hundred miles,
on parting at the River Marikwe he gave me two servants,
"to be," as he said, "his arms to serve me," and expressed regret that
he could not come himself. "Suppose we went north," I said, "would you come?"
He then told me the story of Sebituane having saved his life,
and expatiated on the far-famed generosity of that really great man.
This was the first time I had thought of crossing the Desert to Lake Ngami.
The conduct of the Boers, who, as will be remembered,
had sent a letter designed to procure my removal out of the country,
and their well-known settled policy which I have already described,
became more fully developed on this than on any former occasion.
When I spoke to Mr. Hendrick Potgeiter of the danger of hindering
the Gospel of Christ among these poor savages, he became greatly excited,
and called one of his followers to answer me. He threatened to attack
any tribe that might receive a native teacher, yet he promised
to use his influence to prevent those under him from throwing obstacles
in our way. I could perceive plainly that nothing more could be done
in that direction, so I commenced collecting all the information I could
about the desert, with the intention of crossing it, if possible.
Sekomi, the chief of the Bamangwato, was acquainted with a route
which he kept carefully to himself, because the Lake country
abounded in ivory, and he drew large quantities thence periodically
at but small cost to himself.
Sechele, who valued highly every thing European, and was always
fully alive to his own interest, was naturally anxious to get
a share of that inviting field. He was most anxious to visit Sebituane too,
partly, perhaps, from a wish to show off his new acquirements,
but chiefly, I believe, from having very exalted ideas of the benefits
he would derive from the liberality of that renowned chieftain.
In age and family Sechele is the elder and superior of Sekomi;
for when the original tribe broke up into Bamangwato, Bangwaketse,
and Bakwains, the Bakwains retained the hereditary chieftainship;
so their chief, Sechele, possesses certain advantages over Sekomi,
the chief of the Bamangwato. If the two were traveling or hunting together,
Sechele would take, by right, the heads of the game shot by Sekomi.
There are several vestiges, besides, of very ancient partitions
and lordships of tribes. The elder brother of Sechele's father,
becoming blind, gave over the chieftainship to Sechele's father.
The descendants of this man pay no tribute to Sechele,
though he is the actual ruler, and superior to the head of that family;
and Sechele, while in every other respect supreme, calls him Kosi, or Chief.
The other tribes will not begin to eat the early pumpkins of a new crop
until they hear that the Bahurutse have "bitten it", and there is
a public ceremony on the occasion -- the son of the chief being the first
to taste of the new harvest.
Sechele, by my advice, sent men to Sekomi, asking leave for me to pass
along his path, accompanying the request with the present of an ox.
Sekomi's mother, who possesses great influence over him, refused permission,
because she had not been propitiated. This produced a fresh message;
and the most honorable man in the Bakwain tribe, next to Sechele, was sent
with an ox for both Sekomi and his mother. This, too, was met by refusal.
It was said, "The Matebele, the mortal enemies of the Bechuanas,
are in the direction of the lake, and, should they kill the white man,
we shall incur great blame from all his nation."
The exact position of the Lake Ngami had, for half a century at least,
been correctly pointed out by the natives, who had visited it
when rains were more copious in the Desert than in more recent times,
and many attempts had been made to reach it by passing through the Desert
in the direction indicated; but it was found impossible,
even for Griquas, who, having some Bushman blood in them,
may be supposed more capable of enduring thirst than Europeans.
It was clear, then, that our only chance of success was by going round,
instead of through, the Desert. The best time for the attempt
would have been about the end of the rainy season, in March or April,
for then we should have been likely to meet with pools of rain-water,
which always dry up during the rainless winter. I communicated my intention
to an African traveler, Colonel Steele, then aid-de-camp
to the Marquis of Tweedale at Madras, and he made it known to two
other gentlemen, whose friendship we had gained during their African travel,
namely, Major Vardon and Mr. Oswell. All of these gentlemen
were so enamored with African hunting and African discovery
that the two former must have envied the latter his good fortune in being able
to leave India to undertake afresh the pleasures and pains of desert life.
I believe Mr. Oswell came from his high position at a very considerable
pecuniary sacrifice, and with no other end in view but to extend
the boundaries of geographical knowledge. Before I knew of his coming,
I had arranged that the payment for the guides furnished by Sechele
should be the loan of my wagon, to bring back whatever ivory he might obtain
from the chief at the lake. When, at last, Mr. Oswell came,
bringing Mr. Murray with him, he undertook to defray
the entire expenses of the guides, and fully executed his generous intention.
Sechele himself would have come with us, but, fearing that
the much-talked-of assault of the Boers might take place during our absence,
and blame be attached to me for taking him away, I dissuaded him against it
by saying that he knew Mr. Oswell "would be as determined as himself
to get through the Desert."
Before narrating the incidents of this journey, I may give some account
of the great Kalahari Desert, in order that the reader may understand
in some degree the nature of the difficulties we had to encounter.
The space from the Orange River in the south, lat. 29 Degrees,
to Lake Ngami in the north, and from about 24 Degrees east long.
to near the west coast, has been called a desert simply because
it contains no running water, and very little water in wells.
It is by no means destitute of vegetation and inhabitants,
for it is covered with grass and a great variety of creeping plants;
besides which there are large patches of bushes, and even trees.
It is remarkably flat, but interesected in different parts
by the beds of ancient rivers; and prodigious herds of certain antelopes,
which require little or no water, roam over the trackless plains.
The inhabitants, Bushmen and Bakalahari, prey on the game
and on the countless rodentia and small species of the feline race
which subsist on these. In general, the soil is light-colored soft sand,
nearly pure silica. The beds of the ancient rivers contain
much alluvial soil; and as that is baked hard by the burning sun,
rain-water stands in pools in some of them for several months in the year.
The quantity of grass which grows on this remarkable region is astonishing,
even to those who are familiar with India. It usually rises in tufts
with bare spaces between, or the intervals are occupied by creeping plants,
which, having their roots buried far beneath the soil,
feel little the effects of the scorching sun. The number of these
which have tuberous roots is very great; and their structure is intended
to supply nutriment and moisture, when, during the long droughts,
they can be obtained nowhere else. Here we have an example of a plant,
not generally tuber-bearing, becoming so under circumstances where
that appendage is necessary to act as a reservoir for preserving its life;
and the same thing occurs in Angola to a species of grape-bearing vine,
which is so furnished for the same purpose. The plant to which
I at present refer is one of the cucurbitaceae, which bears a small,
scarlet-colored, eatable cucumber. Another plant, named Leroshua,
is a blessing to the inhabitants of the Desert. We see a small plant
with linear leaves, and a stalk not thicker than a crow's quill;
on digging down a foot or eighteen inches beneath, we come to a tuber,
often as large as the head of a young child; when the rind is removed,
we find it to be a mass of cellular tissue, filled with fluid
much like that in a young turnip. Owing to the depth beneath the soil
at which it is found, it is generally deliciously cool and refreshing.
Another kind, named Mokuri, is seen in other parts of the country,
where long-continued heat parches the soil. This plant
is an herbaceous creeper, and deposits under ground a number of tubers,
some as large as a man's head, at spots in a circle a yard or more,
horizontally, from the stem. The natives strike the ground
on the circumference of the circle with stones, till, by hearing
a difference of sound, they know the water-bearing tuber to be beneath.
They then dig down a foot or so, and find it.
But the most surprising plant of the Desert is the "Kengwe or Keme"
(`Cucumis caffer'), the watermelon. In years when more than the usual
quantity of rain falls, vast tracts of the country are literally covered
with these melons; this was the case annually when the fall of rain
was greater than it is now, and the Bakwains sent trading parties every year
to the lake. It happens commonly once every ten or eleven years,
and for the last three times its occurrence has coincided with
an extraordinarily wet season. Then animals of every sort and name,
including man, rejoice in the rich supply. The elephant,
true lord of the forest, revels in this fruit, and so do
the different species of rhinoceros, although naturally so diverse
in their choice of pasture. The various kinds of antelopes feed on them
with equal avidity, and lions, hyaenas, jackals, and mice,
all seem to know and appreciate the common blessing. These melons are not,
however, all of them eatable; some are sweet, and others so bitter
that the whole are named by the Boers the "bitter watermelon".
The natives select them by striking one melon after another with a hatchet,
and applying the tongue to the gashes. They thus readily distinguish
between the bitter and sweet. The bitter are deleterious,
but the sweet are quite wholesome. This peculiarity of one species of plant
bearing both sweet and bitter fruits occurs also in a red, eatable cucumber,
often met with in the country. It is about four inches long,
and about an inch and a half in diameter. It is of a bright scarlet color
when ripe. Many are bitter, others quite sweet. Even melons in a garden
may be made bitter by a few bitter kengwe in the vicinity.
The bees convey the pollen from one to the other.
The human inhabitants of this tract of country consist of
Bushmen and Bakalahari. The former are probably the aborigines
of the southern portion of the continent, the latter the remnants of
the first emigration of Bechuanas. The Bushmen live in the Desert
from choice, the Bakalahari from compulsion, and both possess
an intense love of liberty. The Bushmen are exceptions in language, race,
habits, and appearance. They are the only real nomads in the country;
they never cultivate the soil, nor rear any domestic animal
save wretched dogs. They are so intimately acquainted
with the habits of the game that they follow them in their migrations,
and prey upon them from place to place, and thus prove
as complete a check upon their inordinate increase as the other carnivora.
The chief subsistence of the Bushmen is the flesh of game,
but that is eked out by what the women collect of roots and beans,
and fruits of the Desert. Those who inhabit the hot sandy
plains of the Desert possess generally thin, wiry forms,
capable of great exertion and of severe privations. Many are of low stature,
though not dwarfish; the specimens brought to Europe have been selected,
like costermongers' dogs, on account of their extreme ugliness;
consequently, English ideas of the whole tribe are formed in the same way
as if the ugliest specimens of the English were exhibited in Africa
as characteristic of the entire British nation. That they are like baboons
is in some degree true, just as these and other simiae are in some points
The Bakalahari are traditionally reported to be the oldest
of the Bechuana tribes, and they are said to have possessed
enormous herds of the large horned cattle mentioned by Bruce,
until they were despoiled of them and driven into the Desert
by a fresh migration of their own nation. Living ever since
on the same plains with the Bushmen, subjected to the same
influences of climate, enduring the same thirst, and subsisting
on similar food for centuries, they seem to supply a standing proof
that locality is not always sufficient of itself to account
for difference in races. The Bakalahari retain in undying vigor
the Bechuana love for agriculture and domestic animals.
They hoe their gardens annually, though often all they can hope for
is a supply of melons and pumpkins. And they carefully rear
small herds of goats, though I have seen them lift water for them
out of small wells with a bit of ostrich egg-shell, or by spoonfuls.
They generally attach themselves to influential men
in the different Bechuana tribes living adjacent to their desert home,
in order to obtain supplies of spears, knives, tobacco, and dogs, in exchange
for the skins of the animals they may kill. These are small carnivora of
the feline species, including two species of jackal, the dark and the golden;
the former, "motlose" (`Megalotis capensis' or `Cape fennec'),
has the warmest fur the country yields; the latter,
"pukuye" (`Canis mesomelas' and `C. aureus'), is very handsome
when made into the skin mantle called kaross. Next in value
follow the "tsipa" or small ocelot (`Felis nigripes'),
the "tuane" or lynx, the wild cat, the spotted cat, and other small animals.
Great numbers of `puti' (`duiker') and `puruhuru' (`steinbuck') skins
are got too, besides those of lions, leopards, panthers,
and hyaenas. During the time I was in the Bechuana country,
between twenty and thirty thousand skins were made up into karosses;
part of them were worn by the inhabitants, and part sold to traders:
many, I believe, find their way to China. The Bakwains bought tobacco
from the eastern tribes, then purchased skins with it from the Bakalahari,
tanned them, and sewed them into karosses, then went south to purchase
heifer-calves with them, cows being the highest form of riches known,
as I have often noticed from their asking "if Queen Victoria had many cows."
The compact they enter into is mutually beneficial, but injustice and wrong
are often perpetrated by one tribe of Bechuanas going among
the Bakalahari of another tribe, and compelling them to deliver up the skins
which they may be keeping for their friends. They are a timid race,
and in bodily development often resemble the aborigines of Australia.
They have thin legs and arms, and large, protruding abdomens,
caused by the coarse, indigestible food they eat. Their children's eyes
lack lustre. I never saw them at play. A few Bechuanas may go into
a village of Bakalahari, and domineer over the whole with impunity;
but when these same adventurers meet the Bushmen, they are fain
to change their manners to fawning sycophancy; they know that,
if the request for tobacco is refused, these free sons of the Desert
may settle the point as to its possession by a poisoned arrow.
The dread of visits from Bechuanas of strange tribes causes the Bakalahari
to choose their residences far from water; and they not unfrequently
hide their supplies by filling the pits with sand and making a fire
over the spot. When they wish to draw water for use, the women come
with twenty or thirty of their water-vessels in a bag or net on their backs.
These water-vessels consist of ostrich egg-shells, with a hole
in the end of each, such as would admit one's finger.
The women tie a bunch of grass to one end of a reed about two feet long,
and insert it in a hole dug as deep as the arm will reach;
then ram down the wet sand firmly round it. Applying the mouth
to the free end of the reed, they form a vacuum in the grass beneath,
in which the water collects, and in a short time rises into the mouth.
An egg-shell is placed on the ground alongside the reed,
some inches below the mouth of the sucker. A straw guides the water
into the hole of the vessel, as she draws mouthful after mouthful from below.
The water is made to pass along the outside, not through the straw.
If any one will attempt to squirt water into a bottle
placed some distance below his mouth, he will soon perceive
the wisdom of the Bushwoman's contrivance for giving the stream direction
by means of a straw. The whole stock of water is thus passed
through the woman's mouth as a pump, and, when taken home,
is carefully buried. I have come into villages where, had we acted
a domineering part, and rummaged every hut, we should have found nothing;
but by sitting down quietly, and waiting with patience
until the villagers were led to form a favorable opinion of us,
a woman would bring out a shellful of the precious fluid
from I know not where.
The so-called Desert, it may be observed, is by no means
a useless tract of country. Besides supporting multitudes of both
small and large animals, it sends something to the market of the world,
and has proved a refuge to many a fugitive tribe -- to the Bakalahari first,
and to the other Bechuanas in turn -- as their lands were overrun
by the tribe of true Caffres, called Matebele. The Bakwains, the Bangwaketze,
and the Bamangwato all fled thither; and the Matebele marauders,
who came from the well-watered east, perished by hundreds
in their attempts to follow them. One of the Bangwaketze chiefs,
more wily than the rest, sent false guides to lead them on a track where,
for hundreds of miles, not a drop of water could be found,
and they perished in consequence. Many Bakwains perished too.
Their old men, who could have told us ancient stories,
perished in these flights. An intelligent Mokwain related to me
how the Bushmen effectually balked a party of his tribe
which lighted on their village in a state of burning thirst.
Believing, as he said, that nothing human could subsist without water,
they demanded some, but were coolly told by these Bushmen that they had none,
and never drank any. Expecting to find them out, they resolved to watch them
night and day. They persevered for some days, thinking that at last
the water must come forth; but, notwithstanding their watchfulness,
kept alive by most tormenting thirst, the Bakwains were compelled to exclaim,
"Yak! yak! these are not men; let us go." Probably the Bushmen
had been subsisting on a store hidden under ground, which had eluded
the vigilance of their visitors.
Departure from Kolobeng, 1st June, 1849 -- Companions -- Our Route --
Abundance of Grass -- Serotli, a Fountain in the Desert --
Mode of digging Wells -- The Eland -- Animals of the Desert --
The Hyaena -- The Chief Sekomi -- Dangers -- The wandering Guide --
Cross Purposes -- Slow Progress -- Want of Water -- Capture of a Bushwoman
-- The Salt-pan at Nchokotsa -- The Mirage -- Reach the River Zouga --
The Quakers of Africa -- Discovery of Lake Ngami, 1st August, 1849 --
Its Extent -- Small Depth of Water -- Position as the Reservoir
of a great River System -- The Bamangwato and their Chief --
Desire to visit Sebituane, the Chief of the Makololo --
Refusal of Lechulatebe to furnish us with Guides --
Resolve to return to the Cape -- The Banks of the Zouga -- Pitfalls --
Trees of the District -- Elephants -- New Species of Antelope --
Fish in the Zouga.
Such was the desert which we were now preparing to cross --
a region formerly of terror to the Bechuanas from the numbers of serpents
which infested it and fed on the different kinds of mice,
and from the intense thirst which these people often endured
when their water-vessels were insufficient for the distances
to be traveled over before reaching the wells.
Just before the arrival of my companions, a party of the people of the lake
came to Kolobeng, stating that they were sent by Lechulatebe,
the chief, to ask me to visit that country. They brought
such flaming accounts of the quantities of ivory to be found there
(cattle-pens made of elephants' tusks of enormous size, &c.),
that the guides of the Bakwains were quite as eager to succeed
in reaching the lake as any one of us could desire. This was fortunate,
as we knew the way the strangers had come was impassable for wagons.
Messrs. Oswell and Murray came at the end of May, and we all made a fair start
for the unknown region on the 1st of June, 1849. Proceeding northward,
and passing through a range of tree-covered hills to Shokuane,
formerly the residence of the Bakwains, we soon after entered
on the high road to the Bamangwato, which lies generally
in the bed of an ancient river or wady that must formerly have flowed N. to S.
The adjacent country is perfectly flat, but covered with open forest and bush,
with abundance of grass; the trees generally are a kind of acacia
called "Monato", which appears a little to the south of this region,
and is common as far as Angola. A large caterpillar, called "Nato",
feeds by night on the leaves of these trees, and comes down by day
to bury itself at the root in the sand, in order to escape
the piercing rays of the sun. The people dig for it there,
and are fond of it when roasted, on account of its pleasant vegetable taste.
When about to pass into the chrysalis state, it buries itself in the soil,
and is sometimes sought for as food even then. If left undisturbed,
it comes forth as a beautiful butterfly: the transmutation
was sometimes employed by me with good effect when speaking with the natives,
as an illustration of our own great change and resurrection.
The soil is sandy, and there are here and there indications
that at spots which now afford no water whatever there were formerly
wells and cattle stations.
Boatlanama, our next station, is a lovely spot in the otherwise dry region.
The wells from which we had to lift out the water for our cattle are deep,
but they were well filled. A few villages of Bakalahari were found near them,
and great numbers of pallahs, springbucks, Guinea-fowl, and small monkeys.
Lopepe came next. This place afforded another proof
of the desiccation of the country. The first time I passed it,
Lopepe was a large pool with a stream flowing out of it to the south;
now it was with difficulty we could get our cattle watered
by digging down in the bottom of a well.
At Mashue -- where we found a never-failing supply of pure water
in a sandstone rocky hollow -- we left the road to the Bamangwato hills,
and struck away to the north into the Desert. Having watered the cattle
at a well called Lobotani, about N.W. of Bamangwato, we next proceeded
to a real Kalahari fountain, called Serotli. The country around is covered
with bushes and trees of a kind of leguminosae, with lilac flowers.
The soil is soft white sand, very trying to the strength of the oxen,
as the wheels sink into it over the felloes and drag heavily. At Serotli
we found only a few hollows like those made by the buffalo and rhinoceros
when they roll themselves in the mud. In a corner of one of these
there appeared water, which would have been quickly lapped up by our dogs,
had we not driven them away. And yet this was all the apparent supply
for some eighty oxen, twenty horses, and about a score of men.
Our guide, Ramotobi, who had spent his youth in the Desert, declared that,
though appearances were against us, there was plenty of water at hand.
We had our misgivings, for the spades were soon produced;
but our guides, despising such new-fangled aid, began in good earnest
to scrape out the sand with their hands. The only water we had any promise of
for the next seventy miles -- that is, for a journey of three days
with the wagons -- was to be got here. By the aid of both spades and fingers
two of the holes were cleared out, so as to form pits
six feet deep and about as many broad. Our guides were especially earnest
in their injunctions to us not to break through the hard stratum of sand
at the bottom, because they knew, if it were broken through,
"the water would go away." They are quite correct, for the water seems to lie
on this flooring of incipient sandstone. The value of the advice was proved
in the case of an Englishman whose wits were none of the brightest, who,
disregarding it, dug through the sandy stratum in the wells at Mohotluani:
the water immediately flowed away downward, and the well became useless.
When we came to the stratum, we found that the water flowed in on all sides
close to the line where the soft sand came in contact with it.
Allowing it to collect, we had enough for the horses that evening;
but as there was not sufficient for the oxen, we sent them back to Lobotani,
where, after thirsting four full days (ninety-six hours),
they got a good supply. The horses were kept by us as necessary
to procure game for the sustenance of our numerous party.
Next morning we found the water had flowed in faster than at first,
as it invariably does in these reservoirs, owing to the passages
widening by the flow. Large quantities of the sand come into the well
with the water, and in the course of a few days the supply, which may be equal
to the wants of a few men only, becomes sufficient for oxen as well.
In these sucking-places the Bakalahari get their supplies;
and as they are generally in the hollows of ancient river-beds,
they are probably the deposits from rains gravitating thither;
in some cases they may be the actual fountains, which, though formerly
supplying the river's flow, now no longer rise to the surface.
Here, though the water was perfectly inaccessible to elands,
large numbers of these fine animals fed around us; and, when killed,
they were not only in good condition, but their stomachs actually contained
considerable quantities of water.
I examined carefully the whole alimentary canal, in order to see
if there were any peculiarity which might account for the fact
that this animal can subsist for months together without drinking,
but found nothing. Other animals, such as the duiker (`Cephalopus mergens')
or puti (of the Bechuanas), the steinbuck (`Tragulus rupestris')
or puruhuru, the gemsbuck (`Oryx capensis') or kukama,
and the porcupine (`Hystrix cristata'), are all able to subsist without water
for many months at a time by living on bulbs and tubers containing moisture.
They have sharp-pointed hoofs well adapted for digging,
and there is little difficulty in comprehending their mode of subsistence.
Some animals, on the other hand, are never seen but in the vicinity of water.
The presence of the rhinoceros, of the buffalo and gnu (`Catoblepas gnu'),
of the giraffe, the zebra, and pallah (`Antilope melampus'), is always
a certain indication of water being within a distance of seven or eight miles;
but one may see hundreds of elands (`Boselaphus oreas'),
gemsbuck, the tolo or koodoo (`Strepsiceros capensis'),
also springbucks (`Gazella euchore') and ostriches, without being
warranted thereby in inferring the presence of water
within thirty or forty miles. Indeed, the sleek, fat condition of the eland
in such circumstances would not remove the apprehension of perishing by thirst
from the mind of even a native. I believe, however, that these animals
can subsist only where there is some moisture in the vegetation
on which they feed; for in one year of unusual drought we saw
herds of elands and flocks of ostriches crowding to the Zouga from the Desert,
and very many of the latter were killed in pitfalls on the banks.
As long as there is any sap in the pasturage they seldom need water.
But should a traveler see the "spoor" of a rhinoceros, or buffalo, or zebra,
he would at once follow it up, well assured that before he had gone many miles
he would certainly reach water.
In the evening of our second day at Serotli, a hyaena, appearing suddenly
among the grass, succeeded in raising a panic among our cattle.
This false mode of attack is the plan which this cowardly animal
always adopts. His courage resembles closely that of a turkey-cock.
He will bite, if an animal is running away; but if the animal stand still,
so does he. Seventeen of our draught oxen ran away, and in their flight
went right into the hands of Sekomi, whom, from his being unfriendly
to our success, we had no particular wish to see. Cattle-stealing,
such as in the circumstances might have occurred in Caffraria,
is here unknown; so Sekomi sent back our oxen, and a message
strongly dissuading us against attempting the Desert.
"Where are you going? You will be killed by the sun and thirst,
and then all the white men will blame me for not saving you."
This was backed by a private message from his mother. "Why do you pass me?
I always made the people collect to hear the word that you have got.
What guilt have I, that you pass without looking at me?" We replied
by assuring the messengers that the white men would attribute our deaths
to our own stupidity and "hard-headedness" (tlogo, e thata),
"as we did not intend to allow our companions and guides to return
till they had put us into our graves." We sent a handsome present to Sekomi,
and a promise that, if he allowed the Bakalahari to keep the wells
open for us, we would repeat the gift on our return.
After exhausting all his eloquence in fruitless attempts to persuade us
to return, the under-chief, who headed the party of Sekomi's messengers,
inquired, "Who is taking them?" Looking round, he exclaimed,
with a face expressive of the most unfeigned disgust, "It is Ramotobi!"
Our guide belonged to Sekomi's tribe, but had fled to Sechele;
as fugitives in this country are always well received, and may even afterward
visit the tribe from which they had escaped, Ramotobi was in no danger,
though doing that which he knew to be directly opposed
to the interests of his own chief and tribe.
All around Serotli the country is perfectly flat, and composed of
soft white sand. There is a peculiar glare of bright sunlight
from a cloudless sky over the whole scene; and one clump of trees and bushes,
with open spaces between, looks so exactly like another,
that if you leave the wells, and walk a quarter of a mile in any direction,
it is difficult to return. Oswell and Murray went out on one occasion
to get an eland, and were accompanied by one of the Bakalahari.
The perfect sameness of the country caused even this son of the Desert
to lose his way; a most puzzling conversation forthwith ensued
between them and their guide. One of the most common phrases of the people
is "Kia itumela", I thank you, or I am pleased; and the gentlemen
were both quite familiar with it, and with the word "metse", water.
But there is a word very similar in sound, "Kia timela", I am wandering;
its perfect is "Ki timetse", I have wandered. The party had been
roaming about, perfectly lost, till the sun went down; and,
through their mistaking the verb "wander" for "to be pleased", and "water",
the colloquy went on at intervals during the whole bitterly cold night
in somewhat the following style:
"Where are the wagons?"
REAL ANSWER. "I don't know. I have wandered. I never wandered before.
I am quite lost."
SUPPOSED ANSWER. "I don't know. I want water. I am glad,
I am quite pleased. I am thankful to you."
"Take us to the wagons, and you will get plenty of water."
REAL ANSWER (looking vacantly around). "How did I wander?
Perhaps the well is there, perhaps not. I don't know. I have wandered."
SUPPOSED ANSWER. "Something about thanks; he says he is pleased,
and mentions water again." The guide's vacant stare while trying to remember
is thought to indicate mental imbecility, and the repeated thanks
were supposed to indicate a wish to deprecate their wrath.
"Well, Livingstone HAS played us a pretty trick, giving us in charge
of an idiot. Catch us trusting him again. What can this fellow mean
by his thanks and talk about water? Oh, you born fool! take us to the wagons,
and you will get both meat and water. Wouldn't a thrashing
bring him to his senses again?" "No, no, for then he will run away,
and we shall be worse off than we are now."
The hunters regained the wagons next day by their own sagacity,
which becomes wonderfully quickened by a sojourn in the Desert;
and we enjoyed a hearty laugh on the explanation of their midnight colloquies.
Frequent mistakes of this kind occur. A man may tell his interpreter
to say that he is a member of the family of the chief of the white men;
"YES, YOU SPEAK LIKE A CHIEF," is the reply, meaning, as they explain it,
that a chief may talk nonsense without any one daring to contradict him.
They probably have ascertained, from that same interpreter,
that this relative of the white chief is very poor, having scarcely any thing
in his wagon.
I sometimes felt annoyed at the low estimation in which
some of my hunting friends were held; for, believing that the chase
is eminently conducive to the formation of a brave and noble character,
and that the contest with wild beasts is well adapted for fostering that
coolness in emergencies, and active presence of mind, which we all admire,
I was naturally anxious that a higher estimate of my countrymen
should be formed in the native mind. "Have these hunters,
who come so far and work so hard, no meat at home?" -- "Why, these men
are rich, and could slaughter oxen every day of their lives." -- "And yet
they come here, and endure so much thirst for the sake of this dry meat,
none of which is equal to beef?" -- "Yes, it is for the sake of play besides"
(the idea of sport not being in the language). This produces a laugh,
as much as to say, "Ah! you know better;" or, "Your friends are fools."
When they can get a man to kill large quantities of game for them,
whatever HE may think of himself or of his achievements,
THEY pride themselves in having adroitly turned to good account
the folly of an itinerant butcher.
The water having at last flowed into the wells we had dug
in sufficient quantity to allow a good drink to all our cattle,
we departed from Serotli in the afternoon; but as the sun, even in winter,
which it now was, is always very powerful by day, the wagons were dragged
but slowly through the deep, heavy sand, and we advanced only six miles
before sunset. We could only travel in the mornings and evenings,
as a single day in the hot sun and heavy sand would have knocked up the oxen.
Next day we passed Pepacheu (white tufa), a hollow lined with tufa,
in which water sometimes stands, but it was now dry; and at night
our trocheamer* showed that we had made but twenty-five miles from Serotli.
* This is an instrument which, when fastened on the wagon-wheel,
records the number of revolutions made. By multiplying this number
by the circumference of the wheel, the actual distance traveled over
is at once ascertained.
Ramotobi was angry at the slowness of our progress, and told us that,
as the next water was three days in front, if we traveled so slowly
we should never get there at all. The utmost endeavors of the servants,
cracking their whips, screaming and beating, got only nineteen miles
out of the poor beasts. We had thus proceeded forty-four miles from Serotli;
and the oxen were more exhausted by the soft nature of the country,
and the thirst, than if they had traveled double the distance over a hard road
containing supplies of water: we had, as far as we could judge,
still thirty miles more of the same dry work before us. At this season
the grass becomes so dry as to crumble to powder in the hands;
so the poor beasts stood wearily chewing, without taking
a single fresh mouthful, and lowing painfully at the smell of water
in our vessels in the wagons. We were all determined to succeed;
so we endeavored to save the horses by sending them forward with the guide,
as a means of making a desperate effort in case the oxen should fail.
Murray went forward with them, while Oswell and I remained
to bring the wagons on their trail as far as the cattle could drag them,
intending then to send the oxen forward too.
The horses walked quickly away from us; but, on the morning of the third day,
when we imagined the steeds must be near the water, we discovered them
just alongside the wagons. The guide, having come across
the fresh footprints of some Bushmen who had gone in an opposite direction
to that which we wished to go, turned aside to follow them.
An antelope had been ensnared in one of the Bushmen's pitfalls.
Murray followed Ramotobi most trustingly along the Bushmen's spoor,
though that led them away from the water we were in search of;
witnessed the operation of slaughtering, skinning, and cutting up
the antelope; and then, after a hard day's toil, found himself
close upon the wagons! The knowledge still retained by Ramotobi
of the trackless waste of scrub, through which we were now passing,
seemed admirable. For sixty or seventy miles beyond Serotli,
one clump of bushes and trees seemed exactly like another;
but, as we walked together this morning, he remarked,
"When we come to that hollow we shall light upon the highway of Sekomi;
and beyond that again lies the River Mokoko;" which,
though we passed along it, I could not perceive to be a river-bed at all.
After breakfast, some of the men, who had gone forward on a little path
with some footprints of water-loving animals upon it, returned with
the joyful tidings of "metse", water, exhibiting the mud on their knees
in confirmation of the news being true. It does one's heart good
to see the thirsty oxen rush into a pool of delicious rain-water,
as this was. In they dash until the water is deep enough to be nearly level
with their throat, and then they stand drawing slowly in
the long, refreshing mouthfuls, until their formerly collapsed sides
distend as if they would burst. So much do they imbibe, that a sudden jerk,
when they come out on the bank, makes some of the water run out again
from their mouths; but, as they have been days without food too,
they very soon commence to graze, and of grass there is always
abundance every where. This pool was called Mathuluani;
and thankful we were to have obtained so welcome a supply of water.
After giving the cattle a rest at this spot, we proceeded down
the dry bed of the River Mokoko. The name refers to the water-bearing stratum
before alluded to; and in this ancient bed it bears enough of water
to admit of permanent wells in several parts of it. We had now
the assurance from Ramotobi that we should suffer no more from thirst.
Twice we found rain-water in the Mokoko before we reached Mokokonyani,
where the water, generally below ground elsewhere, comes to the surface
in a bed of tufa. The adjacent country is all covered with low, thorny scrub,
with grass, and here and there clumps of the "wait-a-bit thorn",
or `Acacia detinens'. At Lotlakani (a little reed), another spring
three miles farther down, we met with the first Palmyra trees
which we had seen in South Africa; they were twenty-six in number.
The ancient Mokoko must have been joined by other rivers below this,
for it becomes very broad, and spreads out into a large lake,
of which the lake we were now in search of formed but a very small part.
We observed that, wherever an ant-eater had made his hole,
shells were thrown out with the earth, identical with those
now alive in the lake.
When we left the Mokoko, Ramotobi seemed, for the first time,
to be at a loss as to which direction to take. He had passed only once
away to the west of the Mokoko, the scenes of his boyhood. Mr. Oswell,
while riding in front of the wagons, happened to spy a Bushwoman running away
in a bent position, in order to escape observation. Thinking it to be a lion,
he galloped up to her. She thought herself captured, and began to deliver up
her poor little property, consisting of a few traps made of cords;
but, when I explained that we only wanted water, and would pay her
if she led us to it, she consented to conduct us to a spring.
It was then late in the afternoon, but she walked briskly before our horses
for eight miles, and showed us the water of Nchokotsa.
After leading us to the water, she wished to go away home,
if indeed she had any -- she had fled from a party of her countrymen,
and was now living far from all others with her husband --
but as it was now dark, we wished her to remain. As she believed herself
still a captive, we thought she might slip away by night; so, in order that
she should not go away with the impression that we were dishonest,
we gave her a piece of meat and a good large bunch of beads;
at the sight of the latter she burst into a merry laugh,
and remained without suspicion.
At Nchokotsa we came upon the first of a great number of salt-pans,
covered with an efflorescence of lime, probably the nitrate.
A thick belt of mopane-trees (a `Bauhinia') hides this salt-pan,
which is twenty miles in circumference, entirely from the view of a person
coming from the southeast; and, at the time the pan burst upon our view,
the setting sun was casting a beautiful blue haze over
the white incrustations, making the whole look exactly like a lake.
Oswell threw his hat up in the air at the sight, and shouted out a huzza
which made the poor Bushwoman and the Bakwains think him mad.
I was a little behind him, and was as completely deceived by it as he;
but, as we had agreed to allow each other to behold the lake
at the same instant, I felt a little chagrined that he had, unintentionally,
got the first glance. We had no idea that the long-looked-for lake was still
more than three hundred miles distant. One reason of our mistake was,
that the River Zouga was often spoken of by the same name as the lake,
viz., Noka ea Batletli ("River of the Batletli").
The mirage on these salinas was marvelous. It is never, I believe,
seen in perfection, except over such saline incrustations.
Here not a particle of imagination was necessary for realizing
the exact picture of large collections of water; the waves danced along above,
and the shadows of the trees were vividly reflected beneath the surface
in such an admirable manner, that the loose cattle, whose thirst
had not been slaked sufficiently by the very brackish water of Nchokotsa,
with the horses, dogs, and even the Hottentots ran off
toward the deceitful pools. A herd of zebras in the mirage
looked so exactly like elephants that Oswell began to saddle a horse
in order to hunt them; but a sort of break in the haze
dispelled the illusion. Looking to the west and northwest from Nchokotsa,
we could see columns of black smoke, exactly like those from a steam-engine,
rising to the clouds, and were assured that these arose
from the burning reeds of the Noka ea Batletli.
On the 4th of July we went forward on horseback toward what we supposed
to be the lake, and again and again did we seem to see it;
but at last we came to the veritable water of the Zouga,
and found it to be a river running to the N.E. A village of Bakurutse
lay on the opposite bank; these live among Batletli,
a tribe having a click in their language, and who were found by Sebituane
to possess large herds of the great horned cattle. They seem allied
to the Hottentot family. Mr. Oswell, in trying to cross the river,
got his horse bogged in the swampy bank. Two Bakwains and I managed
to get over by wading beside a fishing-weir. The people were friendly,
and informed us that this water came out of the Ngami. This news gladdened
all our hearts, for we now felt certain of reaching our goal. We might,
they said, be a moon on the way; but we had the River Zouga at our feet,
and by following it we should at last reach the broad water.
Next day, when we were quite disposed to be friendly with every one,
two of the Bamangwato, who had been sent on before us by Sekomi
to drive away all the Bushmen and Bakalahari from our path,
so that they should not assist or guide us, came and sat down by our fire.
We had seen their footsteps fresh in the way, and they had watched
our slow movements forward, and wondered to see how we, without any Bushmen,
found our way to the waters. This was the first time they had seen Ramotobi.
"You have reached the river now," said they; and we, quite disposed to laugh
at having won the game, felt no ill-will to any one. They seemed to feel
no enmity to us either; but, after an apparently friendly conversation,
proceeded to fulfill to the last the instructions of their chief.
Ascending the Zouga in our front, they circulated the report
that our object was to plunder all the tribes living on the river and lake;
but when they had got half way up the river, the principal man
sickened of fever, turned back some distance, and died.
His death had a good effect, for the villagers connected it with the injury
he was attempting to do to us. They all saw through Sekomi's reasons for
wishing us to fail in our attempt; and though they came to us at first armed,
kind and fair treatment soon produced perfect confidence.
When we had gone up the bank of this beautiful river about ninety-six miles
from the point where we first struck it, and understood that we were still
a considerable distance from the Ngami, we left all the oxen and wagons,
except Mr. Oswell's, which was the smallest, and one team, at Ngabisane,
in the hope that they would be recruited for the home journey,
while we made a push for the lake. The Bechuana chief of the Lake region,
who had sent men to Sechele, now sent orders to all the people on the river
to assist us, and we were received by the Bakoba, whose language
clearly shows that they bear an affinity to the tribes in the north.
They call themselves Bayeiye, i.e., men; but the Bechuanas call them Bakoba,
which contains somewhat of the idea of slaves. They have never
been known to fight, and, indeed, have a tradition that their forefathers,
in their first essays at war, made their bows of the Palma Christi,
and, when these broke, they gave up fighting altogether.
They have invariably submitted to the rule of every horde which has overrun
the countries adjacent to the rivers on which they specially love to dwell.
They are thus the Quakers of the body politic in Africa.
A long time after the period of our visit, the chief of the Lake,
thinking to make soldiers of them, took the trouble to furnish them
with shields. "Ah! we never had these before; that is the reason
we have always succumbed. Now we will fight." But a marauding party
came from the Makololo, and our "Friends" at once paddled quickly,
night and day, down the Zouga, never daring to look behind them
till they reached the end of the river, at the point where we first saw it.
The canoes of these inland sailors are truly primitive craft:
they are hollowed out of the trunks of single trees by means of iron adzes;
and if the tree has a bend, so has the canoe. I liked the frank and manly
bearing of these men, and, instead of sitting in the wagon, preferred a seat
in one of the canoes. I found they regarded their rude vessels
as the Arab does his camel. They have always fires in them,
and prefer sleeping in them while on a journey to spending the night on shore.
"On land you have lions," say they, "serpents, hyaenas, and your enemies;
but in your canoe, behind a bank of reed, nothing can harm you."
Their submissive disposition leads to their villages being frequently visited
by hungry strangers. We had a pot on the fire in the canoe by the way,
and when we drew near the villages devoured the contents.
When fully satisfied ourselves, I found we could all look upon any intruders
with perfect complacency, and show the pot in proof of having devoured
the last morsel.
While ascending in this way the beautifully-wooded river,
we came to a large stream flowing into it. This was the River Tamunak'le.
I inquired whence it came. "Oh, from a country full of rivers --
so many no one can tell their number -- and full of large trees."
This was the first confirmation of statements I had heard
from the Bakwains who had been with Sebituane, that the country beyond
was not "the large sandy plateau" of the philosophers.
The prospect of a highway capable of being traversed by boats
to an entirely unexplored and very populous region,
grew from that time forward stronger and stronger in my mind;
so much so that, when we actually came to the lake, this idea occupied
such a large portion of my mental vision that the actual discovery
seemed of but little importance. I find I wrote, when the emotions caused
by the magnificent prospects of the new country were first awakened
in my breast, that they "might subject me to the charge of enthusiasm,
a charge which I wished I deserved, as nothing good or great
had ever been accomplished in the world without it."*
* Letters published by the Royal Geographical Society.
Read 11th February and 8th April, 1850.
Twelve days after our departure from the wagons at Ngabisane
we came to the northeast end of Lake Ngami; and on the 1st of August, 1849,
we went down together to the broad part, and, for the first time,
this fine-looking sheet of water was beheld by Europeans.
The direction of the lake seemed to be N.N.E. and S.S.W. by compass.
The southern portion is said to bend round to the west,
and to receive the Teoughe from the north at its northwest extremity.
We could detect no horizon where we stood looking S.S.W.,
nor could we form any idea of the extent of the lake, except from
the reports of the inhabitants of the district; and, as they professed
to go round it in three days, allowing twenty-five miles a day
would make it seventy-five, or less than seventy geographical miles
in circumference. Other guesses have been made since as to its circumference,
ranging between seventy and one hundred miles. It is shallow,
for I subsequently saw a native punting his canoe over seven or eight miles
of the northeast end; it can never, therefore, be of much value
as a commercial highway. In fact, during the months preceding
the annual supply of water from the north, the lake is so shallow
that it is with difficulty cattle can approach the water
through the boggy, reedy banks. These are low on all sides, but on the west
there is a space devoid of trees, showing that the waters have retired thence
at no very ancient date. This is another of the proofs of desiccation
met with so abundantly throughout the whole country. A number of dead trees
lie on this space, some of them imbedded in the mud, right in the water.
We were informed by the Bayeiye, who live on the lake,
that when the annual inundation begins, not only trees of great size,
but antelopes, as the springbuck and tsessebe (`Acronotus lunata'),
are swept down by its rushing waters; the trees are gradually driven
by the winds to the opposite side, and become imbedded in mud.
The water of the lake is perfectly fresh when full, but brackish when low;
and that coming down the Tamunak'le we found to be so clear, cold, and soft,
the higher we ascended, that the idea of melting snow was suggested
to our minds. We found this region, with regard to that
from which we had come, to be clearly a hollow, the lowest point
being Lake Kumadau; the point of the ebullition of water,
as shown by one of Newman's barometric thermometers, was only between
207-1/2 Deg. and 206 Deg., giving an elevation of not much more
than two thousand feet above the level of the sea. We had descended
above two thousand feet in coming to it from Kolobeng.
It is the southern and lowest part of the great river system beyond,
in which large tracts of country are inundated annually by tropical rains,
hereafter to be described. A little of that water, which in the countries
farther north produces inundation, comes as far south as 20d 20',
the latitude of the upper end of the lake, and instead of
flooding the country, falls into the lake as into a reservoir.
It begins to flow down the Embarrah, which divides into the rivers
Tzo and Teoughe. The Tzo divides into the Tamunak'le and Mababe;
the Tamunak'le discharges itself into the Zouga, and the Teoughe
into the lake. The flow begins either in March or April,
and the descending waters find the channels of all these rivers dried out,
except in certain pools in their beds, which have long dry spaces
between them. The lake itself is very low. The Zouga is but
a prolongation of the Tamunak'le, and an arm of the lake
reaches up to the point where the one ends and the other begins.
The last is narrow and shallow, while the Zouga is broad and deep.
The narrow arm of the lake, which on the map looks like
a continuation of the Zouga, has never been observed to flow either way.
It is as stagnant as the lake itself.
The Teoughe and Tamunak'le, being essentially the same river,
and receiving their supplies from the same source (the Embarrah or Varra),
can never outrun each other. If either could, or if the Teoughe
could fill the lake -- a thing which has never happened in modern times --
then this little arm would prove a convenient escapement
to prevent inundation. If the lake ever becomes lower
than the bed of the Zouga, a little of the water of the Tamunak'le
might flow into it instead of down the Zouga; we should then have
the phenomenon of a river flowing two ways; but this has never been observed
to take place here, and it is doubtful if it ever can occur in this locality.
The Zouga is broad and deep when it leaves the Tamunak'le,
but becomes gradually narrower as you descend about two hundred miles;
there it flows into Kumadau, a small lake about three or four miles broad
and twelve long. The water, which higher up begins to flow in April,
does not make much progress in filling this lake till the end of June.
In September the rivers cease to flow. When the supply has been
more than usually abundant, a little water flows beyond Kumadau,
in the bed first seen by us on the 4th of July; if the quantity were larger,
it might go further in the dry rocky bed of the Zouga, since seen
still further to the east. The water supply of this part of the river system,
as will be more fully explained further on, takes place in channels prepared
for a much more copious flow. It resembles a deserted Eastern garden,
where all the embankments and canals for irrigation can be traced,
but where, the main dam and sluices having been allowed to get out of repair,
only a small portion can be laid under water. In the case of the Zouga
the channel is perfect, but water enough to fill the whole channel
never comes down; and before it finds its way much beyond Kumadau,
the upper supply ceases to run and the rest becomes evaporated.
The higher parts of its bed even are much broader and more capacious
than the lower toward Kumadau. The water is not absorbed so much as lost
in filling up an empty channel, from which it is to be removed
by the air and sun. There is, I am convinced, no such thing in the country
as a river running into sand and becoming lost. The phenomenon,
so convenient for geographers, haunted my fancy for years; but I have failed
in discovering any thing except a most insignificant approach to it.
My chief object in coming to the lake was to visit Sebituane,
the great chief of the Makololo, who was reported to live some
two hundred miles beyond. We had now come to a half-tribe of the Bamangwato,
called Batauana. Their chief was a young man named Lechulatebe.
Sebituane had conquered his father Moremi, and Lechulatebe
received part of his education while a captive among the Bayeiye.
His uncle, a sensible man, ransomed him; and, having collected
a number of families together, abdicated the chieftainship
in favor of his nephew. As Lechulatebe had just come into power,
he imagined that the proper way of showing his abilities
was to act directly contrary to every thing that his uncle advised.
When we came, the uncle recommended him to treat us handsomely,
therefore the hopeful youth presented us with a goat only.
It ought to have been an ox. So I proposed to my companions
to loose the animal and let him go, as a hint to his master.
They, however, did not wish to insult him. I, being more of a native,
and familiar with their customs, knew that this shabby present
was an insult to us. We wished to purchase some goats or oxen;
Lechulatebe offered us elephants' tusks. "No, we can not eat these;
we want something to fill our stomachs." "Neither can I;
but I hear you white men are all very fond of these bones, so I offer them;
I want to put the goats into my own stomach." A trader, who accompanied us,
was then purchasing ivory at the rate of ten good large tusks
for a musket worth thirteen shillings. They were called "bones";
and I myself saw eight instances in which the tusks had been left
to rot with the other bones where the elephant fell. The Batauana never had
a chance of a market before; but, in less than two years after our discovery,
not a man of them could be found who was not keenly alive
to the great value of the article.
On the day after our arrival at the lake, I applied to Lechulatebe
for guides to Sebituane. As he was much afraid of that chief, he objected,
fearing lest other white men should go thither also, and give Sebituane guns;
whereas, if the traders came to him alone, the possession of fire-arms
would give him such a superiority that Sebituane would be afraid of him.
It was in vain to explain that I would inculcate peace between them --
that Sebituane had been a father to him and Sechele, and was
as anxious to see me as he, Lechulatebe, had been. He offered to give me
as much ivory as I needed without going to that chief;
but when I refused to take any, he unwillingly consented to give me guides.
Next day, however, when Oswell and I were prepared to start,
with the horses only, we received a senseless refusal; and like Sekomi,
who had thrown obstacles in our way, he sent men to the Bayeiye with orders
to refuse us a passage across the river. Trying hard to form a raft
at a narrow part, I worked many hours in the water; but the dry wood
was so worm-eaten it would not bear the weight of a single person.
I was not then aware of the number of alligators which exist in the Zouga,
and never think of my labor in the water without feeling thankful
that I escaped their jaws. The season was now far advanced;
and as Mr. Oswell, with his wonted generous feelings, volunteered,
on the spot, to go down to the Cape and bring up a boat,
we resolved to make our way south again.
Coming down the Zouga, we had now time to look at its banks.
These are very beautiful, resembling closely many parts of the River Clyde
above Glasgow. The formation is soft calcareous tufa,
such as forms the bottom of all this basin. The banks are perpendicular
on the side to which the water swings, and sloping and grassy on the other.
The slopes are selected for the pitfalls designed by the Bayeiye
to entrap the animals as they come to drink. These are about
seven or eight feet deep, three or four feet wide at the mouth,
and gradually decrease till they are only about a foot wide at the bottom.
The mouth is an oblong square (the only square thing made by the Bechuanas,
for every thing else is round), and the long diameter at the surface
is about equal to the depth. The decreasing width toward the bottom
is intended to make the animal wedge himself more firmly in
by his weight and struggles. The pitfalls are usually in pairs,
with a wall a foot thick left uncut between the ends of each,
so that if the beast, when it feels its fore legs descending,
should try to save itself from going in altogether by striding the hind legs,
he would spring forward and leap into the second with a force
which insures the fall of his whole body into the trap.
They are covered with great care. All the excavated earth is removed
to a distance, so as not to excite suspicion in the minds of the animals.
Reeds and grass are laid across the top; above this the sand is thrown,
and watered so as to appear exactly like the rest of the spot.
Some of our party plumped into these pitfalls more than once,
even when in search of them, in order to open them to prevent
the loss of our cattle. If an ox sees a hole, he carefully avoids it;
and old elephants have been known to precede the herd and whisk off
the coverings of the pitfalls on each side all the way down to the water.
We have known instances in which the old among these sagacious animals
have actually lifted the young out of the trap.
The trees which adorn the banks are magnificent. Two enormous baobabs
(`Adansonia digitata'), or mowanas, grow near its confluence with the lake
where we took the observations for the latitude (20d 20' S.).
We were unable to ascertain the longitude of the lake,
as our watches were useless; it may be between 22 Deg. and 23 Deg. E.
The largest of the two baobabs was 76 feet in girth.
The palmyra appears here and there among trees not met with in the south.
The mokuchong, or moshoma, bears an edible fruit of indifferent quality,
but the tree itself would be a fine specimen of arboreal beauty
in any part of the world. The trunk is often converted into canoes.
The motsouri, which bears a pink plum containing a pleasant acid juice,
resembles an orange-tree in its dark evergreen foliage, and a cypress
in its form. It was now winter-time, and we saw nothing of the flora.
The plants and bushes were dry; but wild indigo abounded, as indeed it does
over large tracts of Africa. It is called mohetolo, or the "changer",
by the boys, who dye their ornaments of straw with the juice.
There are two kinds of cotton in the country, and the Mashona,
who convert it into cloth, dye it blue with this plant.
We found the elephants in prodigious numbers on the southern bank.
They come to drink by night, and after having slaked their thirst --
in doing which they throw large quantities of water over themselves,
and are heard, while enjoying the refreshment, screaming with delight --
they evince their horror of pitfalls by setting off in a straight line
to the desert, and never diverge till they are eight or ten miles off.
They are smaller here than in the countries farther south.
At the Limpopo, for instance, they are upward of twelve feet high;
here, only eleven: farther north we shall find them nine feet only.
The koodoo, or tolo, seemed smaller, too, than those we had been
accustomed to see. We saw specimens of the kuabaoba,
or straight-horned rhinoceros (`R. Oswellii'), which is a variety
of the white (`R. simus'); and we found that, from the horn being
projected downward, it did not obstruct the line of vision,
so that this species is able to be much more wary than its neighbors.
We discovered an entirely new species of antelope, called leche or lechwi.
It is a beautiful water-antelope of a light brownish-yellow color.
Its horns -- exactly like those of the `Aigoceros ellipsiprimnus',
the waterbuck, or tumogo, of the Bechuanas -- rise from the head with
a slight bend backward, then curve forward at the points. The chest, belly,
and orbits are nearly white, the front of the legs and ankles deep brown.
From the horns, along the nape to the withers, the male has
a small mane of the same yellowish color with the rest of the skin,
and the tail has a tuft of black hair. It is never found a mile from water;
islets in marshes and rivers are its favorite haunts, and it is quite unknown
except in the central humid basin of Africa. Having a good deal of curiosity,
it presents a noble appearance as it stands gazing, with head erect,
at the approaching stranger. When it resolves to decamp, it lowers its head,
and lays its horns down to a level with the withers; it then begins
with a waddling trot, which ends in its galloping and springing over bushes
like the pallahs. It invariably runs to the water, and crosses it
by a succession of bounds, each of which appears to be from the bottom.
We thought the flesh good at first, but soon got tired of it.
Great shoals of excellent fish come down annually with the access of waters.
The mullet (`Mugil Africanus') is the most abundant. They are caught in nets.
The `Glanis siluris', a large, broad-headed fish, without scales, and barbed
-- called by the natives "mosala" -- attains an enormous size and fatness.
They are caught so large that when a man carries one over his shoulder
the tail reaches the ground. It is a vegetable feeder,
and in many of its habits resembles the eel. Like most lophoid fishes,
it has the power of retaining a large quantity of water
in a part of its great head, so that it can leave the river,
and even be buried in the mud of dried-up pools, without being destroyed.
Another fish closely resembling this, and named `Clarias capensis'
by Dr. Smith, is widely diffused throughout the interior,
and often leaves the rivers for the sake of feeding in pools.
As these dry up, large numbers of them are entrapped by the people.
A water-snake, yellow-spotted and dark brown, is often seen swimming along
with its head above the water: it is quite harmless, and is relished as food
by the Bayeiye.
They mention ten kinds of fish in their river; and, in their songs of praise
to the Zouga, say, "The messenger sent in haste is always forced
to spend the night on the way by the abundance of food you place before him."
The Bayeiye live much on fish, which is quite an abomination
to the Bechuanas of the south; and they catch them in large numbers
by means of nets made of the fine, strong fibres of the hibiscus,
which grows abundantly in all moist places. Their float-ropes
are made of the ife, or, as it is now called, the `Sanseviere Angolensis',
a flag-looking plant, having a very strong fibre, that abounds
from Kolobeng to Angola; and the floats themselves are pieces of a water-plant
containing valves at each joint, which retain the air in cells
about an inch long. The mode of knotting the nets is identical with our own.
They also spear the fish with javelins having a light handle,
which readily floats on the surface. They show great dexterity
in harpooning the hippopotamus; and, the barbed blade of the spear
being attached to a rope made of the young leaves of the palmyra,
the animal can not rid himself of the canoe, attached to him in whale fashion,
except by smashing it, which he not unfrequently does
by his teeth or by a stroke of his hind foot.
On returning to the Bakurutse, we found that their canoes for fishing
were simply large bundles of reeds tied together. Such a canoe
would be a ready extemporaneous pontoon for crossing any river
that had reedy banks.
Leave Kolobeng again for the Country of Sebituane -- Reach the Zouga --
The Tsetse -- A Party of Englishmen -- Death of Mr. Rider --
Obtain Guides -- Children fall sick with Fever -- Relinquish the Attempt
to reach Sebituane -- Mr. Oswell's Elephant-hunting --
Return to Kolobeng -- Make a third Start thence --
Reach Nchokotsa -- Salt-pans -- "Links", or Springs -- Bushmen --
Our Guide Shobo -- The Banajoa -- An ugly Chief -- The Tsetse --
Bite fatal to domestic Animals, but harmless to wild Animals and Man --
Operation of the Poison -- Losses caused by it -- The Makololo --
Our Meeting with Sebituane -- Sketch of his Career --
His Courage and Conquests -- Manoeuvres of the Batoka -- He outwits them
-- His Wars with the Matebele -- Predictions of a native Prophet --
Successes of the Makololo -- Renewed Attacks of the Matebele --
The Island of Loyelo -- Defeat of the Matebele -- Sebituane's Policy --
His Kindness to Strangers and to the Poor -- His sudden Illness and Death --
Succeeded by his Daughter -- Her Friendliness to us -- Discovery,
in June, 1851, of the Zambesi flowing in the Centre of the Continent --
Its Size -- The Mambari -- The Slave-trade -- Determine to send Family
to England -- Return to the Cape in April, 1852 -- Safe Transit through
the Caffre Country during Hostilities -- Need of a "Special Correspondent"
-- Kindness of the London Missionary Society -- Assistance afforded
by the Astronomer Royal at the Cape.
Having returned to Kolobeng, I remained there till April, 1850,
and then left in company with Mrs. Livingstone, our three children,
and the chief Sechele -- who had now bought a wagon of his own --
in order to go across the Zouga at its lower end, with the intention
of proceeding up the northern bank till we gained the Tamunak'le,
and of then ascending that river to visit Sebituane in the north.
Sekomi had given orders to fill up the wells which we had dug
with so much labor at Serotli, so we took the more eastern route
through the Bamangwato town and by Letloche. That chief asked
why I had avoided him in our former journeys. I replied that my reason
was that I knew he did not wish me to go to the lake, and I did not want
to quarrel with him. "Well," he said, "you beat me then, and I am content."
Parting with Sechele at the ford, as he was eager to visit Lechulatebe,
we went along the northern woody bank of the Zouga with great labor,
having to cut down very many trees to allow the wagons to pass.
Our losses by oxen falling into pitfalls were very heavy.
The Bayeiye kindly opened the pits when they knew of our approach;
but when that was not the case, we could blame no one on finding
an established custom of the country inimical to our interests.
On approaching the confluence of the Tamunak'le we were informed
that the fly called tsetse* abounded on its banks. This was a barrier
we never expected to meet; and, as it might have brought our wagons
to a complete stand-still in a wilderness, where no supplies for the children
could be obtained, we were reluctantly compelled to recross the Zouga.
* `Glossina morsitans', the first specimens of which were brought to England
in 1848 by my friend Major Vardon, from the banks of the Limpopo.
From the Bayeiye we learned that a party of Englishmen,
who had come to the lake in search of ivory, were all laid low by fever,
so we traveled hastily down about sixty miles to render what aid
was in our power. We were grieved to find, as we came near,
that Mr. Alfred Rider, an enterprising young artist who had come to make
sketches of this country and of the lake immediately after its discovery,
had died of fever before our arrival; but by the aid of medicines
and such comforts as could be made by the only English lady
who ever visited the lake, the others happily recovered.
The unfinished drawing of Lake Ngami was made by Mr. Rider
just before his death, and has been kindly lent for this work
by his bereaved mother.
Sechele used all his powers of eloquence with Lechulatebe to induce him
to furnish guides that I might be able to visit Sebituane on ox-back,
while Mrs. Livingstone and the children remained at Lake Ngami.
He yielded at last. I had a very superior London-made gun,
the gift of Lieutenant Arkwright, on which I placed the greatest value,
both on account of the donor and the impossibility of my replacing it.
Lechulatebe fell violently in love with it, and offered
whatever number of elephants' tusks I might ask for it.
I too was enamored with Sebituane; and as he promised in addition
that he would furnish Mrs. Livingstone with meat all the time of my absence,
his arguments made me part with the gun. Though he had no ivory at the time
to pay me, I felt the piece would be well spent on those terms,
and delivered it to him. All being ready for our departure,
I took Mrs. Livingstone about six miles from the town, that she might have
a peep at the broad part of the lake. Next morning we had other work to do
than part, for our little boy and girl were seized with fever.
On the day following, all our servants were down too with the same complaint.
As nothing is better in these cases than change of place,
I was forced to give up the hope of seeing Sebituane that year;
so, leaving my gun as part payment for guides next year,
we started for the pure air of the Desert.
Some mistake had happened in the arrangement with Mr. Oswell, for we met him
on the Zouga on our return, and he devoted the rest of this season
to elephant-hunting, at which the natives universally declare
he is the greatest adept that ever came into the country.
He hunted without dogs. It is remarkable that this lordly animal
is so completely harassed by the presence of a few yelping curs
as to be quite incapable of attending to man. He makes awkward attempts
to crush them by falling on his knees; and sometimes places his forehead
against a tree ten inches in diameter; glancing on one side of the tree
and then on the other, he pushes it down before him, as if he thought thereby
to catch his enemies. The only danger the huntsman has to apprehend is
the dogs running toward him, and thereby leading the elephant to their master.
Mr. Oswell has been known to kill four large old male elephants a day.
The value of the ivory in these cases would be one hundred guineas.
We had reason to be proud of his success, for the inhabitants
conceived from it a very high idea of English courage;
and when they wished to flatter me would say, "If you were not a missionary
you would just be like Oswell; you would not hunt with dogs either."
When, in 1852, we came to the Cape, my black coat eleven years out of fashion,
and without a penny of salary to draw, we found that Mr. Oswell
had most generously ordered an outfit for the half-naked children,
which cost about 200 Pounds, and presented it to us, saying he thought
Mrs. Livingstone had a right to the game of her own preserves.
Foiled in this second attempt to reach Sebituane, we returned again
to Kolobeng, whither we were soon followed by a number of messengers
from that chief himself. When he heard of our attempts to visit him,
he dispatched three detachments of his men with thirteen brown cows
to Lechulatebe, thirteen white cows to Sekomi, and thirteen black cows
to Sechele, with a request to each to assist the white men to reach him.
Their policy, however, was to keep him out of view, and act as his agents
in purchasing with his ivory the goods he wanted. This is thoroughly African;
and that continent being without friths and arms of the sea,
the tribes in the centre have always been debarred from European intercourse
by its universal prevalence among all the people around the coasts.
Before setting out on our third journey to Sebituane, it was necessary
to visit Kuruman; and Sechele, eager, for the sake of the commission thereon,
to get the ivory of that chief into his own hands, allowed all the messengers
to leave before our return. Sekomi, however, was more than usually gracious,
and even furnished us with a guide, but no one knew the path beyond Nchokotsa
which we intended to follow. When we reached that point,
we found that the main spring of the gun of another of his men,
who was well acquainted with the Bushmen, through whose country
we should pass, had opportunely broken. I never undertook to mend a gun
with greater zest than this; for, under promise of his guidance,
we went to the north instead of westward. All the other guides
were most liberally rewarded by Mr. Oswell.
We passed quickly over a hard country, which is perfectly flat. A little soil
lying on calcareous tufa, over a tract of several hundreds of miles,
supports a vegetation of fine sweet short grass, and mopane and baobab trees.
On several parts of this we found large salt-pans, one of which,
Ntwetwe, is fifteen miles broad and one hundred long.
The latitude might have been taken on its horizon as well as upon the sea.
Although these curious spots seem perfectly level, all those in this direction
have a gentle slope to the northeast: thither the rain-water,
which sometimes covers them, gently gravitates. This, it may be recollected,
is the direction of the Zouga. The salt dissolved in the water
has by this means all been transferred to one pan in that direction,
named Chuantsa; on it we see a cake of salt and lime an inch and a half thick.
All the others have an efflorescence of lime and one of the nitrates only,
and some are covered thickly with shells. These shells are identical
with those of the mollusca of Lake Ngami and the Zouga.
There are three varieties, spiral, univalve, and bivalve.
In every salt-pan in the country there is a spring of water on one side.
I can remember no exception to this rule. The water of these springs
is brackish, and contains the nitrate of soda. In one instance
there are two springs, and one more saltish than the other.
If this supply came from beds of rock salt the water would not be drinkable,
as it generally is, and in some instances, where the salt contained in the pan
in which these springs appear has been removed by human agency,
no fresh deposit occurs. It is therefore probable that these deposits of salt
are the remains of the very slightly brackish lakes of antiquity,
large portions of which must have been dried out in the general desiccation.
We see an instance in Lake Ngami, which, when low, becomes brackish,
and this view seems supported by the fact that the largest quantities of salt
have been found in the deepest hollows or lowest valleys,
which have no outlet or outgoing gorge; and a fountain,
about thirty miles south of the Bamangwato -- the temperature of which
is upward of 100 Deg. -- while strongly impregnated with pure salt,
being on a flat part of the country, is accompanied by no deposit.
When these deposits occur in a flat tufaceous country like the present,
a large space is devoid of vegetation, on account of the nitrates
dissolving the tufa, and keeping it in a state unfavorable to
the growth of plants.
We found a great number of wells in this tufa. A place
called Matlomagan-yana, or the "Links", is quite a chain
of these never-failing springs. As they occasionally become full
in seasons when no rain falls, and resemble somewhat in this respect
the rivers we have already mentioned, it is probable they receive some water
by percolation from the river system in the country beyond. Among these links
we found many families of Bushmen; and, unlike those on the plains
of the Kalahari, who are generally of short stature and light yellow color,
these were tall, strapping fellows, of dark complexion. Heat alone
does not produce blackness of skin, but heat with moisture seems to insure
the deepest hue.
One of these Bushmen, named Shobo, consented to be our guide
over the waste between these springs and the country of Sebituane.
Shobo gave us no hope of water in less than a month. Providentially, however,
we came sooner than we expected to some supplies of rain-water
in a chain of pools. It is impossible to convey an idea of the dreary scene
on which we entered after leaving this spot: the only vegetation
was a low scrub in deep sand; not a bird or insect enlivened the landscape.
It was, without exception, the most uninviting prospect I ever beheld;
and, to make matters worse, our guide Shobo wandered on the second day.
We coaxed him on at night, but he went to all points of the compass
on the trails of elephants which had been here in the rainy season,
and then would sit down in the path, and in his broken Sichuana say,
"No water, all country only; Shobo sleeps; he breaks down; country only;"
and then coolly curl himself up and go to sleep. The oxen were
terribly fatigued and thirsty; and on the morning of the fourth day,
Shobo, after professing ignorance of every thing, vanished altogether.
We went on in the direction in which we last saw him,
and about eleven o'clock began to see birds; then the trail of a rhinoceros.
At this we unyoked the oxen, and they, apparently knowing the sign,
rushed along to find the water in the River Mahabe, which comes from
the Tamunak'le, and lay to the west of us. The supply of water in the wagons
had been wasted by one of our servants, and by the afternoon only
a small portion remained for the children. This was a bitterly anxious night;
and next morning the less there was of water, the more thirsty
the little rogues became. The idea of their perishing before our eyes
was terrible. It would almost have been a relief to me
to have been reproached with being the entire cause of the catastrophe;
but not one syllable of upbraiding was uttered by their mother,
though the tearful eye told the agony within. In the afternoon
of the fifth day, to our inexpressible relief, some of the men returned
with a supply of that fluid of which we had never before felt the true value.
The cattle, in rushing along to the water in the Mahabe,
probably crossed a small patch of trees containing tsetse,
an insect which was shortly to become a perfect pest to us.
Shobo had found his way to the Bayeiye, and appeared,
when we came up to the river, at the head of a party; and, as he wished
to show his importance before his friends, he walked up boldly
and commanded our whole cavalcade to stop, and to bring forth
fire and tobacco, while he coolly sat down and smoked his pipe.
It was such an inimitably natural way of showing off, that we all stopped
to admire the acting, and, though he had left us previously in the lurch,
we all liked Shobo, a fine specimen of that wonderful people, the Bushmen.
Next day we came to a village of Banajoa, a tribe which extends
far to the eastward. They were living on the borders of a marsh in which
the Mahabe terminates. They had lost their crop of corn (`Holcus sorghum'),
and now subsisted almost entirely on the root called "tsitla",
a kind of aroidoea, which contains a very large quantity of
sweet-tasted starch. When dried, pounded into meal, and allowed to ferment,
it forms a not unpleasant article of food. The women shave all the hair
off their heads, and seem darker than the Bechuanas. Their huts were built
on poles, and a fire is made beneath by night, in order that the smoke
may drive away the mosquitoes, which abound on the Mababe and Tamunak'le
more than in any other part of the country. The head man of this village,
Majane, seemed a little wanting in ability, but had had wit enough
to promote a younger member of the family to the office. This person,
the most like the ugly negro of the tobacconists' shops I ever saw,
was called Moroa Majane, or son of Majane, and proved an active guide
across the River Sonta, and to the banks of the Chobe,
in the country of Sebituane. We had come through another tsetse district
by night, and at once passed our cattle over to the northern bank
to preserve them from its ravages.
A few remarks on the Tsetse, or `Glossina morsitans', may here be appropriate.
It is not much larger than the common house-fly, and is nearly
of the same brown color as the common honey-bee; the after part of the body
has three or four yellow bars across it; the wings project
beyond this part considerably, and it is remarkably alert,
avoiding most dexterously all attempts to capture it with the hand
at common temperatures; in the cool of the mornings and evenings
it is less agile. Its peculiar buzz when once heard can never be forgotten
by the traveler whose means of locomotion are domestic animals;
for it is well known that the bite of this poisonous insect
is certain death to the ox, horse, and dog. In this journey,
though we were not aware of any great number having at any time
lighted on our cattle, we lost forty-three fine oxen by its bite.
We watched the animals carefully, and believe that not a score of flies
were ever upon them.
A most remarkable feature in the bite of the tsetse is
its perfect harmlessness in man and wild animals, and even calves,
so long as they continue to suck the cows. We never experienced
the slightest injury from them ourselves, personally, although we lived
two months in their HABITAT, which was in this case as sharply defined
as in many others, for the south bank of the Chobe was infested by them,
and the northern bank, where our cattle were placed, only fifty yards distant,
contained not a single specimen. This was the more remarkable,
as we often saw natives carrying over raw meat to the opposite bank
with many tsetse settled upon it.
The poison does not seem to be injected by a sting, or by ova placed
beneath the skin; for, when one is allowed to feed freely on the hand,
it is seen to insert the middle prong of three portions,
into which the proboscis divides, somewhat deeply into the true skin;
it then draws it out a little way, and it assumes a crimson color
as the mandibles come into brisk operation. The previously shrunken belly
swells out, and, if left undisturbed, the fly quietly departs
when it is full. A slight itching irritation follows, but not more
than in the bite of a mosquito. In the ox this same bite produces no more
immediate effects than in man. It does not startle him as the gad-fly does;
but a few days afterward the following symptoms supervene:
the eye and nose begin to run, the coat stares as if the animal were cold,
a swelling appears under the jaw, and sometimes at the navel;
and, though the animal continues to graze, emaciation commences,
accompanied with a peculiar flaccidity of the muscles,
and this proceeds unchecked until, perhaps months afterward,
purging comes on, and the animal, no longer able to graze,
perishes in a state of extreme exhaustion. Those which are in good condition
often perish soon after the bite is inflicted with staggering and blindness,
as if the brain were affected by it. Sudden changes of temperature
produced by falls of rain seem to hasten the progress of the complaint;
but, in general, the emaciation goes on uninterruptedly for months,
and, do what we will, the poor animals perish miserably.
When opened, the cellular tissue on the surface of the body beneath the skin
is seen to be injected with air, as if a quantity of soap-bubbles were
scattered over it, or a dishonest, awkward butcher had been trying to make it
look fat. The fat is of a greenish-yellow color and of an oily consistence.
All the muscles are flabby, and the heart often so soft that the fingers
may be made to meet through it. The lungs and liver partake of the disease.
The stomach and bowels are pale and empty, and the gall-bladder is distended
These symptoms seem to indicate what is probably the case,
a poison in the blood, the germ of which enters when the proboscis
is inserted to draw blood. The poison-germ, contained in a bulb
at the root of the proboscis, seems capable, although very minute in quantity,
of reproducing itself, for the blood after death by tsetse
is very small in quantity, and scarcely stains the hands in dissection.
I shall have by-and-by to mention another insect, which by the same operation
produces in the human subject both vomiting and purging.
The mule, ass, and goat enjoy the same immunity from the tsetse
as man and the game. Many large tribes on the Zambesi can keep
no domestic animals except the goat, in consequence of the scourge
existing in their country. Our children were frequently bitten,
yet suffered no harm; and we saw around us numbers of zebras,
buffaloes, pigs, pallahs and other antelopes, feeding quietly
in the very habitat of the tsetse, yet as undisturbed by its bite as oxen are
when they first receive the fatal poison. There is not so much difference
in the natures of the horse and zebra, the buffalo and ox,
the sheep and antelope, as to afford any satisfactory explanation
of the phenomenon. Is a man not as much a domestic animal as a dog?
The curious feature in the case, that dogs perish though fed on milk,