Part 5 out of 15
assist the fugitives across the rivers in canoes. The Makololo ladies
are liberal in their presents of milk and other food, and seldom require
to labor, except in the way of beautifying their own huts and court-yards.
They drink large quantities of boyaloa or o-alo, the buza of the Arabs,
which, being made of the grain called holcus sorghum or "durasaifi",
in a minute state of subdivision, is very nutritious,
and gives that plumpness of form which is considered beautiful.
They dislike being seen at their potations by persons of the opposite sex.
They cut their woolly hair quite short, and delight in having the whole person
shining with butter. Their dress is a kilt reaching to the knees;
its material is ox-hide, made as soft as cloth. It is not ungraceful.
A soft skin mantle is thrown across the shoulders when the lady is unemployed,
but when engaged in any sort of labor she throws this aside, and works
in the kilt alone. The ornaments most coveted are large brass anklets
as thick as the little finger, and armlets of both brass and ivory,
the latter often an inch broad. The rings are so heavy that the ankles
are often blistered by the weight pressing down; but it is the fashion,
and is borne as magnanimously as tight lacing and tight shoes among ourselves.
Strings of beads are hung around the neck, and the fashionable colors
being light green and pink, a trader could get almost any thing he chose
for beads of these colors.
At our public religious services in the kotla, the Makololo women always
behaved with decorum from the first, except at the conclusion of the prayer.
When all knelt down, many of those who had children, in following
the example of the rest, bent over their little ones; the children,
in terror of being crushed to death, set up a simultaneous yell,
which so tickled the whole assembly there was often a subdued titter,
to be turned into a hearty laugh as soon as they heard Amen.
This was not so difficult to overcome in them as similar peccadilloes were
in the case of the women farther south. Long after we had settled at Mabotsa,
when preaching on the most solemn subjects, a woman might be observed
to look round, and, seeing a neighbor seated on her dress,
give her a hunch with the elbow to make her move off; the other would
return it with interest, and perhaps the remark, "Take the nasty thing away,
will you?" Then three or four would begin to hustle the first offenders,
and the men to swear at them all, by way of enforcing silence.
Great numbers of little trifling things like these occur, and would not be
worth the mention but that one can not form a correct idea of missionary work
except by examination of the minutiae. At the risk of appearing frivolous
to some, I shall continue to descend to mere trifles.
The numbers who attended at the summons of the herald, who acted as beadle,
were often from five to seven hundred. The service consisted of reading
a small portion of the Bible and giving an explanatory address,
usually short enough to prevent weariness or want of attention.
So long as we continue to hold services in the kotla,
the associations of the place are unfavorable to solemnity;
hence it is always desirable to have a place of worship as soon as possible;
and it is of importance, too, to treat such place with reverence,
as an aid to secure that serious attention which religious subjects demand.
This will appear more evident when it is recollected that, in the very spot
where we had been engaged in acts of devotion, half an hour after
a dance would be got up; and these habits can not be at first opposed
without the appearance of assuming too much authority over them.
It is always unwise to hurt their feelings of independence.
Much greater influence will be gained by studying how you may induce them
to act aright, with the impression that they are doing it
of their own free will. Our services having necessarily been
all in the open air, where it is most difficult to address
large bodies of people, prevented my recovering so entirely
from the effects of clergyman's sore throat as I expected,
when my uvula was excised at the Cape.
To give an idea of the routine followed for months together, on other days
as well as on Sundays, I may advert to my habit of treating the sick
for complaints which seemed to surmount the skill of their own doctors.
I refrained from going to any one unless his own doctor wished it,
or had given up the case. This led to my having a selection
of the severer cases only, and prevented the doctors being offended
at my taking their practice out of their hands. When attacked
by fever myself, and wishing to ascertain what their practices were,
I could safely intrust myself in their hands on account of their well-known
The plan of showing kindness to the natives in their bodily ailments
secures their friendship; this is not the case to the same degree
in old missions, where the people have learned to look upon relief
as a right -- a state of things which sometimes happens among ourselves
at home. Medical aid is therefore most valuable in young missions,
though at all stages it is an extremely valuable adjunct to other operations.
I proposed to teach the Makololo to read, but, for the reasons mentioned,
Sekeletu at first declined; after some weeks, however,
Motibe, his father-in-law, and some others, determined to brave
the mysterious book. To all who have not acquired it,
the knowledge of letters is quite unfathomable; there is naught like it
within the compass of their observation; and we have no comparison
with any thing except pictures, to aid them in comprehending
the idea of signs of words. It seems to them supernatural
that we see in a book things taking place, or having occurred at a distance.
No amount of explanation conveys the idea unless they learn to read.
Machinery is equally inexplicable, and money nearly as much so
until they see it in actual use. They are familiar with barter alone;
and in the centre of the country, where gold is totally unknown,
if a button and sovereign were left to their choice,
they would prefer the former on account of its having an eye.
In beginning to learn, Motibe seemed to himself in the position of the doctor,
who was obliged to drink his potion before the patient, to show that
it contained nothing detrimental; after he had mastered the alphabet,
and reported the thing so far safe, Sekeletu and his young companions
came forward to try for themselves. He must have resolved
to watch the effects of the book against his views on polygamy,
and abstain whenever he perceived any tendency, in reading it,
toward enforcing him to put his wives away. A number of men
learned the alphabet in a short time and were set to teach others,
but before much progress could be made I was on my way to Loanda.
As I had declined to name any thing as a present from Sekeletu,
except a canoe to take me up the river, he brought ten fine elephants' tusks
and laid them down beside my wagon. He would take no denial,
though I told him I should prefer to see him trading with Fleming,
a man of color from the West Indies, who had come for the purpose.
I had, during the eleven years of my previous course, invariably abstained
from taking presents of ivory, from an idea that a religious instructor
degraded himself by accepting gifts from those whose spiritual welfare
he professed to seek. My precedence of all traders in the line of discovery
put me often in the way of very handsome offers, but I always advised
the donors to sell their ivory to traders, who would be sure to follow,
and when at some future time they had become rich by barter,
they might remember me or my children. When Lake Ngami was discovered
I might have refused permission to a trader who accompanied us;
but when he applied for leave to form part of our company,
knowing that Mr. Oswell would no more trade than myself,
and that the people of the lake would be disappointed
if they could not dispose of their ivory, I willingly granted a sanction,
without which his people would not at that time have ventured so far.
This was surely preferring the interest of another to my own.
The return I got for this was a notice in one of the Cape papers
that this "man was the true discoverer of the lake!"
The conclusion I had come to was, that it is quite lawful,
though perhaps not expedient, for missionaries to trade; but barter
is the only means by which a missionary in the interior can pay his way,
as money has no value. In all the journeys I had previously undertaken
for wider diffusion of the Gospel, the extra expenses were defrayed
from my salary of 100 Pounds per annum. This sum is sufficient
to enable a missionary to live in the interior of South Africa,
supposing he has a garden capable of yielding corn and vegetables;
but should he not, and still consider that six or eight months
can not lawfully be spent simply in getting goods at a lower price
than they can be had from itinerant traders, the sum mentioned
is barely sufficient for the poorest fare and plainest apparel.
As we never felt ourselves justified in making journeys to the colony
for the sake of securing bargains, the most frugal living was necessary
to enable us to be a little charitable to others; but when to this were added
extra traveling expenses, the wants of an increasing family,
and liberal gifts to chiefs, it was difficult to make both ends meet.
The pleasure of missionary labor would be enhanced if one could devote
his life to the heathen, without drawing a salary from a society at all.
The luxury of doing good from one's own private resources,
without appearing to either natives or Europeans to be making a gain of it,
is far preferable, and an object worthy the ambition of the rich.
But few men of fortune, however, now devote themselves to Christian missions,
as of old. Presents were always given to the chiefs whom we visited,
and nothing accepted in return; but when Sebituane (in 1851)
offered some ivory, I took it, and was able by its sale
to present his son with a number of really useful articles of a higher value
than I had ever been able to give before to any chief. In doing this,
of course, I appeared to trade, but, feeling I had a right to do so,
I felt perfectly easy in my mind; and, as I still held the view
of the inexpediency of combining the two professions, I was glad
of the proposal of one of the most honorable merchants of Cape Town,
Mr. H. E. Rutherford, that he should risk a sum of money in Fleming's hands
for the purpose of attempting to develop a trade with the Makololo.
It was to this man I suggested Sekeletu should sell the tusks
which he had presented for my acceptance, but the chief refused
to take them back from me. The goods which Fleming had brought were
ill adapted for the use of the natives, but he got a pretty good load of ivory
in exchange; and though it was his first attempt at trading,
and the distance traveled over made the expenses enormous,
he was not a loser by the trip. Other traders followed, who demanded
90 lbs. of ivory for a musket. The Makololo, knowing nothing of steelyards,
but supposing that they were meant to cheat them, declined to trade
except by exchanging one bull and one cow elephant's tusk for each gun.
This would average 70 lbs. of ivory, which sells at the Cape
for 5s. per pound, for a second-hand musket worth 10s.
I, being sixty miles distant, did not witness this attempt at barter,
but, anxious to enable my countrymen to drive a brisk trade,
told the Makololo to sell my ten tusks on their own account
for whatever they would bring. Seventy tusks were for sale,
but, the parties not understanding each other's talk,
no trade was established; and when I passed the spot some time afterward,
I found that the whole of that ivory had been destroyed by an accidental fire,
which broke out in the village when all the people were absent.
Success in trade is as much dependent on knowledge of the language
as success in traveling.
I had brought with me as presents an improved breed of goats,
fowls, and a pair of cats. A superior bull was bought, also as a gift
to Sekeletu, but I was compelled to leave it on account of its
having become foot-sore. As the Makololo are very fond of improving
the breed of their domestic animals, they were much pleased with my selection.
I endeavored to bring the bull, in performance of a promise made to Sebituane
before he died. Admiring a calf which we had with us, he proposed
to give me a cow for it, which in the native estimation was offering
three times its value. I presented it to him at once, and promised
to bring him another and a better one. Sekeletu was much gratified
by my attempt to keep my word given to his father.
They have two breeds of cattle among them. One, called the Batoka,
because captured from that tribe, is of diminutive size, but very beautiful,
and closely resembles the short-horns of our own country. The little pair
presented by the King of Portugal to H.R.H. the prince consort,
is of this breed. They are very tame, and remarkably playful;
they may be seen lying on their sides by the fires in the evening;
and, when the herd goes out, the herdsman often precedes them,
and has only to commence capering to set them all a gamboling.
The meat is superior to that of the large animal. The other, or Barotse ox,
is much larger, and comes from the fertile Barotse Valley.
They stand high on their legs, often nearly six feet at the withers;
and they have large horns. Those of one of a similar breed
that we brought from the lake measured from tip to tip eight and a half feet.
The Makololo are in the habit of shaving off a little
from one side of the horns of these animals when still growing,
in order to make them curve in that direction and assume fantastic shapes.
The stranger the curvature, the more handsome the ox is considered to be,
and the longer this ornament of the cattle-pen is spared to beautify the herd.
This is a very ancient custom in Africa, for the tributary tribes of Ethiopia
are seen, on some of the most ancient Egyptian monuments,
bringing contorted-horned cattle into Egypt.
All are remarkably fond of their cattle, and spend much time
in ornamenting and adorning them. Some are branded all over with a hot knife,
so as to cause a permanent discoloration of the hair,
in lines like the bands on the hide of a zebra. Pieces of skin
two or three inches long and broad are detached, and allowed to heal
in a dependent position around the head -- a strange style of ornament;
indeed, it is difficult to conceive in what their notion of beauty consists.
The women have somewhat the same ideas with ourselves of what
constitutes comeliness. They came frequently and asked for the looking-glass;
and the remarks they made -- while I was engaged in reading,
and apparently not attending to them -- on first seeing themselves therein,
were amusingly ridiculous. "Is that me?" "What a big mouth I have!"
"My ears are as big as pumpkin-leaves." "I have no chin at all."
Or, "I would have been pretty, but am spoiled by these high cheek-bones."
"See how my head shoots up in the middle!" laughing vociferously all the time
at their own jokes. They readily perceive any defect in each other,
and give nicknames accordingly. One man came alone to have
a quiet gaze at his own features once, when he thought I was asleep;
after twisting his mouth about in various directions, he remarked to himself,
"People say I am ugly, and how very ugly I am indeed!"
The Makololo use all the skins of their oxen for making either
mantles or shields. For the former, the hide is stretched out
by means of pegs, and dried. Ten or a dozen men then collect round it
with small adzes, which, when sharpened with an iron bodkin,
are capable of shaving off the substance of the skin on the fleshy side
until it is quite thin; when sufficiently thin, a quantity of brain
is smeared over it, and some thick milk. Then an instrument
made of a number of iron spikes tied round a piece of wood,
so that the points only project beyond it, is applied to it
in a carding fashion, until the fibres of the bulk of it are quite loose.
Milk or butter is applied to it again, and it forms a garment
nearly as soft as cloth.
The shields are made of hides partially dried in the sun,
and then beaten with hammers until they are stiff and dry.
Two broad belts of a differently-colored skin are sewed
into them longitudinally, and sticks inserted to make them rigid
and not liable to bend easily. The shield is a great protection
in their way of fighting with spears, but they also trust largely
to their agility in springing aside from the coming javelin.
The shield assists when so many spears are thrown that it is impossible
not to receive some of them. Their spears are light javelins;
and, judging from what I have seen them do in elephant-hunting,
I believe, when they have room to make a run and discharge them
with the aid of the jerk of stopping, they can throw them between
forty and fifty yards. They give them an upward direction in the discharge,
so that they come down on the object with accelerated force.
I saw a man who in battle had received one in the shin;
the excitement of the moment prevented his feeling any pain;
but, when the battle was over, the blade was found to have split the bone,
and become so impacted in the cleft that no force could extract it.
It was necessary to take an axe and press the split bone asunder
before the weapon could be taken out.
The Fever -- Its Symptoms -- Remedies of the native Doctors --
Hospitality of Sekeletu and his People -- One of their Reasons for Polygamy
-- They cultivate largely -- The Makalaka or subject Tribes --
Sebituane's Policy respecting them -- Their Affection for him --
Products of the Soil -- Instrument of Culture -- The Tribute --
Distributed by the Chief -- A warlike Demonstration --
Lechulatebe's Provocations -- The Makololo determine to punish him --
The Bechuanas -- Meaning of the Term -- Three Divisions of the great
Family of South Africans.
On the 30th of May I was seized with fever for the first time.
We reached the town of Linyanti on the 23d; and as my habits
were suddenly changed from great exertion to comparative inactivity,
at the commencement of the cold season I suffered from
a severe attack of stoppage of the secretions, closely resembling
a common cold. Warm baths and drinks relieved me, and I had no idea
but that I was now recovering from the effects of a chill,
got by leaving the warm wagon in the evening in order to conduct
family worship at my people's fire. But on the 2d of June
a relapse showed to the Makololo, who knew the complaint,
that my indisposition was no other than the fever, with which
I have since made a more intimate acquaintance. Cold east winds
prevail at this time; and as they come over the extensive flats
inundated by the Chobe, as well as many other districts
where pools of rain-water are now drying up, they may be supposed
to be loaded with malaria and watery vapor, and many cases of fever follow.
The usual symptoms of stopped secretion are manifested --
shivering and a feeling of coldness, though the skin is quite hot
to the touch of another. The heat in the axilla, over the heart
and region of the stomach, was in my case 100 Deg.; but along the spine
and at the nape of the neck 103 Deg. The internal processes were all,
with the exception of the kidneys and liver, stopped;
the latter, in its efforts to free the blood of noxious particles,
often secretes enormous quantities of bile. There were pains along the spine,
and frontal headache. Anxious to ascertain whether the natives
possessed the knowledge of any remedy of which we were ignorant,
I requested the assistance of one of Sekeletu's doctors.
He put some roots into a pot with water, and, when it was boiling,
placed it on a spot beneath a blanket thrown around both me and it.
This produced no immediate effect; he then got a small bundle of different
kinds of medicinal woods, and, burning them in a potsherd nearly to ashes,
used the smoke and hot vapor arising from them as an auxiliary to the other
in causing diaphoresis. I fondly hoped that they had a more potent remedy
than our own medicines afford; but after being stewed in their vapor-baths,
smoked like a red herring over green twigs, and charmed `secundem artem',
I concluded that I could cure the fever more quickly than they can.
If we employ a wet sheet and a mild aperient in combination with quinine,
in addition to the native remedies, they are an important aid
in curing the fever, as they seem to have the same stimulating effects
on the alimentary canal as these means have on the external surface.
Purgatives, general bleedings, or indeed any violent remedies, are injurious;
and the appearance of a herpetic eruption near the mouth
is regarded as an evidence that no internal organ is in danger.
There is a good deal in not "giving in" to this disease.
He who is low-spirited, and apt to despond at every attack,
will die sooner than the man who is not of such a melancholic nature.
The Makololo had made a garden and planted maize for me,
that, as they remarked when I was parting with them to proceed to the Cape,
I might have food to eat when I returned, as well as other people.
The maize was now pounded by the women into fine meal. This they do
in large wooden mortars, the counterpart of which may be seen depicted
on the Egyptian monuments.* Sekeletu added to this good supply of meal
ten or twelve jars of honey, each of which contained about two gallons.
Liberal supplies of ground-nuts (`Arachis hypogoea') were also furnished
every time the tributary tribes brought their dues to Linyanti, and an ox
was given for slaughter every week or two. Sekeletu also appropriated
two cows to be milked for us every morning and evening. This was in
accordance with the acknowledged rule throughout this country, that the chief
should feed all strangers who come on any special business to him and take up
their abode in his kotla. A present is usually given in return
for the hospitality, but, except in cases where their aboriginal customs
have been modified, nothing would be asked. Europeans spoil the feeling that
hospitality is the sacred duty of the chiefs by what in other circumstances
is laudable conduct. No sooner do they arrive than they offer
to purchase food, and, instead of waiting till a meal is prepared for them
in the evening, cook for themselves, and then often decline
even to partake of that which has been made ready for their use.
A present is also given, and before long the natives come to expect a gift
without having offered any equivalent.
* Unfortunately, the illustration shown with this paragraph
cannot be shown in this ASCII file. It has the following caption:
`Egyptian Pestle and Mortar, Sieves, Corn Vessels, and Kilt,
identical with those in use by the Makololo and Makalaka.
-- From Sir G. Wilkinson's "Ancient Egyptians".' -- A. L., 1997.
Strangers frequently have acquaintances among the under-chiefs,
to whose establishments they turn aside, and are treated on the same principle
that others are when they are the guests of the chief. So generally
is the duty admitted, that one of the most cogent arguments for polygamy
is that a respectable man with only one wife could not entertain strangers
as he ought. This reason has especial weight where the women are
the chief cultivators of the soil, and have the control over the corn,
as at Kolobeng. The poor, however, who have no friends, often suffer
much hunger, and the very kind attention Sebituane lavished on all such
was one of the reasons of his great popularity in the country.
The Makololo cultivate a large extent of land around their villages.
Those of them who are real Basutos still retain the habits of that tribe,
and may be seen going out with their wives with their hoes in hand --
a state of things never witnessed at Kolobeng, or among any other
Bechuana or Caffre tribe. The great chief Moshesh affords
an example to his people annually by not only taking the hoe in hand,
but working hard with it on certain public occasions.
His Basutos are of the same family with the Makololo to whom I refer.
The younger Makololo, who have been accustomed from their infancy
to lord it over the conquered Makalaka, have unfortunately no desire
to imitate the agricultural tastes of their fathers, and expect their subjects
to perform all the manual labor. They are the aristocracy of the country,
and once possessed almost unlimited power over their vassals.
Their privileges were, however, much abridged by Sebituane himself.
I have already mentioned that the tribes which Sebituane subjected
in this great country pass by the general name of Makalaka.
The Makololo were composed of a great number of other tribes,
as well as of these central negroes. The nucleus of the whole were Basuto,
who came with Sebituane from a comparatively cold and hilly region
in the south. When he conquered various tribes of the Bechuanas,
as Bakwains, Bangwaketze, Bamangwato, Batauana, etc., he incorporated
the young of these tribes into his own. Great mortality by fever
having taken place in the original stock, he wisely adopted
the same plan of absorption on a large scale with the Makalaka.
So we found him with even the sons of the chiefs of the Barotse
closely attached to his person; and they say to this day,
if any thing else but natural death had assailed their father,
every one of them would have laid down his life in his defense.
One reason for their strong affection was their emancipation
by the decree of Sebituane, "all are children of the chief."
The Makalaka cultivate the `Holcus sorghum', or dura, as the principal grain,
with maize, two kinds of beans, ground-nuts (`Arachis hypogoea'), pumpkins,
watermelons, and cucumbers. They depend for success entirely upon rain.
Those who live in the Barotse valley cultivate in addition the sugar-cane,
sweet potato, and manioc (`Jatropha manihot'). The climate there, however,
is warmer than at Linyanti, and the Makalaka increase
the fertility of their gardens by rude attempts at artificial irrigation.
The instrument of culture over all this region is a hoe,
the iron of which the Batoka and Banyeti obtain from the ore by smelting.
The amount of iron which they produce annually may be understood
when it is known that most of the hoes in use at Linyanti
are the tribute imposed on the smiths of those subject tribes.
Sekeletu receives tribute from a great number of tribes in corn or dura,
ground-nuts, hoes, spears, honey, canoes, paddles, wooden vessels,
tobacco, mutokuane (`Cannabis sativa'), various wild fruits (dried),
prepared skins, and ivory. When these articles are brought into the kotla,
Sekeletu has the honor of dividing them among the loungers
who usually congregate there. A small portion only is reserved for himself.
The ivory belongs nominally to him too, but this is simply
a way of making a fair distribution of the profits. The chief sells it
only with the approbation of his counselors, and the proceeds are distributed
in open day among the people as before. He has the choice of every thing;
but if he is not more liberal to others than to himself,
he loses in popularity. I have known instances in this and other tribes
in which individuals aggrieved, because they had been overlooked,
fled to other chiefs. One discontented person, having fled to Lechulatebe,
was encouraged to go to a village of the Bapalleng,
on the River Cho or Tso, and abstracted the tribute of ivory thence
which ought to have come to Sekeletu. This theft enraged
the whole of the Makololo, because they all felt it to be a personal loss.
Some of Lechulatebe's people having come on a visit to Linyanti,
a demonstration was made, in which about five hundred Makololo, armed,
went through a mimic fight; the principal warriors pointed their spears
toward the lake where Lechulatebe lives, and every thrust in that direction
was answered by all with the shout, "Ho-o!" while every stab on the ground
drew out a simultaneous "Huzz!" On these occasions all capable
of bearing arms, even the old, must turn out at the call.
In the time of Sebituane, any one remaining in his house
was searched for and killed without mercy.
This offense of Lechulatebe was aggravated by repetition,
and by a song sung in his town accompanying the dances, which manifested joy
at the death of Sebituane. He had enjoined his people to live in peace
with those at the lake, and Sekeletu felt disposed to follow his advice;
but Lechulatebe had now got possession of fire-arms, and considered himself
more than a match for the Makololo. His father had been
dispossessed of many cattle by Sebituane, and, as forgiveness
is not considered among the virtues by the heathen, Lechulatebe thought
he had a right to recover what he could. As I had a good deal of influence
with the Makololo, I persuaded them that, before they could have peace,
they must resolve to give the same blessing to others,
and they never could do that without forgiving and forgetting ancient feuds.
It is hard to make them feel that shedding of human blood is a great crime;
they must be conscious that it is wrong, but, having been
accustomed to bloodshed from infancy, they are remarkably callous
to the enormity of the crime of destroying human life.
I sent a message at the same time to Lechulatebe advising him
to give up the course he had adopted, and especially the song;
because, though Sebituane was dead, the arms with which he had fought
were still alive and strong.
Sekeletu, in order to follow up his father's instructions and promote peace,
sent ten cows to Lechulatebe to be exchanged for sheep;
these animals thrive well in a bushy country like that around the lake,
but will scarcely live in the flat prairies between the net-work of waters
north of the Chobe. The men who took the cows carried a number of hoes
to purchase goats besides. Lechulatebe took the cows and sent back
an equal number of sheep. Now, according to the relative value
of sheep and cows in these parts, he ought to have sent sixty or seventy.
One of the men who had hoes was trying to purchase in a village
without formal leave from Lechulatebe; this chief punished him
by making him sit some hours on the broiling hot sand (at least 130 Deg.).
This farther offense put a stop to amicable relations
between the two tribes altogether. It was a case in which a very small tribe,
commanded by a weak and foolish chief, had got possession of fire-arms,
and felt conscious of ability to cope with a numerous and warlike race.
Such cases are the only ones in which the possession of fire-arms does evil.
The universal effect of the diffusion of the more potent
instruments of warfare in Africa is the same as among ourselves.
Fire-arms render wars less frequent and less bloody. It is indeed
exceedingly rare to hear of two tribes having guns going to war
with each other; and, as nearly all the feuds, in the south at least,
have been about cattle, the risk which must be incurred from long shots
generally proves a preventive to the foray.
The Makololo were prevailed upon to keep the peace during my residence
with them, but it was easy to perceive that public opinion was against
sparing a tribe of Bechuanas for whom the Makololo entertained
the most sovereign contempt. The young men would remark,
"Lechulatebe is herding our cows for us; let us only go,
we shall `lift' the price of them in sheep," etc.
As the Makololo are the most northerly of the Bechuanas, we may glance back
at this family of Africans before entering on the branch of the negro family
which the Makololo distinguish by the term Makalaka. The name Bechuana
seems derived from the word Chuana -- alike, or equal --
with the personal pronoun Ba (they) prefixed, and therefore means
fellows or equals. Some have supposed the name to have arisen
from a mistake of some traveler, who, on asking individuals of this nation
concerning the tribes living beyond them, received the answer,
Bachuana, "they (are) alike"; meaning, "They are the same as we are";
and that this nameless traveler, who never wrote a word about them,
managed to ingraft his mistake as a generic term on a nation extending
from the Orange River to 18 Deg. south latitude.*
* The Makololo have conquered the country as far as 14 Deg. south,
but it is still peopled chiefly by the black tribes named Makalaka.
As the name was found in use among those who had no intercourse
with Europeans, before we can receive the above explanation we must believe
that the unknown traveler knew the language sufficiently well
to ask a question, but not to understand the answer. We may add,
that the way in which they still continue to use the word seems to require
no fanciful interpretation. When addressed with any degree of scorn,
they reply, "We are Bachuana, or equals -- we are not inferior
to any of our nation," in exactly the same sense as Irishmen or Scotchmen,
in the same circumstances, would reply, "We are Britons,"
or "We are Englishmen." Most other tribes are known by the terms
applied to them by strangers only, as the Caffres, Hottentots, and Bushmen.
The Bechuanas alone use the term to themselves as a generic one
for the whole nation. They have managed, also, to give a comprehensive name
to the whites, viz., Makoa, though they can not explain the derivation of it
any more than of their own. It seems to mean "handsome",
from the manner in which they use it to indicate beauty;
but there is a word so very like it meaning "infirm", or "weak",
that Burchell's conjecture is probably the right one.
"The different Hottentot tribes were known by names terminating in `kua',
which means `man', and the Bechuanas simply added the prefix Ma,
denoting a nation." They themselves were first known as Briquas,
or "goat-men". The language of the Bechuanas is termed Sichuana;
that of the whites (or Makoa) is called Sekoa.
The Makololo, or Basuto, have carried their powers of generalization
still farther, and arranged the other parts of the same great family
of South Africans into three divisions: 1st. The Matebele, or Makonkobi --
the Caffre family living on the eastern side of the country;
2d. The Bakoni, or Basuto; and, 3d. The Bakalahari, or Bechuanas,
living in the central parts, which includes all those tribes
living in or adjacent to the great Kalahari Desert.
1st. The Caffres are divided by themselves into various subdivisions,
as Amakosa, Amapanda, and other well-known titles. They consider
the name Caffre as an insulting epithet.
The Zulus of Natal belong to the same family, and they are as famed
for their honesty as their brethren who live adjacent to our colonial frontier
are renowned for cattle-lifting. The Recorder of Natal declared of them
that history does not present another instance in which
so much security for life and property has been enjoyed,
as has been experienced, during the whole period of English occupation,
by ten thousand colonists, in the midst of one hundred thousand Zulus.
The Matebele of Mosilikatse, living a short distance south of the Zambesi,
and other tribes living a little south of Tete and Senna,
are members of this same family. They are not known beyond the Zambesi River.
This was the limit of the Bechuana progress north too, until Sebituane
pushed his conquests farther.
2d. The Bakoni and Basuto division contains, in the south,
all those tribes which acknowledge Moshesh as their paramount chief.
Among them we find the Batau, the Baputi, Makolokue, etc.,
and some mountaineers on the range Maluti, who are believed,
by those who have carefully sifted the evidence, to have been at one time
guilty of cannibalism. This has been doubted, but their songs admit the fact
to this day, and they ascribe their having left off the odious practice
of entrapping human prey to Moshesh having given them cattle.
They are called Marimo and Mayabathu, men-eaters, by the rest of the Basuto,
who have various subdivisions, as Makatla, Bamakakana, Matlapatlapa, etc.
The Bakoni farther north than the Basuto are the Batlou, Baperi, Bapo,
and another tribe of Bakuena, Bamosetla, Bamapela or Balaka, Babiriri,
Bapiri, Bahukeng, Batlokua, Baakhahela, etc., etc.; the whole of which tribes
are favored with abundance of rain, and, being much attached to agriculture,
raise very large quantities of grain. It is on their industry
that the more distant Boers revel in slothful abundance,
and follow their slave-hunting and cattle-stealing propensities
quite beyond the range of English influence and law.
The Basuto under Moshesh are equally fond of cultivating the soil.
The chief labor of hoeing, driving away birds, reaping, and winnowing,
falls to the willing arms of the hard-working women; but as the men,
as well as their wives, as already stated, always work,
many have followed the advice of the missionaries, and now use plows and oxen
instead of the hoe.
3d. The Bakalahari, or western branch of the Bechuana family,
consists of Barolong, Bahurutse, Bakuena, Bangwaketse,
Bakaa, Bamangwato, Bakurutse, Batauana, Bamatlaro, and Batlapi.
Among the last the success of missionaries has been greatest.
They were an insignificant and filthy people when first discovered;
but, being nearest to the colony, they have had opportunities of trading;
and the long-continued peace they have enjoyed, through the influence
of religious teaching, has enabled them to amass great numbers of cattle.
The young, however, who do not realize their former degradation,
often consider their present superiority over the less-favored tribes
in the interior to be entirely owing to their own greater wisdom
and more intellectual development.
Departure from Linyanti for Sesheke -- Level Country -- Ant-hills --
Wild Date-trees -- Appearance of our Attendants on the March --
The Chief's Guard -- They attempt to ride on Ox-back --
Vast Herds of the new Antelopes, Leches, and Nakongs --
The native way of hunting them -- Reception at the Villages --
Presents of Beer and Milk -- Eating with the Hand --
The Chief provides the Oxen for Slaughter -- Social Mode of Eating --
The Sugar-cane -- Sekeletu's novel Test of Character --
Cleanliness of Makololo Huts -- Their Construction and Appearance --
The Beds -- Cross the Leeambye -- Aspect of this part of the Country --
The small Antelope Tianyane unknown in the South -- Hunting on foot --
Having waited a month at Linyanti (lat. 18d 17' 20" S., long. 23d 50' 9" E.),
we again departed, for the purpose of ascending the river
from Sesheke (lat. 17d 31' 38" S., long. 25d 13' E.). To the Barotse country,
the capital of which is Nariele or Naliele (lat. 15d 24' 17" S.,
long. 23d 5' 54" E.), I went in company with Sekeletu and about
one hundred and sixty attendants. We had most of the young men with us,
and many of the under-chiefs besides. The country between Linyanti
and Sesheke is perfectly flat, except patches elevated only a few feet
above the surrounding level. There are also many mounds where
the gigantic ant-hills of the country have been situated or still appear:
these mounds are evidently the work of the termites. No one who has not seen
their gigantic structures can fancy the industry of these little laborers;
they seem to impart fertility to the soil which has once passed
through their mouths, for the Makololo find the sides of ant-hills
the choice spots for rearing early maize, tobacco, or any thing on which
they wish to bestow especial care. In the parts through which we passed
the mounds are generally covered with masses of wild date-trees;
the fruit is small, and no tree is allowed to stand long,
for, having abundance of food, the Makololo have no inclination
to preserve wild fruit-trees; accordingly, when a date
shoots up to seed, as soon as the fruit is ripe they cut down the tree
rather than be at the trouble of climbing it. The other parts
of the more elevated land have the camel-thorn (`Acacia giraffae'),
white-thorned mimosa (`Acacia horrida'), and baobabs. In sandy spots
there are palmyras somewhat similar to the Indian, but with a smaller seed.
The soil on all the flat parts is a rich, dark, tenacious loam,
known as the "cotton-ground" in India; it is covered with
a dense matting of coarse grass, common on all damp spots in this country.
We had the Chobe on our right, with its scores of miles of reed
occupying the horizon there. It was pleasant to look back
on the long-extended line of our attendants, as it twisted and bent
according to the curves of the footpath, or in and out behind the mounds,
the ostrich feathers of the men waving in the wind. Some had
the white ends of ox-tails on their heads, Hussar fashion, and others
great bunches of black ostrich feathers, or caps made of lions' manes.
Some wore red tunics, or various-colored prints which the chief had bought
from Fleming; the common men carried burdens; the gentlemen walked
with a small club of rhinoceros-horn in their hands, and had servants
to carry their shields; while the "Machaka", battle-axe men,
carried their own, and were liable at any time to be sent off a hundred miles
on an errand, and expected to run all the way.
Sekeletu is always accompanied by his own Mopato, a number of young men
of his own age. When he sits down they crowd around him;
those who are nearest eat out of the same dish, for the Makololo chiefs
pride themselves on eating with their people. He eats a little,
then beckons his neighbors to partake. When they have done so,
he perhaps beckons to some one at a distance to take a share; that person
starts forward, seizes the pot, and removes it to his own companions.
The comrades of Sekeletu, wishing to imitate him in riding on my old horse,
leaped on the backs of a number of half-broken Batoka oxen as they ran,
but, having neither saddle nor bridle, the number of tumbles they met with
was a source of much amusement to the rest. Troops of leches,
or, as they are here called, "lechwes", appeared feeding quite heedlessly
all over the flats; they exist here in prodigious herds,
although the numbers of them and of the "nakong" that are killed annually
must be enormous. Both are water antelopes, and, when the lands
we now tread upon are flooded, they betake themselves to the mounds
I have alluded to. The Makalaka, who are most expert
in the management of their small, thin, light canoes, come gently toward them;
the men stand upright in the canoe, though it is not more
than fifteen or eighteen inches wide and about fifteen feet long;
their paddles, ten feet in height, are of a kind of wood called molompi,
very light, yet as elastic as ash. With these they either punt or paddle,
according to the shallowness or depth of the water. When they perceive
the antelopes beginning to move they increase their speed, and pursue them
with great velocity. They make the water dash away from the gunwale,
and, though the leche goes off by a succession of prodigious bounds,
its feet appearing to touch the bottom at each spring,
they manage to spear great numbers of them.
The nakong often shares a similar fate. This is a new species,
rather smaller than the leche, and in shape has more of paunchiness
than any antelope I ever saw. Its gait closely resembles
the gallop of a dog when tired. The hair is long and rather sparse,
so that it is never sleek-looking. It is of a grayish-brown color,
and has horns twisted in the manner of a koodoo, but much smaller,
and with a double ridge winding round each of them.
Its habitat is the marsh and the muddy bogs; the great length of its foot
between the point of the toe and supplemental hoofs enables it
to make a print about a foot in length; it feeds by night,
and lies hid among the reeds and rushes by day; when pursued,
it dashes into sedgy places containing water, and immerses the whole body,
leaving only the point of the nose and ends of the horns exposed.
The hunters burn large patches of reed in order to drive the nakong
out of his lair; occasionally the ends of the horns project above the water;
but when it sees itself surrounded by enemies in canoes,
it will rather allow its horns to be scorched in the burning reed
than come forth from its hiding-place.
When we arrived at any village the women all turned out
to lulliloo their chief. Their shrill voices, to which they give
a tremulous sound by a quick motion of the tongue, peal forth,
"Great lion!" "Great chief!" "Sleep, my lord!" etc. The men utter
similar salutations; and Sekeletu receives all with becoming indifference.
After a few minutes' conversation and telling the news,
the head man of the village, who is almost always a Makololo,
rises, and brings forth a number of large pots of beer.
Calabashes, being used as drinking-cups, are handed round, and as many
as can partake of the beverage do so, grasping the vessels so eagerly
that they are in danger of being broken.
They bring forth also large pots and bowls of thick milk;
some contain six or eight gallons; and each of these, as well as of the beer,
is given to a particular person, who has the power to divide it
with whom he pleases. The head man of any section of the tribe
is generally selected for this office. Spoons not being generally in fashion,
the milk is conveyed to the mouth with the hand. I often presented
my friends with iron spoons, and it was curious to observe
how their habit of hand-eating prevailed, though they were delighted
with the spoons. They lifted out a little with the utensil,
then put it on the left hand, and ate it out of that.
As the Makololo have great abundance of cattle, and the chief is expected
to feed all who accompany him, he either selects an ox or two of his own
from the numerous cattle stations that he possesses at different spots all
over the country, or is presented by the head men of the villages he visits
with as many as he needs by way of tribute. The animals are killed
by a thrust from a small javelin in the region of the heart,
the wound being purposely small in order to avoid any loss of blood,
which, with the internal parts, are the perquisites of the men who perform
the work of the butcher; hence all are eager to render service in that line.
Each tribe has its own way of cutting up and distributing an animal.
Among the Makololo the hump and ribs belong to the chief;
among the Bakwains the breast is his perquisite. After the oxen are cut up,
the different joints are placed before Sekeletu, and he apportions them
among the gentlemen of the party. The whole is rapidly divided
by their attendants, cut into long strips, and so many of these
are thrown into the fires at once that they are nearly put out.
Half broiled and burning hot, the meat is quickly handed round;
every one gets a mouthful, but no one except the chief has time to masticate.
It is not the enjoyment of eating they aim at, but to get as much of the food
into the stomach as possible during the short time the others
are cramming as well as themselves, for no one can eat more than a mouthful
after the others have finished. They are eminently gregarious
in their eating; and, as they despise any one who eats alone,
I always poured out two cups of coffee at my own meals, so that the chief,
or some one of the principal men, might partake along with me.
They all soon become very fond of coffee; and, indeed, some of the tribes
attribute greater fecundity to the daily use of this beverage.
They were all well acquainted with the sugar-cane, as they cultivate it
in the Barotse country, but knew nothing of the method of extracting
the sugar from it. They use the cane only for chewing. Sekeletu,
relishing the sweet coffee and biscuits, of which I then had a store,
said "he knew my heart loved him by finding his own heart warming to my food."
He had been visited during my absence at the Cape by some traders and Griquas,
and "their coffee did not taste half so nice as mine, because they loved
his ivory and not himself." This was certainly an original mode
of discerning character.
Sekeletu and I had each a little gipsy-tent in which to sleep.
The Makololo huts are generally clean, while those of the Makalaka
are infested with vermin. The cleanliness of the former
is owing to the habit of frequently smearing the floors with a plaster
composed of cowdung and earth. If we slept in the tent in some villages,
the mice ran over our faces and disturbed our sleep, or hungry prowling dogs
would eat our shoes and leave only the soles. When they were guilty
of this and other misdemeanors, we got the loan of a hut.
The best sort of Makololo huts consist of three circular walls,
with small holes as doors, each similar to that in a dog-house;
and it is necessary to bend down the body to get in, even when on all-fours.
The roof is formed of reeds or straight sticks, in shape
like a Chinaman's hat, bound firmly together with circular bands,
which are lashed with the strong inner bark of the mimosa-tree.
When all prepared except the thatch, it is lifted on to the circular wall,
the rim resting on a circle of poles, between each of which
the third wall is built. The roof is thatched with fine grass,
and sewed with the same material as the lashings; and, as it projects
far beyond the walls, and reaches within four feet of the ground,
the shade is the best to be found in the country. These huts are very cool
in the hottest day, but are close and deficient in ventilation by night.
The bed is a mat made of rushes sewn together with twine;
the hip-bone soon becomes sore on the hard flat surface, as we are not allowed
to make a hole in the floor to receive the prominent part called trochanter
by anatomists, as we do when sleeping on grass or sand.
Our course at this time led us to a part above Sesheke, called Katonga,
where there is a village belonging to a Bashubia man named Sekhosi --
latitude 17d 29' 13", longitude 24d 33'. The river here is somewhat broader
than at Sesheke, and certainly not less than six hundred yards.
It flows somewhat slowly in the first part of its eastern course.
When the canoes came from Sekhosi to take us over, one of the comrades
of Sebituane rose, and, looking to Sekeletu, called out, "The elders of a host
always take the lead in an attack." This was understood at once;
and Sekeletu, with all the young men, were obliged to give the elders
the precedence, and remain on the southern bank and see that all went orderly
into the canoes. It took a considerable time to ferry over
the whole of our large party, as, even with quick paddling,
from six to eight minutes were spent in the mere passage from bank to bank.
Several days were spent in collecting canoes from different villages
on the river, which we now learned is called by the whole of the Barotse
the Liambai or Leeambye. This we could not ascertain on our first visit,
and, consequently, called the river after the town "Sesheke".
This term Sesheke means "white sand-banks", many of which exist at this part.
There is another village in the valley of the Barotse likewise called Sesheke,
and for the same reason; but the term Leeambye means "the large river",
or the river PAR EXCELLENCE. Luambeji, Luambesi, Ambezi, Ojimbesi,
and Zambesi, etc., are names applied to it at different parts of its course,
according to the dialect spoken, and all possess a similar signification,
and express the native idea of this magnificent stream being
the main drain of the country.
In order to assist in the support of our large party, and at the same time
to see the adjacent country, I went several times, during our stay,
to the north of the village for game. The country is covered
with clumps of beautiful trees, among which fine open glades stretch away
in every direction; when the river is in flood these are inundated,
but the tree-covered elevated spots are much more numerous here than in
the country between the Chobe and the Leeambye. The soil is dark loam,
as it is every where on spots reached by the inundation,
while among the trees it is sandy, and not covered so densely with grass
as elsewhere. A sandy ridge covered with trees, running parallel to,
and about eight miles from the river, is the limit of the inundation
on the north; there are large tracts of this sandy forest in that direction,
till you come to other districts of alluvial soil and fewer trees.
The latter soil is always found in the vicinity of rivers
which either now overflow their banks annually, or formerly did so.
The people enjoy rain in sufficient quantity to raise very large supplies
of grain and ground-nuts.
This district contains great numbers of a small antelope named Tianyane,
unknown in the south. It stands about eighteen inches high,
is very graceful in its movements, and utters a cry of alarm
not unlike that of the domestic fowl; it is of a brownish-red color
on the sides and back, with the belly and lower part of the tail white;
it is very timid, but the maternal affection that the little thing
bears to its young will often induce it to offer battle
even to a man approaching it. When the young one is too tender
to run about with the dam, she puts one foot on the prominence
about the seventh cervical vertebra, or withers; the instinct of the young
enables it to understand that it is now required to kneel down,
and to remain quite still till it hears the bleating of its dam.
If you see an otherwise gregarious she-antelope separated from the herd,
and going alone any where, you may be sure she has laid her little one
to sleep in some cozy spot. The color of the hair in the young
is better adapted for assimilating it with the ground
than that of the older animals, which do not need to be screened
from the observation of birds of prey. I observed the Arabs at Aden,
when making their camels kneel down, press the thumb on the withers
in exactly the same way the antelopes do with their young;
probably they have been led to the custom by seeing this plan adopted
by the gazelle of the Desert.
Great numbers of buffaloes, zebras, tsessebes, tahaetsi, and eland, or pohu,
grazed undisturbed on these plains, so that very little exertion was required
to secure a fair supply of meat for the party during the necessary delay.
Hunting on foot, as all those who have engaged in it in this country
will at once admit, is very hard work indeed. The heat of the sun by day
is so great, even in winter, as it now was, that, had there been any one
on whom I could have thrown the task, he would have been most welcome
to all the sport the toil is supposed to impart. But the Makololo
shot so badly, that, in order to save my powder, I was obliged to go myself.
We shot a beautiful cow-eland, standing in the shade of a fine tree.
It was evident that she had lately had her calf killed by a lion,
for there were five long deep scratches on both sides of her hind-quarters,
as if she had run to the rescue of her calf, and the lion, leaving it,
had attacked herself, but was unable to pull her down.
When lying on the ground, the milk flowing from the large udder
showed that she must have been seeking the shade, from the distress
its non-removal in the natural manner caused. She was a beautiful creature,
and Lebeole, a Makololo gentleman who accompanied me, speaking in reference
to its size and beauty, said, "Jesus ought to have given us these
instead of cattle." It was a new, undescribed variety of this
splendid antelope. It was marked with narrow white bands across the body,
exactly like those of the koodoo, and had a black patch
of more than a handbreadth on the outer side of the fore-arm.
Procure Canoes and ascend the Leeambye -- Beautiful Islands --
Winter Landscape -- Industry and Skill of the Banyeti --
Rapids -- Falls of Gonye -- Tradition -- Annual Inundations --
Fertility of the great Barotse Valley -- Execution of two Conspirators --
The Slave-dealer's Stockade -- Naliele, the Capital,
built on an artificial Mound -- Santuru, a great Hunter --
The Barotse Method of commemorating any remarkable Event --
Better Treatment of Women -- More religious Feeling -- Belief in
a future State, and in the Existence of spiritual Beings -- Gardens --
Fish, Fruit, and Game -- Proceed to the Limits of the Barotse Country --
Sekeletu provides Rowers and a Herald -- The River and Vicinity --
Hippopotamus-hunters -- No healthy Location -- Determine to go to Loanda --
Buffaloes, Elands, and Lions above Libonta -- Interview with the Mambari --
Two Arabs from Zanzibar -- Their Opinion of the Portuguese and the English
-- Reach the Town of Ma-Sekeletu -- Joy of the People
at the first Visit of their Chief -- Return to Sesheke -- Heathenism.
Having at last procured a sufficient number of canoes, we began to ascend
the river. I had the choice of the whole fleet, and selected the best,
though not the largest; it was thirty-four feet long by twenty inches wide.
I had six paddlers, and the larger canoe of Sekeletu had ten.
They stand upright, and keep the stroke with great precision, though they
change from side to side as the course demands. The men at the head and stern
are selected from the strongest and most expert of the whole.
The canoes, being flat bottomed, can go into very shallow water;
and whenever the men can feel the bottom they use the paddles,
which are about eight feet long, as poles to punt with. Our fleet
consisted of thirty-three canoes, and about one hundred and sixty men.
It was beautiful to see them skimming along so quickly,
and keeping the time so well. On land the Makalaka fear the Makololo;
on water the Makololo fear them, and can not prevent them
from racing with each other, dashing along at the top of their speed,
and placing their masters' lives in danger. In the event of a capsize,
many of the Makololo would sink like stones. A case of this kind happened
on the first day of our voyage up. The wind, blowing generally from the east,
raises very large waves on the Leeambye. An old doctor of the Makololo
had his canoe filled by one of these waves, and, being unable to swim,
was lost. The Barotse who were in the canoe with him saved themselves
by swimming, and were afraid of being punished with death in the evening
for not saving the doctor as well. Had he been a man of more influence,
they certainly would have suffered death.
We proceeded rapidly up the river, and I felt the pleasure of looking on lands
which had never been seen by a European before. The river is, indeed,
a magnificent one, often more than a mile broad, and adorned with
many islands of from three to five miles in length. Both islands and banks
are covered with forest, and most of the trees on the brink of the water
send down roots from their branches like the banian, or `Ficus Indica'.
The islands at a little distance seem great rounded masses
of sylvan vegetation reclining on the bosom of the glorious stream.
The beauty of the scenery of some of the islands is greatly increased
by the date-palm, with its gracefully curved fronds and refreshing
light green color, near the bottom of the picture, and the lofty palmyra
towering far above, and casting its feathery foliage against a cloudless sky.
It being winter, we had the strange coloring on the banks which
many parts of African landscape assume. The country adjacent to the river
is rocky and undulating, abounding in elephants and all other large game,
except leches and nakongs, which seem generally to avoid stony ground.
The soil is of a reddish color, and very fertile, as is attested
by the great quantity of grain raised annually by the Banyeti.
A great many villages of this poor and very industrious people
are situated on both banks of the river: they are expert hunters
of the hippopotami and other animals, and very proficient in the manufacture
of articles of wood and iron. The whole of this part of the country
being infested with the tsetse, they are unable to rear domestic animals.
This may have led to their skill in handicraft works. Some make
large wooden vessels with very neat lids, and wooden bowls of all sizes;
and since the idea of sitting on stools has entered the Makololo mind,
they have shown great taste in the different forms given
to the legs of these pieces of furniture.
Other Banyeti, or Manyeti, as they are called, make neat and strong baskets
of the split roots of a certain tree, while others excel in pottery and iron.
I can not find that they have ever been warlike. Indeed, the wars
in the centre of the country, where no slave-trade existed,
have seldom been about any thing else but cattle. So well known is this,
that several tribes refuse to keep cattle because they tempt their enemies
to come and steal. Nevertheless, they have no objection to eat them
when offered, and their country admits of being well stocked.
I have heard of but one war having occurred from another cause.
Three brothers, Barolongs, fought for the possession of a woman
who was considered worth a battle, and the tribe has remained
permanently divided ever since.
From the bend up to the north, called Katima-molelo (I quenched fire),
the bed of the river is rocky, and the stream runs fast,
forming a succession of rapids and cataracts, which prevent
continuous navigation when the water is low. The rapids are not visible
when the river is full, but the cataracts of Nambwe, Bombwe, and Kale must
always be dangerous. The fall at each of these is between four and six feet.
But the falls of Gonye present a much more serious obstacle.
There we were obliged to take the canoes out of the water,
and carry them more than a mile by land. The fall is about thirty feet.
The main body of water, which comes over the ledge of rock
when the river is low, is collected into a space seventy or eighty yards wide
before it takes the leap, and, a mass of rock being thrust forward
against the roaring torrent, a loud sound is produced. Tradition reports
the destruction in this place of two hippopotamus-hunters, who,
over-eager in the pursuit of a wounded animal, were, with their intended prey,
drawn down into the frightful gulf. There is also a tradition of a man,
evidently of a superior mind, who left his own countrymen, the Barotse,
and came down the river, took advantage of the falls, and led out
a portion of the water there for irrigation. Such minds must have arisen
from time to time in these regions, as well as in our own country,
but, ignorant of the use of letters, they have left no memorial behind them.
We dug out some of an inferior kind of potato (`Sisinyane') from his garden,
for when once planted it never dies out. This root is bitter and waxy,
though it is cultivated. It was not in flower, so I can not say
whether it is a solanaceous plant or not. One never expects to find a grave
nor a stone of remembrance set up in Africa; the very rocks are illiterate,
they contain so few fossils. Those here are of reddish variegated,
hardened sandstone, with madrepore holes in it. This, and broad
horizontal strata of trap, sometimes a hundred miles in extent,
and each layer having an inch or so of black silicious matter on it,
as if it had floated there while in a state of fusion,
form a great part of the bottom of the central valley. These rocks,
in the southern part of the country especially, are often covered
with twelve or fifteen feet of soft calcareous tufa. At Bombwe we have
the same trap, with radiated zeolite, probably mesotype, and it again appears
at the confluence of the Chobe, farther down.
As we passed up the river, the different villages of Banyeti turned out
to present Sekeletu with food and skins, as their tribute.
One large village is placed at Gonye, the inhabitants of which
are required to assist the Makololo to carry their canoes past the falls.
The tsetse here lighted on us even in the middle of the stream.
This we crossed repeatedly, in order to make short cuts at bends of the river.
The course is, however, remarkably straight among the rocks;
and here the river is shallow, on account of the great breadth of surface
which it covers. When we came to about 16d 16' S. latitude,
the high wooded banks seemed to leave the river, and no more tsetse appeared.
Viewed from the flat, reedy basin in which the river then flowed,
the banks seemed prolonged into ridges, of the same wooded character,
two or three hundred feet high, and stretched away to the N.N.E. and N.N.W.
until they were twenty or thirty miles apart. The intervening space,
nearly one hundred miles in length, with the Leeambye winding gently
near the middle, is the true Barotse valley. It bears a close resemblance
to the valley of the Nile, and is inundated annually, not by rains,
but by the Leeambye, exactly as Lower Egypt is flooded by the Nile.
The villages of the Barotse are built on mounds, some of which are said
to have been raised artificially by Santuru, a former chief of the Barotse,
and during the inundation the whole valley assumes the appearance
of a large lake, with the villages on the mounds like islands,
just as occurs in Egypt with the villages of the Egyptians.
Some portion of the waters of inundation comes from the northwest,
where great floodings also occur, but more comes from the north and northeast,
descending the bed of the Leeambye itself. There are but few trees
in this valley: those which stand on the mounds were nearly all
transplanted by Santuru for shade. The soil is extremely fertile,
and the people are never in want of grain, for, by taking advantage
of the moisture of the inundation, they can take two crops a year.
The Barotse are strongly attached to this fertile valley; they say,
"Here hunger is not known." There are so many things besides corn
which a man can find in it for food, that it is no wonder
they desert from Linyanti to return to this place.
The great valley is not put to a tithe of the use it might be.
It is covered with coarse succulent grasses, which afford ample pasturage
for large herds of cattle; these thrive wonderfully, and give milk copiously
to their owners. When the valley is flooded, the cattle are compelled
to leave it and go to the higher lands, where they fall off in condition;
their return is a time of joy.
It is impossible to say whether this valley, which contains so much moisture,
would raise wheat as the valley of the Nile does. It is probably too rich,
and would make corn run entirely to straw, for one species of grass
was observed twelve feet high, with a stem as thick as a man's thumb.
At present the pasturage is never eaten off, though the Makololo possess
immense herds of cattle.
There are no large towns, the mounds on which the towns and villages are built
being all small, and the people require to live apart
on account of their cattle.
This visit was the first Sekeletu had made to these parts since he attained
the chieftainship. Those who had taken part with Mpepe were consequently
in great terror. When we came to the town of Mpepe's father,
as he and another man had counseled Mamochisane to put Sekeletu to death
and marry Mpepe, the two were led forth and tossed into the river.
Nokuane was again one of the executioners. When I remonstrated against
human blood being shed in the offhand way in which they were proceeding,
the counselors justified their acts by the evidence given by Mamochisane,
and calmly added, "You see we are still Boers; we are not yet taught."
Mpepe had given full permission to the Mambari slave-dealers to trade
in all the Batoka and Bashukulompo villages to the east of this.
He had given them cattle, ivory, and children, and had received in return
a large blunderbuss to be mounted as a cannon. When the slight circumstance
of my having covered the body of the chief with my own
deranged the whole conspiracy, the Mambari, in their stockade, were placed
in very awkward circumstances. It was proposed to attack them and drive them
out of the country at once; but, dreading a commencement of hostilities,
I urged the difficulties of that course, and showed that a stockade
defended by perhaps forty muskets would be a very serious affair.
"Hunger is strong enough for that," said an under-chief;
"a very great fellow is he." They thought of attacking them by starvation.
As the chief sufferers in case of such an attack would have been
the poor slaves chained in gangs, I interceded for them,
and the result of an intercession of which they were ignorant
was that they were allowed to depart in peace.
Naliele, the capital of the Barotse, is built on a mound which was
constructed artificially by Santuru, and was his store-house for grain.
His own capital stood about five hundred yards to the south of that,
in what is now the bed of the river. All that remains of the largest mound
in the valley are a few cubic yards of earth, to erect which
cost the whole of the people of Santuru the labor of many years.
The same thing has happened to another ancient site of a town,
Linangelo, also on the left bank. It would seem, therefore,
that the river in this part of the valley must be wearing eastward.
No great rise of the river is required to submerge the whole valley;
a rise of ten feet above the present low-water mark would reach
the highest point it ever attains, as seen in the markings of the bank
on which stood Santuru's ancient capital, and two or three feet more
would deluge all the villages. This never happens, though the water sometimes
comes so near the foundations of the huts that the people can not move
outside the walls of reeds which encircle their villages.
When the river is compressed among the high rocky banks near Gonye,
it rises sixty feet.
The influence of the partial obstruction it meets with there
is seen in the more winding course of the river north of 16 Deg.;
and when the swell gets past Katima-molelo, it spreads out on the lands
on both banks toward Sesheke.
Santuru, at whose ancient granary we are staying, was a great hunter,
and very fond of taming wild animals. His people, aware of his taste,
brought to him every young antelope they could catch, and, among other things,
two young hippopotami. These animals gamboled in the river by day,
but never failed to remember to come up to Naliele for their suppers
of milk and meal. They were the wonder of the country, till a stranger,
happening to come to visit Santuru, saw them reclining in the sun,
and speared one of them on the supposition that it was wild.
The same unlucky accident happened to one of the cats I had brought
to Sekeletu. A stranger, seeing an animal he had never viewed before,
killed it, and brought the trophy to the chief, thinking that he had made
a very remarkable discovery; we thereby lost the breed of cats, of which,
from the swarms of mice, we stood in great need.
On making inquiries to ascertain whether Santuru, the Moloiana, had ever
been visited by white men, I could find no vestige of any such visit;*
there is no evidence of any of Santuru's people having ever seen a white man
before the arrival of Mr. Oswell and myself in 1851. The people have,
it is true, no written records; but any remarkable event here
is commemorated in names, as was observed by Park to be the case
in the countries he traversed. The year of our arrival is dignified
by the name of the year when the white men came, or of Sebituane's death;
but they prefer the former, as they avoid, if possible, any direct reference
to the departed. After my wife's first visit, great numbers of children
were named Ma-Robert, or mother of Robert, her eldest child;
others were named Gun, Horse, Wagon, Monare, Jesus, etc.;
but though our names, and those of the native Portuguese who came in 1853,
were adopted, there is not a trace of any thing of the sort
having happened previously among the Barotse: the visit of a white man
is such a remarkable event, that, had any taken place during the last
three hundred years, there must have remained some tradition of it.
* The Barotse call themselves the Baloiana or little Baloi,
as if they had been an offset from Loi, or Lui, as it is often spelt.
As Lui had been visited by Portuguese, but its position
not well ascertained, my inquiries referred to the identity of Naliele
with Lui. On asking the head man of the Mambari party, named Porto,
whether he had ever heard of Naliele being visited previously,
he replied in the negative, and stated that he "had himself attempted
to come from Bihe three times, but had always been prevented
by the tribe called Ganguellas." He nearly succeeded in 1852,
but was driven back. He now (in 1853) attempted to go eastward
from Naliele, but came back to the Barotse on being unable to go
beyond Kainko's village, which is situated on the Bashukulompo River,
and eight days distant. The whole party was anxious to secure a reward
believed to be promised by the Portuguese government.
Their want of success confirmed my impression that I ought to go westward.
Porto kindly offered to aid me, if I would go with him to Bihe; but when
I declined, he preceded me to Loanda, and was publishing his Journal
when I arrived at that city. Ben Habib told me that Porto
had sent letters to Mozambique by the Arab, Ben Chombo, whom I knew;
and he has since asserted, in Portugal, that he himself went to Mozambique
as well as his letters!
But Santuru was once visited by the Mambari, and a distinct
recollection of that visit is retained. They came to purchase slaves,
and both Santuru and his head men refused them permission
to buy any of the people. The Makololo quoted this precedent
when speaking of the Mambari, and said that they, as the present
masters of the country, had as good a right to expel them as Santuru.
The Mambari reside near Bihe, under an Ambonda chief named Kangombe.
They profess to use the slaves for domestic purposes alone.
Some of these Mambari visited us while at Naliele. They are of
the Ambonda family, which inhabits the country southeast of Angola,
and speak the Bunda dialect, which is of the same family of languages
with the Barotse, Bayeiye, etc., or those black tribes comprehended
under the general term Makalaka. They plait their hair in three-fold cords,
and lay them carefully down around the sides of the head.
They are quite as dark as the Barotse, but have among them
a number of half-castes, with their peculiar yellow sickly hue.
On inquiring why they had fled on my approach to Linyanti, they let me know
that they had a vivid idea of the customs of English cruisers on the coast.
They showed also their habits in their own country by digging up and eating,
even here where large game abounds, the mice and moles which infest
the country. The half-castes, or native Portuguese, could all read and write,
and the head of the party, if not a real Portuguese, had European hair,
and, influenced probably by the letter of recommendation which I held
from the Chevalier Duprat, his most faithful majesty's Arbitrator
in the British and Portuguese Mixed Commission at Cape Town,
was evidently anxious to show me all the kindness in his power.
These persons I feel assured were the first individuals of Portuguese blood
who ever saw the Zambesi in the centre of the country, and they had reached it
two years after our discovery in 1851.
The town or mound of Santuru's mother was shown to me; this was
the first symptom of an altered state of feeling with regard to the female sex
that I had observed. There are few or no cases of women being elevated
to the headships of towns further south. The Barotse also showed some
relics of their chief, which evinced a greater amount of the religious feeling
than I had ever known displayed among Bechuanas. His more recent capital,
Lilonda, built, too, on an artificial mound, is covered with
different kinds of trees, transplanted when young by himself.
They form a grove on the end of the mound, in which are to be seen
various instruments of iron just in the state he left them.
One looks like the guard of a basket-hilted sword; another has
an upright stem of the metal, on which are placed branches worked at the ends
into miniature axes, hoes, and spears; on these he was accustomed
to present offerings, according as he desired favors to be conferred in
undertaking hewing, agriculture, or fighting. The people still living there,
in charge of these articles, were supported by presents from the chief;
and the Makololo sometimes follow the example. This was the nearest approach
to a priesthood I met. When I asked them to part with one of these relics,
they replied, "Oh no, he refuses." "Who refuses?" "Santuru,"
was their reply, showing their belief in a future state of existence.
After explaining to them, as I always did when opportunity offered,
the nature of true worship, and praying with them in the simple form
which needs no offering from the worshiper except that of the heart,
and planting some fruit-tree seeds in the grove, we departed.
Another incident, which occurred at the confluence of the Leeba and Leeambye,
may be mentioned here, as showing a more vivid perception
of the existence of spiritual beings, and greater proneness to worship
than among the Bechuanas. Having taken lunar observations in the morning,
I was waiting for a meridian altitude of the sun for the latitude;
my chief boatman was sitting by, in order to pack up the instruments
as soon as I had finished; there was a large halo, about 20 Deg. in diameter,
round the sun; thinking that the humidity of the atmosphere,
which this indicated, might betoken rain, I asked him if his experience
did not lead him to the same view. "Oh no," replied he;
"it is the Barimo (gods or departed spirits), who have called a picho;
don't you see they have the Lord (sun) in the centre?"
While still at Naliele I walked out to Katongo (lat. 15d 16' 33"),
on the ridge which bounds the valley of the Barotse in that direction,
and found it covered with trees. It is only the commencement
of the lands which are never inundated; their gentle rise
from the dead level of the valley much resembles the edge of the Desert
in the valley of the Nile. But here the Banyeti have fine gardens, and raise
great quantities of maize, millet, and native corn (`Holcus sorghum'),
of large grain and beautifully white. They grow, also,
yams, sugar-cane, the Egyptian arum, sweet potato (`Convolulus batata'),
two kinds of manioc or cassava (`Jatropha manihot' and `J. utilissima',
a variety containing scarcely any poison), besides pumpkins, melons,
beans, and ground-nuts. These, with plenty of fish in the river,
its branches and lagoons, wild fruits and water-fowl,
always make the people refer to the Barotse as the land of plenty.
The scene from the ridge, on looking back, was beautiful. One can not see
the western side of the valley in a cloudy day, such as that was
when we visited the stockade, but we could see the great river glancing out
at different points, and fine large herds of cattle quietly grazing
on the green succulent herbage, among numbers of cattle-stations and villages
which are dotted over the landscape. Leches in hundreds fed securely
beside them, for they have learned only to keep out of bow-shot,
or two hundred yards. When guns come into a country the animals soon learn
their longer range, and begin to run at a distance of five hundred yards.
I imagined the slight elevation (Katongo) might be healthy, but was informed
that no part of this region is exempt from fever. When the waters begin
to retire from this valley, such masses of decayed vegetation and mud
are exposed to the torrid sun that even the natives suffer severely
from attacks of fever. The grass is so rank in its growth that one
can not see the black alluvial soil of the bottom of this periodical lake.
Even when the grass falls down in winter, or is "laid" by its own weight,
one is obliged to lift the feet so high, to avoid being tripped up by it,
as to make walking excessively fatiguing. Young leches are hidden beneath it
by their dams; and the Makololo youth complain of being unable
to run in the Barotse land on this account. There was evidently
no healthy spot in this quarter; and the current of the river being
about four and a half miles per hour (one hundred yards in sixty seconds),
I imagined we might find what we needed in the higher lands,
from which the river seemed to come. I resolved, therefore,
to go to the utmost limits of the Barotse country before coming
to a final conclusion. Katongo was the best place we had seen; but,
in order to accomplish a complete examination, I left Sekeletu at Naliele,
and ascended the river. He furnished me with men, besides my rowers,
and among the rest a herald, that I might enter his villages
in what is considered a dignified manner. This, it was supposed,
would be effected by the herald shouting out at the top of his voice,
"Here comes the lord; the great lion;" the latter phrase being "tau e tona",
which, in his imperfect way of pronunciation, became "Sau e tona",
and so like "the great sow" that I could not receive the honor with
becoming gravity, and had to entreat him, much to the annoyance of my party,
to be silent.
In our ascent we visited a number of Makololo villages, and were always
received with a hearty welcome, as messengers to them of peace,
which they term "sleep". They behave well in public meetings,
even on the first occasion of attendance, probably from
the habit of commanding the Makalaka, crowds of whom swarm in every village,
and whom the Makololo women seem to consider as especially under their charge.
The river presents the same appearance of low banks without trees
as we have remarked it had after we came to 16d 16',
until we arrive at Libonta (14d 59' S. lat.). Twenty miles beyond that,
we find forest down to the water's edge, and tsetse.
Here I might have turned back, as no locality can be inhabited by Europeans
where that scourge exists; but hearing that we were not far
from the confluence of the River of Londa or Lunda, named Leeba or Loiba,
and the chiefs of that country being reported to be friendly to strangers,
and therefore likely to be of use to me on my return from the west coast,
I still pushed on to latitude 14d 11' 3" S. There the Leeambye
assumes the name Kabompo, and seems to be coming from the east.
It is a fine large river, about three hundred yards wide,
and the Leeba two hundred and fifty. The Loeti, a branch of which
is called Langebongo, comes from W.N.W., through a level grassy plain
named Mango; it is about one hundred yards wide, and enters the Leeambye
from the west; the waters of the Loeti are of a light color,
and those of the Leeba of a dark mossy hue. After the Loeti
joins the Leeambye the different colored waters flow side by side
for some distance unmixed.
Before reaching the Loeti we came to a number of people
from the Lobale region, hunting hippopotami. They fled precipitately
as soon as they saw the Makololo, leaving their canoes
and all their utensils and clothing. My own Makalaka,
who were accustomed to plunder wherever they went, rushed after them
like furies, totally regardless of my shouting. As this proceeding
would have destroyed my character entirely at Lobale, I took my stand
on a commanding position as they returned, and forced them
to lay down all the plunder on a sand-bank, and leave it there
for its lawful owners.
It was now quite evident that no healthy location could be obtained in which
the Makololo would be allowed to live in peace. I had thus a fair excuse,
if I had chosen to avail myself of it, of coming home and saying
that the "door was shut", because the Lord's time had not yet come.
But believing that it was my duty to devote some portion of my life
to these (to me at least) very confiding and affectionate Makololo,
I resolved to follow out the second part of my plan, though I had failed
in accomplishing the first. The Leeba seemed to come from the N. and by W.,
or N.N.W.; so, having an old Portuguese map, which pointed out the Coanza
as rising from the middle of the continent in 9 Deg. S. lat.,
I thought it probable that, when we had ascended the Leeba (from 14d 11')
two or three degrees, we should then be within one hundred and twenty miles
of the Coanza, and find no difficulty in following it down to the coast
near Loanda. This was the logical deduction; but, as is the case
with many a plausible theory, one of the premises was decidedly defective.
The Coanza, as we afterward found, does not come from any where near
the centre of the country.
The numbers of large game above Libonta are prodigious, and they proved
remarkably tame. Eighty-one buffaloes defiled in slow procession
before our fire one evening, within gunshot; and herds of splendid elands
stood by day, without fear, at two hundred yards distance.
They were all of the striped variety, and with their forearm markings,
large dewlaps, and sleek skins, were a beautiful sight to see. The lions here
roar much more than in the country near the lake, Zouga, and Chobe.
One evening we had a good opportunity of hearing the utmost exertions
the animal can make in that line. We had made our beds on a large sand-bank,
and could be easily seen from all sides. A lion on the opposite shore
amused himself for hours by roaring as loudly as he could,
putting, as is usual in such cases, his mouth near the ground,
to make the sound reverberate. The river was too broad
for a ball to reach him, so we let him enjoy himself,
certain that he durst not have been guilty of the impertinence
in the Bushman country. Wherever the game abounds, these animals exist
in proportionate numbers. Here they were very frequently seen,
and two of the largest I ever saw seemed about as tall as common donkeys;
but the mane made their bodies appear rather larger.
A party of Arabs from Zanzibar were in the country at this time.
Sekeletu had gone from Naliele to the town of his mother before we arrived
from the north, but left an ox for our use, and instructions for us
to follow him thither. We came down a branch of the Leeambye called Marile,
which departs from the main river in latitude 15d 15' 43" S.,
and is a fine deep stream about sixty yards wide. It makes
the whole of the country around Naliele an island. When sleeping at a village
in the same latitude as Naliele town, two of the Arabs mentioned
made their appearance. They were quite as dark as the Makololo,
but, having their heads shaved, I could not compare their hair
with that of the inhabitants of the country. When we were about to leave
they came to bid adieu, but I asked them to stay and help us to eat our ox.
As they had scruples about eating an animal not blooded in their own way,
I gained their good-will by saying I was quite of their opinion
as to getting quit of the blood, and gave them two legs of an animal
slaughtered by themselves. They professed the greatest detestation
of the Portuguese, "because they eat pigs;" and disliked the English,
"because they thrash them for selling slaves." I was silent about pork;
though, had they seen me at a hippopotamus two days afterward,
they would have set me down as being as much a heretic as any of that nation;
but I ventured to tell them that I agreed with the English,
that it was better to let the children grow up and comfort their mothers
when they became old, than to carry them away and sell them across the sea.
This they never attempt to justify; "they want them only
to cultivate the land, and take care of them as their children."
It is the same old story, justifying a monstrous wrong
on pretense of taking care of those degraded portions of humanity
which can not take care of themselves; doing evil that good may come.
These Arabs, or Moors, could read and write their own language readily;
and, when speaking about our Savior, I admired the boldness
with which they informed me "that Christ was a very good prophet,
but Mohammed was far greater." And with respect to their loathing of pork,
it may have some foundation in their nature; for I have known Bechuanas,
who had no prejudice against the wild animal, and ate the tame
without scruple, yet, unconscious of any cause of disgust, vomit it again.
The Bechuanas south of the lake have a prejudice against eating fish,
and allege a disgust to eating any thing like a serpent.
This may arise from the remnants of serpent-worship floating in their minds,
as, in addition to this horror of eating such animals, they sometimes render
a sort of obeisance to living serpents by clapping their hands to them,
and refusing to destroy the reptiles; but in the case of the hog
they are conscious of no superstitious feeling.
Having parted with our Arab friends, we proceeded down the Marile
till we re-entered the Leeambye, and went to the town of Ma-Sekeletu
(mother of Sekeletu), opposite the island of Loyela. Sekeletu had always
supplied me most liberally with food, and, as soon as I arrived,
presented me with a pot of boiled meat, while his mother handed me
a large jar of butter, of which they make great quantities
for the purpose of anointing their bodies. He had himself sometimes felt
the benefit of my way of putting aside a quantity of the meat after a meal,
and had now followed my example by ordering some to be kept for me.
According to their habits, every particle of an ox is devoured at one meal;
and as the chief can not, without a deviation from their customs, eat alone,
he is often compelled to suffer severely from hunger before another meal
is ready. We henceforth always worked into each other's hands
by saving a little for each other; and when some of the sticklers
for use and custom grumbled, I advised them to eat like men,
and not like vultures.
As this was the first visit which Sekeletu had paid to this part
of his dominions, it was to many a season of great joy.
The head men of each village presented oxen, milk, and beer,
more than the horde which accompanied him could devour,
though their abilities in that line are something wonderful.
The people usually show their joy and work off their excitement
in dances and songs. The dance consists of the men standing nearly naked
in a circle, with clubs or small battle-axes in their hands,
and each roaring at the loudest pitch of his voice, while they simultaneously
lift one leg, stamp heavily twice with it, then lift the other
and give one stamp with that; this is the only movement in common.
The arms and head are often thrown about also in every direction;
and all this time the roaring is kept up with the utmost possible vigor;
the continued stamping makes a cloud of dust ascend, and they leave
a deep ring in the ground where they stood. If the scene
were witnessed in a lunatic asylum it would be nothing out of the way,
and quite appropriate even, as a means of letting off
the excessive excitement of the brain; but here gray-headed men
joined in the performance with as much zest as others whose youth
might be an excuse for making the perspiration stream off their bodies
with the exertion. Motibe asked what I thought of the Makololo dance.
I replied, "It is very hard work, and brings but small profit."
"It is," replied he, "but it is very nice, and Sekeletu will give us an ox
for dancing for him." He usually does slaughter an ox for the dancers
when the work is over.
The women stand by, clapping their hands, and occasionally one advances
into the circle, composed of a hundred men, makes a few movements,
and then retires. As I never tried it, and am unable to enter into
the spirit of the thing, I can not recommend the Makololo polka
to the dancing world, but I have the authority of no less a person
than Motibe, Sekeletu's father-in-law, for saying "it is very nice."
They often asked if white people ever danced. I thought of the disease
called St. Vitus's dance, but could not say that all our dancers
were affected by it, and gave an answer which, I ought to be ashamed to own,
did not raise some of our young countrywomen in the estimation
of the Makololo.
As Sekeletu had been waiting for me at his mother's, we left the town
as soon as I arrived, and proceeded down the river. Our speed with the stream
was very great, for in one day we went from Litofe to Gonye,
a distance of forty-four miles of latitude; and if we add to this
the windings of the river, in longitude the distance will not be much less
than sixty geographical miles. At this rate we soon reached Sesheke,
and then the town of Linyanti.
I had been, during a nine weeks' tour, in closer contact with heathenism
than I had ever been before; and though all, including the chief,
were as kind and attentive to me as possible, and there was no want of food
(oxen being slaughtered daily, sometimes ten at a time, more than sufficient
for the wants of all), yet to endure the dancing, roaring, and singing,
the jesting, anecdotes, grumbling, quarreling, and murdering
of these children of nature, seemed more like a severe penance
than any thing I had before met with in the course of my missionary duties.
I took thence a more intense disgust at heathenism than I had before,
and formed a greatly elevated opinion of the latent effects of missions
in the south, among tribes which are reported to have been
as savage as the Makololo. The indirect benefits which, to a casual observer,
lie beneath the surface and are inappreciable, in reference to
the probable wide diffusion of Christianity at some future time,
are worth all the money and labor that have been expended to produce them.
Preliminary Arrangements for the Journey -- A Picho -- Twenty-seven Men
appointed to accompany me to the West -- Eagerness of the Makololo
for direct Trade with the Coast -- Effects of Fever -- A Makololo Question
-- The lost Journal -- Reflections -- The Outfit for the Journey --
11th November, 1853, leave Linyanti, and embark on the Chobe --
Dangerous Hippopotami -- Banks of Chobe -- Trees -- The Course of the River
-- The Island Mparia at the Confluence of the Chobe and the Leeambye --
Anecdote -- Ascend the Leeambye -- A Makalaka Mother defies the Authority
of the Makololo Head Man at Sesheke -- Punishment of Thieves --
Observance of the new Moon -- Public Addresses at Sesheke --
Attention of the People -- Results -- Proceed up the River --
The Fruit which yields `Nux vomica' -- Other Fruits -- The Rapids --
Birds -- Fish -- Hippopotami and their Young.
Linyanti, SEPTEMBER, 1853. The object proposed to the Makololo
seemed so desirable that it was resolved to proceed with it
as soon as the cooling influence of the rains should be felt in November.
The longitude and latitude of Linyanti (lat. 18d 17' 20" S.,
long. 23d 50' 9" E.) showed that St. Philip de Benguela was much nearer to us
than Loanda; and I might have easily made arrangements with the Mambari
to allow me to accompany them as far as Bihe, which is on the road
to that port; but it is so undesirable to travel in a path
once trodden by slave-traders that I preferred to find out
another line of march.
Accordingly, men were sent at my suggestion to examine all the country
to the west, to see if any belt of country free from tsetse
could be found to afford us an outlet. The search was fruitless.
The town and district of Linyanti are surrounded by forests
infested by this poisonous insect, except at a few points,
as that by which we entered at Sanshureh and another at Sesheke.
But the lands both east and west of the Barotse valley are free from
this insect plague. There, however, the slave-trade had defiled the path,
and no one ought to follow in its wake unless well armed.
The Mambari had informed me that many English lived at Loanda,
so I prepared to go thither. The prospect of meeting with countrymen
seemed to overbalance the toils of the longer march.
A "picho" was called to deliberate on the steps proposed.
In these assemblies great freedom of speech is allowed; and on this occasion
one of the old diviners said, "Where is he taking you to?
This white man is throwing you away. Your garments already smell of blood."
It is curious to observe how much identity of character appears
all over the world. This man was a noted croaker. He always dreamed
something dreadful in every expedition, and was certain
that an eclipse or comet betokened the propriety of flight.
But Sebituane formerly set his visions down to cowardice,
and Sekeletu only laughed at him now. The general voice was in my favor;
so a band of twenty-seven were appointed to accompany me to the west.
These men were not hired, but sent to enable me to accomplish an object
as much desired by the chief and most of his people as by me.
They were eager to obtain free and profitable trade with white men.
The prices which the Cape merchants could give, after defraying
the great expenses of a long journey hither, being very small,
made it scarce worth while for the natives to collect produce for that market;
and the Mambari, giving only a few bits of print and baize
for elephants' tusks worth more pounds than they gave yards of cloth,
had produced the belief that trade with them was throwing ivory away.
The desire of the Makololo for direct trade with the sea-coast
coincided exactly with my own conviction that no permanent
elevation of a people can be effected without commerce.
Neither could there be a permanent mission here, unless the missionaries
should descend to the level of the Makololo, for even at Kolobeng
we found that traders demanded three or four times the price of the articles
we needed, and expected us to be grateful to them besides
for letting us have them at all.
The three men whom I had brought from Kuruman had frequent relapses
of the fever; so, finding that instead of serving me I had to wait on them,
I decided that they should return to the south with Fleming
as soon as he had finished his trading. I was then entirely dependent
on my twenty-seven men, whom I might name Zambesians, for there were
two Makololo only, while the rest consisted of Barotse, Batoka, Bashubia,
and two of the Ambonda.
The fever had caused considerable weakness in my own frame,
and a strange giddiness when I looked up suddenly to any celestial object,
for every thing seemed to rush to the left, and if I did not catch hold
of some object, I fell heavily on the ground: something resembling
a gush of bile along the duct from the liver caused the same fit to occur
at night, whenever I turned suddenly round.
The Makololo now put the question, "In the event of your death,
will not the white people blame us for having allowed you to go away
into an unhealthy, unknown country of enemies?" I replied that
none of my friends would blame them, because I would leave a book
with Sekeletu, to be sent to Mr. Moffat in case I did not return, which would
explain to him all that had happened until the time of my departure.
The book was a volume of my Journal; and, as I was detained longer
than I expected at Loanda, this book, with a letter, was delivered by Sekeletu
to a trader, and I have been unable to trace it. I regret this now,
as it contained valuable notes on the habits of wild animals,
and the request was made in the letter to convey the volume to my family.
The prospect of passing away from this fair and beautiful world
thus came before me in a pretty plain, matter-of-fact form,
and it did seem a serious thing to leave wife and children -- to break up
all connection with earth, and enter on an untried state of existence;
and I find myself in my journal pondering over that fearful migration
which lands us in eternity, wondering whether an angel will soothe
the fluttering soul, sadly flurried as it must be on entering
the spirit world, and hoping that Jesus might speak but one word of peace,
for that would establish in the bosom an everlasting calm.
But as I had always believed that, if we serve God at all, it ought to be done
in a manly way, I wrote to my brother, commending our little girl to his care,
as I was determined to "succeed or perish" in the attempt to open up
this part of Africa. The Boers, by taking possession of all my goods,
had saved me the trouble of making a will; and, considering the light heart
now left in my bosom, and some faint efforts to perform
the duty of Christian forgiveness, I felt that it was better to be
the plundered party than one of the plunderers.
When I committed the wagon and remaining goods to the care of the Makololo,
they took all the articles except one box into their huts;
and two warriors, Ponuane and Mahale, brought forward each a fine heifer calf.
After performing a number of warlike evolutions, they asked the chief
to witness the agreement made between them, that whoever of the two
should kill a Matebele warrior first, in defense of the wagon,
should possess both the calves.
I had three muskets for my people, a rifle and double-barreled smooth-bore
for myself; and, having seen such great abundance of game
in my visit to the Leeba, I imagined that I could easily supply
the wants of my party. Wishing also to avoid the discouragement
which would naturally be felt on meeting any obstacles if my companions
were obliged to carry heavy loads, I took only a few biscuits,
a few pounds of tea and sugar, and about twenty of coffee,
which, as the Arabs find, though used without either milk or sugar,
is a most refreshing beverage after fatigue or exposure to the sun.
We carried one small tin canister, about fifteen inches square,
filled with spare shirting, trowsers, and shoes, to be used when we reached
civilized life, and others in a bag, which were expected to wear out
on the way; another of the same size for medicines; and a third for books,
my stock being a Nautical Almanac, Thomson's Logarithm Tables, and a Bible;
a fourth box contained a magic lantern, which we found of much use.
The sextant and artificial horizon, thermometer, and compasses
were carried apart. My ammunition was distributed in portions
through the whole luggage, so that, if an accident should befall one part,
we could still have others to fall back upon. Our chief hopes for food
were upon that; but in case of failure, I took about 20 lbs. of beads,
worth 40s., which still remained of the stock I brought from Cape Town,
a small gipsy tent, just sufficient to sleep in, a sheep-skin mantle
as a blanket, and a horse-rug as a bed. As I had always found
that the art of successful travel consisted in taking as few "impedimenta"
as possible, and not forgetting to carry my wits about me,
the outfit was rather spare, and intended to be still more so
when we should come to leave the canoes. Some would consider it injudicious
to adopt this plan, but I had a secret conviction that if I did not succeed,
it would not be for want of the "knick-knacks" advertised as indispensable
for travelers, but from want of "pluck", or because a large array of baggage
excited the cupidity of the tribes through whose country we wished to pass.
The instruments I carried, though few, were the best of their kind.
A sextant, by the famed makers Troughton and Sims, of Fleet Street;
a chronometer watch, with a stop to the seconds hand --
an admirable contrivance for enabling a person to take
the exact time of observations: it was constructed by Dent,
of the Strand (61), for the Royal Geographical Society,
and selected for the service by the President, Admiral Smythe,
to whose judgment and kindness I am in this and other matters deeply indebted.
It was pronounced by Mr. Maclear to equal most chronometers in performance.
For these excellent instruments I have much pleasure in recording
my obligations to my good friend Colonel Steele, and at the same time
to Mr. Maclear for much of my ability to use them. Besides these,
I had a thermometer by Dollond; a compass from the Cape Observatory,
and a small pocket one in addition; a good small telescope
with a stand capable of being screwed into a tree.
11TH OF NOVEMBER, 1853. Left the town of Linyanti, accompanied by
Sekeletu and his principal men, to embark on the Chobe.
The chief came to the river in order to see that all was right at parting.
We crossed five branches of the Chobe before reaching the main stream:
this ramification must be the reason why it appeared so small
to Mr. Oswell and myself in 1851. When all the departing branches re-enter,
it is a large, deep river. The spot of embarkation was the identical island
where we met Sebituane, first known as the island of Maunku, one of his wives.
The chief lent me his own canoe, and, as it was broader than usual,
I could turn about in it with ease.
The Chobe is much infested by hippopotami, and, as certain elderly males
are expelled the herd, they become soured in their temper,
and so misanthropic as to attack every canoe that passes near them.
The herd is never dangerous, except when a canoe passes into the midst of it
when all are asleep, and some of them may strike the canoe in terror.
To avoid this, it is generally recommended to travel by day near the bank,
and by night in the middle of the stream. As a rule, these animals flee
the approach of man. The "solitaires", however, frequent certain localities
well known to the inhabitants on the banks, and, like the rogue elephants,
are extremely dangerous. We came, at this time, to a canoe which had been
smashed to pieces by a blow from the hind foot of one of them.
I was informed by my men that, in the event of a similar assault being made
upon ours, the proper way was to dive to the bottom of the river,
and hold on there for a few seconds, because the hippopotamus,
after breaking a canoe, always looks for the people on the surface,
and, if he sees none, he soon moves off. I have seen some frightful gashes
made on the legs of the people who have had the misfortune to be attacked,
and were unable to dive. This animal uses his teeth as an offensive weapon,
though he is quite a herbivorous feeder. One of these "bachelors",
living near the confluence, actually came out of his lair,
and, putting his head down, ran after some of our men who were passing
with very considerable speed.
The part of the river called Zabesa, or Zabenza, is spread out
like a little lake, surrounded on all sides by dense masses of tall reeds.
The river below that is always one hundred or one hundred and twenty
yards broad, deep, and never dries up so much as to become fordable.
At certain parts, where the partial absence of reeds affords
a view of the opposite banks, the Makololo have placed villages of observation
against their enemies the Matebele. We visited all these in succession,
and found here, as every where in the Makololo country,
orders had preceded us, "that Nake (nyake means doctor) must not be allowed
to become hungry."
The banks of the Chobe, like those of the Zouga, are of soft calcareous tufa,
and the river has cut out for itself a deep, perpendicular-sided bed.
Where the banks are high, as at the spot where the wagons stood in 1851,
they are covered with magnificent trees, the habitat of tsetse,
and the retreat of various antelopes, wild hogs, zebras, buffaloes,
Among the trees may be observed some species of the `Ficus Indica',
light-green colored acacias, the splendid motsintsela,
and evergreen cypress-shaped motsouri. The fruit of the last-named was ripe,
and the villagers presented many dishes of its beautiful pink-colored plums;
they are used chiefly to form a pleasant acid drink. The motsintsela
is a very lofty tree, yielding a wood of which good canoes are made;
the fruit is nutritious and good, but, like many wild fruits of this country,
the fleshy parts require to be enlarged by cultivation:
it is nearly all stone.
The course of the river we found to be extremely tortuous; so much so, indeed,
as to carry us to all points of the compass every dozen miles.
Some of us walked from a bend at the village of Moremi to another
nearly due east of that point, in six hours, while the canoes,
going at more than double our speed, took twelve to accomplish
the voyage between the same two places. And though the river
is from thirteen to fifteen feet in depth at its lowest ebb, and broad enough
to allow a steamer to ply upon it, the suddenness of the bendings
would prevent navigation; but, should the country ever become civilized,
the Chobe would be a convenient natural canal. We spent
forty-two and a half hours, paddling at the rate of five miles an hour,
in coming from Linyanti to the confluence; there we found a dike of amygdaloid
lying across the Leeambye.
This amygdaloid with analami and mesotype contains crystals, which the water
gradually dissolves, leaving the rock with a worm-eaten appearance.
It is curious to observe that the water flowing over certain rocks,
as in this instance, imbibes an appreciable, though necessarily most minute,
portion of the minerals they contain. The water of the Chobe up to this point
is of a dark mossy hue, but here it suddenly assumes a lighter tint;
and wherever this light color shows a greater amount of mineral,
there are not mosquitoes enough to cause serious annoyance
to any except persons of very irritable temperaments.
The large island called Mparia stands at the confluence.
This is composed of trap (zeolite, probably mesotype) of a younger age
than the deep stratum of tufa in which the Chobe has formed its bed,
for, at the point where they come together, the tufa has been transformed
into saccharoid limestone.
The actual point of confluence of these two rivers,
the Chobe and the Leeambye, is ill defined, on account of each dividing
into several branches as they inosculate; but when the whole body of water
collects into one bed, it is a goodly sight for one who has spent many years
in the thirsty south. Standing on one bank, even the keen eye of the natives
can not detect whether two large islands, a few miles east of the junction,
are main land or not. During a flight in former years,
when the present chief Sekomi was a child in his mother's arms,
the Bamangwato men were separated from their women, and inveigled
on to one of these islands by the Makalaka chief of Mparia,
on pretense of ferrying them across the Leeambye. They were left to perish
after seeing their wives taken prisoners by these cruel lords of the Leeambye,
and Sekomi owed his life to the compassion of one of the Bayeiye,
who, pitying the young chieftain, enabled his mother to make her escape
After spending one night at the Makololo village on Mparia, we left the Chobe,
and, turning round, began to ascend the Leeambye; on the 19th of November
we again reached the town of Sesheke. It stands on the north bank
of the river, and contains a large population of Makalaka, under Moriantsane,
brother-in-law of Sebituane. There are parties of various tribes here,
assembled under their respective head men, but a few Makololo rule over all.
Their sway, though essentially despotic, is considerably modified
by certain customs and laws. One of the Makalaka had speared an ox
belonging to one of the Makololo, and, being unable to extract the spear,
was thereby discovered to be the perpetrator of the deed. His object had been
to get a share of the meat, as Moriantsane is known to be liberal
with any food that comes into his hands. The culprit was bound hand and foot,
and placed in the sun to force him to pay a fine, but he continued
to deny his guilt. His mother, believing in the innocence of her son,
now came forward, with her hoe in hand, and, threatening to cut down any one
who should dare to interfere, untied the cords with which he had been bound
and took him home. This open defiance of authority was not resented
by Moriantsane, but referred to Sekeletu at Linyanti.
The following circumstance, which happened here when I was present
with Sekeletu, shows that the simple mode of punishment, by forcing a criminal
to work out a fine, did not strike the Makololo mind until now.
A stranger having visited Sesheke for the purpose of barter, was robbed
by one of the Makalaka of most of his goods. The thief, when caught,
confessed the theft, and that he had given the articles to a person
who had removed to a distance. The Makololo were much enraged at the idea
of their good name being compromised by this treatment of a stranger.
Their customary mode of punishing a crime which causes much indignation
is to throw the criminal into the river; but, as this would not restore
the lost property, they were sorely puzzled how to act.
The case was referred to me, and I solved the difficulty by paying
for the loss myself, and sentencing the thief to work out an equivalent
with his hoe in a garden. This system was immediately introduced,
and thieves are now sentenced to raise an amount of corn
proportioned to their offenses. Among the Bakwains, a woman who had stolen
from the garden of another was obliged to part with her own entirely:
it became the property of her whose field was injured by the crime.
There is no stated day of rest in any part of this country,
except the day after the appearance of the new moon, and the people then
refrain only from going to their gardens. A curious custom, not to be found
among the Bechuanas, prevails among the black tribes beyond them.
They watch most eagerly for the first glimpse of the new moon, and,
when they perceive the faint outline after the sun has set deep in the west,
they utter a loud shout of "Kua!" and vociferate prayers to it. My men,
for instance, called out, "Let our journey with the white man be prosperous!
Let our enemies perish, and the children of Nake become rich!
May he have plenty of meat on this journey!" etc., etc.
I gave many public addresses to the people of Sesheke
under the outspreading camel-thorn-tree, which serves as a shade to the kotla
on the high bank of the river. It was pleasant to see the long lines of men,
women, and children winding along from different quarters of the town,
each party following behind their respective head men. They often amounted to
between five and six hundred souls, and required an exertion of voice
which brought back the complaint for which I had got the uvula excised
at the Cape. They were always very attentive; and Moriantsane,
in order, as he thought, to please me, on one occasion
rose up in the middle of the discourse, and hurled his staff
at the heads of some young fellows whom he saw working with a skin
instead of listening. My hearers sometimes put very sensible questions
on the subjects brought before them; at other times they introduced
the most frivolous nonsense immediately after hearing the most solemn truths.
Some begin to pray to Jesus in secret as soon as they hear
of the white man's God, with but little idea of what they are about;
and no doubt are heard by Him who, like a father, pitieth his children.
Others, waking by night, recollect what has been said about the future world
so clearly that they tell next day what a fright they got by it,
and resolve not to listen to the teaching again; and not a few
keep to the determination not to believe, as certain villagers in the south,
who put all their cocks to death because they crowed the words,
"Tlang lo rapeleng" -- "Come along to prayers".
On recovering partially from a severe attack of fever which remained upon me
ever since our passing the village of Moremi on the Chobe, we made ready
for our departure up the river by sending messages before us to the villages
to prepare food. We took four elephants' tusks, belonging to Sekeletu,
with us, as a means of testing the difference of prices
between the Portuguese, whom we expected to reach, and the white traders
from the south. Moriantsane supplied us well with honey, milk, and meal.
The rains were just commencing in this district; but, though showers
sufficient to lay the dust had fallen, they had no influence whatever
on the amount of water in the river, yet never was there less in any part
than three hundred yards of a deep flowing stream.
Our progress up the river was rather slow; this was caused
by waiting opposite different villages for supplies of food.
We might have done with much less than we got; but my Makololo man, Pitsane,
knew of the generous orders of Sekeletu, and was not at all disposed
to allow them to remain a dead letter. The villages of the Banyeti
contributed large quantities of mosibe, a bright red bean
yielded by a large tree. The pulp inclosing the seed is not much thicker
than a red wafer, and is the portion used. It requires the addition of honey
to render it at all palatable.
To these were added great numbers of the fruit which yields
a variety of the nux vomica, from which we derive that
virulent poison strychnia. The pulp between the nuts is the part eaten,
and it is of a pleasant juicy nature, having a sweet acidulous taste.
The fruit itself resembles a large yellow orange, but the rind is hard,
and, with the pips and bark, contains much of the deadly poison.
They evince their noxious qualities by an intensely bitter taste.
The nuts, swallowed inadvertently, cause considerable pain, but not death;
and to avoid this inconvenience, the people dry the pulp before the fire,
in order to be able the more easily to get rid of the noxious seeds.
A much better fruit, called mobola, was also presented to us. This bears,
around a pretty large stone, as much of the fleshy part as the common date,
and it is stripped off the seeds and preserved in bags in a similar manner
to that fruit. Besides sweetness, the mobola has the flavor of strawberries,
with a touch of nauseousness. We carried some of them, dried as provisions,
more than a hundred miles from this spot.
The next fruit, named mamosho (mother of morning), is the most delicious
of all. It is about the size of a walnut, and, unlike most of the other
uncultivated fruits, has a seed no larger than that of a date.
The fleshy part is juicy, and somewhat like the cashew-apple,
with a pleasant acidity added. Fruits similar to those which
are here found on trees are found on the plains of the Kalahari,
growing on mere herbaceous plants. There are several other examples
of a similar nature. Shrubs, well known as such in the south,
assume the rank of trees as we go to the north; and the change
is quite gradual as our latitude decreases, the gradations being
herbaceous plants, shrubs, bushes, small, then large trees.
But it is questionable if, in the cases of mamosho, mobola, and mawa,
the tree and shrub are identical, though the fruits so closely
resemble each other; for I found both the dwarf and tree in the same latitude.
There is also a difference in the leaves, and they bear at different seasons.
The banks of the river were at this time appearing to greater advantage
than before. Many trees were putting on their fresh green leaves,
though they had got no rain, their lighter green contrasting beautifully
with the dark motsouri, or moyela, now covered with pink plums
as large as cherries. The rapids, having comparatively little water in them,
rendered our passage difficult. The canoes must never be allowed
to come broadside on to the stream, for, being flat-bottomed, they would,
in that case, be at once capsized, and every thing in them be lost.
The men work admirably, and are always in good humor; they leap into the water
without the least hesitation, to save the canoe from being caught by eddies
or dashed against the rocks. Many parts were now quite shallow,
and it required great address and power in balancing themselves
to keep the vessel free from rocks, which lay just beneath the surface.
We might have got deeper water in the middle, but the boatmen always keep
near the banks, on account of danger from the hippopotami.
But, though we might have had deeper water farther out,
I believe that no part of the rapids is very deep. The river is spread out
more than a mile, and the water flows rapidly over the rocky bottom.
The portions only three hundred yards wide are very deep,
and contain large volumes of flowing water in narrow compass, which,
when spread over the much larger surface at the rapids, must be shallow.
Still, remembering that this was the end of the dry season, when such rivers
as the Orange do not even contain a fifth part of the water of the Chobe,
the difference between the rivers of the north and south
must be sufficiently obvious.
The rapids are caused by rocks of dark brown trap, or of hardened sandstone,
stretching across the stream. In some places they form
miles of flat rocky bottom, with islets covered with trees.
At the cataracts noted in the map, the fall is from four to six feet,
and, in guiding up the canoe, the stem goes under the water,
and takes in a quantity before it can attain the higher level.
We lost many of our biscuits in the ascent through this.
These rocks are covered with a small, hard aquatic plant, which,
when the surface is exposed, becomes dry and crisp, crackling under the foot
as if it contained much stony matter in its tissue. It probably assists
in disintegrating the rocks; for, in parts so high as not to be much exposed
to the action of the water or the influence of the plant,
the rocks are covered with a thin black glaze.
In passing along under the overhanging trees of the banks,
we often saw the pretty turtle-doves sitting peacefully on their nests
above the roaring torrent. An ibis* had perched her home
on the end of a stump. Her loud, harsh scream of "Wa-wa-wa",
and the piping of the fish-hawk, are sounds which can never be forgotten
by any one who has sailed on the rivers north of 20 Deg. south.
If we step on shore, the `Charadrius caruncula', a species of plover,
a most plaguy sort of "public-spirited individual", follows you,
flying overhead, and is most persevering in its attempts to give fair warning
to all the animals within hearing to flee from the approaching danger.
The alarm-note, "tinc-tinc-tinc", of another variety of the same family
(`Pluvianus armatus' of Burchell) has so much of a metallic ring,
that this bird is called "setula-tsipi", or hammering-iron.
It is furnished with a sharp spur on its shoulder, much like that
on the heel of a cock, but scarcely half an inch in length.
Conscious of power, it may be seen chasing the white-necked raven
with great fury, and making even that comparatively large bird
call out from fear. It is this bird which is famed for its friendship
with the crocodile of the Nile by the name `siksak', and which Mr. St. John
actually saw performing the part of toothpicker to the ugly reptile.
They are frequently seen on the sand-banks with the alligator,
and, to one passing by, often appear as if on that reptile's back;
but I never had the good fortune to witness the operation described
not only by St. John and Geoffrey St. Hilaire, but also by Herodotus.
However, that which none of these authors knew my head boatman, Mashauana,
stopped the canoe to tell us, namely, that a water-turtle which,