OF late years a great deal of interest has been taken in the folklore of uncivilized tribes by those who have made it their business to study mankind. It has been found that a knowledge of the traditionary tales of a people is a key to their ideas and a standard of their powers of thought. These stories display their imaginative faculties; they are guides to the nature of the religious belief, of the form of government, of the marriage customs, in short, of much that relates to both the inner and the outer life of those by whom they are told.
These tales also show the relationship between tribes and peoples of different countries and even of different languages. They are evidences that the same ideas are common to every branch of the human family at the same stage of progress. On this account, it is now generally recognised that in order to obtain correct information concerning an uncivilized race, a knowledge of their folklore is necessary. Without this a survey is no more complete than, for instance, a description of the English people would be if no notice of English literature were taken.
It is with a view of letting the people we have chosen to call Kaffirs describe themselves in their own words, that these stories have been collected and printed. They form only a small portion of the folklore that is extant among them, but it is believed that they have been so selected as to leave no distinguishing feature unrepresented.
Though these traditionary tales are very generally known, there are of course some persons who can relate them much better than others. The best narrators are almost invariably ancient dames, and the time chosen for story telling is always the evening. This is perhaps not so much on account of the evening being the most convenient time, as because such tales as these have most effect when told to an assemblage gathered round a fire circle, when night has spread her mantle over the earth, and when the belief in the supernatural is stronger than it is by day. Hence it may easily happen that persons may mix much with Kaffirs without even suspecting that they have in their possession a rich fund of legendary lore.
There is a peculiarity in many of these stories which makes them capable of almost indefinite expansion. They are so constructed that parts of one can be made to fit into parts of another, so as to form a new tale. In this respect they are like the blocks of wood in the form of cubes with which European children amuse themselves. Combined in one way they present the picture of a lion, another combination shows a map of Europe, another still, a view of St. Paul's, and so on. So with many of these tales. They are made up of fragments which are capable of a variety of combinations.
It will surprise no one to learn that these tales are already undergoing great changes among a very large section of the natives on the border. Tens of thousands of Kaffirs have adopted the religion of the Europeans, and the facility with which such changes can be made as were alluded to in the last paragraph has encouraged them to introduce ideas borrowed from their teachers. Thus with them Satan of whom they had no conception before the advent of Europeans—is now the prompter to evil, and morals are drawn that never could have entered their heads in days of old. Their tales are thus a counterpart of the narrators, in possessing an adaptability to growth and a power of conformation to altered circumstances.
It is necessary to say a few words concerning the care that has been taken to give absolutely not a single sentence in any of these tales that has not come from native sources. Most of them have been obtained from at least ten or twelve individuals residing in different parts of the country, and they have all undergone a thorough revision by a circle of natives. They were not only told by natives, but were copied down by natives. The notes only are my own. I have directed the work of others, but have myself done nothing more than was necessary to explain the text. For this I can claim to be qualified by an intimate knowledge of the Kaffir people, gained through intercourse with them during a period of twenty years, and while filling positions among them varying from a mission teacher to a border magistrate.
A lot of the tales collected in this book have already appeared in various South African papers and magazines, some as far back as 1874. They were arranged for publication in a volume which was to have been issued from the press of the Lovedale Missionary Institution, and the first sheet was already printed, when the disturbances of 1877 took place. I was then called away to perform work of a very different kind, and the publication was necessarily suspended. The book is now issued, in the hope that it may be found useful, as throwing light upon the mode of life of a people who differ from ourselves in many respects besides degree of civilization.
GEO. M. THEAL
|INTRO||REGARDING THE KAFFIRS||1|
|1||THE STORY OF THE BIRD THAT MADE MILK, I||29|
|2||THE STORY OF THE BIRD THAT MADE MILK, II||38|
|3||THE STORY OF FIVE HEADS||48|
|4||THE STORY OF TANGALIMLIBO||56|
|5||THE STORY OF A GIRL WHO DISREGARDED THE CUSTOM OF NTONJANE||67|
|6||THE STORY OF SIMBUKUMBUKWANA||72|
|7||THE STORY OF SIKULUME||78|
|8||THE STORY OF HLAKANYANA||89|
|9||THE STORY OF DEMANE AND DEMAZANA||118|
|10||THE STORY OF THE RUNAWAY CHILDREN; OR, THE WONDERFUL FEATHER||122|
|11||THE STORY OF IRONSIDE AND HIS SISTER||127|
|12||THE STORY OF THE CANNIBALS WONDERFUL BIRD||133|
|13||THE STORY OF THE CANNIBAL MOTHER AND HER CHILDREN||137|
|14||THE STORY OF THE GIRL AND THE MBULU||144|
|15||THE STORY OF MBULUKAZI||148|
|16||THE STORY OF LONG SNAKE||155|
|17||THE STORY OF KENKEBE||158|
|18||ANOTHER THE STORY OF KENKEBE||148|
|19||THE STORY OF THE WONDERFUL HORNS||169|
|20||THE STORY OF THE GLUTTON||172|
|21||THE STORY OF THE GREAT CHIEF OF THE ANIMALS||176|
|22||THE STORY OF THE HARE||179|
|23||THE STORY OF LION AND LITTLE JACKAL||186|
|24||PROVERBS AND FIGURATIVE EXPRESSIONS||191|
IN South Africa the word Kaffir is often used in a general way to signify any black native who is not the descendant of an imported slave, but on the eastern frontier of the Cape Colony the term usually restricted to a member of the Amaxosa tribe. It is from individuals of this tribe that the following stories have been collected.
Europeans have designated these Kaffirs ever since the discovery of the country, though they themselves cannot even pronounce the word, as the English sotmd of the letter is waning their language. R, in Kaffir words, as now written, represents the same guttural sound as g does in Dutch, or the Scotch sound of ch in loch; thus Rarabe is pronounced Khah-khah-bay. They have no word by which to signify the whole race, but each tribe has its own title, which is usually the name of its first great chief, with the plural prefix Ama or Aba.
A very large portion of South Africa is occupied by people of this race. All along the eastern coast, as far south as the Great Fish River, the country is thickly populated with Kaffir tribes. On the other side of the mountains, the Bechuanas, their near kindred, are found stretching almost across to the Atlantic shore, from the heart of the continent southward to the Orange River.
The country lying between the present colonies of the Cape and Natal was first explored by Europeans in the year 1655, and was then found to be occupied by four great tribes,—the Amampondomsi, the Amampondo, the Abatembu, and the Amaxosa,—who formed nations as distinct from each other as are the French and the Italians. Their language was the same, and their laws and customs varied very slightly; but in all that respected government they were absolutely independent of one another. It has since been ascertained that the tribes further northward do not differ materially from these.
The Amaxosa were the farthest to the southward in 1688, as they have been ever since. On the coast they had then reached the Kciskama River, and there is good reason to believe that inland their outposts extended westward as far as the site of the present village of Somerset East. They were thus in contact with Hottentot tribes along an extended line, and an amalgamation of the two races had probably already commenced. It is certain that during the latter half of the last century a great many Hottentots were incorporated with the Amaxosa.
The mode of incorporation was in most instances a selection of Hottentot females after the destruction of their clan in war; but in at least one case a Hottentot tribe became gradually a Kaffir clan by mixture of blood through adoption of Kaffir refugees. The people of this tribe, a pure Hottentot one in 1689 and then called the Gqunaqua, were found by a traveller a century later to resemble Kaffirs more than Hottentots in appearance, and, except a few families, they are now undistinguishable from other members of the Amaxosa. Their original language has been lost, but their old tribal title is yet retained in the Kaffir form Amagqunukwebe.
This large admixture of Hottentot blood has not affected the mode of government or the general customs of the Amaxosa, as is seen on comparing them with other tribes to the north but it has affected their personal appearance and their language. Many words in use by the women, though appearing in a Kaffir form, can be traced to Hottentot roots. Owing to this, their traditional stories may have been modified to some, though not to any great, extent.
In a condition independent of European control, each Kaffir tribe is over by a great chief, whose government is, however but little felt beyond his immediate clan, each petty division being under a ruler who is in reality nearly independent. The person of a chief is inviolable, and an indignity offered to one of them is considered a crime of the gravest nature. Such offshoots of the ruling house as are not of themselves chiefs are of aristocratic rank, and are exempt from obedience to the laws which govern the commonalty. With regard to the common people, the principle of the law is that they are the property of the rulers, and consequently an offence against any of their persons is atoned for by a fine to the chief. Murder and assaults are punished in this manner. Thus in theory the government is despotic, but in practice it has many checks. The first is the existence of a body of councillors about the person of each chief, whose advice he is compelled to listen to. A second is the custom that a man who can escape from a chief whose enmity he has incurred will be protected by any other with whom he takes refuge, so that an arbitrary or unpopular ruler is in constant danger of losing his followers.
The chief in council makes the law and administers it, but from the courts of the petty chiefs there is an appeal to the head of the tribe. Only two kinds of punishment are known: fines and death. Lawsuits are of frequent occurrence, and many Kaffirs display great ability and remarkable powers of oratory in conducting them. The judges are guided in their proceedings by a recognised common law and by precedents, though some of them are exceedingly venal. They will sit, however, with exemplary patience, for days together, to hear all the details of a case, and, where bribery is impossible, their sentences are usually in accordance with strict justice.
The manner in which the Kaffirs became divided into independent tribes in ancient times is clearly shown by the law of succession to the chieftainship which is in force to the present day. The first wives of a chief are usually the daughters of some of his father's principal retainers; but as he increases in power his alliance is courted by great families, and thus it generally happens that the last of his wives is the highest in rank. Probably she is the daughter of a neighbouring chief, for it is indispensable in her case that the blood of the ruling line should flow in her veins. She is termed the great wife, and her eldest son is the principal heir.
Another of his wives is invested at some period of his life, with the consent of his councillors and friends, with the title of wife of the right hand, and to her eldest son is allotted a portion of the tribe, with which he forms a new clan. The government of this is entrusted to him as soon as he is full grown, so that while his brother is still a child he has opportunities of increasing his power. If he is the abler ruler of the two, war between them follows almost to a certainty as soon as the great heir reaches manhood, and is invested with a separate command. Should peace be maintained, upon the death of his father the son of the right hand acknowledges his brother as superior in rank, but pays him no tribute, nor admits of his right to interfere in any manner with the internal government of the new clan.
Thus there was always a tendency to division and subdivision of the tribes, which was the great fault of the system. But while it operated against unity, it tended towards a rapid expansion of the people in a country where only a slight opposition could be made by the earlier inhabitants. The less powerful chief of the two would naturally desire to reside at a considerable distance from his competitor, and thus a new tract of country would be taken possession of. About six generations ago a practice was introduced of dividing each tribe into three sections, by the elevation of a third son to power, with the title of representative of the ancients. But it was not generally adopted until Gaika, about the beginning of the present century, gave it his countenance, since which time this custom has been almost universally followed by the Amaxosa, so that the number of petty chiefs and little clans is now very great.
The Kaffir of the coast region is a model of a well-formed man. In general he is large, without being corpulent, strong, muscular, erect in bearing, and with all his limbs in perfect symmetry. His skull is shaped like that of a European; but here the resemblance ends, for his colour is a deep brown, and his hair is short and woolly. His intellectual abilities are of no mean order, and his reasoning powers are quite equal to those of a white man. He is haughty in demeanour, and possesses a large amount of vanity. For anything approaching frivolity he has a supreme contempt. The men are handsomer than the women, which is owing to the difference in their mode of living.
Their language is rich in words, and is musical in expression, owing to the great number of vowels used. With very few exceptions the syllables end in vowels. In structure it differs greatly from the languages of Europeans. The inflections take place at the beginning, not at the end of words. Thus the plural of indoda, a man, is amadoda, men; of umfazi, a woman, is abafazi, women; of isikali, a weapon, is izikali, weapons. And so with every part of speech which is capable of being inflected. This difference is, however, a slight one, when compared with the changes which the other parts of speech undergo to make them harmonize in sound with the principal noun in the sentence. According as the noun commences with a particular syllable, so the first syllable of the adjective, the verb, the adverb, and even the preposition, must be altered to agree with it in sound. Only the root syllables of these parts of speech remain the same in all combinations.
Kaffir words are in most instances combined together to form sentences in such a way that they cannot be separated from each other as English words are. What appears in writing to be only one word, is often really three or four, but as in another combination these would change their positions, and as very frequently a single letter represents a word, it would create much greater confusion to separate them than to write them as one.
There is no difficulty whatever in expressing any ideas in the Kaffir language. The present infinitive of any verb can be transformed into an abstract noun. The numerals are as complete as is necessary for any calculation. Adjectives proper are not numerous, but their place is supplied by abstract nouns; as if we should say, a thing with goodness, instead of, a good thing. The adjective follows the noun, as abaidwana bane, children four, izinto zine, things four.
The language of the Amaxosa contains three clicks, which are now represented in writing by the superfluous letters c, q, and x. These clicks are easily sounded separately by Europeans, the c by withdrawing the tongue sharply from the front teeth, the q by doing the same from the roof of the mouth, and the x by drawing the breath in a peculiar way between the tongue and the side teeth; but they generally prove an insurmountable difficulty to an adult who wishes to learn to speak the language. By such a person a syllable commencing with a click can only be sounded as a distinct word with a considerable interval of time between it and the one before it. European children, however, readily learn to speak it fluently.
The women do not always use the same words as the men, owing to the custom called ukuhlonipa, which prohibits females from pronouncing the names of any of their husband's male relatives in the ascending line, or any words whatever in which the principal syllables of such names occur. Owing to this custom, in many instances almost a distinct dialect has come into use. (This custom is referred to in a note to follow the Story of Tangalimlibo.)
Before the advent of the white man, the Kaffirs knew nothing of letters or of any signs by which ideas could be expressed. Their history is thus traditional, and cannot be considered authentic beyond four or five generations back. There are numerous old men in every clan who profess to be acquainted with the deeds of the past, but their accounts of these seldom correspond in details beyond a period of about a century and a half. The genealogy of the great chiefs even, as given by them, is not the same beyond the time of Sikomo, the eighth in order from the present one, while with regard to minor chiefs considerable confusion exists two or three generations later.
They know of no other periods in reckoning time than the day and the lunar month, and can describe events only as happening before or after some remarkable occurrence, such as the death of a chief. The different seasons of the year are indicated by the rise in the evening of particular constellations, to which, as well as to several of the prominent stars and planets, they have given expressive names.
Until European clothing was introduced, the dress of the Kaffirs was composed of skins .of animals formed into a square mantle the size of a large blanket, which they wrapped about their persons. The skin of the leopard was reserved for chiefs and their principal councillors alone, but any other could be used by common people. Married women wore a short leather petticoat at all times; in warm weather men and children went quite naked. No covering was ordinarily worn on the head, though a fillet, intended for show, was commonly bound round it, and a fantastic headdress was used by the women on certain festive occasions.
They are fond of decorating their persons with ornaments, such as shells, teeth of animals, and beads, used as necklaces, copper and ivory rings on their arms, etc. They protect their bodies from the effects of the sun by rubbing themselves all over with fat and red clay, which makes them look like polished bronze. Their clothing is greased and coloured in the same manner.
They live in villages, large or small according to circumstances. Their habitations consist of hemispherical huts formed of strong wickerwork frames thatched with reeds or grass; they are proof against rain or wind. The largest are about twenty-five feet in diameter, and seven or eight feet in height in the centre. They are entered by a low, narrow aperture, which is the only opening in the structure; their interior is smoky and dirty, and not seldom swarms with vermin. The villages are usually in situations which command a good view of the surrounding country.
The Kaffirs are warlike in disposition and brave in the field, though when fighting with Europeans they seldom venture upon a pitched battle, owing to their dread of firearms. Their weapons of offence are wooden clubs with heavy heads, and assagais or javelins. The assagai (a corruption of a Portuguese word derived from the Latin hasta) consists of a long, thin iron head, with both edges sharp, and terminating in a point, and is attached by thongs to a slender shaft or rod. Poising this first in his uplifted hand and imparting to it a quivering motion, the Kaffir hurls it forth with great force and accuracy of aim. The club is used at close quarters, and can also be thrown to a considerable distance. Boys are trained to the use of both these weapons from an early age. Before the introduction of firearms the Kaffir used a shield to defend his person. It was made of ox-hide stretched over a wooden frame, and varied in size and pattern among the clans.
The warriors are formed into companies under their respective chiefs, and are not divided into regiments of about the same number. A battle between Kaffirs consists of a series of individual encounters, in which the bravest combatants on each side challenge each other by name, and when one falls, another is called upon by the victor to take his place. The height of ambition is to be mentioned in one of the rude chants which the bards, whose principal employment is to sing the praises of the chief, compose on the occasions of festivals, and to hear one's name received with applause. The brave wear on their heads the feathers of the blue crane, which are given to them by the chief as tokens of distinction, and which no one else is permitted to wear (except a single individual at a peculiar ceremony which will be referred to in a note upon the custom of ntojane).
Horned cattle constitute their principal wealth, and form a medium of exchange throughout the country. Great care is taken of them, and particular skill is exhibited in their training. They are taught to obey signals, as, for instance, to run home upon a certain call or whistle being given. In former days every man of note had his racing oxen, and prided himself upon their good qualities as much as an English squire does upon his blood horses. Ox racing was then one of the institutions of Kaffirland, and was connected with all kinds of festivities.
The care of cattle is considered the most honourable employment, and falls entirely to the men. They milk the cows, take charge of the dairy, and will not permit a woman even to touch a milksack. When Europeans first visited them they had, in addition to the ox, domestic dogs and an inferior breed of goats, the last not considered of much value. Barnyard fowls were also found in their possession, but adults made no use of either their flesh or their eggs.
The Kaffirs are an agricultural as well as a pastoral people. They cultivate the ground to a large extent, and draw the greater portion of their food from it. A species of millet, called by the colonists Kaffir corn, was the grain exclusively cultivated by them prior to the advent of Europeans. Of this they raise large quantities, which they use either boiled, or bruised into a paste from which bread is made. They were acquainted with the art of fermenting it and making a kind of beer, which they were fond of drinking, and which soon caused intoxication. Of this grain they were careful always to keep a good stock on hand. They preserved it from the attacks of the weevil by storing it in air-tight holes excavated beneath the cattle kraals. They had also pumpkins, a species of gourd, a cane containing saccharine matter in large quantities, and a sort of ground nut. The other productions of their gardens, as we see them at present, have been introduced since they became acquainted with the white man. Of those mentioned their food consisted, with the addition of curdled milk and occasionally flesh.
They have two meals a day, a slight breakfast in the morning, and a substantial repast at sunset. Boys in early youth are permitted to cat any kind of meat, even that of wild cats and other carnivora, but when they reach the age of maturity the flesh of all unclean animals is rejected by them. They use no kinds of fish as an article of clict, and call them all snakes, without distinction.
They have a system of religion which they carefully observe. It is based upon the supposition of the existence of spirits who can interfere with the affairs of this world, and who must therefore be propitiated with sacrifices. These spirits are those of their deceased chiefs, the greatest of whom has power over lightning. When the spirits become hungry, they send a plague or disaster, until sacrifices are offered and their hunger is appeased. When a person is killed by lightning no lamentation is made, as it would be considered rebellion to mourn for one whom the great chief has sent for. They have no idea of reward or punishment in a world to come for acts committed in this life, and each of the commonalty denies the immortality of his own soul.
In olden times, when common people died, their corpses were dragged away to a short distance from the kraal, and there left to be devoured by beasts of prey; but chiefs and great men were interred with much ceremony. A grave was dug, in which the body was placed in a sitting posture, and by it were deposited his weapons of war and ornaments. When it was closed, such expressions as these were used: "Remember us from where you are. You have gone to high places. Cause us to prosper!"
They believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, whom they term Qamata, and to whom they sometimes pray, though they never offer sacrifices to him. In a time of great danger a Kaffir will exclaim, "O Qamata, help me! " and when the danger is over he will attribute his deliverance to the same Supreme Being. The Kaffirs cannot define their belief concerning Qamata very minutely, and they do not trouble themselves with thinking much about the matter.
The largest amount of information on this subject which I ever obtained was from a group of aged Gaikas, among whom was a celebrated native antiquary. Negatively they replied to my inquiries much better than positively.
"Had he been once a chief, such as Xosa or Tshawe?"
"Was he the first man, the father of the nations, the one whom some of the old Fingoes call Nkulunkulu?"
"No, not at all; Qamata was never a man."
"Was he the creator of all that we see, the mountains, and the sun, and the stars?"
"Perhaps he was, we don't know; he is greater than all these."
"Where is he?"
"Does he see all things."
"We think he does."
"Does he help people?"
"We ask him to sometimes, and we believe he does."
"Is he altogether good, or altogether bad, or partly good and partly bad?"
"We don't know about that; but we think he is altogether good."
"Are there any others like him?"
"No; he is all alone."
"Is there any other name for him?"
"In the olden times that was the only name, but now he is called by some u-Tixo," (a name for God, introduced by missionaries).
A superstitious act of a very peculiar kind is somehow or other connected in their minds with prayer to, or worship of, Qamata. In various parts of the Kaffir country there are artificial heaps of stones, and a Kaffir, when travelling, may often be seen adding one to the number. He repeats no words, but merely picks up a stone and throws it on the heal?. Why does he do it? That good fortune may attend him,—that he may not be carried away by the river spirit when crossing a stream,—that he may find food prepared for him where he is to rest,—that he way be successful in the business he is engaged in, or something of the kind that he is thinking of at the time. It is an act of superstition. But old men have told me, when I inquired the object of this act, that "it was for Qamata." How? They did not know; but their ancestors had done the same thing, and said it was for Qamata; and so they did it too.
The influence of the unseen world is ever acting upon the Kaffir. Far nearer to him than Qamata or the spirits of his ancestors is a whole host of water sprites and hobgoblins, who meet him turn which way he will. There is no beautiful fairyland for him, for all these fanciful beings who haunt the mountains, the plains, and the rivers, are either actively malevolent, or mischievous and addicted to playing pranks. To protect himself from them he carries on his person charms in numbers, only to find himself still exposed to their attacks. This superstition influences all his acts and gives a tone of seriousness to his character.
The rites of religion consist merely in sacrifices to appease the spirits. These are numerous. On great occasions they are performed by individuals who act the part of priests, on ordinary occasions by heads of families. The meat of the animal sacrificed is eaten, for the hunger of the spirit is allayed with the smoke. No sacred days or seasons are observed.
A corollary to the belief in malevolent spirits is the belief in witchcraft. Certain persons obtain from the demons power to bewitch others, and thus sickness and death are caused. The same individual who acts as a priest acts also as a witch-finder. In olden times the person whom the witch-finder pronounced guilty was liable to confiscation of property, torture, and even death. The priest and witch-finder professes also to have the power of making rain, and of causing the warriors of his clan to be invulnerable in battle. When following any of these occupations, he attires himself most fantastically, being painted with various colours, and having the tails of wild animals suspended around him.
Before the supremacy of the Europeans it was seldom that the individual who filled this office died a natural death. Sooner or later he would fail to cause rain to fall when it was needed, or warriors whom he had made invulnerable would be struck down, or something else would happen which would cause him to be regarded as an impostor. He was then generally tied hand and foot and cast into the first stream at hand. Nevertheless, implicit confidence was placed in his successor, until he, too, met the same fate.
Sometimes a person intimates that he has received revelations from the spirit world. He is really a monomaniac, but if his statements are believed his power at once becomes greater than that of the highest chief, and his commands are implicitly obeyed.
The snake is treated with great respect by the Kaffirs. lf one is found in a hut, the people will move out and wait patiently until it leaves.
The owner will say that it is perhaps the spirit of one of his ancestors who has come to visit him in this form. It may be only an ordinary snake, he will add, but it is not advisable to run any risk, lest harm should befall his house.
In the division of labour the cultivation of the ground falls to the woman's share, as does also the collection of firewood, and the thatching of the huts. A man who meddles with work of this kind is regarded as an intruder into a domain not his own. The females look upon it as pertaining to them, just as in England they look upon housework.
The descent of property is regulated in the same manner as the succession to the chieftainship. Many of their manufactures display considerable skill and ingenuity. Foremost among these must be reckoned metallic wares, which include implements of war and husbandry, and ornaments for the person. Iron and copper are now obtained in trade from Europeans, but when the country was first visited, the Kaffirs were found in possession of these metals, and to the present day a few stubborn conservatives prefer to smelt ore for themselves, as their ancestors did before them. There are certain families to whom the working in metals is confined, the son following the father in his occupation. This is the case with every kind of manufacture, and no one pretends to know anything about a trade which does not belong to his own family.
In many parts of the country iron ore of excellent quality is abundant, and this they smelt (or rather did so until recently) in a simple manner. Forming a furnace of a boulder with a hollow surface, out of which a groove was made to allow the liquid metal to escape, and into which a hole was pierced for the purpose of introducing a current of air, they piled up a heap of charcoal and virgin ore, which they afterwards covered in such a way as to prevent the escape of heat. The bellows by which air was introduced were made of skins, the mouthpiece being the horn of a large antelope. The molten iron escaping from the crude yet effective furnace, ran into clay moulds prepared to receive it, which were as nearly as possible of the same magnitude as the implements they wished to make. These were never of great size, the largest being the picks or heavy hoes used in gardening.
The Kaffir smith, using a boulder for an anvil and a hammer of iron or stone, next proceeded to shape the lump of metal into an assagai head, an axe, a pick, or whatever was required. The iron was worked cold. In this laborious operation a vast amount of patience and perseverance was exercised, and the article when completed was very creditable indeed.
Copper is worked into a great variety of ornaments for their persons. This metal is found in certain parts of the country, but it is now generally obtained in trade from Europeans.
Hardly less remarkable was their skill in pottery, an art rapidly becoming lost since the introduction of European wares. Vessels containing from half a pint to fifty gallons were constructed by them of earthenware, some of which were highly ornamented, and were almost as perfect in form as if they had been turned on a wheel. Though they were frequently not more than an eighth of an inch in thickness, so finely tempered were they that the most intense heat did not damage them. These vessels were used as beer pots, grain jars, and cooking utensils.
In the manufacture of wooden articles, such as spoons, bowls, fighting sticks, pipes (since the introduction of tobacco), rests for the head when sleeping, etc., they display great skill and no little taste. Each article is made of a single block of wood, requiring much time and patience to complete it, and upon it is frequently carved some neat but simple pattern.
Baskets for holding grain, rush mats, bags, and drinking vessels made of grass are among the products of their labour. Rush bags are made so carefully and strongly that they are used to hold water or any other liquid.
Skins for clothing are prepared by rubbing them for a length of time with grease, by which means they are made nearly as soft and pliable as cloth.
Ingenious as they are, the men are far from being industrious. A great portion of their time is spent in visiting and gossip, of which they are exceedingly fond. They are perfect masters of that kind of argument which consists in parrying a question by means of putting another. They are not strict observers of truth, and, though not pilferers, they are addicted to cattle lifting. According to their ideas, stealing cattle is not a crime; it is a civil offence, and a thief when detected is compelled to make ample restitution; but no disgrace attaches to it, and they have no religious scruples concerning it.
Such, in brief, are the Kaffirs, the people among whom the following stories are current.
THERE was once upon a time a poor man living with his wife in a certain village. They had three children, two boys and a girl. They used to get milk from a tree. That milk of the tree was got by squeezing. It was not nice as that of a cow, and the people that drank it were always thin. For this reason, those people were never glossy like those who are fat.
One day the woman went to cultivate a garden. She began by cutting the grass with a pick, and then putting it in a big heap. That was the work of the first day, and when the sun was just about to set she went home. When she left, there came a bird to that place, and sang this song:
"Weeds of this garden,
Weeds of this garden,
Spring up, spring up;
Work of this garden,
Work of this garden,
It was so.
The next morning, when she returned and saw that, she wondered greatly. She again put it in order on that day, and put some sticks in the ground to mark the place.
In the evening she went home and told that she had found the grass which she had cut growing just as it was before.
Her husband said: "How can such a thing be? You were lazy and didn't work, and now tell me this falsehood. just get out of my sight, or I'll beat you."
On the third day she went to her work with a sorrowful heart, remembering the words spoken by her husband. She reached the place and found the grass growing as before. The sticks that she stuck in the ground were there still, but she saw nothing else of her labour. She wondered greatly.
She said in her heart, "I will not cut the grass off again, I will just hoe the ground as it is."
She commenced. Then the bird came and perched on one of the sticks.
"Citi, citi, who is this cultivating the ground of my father?
Pick, come off;
Pick handle, break;
Sods, go back to your places!"
All these things happened.
The woman went home and told her husband what the bird had done. Then they made a plan. They dug a deep hole in the ground, and covered it with sticks and grass. The man hid himself in the hole, and put up one of his hands. The woman commenced to hoe the ground again. Then the bird came and perched on the hand of the man, and sang:
"This is the ground of my father.
Who are you, digging my father's ground?
Pick, break into small pieces
Sods, return to your places."
It was so.
Then the man tightened his fingers and caught the bird. He came up out of the place of concealment.
He said to the bird: "As for you who spoil the work of this garden, you will not see the sun any more. With this sharp stone I will cut off your head!"
Then the bird said to him: "I am not a bird that should be killed. I am a bird that can make milk."
The man said: "Make some, then."
The bird made some milk in his hand. The man tasted it. It was very nice milk.
The man said: "Make some more milk, my bird."
The bird did so. The man sent his wife for a milk basket. When she brought it, the bird filled it with milk.
The man was very much pleased. He said: "This pretty bird of mine is better than a cow."
He took it home and put it in a jar. After that he used to rise even in the night and tell the bird to make milk for him. Only he and his wife drank of it. The children continued to drink of the milk of the tree. The names of the children were Gingci, the first-born son; Lonci, his brother; and Dumangashe, his sister. That man then got very fat indeed, so that his skin became shining.
The girl said to her brother Gingci: "Why does father get fat and we remain so thin?"
He replied: "I do not know. Perhaps he eats in the night."
They made a plan to watch. They saw him rise in the middle of the night. He went to the big jar and took an eating mat off it. He said: "Make milk, my bird." He drank much. Again he said: "Make milk, my bird," and again he drank till he was very full. Then he lay down and went to sleep.
The next day the woman went to work in her garden, and the man went to visit his friend. The children remained at home, but not in the house. Their father fastened the door of the house, and told them not to enter it on any account till his return.
Gingci said: "To-day we will drink of the milk that makes father fat and shining; we will not drink of the milk of the euphorbia today."
The girl said: "As for me, I also say let us drink of father's milk to-day."
They entered the house. Gingci removed the eating mat from the jar, and said to the bird: "My father's bird, make milk for me."
The bird said "If I am your father's bird, put me by the fireplace, and I will make milk."
The boy did so. The bird made just a little milk.
The boy drank, and said: "My father's bird, make more milk."
The bird said: "If I am your father's bird, put me by the door, then I will make milk."
The boy did this. Then the bird made just a little milk, which the boy drank.
The girl said My father's bird, make milk for me."
The bird said: "If I am your father's bird, just put me in the sunlight, and I will make milk."
The girl did so. Then the bird made a jar full of milk.
After that the bird sang:
"The father of Dumangashe came, he came,
He came unnoticed by me.
He found great fault with me.
The little fellows have met together.
Gingci the brother of Lonci.
The Umkomanzi cannot be crossed,
It is crossed by swallows
Whose wings are long."
When it finished its song it lifted up its wings and flew away. But the girl was still drinking milk.
The children called it, and said: "Return, bird of our father," but it did not come back. They said, "We shall be killed to-day."
They followed the bird. They came to a tree where there were many birds.
The boy caught one, and said to it: "My father's bird, make milk."
It bled. They said. "This is not our father's bird."
This bird bled very much; the blood ran like a river. Then the boy released it, and it flew away. The children were seized with fear.
They said to themselves: "If our father finds us, he will kill us to-day."
In the evening the man came home. When he was yet far off, he saw that the door had been opened.
He said: "I did not shut the door that way."
He called his children, but only Lonci replied. He asked for the others.
Lonci said: "I went to the river to drink; when I returned they were gone."
He searched for them, and found the girl under the ashes and the boy behind a stone. He inquired at once about his bird. They were compelled to tell the truth concerning it.
Then the man took a riem and hung those two children on a tree that projected over the river. He went away, leaving them there. Their mother besought their father, saying that they should be released; but the man refused. After he was gone, the boy tried to escape. He climbed up the riem and held on to the tree; then he went up and loosened the riem that was tied to his sister. After that they climbed up the tree, and then went away from their home, They slept three times on the road.
They came to a big rock. The boy said:
"We have no father and no mother; rock, be our house."
The rock opened, and they went inside. After that they lived there in that place. They obtained food by hunting animals, they were hunted by the boy.
When they were already in that place a long time, the girl grew to be big. There were no people in that place. A bird came one day with a child, and left it there by their house.
The bird said: "So have I done to all the people."
After that a crocodile came to that place. The boy was just going to kill it, but it said: "I am a crocodile; I am not to be killed; I am your friend."
Then the boy went with the crocodile to the house of the crocodile, in a deep hole under the water.
The crocodile had many cattle and (much) millet. He gave the boy ten cows and ten baskets of millet.
The crocodile said to the boy You must send your sister for the purpose of being married to me."
The boy made a fold to keep his cattle in; his sister made a garden and planted millet. The crocodile sent more cattle. The boy made a very big fold, and it was full of cattle.
At this time there came a bird.
The bird said: "Your sister has performed the custom, and as for you, you should enter manhood."
The crocodile gave one of his daughters to be the wife of the young man. The young woman went to the village of the crocodile, she went to be a bride.
They said to her: "Whom do you choose to be your husband?"
The girl replied: "I choose Crocodile."
Her husband said to her: "Lick my face."
She did so. The crocodile cast off its skin, and arose a man of great strength and fine appearance.
He said: "The enemies of my father's house did that; you, my wife, are stronger than they."
After this there was a great famine, and the mother of those people came to their village. She did not recognise her children, but they knew her and gave her food. She went away, and then their father came. He did not recognise them either, but they knew him. They asked him what he wanted. He told them that his village was devoured by famine. They gave him food, and he went away.
He returned again.
The young man said: "You thought we would die when you hung us in the tree."
He was astonished, and said: "Are you indeed my child?"
Crocodile then gave them (the parents) three baskets of corn, and told them to go and build on the mountains. He (the man) did so and died there on the mountains.
[The following is another version of this story of the Bird that made Milk, as current among the Barolongs, a tribe speaking the Sechuana language, and residing beyond the Orange River. It was written down for me by an educated grandson of the late chief Moroko.]
IT is said that there was once a great town in a certain place, which had many people living in it. They lived upon grain only. One year there was a great famine. There was in that town a poor man, by name Masilo, and his wife. One day they went to dig in their garden, and they continued digging the whole day long. In the evening, when the digging companies returned home, they returned also. Then there came a bird and stood upon the house which was beside the garden, and began to whistle, and said:
"Masilo's cultivated ground, mix together."
The ground did as the bird said. After that was done the bird went away.
In the morning, when Masilo and his wife went to the garden, they were in doubt, and said:
"Is it really the place we were digging yesterday?"
They saw that it was the place by the people working on each side. The people began to laugh at them, and mocked them, and said It is because you are very lazy."
They continued to dig again that day, and in the evening they went home with the others.
Then the bird came and did the same thing.
When they went back next morning, they found their ground altogether undug. Then they believed that they were bewitched by some others.
They continued digging that day again. But in the evening when the companies returned, Masilo said to his wife:
"Go home; I will stay behind to watch and find the thing which eats our work."
Then he went and laid himself down by the head of the garden, under the same house which the bird used always to stand upon.
While he was thinking, the bird came. It was a very beautiful bird. He was looking at it and admiring it, when it began to speak.
"Masilo's cultivated ground, mix together."
Then he caught it, and said: "Ah! is it you who eat the work of our hands?"
He took out his knife from the sheath, and was going to cut the head of the bird off.
Then the bird said: "Please don't kill me, and I will make some milk for you to eat."
Masilo answered: "You must bring back the work of my hands first."
The bird said: "Masilo's cultivated ground, appear," and it appeared.
Then Masilo said: "Make the milk now," and, behold, it immediately made thick milk, which Masilo began to eat. When he was satisfied, he took the bird home. As he approached his house, he put the bird in his bag.
When he entered his house, he said to his wife, "Wash all the largest beer pots which are in the house," but his wife was angry on account of her hunger, and she answered:
"What have you to put in such large pots?"
Masilo said to her: "just hear me, and do as I command you, then you will see."
When she was ready with the pots, Masilo took his bird out of his bag, and said: "Make milk for my children to eat."
Then the bird filled all the beer pots with milk.
They commenced to eat, and when they were finished, Masilo charged his children, saying:
"Beware that you do not tell anybody of this, not one of your companions."
They swore by him that they would not tell anybody.
Masilo and his family then lived upon this bird. The people were surprised when they saw him and his family. They said:
"Why are the people at Masilo's house so fat? He is so poor, but now since his garden has appeared he and his children are so fat!"
They tried to watch and to see what he was eating, but they never could find out at all.
One morning Masilo and his wife went to work in their garden, and about the middle of the same day the children of that town met together to play. They met just before Masilo's house. While they were playing the others said to Masilo's children:
"Why are you so fat while we remain so thin? "
They answered: "Are we then fat? We thought we were thin just as you are."
They would not tell them the cause. The others continued to press them, and said: "We won't tell anybody."
Then the children of Masilo said: "There is a bird in our father's house which makes milk."
The others said: "Please show us the bird."
They went into the house and took it out of the secret place where their father had placed it. They ordered it as their father used to order it, and it made milk, which their companions drank, for they were very hungry.
After drinking they said: "Let it dance for us," and they loosened it from the place where it was tied.
The bird began to dance in the house, but one said: "This place is too confined," so they took it outside of the house. While they were enjoying themselves and laughing, the bird flew away, leaving them in great dismay.
Masilo's children said: "Our father will this day kill us, therefore we must go after the bird."
So they followed it, and continued going after it the whole day long, for when they were at a distance it would sit still for a little while, and when they approached it would fly away.
When the digging companies returned from digging, the people of that town cried for their children, for they did not know what had become of them. But when Masilo went into the house and could not find his bird, he knew where the children were, but he did not tell any of their parents. He was very sorry for his bird, for he knew that he had lost his food.
When evening set in, the children determined to return to their home, but there came a storm of rain with heavy thunder, and they were very much afraid. Among them was a brave boy, named Mosemanyanamatong, who encouraged them, and said:
"Do not be afraid; I can command a house to build itself."
They said: "Please command it."
He said: "House appear," and it appeared, and also wood for fire. Then the children entered the house and made a large fire, and began to roast some wild roots which they dug out of the ground.
While they were roasting the roots and were merry, there came a big cannibal, and they heard his voice saying: "Mosemanyanamatong, give me some of the wild roots you have."
They were afraid, and the brave boy said to the girls and to the other boys, "Give me some of yours."
They gave to him, and he threw the roots outside. While the cannibal was still eating, they went out and fled. He finished eating the roots, and then pursued them. When he approached they scattered some more roots upon the ground, and while he was picking them up and eating, they fled.
At length they came among mountains, where trees were growing. The girls were already very tired, so they all climbed up a tall tree. The cannibal came there, and tried to cut the tree down with his sharp and long nail.
Then the brave boy said to the girls: "While I am singing you must continue saying, 'Tree be strong, Tree be strong!'"
He sang this song:
"It is foolish,
It is foolish to be a traveller,
And to go on a journey
With the blood of girls upon one!
While we were roasting wild roots
A great darkness fell upon us.
It was not darkness,
It was awful gloom!"
While he was singing, there came a great bird and hovered over them, and said Hold fast to me."
The children held fast to the bird, and it flew away with them, and took them to their own town.
It was midnight when it arrived there, and it sat down at the gate of Mosemanyanamatong's mother's house.
In the morning, when that woman came out of her house, she took ashes and cast upon the bird, for she said: "This bird knows where our children are."
At midday the bird sent word to the chief, saying, "Command all your people to spread mats in all the paths."
The chief commanded them to do so. Then the bird brought all the children out, and the people were greatly delighted.
HERE was once a man living in a certain place, who had two daughters big enough to be married.
One day the man went over the river to another village, which was the residence of a great chief The people asked him to tell them the news. He replied, that there was no news in the place that he came from. Then the man inquired about the news of their place. They said the news of their place was that the chief wanted a wife.
The man went home and said to his two daughters: "Which of you wishes to be the wife of a chief?"
The eldest replied: "I wish to be the wife of a chief, my father." The name of that girl was Mpunzikazi.
The man said: "At that village which I visited, the chief wishes for a wife; you, my daughter, shall go."
The man called all his friends, and assembled a large company to go with his daughter to the village of the chief. But the girl would not consent that those people should go with her.
She said: "I will go alone to be the wife of the chief."
Her father replied: "How can you, my daughter, say such a thing? Is it not so that when a girl goes to present herself to her husband she should be accompanied by others? Be not foolish, my daughter."
The girl still said: "I will go alone to be the wife of the chief."
Then the man allowed his daughter to do as she chose. She went alone, no bridal party accompanying her, to present herself at the village of the chief who wanted a wife.
As Mpunzikazi was in the path, she met a mouse.
The mouse said: "Shall I show you the way?"
The girl replied: "Just get away from before my eyes."
The mouse answered If you do like this, you will not succeed."
Then she met a frog.
The frog said: "Shall I show you the way?"
Mpunzikazi replied: "You are not worthy to speak to me, as I am to be the wife of a chief."
The frog said: "Go on then; you will see afterwards what will happen."
When the girl got tired, she sat down under a tree to rest. A boy who was herding goats in that place came to her, he being very hungry.
The boy said: "Where are you going to, my eldest sister?"
Mpunzikazi replied in an angry voice: "Who are you that you should speak to me? just get away from before me."
The boy said: "I am very hungry; will you not give me of your food?"
She answered "Get away quickly."
The boy said: "You will not return if you do this."
She went on her way again, and met with an old woman sitting by a big stone.
The old woman said: "I will give you advice. You will meet with trees that will laugh at you: you must not laugh in return. You will see a bag of thick milk: you must not eat of it. You will meet a man whose head is under his arm: you must not take water from him."
Mpunzikazi answered: "You ugly thing! who are you that you should advise me?"
The old woman continued in saying those words.
The girl went on. She came to a place where were many trees. The trees laughed at her, and she laughed at them in return. She saw a bag of thick milk, and she ate of it. She met a man carrying his head under his arm, and she took water to drink from him.
She came to the river of the village of the chief. She saw a girl there dipping water from the river. The girl said: "Where are you going to, my sister?"
Mpunzikazi replied: "Who are you that you should call me sister? I am going to be the wife of a chief."
The girl drawing water was the sister of the chief. She said: "Wait, I will give you advice. Do not enter the village by this side."
Mpunzikazi did not stand to listen, but just went on.
She reached the village of the chief. The people asked her where she came from and what she wanted.
She answered: "I have come to be the wife of the chief."
They said: "Who ever saw a girl go without a retinue to be a bride?"
They said also: "The chief is not at home; you must prepare food for him, that when he comes in the evening he may eat."
They gave her millet to grind. She ground it very coarse, and made bread that was not nice to eat.
In the evening she heard the sound of a great wind. That wind was the coming of the chief. He was a big snake with five heads and large eyes. Mpunzikazi was very much frightened when she saw him. He sat down before the door and told her to bring his food. She brought the bread which she had made. Makanda Mahlanu (Five Heads) was not satisfied with that bread. He said: "You shall not be my wife," and he struck her with his tail and killed her.
Afterwards the sister of Mpunzikazi said to her father: "I also wish to be the wife of a chief."
Her father replied: "It is well, my daughter; it is right that you should wish to be a bride."
The man called all his friends, and a great retinue prepared to accompany the bride. The name of the girl was Mpunzanyana.
In the way they met a mouse.
The mouse said: "Shall I show you the road?"
Mpunzanyana replied: "If you will show me the way I shall be glad."
Then the mouse pointed out the way.
She came into a valley, where she saw an old woman standing by a tree.
The old woman said to her: "You will come to a place where two paths branch off. You must take the little one, because if you take the big one you will not be fortunate."
Mpunzanyana replied: "I will take the little path, my mother." She went on.
Afterwards she met a cony.
The coney said: "The village of the chief is close by. You will meet a by the river: you must speak nicely to her. They will give you millet to grind: you must grind it well. When you see your husband, you must not be afraid."
She said: "I will do as you say, coney."
In the river she met the chief's sister carrying water.
The chief's sister said: "Where are you going to?"
Mpunzanyana replied: "This is the end of my journey."
The chief's sister said: "What is the object of your coming to this place?"
Mpunzanyana replied: "I am with a bridal party."
The chief's sister said: "That is right, but will you not be afraid when you see your husband?"
Mpunzanyana answered: "I will not be afraid."
The chief's sister pointed out the hut in which she should stay. Food was given to the bridal party. The mother of the chief took millet and gave to the bride, saying: "You must prepare food for your husband. He is not here now, but he will come in the evening."
In the evening she heard a very strong wind, which made the hut shake. The poles fell, but she did not run out. Then she saw the chief Makanda Mahlanu coming. He asked for food. Mpunzanyana took the bread which she had made, and gave it to him. He was very much pleased with that food, and said:
"You shall be my wife." He gave her very many ornaments.
Afterwards Makanda Mahlanu became a man, and Mpunzanyana continued to be the wife he loved best.
HERE was once a man who had two wives, one of whom had no children. She grieved much about that, till one day a bird came to her and gave her some little pellets. The bird said she must eat of these always before she partook of food, and then she would bear a child. She was very glad, and offered the bird some millet.
But the bird said: "No, I do not want millet."
The woman then offered an isidanga (an ornamental breast-band which women wear), but the bird said it had no use for that. Then she got some very fine gravel and placed before the bird, which it received at her hands.
After this the woman had a daughter. Her husband knew nothing of what had happened, because he never went to her house. He did not love her at all, for the reason that she bore no children. So she said:
"I will keep my daughter in the house till my husband comes; he will surely love me when he sees I have such a beautiful child."
The name given to the girl was Tangalimlibo.
The man went always to the house of the other wife, and so it happened that Tangalimlibo was grown to be a young woman when her father first saw her. He was very much pleased, and said:
"My dear wife, you should have told me of this before."
The girl had never been out of the house in the daytime. Only in the night-time she had gone out, when people could not see her.
The man said to his wife:
"You must make much beer, and invite many people to come and rejoice with me over this that has happened."
The woman did so. There was a big tree in front of the kraal, and the mats were spread under it. It was a fine sunny day, and very many men came. Among them was the son of a certain chief, who fell in love with Tangalimlibo as soon as he saw her.
When the young chief went home he sent a message to the father of the girl that he must send her to him to be married. The man told all his friends about that. He told them also to be ready at a certain time to conduct his daughter to the chief. So they came and took her, and the marriage feast was very great. The oxen were many which were killed that day. Tangalimlibo had a large and beautiful ox given to her by her father. That ox. was called by her own name. She took off a piece of her clothing and gave it to the ox, which ate it.
After she had been married some time, this woman had a son. She was loved very much by her husband, because she was pretty and industrious; only this thing was observed of her, that she never went out in the daytime. Therefore she received the name of Sihamba Ngenyanga (the walker by moonlight).
One day her husband went to a distant place to hunt with other men. There were left at his home with this woman only her father-in-law, her mother-in-law, and a girl who nursed the little child.
The father-in-law said:
"Why does she not work during the day?"
He pretended to become thirsty, and sent the girl to Tangalimlibo to ask for water, saying:
"I die with thirst."
The woman sent water to her father-in-law, but he threw it on the ground, saying:
"It is water from the river I desire."
"I never go to the river in the daytime."
He continued to ask, saying again:
"I die with thirst."
Then she took a milk-basket and a calabash ladle, and went weeping to the river. She dipped the ladle in the water, and it was drawn out of her hand. She dipped the milk-basket in the water, and it was drawn away from her. Then she tried to take some water in her mantle, and she was drawn under the surface. After a little time the girl was sent to look for her, but she came back, saying:
"I found her not who is accustomed to draw water only in the night."
Her father-in-law drove oxen quickly to the river. He took the big ox that was called by her name and killed it. He put all the flesh and everything else that was of that ox into the river, saying:
"Let this be instead of my child."
A voice was heard saying:
"Go to my father and my mother and say to them that I am taken by the river."
That evening the little child of Tangalimlibo, was crying very bitterly. Its father was not yet home. Its grandmother tried by every means to keep it from crying, but in vain. Then she gave it to the nurse, who fastened it on her back. Still the child continued to cry. In the middle of the night the nurse went down to the river with the child, singing this song:
"It is crying, it is crying,
The child of Sihamba Ngenyanga;
It is crying, it will not be pacified."
Then the mother of the child came out of the river, and wailed this song:
"It is crying, it is crying,
The child of the walker by moonlight.
It was done intentionally by people whose names are unmentionable.
They sent her for water during the day.
She tried to dip with the milk-basket, and then it sank.
Tried to dip with the ladle, and then it sank.
Tried to dip with the mantle, and then it sank."
With the name as a chorus at the end of each line.
Then she took her child and put it to her breast to suck.
When the child had finished sucking, she gave it back to the nurse, telling her to take it home. She commanded the nurse never to say to any one that she came out of the water, and told her that when people asked where the child got food she must say she gave it berries to eat.
This continued for some days. Every night the nurse took the child to the river, when its mother came out and suckled it. She always looked round to see that no one was present, and always put the same command on the girl.
After a time the father of the child returned from hunting. They told him of Tangalimlibo's going to the river and not returning. Then the nurse brought the child to him. He inquired what it ate, and was told that berries were given to it.
He said: "That cannot be so; go and get some berries, and let me see my child eat them."
The girl went and brought some berries, but they were not eaten by the child. Then the father of the child beat the girl until she told the truth. She said she went at night to the river, when the mother came out and caressed her child and gave it of her milk.
Then they made a plan that the husband of Tangalimlibo should hide himself in the reeds and try and catch his wife when she came out of the water. He took the skin of an ox and cut it into a long riem, one end of which he fastened round his waist. The other end he gave to the men of that village, telling them to hold it fast and to pull hard when they felt it being drawn from them.
At night the man hid himself in the reeds. Tangalimlibo came out of the water and looked all round while she was singing her song. She asked the girl if any one was there, and when the girl replied that there was no one she took her child. Then her husband sprang upon her, clasping her very tight. She tried to pull back, but the men at the village drew upon the riem. She was drawn away, but the river followed her, and its water turned into blood. When it came close to the village, the men who were pulling at the riem saw it, and became frightened. They let the riem go, when the river at once went back, taking Tangalimlibo with it.
After that her husband was told of the voice which came from the water, saying:
"Go to my father and my mother and tell them I am taken by the river."
He called his racing ox, and said:
"Will you, my ox, take this message to the father and mother of Tangalimlibo?"
The ox only bellowed.
He called his dog and said:
"Will you, my dog, take this message to the father and mother of Tangalimlibo?"
The dog only barked.
Last of all he called the cock.
He said: "Will you, my cock, take this message to the father and mother of Tangalimlibo?"
The cock answered: "I will do so, my master."
He said: "Let me hear what you will say."
The cock answered: "I will sing—
I am a cock that ought not to be killed-Cock-a-doodledoo!
I have come to intimate about Tangalimlibo-Cock-adoodle-doo!
Tangalimlibo is dead-Cock-a-doodle-doo!
She dipped water for a person that cannot be named-Cock-a-doodle-doo!
It was tried to send an ox; it bellowed-Cock-a-doodle-doo!
It was tried to send a dog; it barked-Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
The chief said: "That is good, my cock, go now."
As the cock was going on his way, some boys who were tending calves saw him.
One of them said to the others: "Come here, come here, boys; there is a cock for us to kill."
Then the cock stood up, and sang his song.
The boys said: "Sing again, we did not hear you plainly."
So he sang again:
"I am a cock that ought not to be killed-Cock-a-doodledoo!
I have come to intimate about Tangalimlibo-Cock-a-doodle-doo!
Tangalimlibo is dead-Cock-a-doodle-doo!
She dipped water for a person that cannot be named-Cock-a-doodle-doo!
It was tried to send an ox; it bellowed- Cock-a-doodle-doo!
It was tried to send a dog; it barked--Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
Then the boys let him go on his way.
He travelled far from that place and came to a village, where the men were sitting in the kraal. He flew up on the back of the kraal to rest himself, and the men saw him.
They said: "Where does this cock come from? We thought all the cocks here were killed. Make haste, boys, and kill him."
The cock began to sing his song.
Then the men said: "Wait, boys, we wish to hear what he says."
They said to him: "Begin again, we did not hear you."
The cock said: "Give me some food, for I am very hungry."
The men sent a boy for some millet, and gave it to him. When he had eaten, he sang his song.
The men said: "Let him go;" and he went on his way.
Then he came to the village of the father of Tangalimlibo, to the house of those he was seeking. He told the message he was. sent to carry. The mother of Tangalimlibo was a woman skilful in the use of medicines.
She said to her husband: "Get a fat ox to go with us."
They arrived at the river, and killed the ox.
Then that woman worked with her medicines while they put the meat in the water. There was a great shaking and a rising up of the river, and Tanoalimlibo came out. There was great joy among those people when they took her home to her husband.
HERE was once a chief's daughter who had reached the age when it was necessary for her to observe the ntonjane. She was therefore placed in a hut, in which she was to remain during the period of the ceremony. One day her companions persuaded her to go and bathe in a stream near at hand, though this was against the custom of the ntonjane. When they came out of the water, they saw a snake with black blotches, called the Isinyobolokondwana, near their clothes. They were very much afraid, and did not know what to do at first. But by and-by one of them commenced to sing these words:
Bring my mantle!"
The snake replied:
And pass on."
The companions of the chief's daughter, one after the other, asked the snake for their mantles in this manner, and obtained permission to take them. Last of all was the chief's daughter. But instead of speaking to the snake respectfully as the others had done, she said mockingly, "Ngcingcingci, ngcingcingci."* So the snake became very angry, and bit her, when she immediately became of the same hideous colour as it was. Her companions were so frightened that they left her and ran away home. They put another girl in the hut, and pretended that she was the chief's daughter. The girl, thus left alone, went to a forest close by, and climbed up a tree to hide herself.
About this time the chief was killing an ox on account of his daughter, and so he sent a young man to the forest to get pieces of wood with which to peg out the skin. The young man was cutting sticks, when he heard some one crying: "Man cutting sticks, tell my father and mother that the sinyobolokondwana bit me." He heard this repeated twice, and, without looking to see what was crying, he ran home and told the chief. Two young men were then sent back with him to see what it was, one of these happening to be the girl's brother. These two were told to hide themselves and listen while the other cut the sticks. They did so, and heard the voice crying as before. Then the brother of the girl knew the voice of his sister, and they all went to the tree where she was, and took her home with them.
The chief was very much surprised to see his daughter in that state, and was so angry with her companions for taking her to the river, and then for substituting another girl so as to deceive him, that he caused them all to be killed.
Then he sent some of his men with forty cattle to take his daughter to a distant country, where she was to remain far away from him. They did as they were told, and built huts in that place to live in. After they had been there a long time, they found that the cows which the chief sent with them were giving more milk than they could consume, so they poured what was left in a hole in the ground. To their amazement, the milk rose, and rose, and rose, higher and still higher, till at last it stood up out of the ground like a great overhanging rock. They called the girl to see this wonderful thing that was happening. In her curiosity she went close to the precipice, when it fell down on her, and, as the milk ran over her, all her ugly blotched skin disappeared, and she was again beautiful as at first.
Soon afterwards a young chief who was passing by saw the girl, and fell in love with her. He thought she was the daughter of one of the men who were there to protect her, but when he made inquiries they told him she was the daughter of their chief. Then he went to her father, and some of the men went also to tell how the milk had cured the girl. The young chief had very many cattle, which he offered to her father. So the old chief agreed to let him marry the girl, and she became his great wife, and was loved by him very dearly.
* Words without meaning, but used to express contempt, being merely a repetition of the sound ngci.
THERE was a man whose wife had no children, so that he was much dissatisfied. At last he went to a wise woman (Igqirakazi) and asked her to help him in this matter. She said: "You must bring me a fat calf that I may get its tallow to use with my medicine," (or charms—the Kaffir word is—Imifizi). The man went home and selected a calf without horns or tail, which he took to the wise woman. She said: "Your wife will have a son who will have no arms and no legs, as this calf has no horns and no tail." She told him, further, that he was not to inform any one of this.
The man returned to his home and told his friends what was to happen. Not long after this his wife bore a child, but it was a daughter and had arms and legs. The man would not own that child, he said it was not his. He beat his wife, and commanded her to take the child away and leave it to perish. Then he went to the wise woman, and told her what had taken place. The wise woman said: "It was because you did not obey my command about keeping this matter to yourself, but your wife will yet have a son without arms and without legs."
It was so. His wife bore another child, which was a boy without arms and without legs, therefore he was called Simbukumbukwana. He began to speak on the day of his birth. During this time the girl that was first born was growing tip in the valley where her mother left her; she lived in a hole in an antheap, and ate honey, and "nongwes," and gum.
One day the mother of Simbukumbukwana went to work in her garden, and left the boy at home with the door fastened. While she was away the girl came; she stood at a distance and said: "Where are the people?"
There came a voice from inside which said: "Here am I."
She said: "Who are you?"
The voice replied: "I am Simbukumbukwana."
She said: "Open for me."
He answered: "How can I open? I have no legs and no arms."
She said: "My mother's Simbukumbukwana, have legs and arms," (Simbukumbukwana sikama, yiba nemilenze nemikono).
Then legs and arms came on the boy, and he arose and opened for his sister. She went in and swept the floor; then she took millet and ground it and made bread. She told her brother when his parents asked him who did these things to say that he did them himself, and if they should ask him to do them again to reply, "I have done it already." Then she said, "My mother's Simbukumbukwana, sink legs and sink arms," (Simbukumbukwana sikama, tshona milenze tshona mikono). Then his legs and arms shrunk up, and his sister went away.
After a time his father and his mother came home; they went in and saw the clean floor and bread ready for eating. They were surprised, and said to Simbukumbukwana, "Who did this?"
He replied: "I did."
They said: "Do so again that we may see you."
He answered: "I have done it already."
The next day the woman went again to work in her garden, but the man hid himself to watch what would happen. After a time came the sister of Simbukumbukwana and said: 'Where are the people?" (Exactly the same conversation as before.) She went in and began to smear the floor; water was wanting, so she sent Simbukumbukwana to the river for some. His joy in walking was great, so that he did not stop at the river, but put the pot down there and continued to go forward. The girl thought he ought not to be so long absent, for the river was close by, so she went to look for him. She saw him walking up a hill far away, and she called to him to return. He would not. Then she sang, Simbukumbukwana sikama, tshona milenze, tshona mikono, and immediately his legs shrank up. Then she was going away, but her father came out and caught her; he kissed her, and said she must remain with him.
Her mother was coming home, when she saw something moving on the hillside. She went to see what it was, and found her son. She said: "How did you come here?"
He replied: "I came by myself."
She said: "Let me see you go further."
He answered: "I have done it already."
Then she put him on her back and went home. She found her daughter there, and her husband much pleased. The girl said: Simbukumbukwana sikama, yiba nemilenze nemikono, and legs and arms came on him.
One day his sister and some other girls went to get red clay, and he followed them. When they looked behind they saw him, and his sister got angry. She said to him: "What do you want here?"
He replied: "I am going for red clay for my mother."
His sister compelled him to sit down; but as soon as they went on, he followed; then his sister beat him, and left him in the path. After that there was a heavy storm of rain, but none fell where the little boy was. When the rain was over, the other girls said to the one who had beaten her brother: "Let us go and look after the little boy." They went and saw he was quite dry. He called to his sister: "You have beaten me," but she asked him to forgive her.
Then he said: "I want my father's house to be here," and immediately it came.
He said: "I want the fire of my father to be here," and there was a fire.
He said to them: "Now go in; although you have beaten me, there is a house and fire for you."
He said afterwards: "I want the cattle of my father to be here," and at once they were all there.
That was a nice place, so they remained there ever after.
There was once in a certain village an old man who was very poor. He had no children, and only a few cattle. One day, when the sky was clear and the sun was bright, he sat down by the cattle-fold. While he was sitting there, he noticed some birds close by which were singing very joyfully. He listened for a while, and then he stood up to observe them better, They were very beautiful to look upon, and they sang differently from other birds. They had all long tails and topknots on their heads. Then the old man went to the chief and told him what he had seen.
The chief said: "How many were they?"
The old man replied: "There were seven."
The chief said: "You have acted wisely in coming to tell me; you shall have seven of the fattest of my cows. I have lost seven sons in battle, and these beautiful birds shall be in the place of my seven sons. You must not sleep to-night, you must watch them, and to-morrow I will choose seven boys to catch them. Do not let them out of your sight by any means."
In the morning the chief ordered all the boys of the village to be assembled at the cattle-fold, when he spoke to them of the birds. He said, "I will choose six of you, and set my son who is dumb, over you, that will make seven in all. You must catch those birds. Wherever they go, you must follow, and you must not see my face again without them." He gave them weapons, and instructed them that if any one opposed them they were to fight till the last of them died.
The boys set off to follow those beautiful birds. They chased them for several days, till at last the birds were exhausted, when each of the boys caught one. At the place where they caught the birds they remained that night.
On the morning of the next day they set out on their return home. That evening, they came to a hut in which they saw a fire burning, but no one was there. They went in, and lay down to sleep. In the middle of the night one of those boys was awake. He heard some one saying: "There is nice meat here. I will begin with this one, and take this one next, and that one after, and the one with small feet the last." The one with the small feet was the son of the chief. His name was Sikulume, for he had never been able to speak till he caught the bird. Then he began to talk at once.
After saying those words the voice was still. Then the boy awakened his companions, and told them what he had heard.
They said: "You have been dreaming; there is no one here how can such a thing be?"
He replied: "I did not dream; I spoke the truth."
Then they made a plan that one should remain awake, and if anything happened, he should pinch the one next him, and that one should pinch the next, till all were awake.
After a while the boy who was listening heard some one come in quietly. That was a cannibal. He said the same words again, and then went out for the purpose of calling his friends to come to the feast. The boy awakened his companions according to the plan agreed upon, so that they all heard what was said. Therefore, as soon as the cannibal went out, they arose and fled from that place. The cannibal came back with his friends, and when the others saw there was no one in the hut, they killed and ate him.
As they were going on, Sikulume saw that he had left his bird behind. He stood, and said: "I must return for my bird, my beautiful bird with the long tail and topknot on its head. My father commanded that I must not see his face, again unless I bring the bird."
The boys said: "Take one of ours. Why should you go where cannibals are?"
He replied: "I must have the one that is my own."
He stuck his assagai in the ground, and told them to look at it. He said: "If it stands still, you will know I am safe; if it shakes, you will know I am running; if it falls down, you will know I am dead." Then he left them to return to the hut of the cannibals.
On the way he saw an old woman sitting by a big stone. She said: "Where are you going to?" He told her he was going for his bird. The old woman gave him some fat, and said: "If the cannibals pursue you, put some of this on a stone."
He came to the hut and got his bird. The cannibals were sitting outside, a little way back. They had just finished eating the owner of the hut. When Sikulume came out with his bird they saw him and ran after him. They were close to him, when he took some of the fat and threw it on a stone. The cannibals came to the stone, and began to fight with each other.
One said: "The stone is mine."
Another said: "It is mine."
One of them swallowed the stone. When the others saw that, they killed him and ate him. Then they pursued again after Sikulume. They came close to him again, when he threw the remainder of the fat on another stone. The cannibals fought for this also. One swallowed it, and was killed by the others.
They followed still, and Sikulume was almost in their hands, when he threw off his mantle. The mantle commenced to run another way, and the cannibals ran after it. It was so long before they caught it that the young chief had time to reach his companions.
They all went on their way, but very soon they saw the cannibals coming after them. Then they observed a little man sitting by a big stone.
He said to them: "I can turn this stone into a hut."
They replied: "Do so."
He turned the stone into a hut, and they all went inside, the little man with them. They played the "iceya" there. The cannibals came to the place and smelt. They thought the hut was still a stone, for it looked like a stone to them. They began to bite it, and bit till all their teeth were broken, when they returned to their own village.
After this, the boys and the little man came out.
The boys went on. When they reached their own home they saw no people, till at length an old woman crept out of a heap of ashes. She was very much frightened, and said to them: "I thought there were no people left."
Sikulume said: "Where is my father?"
She replied: "All the people have been swallowed by the inabulele," (a fabulous monster).
He said: "Where did it go to?"
The old woman replied: "It went to the river."
So those boys went to the river, and Sikulume said to them: "I will go into the water, and take an assagai with me. If the water moves much, you will know I am in the stomach of the inabulele; if the water is red, you will know I have killed it." Then he threw himself into the water and went down.
The inabulele swallowed him without tearing him or hurting him. He saw his father and his mother and many people and cattle. Then he took his assagai and pierced the inabulele from inside. The water moved till the inabulele was dead, then it became red. When the young men saw that, they cut a big hole in the side of the inabulele, and all the people and the cattle were delivered.
One day Sikulume said to another boy I am going, to the doctor's; tell my sister to cook food for me, nice food that I may eat." This was done.
He said to his sister: "Bring me of the skin of the inabulele which I killed, to make a mantle." She called her companions, and they went to the side of the river. She sang this song:
I am sent for you
The body of the inabulele then came out. She cut two little pieces of the skin for sandals, and a large piece to make a mantle for her brother.
When he was a young man, Sikulume said to his friends: "I am going to marry the daughter of Mangangezulu."
They replied: "You must not go there, for at Mangangezulu's you will be killed."
He said: "I will go."
Then he called those young men who were his chosen friends to accompany him. On the way they came to a place where the grass was long. A mouse came out of the grass, and asked Sikulume where he was going to.
He replied: "I am going to the place of Mangangezulu."
The mouse sang this song:
"Turn back, turn back, Sikulume.
No one ever leaves the place of Mangangezulu.
Turn back, turn back, O chief."
Sikulume replied: "I shall not turn back."
The mouse then said: "As it is so, you must kill me and throw my skin up in the air."
He did so.
The skin said: "You must not enter by the front of the village; you must not eat off a new mat; you must not sleep in a hut which has nothing in it."
They arrived at the village of Manggangezulu. They entered it from the wrong side, so that all the people said: "Why is this?"
They replied: "It is our custom."
Food was brought to them on a new mat, but they said It is our custom to eat off old mats only."
An empty hut was given to them to sleep in, but they said: "It is our custom only to sleep in a hut that has things in it."
The next day the chief said to Sikulume and his companions: "You must go and tend the cattle."
They went. A storm of rain fell, when Sikulume spread out his mantle and it became a hut as hard as stone, into which they all went. In the evening they returned with the cattle. The daughter of Mangangezulu came to them. Her mother pressed her foot in the footprint of Sikulume, and he became an eland.
The girl loved the young chief very much. When she saw he was turned into an eland, she made a great fire and drove him into it. Then he was burned, and became a little coal. She took the coal out and put it in a pot of water, when it became a young man again.
Afterwards they left that place. The girl took with her an egg, a milksack, a pot, and a smooth stone. The father of the girl pursued them.
The girl threw down the egg, and it became mist. Her father wandered about in the mist a long time, till at length it cleared away. Then he pursued again.
She threw down the milksack, and it became a sheet of water. Her father tried to get rid of the water by dipping it up with a calabash, but he could not succeed, so he was compelled to wait till it dried up. He followed still.
The girl threw down the pot, and it became thick darkness. He waited a long time till light came again, when he followed them. He could travel very quickly.
He came close to them, and then the girl threw down the smooth stone. It became a rock, a big rock with one side steep like a wall. He could not climb up that rock, and so he returned to his own village.
Then Sikulume went home with his wife. He said to the people: "This is the daughter of Mangangezulu. You advised me not to go there, lest I should be killed. Here is my wife."
After that he became a great chief. All the people said: "There is no chief that can do such things as Sikulume."
ONCE upon a time there was a village with many women in it. All the women had children at the same time except the wife of the chief. The children grew, and again all the women gave birth to others. Only the wife of the chief had no child. Then the people said: "Let us kill an ox, perhaps the wife of the chief will then bear a child."
While they were killing the ox, the woman heard a voice saying: "Bear me, mother, before the meat of my father is all finished."
The woman did not pay any attention to that, thinking it was a ringing, in her ears. The voice said again: "Bear me, mother, before the meat of my father is all finished."
The woman took a small piece of wood and cleaned her ears. She heard that voice again. Then she became excited. She said: "There is something in my ears; I would like to know what it is. I have just now cleaned my ears."
The voice said again: "Make haste and bear me, mother, before the meat of my father is all finished."
The woman said: "What is this? there was never a child that could speak before it was born."
The voice said again: "Bear me, mother, as all my father's cattle are being finished, and I have not yet eaten anything of them." Then the woman gave birth to that child.
When she saw that to which she had given birth, she was very much astonished. It was a boy, but in size very little, and with a face that looked like that of an old person.
He said to his mother: "Mother, give me a skin robe." His mother gave him a robe. Then he went at once to the kraal where the ox was being killed.
He asked for some meat, saying: "Father, father, give me a piece of meat."
The chief was astonished to hear this child calling him father. He said: "Oh, men, what thing is this that calls me father?" So he continued with the skinning, of the ox. But Hlakanyana continued also in asking meat from him. The chief became very angry, and pushed him, and said Get away from this place."
Hlakanyana answered: "I am your child, give me meat."
The chief took a little stick, and said: "If you trouble me again, I will strike you with this."
Hlakanyana replied: "Give me meat first, and I will go away;" but the chief would not answer, because he was very angry.
Hlakanyana continued asking. Then the chief threw him outside the kraal, and went on with his work. After a little time, the child returned, still asking.
So the chief said to the men that were with him: "What strange thing is this?"
The men replied: "We don't know him at all."
The chief asked of them also advice, saying: "What shall I do?"
The men replied: "Give him a piece of meat."
So the chief cut off a piece of meat and gave it to him. Hlakanyana ran to his mother and gave the meat to her to be cooked.
Then he returned to his father, and said again: "Father, give me some meat."
The chief just took him and trampled upon him, and threw him outside of the kraal, thinking that he was dead.
But he rose again and returned to his father, still saying: "Father, give me some meat."
Then the chief thought to get rid of him by giving him meat again. The chief gave him a piece of liver. Hlakanyana threw it away. Fat was then given to him. He put it down on one side. Flesh was then given to him, and a bone with much marrow in it.
Hlakanyana said: "I am a man to-day." He said This is the beginning of my father's cattle."
At this time the men were saying to each other: "Who will carry the meat to our huts?"
Hlakanyana answered: "I will do it."
They said: "How can such a thing as you are carry meat?"
Hlakanyana replied: "I am stronger than you; just see if you can lift this piece of meat."
The men tried, but could not lift it. Then Hlakanyana took the piece of meat and carried it out of the kraal. The men said: "That will do now, carry our meat for us."
Hlakanyana took the meat and carried it to the house of his. mother. He took blood and put it on the eating mats at the houses of the men. The men went to their houses, and said: "Where is our meat?" They called Hlakanyana, and asked him what he had done with the meat.
He replied: "Surely I put it here where the blood is. It must have been taken by the dogs. Surely the dogs have eaten it."
Then those men beat the women and children because they did not watch that the dogs did not take the meat. As for Hlakanyana, he only delighted in this trick of his. He was more cunning than any of the old men.
Hlakanyana said to his mother, that she must put the meat in the pot to cook, but that it must not be eaten before the next morning It was done. In the night this cunning little fellow rose and went to the pot. His mother heard something at the pot, and struck with a stick. Hlakanyana cried like a dog. His mother said: "Surely a dog is eating the meat." Hlakanyana returned afterwards, and left nothing but bones in the pot. In the morning he asked his mother for meat. His mother went to the pot, and found nothing but bones. The cunning little fellow pretended to be astonished.
He said: "Where is the meat, mother?"
His mother replied: "It has been eaten by a dog."
Hlakanyana said: "As that is so, give me the bones, for you who are the wife of the chief will not eat from the same pot with a dog."
His mother gave him the bones.
Hlakanyana went to sleep in the same house with the boys. The boys were unwilling to let him sleep with them. They laughed at him.
They said: "Who are you? You are just a child of a few days."
Hlakanyana answered I am older than you.
He slept there that night. When the boys were asleep, he got up and went to the cattle kraal. He killed two cows and ate all their insides. He took blood and smeared it on one of the boys who was sleeping. In the morning the men found those two dead cows.
They said: "Who has done this thing?"
They found the boy with blood upon him, and killed him, because they thought he was the robber.
Hlakanyana said within himself: "I told them that I was older than they are; to-day it is seen who is a child and who is a man."
Another day the father of Hlakanyana killed an ox. The head was put in a pot to be cooked. Then Hlakanyana considered in his mind how he could get that meat. So he drove all the cattle of the village into a forest, a very thick forest, and tied them by their tails to the trees. After that he cut his arms, and legs, and breast, with a sharp stone, and stood on a hill, and cried out with a loud voice: "The enemy has taken our cattle; the cattle are being driven away. Come up, come up; there is an army going away with the cattle."
The men ran quickly to him.
He said to them: "Why are you eating meat while the enemy is going away with the cattle?"
"I was fighting with them; just look at my body."
They saw he was covered with blood, and they believed it was as he said. So the men took their assagais and ran after the cattle, but they took the wrong way. Only one old man and Hlakanyana were left behind.
Then Hlakanyana said to the old man: "I am very tired with fighting; just go to the river, grandfather, and get some water."
The old man went; and as soon as he was alone, Hlakanyana ate the meat which was in the pot. When the old man returned with the water he was very tired, for the river was far for an old man to go to, therefore he fell asleep. When he was sleeping, Hlakanyana took a bone and put it beside the old man. He also took some fat and put it on the mouth of the old man. Then he ran to the forest and loosened the cattle that were tied by the tails.
At this, time the men were returning from seeking the enemy. Hlakanyana was coming also from the other side with the cattle.
He shouted: "I have conquered the enemy."
He also said: "The meat must be eaten now."
When they opened the pot they found no meat. They found only dung, for Hlakanyana had filled the pot with dung.
Then the men said: "Who has done this?"
Hlakanyana answered: "It must be the old man who is sleeping there."
They looked, and saw the bone by the side of the old man, and the fat on his mouth. Then they said: "This is the thief." They were intending to kill the old man because he had stolen the meat of the chief.
When the children saw that the old man was to be killed, they said that he did not eat the meat of the chief.
The men said: "We saw fat on his mouth and a bone beside him."
The children replied: "He did not do it."
The men said: "Tell us who did it."
The children answered: "Hlakanyana ate the meat and put dung in the pot. We were concealed, and we saw him do it."
Hlakanyana denied. He said: "Let me go and ask the women; perhaps they saw who ate the meat of the chief."
The men sent a young man with him to the women; but when they were a short distance away, Hlakanyana escaped.
The chief sent an army after him. The army pursued, and saw Hlakanyana sitting by a bush. They ran to catch him. When they came to the bush, only an old woman was sitting there.
They said to her: "Where is Hlakanyana?"
The old woman replied: "He just went across that river. See, you must make haste to follow him, for the river is rising."
The army passed over the river quickly. Then that old woman turned into Hlakanyana again. He said in himself: "I will now go on a journey, for I am wiser than the councillors of my father, I being older than they."
The little cunning fellow went to a village, where he saw an old woman sitting beside her house.
He said to her: "Would you like to be made young, grandmother?"
The old woman replied: "Yes, my grandchild; if you could make me young, I would be very glad."
Hlakanyana said: "Take that pot, grandmother, and go for some water."
The old woman replied: "I cannot walk."
Hlakanyana said: "Just try, grandmother; the river is close by, and perhaps you will be able to reach it."
The old woman limped along and got the water.
Then Hlakanyana took a large pot and set it on the fire, and poured the water into it.
He said to the old woman: "You must cook me a little first, and then I will cook you a little."
The old woman agreed to that. Hlakanyana was the first to be put in the pot. When the water began to get hot, he said: "Take me out, grandmother; I am in long enough."
The old woman took him out, and went in the pot for her turn. Soon she said: "Take me out now, my grandchild; I am in long enough."
Hlakanyana replied Not yet, grandmother; it is not yet time."
So the old woman died in the pot.
Hlakanyana took all the bones of the old woman and threw them away. He left only the toes and the fingers. Then he took the clothing of the old woman and put it on. The two sons of this old woman came from hunting.
They went into the hut, and said Whose meat is this in the pot?"
Hlakanyana was lying down. He said in a voice like that of their mother: "It is yours, my sons."
While they were eating, the younger one said: "Look at this, it is like the toe of mother."
The elder one said: "How can you say such a thing? Did not mother give us this meat to eat?"
Again the younger one said: "Look at this, it is like the finger of mother."
Hlakanyana said: "You are speaking evil of me, my son."
Hlakanyana said in himself: "I shall be discovered; it is time for me to flee." So he slipped quietly out of the house and went on his way. When he got a little way off, he called out: "You are eating your mother. Did any one ever see people eating their mother before?"
The two young men took their assagais and ran after him with their dogs. They came to the river; it was full.
The cunning fellow changed himself into a little round stone. One of the young men picked up this stone, saying: "If I could see him, I would just throw this stone at him." The young man threw the stone over the river, and it turned into Hlakanyana again. He just laughed at those young men.
Hlakanyana went on his way. He was singing this song:
Ndahlangana Nonothloya. I met with Nonothloya.
Sapekapekana, We cooked each other,
Ndagwanya, I was half cooked,
Wapekwa wada wavutwa. She was well cooked.
Hlakanyana met a boy tending some goats. The boy had a digging stick with him.
Hlakanyana proposed that they should pursue after birds, and the boy agreed. They pursued birds the whole day.
In the evening, when the sun set, Hlakanyana said: "It is time now to roast our birds."
The place was on the bank of a river.
Hlakanyana said: "We must go under the water and see who will come out last."
They went under the water, and Hlakanyana came out last.
The cunning fellow said: "Let us try again."
The boy agreed to that. They went under the water. Hlakanyana came out quickly and ate all the birds. He left the heads only. Then he went under the water again. The boy came out while he was still under the water.
When Hlakanyana came out he said: "Let us go now and eat our birds."
They found all the birds eaten.
Hlakanyana said: "You have eaten them, because you came out of the water first, and you have left me the heads only."
The boy denied having done so, but Hlakanyana said: "You must pay for my birds with that digging-stick."
The boy gave the digging-stick, and Hlakanyana went on his way.
He saw some people making pots of clay. He said to them: "Why do you not ask me to lend you this digging-stick, instead of digging with your hands?"
They said: "Lend it to us."
Hlakanyana lent them the digging-stick. Just the first time they stuck it in the clay it broke.
He said: "You have broken my digging stick, the digging-stick that I received from my companion, my companion who ate my birds and left me with the heads."
They gave him a pot.
Hlakanyana carried the pot till he came to some boys who were herding goats. He said to them: "You foolish boys, you only suck the goats, you don't milk them in any vessel; why don't you ask me to lend you this pot?"
The boys said: "Lend it to us."
Hlakanyana lent them the pot. While the boys were milking, the pot broke. Hlakanyana said: "You have broken my pot, the pot that I received from the people who make pots, the people who broke my digging-stick, the digging-stick that I received from my companion, my companion who ate my birds and left me with the heads."
The boys gave him a goat.
Hlakanyana came to the keepers of calves.
He said to them: "You foolish fellows, you only sit here and eat nothing. Why don't you ask me to let you suck this goat?"
The keepers of calves said: "Allow us to suck this goat."
Hlakanyana gave the goat into their hands. While they were sucking, the goat died.
Hlakanyana said: "You have killed my goat, the goat that I received from the boys that were tending goats, the boys that broke my pot, the pot that I received from the people who make pots, the people who broke my digging-stick, the digging-stick that I received from my companion, my companion who ate my birds and left me with the heads."
They gave him a calf.
Hlakanyana came to the keepers of cows.
He said to them: "You only suck the cows without letting the calf suck first. Why don't you ask me to lend you this calf, that the cows may be induced to give their milk freely?"
They said: "Lend us the calf."
Hlakanyana permitted them to take the calf. While the calf was in their hands it died.
Hlakanyana said: "You have killed my calf, the calf that I received from the keepers of calves, the keepers of calves that killed my goat, the goat that I received from the boys that were tending goats, the boys that broke my pot, the pot that I received from the people who make pots, the people who broke my digging-stick, the digging-stick that I received from my companion, my companion who ate my birds and left me with the heads."
They gave him a cow.
Hlakanyana continued on his journey. He saw a young man going the same way.
He said: "Let us be companions and travel together."
The young, man agreed to that. They came to a forest.
Hlakanyana said: "This is the place for picking up kerries."
They picked up kerries there.
Then they reached another place, and Hlakanyana said: "This is the place for throwing away kerries."
They threw the kerries away.
Again they came to another place, and Hlakanyana said: "This is the place for throwing away spoons."
The companion of Hlakanyana threw his spoon away, but the cunning little fellow only pretended to throw his away. In fact, he concealed his spoon. They went on.
They came to another place, and Hlakanyana said: "This is the place for throwing knives away."
It happened again as with the spoons. Hlakanyana concealed his knife, when his companion threw his away.
They came to a certain place, and Hlakanyana said: "This is the place for throwing away izilanda," (awls used to make holes in skins when they are sewed together, and also for taking thorns out of the bare feet and legs of pedestrians).
His companion threw his izilanda away, but Hlakanyana kept his. They went on and reached a place where they had to walk on thorns. Afterwards they looked at their feet, and saw many thorns in them.
Hlakanyana said: "Let us sit down and take out the thorns."
His companion replied: "I cannot do so, because I have no izilanda."
Then Hlakanyana took the thorns out of his feet, and the other was obliged to walk lame. They came to a village.
The people said to them: "Tell us the news."
Hlakanyana replied: "just give us something to eat first; look at our stomachs and behold the pinchings of hunger."
The people of that village brought meat.
Hlakanyana said to his companion: "Now let us eat."
The companion of Hlakanyana answered: "I have no knife."
Hlakanyana said: "You are just a child; I shall not lend you my knife."
The people of that village brought millet and put before them.
Hlakanyana said to his companion: "Why do you not eat?"
He answered: "I have no spoon."
Hlakanyana said: "You are just a child; I shall not lend you my spoon."
So Hlakanyana had all the meat and the millet to himself.
Hlakanyana met a girl herding some goats.
He said: "Where are the boys of your village, that the goats are herded by a girl?"
The girl answered: "There are no boys in he village."
He went to the father of the girl and said: "You must give me your daughter to be my concubine, and I will herd the goats."
The father of the girl agreed to that. Then Hlakanyana went with the goats, and every day he killed one and ate it till all were done. He scratched his body with thorns.
The father of the girl said: "Where are all the goats?"
Hlakanyana replied: "Can you not see how I have been fighting with the wild dogs? The wild dogs have eaten the goats. As for me, I will stay here no longer."
So he went on his way.
As he was going on, he saw a trap for catching birds. There were some birds in it. Hlakanyana took the birds out and ate them. The owners of the trap were cannibals. They saw the footprints of Hlakanyana, and said: "This is a little boy that is stealing our birds." They watched for him. Hlakanyana came again to the trap and saw a bird caught in it. He was just going to take the bird out when the cannibals caught him. They made a big fire and put a pot on for the purpose of cooking him. Hlakanyana saw two oxen. One was white, the other was red.
He said to the cannibals: "You can take which one of these oxen you like instead of me."
The cannibals said: "We will take the white one, because it is white inside also."
Then Hlakanyana went away with the red ox. The cannibals ate the white ox, and then pursued after Hlakanyana. They came up to him by a big stone. He jumped on the stone, and sang this song:
Ndaharnba ndayakuva indaba
I went to hear the news,
Zemvula ku mankazana.
About rain from the girls.
The cannibals began to dance when they heard him sing. Then he ran away, and the stone continued to sing that song.
As he was journeying, Hlakanyana came to a place where some baboons were feasting. He asked them for some food.
The baboons replied: "If you will go for some water for us, we will give you food."
He agreed to that. When he returned with the water, the baboons refused to give him food. Then Hlakanyana shouted loudly and said: "At my village there is a marriage of baboons to-day."
When the baboons heard that they fled, old and young. So Hlakanyana remained there, and ate all the food.
As he was going along, he saw a hyena building a house, having cooked some meat.
Hlakanyana asked the hyena to give him some.
The hyena said: "No, I will not give you any; it is too little even for me."
Hlakanyana said: "Will you not have me to assist in building?"
The hyena replied: "I would have you without delay if you are intending to help me."
While they were fastening the thatch, Hlakanyana sewed the hair of the tail of the hyena fast. Then he took the pot and sat down.
The hyena said: "Let that pot alone, Hlakanyana."
He replied: "I am going to eat now."
The hyena wanted to come down, but he found his tail was fast, Hlakanyana ate all the meat, and threw the bones at the hyena. The hyena tried to frighten him by saying there were many hyenas coming quickly to devour him. He just answered: "That is false;" and continued eating till the meat was finished. Then he went on his way.
Hlakanyana came to a river. He saw an iguana that was playing on an ugwali (a simple musical instrument).
Hlakanyana said to the iguana: "Lend me your ugwali for a little, please."
The iguana said: "No, you will run away with my ugwali."
Hlakanyana replied: "How can I run away with a thing that is not mine?"
So the iguana lent him the ugwali. When Hlakanyana saw that he could play upon the instrument nicely, he ran away with it. The iguana pursued him. Then Hlakanyana changed himself into a rush. The iguana took that rush and threw it across the river, saying: "If I could only see him, I would throw him like this." Then the rush turned to be Hlakanyana again, and he went on his way playing on the ugwali of the iguana.
Hlakanyana came to the house of a leopardess. He proposed to take care of her children while the leopardess went to hunt animals. The leopardess agreed to that. There were four cubs. After the leopardess had gone to hunt, Hlakanyana took one of the cubs and ate it.
At the time for giving food, the leopardess came back and said: "Give me my children that I may suckle them."
Hlakanyana gave one.
The mother said: "Give all at once."
Hlakanyana replied: "It is better that one should drink and then another."
The leopardess agreed to that. After three had drunk he gave the first one back the second time. Then the leopardess went to hunt again.
Hlakanyana took another of the cubs and ate it. He also made the door of the house very small so that the mother of the cubs could not come in, and then he made a little hole in the ground at the back so that he could go out. The next day the leopardess came to give her children suck. There were only two left now. Hlakanyana gave them both back the second time. After that the leopardess went away as before.
Hlakanyana ate another of the cubs, so that only one was left. When the mother came, he gave this one four times. When he gave it the last time the leopardess said: "Why does my child not drink to-day?" It was already full, and did not want to drink more.
Hlakanyana replied: "I think this one is sick."
The mother said: "You must take good care of it."
Hlakanyana promised to do so, but when the leopardess was gone he ate that one also.
The next day when the leopardess came there was no cub left to give her. She tried to get in the house, but the door was too small. She sat down in front to watch. Then Hlakanyana went out through the hole he had made in the ground behind. The leopardess saw him and ran after him. He went under a big rock, and cried out loudly for help, saying the rock was falling.
The leopardess said: "What is that you are saying?"
Hlakanyana replied: "Do you not see that this rock is falling? just hold it up while I get a prop and put under it."
The leopardess went to hold the rock up, and Hlakanyana did not return. He just ran away from that place.
Hlakanyana came to the village of the animals. The animals had trees that bore fruit. There was one tree that belonged to the chief of the animals only. This tree was a very good one, bearing much fruit on it. One day when all the animals were assembled, Hlakanyana asked them the name of the tree of the chief. They did not know the name of that tree. Then Hlakanyana sent a monkey to the chief to ask the name of the tree. The chief told the monkey. As the monkey was returning he struck his foot against a stone and fell down, which caused him to forget the name of the tree.
In the night when all were sleeping, Hlakanyana went up the tree of the chief add ate all the fruit of it. He took a branch of the tree and fastened it to one of the monkeys. In the morning when the animals awoke and found that the tree of the chief was finished in the night, they asked each other: "What became of the fruit of the chief's tree? What became of the fruit of the tree of the chief?"
Hlakanyana looked at the monkey with the branch on him, and said: "It is eaten by the monkey, it is eaten by the monkey; look at the branch on him."
The monkey denied, and said I don't know anything about it. I never ate the fruit of the tree of the chief."
Hlakanyana said: "Let us make a plan to find out who ate the fruit of the tree of the chief."
All the animals agreed to this.
Hlakanyana said: "Let us put a rope from one rock to another, and let all go over it. He that has eaten the fruit of the tree will fall down from that rope."
One of the monkeys went over first. The next was Hlakanyana himself. He went over carefully and avoided falling. It came to the turn of that monkey with the branch on. He tried to go, but when he was in the middle he fell down.
Hlakanyana said: "therefore I have told you that it is this monkey."
After that he went on his way.
Hlakanyana came to the house of a jackal. He asked for food, but the jackal said there was none. Then he made a plan.
He said to the jackal: "You must climb up on the house and cry out with a loud voice, 'We are, going to be fat to-day because Hlakanyana is dead.'"
The jackal did so. All the animals came running to hear that news. They went inside the house, because the door was open. Then Hlakanyana shut the door, and the animals were caught. After that Hlakanyana killed the animals and ate.
Hlakanyana returned to the home of his father again. He was told that his sister was gone away for some red clay. When she was returning he shouted: "Let all the black cattle which have white teeth be killed. The daughter of my father is coming who has white teeth."
The chief said: "What is the matter with you, Hlakanyana?"
He just repeated the same thing.
The chief said: "Let a black ox be killed, but you must not break any of its bones, because it belongs to the daughter of a chief."
So Hlakanyana got fat meat to eat that day.
Hlakanyana went one day to tend the calves of his father. He met a tortoise.
He said: "Where are you going to, tortoise?"
The tortoise answered: "To that big stone."
Hlakanyana said: "Are you not tired?"
The tortoise replied: "No, I am not tired."
Hlakanyana took it and put it on his back. Then he went to the house of his mother.
His mother said: "What have you got there, my son?"
Hlakanyana answered: "just take it off my back, mother."
The tortoise held fast to Hlakanyana, and would not be pulled off. His mother then heated some fat and poured on the tortoise. The tortoise let go quickly, and the fat fell on Hlakanyana and burnt him, so that he died. That is the end of this cunning little fellow.
ONCE upon a time a brother and sister, who were twins and orphans, were obliged on account of ill usage, to run away from their relatives. The boy's name was Demane, the girl's Demazana.
They went to live in a cave that had two holes to let in air and light, the entrance to which was protected by a very strong door, with a fastening inside. Demane went out hunting by day, and told his sister that she was not to roast any meat while he was absent, lest the cannibals should discover their retreat by the smell. The girl would have been quite safe if she had done as her brother commanded. But she was wayward, and one day she took some buffalo meat and put it on a fire to roast.
A cannibal smelt the flesh cooking, and went to the cave, but found the door fastened. So he tried to imitate Demane's voice, and asked to be admitted, singing this song:
Child of my mother,
Open this cave to me.
The swallows can enter it.
It has two apertures."
Demazana said: "No. You are not my brother; your voice is not like his."
The cannibal went away, but after a little time came back again, and spoke in another tone of voice: "Do let me in, my sister."
The girl answered: "Go away, you cannibal; your voice is hoarse, you are not my brother."
So he went away and consulted with another cannibal. He said: "What must I do to obtain what I desire?"
He was afraid to tell what his desire was, lest the other cannibal should want a share of the girl.
His friend said: "You must burn your throat with a hot iron."
He did so, and then no longer spoke hoarse. Again he presented himself before the door of the cave, and sang;
child of my mother,
Open this cave to me.
The swallows can enter it.
It has two apertures."
The girl was deceived. She believed him to be her brother come back from hunting, so she opened the door. The cannibal went in and seized her.
As she was being carried away, she dropped some ashes here and there along the path. Soon after this, Demane, who had taken nothing that day but a swarm of bees, returned and found his sister gone. He guessed what had happened, and followed the path by means of the ashes until he came to Zim's dwelling. The cannibal's family were out gathering firewood, but he was at home, and had just put Demazana in a big bag, where he intended to keep her till the fire was made.
Demane said: "Give me water to drink, father."
Zim replied: "I will, if you will promise not to touch my bag."
Demane promised. Then Zim went to get some water; and while he was away, Demane took his sister out of the bag, and put the bees in it, after which they both concealed themselves.
When Zim came with the water, his wife and son and daughter came also with firewood.
He said to his daughter: "There is something nice in the bag; go bring, it."
She went, but the bees stung her hand, and she called out: "It is biting."
He sent his son, and afterwards his wife, but the result was the same. Then he became angry, and drove them outside, and having put a block of wood in the doorway, he opened the bag himself. The bees swarmed out and stung his head, particularly his eyes, so that he could not see.
There was a little hole in the thatch, and through this he forced his way. He jumped about, howling with pain. Then he ran and fell headlong into a pond, where his head stuck fast in the mud, and he became a block of wood like the stump of a tree. The bees made their home in the stump, but no one could get their honey, because, when any one tried, his hand stuck fast.
Demane and Demazana then took all Zim's possessions, which were very great, and they became wealthy people.
ONCE in a time of famine a woman left her home and went to live in a distant village, where she became a cannibal.
She had one son, whose name was Magoda. She ate all the people in that village, until only herself and Magoda remained. Then she was compelled to hunt animals, but she caught people still when she could. In hunting she learned to be very swift of foot, and could run so fast that nothing she pursued could escape from her.
Her brother, who remained at home when she left, had two daughters, whom he did not treat very kindly. One day he sent them to the river for water, which they were to carry in two pots. These pots were made of clay, and were the nicest and most valuable in the village. One of the girls fell down on a rock and broke the pot she was carrying. Then she did not know what to do, because she was afraid to go back to her father. She sat down and cried, but that did not help, the pot would not be whole again.
Then she said to her sister: "Let us go away to another place, where our father will not be able to find us."
She was the younger and the cleverer of the two, and so she persuaded her sister. They walked away in the opposite direction from their home, and for two days had nothing but gum to eat. Then they saw a fire at a distance, and went to it, where they saw a house. It was the house of their aunt, but they did not know it. They were afraid to go in, but Magoda came out and talked to them. When he heard who they were, he was sorry for them, and told them their aunt was a cannibal, giving them advice not to stay there. But just then they heard her corning, so they went into Magoda's house and hid themselves for he lived in one house and his mother in another.
The woman came and said: I smell something nice; what is it, my son?
Magoda said there was nothing.
She replied: "Surely I smell fat children."
But as she did not go in, they remained concealed that night.
The next morning, Nomagoda (so called because she was the mother of Magoda) went out to hunt, but she did not go far, so the children could not get away. They went into her house, where they saw a person with only one arm, one side, and one leg.
The person said to them: "See, the cannibal has eaten the rest of me; take care of yourselves."
When it was nearly dark, Nomagoda came home again, bringing some animals which she had killed. She smelt that children had been in the house, so she went to her son's house and looked in.
She said to Magoda: "Why do you not give me some? Do I not catch animals for you?"
Then she saw the children, and was very glad. She took them to her house, and told them to sleep. They lay down, but were too frightened to close their eyes. They heard their aunt say, "Axe, be sharp; axe, be sharp;" and to let her know that they were awake, they spoke of vermin biting them.
After a while the cannibal went to sleep, when they crept out, first putting two blocks of wood in their places, and ran away as fast as they could. When Nomagoda awoke, she took the axe and went to kill them, but the axe fell on the blocks of wood.
As soon as it was day, the cannibal pursued the children. They looked behind, and saw clouds of dust which she made as she ran. There was a tall tree just in front of them, so they hastened to climb up it, and sat down among the branches. Nomagoda came to the tree and commenced to cut it down; but when a chip fell out, a bird (Ntengu) sang:
Chips, return to your places,
Chips, return to your places,
Chips, be fast."
The chip then went back to its place and was fast again. This happened three times; but Nomagoda, who was very angry, caught the bird and swallowed it. Then she put it in her mouth, one of the feathers dropped to the ground. Then she began to chop at the tree again; but as soon as a chip was loose the feather sang:
Chips, return to your places,
Chips, return to your places,
Chips, be fast."
The chip then stuck fast again. The cannibal chopped till she was tired, but the feather continued to keep the tree from receiving harm. Then she tried to catch the feather, but it flew about too quickly for her, until she sank down exhausted on the ground at the foot of the tree.
The children, up in the branches, could see a long way off; and as they strained their eyes, they observed three dogs as big as calves, and they knew these dogs belonged to their father, who was seeking for them. So they called them by name, and the dogs came running to the tree and ate up the cannibal, who was too tired to make her escape.
Thus the children were delivered, and their father was so glad to get them back again that he forgave them for breaking the pot and running away.
A LONG time ago a woman who went to cultivate her garden took her little daughter with her, and before she began to hoe the ground she laid the child down in the shade of a tree. About midday there came two birds and flew away with the girl. They carried her across a great river, and laid her gently down in a pumpkin field on a plain.
As the birds were carrying her away, she called to her mother, who took no notice of her cries, because she could not imagine her child was being carried away. In the afternoon the girl was missing, and her mother searched for her without success. She made inquiries of the neighbours, and some of them told her they had heard the child crying, "I am going away with the birds."
The plain on which the little girl was put down was near a town in which lived a nation of cannibals who had one leg much longer than the other. There she remained alone till the next day.
That night the chief of the cannibals dreamed that he saw a very pretty girl in that place; so in the morning he sent a party of men to look for her. When the girl saw them coming she was afraid, and hid herself among the pumpkins. But the men had already noticed where she was, so they easily found her, and took her home with them.
The chief was very much pleased with her appearance. He gave her to his mother to take care of, and when she grew up he took her to be his wife.
Afterwards she had two children, one very pretty, and with two legs like her own; the other ugly, and like its father, with one leg longer than the other. The cannibals saw the advantage of having two legs of equal length, and they became jealous of the woman and her child. They told the chief it would be dangerous to allow the child to grow up, because then a nation stronger than themselves might arise. They persuaded him to consent to her being put to death, and then they rejoiced greatly, because she was very fat, and they intended to eat her; but one of them, who had more compassion than the others, told the woman what they were about to do.
After the little girl had been taken away by the birds, her mother had a son, one of whose sides was flesh like other people's, and the other side was iron. His mother told him of his sister who was lost, and when he became a man he determined to go in search of her.
In his journey he came to a great river full of water. He had an iron rod in his hand, with which he struck the water, and at the same time he called out with a loud voice: "River, I have no sister. Be empty."
Then the river dried up, and he went safely across.
After this he came to the stream where the cannibals drew their water, and concealed himself among the reeds which grew on its banks. While there his sister came to get water, and he at once knew who she was. She, of course, did not know him, but he told her he was her brother. Then she said the cannibals would cat him if he went to their town without an introduction. So they arranged that he should smear himself with mud and go to the top of a high hill, and when he was coming down she would tell the cannibals who he was.
Ironside went on the hill, and as soon as he came in sight of the town, his sister said: "There is the servant of the wife of the chief of the cannibals." These words she repeated twice.
When Ironside reached the town, a mat was brought to him and spread in front of his sister's house; but after a time he was allowed to go inside, still covered with mud.
The next day they all went to hunt, and Ironside killed more game than the others, upon which they became envious of him. This was shortly before the cannibals agreed to kill and eat the daughter of their chief. When the one who had compassion made known what was about to be done, Ironside was present and heard what was told. He said to his sister that she must pluck the hair from her head and scatter it about in different directions. This she did, after which Ironside and his sister and her child left the town in haste.
The cannibals came, and when they could not find the child they called her loudly by name. Then the tufts of hair all answered in her voice, and the seekers became confused.
Ironside and his companions, having two legs, could walk much quicker than the cannibals, and soon they were on the other side of the large river. The child trembled, and was very much frightened; but Ironside told her not to fear at all. After they had crossed, Ironside struck the river with his iron rod, and said: "River, I have found my sister. Be full." Then the water rose very high, quite to the top of the banks.
A party of cannibals who were in pursuit came to the river after it was full, and Ironside made a long rope, and threw the end over to them. They caught hold of it, thinking that he would pull them across; but when they were in the middle of the river he let go the rope, and they were all drowned. Another party then came and asked where their companions were. Ironside said they had gone to a ford further down; but they knew that was not true, so they returned home. Afterwards they discovered who it was that gave warning of their intentions, and they killed and ate that one.
Ironside took his sister home to her mother, who received her with the greatest joy, never having forgotten her during that long time.
A NUMBER of girls once went away their homes early in the morning purpose of getting imbola (the red with which they colour their bodies and clothes). Among them was the daughter of a chief, a very pretty girl. After they had collected the imbola, they were about to return home, when one of them proposed that they should bathe in a large pool of water that was there. To this they all agreed, and so they went into the water and played about in it for a long time. At last they dressed themselves again, and set out for home; but when they had gone some distance, the chief's daughter noticed that she had forgotten one of her ornaments, which she had taken off when they went to bathe. So she asked her cousin to return with her to get it. The cousin refused. Then she asked another girl, and another, but one and all refused to go back. She was thus obliged to return to the water alone, while the other girls went home.
On arriving at the pool, a big ugly cannibal with only one leg came up to her, caught her, and put her in his bag. She was so frightened that she lay quite still. The cannibal then took her round to the different villages and made her sing for him. He called her his bird.
When he came to a village he asked for meat, and when it was given to him he said "Sing, my bird." But he would never open the bag, so that any one could see what sort of a bird he had.
When the girls reached home, they told the chief that his daughter had reached the age of ntonjane, and they selected one of themselves and shut her up in a hut. The chief believed that story, and so he killed a large ox and said the people must eat. That day they ate fat beef, and were very merry. The boys took meat, and went away from the village to eat it.
The cannibal, who did not know that the girl's father was chief at this place, came there just at this time. He said to the boys if they would give him meat he would make his bird sing for them. So they gave him meat, and he said: "Sing, my bird." The girl's brother was among those boys, and he thought the bird sang like his sister, but he was afraid to ask the cannibal to let him see. He advised the cannibal to go to the village where the men were, and told him there was plenty of meat that day.
The cannibal then went to the village and made his bird sing. The chief wanted very much to see the bird, but the cannibal would not open the bag. The chief offered him an ox for the bird, but the cannibal declined the offer. Then the chief made a plan. He asked the cannibal to go for some water, and said he would give him plenty of beef when he returned. The cannibal said he would go if they would promise not to open his bag while he was away. They all promised not to touch the bag. They gave the cannibal a leaky pot to carry the water in, so that he was gone a long time. As soon as he was out of sight the chief opened the bag and took his daughter out. At first he could not believe it was his daughter, for he thought she was observing ntonjane. But when he knew how those other girls had deceived him he said they must all die, and so they were killed. Then he put snakes and toads in the bag, and tied it up again.
When the cannibal came back he complained of the leaky pot, but they gave him plenty of meat to satisfy him, so he picked up his bag and went away. He did not know what had happened while he was absent. When he came near his own house he called to his wife: "Make ready to cook." He sent and called all the other cannibals to come to a feast, and they came expecting to get something nice. He let them wait a little to get very hungry. Then he opened his bag and thought to take the girl out, but found only snakes and toads in it. The other cannibals were so angry when they saw this, that they killed him and made their feast of him.
THERE was once a man and a woman who had two children, a son and a daughter. These children lived with their grandfather. Their mother was a cannibal, but not their father.
One day they said to their grandfather: "We have been long with you, we should like very much to go and see our parents."
Their grandfather said: "Ho! will you be able to come back? Don't you know your mother is a cannibal?"
After a time he consented. He said: "You must leave at such a time that you may arrive there in the evening, so that your mother may not see you, only your father."
The boy's name was Hinazinci. He said: "Let us go now, my sister."
They started when the sun was set. When they arrived at their father's house, they listened outside to find out if their mother was there. They heard the voice of their father only, so they called to him. He came out, and when he saw them he was sorry, and said: "Why did you come here, my dear children? Don't you know your mother is a cannibal?"
Just then they heard a noise like thunder. It was the coming of their mother. Their father took them inside and put them in a dark corner, where he covered them with skins. Their mother came in with an animal and the body of a man. She stood and said: "There's something here. What a nice smell it has!"
She said to her husband: "Sohinazinci, what have you to tell me about this nice smell that is in my house? You must tell me whether my children are here."
Her husband answered: "What are you dreaming about? They are not here."
She went to the corner where they were, and took the skins away. When she saw them, she said: "My children, I am very sorry that you are here, because I must eat people."
She cooked for them and their father the animal she had brought home, and the dead man for herself After they had eaten, she went out.
Then their father said to them: "When we lie down to sleep, you must be watchful. You will hear a dancing of people, a roaring of wild beasts, and a barking of dogs in your mother's stomach. You will know by that she is sleeping, and you must then rise at once and get away."
They lay down, but the man and the children only pretended to go to sleep. They were listening for those sounds. After a while they heard a dancing of people, a roaring of wild beasts, and a barking of dogs. Then their father shook them, and said they must go while their mother was sleeping. They bade their father farewell, and crept out quietly, that their mother might not hear them.
At midnight the woman woke up, and when she found the children were gone, she took her axe and went after them. They were already a long way on their journey, when they saw her following them. They were so tired that they could not run.
When she was near them, the boy said to the girl: "My sister, sing your melodious song; perhaps when she hears it she will be sorry, and go home without hurting us."
The girl replied: "She will not listen to anything now, because she is in want of meat."
Hinazinci said: "Try, my sister; it may not be in vain."
So she sang her song, and when the cannibal heard it, she ran backwards to her own house. There she fell upon her husband, and wanted to cut him with the axe. Her husband caught hold of her arm, and said: "Ho! if you put me to death who will be your husband?"
Then she left him, and ran after the children again.
They were near their grandfather's village, and were very weak when their mother overtook them. The girl fell down, and the cannibal caught her and swallowed her. She then ran after the boy. He fell just at the entrance of his grandfather's house, and she picked him up and swallowed him also. She found only the old people and the children of the village at home, all the others being at work in the gardens. She ate all the people that were at home and also all the cattle that were there.
Towards evening she left to go to her own home. There was a deep valley in the way, and when she came to it she saw a very beautiful bird. As she approached it, the bird got bigger and bigger, until at last when she was very near it, it was as big as a house (i.e., a native hut).
Then the bird began to sing its song. The woman looked at it, and said to herself: "I shall take this bird home to my husband."
The bird continued its song, and sang:
"I am a pretty bird of the valley,
you come to make a disturbance at my place."
The bird came slowly towards her, still singing its song. When they met, the bird took the axe from the woman, and still sang the same song.
The cannibal began to be afraid.
She said to the bird: "Give me my axe; I do not wish for your flesh now."
The bird tore one of her arms off.
She said: "I am going away now; give me what is mine."
The bird would not listen to her, but continued its song.
She said again: "Give me my axe and let me go. My husband at home is very hungry; I want to go and cook food for him."
The bird sang more loudly than before, and tore one of her legs off.
She fell down and cried out: "My master, I am in a hurry to go home. I do not want anything that is yours."
She saw that she was in danger. She said to the bird again: "You don't know how to sing your song nicely; let me go, and I will sing it for you."
The bird opened its wings wide, and tore open her stomach. Many people came forth, most of them alive, but some were dead. As they came forth she caught them and swallowed them again. The two children were alive, and they ran away. At last the woman died.
There was great rejoicing in that country. The children returned to their grandfather, and the people came there and made them rulers of the country, because it was through them the cannibal was brought to death.
The girl was afterwards married to a son of the great chief, and Hinazinci had for his wife the daughter of that great one.
THERE was once a widow woman who had one son and two daughters. On a certain day she went to her garden, talking with her one of the girls. While she was away the boy quarrelled with his sister and killed her.
In the course of the day the woman sent the girl that was with her to the hut, and when she came there a fly told her what had happened. She did not believe it.
Then a mouse told her the same thing, but still she did not believe it was true.
Afterwards the fly told her to look in a certain place, and there she saw the head and the bones of her sister.
When the woman came home and found out what had happened, she killed her son. Then she gave the girl a stick, and told her to go to her uncle's house, saying that when she got there she must strike the ground with the stick, and all the clothes and other things that belonged to her would then rise up out of the earth. The woman said she was now all alone, and therefore intended to kill herself.
The girl was very sorry, but she did as her mother told her. When she was a little way off, she looked back and saw smoke coming out of the hut, from which she knew that her mother had burned herself and was no longer a person under the sun.
After this she met an old woman, who called to her, but she took no heed and walked on. Next she met a mbulu at a place close by a river. The mbulu said, whoever wetted any part of their body. in crossing, the river must go in and bathe. The girl was standing on the bank, and the mbulu struck the water with its tail and splashed it in her face, so that she had to go in and bathe. Then the mbulu took her clothes and put them on.
When the girl came out of the water she asked for her clothes, but the mbulu said: "I will give them when you are dry."
So they went on together. After a while the girl asked again, and the mbulu said: "I will give them when we get to the village."
But when they arrived there the mbulu said: "You must tell the people here that you are my servant, and that I am the daughter of a chief."
The poor girl was so afraid that she promised to do so. They were well received at the village, because the people believed that the mbulu was a great person. They wondered at her voice, but she told them she had been ill and her throat was not well yet.
After a time one of the men of that kraal married the mbulu, and the real girl was sent to the gardens to drive the birds away from the corn. While engaged in this occupation she used to sing about the mbulu taking her clothes and passing itself off for a person, until the women who worked in the gardens took notice of this song of hers.
Then they made a plan to find out if what the girl was singing was the truth. They said: "The tail of a mbulu will want mice and fat," so they set snares to catch the mice. In the night the tail was pursuing mice, and itself got fast in a snare. The mbulu then asked the man who was married to her to go and get some medicine, as she was sick, and when the man went she took off the snare.
After this they made another plan. They said: "The tail of a mbulu will seek milk," so they dug a hole in the ground, put milk in it, and required every one in the village to jump over the hole. The mbulu was unwilling at first, but they urged her. She tried to jump quickly, but the tail could not pass the milk. When it went down the people saw that this was a mbulu, so they killed it and buried it in that hole.
After this the same man who had married the mbulu took the girl to be his wife. She had a child, and one day, when it was playing a square pumpkin came out of the ground where the mbulu was buried, and tried to kill the infant. But the people chopped the pumpkin in pieces, and burned it. They afterwards threw the ashes into a river, so that nothing more could come of that mbulu.
There was once a man who had two wives, one of whom had no children, and for that reason she was not loved by her husband. Her name was Numbakatali. The other wife had one daughter who was very black, and several children besides, but they were all crows. The one who had no offspring was very downcast on that account, and used to go about weeping all day.
Once when she was working in her garden, and crying as usual, two doves came and perched near her. One of them said to the other: "Dove, ask the woman why she is crying." So the dove questioned her.
She replied: "It is because I have no children, and my husband does not love me. His other wife's children are crows, which come and eat my corn, and she laughs at me."
The dove said: "Go home and get two earthen jars, and bring them here."
Numbakatali went and got them. Then the doves scratched her knees till the blood flowed, and put the blood in the jars. The woman gave the doves some corn to eat, after which she took the jars home to her hut, and set them carefully down in a corner. Every day the two doves came to be fed, and always -told the woman to look at what was in the jars.
At last, when she looked one day, she saw two children, one a boy, the other a girl, and both very handsome. She was very much delighted at the sight, but she did not tell any one.
When the children grew a little she made a snug place for them in the hut, where they were to sit all day, because she did not wish them to be seen. Always before she went to her work she charged them not to go out, and as her husband never came to see her, no one knew of the existence of these children except herself and a servant girl.
But one day, when they were big, she went out, and after she was away some time, the boy said to his sister: "Come, let us help our mother by bringing water from the river."
So they went for water; but they had not reached the river when they met a company of young men with a chief's son, who was looking for a pretty girl to be his wife. The young chief was called Broad Breast, because his chest was very wide, and it was also made of a glittering metal that shone in the sun. These men asked for water to drink. The boy gave them all some water, but the young chief would only take it from the girl. He was very much smitten with her beauty, and watched her when she left, so as to find out where she lived.
As soon as the young chief saw the hut that the girl went to, he returned home with his party and asked his father for cattle with which to marry her. The chief, who was very rich, gave his son many fine cattle, with which the young man went to the girl's mother's husband, and said: "I want to marry your daughter."
So the girl who was very black was told to come, but the young chief said: "That is not the one I want; the one I saw was lighter in colour and much prettier."
The father replied: "I have no other children but crows."
But Broad Breast persisted, so the man called his wives, both of whom denied that there was such a girl. However, the servant girl went to the man and privately told him the truth. In the evening he went to his wife's hut, and to his great joy saw the boy and his sister. He was so delighted that he remained there that night, and after talking it over with his wife, he agreed to let Broad Breast marry the girl.
In the morning a mat was spread in the yard, and the young chief was asked to sit down. The two children and the servant girl who told their father about them were also called, and they all sat down on the mat.
The young chief, as soon as he saw her, said: "This is the girl I meant."
He stayed part of the day, and then with his attendants went to his father for more cattle, which, having obtained, he brought them to the father of the girl.
The mother of the very black girl and the crows was very jealous when she saw such a fine young chief coming with so many cattle. She wanted her daughter to be the one that was to be married; so she dressed her as finely as she could, but she had no such pretty clothes as the other girl had. Her name was Mahlunguluza, for she was called after the crows, who were the other children of her mother. The pretty girl's name was Mbulukazi, which name was given to her because her handsome dress was made of the skin of a mbulu.
The mother of Mahlunguluza spoke to the young chief about her daughter, and so he married both the girls. Their father gave to each an ox, with which they went to their new home. Mbulukazi's ox was a pretty young one, and Mahlunguluza's ox was an old and poor one. When they arrived, Broad Breast gave to Mbulukazi a very nice new house to live in, but to Mahlunguluza was given an old one quite in ruins.
Then the very black one saw she was not loved, and she became jealous, so she made a plan to kill her sister. One day she told her she heard their father was sick, and proposed that they should go to see him. Mbulukazi consented, and as soon as they obtained leave from their husband they left. Their road led them along the edge of a cliff, below which was a deep pool of water.
Mahlunguluza lay down on the rock, and said: "Come, see what is here in the water."
Her sister lay down with her head over the edge of the rock, when Mahlunguluza jumped up quickly and pushed her over. Mbulukazi sank in the water and was drowned. Then the very black one returned home, and when her husband asked where Mbulukazi was, she said that she was still with their father.
The next day the ox of the drowned one came running to the village and walked about lowing for a while, after which it tore down the old ruined house of Mahlunguluza with its horns. Its actions attracted the notice of the men, and the), said: "Surely this ox means something, why is it doing this?"
Then it went to the deep pool of water, the men following it; it smelt all over the rock, and then jumped into the water and brought out the body of Mbulukazi. The ox licked her till her life came back, and as soon as she was strong once more, she told what had happened.
They all went home rejoicing greatly, and informed Broad Breast. When the young chief heard the story he was angry with Mahlunguluza, and said to her: "Go home to your father; I never wanted you at all; it was your mother who brought you to me."
So she had to go away in sorrow, and Mbulukazi remained the great wife of the chief.
ONCE upon a time a certain girl left her father's place, and went to the village of Long Snake. Having arrived at the village of Long Snake she remained there, but the owner of the place was absent. The only person present was the mother of the owner of the place.
Then in the evening the mother of Long Snake gave that girl some millet, and told her to grind it. After it was ground she made bread. When it was ready the mother of Long Snake said: "Carry this bread into the house of Long Snake."
A short time after that girl went into the house, the owner of the place arrived. Then she gave him bread and fermented milk, and he ate. When they had finished the food they went to sleep. Then early in the morning Long Snake went away, because in the daytime he lived in the open country.
The girl went to the house of the parents of Long Snake. The mother of Long Snake clothed her with a very beautiful robe. After she was dressed she called for an axe, and went to cut firewood. Having arrived in the open fields she did not cut the firewood, but she threw away the axe and ran to her father's place.
When she arrived at her father's place, her sister asked for where she had got that beautiful robe. She told her, and her sister said: "I am going to that village too."
The girl said: "Just listen, and I will tell you the custom of that village."
But her sister said in reply: "I do not want you to tell me anything, because you yourself were not warned before you went."
Then she set off at once, and went on till she arrived in the evening at the village of Long Snake. When she sat down the mother of Long Snake gave her millet, telling her to grind it and make bread. When it was ready she took it into the house of Long Snake. Then in the evening the owner of the place arrived, and the girl gave him bread and fermented milk. When they had finished eating they went to sleep, and early in the morning Long Snake went away.
Then the girl went to the house of Long Snake's parents. His mother clothed that girl also in the same manner as she had dressed the elder one. Then she borrowed an axe and went to cut fuel. In doing so she made an excuse to run away.
On this day, however, the man went after his wives, and arrived at his father-in-law's place as the sun was setting.
They went out of the house that the bridegroom might sleep in it. While he was eating, the people of the village piled up bundles of grass, and the bridegroom was burned in the house. In this manner he died.
THERE was once a great famine in a certain country, and the people were obliged to cat wild plants to keep themselves alive. Their principal food during this time was nongwes (Hypoxis, p. 385, "Harvey's Gen. S. A. Plants"), which they dug out of the ground.
There was living at that place a man called Kenkebe, and one day his wife said to him, "My husband, go to my father and ask him to give us some corn."
The man said: "Yes, I will go."
So he rose up early in the morning, and went on till he arrived at his father-in-law's village, where he was received with every mark of kindness. A very large ox was killed for his entertainment. It was so large that it was six days before it was all eaten. His father-in-law asked of him the news.
He said: "There is no news to tell to friends. All the news is this, that at my home there is not a grain to be eaten. Famine is over our heads. Will you give us some corn, for we are dying?"
His father-in-law gave him seven bags (i.e. skins of animals dressed entire) full of millet, and his wife's sisters went with him to carry them. When they came to a valley close by his home, he told his sisters-in-law that they could now go back to their father.
They said: "How will you manage to carry all those bags alone?"
He replied: "I shall be able to carry them all now, because we are not far from my home."
So those girls went back to their father.
Then he carried the bags one by one, and hid them in a cave under a great rock that was there. Afterwards he took some of the millet and ground it. When it was ground very fine he made it into cakes just like nongwes. Then he dug some real nongwes out of the ground, and went home to his wife.
He said to her: "There is a great famine at your father's also. I found the people there eating themselves."
He told his wife to make a fire. Then he pretended to cut a piece of meat out of his thigh, and said: "So are they doing at your father's village. Now, my wife, let us do the same."
His wife cut a piece from her leg and roasted it. The piece that Kenkebe put on the fire was some that he had brought home with him.
Then Kenkebe's little boy said: "Why does my father's meat smell nice in roasting, and my mother's meat does not smell nice?"
Kenkebe answered: "It is because it is taken from the leg of a man."
After this he gave his wife some nongwes to roast. He took for himself some of those he had made of corn.
The little boy said: "Why do my father's nongwes smell nice in roasting and my mother's do not smell nice?"
Kenkebe said: "It is because they were dug by a man."
After eating, he went outside, but he had dropped one of his nongwes by the fire. When he went out the boy found the nongwe. He broke it in two and gave half to his mother.
He said: "There is a difference between our nongwes and those of father's."
His mother said: "Yes, my child, this one is made of corn."
The next morning, just at the first beginning of dawn, Kenkebe got up and went away with a pot in his hand. The boy was awake, and saw his father go out. So he called to his mother, and said: "Mother, mother, wake, my father is going away with the pot in his hand."
So she got up, and they followed after Kenkebe. They saw him go to the cave where he took some corn out of one of the bags and began to grind it. Then they went on top of the rock, and rolled a big stone over.
When Kenkebe saw the stone coming he ran away, but it followed close behind him. He ran down the valley, the stone kept running too. He jumped into a deep hole in the river, down went the stone too. He ran up the hill, up went the stone also. He ran over the plain, but whenever he turned to look, the stone was there just behind him, So it continued all that day. At night he reached his own house, and then the stone stopped. His wife had already come home, and had brought with her one of the bags of corn.
Kenkebe came in crying.
His wife said to him: "Why do you cry as if you were a child?"
He said: "Because I am very tired and very hungry."
She said: "Where are your clothes and your bag?"
He replied: "I was crossing a river, and I fell down. The stream carried away my mantle, and my bag, and my kerries, and everything that was mine."
Then his wife gave him his mantle, which she had picked tip when he was running away, and she said to him: "You are foolish to do such things. There is no food for you tonight."
The next morning Kenkebe rose early and went out to hunt with his two dogs. The name of the one was Tumtumse, and the name of the other was Mbambozozele. He found an eland with a young calf, which he drove to his place. He cut an ear off the calf and roasted it in the fire. It was fat, and he liked it so much that he cut the other ear off and cooked it also. Then he wished to kill the calf, but he said to himself: "If I kill this calf I shall not be able to get milk from the eland."
So he called his two dogs, and said to the one: "Tumtumse, my dog, if I kill this calf, will you imitate it and suck the eland for me?"
The dog said: "No, I will bark like a dog."
Kenkebe said: "Get out of my sight and never come near me again you ugly, useless animal."
He said to the other Mbambozozele: "My dog, if I kill this calf, will you imitate it and suck the eland for me?"
The dog said: "I will do so."
Then he killed the calf and ate it. He took the skin and put it upon Mbambozozele, so that the eland thought it was her calf that sucked before Kenkebe milked her. But one day the dog was sucking too long, and Kenkebe wanted him to leave off. He tried to drink just a few drops more, when his master got angry and struck him with a stick. Thereupon the dog began to howl, and the eland saw how she had been deceived. At once she ran after Kenkebe and tried to stick him with her horns. He ran one way and the eland ran after him, then he ran another way, and still the eland chased him.
His wife came out and saw him running. She cried out to him: "Jump up quickly on the big stone." He did so, and the eland ran with such fury against that stone that it broke its head and fell down dead.
They then cut the eland up and wanted to cook it, but there was no fire. Kenkebe said to his son: "Go to the village of the cannibals that is on that hill over the valley, and ask for some fire; but do not take any meat with you, lest they should smell it."
The boy went, but he hid a piece of meat and took it with him. When he got to the first house he asked for fire, but they sent him to the next. At the next they sent him farther, and so he had to go to the house that was farthest away. An old woman lived there. The boy gave her a little piece of meat, and said: "Do not cook it till I am far away with the fire."
But as soon as the boy was gone, she put it on the coals. The smell came to the noses of the cannibals, and they ran to the place and swallowed the old woman, and the meat, and the fire, and even the ashes.
Then they ran after the boy. When he came near his own house, he cried out: "Hide yourselves, you that are at home."
His father said: "My son is saying, we must gather wood that will make coals."
His mother said: "No, he is saying we must hide ourselves."
The boy cried again: "Hide yourselves."
Then his mother hid herself in a bush: an old woman that was there covered herself with ashes, and Kenkebe climbed up into, a tree, with the breast of the eland in his hand. The boy slipped into a hole that was by the side of the path.
The cannibals came to the place. First they ate the eland. Then one of them said: "Search under the ashes."
There they found the old woman, and they ate her. Then they said: "Search in the tree."
There they found Kenkebe. He cried very much, but they would not spare him. They ate him and the breast of the eland. Then the wise one said: "Look in the bush."
They looked there and found the wife of Kenkebe. They said: "We will eat her another time," and so they took her home with them. They did not look for the boy.
The woman made a plan to escape. She made beer for the cannibals, and they all came to drink. They sat together in a big house, and drank very much beer. Then she said: "Can I go out?"
They said: "You can go, but come back quickly."
She said: "Shall I close the entrance?"
They said: "Close it."
Then she took fire and put it on the house and all those cannibals were burnt to death. So the woman escaped, and afterwards lived happily with her son.
At a certain time, Kenkebe went to get his wife at the place of her parents. When he was on the way, he met a crow. He borrowed its eyes. Then he arrived at his wife's parents' place with the eyes of the crow.
When he arrived, his wife said: "Where are your own eyes?"
He replied: "My eyes have been taken away by the crows."
Then his wife said: "Let us go home."
When they reached home, his wife said: "Take those eyes, you silly one, to their owner, and bring back your own."
Accordingly Kenkebe went for his eyes and got them back.
Then, as he was returning, he met an ant, and exchanged stomachs with it. When he arrived at his house, his wife gave him food. After he had finished eating, he went to milk a cow.
When he was gone out, his little boy went to the place where he had been sitting. He said, "Mother, this food that is spilt here, whose is it?"
His mother replied: "Perhaps it has been spilt by your father. You must not eat it until our father comes."
When Kenkebe came in, his wife said: "Where does this food come from?"
The man replied: "My stomach has been borrowed by an ant."
His wife said:" You must go and take this stomach back to-morrow."
He went to do so. When he arrived at the ant s place, he demanded his stomach. His stomach was given to him, and then he went home.
HERE was once a boy whose mother that bore him was dead, and he was ill-treated by his other mothers. On this account he determined to go away from his father's place. One morning he went, riding on an ox which was given to him by his father. As he was travelling, he came to a herd of cattle with a bull.
His ox said: "I will fight and overcome that bull."
The boy got off his ox's back. The fight took place, and the bull was defeated. The boy then mounted his ox again.
About midday, feeling hungry, he struck the right horn of his ox, and food came out. After satisfying his hunger, he struck the left horn, and the rest of the food went in again.
The boy saw another herd of dun-coloured cattle. His ox said: "I will fight and die there. You must break off my horns and take them with you. When you are hungry, speak to them, and they will supply you with food."
In the fight the ox was killed, as he had said. The boy took his horns, and went on walking till he came to a village where he found the people cooking a weed (called tyutu), having no other food to eat.
He entered one of the houses. He spoke to his horn, and food came out, enough to satisfy the owner of the house and himself. After they had eaten, they both fell asleep. The owner of the house got up and took away the horns. He concealed them, and put two others in their place.
The boy started next morning with the horns, thinking they were the right ones. When he felt hungry, he spoke to the horns, but nothing came out. He therefore went back to the place where he had slept the night before. As he drew near, he heard the owner of the place speaking to the horns, but without getting anything out of them.
The boy took his horns from the thief, and went on his way. He came to a house, and asked to be entertained. The owner refused, and sent him away, because his clothes were in tatters, and his body soiled with travel.
After that he came to a river and sat down on the bank. He spoke to his horns, and a new mantle and handsome ornaments came out. He dressed himself, and went on. He came to a house where there was a very beautiful girl. He was received by the girl's father, and stayed there. His horns provided food and clothing food for them all.
After a time he married the girl. He then returned home with his wife, and was welcomed by his father. He spoke to his horns, and a fine house came out, in which he lived with his wife.
THERE was once a man who quarrelled with his wife, so that she left him, and went home to her father's place.
When she got home she found nobody, for all the people had been swallowed by a monster. She went into the house that used to be her father's, and noticed that there were footprints of animals and spots of blood all over the floor. She then got into the top of the hut and hid herself. She heard the monster corning, saying:
"O man, O man,
I have eaten,
And I am still living."
She kept awake. Shortly the house was filled with all kinds of animals, which made a fire, cooked their food, ate it up, and slept. Next morning they awoke, and all went out to search for something to eat.
The woman had two children born while the animals were away. She came down from her hiding-place, and took up a stone used for raising pots above the fire (called isoko), and went again into her hiding-place.
The animals returned in the evening; and while their pots were on the fire, she threw down the stone into one of them. The animals all rushed out of the house. Outside they held a consultation, and their chief decided that those living in holes should go to the holes, that those living in forests should go to the forests, and that those living in rivers should go to the rivers.
After this, the woman set a trap, and succeeded in catching a buffalo, but she could not skin it. She saw a glutton (called an igongqongqo, a fabulous monster, like a man, but capable of devouring enormous quantities of food) coming, and asked him to help her. He consented.
He pulled out his knife and skinned the buffalo. She gathered some wood, and kindled a fire for the purpose of roasting the liver. The glutton roasted it. She went away and picked up an empty calabash, and when she returned she found the glutton roasting the legs, having already eaten the liver. She then said: "I am going for water."
She got behind a bush, and blew the empty calabash. The glutton wondered what this was, and called her. She continued blowing until the glutton was so frightened that he took his bag and put the remainder of the meat into it, and ran away.
She followed him, still blowing, until he threw away the bag containing the meat. She still followed, blowing. The glutton stumbled, and fell into a thorny bush, where he was held fast. The woman then ceased blowing, and heard him blubbering out:
"Let me alone, lu bo bo,
Let me alone, lu bo bo."
She blew again, and he struggled and got free. He ran away with all his might. She then took the bag home with her, made a fire, and cooked the meat. When it was ready, she took it to her hiding-place, and lived on it till her children were able to run about outside.
One day, these twins asked their mother to make bows and arrows for them. Their mother advised them not to wander away from the house, saying to them: "The glutton will swallow you."
But at a certain time they left home, and went in the direction where the monster lived. They found it asleep, and shot it with their arrows in both eyes. The boys returned home and told their mother. Next day they went to the place, and found the glutton dead.
The boys heard people talking inside the glutton. Having told their mother, she took a knife and cut it open, when people came out, and cattle, and dogs. The people asked: "Who killed the glutton?"
The mother of the twins told them, and they rewarded the boys with a large number of cattle.
THERE was once a woman who had occasion to leave her home for a short time, and who left her children in charge of a hare. The place where they lived was close to a path, along which droves of wild animals were accustomed to pass.
Soon after the woman left, the animals appeared, and the hare at sight of them became frightened. So she ran away to a distance, and stood to watch. Among the animals was one terrible monster, which called to the hare, and demanded to know what children those were. The hare told their names, upon which the animal swallowed them entire.
When the woman returned, the hare told her what had happened. Then the woman gathered some dry wood, and sharpened two pieces of iron, which she took with her and went along the path.
Now this was the chief of the animals; therefore, when she came on a hill over against him, the woman began to call out that she was looking for her children. The animal replied: "Come nearer, I cannot hear you."
When she went, he swallowed her also. The woman found her children alive, and also many other people, and oxen, and dogs. The children were hungry, so the woman with her pieces of iron cut some pieces of flesh from the animal's ribs. She then made a fire and cooked the meat, and the children ate.
The other people said: "We also are hungry, give us to eat."
Then she cut and cooked for them also.
The animal felt uncomfortable under this treatment, and called his councillors together for advice, but they could suggest no remedy. He lay down and rolled in the mud, but that did not help him, and at last he went and put his head in the kraal fence, and died.
His councillors were standing at a distance, afraid to approach him, so they sent a monkey to see how he was. The monkey returned and said: "Those whose home is on the mountains must hasten to the mountains; those whose home is on the plains must hasten to the plains; as for me, I go to the rocks."
Then the animals all dispersed.
By this time the woman had succeeded in cutting a hole through the chief's side, and came forth, followed by her children.
Then an ox came out, and said "Bo! bo! who helped me?"
Then a dog, who said: "Ho! ho! who helped me?
Then a man, who said: "Zo! zo! who helped me?"
Afterwards all the people and cattle came out. They agreed that the woman who helped them should be their chief.
When her children became men, they were out hunting one day, and saw a monstrous cannibal, who was sticking fast in a mud hole. They killed him, and then returned to tell the men of their tribe what they had done. The men went and skinned the cannibal, when a great number of people came out of him also. These joined their deliverers, and so that people became a great nation.
ONCE upon a time the animals made a kraal and put some fat in it. They agreed that one of their number should remain to be the keeper of the gate. The first one that was appointed was the coney (imbila). He agreed to take charge, and all the others went away. In a short time the coney fell asleep, when the inkalimeva (a fabulous animal) went in and ate all the fat. After doing this, he threw a little stone at the coney.
The coney started up and cried out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
It repeated this cry several times, calling out very loudly. The animals at a distance heard it, they ran to the kraal, and when they saw that the fat was gone they killed the coney.
They put the fat in the kraal a second time, and appointed the muishond (iqaqa) to keep the gate. The mouse-dog consented, and the animals went away as before. After a little time the inkalimeva came to the kraal, bringing some honey with it. It invited the keeper of the gate to eat honey, and while the muishond was enjoying himself the inkalimeva went in and stole all the fat. It threw a stone at the muishond, which made him look up.
The muishond cried out: "The fat belong into all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
As soon as the animals heard the cry, they ran to the kraal and killed the muishond.
They put fat in the kraal a third time, and appointed the duiker (impunzi) to be the keeper of the gate. The duiker agreed, and the others went away. In a short time the inkalimeva made its appearance. It proposed to the duiker that they should play at hide and seek. The duiker agreed to this. Then the inkalimeva hid itself, and the duiker looked for it till he was so tired that he lay down and went to sleep. When the duiker was asleep, the inkalimeva ate up all the fat.
Then it threw a stone at the duiker, which caused him to jump up and cry out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
The animals, when they heard the cry, ran to the kraal and killed the duiker.
They put fat in the kraal the fourth time, and appointed the bluebuck (iputi) to be the keeper of the gate. When the animals went away, the inkalimeva came as before.
It said: "What are you doing by yourself?"
The bluebuck answered: "I am watching the fat belonging to all the animals."
The inkalimeva said "I will be your companion. Come, let us sit down and scratch each other's heads."
The bluebuck agreed to this. The inkalimeva sat down; it scratched the head of the other till he went to sleep. Then it arose and ate all the fat. When it had finished, it threw a stone at the bluebuck and awoke him.
The bluebuck saw what had happened and cried out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
Then the animals ran up and killed the bluebuck also.
They put fat in the kraal the fifth time, and appointed the porcupine (incanda) to be the keeper of the gate. The animals went away, and the inkalimeva came as before.
It said to the porcupine: "Let us run a race against each other."
It let the porcupine beat in this race.
Then it said: "I did not think you could run so fast, but let us try again." They ran again, and it allowed the porcupine to beat the second time. They ran till the porcupine was so tired that he said: "Let us rest now."
They sat down to rest, and the porcupine went to sleep. Then the inkalimeva rose up and ate all the fat. When it had finished eating, it threw a stone at the porcupine, which caused him to jump up.
He called out with a loud voice: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
Then the animals came running up, and put the porcupine to death.
They put fat in the kraal the sixth time, and selected the hare (umvundla) to be the keeper of the gate. At first the hare would not consent.
He said: "The coney is dead, and the muishond is dead, and the duiker is dead, and the bluebuck is dead, and the porcupine is dead, and you will kill me also."
They promised him that they would not kill him, and after a good deal of persuasion he at last agreed to keep the gate. When the animals were gone he laid himself down, but he only pretended to be asleep.
In a short time the inkalimeva went in, and was just going to take the fat when the hare cried out: "Let the fat alone."
The inkalimeva said: "Please let me have this little bit only."
The hare answered, mocking: "Please let me have this little bit only."
After that they became companions. The hare proposed that they should fasten each other's tails, and the inkalimeva agreed. The inkalimeva fastened the tail of the hare first.
The hare said: "Don't tie my tail so tight."
Then the hare fastened the tail of the inkalimeva.
The inkalimeva said: "Don't tie my tail so tight;" but the hare made no answer. After tying the tail of the inkalimeva very fast, the hare took his club and killed it. The hare took the tail of the inkalimeva and ate it, all except a little piece which he hid in the fence.
Then he called out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
The animals came running back, and when they saw that the inkalimeva was dead they rejoiced greatly. They asked the hare for the tail, which should be kept for the chief.
The hare replied: "The one I killed had no tail."
They said: "How can an inkalimeva be without a tail?"
They began to search, and at length they found a piece of the tail in the fence. They told the chief that the hare had eaten the tail.
He said: "Bring him to me."
All the animals ran after the hare, but he fled, and they could not catch him. The hare ran into a hole, at the mouth of which the animals set a snare, and then went away. The hare remained in the hole for many days, but at length he managed to get out without being caught.
He went to a place where he found a bushbuck (imbabala) building a hut. There was a pot on the fire with meat in it.
He said to the bushbuck: "Can I take this little piece of meat?"
The bushbuck answered: "You must not do it."
But he took the meat and ate it all. After that he whistled a particular tune, and there fell a storm of hail which killed the bushbuck. Then he took the skin of the bushbuck, and made for himself a mantle.
After this the hare went into the forest to get himself some weapons to fight with. While he was cutting a stick the monkeys threw leaves upon him. He called to them to come down and beat him. They came down, but he killed them all with his weapons.
[This story terminates so abruptly that I have little doubt about its being merely a fragment. There is a story very similar to it, in which a pool of water is guarded by different animals in turn, all of which are deceived by the jackal.]
LITTLE jackal one day went out hunting, when he met Lion. Lion proposed that they should hunt together, on condition that if a small antelope was killed it was to be Little Jackal's, and if a large one was killed it was to be Lion's. Little Jackal agreed to this.
The first animal killed was a large eland. Lion was very glad, and said to Little Jackal: "I will continue hunting while you go to my house and call my children to carry the meat home."
Little Jackal replied: "Yes, I agree to that."
Lion went away to hunt. When he had gone, Little Jackal went to his own house and called his own children to carry away the meat. He said: "Lion takes me for a fool if he thinks I will call his children while my own are dying with hunger."
So Little Jackal's children carried the meat to their home on the top of a high rock. The only way to get to their house was by means of a rope.
Lion caught nothing more, and after a time he went home and asked his wife where the meat was. She told him there was no meat. He said: "Did not Little Jackal bring a message to my children to carry meat?"
His wife replied: "No; he has not been here. We are still dying with hunger."
Lion then went to Little Jackal's house, but he could not get up the rock to it. So he sat down by the water and waited. After a time Little Jackal came to get water. He was close to the water when he saw Lion. He at once ran away, and Lion ran after him. He ran into a hole under a tree, but Lion caught his tail before he got far in. He said to him: "That is not my tail you have hold of; it is a root of the tree. If you do not believe me, take a stone and strike it, and see if any blood comes."
Lion let go the tail, and went for a stone to prove what it was. While he was gone for the stone, Little Jackal went far into the hole. When Lion returned, he could not be found. Lion lay down by the hole and waited. After a long time Little Jackal wanted to come out. He went to the entrance and looked round, but he could not see Lion. To make sure, he said: "Ho, I see you, my master, although you are in hiding."
Lion did not move from the place where he lay concealed. Then Little Jackal went out, and Lion pursued him, but he got away.
Lion watched for him, and one day, when Little Jackal was out hunting, he came upon him in a place where he could not escape. Lion was just about to spring upon him, when Little Jackal said softly: "Hush! do you not see that bushbuck on the other side of the rock? I am glad you have come to help me. just remain here while I run round and drive him towards you."
Lion did so, and Little Jackal made his escape.
At another time there was a meeting of the animals, and Lion was the chief at the meeting. Little Jackal wanted to go too, but there was a law made that no one should be present unless he had horns. So Little Jackal took wax out of a nest of bees, and made horns for himself with it. He fastened the horns on his head, and went to the meeting. Lion did not know him on account of the horns. But he sat near the fire and went to sleep, when the horns melted.
Lion looked at him and saw who it was. He immediately tried to catch him, but Little Jackal was quick, and sprang away. He ran under an overhanging rock and sang out: "Help! help! this rock is falling upon me!"
Lion went for a pole to prop up the rock that he might get at Little Jackal. While he was away, Little Jackal escaped.
After that they became companions again, and went hunting another time. They killed an ox. Lion said: "I will watch it while you carry the pieces away."
Lion gave him the breast, and said: "Take this to my wife."
Little Jackal took it to his own wife. When he returned, Lion gave a shin, and said: "Take this to your wife."
Little Jackal took the shin to Lion's house. Lion's wife said: "I cannot take this, because it should not come here."
Little Jackal thereupon struck Lion's wife in the face, and went back to the place where the ox was killed. Lion gave him a large piece of meat, and said: "Take this to my wife."
Little Jackal took it to his own wife. This continued till the ox was finished. Then they both went home. When Lion arrived at his house he found there was weeping in his family. His wife said: "Is it you who sent Little Jackal to beat me and my children, and is it you who sent this shin? Did I ever eat a shin?"
When Lion heard that, he was very angry, and at once went to Little Jackal's house. When he reached the rock, Little Jackal looked down and said: "Who are you, and what is your name, and whose son are you, and where are you from, and where are you going to, and whom do you want, and what do you want him for?"
Lion replied: "I have merely come to see you. I wish you would let the rope down."
Little Jackal let down a rope made of mouse skins, and when Lion climbed a little way up, the rope broke, and he fell and was hurt. He then went home.
THE language of a Kaffir is adorned with figurative expressions, some of which are readily understood by an Englishman, but others, when literally interpreted, are to us meaningless. Such expressions, however, are found upon inquiry to refer to some circumstance in their mode of living, or some event in their traditional history, which makes the meaning very clear. A few of their commonest proverbs and figurative expressions are here given:
Isikuni sinyuka nomkwezeli.
A brand burns him who stirs it up.
This proverb is an exact equivalent to our English one, Let sleeping dogs lie.
Njengo mdudo ka Mapassa.
Like the marriage feast of Mapassa.
This saying is used to denote anything unusually grand. The marriage festivities of one of the ancients, Mapassa by name, are said to have been carried on for a whole year.
Ishwa lomhluzi wamanqina.
Misfortune of soup made of shanks and feet.
Applied to any person who never does well, but is always getting into scrapes. The kind of soup spoken of is very lightly esteemed by the Kaffirs.
Akuko mpukane inqakulela enye.
One fly does not provide for another.
A saying of the industrious to the idle, meaning that each should work for himself as the flies do.
Kude e-Bakuba, akuyiwanga mntu.
Bakuba is far away, no person ever reached it.
Bakuba is an ideal country. This proverb is used as a warning against undue ambition, or as advice to be content with that which is within reach. It is equivalent to our English saying, It is no use building castles in the air.
Kuxeliwe e-Xukwane apo kumaqasho makulu.
They have slaughtered at Kukwane where much meat is obtainable.
According to tradition, there was once a very rich chief who lived at Kukwane (near King William's Town), and who was in the habit of entertaining strangers in a more liberal manner than any who went before or who came after him. This proverb is used to such as ask too much from others, as if to say, It was only at Kukwane that such expectations were realized.
Qabu Unoqolomba efile.
I rejoice that Kolomba's mother is dead.
The mother of Kolomba was, according to tradition, a very disagreeable person. This saying is used when anything that one dreads or dislikes has passed away.
Izinto azimntaka Ngqika zonke.
It is not every one who is a son of Gaika.
Gaika was at the beginning of this century the most powerful chief west of the Kei. This proverb signifies that all are not equally fortunate.
Uyakulila ngasonye uxele inkawu.
You will shed tears with one eye like a monkey.
A warning used to deter any one from being led into a snare of any kind. It is said that when a monkey is caught in a trap he cries, but that tears come out of one eye only.
It is the seed of the umya (a species of wild hemp).
This saying is applied to any thing or person considered very beautiful. The seed referred to is like a small jet black bead.
He has drunk the juice of the flower of the wild aloe.
Said of a dull, sleepy person. This juice when drunk has a stupefying effect, and benumbs the limbs so as to make them powerless for a time.
The walls have come into collision.
Said of any dispute between persons of consequence.
Uvutelwe pakati nje nge vatala.
He is ripe inside, like a water-melon.
Said of any one who has come to a resolution without yet expressing it. From its appearance it cannot be said with certainty whether a watermelon is ripe or not.
Isala kutyelwa siva noolopu.
A person who will not take advice gets knowledge when trouble overtakes him.
Uyakuva into embi eyaviwa ngu Hili wase Mambalwini.
You will find out what Hili of the Amambalu experienced.
Hili, or Tikoloshe, is, according to the belief of the Kaffirs, a mischievous being who usually lives in the water, but who goes about as a human dwarf playing tricks upon people. He milks the cows when no one is watching them. He causes women to fall in love with him, for he is of a very amorous disposition towards the female sex. The uncivilized Kaffirs, even at the present day, do not doubt the existence of such a being. It is said that a long time ago there was a man of the Amambalu who had good reason to suspect that his wife had fallen in love with Hili. He accordingly pretended to go upon a journey, but returned in the middle of the night and fastened his dogs at the door of his hut. He then went inside and kindled a fire, when, as he anticipated, he found Hili there. The man called his neighbours, who came with sticks and beat Hili till he was unable to move. They then tied him up in a bundle, fastened him to the back of the woman, and sent her away to wander wherever she liked.
This saying is applied as a warning to people to avoid doing wrong, lest the punishment of Hili overtake them.
Ulahla imbo yako ngopoyiyana.
You have cast away your own for that which you are not sure of.
This proverb is equivalent to the English one, A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
He is a buck of an endless forest.
A saying applied to a shiftless person, one who never continues long in any occupation.
You are lighting a fire in the wind.
Said to any one who favours strangers in preference to relatives, or to their disadvantage.
A spy for both.
Said of a talebearer.
Akuko ranincwa lingagqimiyo kowalo umxuma.
There is no beast that does not roar in its den.
This proverb means that a man recognises no superior in his own establishment. It is the Kaffir equivalent for, Every cock crows on his own dunghill.
A dog of the wind.
A saying applied to any one who has no settled plan of living.
The shield turned the wrong way.
This saying is applied to any one who goes over from one party to another. It is a common expression for one who turns evidence against accomplices in crime.
It is a cob stripped of maize in an ashpit.
Said of a worthless character.
I, the adhesive grass, will stick fast to you.
The isinama is a kind of grass that sticks to one's clothing when it is touched, and can hardly be brushed off afterwards. This proverb is used as a warning to any one to avoid a bad habit or an unworthy companion that cannot easily be got rid of.
The sun never sets without fresh news.
Amaqotyazana angalaliyo emzini.
They are people of experience who do not sleep at a strange place.
This proverb is used in praise of one who is smart in going a message, or who performs any duty at a distance quickly.
You will prefer roasted meat.
This saying is applied to any one who is boasting immoderately, as a warning that if he does not take care he will get into trouble, when he will be glad to take whatever comes to hand. He will prefer roast meat because it is easily cooked, and he will have neither time nor means to boil it. This saying is also used as a threat, as if one said, I will punish you thoroughly.
Throats are all alike in swallowing
This proverb is used when one asks another for anything, and implies, If you do not give to me now, I will not give to you when I have anything that you would like a share of.
The people who rescue and kill.
This saying is applied to Europeans. It first arose from the heavy demands made by Lord Charles Somerset upon the Gaikas in return for English protection, but the Kaffirs maintain that we have acted up to the description ever since. It is sometimes put in this form, The people who protect with one hand and kill with the other.
Kukuza kuka Nxele.
The coming of Nkele.
Nkele (the left-handed), or Makana, one of the most remarkable men that Kaffirland has produced, rose by his own merits from a private station to be the leader of the Ndlambe clans in the second decade of this century. It was he who united them against the English after Lord Charles Somerset invaded their country with a view of compelling them to recognise a chief whom they detested. He led in person the attack upon Grahamstown, and only retreated after the flower of his forces was swept away. To obtain peace for his people, he voluntarily surrendered to the English troops, and was sent as a prisoner of state to Robben Island. In attempting to make his escape from the island in a boat, he was drowned. But the Kaffirs would not believe that Makana was dead, for they deemed him immortal. All through the wars Of 1835, 1846-7, and 1851-2, they looked for his reappearance to lead them to victory. Ten years ago his personal ornaments were still in preservation at a village near King William's Town, but about that date the hope of his return was generally abandoned. Injunctions which Alakana laid upon his countrymen are still implicitly obeyed. Before his time the corpses of common people were not usually interred, but by his orders it has been done ever since.
The saying implies anything long expected, but which never occurs. It is now in general use, though it is only of a few years' standing.
The land is dead.
A saying which implies that war has commenced.
One does not become great by claiming greatness.
This proverb is used to incite any one to the performance of noble deeds. It means, a man's actions, not his talk and boasting, are what people judge of his greatness by.
Kuhlangene isanga nenkohla.
The wonderful and the impossible have come into collision.
A saying applied to any intricate question.
The mist and the sun are together.
A saying denoting a very great number.
It is the foot of a baboon.
A saying denoting a treacherous person.
We shall hear, we are on the side towards which the wind blows.
The saying denotes, we shall soon know all that is going on.
Umke namangabangaba aselwandhle.
He has gone in pursuit of the (fabulous) birds of the sea.
A saying applied to one whose ambitious aspirations are not likely to be realized.
Umona wasemlungwini ubandeza icitywa ungaliqabi.
They prevent us from getting red clay from the pit, and they do not use it.
This saying is used of Europeans, to denote that they act as the dog in the manger towards the Kaffirs. It has unfortunately become a very common expression.
Usela ngendebe endala.
You drink out of the old cup.
The indebe is a drinking vessel made of rushes. The saying is used to a wealthy man, and means, You use a vessel handed down to you from your ancestors.
You are creeping on your knees to the fireplace.
This saying is used as a warning to any one who is following a course that must lead to ruin. It is as if one said, You are like an infant crawling towards the fire circle (in the middle of a Kaffir hut), who is sure to get burnt.
To skin a mouse.
A saying which implies, to do anything secretly. A mouse can be skinned without any one seeing it, but an ox cannot.
It has stuck fast by one of the front legs.
This saying is used when one has committed oneself to any matter of importance. An animal cannot extricate itself easily when fast by one of its front legs.
One who eats the remains of a meal without first obtaining permission.
This saying is used of an uncalled-for expression of opinion.
Ukaulela inkawu ziyakasela.
You disturb monkeys on their way to drink.
This saying is used to express uncalled-for interference.
Umafa evuka njengenyanga.
It dies and rises like the moon.
Said of any question that springs up again after it is supposed to be settled.
Akuko nkanga idubula ingeti.
There is no wormwood that comes into flower and does not wither.
A proverb descriptive of the life of man.
The foot has no nose.
This proverb is an exhortation to be hospitable. It is as if one said, Give food to the traveller, because when you are on a journey your foot will not be able to smell out and avoid a man whom you have turned from your door, but to your shame it may carry you to his.
You have exposed yourself.
This saying is applied as a warning not to give anything to an importunate person, as he would very likely be encouraged thereby to continue asking for more.
The crab has stuck fast between the stones at the entrance of its hole.
Said of any one who is involved in difficulties of his own creation, or of one who raises an argument and is beaten in it.
Ubopelele inja enkangeni.
He has fastened a dog to a shrub.
This saying is used to denote a very greedy person, one who is so greedy as to fasten his dog to a shrub that the animal may not beg for food while he is eating. The shrub denoted is the very common one that is covered with yellow flowers at midsummer.
Yimbini yezolo yakwa Gxuluwe.
Guluwe's two of yesterday.
This is a saying of any one who goes away promising to return, and does not do so. It had its origin in an event which happened five generations back. Guluwe was a hunter of great renown, who crossed the Kei with Khakhabay, the great-grand father of the late Sandile. No man was ever so skilful and successful in the pursuit of game as he. But when Khakhabay took possession of the Amatolas, which he purchased from the Hottentot chieftainess Hoho, he found them infested by great numbers of bushmen. One day Guluwe, who had two young men with him, killed an eland, but while he was still shouting his cry of triumph: "Tsi! ha! ha! ha! ha! the weapons of Khakhabay!" he was surprised by a number of these inhuman abatwa. They said: "Look at the sun for the last time, you shall kill no more of our game." Guluwe offered them a large quantity of dacha (a species of wild hemp, used for smoking) for his ransom. One of the abatwa was unwilling to spare him, but all the rest agreed. They kept him with them while he pretended to send the two young men for the dacha, but privately he told them not to return. The bushmen then commenced to eat the eland. They ate that day, and all that night, never ceasing to watch Guluwe. The next morning they asked him when the young men would be back with the dacha, and he replied that he did not expect them before sunset. The abatwa, gorged with meat, then lay down to sleep, all except the one who advised that Guluwe should not be spared. That one watched a while longer, but at length he too was overcome by drowsiness. Guluwe then with his assagai put one after another to death, until, forgetting himself, he shouted his cry: "Tsi! ha! ha! ha! ha! Izikali zika Rarabe!" This awakened the bushman who had advised that he should be killed; he now sprang to his feet and escaped, calling out as he ran with the speed of the wind: "I said this Guluwe of the Khakhabays should be destroyed; you who are dead have perished through not following my advice."
This story is very likely of Hottentot origin. It is generally told by the
Kaffirs, but I have observed that it is a special favourite in places only where
there is a very strong tinge of Hottentot blood.
It is capable of indefinite extension by the narrator, but the tricks of Little Jackal are always very silly ones. The above are among the best of them.
A large proportion of Kaffir tales have a similar termination with many
English ones; the heroine gets married to a prince. These show that a desire for
worldly rank is as great in the one people as in the other. Most Kaffir tales
are destitute of moral teaching from our point of view. What recommendation, for
instance, has the girl in this story to the favour of the young chief?
The custom which the chief's daughter disregarded is the following—
When a Kaffir girl arrives at the age of puberty, messengers are sent by her father to all the neighbouring villages to invite the young women to attend the "Ntonjane." The girl in the meantime is kept secluded in the house of an aunt, or other female relative, and her father does not see her. Soon parties are seen coming from all sides, singing as they march. The first party that arrives halts in front of the cattle kraal, where it is joined by those that come after. When the girls are all assembled, the father chooses an ox to be slaughtered. The meat is cooked, and men and women come from all directions to the feast. The men then instruct the women to dress the girls for the dance, and when this is done they are ranged in rows in front of the cattle kraal. They ire almost naked having on only a girdle round the waist, and an apron, called cacawe, made for the occasion out of the leaves of a certain plant. In their hands they hold assagais, using them as walking sticks.
When all is ready, four of the girls stop out of the front row and dance, the rest singing; and when these are tired four others step out, and so on, until all the girls present have danced. The spectators then applaud the best dancer, or if they do not at once unanimously fix upon the same person, the girls dance until all present agree.
The girls then give room to the men and women, who form themselves in lines in the same manner, and dance until it is decided which of them surpass the others. The dancing is continued until sunset, when the men and women return home, leaving the party of girls (called the "jaka") who remain overnight.
Next day dancing is resumed in the same order, the guests usually arriving very early in the morning.
If the girl's father is a rich man three oxen are slaughtered, and the ntonjane is kept up for twelve days. On the thirteenth day the young woman comes out of the house where she has all the time been living apart from her family. If the girl is a chief's daughter the ntonjane is kept up for twenty-four days. All the councillors send oxen to be slaughtered, that there may be plenty for the guests to eat.
The following ceremony takes place on the occasion of a chief's daughter coming out of the house in which she was concealed during the twenty-four days:
A son of her father's chief councillor puts on his head the two wings of a blue crane (the indwe), regarded by the Kaffirs as an emblem of bravery only to be worn by veterans in time of war. He goes into the house where she is, and when he comes out she follows him. They march towards the kraal where the dancing took place, the girl's mother, the jaka, or party of young women, the girl's father, and his councillors, forming a procession. More cattle are slaughtered for the "indwe," and then dancing is renewed, after which the girl drinks milk for the first time since the day when she was concealed in the house. Large skins containing milk are sent from different kraals to the place where the ntonjane is held. Some milk is put into a small vessel made of rushes, a little of it is poured on the fireplace, the aunt, or other female relative, in whose charge the girl was, takes the first mouthful, then she gives the milk to the girl, who, after having drunk, is taken to her mother's house. The people then disperse, and the ntonjane is over.
This ceremony is frequently attended with gross licentiousness. The girls of the jaka are allowed by immemorial custom to select sweethearts, and this liberty often leads to depravity.
The mbulu is a fabulous creature, firmly believed in by little folks. It can assume the human form, but cannot part with its tail. One of its peculiarities is that it never speaks the truth when it is possible to tell a falsehood.
There are three or four versions of this story, but all agree in the main
points. In one, it is the grandmother of the children who is the cannibal, in
another, it is their mother, and in a third it is the husband of their aunt. One
version makes Magoda escape with the children, and introduces a great deal of
obscenity. The parts referring to the bird and the manner of the children's
delivery are the same in all. So also is the episode of the broken pot, but the
conversation between the two girls differs in some respects.
When a Kaffir woman is married, her husband's parents give her a new name, by which she is known to his family ever after. Upon the birth of her first child, whether son or daughter, she is frequently called by every one else after the name given to the child, "the mother of so-and-so."
The ntengu is rather larger than a swallow, and is of a bright bluish-black colour. It may often be seen on the backs of cattle, seeking for insects on which it feeds.
Among the natives of South Africa relationship is viewed differently from what it is by Europeans. I have more than once heard Kaffirs accused of falsehood because they asserted one person to be their father or mother at one time and a different person at another time. Yet they were telling the truth according to their ideas. A common complaint concerning native servant girls is that they claim every other person they meet as a brother or a sister. Now, from their point of view, what we should term cousins are really brothers and sisters. It is not poverty of language, for they have words to express shades of relationship where we have none, but a difference of ideas, that causes them to use the same word for father and paternal uncle, for brother and cousin, etc. Bawo is the word used in addressing father, father's brother, or father's half-brother. Little children say Tata. But there are three different words for father, according as a person is speaking of his own father or uncle, of the father or uncle of the person he is speaking to, or of the father or uncle of the person he is speaking of. Speaking of my father, bawo is the word used: of your father, uyihlo; of his father, uyise. Malume is the brother of any one called mother. Ma is the word used in addressing mother, any wife of father, or the sister of any of these. The one we should term mother can only be distinguished from the others, when speaking of her, by describing her as uma wam kanye-i.e., my real mother; or uma ondizalayo-i.e., the mother who bore me. Speaking of my mother, ma is the word used: of your mother, unyoko; of his or her mother, unina. A paternal aunt is addressed as dadebobawo-i.e., sister of my father. Mnakwetu is the word used by females in addressing a brother, half-brother, or male cousin. Males, when addressing any of these relations older than themselves, use the word mkuluwa; and when addressing one younger than themselves say mninawe. Dade is used in addressing a sister, a half-sister, or a female cousin. Females, when speaking to any of these relations younger than themselves, usually say msakwetu. Mtakama is an endearing form of expression, meaning child of my mother. Bawomkula is the address of a grandfather. Makulu is grandmother. Mtshana is the son of a sister.
In this story some liberty is taken with the Kaffir marriage ceremonies, a
description of which will serve as a key to much that is contained in several of
these tales. The whole of the ceremonies are included in the term umdudo, a
word. (derived from the verb ukudada, which means to dance by spinning up and
down, as ukuxentsa means to dance by moving the upper part of the body. The
dance at a marriage is considered of more importance than any of the others, and
is therefore frequently practised until skill in its performance is attained.
The marriage of a young Kaffir woman is arrange by her father or guardian, and she is not legally supposed to be consulted in the choice of a husband. In point of fact, however, matches arising from mutual love are not uncommon. In such cases, if any difficulties are raised by the guardians on either side, the young people do not scruple to run away together, after which their relatives usually come to an arrangement. Yet instances are not wanting of girls being compelled against their wishes to marry old men, who have already perhaps five or six wives. Kaffir ideas of some kinds of morality are very low. The custom is general for a married woman to have a lover who is not her husband, and little or no disgrace attaches to her on this account. The lover is legally subject to a fine of no great amount, and the husband may give the woman a beating, but that finishes the penalty.
That which makes a Kaffir marriage binding in their estimation, is not the performance of a ceremony, but the transfer of a certain number of cattle, as agreed upon, from the husband or his friends to the father or guardian of the woman. In practice the umdudo is often deferred to a convenient season, yet the woman is considered not less a wife, and her children not less legal, provided always that the transfer of cattle has taken place according to agreement. This system of transfer of cattle is of great advantage to a Kaffir female. It protects her from gross ill-treatment by her husband, as violence gives a woman's relatives a right to claim her divorce without restoring the cattle. It creates protectors for herself and her children in the persons of all the individuals among whom the cattle are shared. And lastly, it gives her the status of a married woman in the estimation of her people, whereas, if no cattle are transferred, she is not regarded by them as having the rank of a wife.
Marriages are absolutely prohibited between people of the same family title. This peculiarity seems to indicate that the tribes and clans of the present day are combinations of others that were dispersed before their traditional history commenced. A man may marry a woman of the same clan that he belongs to, provided she is not a blood relative; but he may not marry a woman whose father's family title is the same as his own, even though no relationship can be traced between them, and the one may belong to the Xosa and the other to the Pondo tribe. As an instance, we will take a man who belongs to, say, the Dushane clan of the Xosa tribe, and whose family title is the Amanywabe. Among the Tembus, the Pondos, the Zulus, and many other tribes, are people with this same family title. They cannot trace any relationship with each other, but wherever they are found they have ceremonies peculiar to themselves. Thus the customs observed at the birth of a child are exactly the same in every part of the country among people of the same family title, though they may never have heard of each other, while neighbours of the same clan, but of different family titles, have these customs altogether dissimilar. All the children take the family title of the father, and can thus marry people of the same family title as the mother, provided they are not closely related in blood.
Marriage proposals may come from the father or guardian of the young woman, or they may first be made by the man himself or the relatives of the man who wishes to take a wife. The father of a young man frequently selects a bride for him, and intimates his wish by sending a messenger to make proposals to the girl's father or guardian. In this case the messenger takes some cattle with him, when, if the advances are favourably received, an assagai is sent back, after which the relatives of the young people discuss and finally arrange the terms of the marriage. If the proposal comes from the girl's father, he sends an assagai, which is accepted if the suit is agreeable, or returned if it is not.
When the preliminary arrangements are concluded, a bridal procession is formed at the young woman's kraal, to escort her to her future home. It consists of her relatives and all the young people of both sexes who can get away. It leaves at such a time as to arrive at its destination after dark, and endeavours to reach the place without attracting notice. The bridal party takes with it a cow, given by the bride's father or guardian to confer fortune upon her, and hence called the Inqakwe. This cow is afterwards well taken care of by the husband. The party has also an ox provided by the same person, as his contribution towards the marriage feast. On the following morning at daylight the ox is killed, when a portion of the meat is taken by the bride's party, and the remainder is left for the people of the kraal. The bridegroom's friends then send messengers to invite the people of the neighbourhood to the feast, and as soon as these arrive the dancing commences.
In the dance the men stand in lines three, four, or more rows in depth, according to their number, and at a little distance behind the women stand in the same order, that is, they are ranged as follows:
The men stand with their heads erect and their arms locked together. They are
nearly naked, but wear ornaments of brass around their waists. The trappings of
the war dance are altogether wanting. The women are, however, in full dress, for
their part consists only in singing. When all are ready, a man who has been
selected for the purpose commences to sing, the others immediately join in, and
at a certain note the whole of the men rise together from the ground. The dance
consists merely in springing straight up and coming down with a quivering of the
body but when the men warm to it, it gives them great satisfaction. The song is
very monotonous, the same note occurring at every rise from the ground. This
dancing, with intervals of rest and feasting, continues as long as the
bridegroom's relatives supply oxen for slaughter. A day suffices for a poor man,
but a rich man's marriage festivities may last a week or upwards.
On the closing day the bridegroom and his friends march from one hut, while the bride and her party march from another, so as to meet in front of the entrance to the cattle kraal. The bride carries an assagai in her hand, which she throws so as to stick in the ground inside the kraal in an upright position. This is the last of the ceremonies, and the guests immediately begin to disperse, each man taking home the milk-sack which he had brought with him. In olden times ox-races usually took place on the closing day; but this custom is now falling into neglect
In the above story Kenkebe is represented as the personification of selfish greed. In this character his name has passed into a common proverb—
Sibayeni sonke, Kenkebe.
We are all bridegrooms, Kenkebm
This saying is used to any one who does not readily share food with others. It means, we are all entitled to a portion, you greedy one. A Kaffir, when eating, commonly shares his food with any others who may be present at the time.
In this story the girls are represented as taking fermented milk to the man.
This is not in accordance with ordinary Kaffir usage, which prohibits females
from serving out milk. But Long Snake, though a man, has been bewitched and
obliged to assume the appearance of a serpent, retaining however the faculties
of a human being.
Kaffir women grind, or rather bruise, millet by putting it on a flat stone, before which the worker kneels, and crushing it with a small round stone hold in the hands. When several are working near each other of an evening, they usually lighten their labours by a rude chant. The bruised substance is mixed with water, and formed into small loaves of very insipid bread.
The game called Iceya is mentioned in this story as being played in the rock
that became a hut. The games with which Kaffir boys are accustomed to amuse
themselves are, as a rule such as require a large amount of exertion of legs,
arms and lungs. In the European towns, and at Mission stations, they have
generally adopted the English game of cricket, but at their own kraals they
still practise the sports of their ancestors.
At a very early age they commence trials of skill against each other in throwing knobbed sticks and imitation assagais. They may often be seen enjoying this exercise in little groups, those of the same age keeping together, for there is no greater tyrant in the world than the big Kaffir boy over his younger fellows. Commencing with an ant-heap at a distance of ten or fifteen yards, for a target, they gradually become so perfect that they can hit an object a foot square at double and even treble that distance. The knobbed stick and the imitation assagai are thrown in different ways, the object of the first being to inflict a heavy blow upon the mark aimed at, while that of the last is to pierce it. This exercise strengthens the muscles of the arms, and gives expansion to the chest. The result is that when the boys are grown up and become men, they are able to use their weapons without any further training. When practising, they keep up a continual noise, and if an unusually successful hit is made the thrower shouts the common Kaffir cry of exultation, Tsi! ha! ha! ha! ha! Izikali zika Rarabe! (The weapons of Khàkhàbay).
Kaffir boys above the age of nine or ten years are fond of sham-fighting with sticks. They stand in couples, each with a foot advanced to meet that of his antagonist, each with a cudgel elevated in the right hand. Each fixes his eye upon the eye of his opponent, and seeks to ward off blows as well as to inflict them. In these contests pretty hard strokes are sometimes given and received with the utmost good humour.
A game of which they are very fond is an imitation hunt. In this, one of them represents a wild animal of some kind, a second acts as a hunter, and the others take the part of dogs in pursuit. A space is marked off, within which the one chased is allowed to take breath, when he is said to be in the bush. He tries to imitate as closely as possible the animal he is representing. Thus if he is an antelope he simply runs, but if he is a lion he stands and fights.
The calves of the kraal are under the care of the boys, and a good deal of time is passed in training them to run and to obey signals made by whistling. The boys mount them when they are eighteen months or two years old, and race about upon their backs. When the boys are engaged in any sport, one of the number is selected by lot to tend the calves. As many blades of grass as there are boys are taken, and a knot is made on the end of one of them. The biggest boy holds the blades between the fingers and thumb of his closed hand, and whoever draws the blade with the knot has to act as herdsman.
They have also a simple game called hide and look for.
If they chance to be disinclined for active exercise, they amuse themselves by moulding clay into little images of cattle, or by making puzzles with strings. Some of them are skilful in forming knots with thongs and pieces of wood, which it taxes the ingenuity of the others to undo. The cleverest of them sometimes practise tricks of deception with grains of maize. They are so sharp that although one is sure that he actually sees the grain taken into the right hand, that hand when opened will be found empty and the maize will be contained in the left, or perhaps it will be exhibited somewhere else.
The above comprise the common out-door sports of boys up to the age of fourteen or fifteen years, At that time of life they usually begin to practise the different dances which they will be required to take part in when they become men. These dances differ one from another almost as much as those practised by Europeans.
The commonest indoor game of the Kaffirs is the one called Iceya. This can be played by two persons or any number exceeding two. The players sit in a circle, and each has a little piece of wood, a grain of corn, or something of the kind. It must be, so small that it can easily be concealed in a folded hand, and no player must have more than one. If there are many players they form themselves into sides or parties, but when they are few in number one plays against the rest. This one conceals the toy in either of his hands, and throwing both arms out against an opponent he announces himself either as an Inhlangano (one who meets), or an Ipambo (one who evades). His opponent throws his arms out in the same manner, so that his right hand shall be opposite the first player's left, and his left opposite the first player's right. The clenched hands are then opened, and if the toys are found to meet, the first player wins if he has called himself an inhlangano, or loses if an ipambo. If the toys do not meet, the case is reversed. When there are many players, one after another is beaten until two only are left. This part of the game is called the Umnyadala (the winding up). Those two then play against each other, and the one who is beaten is said to be left with the umnyadala, and is laughed at. The winner is greeted as the wearer of the tiger skin mantle. In playing, the arms are thrown out very quickly, and the words are rapidly uttered, so that a stranger might fancy there was neither order nor rule observed. Young men and boys often spend whole nights playing the Iceya, which has the same hold upon them as dice upon some Europeans.
Next to the Iceya, the most popular indoor game with Kaffir children is the Imfumba. One of the players takes a grain of maize, or any other small substance, in his hands, and pretends to place it in the hands of the others, who are seated in a circle around him. He may really give it to one of them, or he may keep it himself. One is then selected to guess in whose possession it is.*
The last of the Kaffir indoor games is called Cumbelele. Three or four children stand with their closed hands on top of each other, so as to form a column, They sing "Cumbelele. cumbelele, pang-alala," and at the last la they draw their hands back sharply, each one pinching with his thumb nail the hand above.
Toys, as playthings, are few in number. Bows and arrows are sometimes seen, but generally boys prefer an imitation assagai.
The nodiwu is a piece of wood about six or eight inches long, an inch and a half or two inches wide, and an eighth or a quarter of an inch thick in the middle. Towards the edges it is bevelled off, so that the surface is convex, or consists of two inclined planes. At one end it has a thong attached to it by which it is whirled rapidly round. The other end of the thong is usually fastened to a small round piece of wood used as a handle. The nodiwu, when whirled round gives forth a noise that can be heard at a considerable distance. Besides the use which it is put to by the lads, when a little child is crying inside a hut its mother or nurse will sometimes get a boy to make a noise with a nodiwu outside, and then induce the child to be still by pretending that a monster is coming to devour it. There is a kind of superstition connected with the nodiwu, that playing with it invites a gale of wind. Men will, on this account, often prevent boys from using it when they desire calm weather for any purpose. This superstition is identical with that which prevents many sailors from whistling at sea.
I have greatly reduced this story in bulk by leaving out endless repetitions of exactly the same trick, but performed upon different individuals or animals. In all other respects it is complete. The word Hlakanyana means the little deceiver.
* A Kaffir who went with the mission party from Lovedale to Lake Nyassa, and remained there several years, informs me that he found the Imfumba the commonest game of the children in that part of Africa. When he had learned the language of the people there, he was surprised to hear many of the common Kaffir folklore stories told nearly as he had heard them related by Gaka women when he was a boy.
Charms and medicines for the cure of diseases are classed together by the
Kaffirs. Some of the women as well as of the men have really a wonderful
knowledge of the properties of herbs and roots. They are acquainted with various
vegetable-poisons and with their antidotes, and not unfrequently make use of
A case recently came before me for investigation, in which a Kaffir woman was suspected of having administered poison to another person. In her hut a great variety of roots and dried herbs was found. These were carefully separated, and then persons skilled in such matters were brought to give evidence as to their properties. Anything like collusion was impossible, yet each one without hesitation stated what each medicine was to be used for, and all agreed.
One plant was for curing stomach-ache, another acted as an emetic, a third cured the sting of a venomous insect, and so on. But among them was a plant to be chewed when crossing a stream, to prevent the river spirit from biting a person. Another was a root to be used to gain the favour of a judge during a trial.
The method of using this last was as follows:
A portion of it was to be placed upon some coals, over which the man was to sit, covering himself and the fire with his mantle so as to be thoroughly smoked. During the trial another portion was to be kept in the mouth.
Not the slightest distinction was made by the witnesses between these different kinds of "medicines."
The Kaffir is a perfect slave to charms, and hardly ever undertakes any matter of importance without using them.
This is a favourite story, and is therefore very widely
known. Sometimes it happens that native girls are employed as nurses by
Europeans, and that little children are taught by them to sing, or rather chant
the song of the cock, so that this story may even be like "an old acquaintance
with a cheerful face" to many of our own race who have grown up on the frontier.
The original of the first songs is:
Uyalila, uyalila, umta ka Sihamba Ngenyanga.
Wenziwe ngabomu Sihamba Ngenyanga,
Ngabantu abantloni. Sihamba Ngenyanga.
Bamtuma amanzi emini. Sihamba Ngenyanga.
Waba kuka ngetunga, laza latshona. Sihamha Ngenyanga.
Waba kuka ngomcepe, waza watshona. Sihamba Ngenyanga.
Waba kuka ngexakato, laza latshona. Sihaniba Ngenyanga.
That of the second is:
Ndiyi nkuku nje ndingebulawe. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Ndize kubika u-Tangalimlibo. Kukulu ku-u-u.
U-Tangalimlibo ufile. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Ukelele umntu ntloni amanzi. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Ibe kutunywa inkomo, yakonya. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Yaba kutunywa inja, yakonkota. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Among the Kaffirs a childless woman finds little or no favour. In many cases
she would be treated by her husband in exactly the manner described in this
tale, so that by becoming a mother she might say from the bottom of her heart,
with Elizabeth of old, that "her reproach was taken away from among men."
Sometimes she is returned by her husband to her parents, a proceeding commonly
adopted when she has a marriageable sister who can be given to him in exchange.
The husband is required, however, before repudiating his wife, to go through the
customary ceremonies, which are described in the following case tried before me
when acting as a border magistrate in 1881:—A, a Kaffir, sued B, another
Kaffir, to recover the value of a heifer lent to him two years before under
these circumstances. B's wife, who was distantly related to A, had been married
more than a year without bearing a child. B thereupon applied to him for a
heifer, the hair of the tail of which was needed by the doctor of the clan to
make a charm to put round the woman's neck. He had lent him one for the purpose,
and now wanted payment for it. The defence was that A, being the woman's nearest
relative who had cattle, was bound to furnish a heifer for the purpose. The hair
of the tail was needed, the doctor had made a charm of it and hung it round the
woman's neck, and she had thereafter given birth to a son. The heifer could not
be returned after being so used. In this case, if the plaintiff had been so
nearly related to defendant's wife as to have participated in the benefit of the
cattle given by her husband for her, he could not have justified his claim under
Kaffir law; but as he was very distantly connected, he got judgment. The feeling
entertained by the Kaffirs about the court in this instance was that B had acted
very ungratefully towards A, who had not even been present at the woman's
marriage feast, but who had cheerfully acted in conformity with the custom which
requires that a charm must be made out of the hair of the tail of a heifer
belonging to a relative of a childless wife, in order to cause her to bear
It will be observed that the woman speaks of those whose names are unmentionable. According to Kaffir custom no woman may pronounce the names of any of her husband's male relatives in the ascending line. She is bound to show them the greatest respect, and implicitly to obey their commands. She may not sit in the house where her father-in-law is seated, she may not even pronounce any word in which the principal syllable of his name occurs. Thus, a woman who sang the song of Tangalimlibo for me used the word angoca instead of amanzi for water, because this last contained the syllable nzi, which she would not on any account pronounce. She had therefore manufactured another word, the meaning of which had to be judged of by the context, as standing alone it is meaningless.
The beer-drinking company on the mats under a tree, the escort of the bride to her husband, and the wedding feast are true to the life.
The idea of the Kaffir with regard to drowning is also shown very distinctly in this tale. He believes that a spirit pulls the person under water, and that this spirit is willing sometimes to accept an ox as a ransom for the human victim. How this belief works practically may be illustrated by facts which have come under my own cognizance.
Some time in 1875, a party of Kaffir girls went to bathe in a little stream not far from the place where I was then living There was a deep hole in the stream, into which one of them lot, and she was drowned. The others ran away home as fast as they could, and there told a story how their companion had been lured away from their side by the spirit calling her. She was with them, they said, in a shallow part, when suddenly she stood upright and said, "It is calling." She then walked straight into the deep place, and would not allow any of them to touch her. One of them heard her saying, "Go and tell my father and my mother that it took me." Upon this, the father collected his cattle as quickly as possible, and set off for the stream. The animals were driven into the water while the man stood on the bank imploring the spirit to take the choicest of them and restore his daughter. The failure to get the exchange effected is still attributed by the relatives of the drowned girl to the absence of one skilful to work with medicines.
On another occasion, a Kaffir was trying to cross one of the fords of a river when it was in flood. He was carried away by the current, but succeeded in getting safely to land sonic quarter of a mile or so further down. Eight or ten lusty fellows saw him carried off his feet, but not one made the slightest effort to help him. On the contrary, they all rushed away frantically, shouting out to the herd boys on the hill sides to drive down the cattle, As might be supposed, the escape of the man from being drowned was then attributed to his being in possession of a powerful charm.
Besides these spirits, according to the belief of the Kaffirs, there are people living under the water, pretty much as those do who are in the upper air. They have houses and furniture, and even cattle, all of their domestic animals being, however, of a dark colour. They are wiser than other people, and from them the most skilful witchfinders are supposed to obtain a portion of the knowledge of their art. This is not a fancy of children, but the implicit belief of grown-up men and women at the present day. A knowledge of this is of great service to those who have to do with Kaffirs. As an instance, a woman came to me in July, 1881, to be., assistance. A child had died in her village, and the witchfinder had pointed her out as the person who had caused its death. Her husband was absent, and the result of her being "smelt out" was that no one would enter her hut, share food with her, or so much as speak to her. If she was in a path every one fled out of her way, and even her own children avoided her. Being in the colony she could not be otherwise punished, but such treatment as this would of itself, in course of time, have made her insane. She denied most emphatically having been concerned in the death of the child, though she did not doubt that some one had caused it by means of witchcraft. The witchfinder was sent for, and, as the matter was considered an important one, a larger number of Kaffirs than usual appeared at the investigation. On putting the ordinary tests to the witchfinder he failed to meet them, and when he was compelled, reluctantly, to admit that he had never held converse with the people under the water, it was easy to convince the bystanders that he was only an impostor.
The word amasi, translated milk, means that kind of fermented milk which is used by the Kaffirs. When taken from the cow, the milk is put into a skin bag, where it ferments and acquires a sharp acid taste. When poured out for use by the master of the household, who is the only one permitted to touch the milk-sack, a portion is always left behind to act as leaven. Amasi is very nutritious; it forms one of the principal articles of food of the Kaffirs, and is relished by most Europeans in Kaffirland. In warm weather, especially, it is a pleasant and wholesome beverage.
Among the Kaffirs the work of cultivating the ground fell entirely upon the women in olden times, The introduction of the plough has caused a change in this respect, but to the present day the planting and weeding is performed by females.
lkùba, a pick or hoe. Before the advent of Europeans, the largest implement that was made was this instrument for breaking up the ground. It was of nearly the same shape as a European hoe; but in place of having an eye, into which a handle could be fastened, it was made with a top like a spike, which was driven into the large knob of a long and heavy club. It was at best a clumsy tool.
Kaffir law recognises the right of individuals to possess landed property. The chief allots a piece of ground to a family, by whom it is retained and held in possession as long as it is cultivated. It is forfeited by abandonment for a long time without assigning sufficient cause. It cannot be sold. Pasture land is held in common.
ltungoa, a basket used to milk the cows in. It is woven so nicely as to be watertight. The Kaffirs are expert in making baskets and mats, but never attempt to dye any of the materials of which they are composed, or otherwise to ornament them. They use mats as we use dishes, to eat from.
The potter's art is now being lost by the Kaffirs. The large jars are being replaced by wooden casks purchased from Europeans, and iron pots have already come into general use.
The Kaffir house has only one opening, which is low and narrow, but which serves for door, window, and chimney.
The fireplace is a circle in the centre of the hut. It is made by raising a ring on the hard and smooth ant-heap floor. Round it the inmates sleep, while the back of the hut, or the side opposite the entrance, is used as a store room. There the jars and other household utensils would usually be placed.
Intambo, a riem, or thong of untanned oxhide.
Equivalent to saying that they journeyed for three days.
There are no crocodiles in the rivers of the present Amaxosa country, but the reptile and its habits are well known to the people by hearsay. According to their traditions, the tribe migrated from the north-east. It is not unlikely that the Xosa belief in a water-spirit which has power to charm people and entice them into rivers to their destruction, may have originated in the fact of their having come from a country where these destructive animals were common, as the spirit and the reptile have the same name. In this story it is seemingly a crocodile that appears, but very shortly we learn that it is really a man who has been bewitched and forced to assume that appearance.
Boys "enter manhood," or acquire the privileges of men, by a ceremony similar to the ntonjane.
Up to this point there is nothing to indicate that the girl knew he was not in reality a crocodile, but here it is evident that she was aware he was a man under the power of a charm, for she uses a proper name when speaking of him, as is indicated by the prefix U.
The inference from this is that his enemies had bewitched him and made him assume the appearance of a crocodile, but that the young woman on account of her good qualities and great love for him had power to dispel the charm, and by licking his face had enabled him to resume his proper form as a man.
This page last updated: 30/11/2008