Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of our custom in this respect induces them to question the soundness of our judgment. There are many parts of the feathered tribe too which they refuse to eat. None of them keep poultry of any description whatever; and all appear to have a strong prejudice against eggs as an article of food. But after repeatedly witnessing the avidity with which the Boochuana tribes devour the flesh of the elephant, I was most surprised to find that the Kaffers, on the contrary, would not touch it. However hungry and destitute they may be, their superstitious notions respecting this animal are such as altogether to prevent their feasting upon him. Curiosity one day prompted me to ask the reason; upon which one of them told me that "the sagacity of the elephant renders him too much like man, to allow of his being made the food of men." They have as great an antipathy to fish as to swine's flesh; and would as soon think of sitting down to a dish of snakes, as to partake of any of the inhabitants of the deep. Some of the tribes, indeed, put fish in the same class with serpents. Hence, although the whole line of coast abounds with fish, the people never think of throwing in a hook, or of casting a net: they are, in fact, totally ignorant both of the one and the other. The reason is obvious: they are not often driven to the necessity of trying any new experiment for the attainment of provisions. Having fine extensive pasture-grounds, and in many places a fertile soil, they are seldom wholly without milk, corn, or some kind of edible roots for any great length of time together. The prejudice in question, however, has been overcome in the neighbourhood of PortNatal, as well as in one or two other districts which we shall have occasion to notice in the sequel; the weaker and subjugated clans having there been compelled to avail themselves of entirely new pursuits to avoid utter starvation.

In some things the Amakosæ are extremely particular;

but in others their habits are disgusting beyond measure. When sitting down to meat, for instance, if the hands are considered unclean, a quantity of fresh cow-dung is invariably used as the substitute for soap and water. When engaged in the act of slaughtering, the beast is no sooner opened than a scramble takes place for the gall, the bitter contents of which are eagerly drunk by the individual who first gets hold of it. Nor is this all that is calculated to sicken one on such occasions. When cut up, pieces of the meat are purposely rolled on the floor of the cattle-fold previously to being used; and certain parts even of the entrails are but just thrown on the fire before the savage butchers voraciously devour them while literally covered with filth. The small baskets in which their food is usually served up are made from a species of cyperus, a strong reedy grass that is frequently found growing about fountains. They are of a circular shape, neatly wrought; and the texture is so close as to render them capable of containing any kind of liquid. One traveller tells us that it is into these vessels the milk is thrown for the purpose of coagulation; while another, Vaillant, with still less accuracy, asserts, that they wash them with urine, to make the milk coagulate more speedily. But although neither one nor the other of these gentlemen is correct, the state in which those bowls are kept is indescribably dirty. Whenever emptied of their contents, they are immediately placed on the ground for the dogs to lick; and this constitutes almost the only purification they ever obtain.

CHAPTER VI.

Occupations of the Men-Devotedness to their Herds-Cattlefold the place of Assembly—Juvenile Pursuits-Physiological Character-Capabilities of the Kaffer-Native Curriers Manufacture of Spears, &c.-Art of Smelting— Hunting, a favourite Pursuit-Mode of Attack, and Customs respecting the Elephant-An awful Accident-Degraded state of Females, and their Occupations-Mode of Cultivation-Corn Pits-Native Manufactures, &c.

LIKE most other uncivilized nations in warm climates, the Amakosæ are fond of an indolent kind of life, and scarcely ever seem to be in haste about any thing. In times of peace the men are occupied chiefly in the management of their cattle, in visiting their friends for the purpose of soliciting presents, and in journeys to different parts of the country in quest of news. Every one is a zealous politician, and interests himself in every thing that at all affects the tribe to which he belongs. Hunting constitutes but an occasional pursuit, having for its object pleasure as well as profit.

Every man is a soldier also, and is therefore trained to the use of the spear from his very childhood. But as the extension of territory does not frequently form the main object of their wars, it is but seldom that all are called into the field. Nevertheless each is held subject to the beck of his Chief in all cases of emergency, and whenever the country requires his services. The most prominent trait, however, in the character of the Kaffer, is decidedly that of the herdsman, rather than the warrior; for, as already intimated, he is never so happy as when engaged in something that is calculated either to increase the

numbers or improve the appearance of his cattle.* Such is his daily attention to these, that one out of a thousand would be immediately missed. His perfect acquaintance with every little spot on the hide, turn of the horns, or other peculiarity, after having seen an animal once or twice, is indeed astonishing, and says much for his powers of observation.

Although he may have numerous servants or vassals at his command, it is accounted no disparagement for an Inkos enkulu (great Captain or Chief) to be seen tending his own herds. The numerous and fantastical shapes into which they twist the horns of many of their oxen give them a singular and often an unnatural appearance. This is of course done while the horn is flexile, and capable of being bended any way without difficulty to the operator, or injury to the beast. Their expert management and perfect command of oxen is such as often furnishes demonstrative evidence of the knowledge these creatures possess of their respective owners, whose singular mancuvres as well as language might seem to be instantly comprehended by them. One of their most favourite amusements is that of racing young cattle, which are sometimes made to go at an astonishing rate: on these occasions a native, on horseback and at full gallop, frequently leads the van. The winning ox is lauded to the very skies, and the praises of the multitude pronounced upon it in the most vociferous manner.

*The following fact may serve to place his attachment to these in the strongest point of view :-" Jama, expecting soon to be condemned by an umhlaho, endeavoured lately to escape with his cattle in the night, having first muzzled them, lest their lowing should cause him to be discovered; but he was prevented by his family, who threatened to alarm the place if he took one beast with him. The old man, therefore, finding that he would not be permitted to take his cattle, and not being able to leave them behind, (although his life was hourly in danger,) remained at home, patiently waiting the issue!"--Missionary Notices, Sept. 1832.

The erection of cattle-folds likewise constitutes a part of the men's employ. These, however, being of the most simple description, require no great pains or labour. They seldom consist of any thing more than a quantity of thorns, placed so as to form a circular hedge, the vacancies and openings in which are carefully filled up with smaller branches. These enclosures are sometimes made with posts and boughs closely woven together as a kind of lattice-work; and when the colder season sets in, every breach and interstice is filled up, lest the wintry blast should destroy any of their flock. As they are absolutely obliged to collect and bring home the cattle every night, in order to preserve them from wolves and other beasts of prey, every man is extremely anxious that his herd should lie as dry and as warm as possible; and considerable judgment is generally evinced in their choice of situations for this purpose. With this view, the sloping sides of hills, facing the rising sun, are invariably preferred as places of residence. But there is, moreover, another reason for their making the ubuhlanti as comfortable as possible: like the bantang of the Mandingo tribes in Western Africa, it is invariably made the place of general resort and concourse.

The herds are kept in the fold to a much later hour than would be deemed proper by a European farmer; and their milking hour is generally a very late one. Amongst the plebeian order each man milks his own cows; but the Chiefs have a certain class of servants, whose exclusive business it is to superintend the abolusi (herders) milk the cows morning and evening, and personally (no proxy whatever being allowed in this case) see to the milk being properly and purely poured into the household bottles, with which they are at all times sacredly charged. No other person, not even the master himself, is allowed to put in, or take out, a single drop. When the cattle are turned out to graze, they are

« AnteriorContinuar »