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to-do natives make this in large quantities,
hence it is not unusual to see in a hut a huge
earthen pot that Avill hold twenty or thirty
gallons. The mill for grinding corn and other
articles is a large stone, two or three feet in
length, in which an indentation has been made,
together with a small one, oval-shaped and
double the size of a man's fist. The material
ground, or mashed, falls upon a small grass

Life in a Kraal. 45

mat placed by the side of the stone. Every
hut has in it one of these primitive but useful

At night other occupants than human beings
find lodging in a Zulu house. These are goats
and calves, tied to a stake in a small enclosure
fenced off for their accommodation, besides,
occasionally, rats and cockroaches too numerous
to mention.

In one of these huts I spent the fiirst six
weeks of my missionary life. The kraal num-
bered six dwellings, and the owner, for a rea-
sonable compensation, placed the best one at
my disposal. A screen of blankets hid me
from the eyes of my sable companions when
the time came for retiring. I was careful to
see that the entrance was closed at night to
keep out all nuMnbers of the serpent family.
Not fancying the process of creeping in and
out on all fours day after da}^ I requested of
tlie proprietor of the harem the privilege of
inserting an upright door of civilized construc-
tion, telling him that when I left I would
leave it for liis accommodation. His reply
was, " My fathers went in on their hands and
knees, and I shall continue to do so, and, more-
over, while you are among the Zulus you must
do as the Zulus do."

An appeal to ancestral custom was the argu-
ment the natives invariably used to rebut all
reasons why they should abandon their absurd
practices as well as their superstitious worship.
Pointing one day to the cattle fold in which

46 Forty Tears Among the Zitlus.

manure lay four or five feet deep, and also a
huge pile of ashes outside the kraal, I asked:
" Why don't you use these valuable ferti-
lizers? " The only answer I received was : " It
is not our custom." ^

In the hut the smoke, having no chimney
through which to escape, " was my greatest
annoyance. At the end of six weeks I did
not regret exchanging this smoky abode for a
larger one, with the improvements of a door
and window, and a partition dividing the bed-
room from the sitting room. A kitchen was
built outside, in which was placed an Ameri-
can stove. Then I thought it time to send for
my wife, and on her arrival everything assumed
a changed appearance. I have always been
glad that I had this opportunity of living for
a time in immediate contact with the natives.
I caught their intonations and mastered the
" clicks " of the language. At times it was
difficult to repress feelings of disgust at the
sight of unblushing impurity, and the sound
of dancing, yelling, grumbling, and quarreling,
but a voice within me said : ^ The incarnate ^
and spotless Saviour saw what was far more
revolting to him than anything I behold ; " and
I found the people possessed some interesting
traits of character despite their environment.
The Zulus, like other African tribes, are nat-
urally proud, independent, and suspicious of
the white man's curiosity ; but there is a way

1 1 afterward ascertained that superstitious fears liad something
to do with this.

- Life in a Kraal. 47

to unlock the door of their hearts. Occasion-
ally creeping into one of their huts, and watch-
ing the careworn housewife busy at her daily
tasks, I dropped a kind word which generally
met with a smile or some token of apprecia-
tion. Nothing pleased the parents more than
my attempts to amuse the children, as they
rolled about on the floor, innocent of clothing,
their eyes sparkljng with humor, and their teeth
shining like polished ivory. When I could
assist them in secular nijatters I did so. By
atfendiiig to their bodily wants I was enabled
to reach their hearts. I had daily evidence of
the wisdom of the remark of St. Francis
■ Xavier : " The smallest acts of friendship, an
obliging word and civil look, are no despicable
part of the missionary's armor." The confi-
dence of the people was won. They looked
upon me as their friend, although they were
wedded to their superstitions. At first com-
passion was awakened in view of their degra-
dation, then love, and a longing for their sal-
vation. Love begat h)ve. When Mrs. Tyler
])ecame acquainted with them she experienced
the same emotions. It was not long before
the natives said, ''See how she loves us!"



THE site for m}' house was on a hill com-
manding a fine view of the mountains in
Zululand to the north, an immense plateau or
table-land to the west, and to the east the
Indian Ocean, visible through a ravine, the bed
of the Umhlali River. The scenery was so
varied and picturesque we never tired of it.
The atmosphere was exceedingly clear and
exhilarating. Esidurabini seemed a perfect
sanitarium, and we rejoiced in having found so
healthy and beautiful a place of residence.

But as to the building of a house, we did not
fancy living longer than was necessary in a hut
with so few accommodations. In my boyhood
I had often seen house builders at work, but
never took notes with a view to doing anything
of the kind in after life. However, I knew
enough to use the line, lay out the ground, see
that holes were dug at proper distances for
posts, and that they were firmly erected, after
their lower ends were charred to prevent their
being eaten immediately by white ants, and
also that the beams were pinned to the posts ;
but how to make rafters I knew not. I wrote
my dilemma to a good brother missionary.
Rev. Aldin Grout, living twenty-five miles dis-


House Building, 49

tant, and he came at once to my aid. Reaching
us at three p.:m., he rested a while, and then
went out to inspect my operations. I can still
see the smile on his countenance as he beheld
my long face and heard me dilate on my trou-
bles. Throwing off his coat, workman fashion,
he began to show me in a thoroughly practical
manner what was to be done. Selecting a few
poles he told me to take them to a certain spot,
drive down a peg, arrange a couple in the form
of a triangle, bore the holes, pin the poles
together, and saw off the ends properly, mak-
ing me do the work that I might not forget in
future. In less than two hours all the rafters
were put together, and before Mr. Grout left
the next morning a good part of the roof was
up. Easy enough, I thought, if you only know

Mr. Grout was one of the pioneer mission-
aries who sailed from Boston in 1834.^ He

'A gentleman, now nearly eighty years old, who was residing in
Cape Town at the time the six pioneei* missionaries of the Ameri-
can Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions landetl tiiei'e,
thus speaks of a meeting in connection witli the Sabbatli-school,
held in tlie Union Chapel : —

" A man who had sometliing to do in makim,'- arrangements for
the meeting hatl placed on the communion table a plate of biscuits
and a decanter of wine. One of the missionaries, being called on
to address the meeting, gave such a speech that he astonished us
all. He began bj' expressing his amazement at llnding one present
who was the instigator to all evil. He detailed the crimes of which
men are guilty, and attributed them all to this one who was In our
midst. Then he turned upon us present for allowing such an one
to enter tiie honse of God, that no one had raised his voice, or pre-
vented his entrance, and whi-n be liad excited us to the utmost by
his condemnation of this miscreant, he pointed to the wine."

That missionary was Rev. Aldin Grout, now living in Springfield,
Mass., at the advanced age of nearly ninety.

Soon after the above incident, Mr. Grout, with some clergymen

50 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

landed in Natal early in 1835, with Dr. Adams
and Rev. George Champion. Hopefully and
zealously Mr. Grout began missionary work in
Zululand, then under Dingaan, a cruel despot.
The difficulties under which he labored and
the perils by which he was surrounded were
sufficient to intimidate the most courageous.

He attempted to teach Dingaan to read.
The proud king said to Mr. Grout, " Why
have you come to me ? "

" To teach and preach the gospel to you,"
Mr. Grout replied.

Said his sable majesty, "Do you then pre-
sume to think that you can teach me anything
that I do not already know? "

It was explained to him that he must first
learn the letters of the alphabet.

'' Can I now learn to read ? " he inquired.

Mr. Grout told him that he would come
again on the morrow and give him a lesson.

''But can so great a thing be put off till
to-morrow? Let me have them all now,"
responded the chief.

Mr. Grout then printed the whole twenty-
four letters, and began, as he said, " to educate
a king in a day."

Soon, on repeating the letters he had learned,

in Cape Town, was invited to dine at the house of Rev. Dr. Philip,
superintendent of the Loudon Mifsiouary Society in South Africa,
and the good doctor, seeing the missionary's eyes directed to the
decanter of wine in its usual place on the table, called his servant
to remove it, and that was the last time it was placed on that table.
It required some degree of moral courage in those days to set one's
"face hke a flint" against the drinking usages of society, and I
love to recall what the missionary, then a young man, so heroically

House Building. 61

the king was at a loss, and said, " I have
forgotten that one."

^^ Well, it is D."

Soon the king had forgotten another, and
another, and became confused and forgot all.
In his vexation he threw down the paper, say-
ing, '' There, I told you I could not learn. No,
I do not want you ; you may go home."

On another occasion, while Mr. Grout was
showing Dingaan his medicines, a small pair
of tweezers was observed, and the king asked,
" What is that for ? " Mr. Grout replied, "To
extract splinters or small ticks from the body."
The response came, " I will take that for my
own use." Soon after he appropriated a bottle
of smelling salts, and Mr. Grout began to
think that he had better keep his things out of
sight if he wished to preserve them.

Asking one day for medicine, as he had a
severe cold on his chest, a mustard poultice
was recommended. The king had it applied
first to one of liis people that he might watch
its effects before he tried it himself.

Mr. Grout's love for the Zulu Mission was
tested in the early days of its history. On
account of war between the Zulus and Dutch
farmers and the discouraging prospects, the
American Board recalled Mr. Grout and his
colaborers, Lindlcy and Adams; but before
the summons from Boston reached them, the
darkest days had passed. They could not
brook the idea of retreating from the field.
Their hearts were buoyed up with a faith kin-

52 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

dred to that which inspired the " apostle to the
KareDS," eighteen years previously, who, when
asked, " What prospect of ultimate success is
there ? " replied, " As much as that there is an
almighty and faithful God."

Dr. Adams said, " I will support myself by
my profession." Mr. Lindlej', no less coura-
geous, observed, " And I will obtain a living by
teaching the children of the Dutch Boers."
Mr. Grout declared that he would "go home
and plead for the continuance of the mission."
To quote his own words : " With hearts well-
nigh broken, myself and wife took passage, and
in 1844 were safely landed in Cape Town.
For nearly ten years we had been in search of
a place where we could stop long enough to
preach the gospel and witness its fruits, and
now, without any intimation that Ave had done
any material good, we were called away. We
had hardly landed in Cape Town before friends
began to inquire, ' Why have you left your
work? You must go back. If funds are all
you want, they shall be forthcoming.' "

Sir Peregrine Maitland, then governor at the
Cape, gave Mr. Grout an appointment as gov-
ernment missionary, saying, " It is a pity men
should leave a place and people just as they
have learned enough of the language to enable
them to be useful," and adding, '• I think more
of missionaries than of soldiers to keiep savages

A purse of £170 was contributed by the
good people of Cape Town for immediate

House Building. 53

necessities, and in June, 1844, Mr. Grout
returned to Natal.

He was remarkably adapted to mission work
in South Africa, and his efforts were attended
with success, though he labored more than ten
years before seeing his first convert. Failing
health rendered it necessary that he should
come to America to spend the evening of his
days, but he has often regretted that he did
not conclude to remain in Africa and die
among his own people. When he left this
country in 1834 he was accused by some of
" going on a wild-goose chase ; " but he used to
say, " I have caught my goose."

His first wife died in the earty history of the
mission, leaving one daughter, Mrs. Ireland,
now in the Natal field. With his second wife
he has lately celebrated his golden wedding.
May his last days be radiant with the divine
presence !

I must say that my new house, when com-
pleted and occupied, seemed to me like a
palace. The months flew by rapidly and [)leas-
antly, each finding us better able to communi-
cate with the people. We had Indian corn,
amadumbi, and occasionally meat brought to us
for sale by the natives. Fowls we could obtain
cheaply, and in abundance. With my rifle I
frequently shot antelopes that were quietly
feeding near by.

One privation, keenly felt during the first
few 3^ears, was the absence of news, except at
long intervals. The nearest post office was fifty

54 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

miles distant, and, native young men being
needed for work of various kinds, weeks some-
times passed before we could send one for our
letters. Natal could not then boast of a news-
paper. Tidings reached us one day that filled
our hearts with joy. An American vessel had
arrived, bringing not only a mail from home,
but other things " too numerous to mention,"
as our Durban agent wrote. Immediately were
dispatched two able-bodied Zulus, with the
promise that if they would return before bed-
time the following Saturday (it was then
Wednesday) each would receive a shilling
extra. They took two large bags, each holding
as much as a flour barrel, in which to bring the
newly-arrived articles. Saturday night came ;
it was dark and rainy, and the prospect of see-
ing our carriers grew fainter and fainter. Ten
o'clock came, and just as we concluded to
retire a rap was heard on our door. There
were the two Zulu men with immense burdens
on their heads, their bodies covered with per-
spiration. To terrify wild animals and ward
off witches, they said they had sung and
shouted all the way after sundown. The huge
bags were placed on the dining room floor;
something tempting to the appetites of the
messengers given them, and we began to
inspect this first arrival of things from the
dear ones at home.

Opening the bags I j^oured out their contents.
The Eclectic, Harper's Monthly, The Mission-
ary Herald, and other publications were laid one

House Building. 55

side ; boxes of maple sugar, little bags of wal-
nuts and butternuts, parcels of clothing, an
album, bedquilt, daguerreotypes, etc., gladdened
our eyes and hearts. Then we sat down to
read some of the welcome letters out of a big
bundle before us. When twelve o'clock came
we laid all aside to be reinspected on Monday

Mrs. Tyler, writing about that time to a
friend in this country, observed, ^' You ask if
we never ' cast one longing, lingering look
behind,' and if it does not make us sad to think
of you all. Perhaps you will hardly think me
sincere if I tell you ' No.' I don't know that
I have ever felt, since the time I stepped from
the plank which connected our ship with land,
that I have had a desire to live in America. I
do not mean that I love my native land any
the less, or that I should not love to visit it
again ; but I would rather live at Esidumbini
and labor for the good of the many souls that
are famishing for the lack of knowledge, and
here too would I die. I feel that it is my home
and I love it. I love my friends so dearly that
it seems unnatural not to see them occasionally ;
but I knew it would be hard before I came
here, and tried to make up my mind to leave
them all at home and be content to write to
them, and hope to receive many letters from
them. The more I become acquainted and
interested in our people, the more I shall learn
to give up all other objects of thought which
would tend to make me unhappy."

56 Forty Years Among the Zulu6.

Then referring to her husband, she said :
" We try to help each other in all sorts of
ways. When Mr. Tyler is putting on a door-
latch, and turns it upside down and wonders
why it does not work, I run and help him ; and
when I make similar mistakes, or need a little
bookshelf or something of that sort, he is
always ready to help me. So we conclude, like
other young married people, that we were made
for each other."

A Heathen Zulu Young Man.



THE clothing of the Zulus in their normal
state is too scanty to require much de-
scription. Mark Twain's observation in regard
to the Sandwich Islanders is not inapplicable to
this people : " They wear — they wear — they
wear a smile, and some of them a hat and a
pair of spectacles." The dress worn by the
men consists of a girdle of ox hide from which
is suspended in front a bunch of the tails of
monkeys, wild cats, or other animals, and at
the back a small apron of ox hide or the skin
of some wild beast.

The garment of a woman is a skirt of pliable
tanned leather, lubricated with fat. The bridal
skirt is trimmed with beads of divers colors
and a rich profusion of brass buttons. This is
a present from the bridegroom, with which the
young damsel is as much pleased as are her
civilized sisters in other lands with their jewels,
laces, and orange blossoms. Belts and semi-
belts are worn by young men and women, the
more beads ornamenting them the better.

Zulu men are dressmakers as well as tailors,
making all the garments of the women as well
as their own. ~

Washing day is not one to be dreaded among


68 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

this people. Should a garment require cleans-
ing, it is taken to the river and rubbed with
the fibrous root of an alkaline plant which
takes the place of soap.

The native headdress occupies considerable
attention. Married men shave all the upper
part of the head excej^t the crown, on which
they leave a little wool in a circular shape
about four inches in diameter. To this is sewn
a gutta-percha-like ring, made of gum and char-
coal. With the growth of the wool the ring
rises sometimes to the height of six inches.
Into this ring they thrust long snuff spoons,
porcupine quills, needles, and other articles of
utility. This ring is a badge of manhood and
respectability. Violence done to it is quickly
and bitterly resented. Men have chosen to
die rather than be deprived of it. Under the
old Zulu kings no man was allowed towear
the ring till he had distinguished himself in

While Rev. Robert Moffat was on a visit to
Mosilekatzi, king of the Matabele Zulus, a man
was brought before the chief to receive his
sentence for a crime, the penalty of which was
death. Mr. Moffat earnestly interceded for his
life. The story from the missionary's own pen
is too interesting to be omitted : —

" The prisoner, though on his knees, had
something dignified in his mien. Not a muscle
of his countenance moved, but a bright black
eye indicated a feeling of intense interest,
which the swerving balance between life and

Zulu Dress. 59

death only could produce. The case required
little investigation ; the charges were clearly
substantiated, and the culprit pleaded guilty.
But, alas ! he knew that it was at a bar where
none ever heard the heart-reviving sound of
pardon, even for offenses small compared with
his !

"A pause ensued, during which the silence
of death pervaded the assembly. At length the
monarch spoke, and, addressing the prisoner,
said : ' You are a dead man ; but I shall do
to-day what I n^ver did before. I spare your
life for the sake of my friend and father. I know
that his heart weeps at the shedding of blood ;
for his sake I spare your life ; but you must
be degraded for life ; you must no more asso-
ciate with the nobles of the land, nor enter the
towns of the princes of the people, nor even
again mingle in the dance of the mighty. Go
to the poor of the field and let your compan-
ions be the inhabitants of the desert.'

"The sentence passed, the hardened man
was expected to bow in grateful admiration.
But, no ! Holding his hand clasped on his
bosom, he replied : ' O king, afflict not my
heart ! I have incited thy displeasure. Let me
be slain like the warrior. I cannot live witli
the poor.' Raising his hand to the ring he
wore on his head, he continued : ' How can I
live among the dogs of the king, and disgrace
this badge of honor which I have won among
the spears and shields of the mighty? Let me
die, O Pe Zulu!'

60 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

" His request was granted, and his hands
were tied erect over his head. Now my exer-
tions to save his life were vain. He disdained
the boon on the conditions offered, preferring
to die with the honors he had won at the point
of the spear. He was led forth, a man walk-
ing on each side. My eyes followed him until
he reached the top of a high precipice, over
which he was precipitated into the deep part of
the river beneath, where the crocodiles, accus-
tomed to such meals, were yawning to devour
him ere he could reach the bottom."

Shaving the head is not confined to Zulu
men. Married women do the same, leaving,
however, a topknot for which they have a
great regard. A mixture of red ochre and
grease makes this topknot an agreeable orna-
ment in their estimation. A few of them,
however, do not shave at all, but rub their
wool with red pigment, making it look more
like a mop than anything else. Witch doc-
tresses fasten to such a headdress the bladders
of birds or of wildcats, blown out, and thus
appear hideous in the extreme.

Young men not married allow their hair to
grow, dressing it in a variety of fantastic
shapes. Now it looks like a sugar loaf, now
like two little hills with valleys between. The
more rancid butter, or mutton tallow, or cocoa-
nut oil they can get to rub on their heads the
better. Odoriferous substances are freely used,
especially before going into company, and per-
fumes are now bought largely from English

Zulu Dress. 61

merchants. Places of worship need ample
ventilation, particularly when filled with Zulus
freshly lubricated. Missionaries not only re-
quire grace, but strong olfactory nerves, and
they often sigh for a different kind of anointing.
Zul us of both sexes and of all ages are
exceedingly fond of ornaments. Necklaces^
made of beads of various colors, are common.
Brass rings, some of them we should think
too cumbersome to be agreeable, are worn on
the arms and lesfs. The head is decked with
feathers, from those of the common fowl to
the ostrich and the most beautiful birds of
the forest. A young^ man is sometimes seen
with a pair of deer's horns attached to his
forehead, while about his neck are strung
leopard's teeth, pieces of crocodile skin, bits
of wood, claws of birds, and small bags of
medicine. " Spirit " or " witch " doctors com-
monly wear long leopard skins dangling about
their feet. Infants have holes bored in their
ears which are enlarged as they grow older,
^nd made the receptacle for ivory knobs or
reed snuffboxes. Flowers are often seen on
the head, one of which, the "love-making
posy," is said to foster the tender passion.
Young men generally wear this when paying
attention to the ladies. On the arms and
bosoms of woiiien raised scars are often
noticeable. These were made in infancy, and
in the gashes cut in the skin were inserted
charcoal and ashes from the bones of serpents.
The operation must be painful, but when orna-

62 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

mentation is considered, bodily suffering is
not regarded. An ornament of which young
wives are very fond is a piece of buck's skin
tied across the chest and falling down to the

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Online LibraryJosiah TylerForty years among the Zulus → online text (page 3 of 17)