Copyright
Josiah Tyler.

Forty years among the Zulus online

. (page 4 of 17)
Online LibraryJosiah TylerForty years among the Zulus → online text (page 4 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


knees ; the more brass buttons sewed to it the
better. On marriage or other hilarious occa-
sions, both sexes deck themselves with all the
finery obtainable.



CHAPTER VII.

DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED.

^TT^HEN we began our work at Esidumbini,
V V no sign of civilization was visible.
Profound ignorance prevailed in regard to
religious truth. I asked a young man, " Who
made you ? " His reply was, " Urikidunkulu
(Great-Great)." "Where did Unkulunkulu
come from ? " " He sprang from a reed on the
river's brink." " Where was that river ? " "I
cannot tell. Some believe it is in Natal, others
in Zululand." " Who made the reed from which
Unkulunkulu sprang?" "I do not know.
Our fathers did not inform us." This was the
extent of their theological knowledge. A
pamphlet has lately been published in Natal
by Dean Green, of the English Church, on the
proper name for God in the Zulu language.
The conclusion to which he arrives, after a
most rigid examination, is that Unkulunkulu,
literally '' Great-Great," is the best word for
God. A large majority of missionaries, both
in Natal and Zululand, coincide with his views,
and doubtless that will soon come into common
use. Uixo, a word of Hottentot origin, has
been used quite extensively for many years
past. There are Zulus in Natal who believe in

68



64 Forty Years Amoiig the Zulus.

an '''' Itongo^^ a great Spirit from whom all
things proceeded.

Great simplicity was required in our teach-
ing. The theme that invariably excited in-
terest was the love of Jesus and his agony on
the cross. None other awakened an equal
amount of thought and feeling. Had we used
denunciatory language, or tried to drive them
to a reception of Christianity, we should have
defeated our object. Kind, gentle, unwearied
persuasion and a firm reliance on divine help
are the true weapons of a missionary's warfare.

There were occasional gleams of native
shrewdness. A lad of seventeen years, look-
ing at me one Sabbath day with twinkling eyes
and a countenance full of animation, put the
following question : " Do you say, teacher, that
the great King has all power in heaven and on
earth?" "Yes," I replied. "Well then, why
did n't he take a knob-kerrie and, as the ser-
pent was creeping into the garden, give him a
rap on the head and thus save the human
family from all its woe ? "

For a long time it was impossible to persuade
the fathers at Esidumbini to allow their
daughters to reside in our family, although we
offered good compensation. They said, " You
will spoil our girls. If taught your notions
and customs they will make us trouble and
refuse to marry old men who may have eight
or ten wives."

They reasoned correctly, for our teaching
did have that effect. The young men in our



Difficulties Encountered. 65

service could not be induced to put on clothing
of European make, not even a shirt, though it
might be given to them, lest they should en-
counter ridicule and be accused of adopting
the " new religion." This led one of our
missionary brethren to make the quaint but
truthful remark : " A shirt is the anxious seat
among the Zulus ;" for as soon as a young man
was seen putting on this first article of civili-
zation and Christianitv, he was known to be
anxious about his spiritual interests.

Worldly considerations alone brought the
natives to our Sabbath services. If a man
wished to make a good bargain with us on
Monday, he was sure to be at church on
Sunday.

When a father was asked to send his boys
to the station to be taught, the reply was,
" What will you pay me ? " One who had been
quite a regular attendant on the sanctuary for
three years came to me one day, and said, "I
am coming to meeting no longer ; I get nothing
for it."

I thought, one Sabbath morning, after preach-
ing five years and witnessing no conversions,
that my words had at last sunk into the heart
of one man. His countenance was full of life,
and his eyes were not taken from me during the
sermon. I had been preaching on the storm of
divine displeasure that will overtake all unbe-
lievers. He came to me at the close of the
service, and said : " Teacher, I thank you for
your discourse to-day. I am so glad a storm is



66 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

coming, for my garden is all parched up with
drought."

The prophet Ezekiel (33 : 31) describes accu-
rately my congregation at that time : " And
they come unto thee as the people cometh, and
they sit before thee as my people, and they
hear thy words, but do them not: for mth
their mouth they show much love, but their
heart goeth after their gain."

Dark indeed were the prospects ; but Mrs.
Tyler, whom no obstacles could dishearten,
comforted me with the words : " The darkest
hour is just before dawn." She used to remind
me of a passage in Hebrews, which my good
father desired I should never forget : '' For ye
have need of patience, that, having done the
will of God, ye may receive the promise."

I shall speak without reserve of my wife,
now in the ''better land," for if I have been
usefu] in any degree in the mission field, I
attribute it largely to her unwearied help and
wise counsels. Though of a delicate organiza-
tion, she was to me at all times a tower of
strength, inspiring me with hope in the darkest
hours, uncomplaining in time of trial, willing
to wear herself out that others might be bene-
fited. Not only was she necessary to the hap-
piness of her husband, but to the elevation of
the Zulus as well. She preached a part of the
gospel I could not preach, reaching the hearts
of poor Zulu women as no man could have
done.

The joys vouchsafed to missionaries more
than counterbalance their sorrows. I am sure



Difficulties Encountered. 67

that we were never happier in our lives. At
all times the bow of God's promise overarched
us, and our hetirts were buoyed up by the
assurance that we were remembered in the
prayers of dear relatives and friends in our
native land. The promise : " Lo, I am with
you," was verified to us, and as we could say,
" Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee,"
those words, " Manifold more in this present
time, and in the world to come life ever-
lasting,** came to us in all their sweetness.

One thing I could not fail to perceive in the
early days of our missionary life was that the
consciences of the people were on our side.
However absorbed in their worldly schemes,
however corrupt their inclinations, however
closely wedded to their debasing customs, their
consciences were responsive to our teaching
and testified that the Word we preached was
truth. We had abundant evidence that con-
science among a heathen people is a great aux-
iliary to the missionary. I once asked several
old men how they felt before the arrival of
white men in Zululand, when doing right or
wrong. Their reply was, " Something within us
approved when we did the former, and con-
demned when we did the latter.'' A good
commentary this, I thought, on the words of
the apostle Paul : " These, having no law, are
a law unto themselves ; in that they show the
work of the law written in their liearts, their
conscience bearing witness therewith, and their
thoughts one with another accusing or else
excusing " (R. V.).



CHAPTER VIII.

TOILING AND WAITING.

OUR chapel, holding about a hundred, was
filled every pleasant Sabbath. There was
no direct opposition except from a cunning
"spirit doctor," who, fearing his craft was in
danger, warned the people against having any-
thing to do with us lest the spirits should be-
come angry.

A change was going on silent but sure. The
hearts of the natives were being unlocked by
sympathy and love. Our arguments against
their evil ways were met with a manliness that
commanded respect. Though baffled in dis-
putation, they retired from the field with great
politeness and grace. We did not see it at the
time, but the divine Spirit was working by our
side. " Esidumbini for Christ " was our motto,
and the Master approved it. He was fertilizing
what had been sown in tears.

We used to think at times that friends at
home might doubt the expediency of supporting
missionaries, year after year, in such an un-
promising field.

Mrs. Tyler, in reviewing those early days,
once wrote in regard to them : вАФ

"I remember the despair which crept over
me when I made my first entrance into a

68



Toiling and Waiting, 69

heathen kraal. Everything was so dark and
repulsive, it did not seem possible that the
pure, genial light of the gospel could find a
place there. But it would not do to give way
to doubt or despair with the divine promises in
our hands. We gathered courage from the
bright faces and pleasant smiles with which
all greeted us as their first white visitors. To
the extent of our ability we answered their
questions and interested ourselves in their
children, showing them that we were their
true friends.

" But when we tried to explain why we had
left our native land and come to live with
them as messengers of Jesus Christ, silence
was the result. Such was the beginning. But
when we secured some of the children to work
for us, though they knew nothing of our inten-
tions we spent much time in teaching them to
repeat passages of Scripture, hoping that tliese
would remain in their hearts, even if they went
back to their kraals, and that the Holy Spirit
would make use of this instrumentality for
their conversion. As soon, however, as some
of the parents found that their children were
becoming interested in learning they hastened
to remove them. This was the disheartening
part of our first work, and little understood by
expectant Christians and churches."

Subsequently some of the fathers, polygam-
ists, convinced that the religion we taught was
true, remarked to me, as did an old Brahman to
Dr. Henry M. Scudder, missionary in India,



70 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

and in almost the identical words : " It is only
a question of time, sir. Let us alone. Our
children are yours ; they will certainly become
Christians."

At last our hopes were raised by one of the
young men in our employ, Dambusa by name.
He came to me, saying, " I believe in Christ
and wish to serve him." He had an amiable
disposition and was attached to us, but was
easily influenced and soon found there was
much to contend against. Unfortunately he
was engaged to a girl who had no sympathy
with him in his desire to embrace Christianity.
To make things harder the parents of both
were determined to keep their children in hea-
thenism. A house which Dambusa began to
build on the station was torn to pieces by
indignant relatives. They swore by the spirits
of the Zulu kings that none of their number
should abandon the worship of their forefath-
ers. The time for the marriage came, the cat-
tle had been paid for, beer brewed, new songs
for the dance learned, and Dambusa, almost
persuaded, with a sad countenance bade us
good-by and joined his heathen friends ; but
the " incorruptible seed " had been sown in his
heart. We shall have more to say of him.

Our heathen congregations were quite or-
derly. Only once was there an attempt at
disturbance. A young man who had, perhaps,
imbibed too freely of native beer decided one
Sabbath morning to break up our service. I
saw in his countenance that mischief was brew-



Toiling mid Waiting. 71

ing; but he kept quiet till I had commenced
the long prayer, when he began to laugh
aloud and talk to others. Immediately I
stopped praying, and taking him by the nape
of the neck walked him to the door of the
church and gave him a vigorous push which
sent him sprawling out on the ground. I then
returned and resumed my prayer. Occasion-
ally we had lively episodes. The cries of little
babies on their mothers' backs sometimes almost
drowned my voice, but I never asked mothers
to leave the church on that account. One
Sunday a man walked into church carrying a
beaver hat, of which he was very proud ; the
gift of some European. It was his only article
of civilized dress. He seated himself, the hat
by his side, and had listened attentively to the
introductory exercises, when a hen took occa-
sion to walk in, fly up, and lay an egg on one
of the boards overhead. The eg^or rolled one
side and fell directly into his beloved hat.
Zulus have a great repugnance to eggs. They
will not touch one unless obliged. The man's
indescribable disgust as he rose, took up his hat
at arm's length, and walked out of the chapel,
completely upset the gravity of the audience.
He did not return to service that day.

At the Umtwalume station, Saturday even-
ing, a young man, having decided to abandon
heathenism, called on Mr. Wilder, the mission-
ary, and asked for a shirt. He said, " I want
a long one that will cover my knees." The
sewing machine was brought into use, and in a



72 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

short time the man had the satisfaction of put-
ting on his first article of civilized clothing.
On Sabbath morning he did not take his seat
with the unclad heathen in the back part of
the chapel, but in front of the pulpit. The
bench he occupied had no back, and to make
the most of his new garment he raised his feet
and pulled his shirt over his knees. He re-
mained in tills attitude until, a fit of drowsi-
ness coming over him, he began to sway to and
fro, unconsciously attracting general attention.
The people, however, retained their gravity
until he rolled over like a ball on the floor.
Then the risibles of missionary as well as
natives became uncontrollable.



CRAPTER IX.

WILD ANIMALS.

BETWEEN Esidumbini and Mapumulo, the
station of Rev. Andrew Abraham, lay an
immense jungle, in which elephants, buffaloes,
leopards, hyenas, and other wild animals lived
in comparative securit3^ Only a few hunters
had ventured to go into it. Occasionally ele-
phants came out into the open country, but
being harassed by Zulus, some of whom had
firearms, they were glad to get back to their
retreat. Buffaloes, more bold, emerged in
droves and grazed within sight of my house.
They differ from American buffaloes, or bisons,
having a hairless skin, and are more like huge
swine. Their horns are generally curved. I
once came upon a drove unexpectedly which
ran away pellmell, breaking down young trees
and everything that impeded their progress.
Hunting them is dangerous sport. Baldwin, a
great African hunter, used to fear this kind of
game more than any other. A narration of his
narrow escapes once made my blood run cold.

I had numerous opportunities to try my skill
and courage in shooting these animals, but
concluded that prudence was the better part
of valor. I could not refuse, however, lending
my gun to a native hunter, that he might sup-

73



74 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

ply himself and friends with food; but a sad
accident put a stop to this.

The one I refer to was Umbulawe, who had
lived with the Dutch and engaged in many a
hunt ; but one day a cunning bull buffalo was
too much for him. He had fired once and
was reloading, when suddenly the bull rushed
out of the thicket, knocked him over with his
horns, trod upon him, and with his rasp-like
tongue tore off a part of his scalp. The poor
man held in his breath, pretending to be dead
and keeping as still as a mouse, until the savage
beast, concluding that life was extinct, walked
away. He did not go, however, until he had
trampled upon and broken the stock of the
gun into half a dozen pieces.

Umbulawe picked himself up as well as he
could and soon a party of his friends, who had
heard the report of the gun, met him and car-
ried him home. A few hours after his wife
came to me with a^ sad countenance bringing
the broken parts of the gun, and said, " Umbu-
lawe is dead." It turned oat, however, that
the hunter had yet a little life remaining in
him and that he was anxious to see me. Tak-
ing some sticking-plaster and a few medicines,
I mounted my horse, and in twenty minutes
rode into his kraal. He was spitting blood
and in great pain, and had, I feared, sustained
severe internal injuries. Having doctored him
according to the best of my ability and given
him some advice, I was about to depart when
he said, " I want you to make haste and get



Wild Animals. 75a



that gun mended. I must go and shoot tliat
buffalo ; he is my enemy." In spite of his
injuries Umbulawe recovered in a few weeks.

An Englishman, hunting buffaloes in one of
the forests of Zululand, was chased by one,
caught on the horns by the strong hunting-
belt he had around his waist, and thrown into
the branches of a friendly tree to which he
gladly clung. The buffalo ran about, appar-
ently in a quandary as to where his game had
gone. After ten minutes or more the beast
departed, and the tired hunter only regretted
that he had not with him his gun that he
might give him a farewell charge.

Lions, in considerable numbers, lived on the
table-lands, about our station, but rarely came
into the Esidumbini valley. One ventured to
visit our premises in the night, passing by the
front door and walking up to a house occupied
by some Zulu lads in my employ. Their door
being ajar and one of the boys not asleep, the
" fire coming from the lion's nostrils," as he ex-
pressed it, so scared him that he roused his
companions and they climbed upon the rafters,
where they remained till nearly morning. The
lion then went past the cattle fold, greatly
terrifying the oxen and cows. I noticed that
the oxen had made a ring, the cows being
inside, that they might protect the weaker sex
with their large sharp horns. In the open
veldts., or plains of South Africa, I have
been told that wild animals have a wholesome
fear of attacking such a laa(/er, or fortifica-



76 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

tion ; but it should be remembered that ox
horns in South Africa are generally long and
large, differing greatly from those in Great
Britain or America. It is not uncommon to
see a pair five and even six feet from tip to
tip and correspondingly large. One poor ox
was so unfortunate as to have a pair nine feet
long. An attempt was made to take it to
England, but it died on the voyage.

During the first years of my missionary life
lions prowling about my station did not dis-
turb us or the natives, if let alone. The
country abounded with antelopes, and on these
they grew fat. So long as they did not en-
danger our lives we thought it best to have
as little to do with them as possible.

Riding home one day from a meeting of
our mission, accompanied by a native lad who
was also mounted, we passed within gunshot
of the largest male lion I ever saw ; but he did
not offer to touch us. Shaking his mane and
wagging his long tail he walked leisurely away,
much to my relief, for I had no more formida-
ble weapon of defense than a jackknife. Natives
afterwards told me that he had been in that
locality several weeks. A missionary brother
was coming to visit us about that time, and I
wrote to him, saying, "There is a lion in the
way." The good brother was rather incred-
ulous, but took the precaution to ride on horse-
back ahead of his wagon and, true enough,
found the huge beast in the spot I had
described. He was wise enough not to shoot,



Wild Animals. 77



though lie had a loaded rifle on his shoulder,
knowing that a wounded lion is a most danger-
ous character.

One of those brutes inflicted on me a great
loss one night, and I was glad that a bullet
from an Englishman's rifle soon after termi-
nated his existence. I had sent to a table-land,
a few miles from my house, two pole oxen
which had been recently inoculated to prevent
their dying from lung sickness and were, there-
fore, in low condition. Both were killed by a
lion of enormous strength, judging from his
tracks and the fact that with his teeth he
broke the bone of one of the oxen's legs. He
could not have been hungry, for he ate only a
small part of one. Those oxen cost me nearly
one hundred dollars. A fine horse strayed
away from my station one afternoon and was
never found, having probably been eaten by a
lion. I was not sorry when the country was
rid of lions.

When traveling in the Orange Free State,
which was noted as a lion country, I learned
the moihia operandi adopted by Dutch farmers
in hunting lions. Half a dozen or more coura-
geous boers ride on horseback as far as they dare
towards a lion, some of them fire with their
long elephant guns from their horses and then
retire immediately, glancing backward, })erhaps,
to see if they have wounded or killed. If un-
successful in the first charge, they return and
make another. The difficulty is to induce their
horses to venture within shooting distance, so



78 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

great is their dread of the " king of beasts." A
Dutchman, on whose word I could rely, told
me he had shot nine lions and met with only
one accident, which was from the fall of his
horse when returning from a hunt.

A Natal colonist, William Leathern, while
traveling through the Transvaal, some years
ago, was obliged to spend the night in the
veldt. He was riding one horse and leading
another. After kindling a fire he tied the two
horses, tail to tail, allowing them to feed near
by. A shower descended, putting out the fire,
and he was in deep darkness. Suddenly he
heard one of his horses utter a terrible cry,
and he perceived within a few feet of himself
an enormous lion. He fired at him with liis
pistol, but in a moment the savage beast was
upon him inflicting on his right arm a shocking
wound. As his horses were both killed, Mr.
Leathern was obliged to walk thirty miles
before he could reach a physician and have his
arm attended to.

An Englishman, by the name of Brown, while
hunting in the Orange Free State, shot a lion-
ess, the ball penetrating the skull ; but before
the wounded animal died she sprang upon the
hunter and killed him. Their dead bodies were
found side by side.

Readers of the life and travels of Dr. Living-
stone will doubtless recall the narrow escape of
that great explorer. He had fired the contents
of both barrels of his gun into a lion, and was
in the act of reloading when the beast sprang



Wild Animals. 79



apou him, catching him by the shoulder and
shaking him as a cat does a rat. The doctor,
in describing his sensations at the time, said:
" The shock caused a sort of dreaminess in
which there was no sense of pain nor feeling
of terror, though quite conscious of all that
was happening. It was what patients, partially
under the influence of chloroform, describe who
see the operation but feel not the knife. The
shake annihilated fear and allowed no sense of
horror in looking around at the beast. This
peculiar state is probably produced in all ani-
mals killed by the carnivora. And if so, it is a
merciful provision of our benevolent Creator
for lessening the pain of death." When tlie
remains of the distinguished explorer were
taken to England one of the marks by which
they were identified was that caused by the
teeth of the lion on his shoulder bone.

Another animal that used to make us visits
on dark nights was the leopard. I once found
myself a little too near one to be agreeable.
Hearinfj the cries of a fowl that roosted on a
tree in front of our dwelling, I rushed out,
armed with only a broomstick, to see what was
the matter. Suddenly I found myself only a
yard or two from a large s[)otted leopard })usily
eating the fowl. But the greatest terror must
have seized him at my ghostlike appearance;
for, leaping over a high pomegranate fence, lie
made off as fast as possible. Leopards often
came for sheep and goats which on cold and
rainy nights had not been driven to the kraals ;



80 Forty Years Among the Zulus.



and in such cases I poisoned them for the
natives with strychnine, always receiving the
skins for my trouble.

Other wild animals to which it was necessary
to give a wide berth were wild dogs. They
usually go in troops, and if hungry, like Sibe-
rian wolves, attack human beings. Should an
ox or cow, on account of lameness or disease,
be unable to reach the cattle fold before dark,
those animals were almost sure to find it. Dr.
Adams, riding one night in an unfrequented
part of the colony to visit a patient, was
chased by a troop of these creatures. At last
he turned and rode towards them, cracking his
horsewhip furiously and succeeded thus in
intimidating them.

Troops of baboons lived on a large table-land
lying between Esidumbini and Umsunduzi, a
station occupied by Rev. L. Grout, and as I
often rode over to see that brother I almost


1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryJosiah TylerForty years among the Zulus → online text (page 4 of 17)