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invariably came in contact with them; but we
got to understand each other so well that I had
no fear and they seemed to be of the same
mind. Occasionally, for amusement, I woukl
try to show them how brave I could be and
ride on my horse to within a few yards of
them. . An old baboon, the father and appar-
ently ruler of the colony, would mount on an
ant-heap, four or five feet high, and carefully
watch my proceedings. If he suspected mis-
chief, — saw anything in my hands that looked
like firearms, — he would make a signal to all
the mothers and little baboons to flee to their

Wild Animals. 81

homes on a precipice near by. But if not, he
kept quiet, and we exchanged grimaces and
remarks also ; I addressing him now in EngUsh
and now in Zulu, and he me in his baboon
dialect. Not for the world would I have pro-
voked an attack from him, for I would have
stood no chance unless well armed. A large,
valuable dog ventured one day to assail one of
these fellows and was torn almost to pieces.
Natives frequently came to me to borrow my
gun, saying that baboons were robbing their
gardens. At early dawn, befoie the people had
come out of their huts, a foraging party of
these animals would make a raid into a garden,
pluck the ears of corn nearly ripe, place them
under their arms, steal a pumpkin or two and
run away to their hiding-place among the rocks.
Emin Holub, in his " Seven Years in South
Africa," tells us that on the highlands he was
once pelted by a herd of baboons perched
among the trees. He said he had to shoot an
old male that began to pick up some stones to
throw at him. Members of the same family,
living on the lowlands, have not attained to
such a degree of intelligence as to defend them-
selves in that fashion. Certainly they are far
removed from those North African specimens,
of which Emin Pasha told Mr. Stanley, "that
understand the art of fire-making and carry
torches at night when they visit the planta-
tions of the Mswa to steal fruit." The Pasha
said he had seen this with his own eyes. If
blind or nearly so, as he is represented to be,

82 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

his vision of baboon fire-makers must have
been extremely dim.

Naturalists, I believe, class these creatures
under the family of " pig-faced baboons ; " but
their countenances seemed too human to de-
serve . such an appellation. I never had the
heart to shoot one, lest his dying struggles
should appear to me in my midnight dreams.

At the present time very few wild animals
are found in Natal. Occasionally a leopard is
killed, but elephants, lions, and wild dogs have



AN object of terror to the early mission-
. aries in Natal, when the bridgeless and
boatless rivers were swollen, was the crocodile
family. I say crocodile, for no alligators are
found in South Africa. Travelers generally
forded rivers on horseback or in ox-wagons.
The loud crack of the whip and shouting of
the driver intimidated these reptiles and kept
them at safe distance ; but a person on foot or
on horseback was liable to be seized.

Mr. J. A. Butler, a printer, connected with
the American Mission, once had a marvel-
ous escape. He was swimming his horse over
a turlnd stream, when the animal became
frightened and he discovered that a huge
crocodile had hold of him. The scaly brute,
leaving the horse, seized the rider, dragged
him from his saddle and would have made
him his prey had not Mr. Butler clung to
the horse's mane. When he reached the bank
of the river, he caught hold of some reeds
and held on to them until a party of Zulus,
who had witnessed the exciting scene, rushed
to his relief. Even then the brute would not
relax his hold, till the natives had beaten him
on the head with clubs and pried open his


84 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

jaws. They then helped Mr. Butler out,
bound up his wounds, and accompanied him
to the nearest mission station, six miles dis-
tant. The poor man recovered, but was a
sufferer from the wounds he received the rest
of his life.

Escapes from a crocodile, after he has fairly
seized one, are rare, but sometimes occur. It
is reported that an Englishman while bathing
was drawn by one into deep water ; but having
been told that crocodiles are sensitive about
their eyes, he thrust his fists into them, and
the reptile not fancying this treatment let go
his hold. The man, though badly lacerated,
lived many years.

A laughable story is told by George Cato,
Esq., American Consul at Port Natal, of Pot-
geiter Dorse, a Dutchman. Dorse, while hunt-
ing, decided to have a bath in the Umhlali
River. Leaving his clothing on the river's bank,
together with his gun and hunting-knife, he
engaged peacefully in his ablutions ; but
when he had finished he did not find the
clothes where he had left them. Crocodile
tracks explained the matter and soon he
obtained sight of the thief on a sand bank
a few yards away. Taking good aim he gave
him a fatal shot in the brain. Then with his
knife he opened the brute, secured his clothes,
none the worse apparently for the mangling
they had received, put them on and went

William Baldwin, in his book on "African

Crocodiles and Snakes. 85

Hunting," tells us of shooting several geese
which disappeared as soon as they were shot,
being drawn under water by some unseen crea-
ture. Determined to secure at least one, he
waded into the pond and caught hold of it by
tlie legs just as it was sinking, a crocodile hav-
ing taken the first hold. He observes : " In an
instant the goose came in halves, the legs and
back falling to my share, Mr. Alligator getting
the best half and two or three violent blows
on the nose into the bargain." He adds, '^ I
lost not an instant in getting ashore again
and did not think much at the time of what
a foolish thing it was to do and what a narrow
escape I had had."

Dr. Livingstone speaks of the Barotzi tribe,
living on tlie Zain])ezi, as inclined to pray to
these reptiles and to eat tliem too; but the
Zulus manifest no disposition to d(j either.
They use various parts of the body, liowever,
for medicinal purposes. If one of the Haman-
gwato peophj has the misl'ortiine to be bitten
by a crocodile, he is expelled from liis tribe.
Dr. Livingstone said that he met with a man
in exile who refused to tell him the cause, but
some of his native attendants informed liim,
and tlie scars visible on liLs thigli attested the
truth of their assertion.

South Africa is emphatically a land of
snakes. They are so common, and the stories
told of them are so exaggerated, that strangers
coming to the colony are in terror of them for
months. An Englishman, who had landed in

86 Forty Years Amo7ig the Zulus.

Natal a week or two before, stopped one night
at my house. Upon retiring he searched his
room carefully for the possible snake he might
find lurking in some corner. Seeing what he
supposed to be a deadly serpent he rushed
out and insisted that I should call some one
to assist me in killing the creature. Four
native boys armed with knob-kerries and canes,
and eager for the fray, went into the room ;
but after long searching found only the cover
of a pail which had been pushed into the

Serpents very rarely attack a human being,
except in self-defense. There is much truth
in the following statement taken from a Natal
paper : —

" Nearly all the wounds inflicted by venomous
snakes upon men are the result of the want of
a frank understanding between the parties.
The gentleman inadvertently sets his foot on
the reptile's tail, and the reptile, under the im-
pression that the insult was premeditated, re-
sents the action ; or the gentleman has a
friend who wishes for a green snake to put in
a bottle and endeavors to induce some slippery
individual of the race to the bottling condition,
while the snake, knowing nothing of the honor
of the embalmment for which he is marked out,
does his best to give his assaihmt 'pause,' in
order that he may take himself out of the
way during the cessation of the strife."

Many of the harmless snakes in South
Africa so resemble the poisonous ones that

Crorodih'n and tSnukea. 87

it is often dillicult to distinguish tlicni. It
would liardly l)e safe for a person in Natal to
imitate the author of Pilgrim's Progress, of
whom it is said in his meuKMr that, "One day
an adder crossed his path and after stun-
ning it with his stick, he opened its mouth
and with his fingers plucked out its fangs,"
by which act he says, " Had not God been
merciful to me. I might by my desperateness
have brought myself to my end." r'.nglish
adders cannot be handled with impunity, much
less African.

The hirgest serpent in South Afriea is the
python, or Natal rock snake. No true boa
constrictors are found in Africa, their habitat
being South America, India, the Moluccas,
Cuba, and Australia. I)u C'haillu speaks of
a python in Hcjuatorial Afriea meiusuring
over thirty-three feet in length. In the
southern part of the continent I never heard
of one more than twenty-three feet, and the
longest I ever saw was twenty-one feet. If
attacked, a python will wind itsi'lf about a
human being and crush him to death; hut for
food it usually prefers snuill mammalia, sucii
as conies, rabbits, etc.

Mr. Thomas Haines, a traveler and artist
in South Africa, relates an incident lie receive<l
from a Dutch boer. ''One of these ])ythons
finding a native asleep began to swallow him,
but commencing at the wrong end, and taking
only one foot into Ids mouth, was unable to
draw him farther than the fork, and then.

88 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

endeavoring to eject the limb, was prevented
by his crooked fangs sticking in the flesh.
The native awakening screamed lustily, but
no help came, and his leg remained a whole
day and night in the snake's throat before help
arrived to set him free."

A sportsman in Natal once found a python
asleep and disturbed its slumber by a charge
of buckshot. After repeated contortions the
creature straightened itself out and appeared
to be dead. Wishing to save its skin, tlio
sportsman offered his native servant a reward
if he would carry it to his home. As he was
reluctant to do so, on the ground that the ser-
pent was only "pretending to be dead," the
master took it up and carried it a little wa}^
himself. The native then mustered courage
to shoulder the reptile, but soon shouted to
his master, " Nkosi ngi size (Master, help me) !"
The python had put his teeth into the native's
thigh and was lashing its tail violently in vari-
ous directions for a stump or stone to which to
fasten itself. Had not the sportsman rushed to
his help, the poor Zulu might have had an
uncomfortable, if not fatal, squeeze.

The largest python I ever saw was brought
to me by a party of Zulus who had found it
attempting to swallow an antelope. Tlie horns
were too spreading to be disposed of, and the
serpent was robbed of its meal by the natives,
who immediately feasted upon the venison, and
brought the snake to me. The creature meas-
ured eighteen feet, and was the longest I ever

Crocodiles an<l Snakea. 89

skinned. So great is the vitality of tlie python
that I once saw one wrifjirHnt' its tail several
hours after it had been killed.

In his "Curiosities of Natural History,"
Frank Huckhmd relates that two pythons, one
nine and the other eight feet in length, were
kept in a l)(»x in the Zoological Gardens
in London. One morning the keeper found
the shorter serpent missing, and on examina-
tion noticed that the longer one was greatly
distended, having swallowed his companion.
As the Zulus believe that the spirits of their
ancestors take up their abode in serpents they
never eat them, as do some tribes in Central

The puff adder is a much-dreaded .snake,
owing to its habit of lying in fre([uente(l paths
and its resemblance U) pieces of decayed wood.
In Cape Colony they are often seen as huge as
a man's arm, and a bite from an adder is ditTi-
cult to cure. One day a little son of Mr.
Lindley came upon a large ad<ler, and, though a
boy only six years old, he took oft' his shoe and
killed it; then seizing it by the tail he dragged
it home.

A cry dreaded by natives and white peo-
ple alike is that of *• InnDnlm ! Imamlnt ! "
especially if the word c m i/ama (hhicV) is addetl.
The imand^as are slender snakes of a vivid
green or black color, the latter being by far tht*
more dangerous and dreaded sfri)ent. If one
enters a Zulu hut, the greatest consternation
prevails, and no native will try to kill one

90 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

unless he is well armed. Calling early one
morning on a sugar planter, whom I found at
his mill, we were sudden 1}^ surprised by the
appearance of a servant, highly excited, saying,
" The mistress needs you ; there is a snake in
her bedroom ! " We hastened to the house
and saw a huge imaraba, which had just been
killed by an Indian coolie. It had crawled
into the bedroom and concealed itself in a
manilla hat, near the head of the bed. When
the good housewife went to make the bed she
saw his serpentship coiled up in the hat, but
had sufficient presence of mind to keep quiet
until her servant could inflict a fatal blow.
The planter told me that he had felt something
creeping over his body in the night, but was
too sleepy to ascertain the cause. Had he been
bitten, instant death would have ensued.

The green imamba, though not so dangerous,
is more common. A missionary sent a native
into the garden for a bunch of bananas. The
boy did his errand, bringing the bananas to the
house on his head. As he put down the
bunch, an imamba slowly uncoiled itself from
the fruit. The native, it was said, turned
almost Avhite on seeing the danger to which he
had been exposed.

A story is told of a gentleman in India, who
was so disturbed by a noise under the floor of
his room that he cut a hole through and baited
a hook with a toad. Seeing the line move he
pulled it up and found he had a poisonous

Crocodlh'i< ami Snake a. 91

Once I was exceedingly annoyed l)y tlie
noise made by some rats over my liead. Snd-
denly all became (juiet and I supposed a cat
had found its way above the ceiling. 1 ascer-
tained soon after that instead of a cat it was
a snake.

That snakes are famous rat-catchers I had
evidence another time. My stable, after hav-
ing l)een overrun with rats, was all at once
entirely free from them. A few days after-
wards my son was standing in the stable and
saw an imamba, ten feet long, coiled about a
beam a few yards above his head. A shot
ended his existence, and two davs later the
mate was also disj)osed of.

It is not unusual to see these creatures mov-
ing along the branches of trees in scarcli of
weaver birds' nests, and I have frequently seen
one put its long slender neck into the hanging
nest to enjoy its feast of young ])irds. Tlie
parent birds in tlie meantime utter most
pathetic cries, but are helpless before their

One of the pioneer missionaries showed
great courage and nerve-force one Sal)bath.
During the sermon a green imamba moved
along and coiled itself on a beam just above
the preacher's head. The seruKjii was finished
and [)rayer and benediction pronounced before
the order to kill the snake was given.

Another missionary, hearing a rustling in his
room one night after retiring, found an imam})a
moving about and killed it. Very soon he was

92 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

again disturbed and found the mate to the first

Zulus do not swish the air with rods, or rub
the soles of their feet with garlic, to keep
snakes at a distance as do the natives of West-
ern Africa, but they sometimes use tobacco for
this purpose. Serpents will not enter a hut
which has a strong odor of the " filthy weed.''
Should one show more vitality than is agree-
able after receiving fatal wounds, a Zulu will
sometimes pry open its jaw and insert a little
snuff, and its contortions cease almost instantl}'.

The chief remedy I have found successful
for snakebites is ammonia ; though some use
ipecacuanha. Fresh milk, if given immedi-
ately after a bite, is said to be a good antidote,
but I never tried it. The natives use the root
of the yellow daphne. It is said that toads
bitten are seen hopping to the umuti ivenlilang-
wana, the herb used as an antidote for the bite
of a serpent, called inJdangivana. It is mar-
velous that so few people are fatally bitten,
considering how numerous serpents are. I
have never heard of a missionary having lost
his life in this way.


SrilUT wo USUI p.

IT is often said that " Zulus are snake
worshipers." is not strictly true.
Amatomjo (ancestral spirits) are the objects <tf
their worship. When the body dies, tlie
timoi/a (soul, or spirit) is supposed to take up
its alKule in a snake, or to assume the form of
this reptile. An intelligent Zulu, not a Chris-
tian, thus explains the belief of his countrymen
on this subject : —

" We believe that there are good and evil
spirits ; the gooil unes watcliing over us fur
good, and the evil ones ready to do us harm.
Some spirits, the good ones, those of our
families, who are intereste<l in our welfare,
are allowed to assume the form of a certain
snake, and by that means not only form a
link between us and thi^ world of s[)irits, but
in the guise of a snake they are permitted
thus to watch over us. We believe in the
spirit the snake represents."

The soul of a king or any distinguishfd
person is re[)resente(l by the imamba, a fierce
and venomous serpent, surpassed only by the
I)ython in size and length. Common people
assume the form of harmless and (piiet ser-
pents. To kill an itongo (spirit), or rather its


94 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

serpent representative, is a crime to be atoned
for immediately, lest some dire calamity result.
An ox or cow must be slaughtered ; blood
must be shed. " Without shedding of blood
there is no remission." Immediately after
death the graves of Zulu men (not of women,
except in the case of a queen) are fenced
about, covered with thorns, and closely watched
for weeks, sometimes for months, lest a witch
or poisoner disturb the remains. Should the
watcher happen to see a snake among the
thorns, he would remark to his friends, " I
saw the spirit of our father to-day basking
in the sun on the top of his grave." Were
he kind and gentle when alive, he would
probably add : '' We need not fear, he will
still treat us in the same wav he did when

Dr. Henry M. Callaway, in conversation
with the natives, obtained the following infor-
mation : —

When sickness invades a kraal, the oldest
son praises the spirit of his father or grand-
father, giving him the names he has gained
by valor in battle. He sometimes chides as
well as praises, especially if the sickness seems
likely to terminate fatally, saying, " If we
should all die in consequence of the affliction
you are sending upon us, your worshipers
will come to an end ; therefore, for your own
sake as well as ours, do not destroy us."

When a family moves to another part of
the country and does not see in the new place

Spirit Woriihip. 95

the snake representing the paternal s[)irit, they
conclude that it has remained behind and
return to sacrifice an ox, giving thanks and
siiigin*^ tlie same songs the father sang wlicn
alive. This they maintain is to excite pity,
so that he may say : " Truly, my childivn
are lonely because they do not see me." If
a widow left with small children neglects tht'm,
the spirit of the departed husband is likely to
appear to her in a dream, saying, " Why liave
you left my children? Go bai-k to them. If
you do not, I will kill you." The command
is generally heeded.

Zulu ancestral spirits are not free from
jealousy. When an animal is sacrificed by the
headman of a kraal to appease the spirits and
avert death, he will go outside the cattle en-
closure and pray as follows: "All hail, spirits
of our tribe! Is it proper, instead of asking
for food, that you should come to us at all
times in the form of sickness? No, it is proper
if you demand food that I should not refuse
it. There, then," pointing to the slaughtered
animal, "is your food. All ye spirits of our
tribe, summon one another! I am not going to
say, So-and-so, there is your food, for yon are
jealous. I give you what you ask. Let the
man get well."

Were there certain imperfeetions on the body
of a man while living: iiad he for instance l)nt
one eye or did he go lame, the serpent repre-
sentative is sure to resemble him.

Zulus sometimes connect shadows with s[)ir-

96 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

its. They say, "The shadow that is cast by
the body will ultimately become the itongo, or
spirit, when the body dies." A missionary,
wishing to get at the meaning of the above,
inquired, " Is the shadow which my body casts
when I am walking my spirit?" The reply
was, " No ; it is not your itongo (guardian spirit
watching over you), but it will be the itongo
for your children when you are dead." Long
shadows, they say, shorten as men approach
the end of life. At death the observation is,
" The shadow hath departed." A short shadow,
however, remains with the dead body and is
buried with it. The long shadow becomes an

Vows to sacrifice to the spirits are frequently
made by Zulus. If a child is ill and the
diviner has not been consulted, the father
addresses the spirits thus : " If it is you, people
of our house, who are doing this, I make a
vow : behold, there is such and such a bullock !
Let the child get well, that you may eat; " or,
if he does not possess a bullock, the father
cries, " If you wish for food, why do you not
cure my child, that I may go and get you a
bullock and kill it for you that you may eat?
How shall I know it is you if the child does
not get well ? " ^

Enough has been said to show that ancestral
spirits are the objects of Zulu worship, and
the same may be said of native tribes generally
in South Africa. Their influence not only

1 See Callaway, on " Ancestor Worship."

Sj)irit Worn hi J). 97

over individuals, but over all mundane affairs,
is, in the estimation of tlie heatlien, incalculably
great. The nature of that inilucnco depends
on their disposition, for they can be benevolent
or malevolent — guardian angels sweet and
kind, or cruel and destructive. They can
make crops productive or blast them ; can
cause health and prosperity, or send disease
and death. Before going to war it has been
a Zulu custom, fnmi time immemorial, to send
individuals into the enemy's country to steal
a child, who is offered as a sacrifice to the
spirits to obtain their favor and insure victory.
If successful, the blood of oxen and goat^
flows freely from their altars, and their thanks-
givings are profuse.

In reference to the locality <>f the (lejjarted
spirits, the natives universally say, ** It is jxinxi
(regions under the earth)." The manner in
which they obtained a knowledge of Hades is
given to us in one of their traditions. A hun-
ter chased a deer into a deep hole made by an
ant-bear, and following it he descended deeper
and deeper till lie came to the abode of his
ancestors. On his retuin he rei)orted an a!)nn-
dance of cattle, all white, and fond in sulVieient
quantity. Indeed, the subterraneans were in
good circumstances. The numl)er of tiiose
who place any faith in this tradition is few.
Deeply conscious of a future state, most of
them have fearful forebodings of what may
befall them in that state. A Zulu man once
said to me as he was about to die, " I am

98 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

sinking into a dark deep pit. I am afraid." He
expressed the feeling of benighted Africans
generally. Their religion, if spirit worship
can be called religion, affords no comfort
in a dying hour. For many years I watched
carefully the workings of the native mind in
times of trouble. It is then they apply to the
spirits for aid. Healthy and strong, with food
in abundance, and that of the most nutritious
kind, naturally vivacious and cheerful in tem-
perament, reveling in the excitement of the
hunt, the dance, beer party, or carousal over
the slaughtered ox, they are as happy as bar-
barians can be. Unrestrained in body or mind
they enjoy life in their salubrious climate to
a great degree. Smiles are generally seen on
their faces, and it is doubtful whether a more
social people can anywhere be found ; but
when visited by affliction their deepest pas-

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