Josiah Tyler.

Forty years among the Zulus online

. (page 7 of 17)
Online LibraryJosiah TylerForty years among the Zulus → online text (page 7 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

waylay unwary travelers and murder them fur
the sake of obtaining certain portions of their
bodies, such as the heart, which are made use
of for medicines and charms. It is Ixjlieved
that many native doctors are in league witli
these men and give them a good price for
such portions of the hmnan body as they con-
sider most valuable. Natives have a great
dread of the izinswelaboya, and they dare
not travel through districts said to be infested
by them after dark or ah^ne. There is good
reikson, I am afraid, for such a fear, bc^cause
natives have often disappeared mysteriously

116 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

and have never been heard of again, whilst
some have been found murdered and mutilated
in a most cruel manner. Persons murdered
by the izinswelaboya are almost invariably
found with tlie tip of the tongue, the eyelids,
portions of the ears, and the points of the
fingers and toes cut off, in addition to other
mutilations. The tip of the tongue is cut off
that no tongue can give information of the
deed, the eyelids that none may see it, the
ears that none may hear it."



POLYGAMY presents a gigantic obstacle
to the elevation of tlie Zulus. It has
been wrW called their** idol and their curse."
The chattelizing of women is its twin sister.
All that a Zulu man hath will he give for
wives, and the number he possesses is limited
only by the number of cows he h;is with which
to buy them. Wives and cattle are his projn
erty and a Zulu is not considered of much
importance unless enriched with a large num-
ber of the former. " A man's wives make the
house great " is a common Zulu saying. With
only one wife a man is considered poor. *• 1 1 I
have but one wife, who will cook for me wiicii
she is ill?" is a (piestion often itsked by the
wife-loving Zulu when arguing in support of
his darling custom. In Natal for some years
the market price for a strong, healthy girl of
fifteen years ranged from fifteen to twenty
cows, hut of late ten have been eonsideiH'(l the
standard price. As the colonial law now
stands, no Zulu father can collect in court of
justice more tiiaii that number for his daugh-
ter. Hereditary chiefn and constables, how-
ever, are exceptions. They can claim as many
as tifteen or even thirty cattle. I regret to say


118 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

this law is sanctioned by the imperial govern-
ment of Great Britain. Since it went into
operation young men find it much easier than
formerly to purchase partners for life. Avari-
cious old men with a plurality of wives and
numerous children cannot now monopolize the
wife market, continually increasing their own
stock and raising the price of girls. Bartering
women for cattle, as now practiced in Natal
and other parts of South Africa, is not an
ancestral custom of the Zulus. Fifty years
ago the bridegroom presented the bride's father
with three or four cows to ratify the marriage
contract, and he received from the bride's rela-
tives an equivalent in cattle or something else.
Now in Natal the whole transaction previous
to the celebration of the nuptials is mercenary.
The natives universallv admit that under
British rule it has become a bona fide sale.
Fathers call their daughters their " bank," their
"stock in trade." The husband says substan-
tially, as did Petruchio, —

**I will be master of what is my own.
She is my goods, my chattel; she is my house,
My household stutf, my field, my barn,
My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything. "

None but those who have witnessed the
working of polygamy in South Africa can ade-
quately conceive the degradation and misery it
involves and the strong counteracting influence
it presents to philanthropic labor. Both mind
and heart are brutalized by it. Should the
wife be sick and unable to perform her daily

Poh/t/amt/ a7id other Evil Practices. 119

tiisk she is liable to hear from her liusbaiul the
question : " Why do you not work and get
back the cattle T have paid for you^" If
childless, she can be returned to her home as
an " unprotitablc tiling." If not fully paid for,
her children can be taken as a mortgage till
the number of cattle agreed upon is received.
The Zulus are so attached to this ab()minal)le
custom that nothing would so arouse their
opposition to English authority as legislation
which would aim at its extirpation. Not oidy
is it idolized by the men, but, strange thougli it
may appear, the poor degraded women wlio are
the chief sufferers argue in favor of it. Rarely
do wives object to a husband's ad<ling to the
number of helpmeets, for they say, '' Now are
our burdens lightened." They seemingly ig-
nore the fact that jealousies, bickerings, and
quarrels are sure to arise among a plurality of
uncongenial spirits in a Zulu haiem.

In intellect tlie W(jmen are inferior to the
men, but this is doubtless attributable to the
drudgery imposed upon them. To feelings of
self-respect and sensitiveness under wrongs,
characteristic of their mcjre highly-favored sis-
tei'S in Christian lands, they are strangers. Ah
a rule they patiently submit to their lot, unless
tortured beyond endurance by despotic hu.s-
bancLs ; but their life at the best is a hard
one. The Zulu lualhcn wife sits in a hut of
haystack architectuie of (Uie room — her parlor,
kitchen, and bedroom — without window, and
the door to which is two feet high ; a portion

120 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

of this space is fenced off for goats and calves.
She prepares her husband's meal of boiled corn,
ground and mixed with sour milk. He eats
alone, giving what is left to the hungry children,
or more hungry dogs. She must provide for
herself. Fear and distrust reign there. She
brings to him beer brewed from musty Indian
corn, but must sip first to show that there is " no
death in the pot ; " while her lord and master
lounges, snuffs, smokes, hunts, guzzles beer, or
gads from kraal to kraal, discussing a recent case
of witchcraft, or gorges himself with beef like
a boa constrictor, she, with a child on her back
and a heavy hoe on her shoulders, goes to the
fields, digs the hard soil all day long or pulls
the rank weeds from the garden, returning
home at night with a bundle of firewood on
her head. Not only must she serve as cart, ox,
and plow, but she is expected to provide for
her aged parents. Other wives come to the
kraal and the strife that ensues makes her con-
dition worse. If of a mild disposition, she tries
to make the best of her lot, resigning herself
meekly to her daily task. If not, she is sure
to "kick against the pricks," harassing herself
to no purpose. The eyes of the vigilant
mother-in-law are upon her and every omission
of duty is reported to her husband. No high
and ennobling aspirations have a place in her
soul. Her environment is one of sensuality
and debasement. Death comes to her early
and it is emphatically " a leap into the dark."
Oh, the miseries of heathen Zulu women !

Pol yy amy and other Evil Practices. 121

The question is sometimes addressed to mis-
sionaries from South Africa: *' Are not the
natives, as you find them in their free, unre-
strained, normal condition, liappy?" Yes, at
times in a certain sense they are happy, and
occasionally there gleams a ray of joy which, if
develo[>ed by Christianity, would ghulden their
whole social life, hut it is a great misnomer to
call heathen joys happiness.

Inordinate beer drinking is another hindrance
to the evangelization of the Zulus. Indian
corn and a species of grain called amabele,
after remaining in a damp })lace till tliey begin
to sprout, are mashed, boiled, and then laid
aside in a large dish. Yeast, obtained from
an indigenous plant not unlike the ice plant,
is added. When sufliciently fermented it is
strained through conical bags made of rushes,
into closely-woven baskets or earthen dishes.
The cup for serving and drinking is made of a
small gourd. The Zulus look upon tlieir beer
as food as well as drink, and often live entirely
upon it. In every kraal if grain is abundant,
beer is correspondingly so. From time imme-
morial it has been the national Ixiverage.
Where a number of kraals are located near
each other, beer makers, who always are women,
take turns in providing for parties of forty or
fifty men, whose time is chietly occupied in
going about searching for that nnc f/ua nan of
comfort. In winter, when women are comi)ar-
atively free from hard toil, both sexes assemble
almost daily for drinking and dancing. Thougii

122 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

they do not become so thoroughly intoxicated
as those who freely imbibe rum, gin, and brandy,
the beer confuses their brains, rendering them
foolish and often quarrelsome. A fight with
knob-kerries, resulting in broken heads, is not
an uncommon termination of a beer carousal.
The obscenities and evil practices which accom-
pany these orgies are so vile and harmful that
from the first missionaries have felt it wise to
make stringent rules for church members in
regard to attending them. It was a severe
trial to many to abandon a custom to which
the mass of their countrymen were ardently
attached, but the majority stood firm, agreeing
with their instructors that spiritual loss would
result if they yielded an iota. The more they
were taught in respect to perils arising from
social evils the stronger was their desire not
only to eschew beer parties, but also feasts at
which meat was sacrificed to the ancestral
spirits. As a rule they acknowledged the pro-
priety of the rules laid down by the mission
churches, making it a disciplinable offense to
attend such gatherings. The good effects of
such rules appeared in the impetus given to
the temperance cause, and after a temperance
reformation in many cases there followed reviv-
als of religion.

Another filthy and baneful Zulu practice is
smoking wild hemp. This weed, easily culti-
vated in South Africa, abounding particularly
in old deserted kraal spots, has a narcotic
and even intoxicating effect, similar to that of

Polygiwiy and other Evil Practices. 12-5

Indian hemp. Sometimes it is smoked in com-
bination with tobacco, but frequently alone.
The pipe used is peculiar, beinr^ the horn of
an ox or large antelo})e with a hole about six
inches from the largest end. Into this liole a
reed is inserted, varying from five to eight
inches in length, and where the junction is
formed gum is used to render it water tight.
At the upper end of the reed is attached a
small soapstoue bowl, in which is placed the
hemp together with a live coal. The horn
having been previously filled with water the
smoker places his mouth at the top, inhaling
with all his might the smoke that passes
through the water. Having inhaled as much
as he can, he closes his mouth, ami with a small
reed squirts the saliva upon the lloor of the hut,
making figures of cattle and various object^s.
In every kraal is found a pipe of the above
description. Women do not smoke, but fre-
quently small boys obtain access to the pipe.

Gregarious by nature, Zulus love to assemble
for a grand smoke, and as the \)\\)ii is pjussed
from one to another it is not uncommon for
the smoker who has taken too much to fall ou
the floor full length in a state of unconscious-
ness. If death does not occur, his nervous
system is fearfully prostrated. So injurious is
this practice to body and soul that the most
reliable native Christians coincide with their
spiritual guides in the propriety of a clnirch
law prohibiting it on penalty of expulsion.

As obstacle after obstacle to the elevation of

124 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

the Zulus rose before us, mountain-like year
after year, and we saw how inadequate were
all our efforts to remove them, we were led to
look away from ourselves, distrusting our own
wisdom and strength, and to rely on him who
has said: "Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the heathen." We
realized in some degree the meaning of those
words: "Not by might, nor by power, but by
my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."



LTOITT began to dissipate heathen darkness.
God by visible tokens strengtliened our
faith. That wivs a joyful day in our missionary
calendar on which five young men came to me
and said, '' We have decided to become Chris-
tians. No longer will we worship spirits or go
to beer drinks. We will not become polyga-
mists, but will live according to God's wonl."

More joyful still was tlie day when a church
was organized, and we sat down for the first
lime with a little band of Zulu Christians to
commemorate the death of our Lord. A nucle-
us having been formed of those on the Lord's
side, some who had ridiculed our work were
heard to exclaim, '' We now see the power of
the great King."

I was cheered concerning Dambusa, the man
mentioned a.s lacking courai^e t«» follow the
dictates of his conscience, and who ajjpeared
to be irrecoverably lost. After he had spent
twelve years in a heathen kraal, in quest of a
happiness wliich he could not find, I [lerceived
in his countenance a restlessness that l)etok-
ened a mind ill at ease. Occasif»nally ho
attended church, always taking a b:ick seat,
listening attentively to the preaching, and then


126 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

retiring alone with a downcast eye. It was
evident tliat the Holy Spirit w^as working in
his heart. Visiting him frequently, sometimes
calling him out of a noisy assembly of beer
drinkers (and he never disregarded the call),
taking him to some secluded place, I pressed
upon him the claims of the gospel. The tears
that trickled down his cheeks, with an occa-
sional assent to my remarks, indicated deep

Dambusa had been the subject of many
fervent prayers. His case had been mentioned
to Christians in this country, and their peti-
tions for his conversion were answered,
though some who offered them had gone to
their long home. One Sabbath, at the close of
services, which had been unusually solemn, I
requested him to accompany me to a cluster
of trees near my house and spend a little
time in religious conversation. He readily con-
sented. In reply to the question, " How much
longer are you going to resist the Spirit of
God, and fight against your own conscience?"
to my inexpressible joy, he said, " No longer ;
the controversy is ended." The penitent man
poured out his soul in earnest supplication for
divine help.

We trembled for him, knowing well the
temptations that surrounded him. He had be-
come entangled in the meshes of polygamy, and
we were anxious to see how he would get out
of them. Two or three days after, he came to
us with a face radiant with joy, saying, " The

Encouragements. Vll

way is clear. I am a fm* man." flow he
obtained his freedom, lie explained. To liis
second married wife, for whom he liad paid
fifteen head of cattle, he said, '' I have decided
to become a Christian and live on the mission
station. Will you follow my exam})le?" Her
indignant rei)ly wa^, '* No, not for the world,
and you are a great fool ! " '' What will yon
do?" asked the husl)and, "for I am in earnest.'
**Go home to my father's kraal and live there,'
answered the wife. To his first married wife
he put the same question, and her rei)ly was,
" Yes, I will go with yon. I have no objection
to becoming a Christian."' In a few weeks a
neatly-built cottage ai)peared in front of my
dwelling, into which Dand)usa moved with his
wife and five children. The sacrifice he made
in abandoning heathenism may be seen from
the fact that in giving up the second wife lie
also gave up her cliild, and the fifteen cows he
had paid for her. The father of the woman
not long after sold her again for ten or twelve
cows, so that she was property in his hands,
yielding a good investment.

1 rejoice to say in ngard to Dambusa that
he gave great satisfaction in after years, prov-
ing a valuable helper in the work of tlie Lord.
His regard for my wife, who tauglit him to read
and first led him to think on reli^dous subjects,
and whom he always called " mother," was
peculiarly deep and tender. lie w;is her right-
hand man in all efforts to build U[) the station.
Another man, who had professed to be a

128 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

Christian, but had drifted into polygamy, came
to me saying that his conscience would not
allow him to live in such a state. After
putting away his second wife he was received
into our communion. Both he and Dambusa
were emphatic in their testimony that it is
impossible for a man to serve God properly
who has more than one wife.

When examining candidates for church mem-
bership the motives which influenced them in
coming to the mission station, as they narrated
them, were most interesting. I said to a young
man who had decided to make a profession of
his faith : " What first led you to come to
us?" He surprised me by the inquiry: "Did
you not call me, and have I not come ? Have
you forgotten that a long time ago you called
one morning at a kraal, and asked a man to
send his son to procure some milk for you,
and that while he was milking you talked with
him about the Saviour ? " I replied, " I re-
member it perfectly." " Well," said he, " I am
that boy. You called me, and haven't I
come?" Joy and gratitude welled up in my
heart as I realized more forcibly than ever the
fulfillment of the promise, " Cast thy bread
upon the waters," and I welcomed this lamb
hito the fold of the Good Shepherd. It was
not long before heathen fathers brought their
daughters to work for us, desiring payment
for them. Mrs. Tyler, not having physical
strength to visit the kraals, devoted her time
chiefly to the training of Zulu girls who were

Encouratiemvutx. 1 29

under her eye from day to day. It taxed her
patience exceedingly, but witli God's help she
was successful. Years after, when those whom
she trained had children of their own, they
brought them to their white '' mother," beg-
ging her to give them the same training they
had received, and saying, " We want no pay.
No one can look after them like you." Feeble
health prevented ht-r from complying with
many of those requests, but their appreciation
of what had been done for them was a source
of comfort and an illustration of the value
of missionary training.

Those who attempt to Christianize barbari-
ans discarding evangelistic methods, commit
a sad mistake. It is strange that tlR-rc should
be any doubt on this subject after so many
futile experiments. Take for instance tiie
case of the refined, cultured, and philanthropie
Bishop Colenso, who began mission work in
Natal apparently under the most favorable
circumstances. A large school was establislu'd,
the industrial arts taught, and various branches
of learning, but after a short time many
of the pupils, though regarded as Ciiris-
tians, relapsed into heathenism. One of tliem,
William, " the intelligent Zulu," the bishop*8
interpreter and principal preacher, laid {iside
all his civilized clothing, married four wives,
and is now living in a kraal to all aj)pearance
a besotted heathen. While conversing with
him a few months before I left South Africa
and reminding him of his accountability to

130 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

God, he replied, with a derisive laugh, " I was
taught otherwise."

I think the bishop before his death saw and
sadly felt that, unless truly converted, the
natives will not as a rule remain long even
in a state of civilization, and yet how often
the cry is echoed and reechoed, " Civilize the
Africans first, then Christianize them."

Sir Alvan Southworth, in an address before
the American Geographical Society, remarked :
"I have roughly computed that the Christian
world has spent on missionary labor in Africa,
since the era of telegraphs and railroads began,
an amount sufficient to have built a railroad
along the line of the equator. Let us be
practical with the negro, for in his aborigi-
nal state you cannot spiritualize him." He
rejoiced that the Viceroy of Egypt was think-
ing of sending such missionaries as the rail-
road and steamboat into Central Africa. From
the above, and similiar statements meeting us
from all points, what are we to infer? Evi-
dently that many who have devoted their lives
to the elevation of Africa are regarded as on
the wrong track, for their modus operandi is to
preach the gospel first. But, says one, " would
you preach in Africa to those dull, besotted
people as you would in a civilized land ? " I
reply, Yes, substantially The son of Ham is
yet to be found, whether Zulu or Hottentot,
who cannot perceive moral distinctions — in
other words, who has not a conscience, and
who cannot be benefited by the simple narra-

Encouragements. 131

tioii of the " old, old story." If he thinks —
and is there a human being incapable of tliink-
ing ? — his thoughts can be directed to liis
Maker, his duty, and his destiny. It has been
said, '' As there is no pliilosopher too wise,
so there is no child too simple, to take in God
through Christ as the moral life-power in his
nature." We may apply this to tlie lowest,
most bestial tribe in heatliendom. The gospel
meets the deepest needs of their souls. God's
spirit works through that gospel and those who
proclaim it, and a change is effected witliont
which all civilizing agencies are vain. Far be
it from me to ignore the importance of civiliza-
tion. It should go hand in hand with Chris-
tianity. We cannot dispense with it in elevat-
ing the degraded, but the place to which it
belongs is secondary and subordinate.

In Frazer's Magazine appears a story in
which a South African chief is reported to
have visited England, and to have become to
all appearance civilized, if not Christianized.
"One day, while discoursing to a (U'lighti'd
audience on tlie importance of dilTusing the
blessings of civilization and the g»)spel, the
paper collar he wore on his neck irritiited him.
Attempting to adjust it the buttonhole broke
and he burst out witli the exchimation : ' Away
with this si)urious civilization ! ' and suiting his
action to his words lie tore off his c;h)thing,
and stood before his audience untrammeled by
civilized adornments."

I have no means of testing the truth c>f this

182 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

story, but it is in perfect harmony with cases
which have come under my observation. The
latest and most striking instance of the kind
I will mention : —

About twenty-five years ago a Zulu lad,
named Palma, came to me for instruction. He
was uncommonly bright and inquisitive, and
I had strong hopes that he would become a
useful man. Tempted by some boys who ran
away from their homes, he went to Durban,
the seaport town of Natal, in search of work.
Soon after I heard that he had gone aboard a
ship bound for London, and for nearly twenty
3^ears nothing was heard from him. One day
a young man with a foreign look, dressed in a
sailor's suit, with a tarpaulin on his shoulder,
came to my door and inquired, " Is the clergy-
man at home?" To my surprise it was the
veritable Palma, who had returned from his
wanderings. We questioned him eagerly as
he related his adventures. Using the English
language (for he had almost forgotten his own)
he told us of his travels in Europe, Asia, and
America. " How could you afford to see so
much of the world ? " He replied : " I have
hands, and am not afraid to work." He told
us of a visit he made to Dean Stanley, who
asked him, " Why did you leave Africa ? " His
reply was, " To better my condition, sir."

As he left us for his heathen home, I cau-
tioned him against the temptations which
would assail him in his father's kraal, and he
laughingly replied, " No danger." Now comes

Encouragements. 133

tlie sad part of this story. A few weeks after
he reached home he doffed all his civilized
clothing, and put on the skins of wild animals
like liis heathen relatives. He chose a wife
from among the heathen, and is now living
apparently with no desire for civilizing influ-
ences. His heart was not changed, alas! and
he is a heathen still. Does not this story t43ach
us that civilization alone is inadequate to ele-
vate barbarians?



OOME idea of the change effected by the
^^ gospel may be formed by the description
of a Sabbath at Esidumbini, a few years after
the natives began to emerge from barbarism.
A long loud ringing of one of Meneely's sweet-
toned bells announces the return of the Sabbath.
And as the sun lifts its head above the table-land

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryJosiah TylerForty years among the Zulus → online text (page 7 of 17)