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been his paroxysms of dying rage. In order to take out the
charm from him, the Bakatla on the following day made a
huge bonfire over the carcass, which was declared to be that
of the largest lion they had ever seen."

Dr. Livingstone thus graphically describes the Bakwaine,
and his mode of dealing with them :



144 LIVINGSTONE AND HIS TRAVELS.

" A small piece of land, sufficient for a garden, was pur-
chased when we first went to live with them, though that was
scarcely necessary in a country where the idea of buying land
was quite new. It was expected that a request for a suitable
spot would have been made, and that we should have pro-
ceeded to occupy it, as any other member of the tribe would.
But we explained to them that we wished to avoid any cause
of future dispute, when land had become more valuable ; or
when a foolish chief began to reign, and we had erected large
or expensive buildings, he might wish to claim the whole.
These reasons were considered satisfactory. About 5 worth
of goods were given for a piece of land, and an arrangement
was come to, that a similar piece should be allotted to any
other missionary, at any other place to which the tribe might
remove. The particulars of the sale sounded strangely in the
ears of the tribe, but were nevertheless readily agreed to.

" In our relations with this people, we were simply stran-
gers, exercising no authority or control whatever. Our influ-
ence depended entirely on persuasion; and having taught
them, by kind conversation as well as by public instruction,
I expected them to do what their own sense of right and
wrong dictated. We never wished them to do right merely
because it would be pleasing to us, nor thought ourselves to
blame when they did wrong, although we were quite aware
of the absurd idea to that effect. "We saw that our teaching
did good to the general mind of the people, by bringing new
and better motives into play. Five instances are positively
known to me in which, by our influence on public opinion,
war was prevented ; and where, in individual cases, we failed,
the people did no worse than they did before we came into
the country.

" In general they were slow, like all the African people
hereafter described, in coming to a decision on religious sub-
jects ; but in questions affecting their worldly affairs, they
were keenly alive to their own interests. They might be
called stupid in matters which had not come within the sphere
of their observation, but in other things they showed more



LIVINGSTONE HOME AT MABOTSA. 145

intelligence than is to be met with in our own uneducated
peasantry. They are remarkably accurate in their knowledge
of cattle, sheep, and goats, knowing exactly the kind of pas-
turage suited to each ; and they select with great judgment
the varieties of soil best suited to different kinds of grain.
They are also familiar with the habits of wild animals, and in
general are well up in the maxims which embody their ideas
of political wisdom.

" The place where we first settled with the Bakwains is
called Chonuane, and it happened to be visited, during the
first year of our residence there, by one of those droughts
which occur from time to time, in even the most favored dis-
tricts of Africa.

" The belief in the gift or power of rain-making, is one of
the most deeply-rooted articles of faith in this country. The
chief,, Sechele, was himself a noted rain-doctor, and believed
in it implicitly. He has often assured me that he found it
more difficult to give up his faith in that, than in anything
else which Christianity required him to abjure. I pointed
out to him that the only feasible way of watering the gardens,
was to select some good, never-failing river, make a canal,
and irrigate the adjacent lands. This suggestion was imme-
diately adopted, and soon the whole tribe was on the move
to the Kolobeng, a stream about forty miles distant.

" The experiment succeeded admirably during the first year..
The Bakwains made the canal and dam, in exchange for my
labor in assisting to build a square house for their chief. They
also built their own school, under my superintendence, ur
house at the River Kolobeng, which gave a name to the set-
tlement, was the third which I had reared with my own
hands. A native smith taught me to weld iron ; and having
improved by scraps of information in that line from. Mr. Mof-
fat, and also in carpentering and gardening, I was becoming
handy at almost any trade, besides doctoring and preaching ;
and as my wife could make candles, soap, and clothes, we came
nearly up to what may be considered as indispensable in the
accomplishments of a missionary family in Central Africa^



146 LIVINGSTONE AND HIS TRAVELS

namely, the husband to be a jack-of-all-trades without doors,
and the wife a maid-of-all-work within.

" But in our second year again no rain fell. In the third
the same extraordinary drought followed. Indeed, not ten
inches of water fell during these two years, and the Kolobeng
ran dry. The fourth year was equally unpropitious, the fall
of rain being insufficient to bring the grain to maturity.

"Nothing could be more trying. We dug down in the bed
of the river deeper and deeper as the water receded, striving
to get a little to keep the fruit-trees alive for better times,
but in vain. Needles lying out of doors for months did not
rust ; and a mixture of sulphuric acid and water, used in a
galvanic battery, parted with all its water to the air, instead
of imbibing more from it, as it would have done in England.
The leaves of indigenous trees were all drooping, soft, and
shriveled, though not dead ; and those of the mimosas were
closed at midday, the same as they are at night.

" In the midst of this dreary drought, it was wonderful to
see those tiny creatures, the ants, running about with their
accustomed vivacity. I put the bulb of a thermometer three
inches under the soil, in the sun, at midday, and found the
mercury to stand at 132 to 134 ; and if certain kinds of
beetles were placed on the surface, they ran about a few
seconds and expired. But this broiling heat only augmented
the activity of the long-legged black ants.

" Where do these ants get their moisture ? Our house was
built on a hard ferruginous conglomerate, in order to be out
of the way of the white ant, but they came in despite the
precaution ; and not only were they, in this sultry weather,
able individually to moisten soil to the consistency of mortar
for the formation of galleries, which, in their way of working,
is done by night (so that they are screened from the observa-
tion of birds by day in passing and repassing toward any
vegetable matter they may wish to devour), but, when their
inner chambers were laid open, these were also surprisingly
humid. Yet there was no dew, and, the house being placed
on a rock, they could have no subterranean passage to the



THE GREAT DROUGHT RAIN-MAKERS. 147

bed of the river, which ran about three hundred yards below
the hill. Can it be that they have the power of combining
the oxygen and hydrogen of their vegetable food by vital
force so as to form water ?

" Rain, however would not fall. The Bakwains believed
that I had bound Sechele with some magic spell, and I received
deputations, in the evenings, of the old counselors, entreating
me to allow him to make only a few showers :

" ' The corn will die if you refuse, and we shall become
scattered. Only let him make rain this once, and we shall
all, men, women, and children, come to the school, and sing
and pray as long as you please.'

" It was in vain to protest that I wished Sechele to act just
according to his own ideas of what was right, as he found
the law laid down in the Bible, and it was distressing to
appear hard-hearted to them. The clouds often collected
promisingly over us, and rolling thunder seemed to portend
refreshing showers, but next morning the sun would rise in a
clear, cloudless sky ; indeed, even these lowering appearances
were less frequent by far than days of sunshine are in London.'*

The following is Dr. Livingstone's account of the mode
which the Bakwains practiced in securing the game, that
grazed in large numbers on the African plains. :

" Very great numbers of the large game, buffaloes, zebras,
giraffes, tsessebes, kamas or hartebeests, kokongs or gnus 1 ,
pallahs, rhinoceroses, etc., congregated at some fountains near
Kolobeng, and the trap called '' hopo " was constructed, in
the lands adjacent, for their destruction. The hopo consists
of two hedges in the form of the letter V, which are very
high and thick near the angle. Instead of the hedges being
joined there, they are made to form a lane of about fifty yards
in length, at the extremity of which a pit is formed, six or
eight feet deep, and about twelve or fifteen in breadth and
length. Trunks of trees are laid across the margins of the
pit, and more especially over that nearest the lane, where the
animals are expected to leap in, and over that farthest from
the lane, where it is supposed they will attempt to escape



148 LIVINGSTONE AND HIS TRAVELS.

after they are in. The trees form an overlapping border, and
render escape almost impossible. The whole is carefully-
decked with short green rushes, making the pit like a con-
cealed pitfall.

"As the hedges are frequently about a mile long, and about
as much apart at their extremities, a tribe making a circle
three or four miles round the country adjacent to the open-
ing, and gradually closing up, are almost sure to inclose a
large body of game. Driving it up with shouts to the narrow
part of the hopo, men secreted there throw their javelins into
the affrighted herds, and on the animals rush to the opening
presented at the converging hedges, and Into the pit, till that
is full of a living mass. Some escape by running over the
others, as a Smithfield market-dog does over the sheep's backs.
It is a frightful scene. The men, wild with excitement, spear
the lovely animals with mad delight ; others of the poor crea-
tures, borne down by the weight of their dead and dying
companions, every now and then make the whole mass heave
in their smothering agonies.

" The Bakwains often killed between sixty and seventy
head of large game at the different hopos in a single week ;
and as every one, both rich and poor, partook of the prey,
the meat counteracted the bad effects of an exclusively vege-
table diet. When the poor, who had no salt, were forced to
live entirely on roots, they were often troubled with indiges-
tion. Such cases we had frequent opportunities of seeing at
other times, for, the district being destitute of salt, the rich
alone could afford to buy it.

" The native doctors, aware of the cause of the malady,
usually prescribed some of that ingredient with their medi-
cines. The doctors themselves had none, so the poor resorted
to us for aid. "We took the hint, and thenceforth cured the
disease by giving a teaspoonful of salt, minus the other reme-
dies. Either milk or meat had the same effect, though not
so rapidly as salt. Long afterward, when I was myself
deprived of salt for four months, at two distinct periods, I
felt no desire for that condiment,



THE BOERS. 151

" This continued as long as I was confined to an exclusively
vegetable diet, and when I procured a meal of flesh, though
"boiled in perfectly fresh rain-water, it tasted as pleasantly
saltish as if slightly impregnated with the condiment. Milk
or meat, obtained in however small quantities, removed entirely
the excessive longing and dreaming about roasted ribs of fat
oxen, and bowls of cool, thick milk gurgling forth from the
big-bellied calabashes ; and I could then understand the thank-
fulness to Mrs. L. often expressed by poor Bakwain women,
in the interesting condition, for a very little of either.

" In addition to other adverse influences, the general uncer-
tainty, though not absolute want of food, and the necessity
of frequent absence, for the purpose of either hunting game
or collecting roots and fruits, proved a serious barrier to the
progress of the people in knowledge. Ragged schools would
have been a failure, had not the teachers wisely provided food
for the body as well as food for the mind ; and not only must
we show a friendly interest in the bodily comfort of the
objects of our sympathy, as a Christian duty, but we can no
more hope for healthy feelings among the poor, either at
home or abroad, without feeding them into them, than we
can hope to see an ordinary working-bee reared into a queen-
mother by the ordinary food of the hive."

One of the adverse influences which Dr. Livingstone had
to encounter in his mission enterprise was the opposition of
the Boers. These were white settlers refugees from justice,
deserters from English and other armies, and of course a very
degraded class. They must not be confounded with the
Dutch Boors, for the latter were a sober, industrious and hos-
pitable body of peasantry. Living at a distance from civiliz-
ation, the Boors could not be expected to be very refined in
their manners, or style of living, but they were honest and
peaceable.

" One section of this body, penetrated the interior as far as
the Cashan Mountains, whence a Zulu or Caffre chief, named
Mosilikatze, had been expelled by the well-known Caflre
Dingaan ; and a glad welcome was given them by the Bechu-



152 LIVINGSTONE AND HIS TRAVELS.

ana tribes, who had just escaped the hard sway of that cruel
chieftain. They came with the prestige of white men and
deliverers ; but the Bechuanas soon found, as they expressed
it, ' that Mosilikatze was cruel to his enemies, and kind
to those he conquered; but that the Boers destroyed their
enemies, and made slaves of their friends.' "

To meet their demand for domestic and field servants, they
were accustomed to make forages on the Bechuanas, and the
plan most approved by the long-headed among the Boers was,
to take children so young that they soon forgot their parents
and their native language.

Dr. Livingstone, of course, opposed the barbarous practices
of the Boers, and this opposition provoked their vengeance.
During his absence they descended upon the missionary sta-
tion, and plundered his home. The nations under Sechele
defended themselves to the best of their ability, and slew a
number of the Boers, but finally had to flee before them, and
retire to the mountains. This marauding band of Boers
numbered four hundred, and carried off two hundred Bak-
wain children that were in the mission school.

This plundering of the Boers broke up the mission station
among the Bakwains, and left Dr. Livingstone free to carry
out his long cherished wish of exploring the interior of Af rica.
Before leaving this interesting people, however, we must give
the doctor's account of their housekeeping, and his mode of
employing his time, while laboring among them :

" The entire absence of shops led us to make every thing
we needed from the raw materials. You want bricks to build
a house, and must forthwith proceed to the field, cut down a
tree, and saw it into planks to make the brick-moulds; the
materials for doors and windows, too, are standing in the
forest ; and, if you want to be respected by the natives, a
house of decent dimensions, costing an immense amount of
manual labor, must be built. The people cannot assist you
much ; for, though most willing to labor for wages, the Bak-
wains have a curious inability to make or put things square :
like all Bechuanas, their dwellings are made round. In the



THE MISSIONARIES LIFE AT KOLOBENG. 153

case of three large houses, erected by myself at different times,
every brick and stick had to be put square by my own right
hand.

" Having got the meal ground, the wife proceeds to make
it into bread ; an extempore oven is often constructed by
scooping out a large hole in an ant-hill, and using a slab of
stone for a door. Another plan, which might be adopted by
the Australians, to produce something better than their ' dam-
pers,' is to make a good fire on a level piece of ground, and,
when the ground is thoroughly heated, place the dough in a
small, short-handled frying-pan, or simply on the hot ashes ;
invert any sort of metal pot over it, draw the ashes around,
and then make a small fire on the top. Dough, mixed with
a little leaven from a former baking, and allowed to stand an
hour or two in the sun, will by this process become excellent
bread.

" We made our own butter, a jar serving as a churn ; and
our own candles by means of moulds ; and soap was procured
from the ashes of the plant salsola, or from wood-ashes, which
in Africa contain so little alkaline matter that the boiling of
successive leys has to be continued for a month or six weeks,
before the fat is saponified. There is not much hardship in
being almost entirely dependent on ourselves ; there is some-
thing of the feeling which must have animated Alexander
Selkirk, on seeing conveniences springing up before him from
his own ingenuity ; and married life is all the sweeter when
so many comforts emanate directly from the thrifty, striving
housewife's hands.

" To some it may appear quite a romantic mode of life ; it
is one of active benevolence, such as the good may enjoy at
home. Take a single day as a sample of the whole. We
rose early, because, however hot the day may have been, the
evening, night, and morning at Kolobeng were deliciously
refreshing; cool is not the word, where you have neither an
increase of cold or heat to desire, and where you can sit out
till midnight, with no fear of coughs or rheumatism. After
family worship and breakfast between six and seven, we went



154: LIVINGSTONE'S LIFE AND TRAVELS.

to keep school for all who would attend men, women, and
children being all invited. School over at eleven o'clock,
while the missionary's wife was occupied in domestic matters
the missionary himself had some manual labor as a smith,
carpenter, or gardener, according to whatever was needed for
ourselves or for the people ; if for the latter, they worked for
us in the garden, or at some other employment ; skilled labor
was thus exchanged for the unskilled.

" After dinner and an hour's rest, the wife attended her
- infant-school, which the young, who were left by their parents
entirely to their own caprice, liked amazingly, and generally
mustered a hundred strong ; or she varied that with a sewing-
school, having classes of girls to learn the art ; this, too, was
equally well relished. During the day every operation must
be superintended, and both husband and wife must labor till
the sun declines. After sunset the husband went into the
town to converse with any one willing to do so, sometimes on
general subjects, at other times on religion.

" On three nights of the week, as soon as the milking of
the cows was over, and it had become dark, we had a public
religious service, and one of instruction on secular subjects,
aided by pictures and specimens. These services were diver-
sified by attending upon the sick, and prescribing for them,
giving food, and otherwise assisting the poor and wretched.
We tried to gain their affections by attending to the wants of
the body. The smallest acts of friendship, an obliging word
and civil look, are, as St. Xavier thought, no despicable part
of the missionary armor. Nor ought the good opinion of the
most abject to be uncared for, when politeness may secure it.
Their good word in the aggregate forms a reputation which
may be well employed in procuring favor for the Gospel.
Show kind attention to the reckless opponents of Christianity
on the bed of sickness and pain, and they never can become
your personal enemies. Here, if any where, love begets love."



CHAPTER VIII.
DISCOVERY OF LAKE NGAML

THE Boers were determined that no missionary stations
should be established on their flanks or in their rear, as
these would interfere with their "peculiar institution." Living-
stone was equally determined to open all Africa to the light
of the gospel, and thus put a stop to the system of unrequited
labor and other iniquities incident to barbarism. Obstacles
only stimulated him to further exertions, and he immediately
set about collecting all the information he could about the
desert which lay between the Bakwain country and Lake
Ngami.

Sekomi, the chief of the Bamangwato, was acquainted with
a route which he kept carefully to himself, because the Lake
country abounded in ivory and he drew large quantities
thence periodically at a small cost to himself.

Although Sechele sent men with a present of an ox to
Sekomi to ask permission that Livingstone might pass along
over his path, it was refused. Sechele, who was fully alive
to his own interest, was naturally anxious to get a share of
that inviting field and was ready to accompany Livingstone
on the expedition, but was dissuaded from this as he was
needed at home to guard against the attack of the Boers.

Livingstone was finally fortunate in securing for compan-
ions two English gentlemen, Messrs. Oswell and Murray, who
were full of zeal for African hunting and discovery, and
kindly offered to pay all expenses for guides across the great
Kalahari Desert, which lies between the Orange River and

155



156 LIVINGSTONE'S LIFE AND TRAVELS.

Lake Ngami, and extends from 24 east longitude to near the
west coast.

This region is called a desert simply because it contains no
running water and very little water in wells ; it is by no
means destitute of vegetation and inhabitants. It was form-
erly a region of terror to the Bechuanas from the number of
serpents which infested it, and from the intense thirst which
they often experienced there.

" The human inhabitants of this tract of country consist of
Bushmen and Bakalahari. The former are probably the
aborigines of the southern portion of the continent, the latter
the remnants of the first emigration of Bechuanas. The
Bushmen live in the desert from choice, the Bakalahari from
compulsion, and both possess an intense love of liberty.

" The Bushmen are exceptions in language, race, habits, and
appearance. They are the only real nomades in the country ;
they never cultivate the soil, nor rear any domestic animals save
wretched dogs. They are so intimately acquainted with the
habits of the game that they follow them in their migrations,
and prey upon them from place to place, and thus prove as
complete a check upon their inordinate increase as the other
carnivora. The chief subsistence of the Bushmen is the flesh
of game, but that is eked out by what the women collect of
roots and beans, and fruits of the desert. They possess gen-
erally thin, wiry forms, capable of great exertions and of
severe privations."

Messrs. Oswell and Murray arrived at Kolobeng, the latter
part of May. Just before their arrival, a party from the
Lake country came to Livingstone, stating that they were
sent by Lechulatebe, their chief, to ask him to visit the lake.
This party brought such flaming accounts of the quantities
of ivory to be found there, that the Bakwain guides were
quite as eager to reach the lake as were the explorers.

All things being ready, Livingstone started northward on
the 1st of June, 1849, accompanied by Messrs. Oswell and
Murray, a score of Bakwains, twenty horses and eighty oxen.
Proceeding four or five days towards the Bamangwato hills,



ACROSS THE KALAHARI DESERT. 157

they struck boldly to the north into the desert. The soil was
a soft white sand, very trying to the strength of the oxen, as
the wheels sank into it over the felloes. At Serotli they had
their first experience of a real Kalahari fountain :

" "We found only a few hollows like those made by the
buffalo and rhinoceros when they roll themselves in the mud.
In a corner of one of these there appeared water, which
would have been quickly lapped up by our dogs, had we not
driven them away. And yet this was all the apparent sup-
ply for some eighty oxen, twenty horses and about a score
of men. Our guide, Ramotobi, who had spent his youth in
the desert, declared that, though appearances were against us,
there was plenty of water at hand. We had our misgivings,
for the spades were soon produced ; but our guides, despising
such new-fangled aid, began in good earnest to scrape out the
sand with their hands. The only water we had any promise
of for the next seventy miles that is, for a journey of three
days with the wagons was to be got here.

" By the aid of both spades and fingers two of the holes
were cleared out, so as to form pits six feet deep and about
as many broad. Our guides were especially earnest in their



Online LibraryJosiah TylerLivingstone lost and found → online text (page 9 of 51)