A Selection from the Traditional
CURRENT AMONG THE PEOPLE LIVING ON THE
EASTERN BORDER OF THE CAPE COLONY
COPIOUS EXPLANATORY NOTES.
GEO. Mc CALL THEAL
by S. Sonnenschein, Le Bas & Lowrey, London
OF late years a great deal of interest has been taken in the
folklore of uncivilized tribes by those who have made it their
business to study mankind. It has been found that a knowledge
of the traditionary tales of a people is a key to their ideas
and a standard of their powers of thought. These stories display
their imaginative faculties; they are guides to the nature of
the religious belief, of the form of government, of the marriage
customs, in short, of much that relates to both the inner and
the outer life of those by whom they are told.
These tales also show the relationship between tribes and
peoples of different countries ancl even of different languages.
They are evidences that the same ideas are common to every branch
of the human family at the same stage of progress. On this account,
it is now generally recognised that in order to obtain correct
information concerning an uncivilized race, a knowledge of their
folklore is necessary. Without this a survey is no more complete
than, for instance, a description of the English people would
be if no notice of English literature were taken.
It is with a view of letting the people we have chosen to
call Kaffirs describe themselves in their own words, that these
stories have been collected and printed. They form only a small
portion of the folklore that is extant among them, but it is
believed that they have been so selected as to leave no distinguishing
Though these traditionary tales are very generally known,
there are of course some persons who can relate them much better
than others. The best narrators are almost invariably ancient
dames, and the time chosen for story telling is always the evening.
This is perhaps not so much on account of the evening being the
most convenient time, as because such tales as these have most
effect when told to an assemblage gathered round a fire circle,
when night has spread her mantle over the earth, and when the
belief in the supernatural is stronger than it is by day. Hence
it may easily happen that persons may mix much with Kaffirs without
even suspecting that they have in their possession a rich fund
of legendary lore.
There is a peculiarity in many of these stories which makes
them capable of almost indefinite expansion. They are so constructed
that parts of one can be made to fit into parts of another, so
as to form a new tale. In this respect they are like the blocks
of wood in the form of cubes with which European children amuse
themselves. Combined in one way they present the picture of a
lion, another combination shows a map of Europe, another still,
a view of St. Paul's, and so on. So with many of these tales.
They are made up of fragments which are capable of a variety
It will surprise no one to learn that these tales are already
undergoing great changes among a very large section of the natives
on the border. Tens of thousands of Kaffirs have adopted the
religion of the Europeans, and the facility with which such changes
can be made as were alluded to in the last paragraph has encouraged
them to introduce ideas borrowed from their teachers. Thus with
them Satan of whom they had no conception before the advent of
Europeans-is now the prompter to evil, and morals are drawn that
never could have entered their heads in days of old. Their tales
are thus a counterpart of the narrators, in possessing an adaptability
to growth and a power of conformation to altered circumstances.
It is necessary to say a few words concerning the care that
has been taken to give absolutely not a single sentence in any
of these tales that has not come from native sources. Most of
them have been obtained from at least ten or twelve individuals
residing in different parts of the country, and they have all
undergone a thorough revision by a circle of natives. They were
not only told by natives, but were copied down by natives. The
notes only are my own. I have directed the work of others, but
have myself done nothing more than was necessary to explain the
text. For this I can claim to be qualified by an intimate knowledge
of the Kaffir people, gained through intercourse with them during
a period of twenty years, and while filling positions among them
varying from a mission teacher to a border magistrate.
Alost of the tales collected in this book have already appeared
in various South African papers and magazines, some as far back
as 1874. They were arranged for publication in a volume which
was to have been issued from the press of the Lovedale Missionary
Institution, and the first sheet was already printed, when the
disturbances of 1877 took place. I was then called away to perform
work of a very different kind, and the publication was necessarily
suspended. The book is now issued, in the hope that it may be
found useful, as throwing light upon the mode of life of a people
who differ from ourselves in many respects besides degree of
GEO. M. THEAL
INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER REGARDING THE KAFFIRS 1
THE STORY OF THE BIRD THAT MADE MILK 29
THE STORY OF FIVE HEADS . . . . . . 48
THE STORY OF TANGALIMLIBO 56
THE STORY OF A GIRL WHO DISREGARDED THE CUSTOM OF NTONJANE
THE STORY OF SIMBUKUMBUKWANA 72
THE STORY OF SIKULUME . . . . . . 78
THE STORY OF HLAKANYANA . . . . . 89
THE STORY OF DEMANE AND DEMAZANA . . .118
THE STORY OF THE RUNAWAY CHILDREN; OR, THE WONDERFUL FEATHER
. . . . . . 122
THE STORY OF IRONSIDE AND HIS SISTER . . 127
THE STORY OF THE CANNIBALS WONDERFUL BIRD . 133
THE STORY OF THE CANNIBAL MOTHER AND HER CHILDREN . . . .
. . . . .137
THE STORY OF THE GIRL AND THE MBULU. . 144
THE STORY OF MBULUKAZI . . . . . . 148
THE STORY OF LONG SNAKE . . . . . . 155
THE STORY OF KENKEBE . . . . . . 158
THE STORY OF THE WONDERFUL HORNS . . . 16q
THE STORY OF THE GLUTTON 172
THE STORY OF THE GREAT CHIEF OF THE ANIMALS. 176
THE STORY OF THE HARE . . . . . . 179
THE STORY OF LION AND LITTLE JACKAL 186
PROVERBS AND FIGURATIVE EXPRESSIONS 191
NOTES . . . . . . . . . .207
INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER REGARDING THE KAFFIRS.
IN South Africa the word Kaffir is often used in a general
way to signify any black native who is not the descendait of
an imported slave, but on the eastern frontier of the Cape Colony
the term ususally restricted to a member of the Amaxosa tribe.
It is from individuals of this tribe that the following stories
have been collected.
Europeans have designated these Kaffirs ever since the discovery
of the country, though they themselves cannot even pronounce
the word, as the English sotmd of the letter is waning their
language. R, in Kaffir words, as now written, represents the
same guttural sound as g does in Dutch, or the Scotch
sound of ch in loch; thus Rarabe is pronounced Khah-khah-bay.
They have no word by which to signify the whole race, but each
tribe has its own title, which is usually the name of its first
great chief, with the plural prefix Ama or Aba.
A very large portion of South Africa is occupied by people
of this race. All along the eastern coast, as far south as the
Great Fish River, the country is thickly populated with Kaffir
tribes. On the other side of the mountains, the Bechuanas, their
near kindred, are found stretching almost across to the Atlantic
shore, from the heart of the continent southward to the Orange
The country lying between the present colonies of the Cape
and Natal was first explored by Europeans in the year 1655, and
was then found to be occupied by four great tribes,-the Amampondomsi,
the Amampondo, the Abatembu, and the Amaxosa,-who formed nations
as distinct from each other as are the French and the Italians.
Their language was the same, and their laws and customs varied
very slightly; but in all that respected government they were
absolutely independent of one another. It has since been ascertained
that the tribes further northward do not differ materially from
The Amaxosa were the farthest to the southward in 1688, as
they have been ever since. On the coast they had then reached
the Kciskama River, and there is good reason to believe that
inland their outposts extended westward as far as the site of
the present village of Somerset East. They were thus in contact
with Hottentot tribes along an extended line, and an amalgamation
of the two races had probably already commenced. It is certain
that during the latter half of the last century a great many
Hottentots were incorporated with the Amaxosa.
The mode of incorporation was in most instances a selection
of Hottentot females after the destruction of their clan in war;
but in at least one case a Hottentot tribe became gradually a
Kaffir clan by mixture of blood through adoption of Kaffir refugees.
The people of this tribe, a pure Hottentot one in 1689 and then
called the Gqunaqua, were found by a traveller a century later
to resemble Kaffirs more than Hottentots in appearance, and,
except a few families, they are now undistinguishable from other
members of the Amaxosa. Their original language has been lost,
but their old tribal title is yet retained in the Kaffir form
This large admixture of Hottentot blood has not affected the
mode of government or the general customs of the Amaxosa, as
is seen on comparing them with other tribes to the north but
it has affected their personal appearance and their language.
Many words in use by the women, though appearing in a Kaffir
form, can be traced to Hottentot roots. Owing to this, their
traditional stories may have been modified to some, though not
to any great, extent.
In a condition independent of European control, each Kaffir
tribe is over by a great chief, whose governement is, however
but little felt beyond his immediate clan, each petty division
being under a ruler who is in reality nrealy independent. The
person of a cheif is inviolable, and an indignity offered to
one of them is considered a crime of the gravest nature. Such
offshoots of the ruling house as are not of themselves cheifs
are of aristocratic rank, and are exempt from obedience to the
laws which govern the commonalty. With regard to the common people,
the principle of the law is that they are the property of the
rulers, and consequently an offence against any of their persons
is atoned for by a fine to the chief. Murder and assaults are
punished in this manner. Thus in theory the government is despotic,
but in practice it has many checks. The first is the existence
of a body of councillors about the person of each chief, whose
advice he is compelled to listen to. A second is the custom that
a man who can escape from a chief whose enmity he has incurred
will be protected by any other with whom he takes refuge, so
that an arbitrary or unpopular ruler is in constant danger of
losing his followers.
The chief in council makes the law and administers it, but
from the courts of the petty chiefs there is an appeal to the
head of the tribe. Only two kinds of punishment are known: fines
and death. Lawsuits are of frequent occurrence, and many Kaffirs
display great ability and remarkable powers of oratory in conducting
them. The judges are guided in their proceedings by a recognised
common law and by precedents, though some of them are exceedingly
venal. They will sit, however, with exemplary patience, for days
together, to hear all the details of a case, and, where bribery
is impossible, their sentences are usually in accordance with
The manner in which the Kaffirs became divided into independent
tribes in ancient times is clearly shown by the law of succession
to the chieftainship which is in force to the present day. The
first wives of a chief are usually the daughters of some of his
father's principal retainers; but as he increases in power his
alliance is courted by great families, and thus it generally
happens that the last of his wives is the highest in rank. Probably
she is the daughter of a neighbouring chief, for it is indispensable
in her case that the blood of the ruling line should flow in
her veins. She is termed the great wife, and her eldest son is
the principal heir.
Another of his wives is invested at some period of his life,
with the consent of his councillors and friends, with the title
of wife of the right hand, and to her eldest son is allotted
a portion of the tribe, with which he forms a new clan. The government
of this is entrusted to him as soon as he is full grown, so that
while his brother is still a child he has opportunities of increasing
his power. If he is the abler ruler of the two, war between them
follows almost to a certainty as soon as the great heir reaches
manhood, and is invested with a separate command. Should peace
be maintained, upon the death of his father the son of the right
hand acknowledges his brother as superior in rank, but pays him
no tribute, nor admits of his right to interfere in any manner
with the internal government of the new clan.
Thus there was always a tendency to division and subdivision
of the tribes, which was the great fault of the system. But while
it operated against unity, it tended towards a rapid expansion
of the people in a country where only a slight opposition could
be made by the earlier inhabitants. The less powerful chief of
the two would naturally desire to reside at a considerable distance
from his competitor, and thus a new tract of country would be
taken possession of. About six generations ago a practice was
introduced of dividing each tribe into three sections, by the
elevation of a third son to power, with the title of representative
of the ancients. But it was not generally adopted until Gaika,
about the beginning of the present century, gave it his countenance,
since which time this custom has been almost universally followed
by the Amaxosa, so that the number of petty chiefs and little
clans is now very great.
The Kaffir of the coast region is a model of a well-formed
man. In general he is large, without being corpulent, strong,
muscular, erect in bearing, and with all his limbs in perfect
symmetry. His skull is shaped like that of a European; but here
the resemblance ends, for his colour is a deep brown, and his
hair is short and woolly. His intellectual abilities are of no
mean order, and his reasoning powers are quite equal to those
of a white man. He is haughty in demeanour, and possesses a large
amount of vanity. For anything approaching frivolity he has a
supreme contempt. The men are handsomer than the women, which
is owing to the difference in their mode of living.
Their language is rich in words, and is musical in expression,
owing to the great number of vowels used. With very few exceptions
the syllables end in vowels. In structure it differs greatly
from the languages of Europeans. The inflections take place at
the beginning, not at the end of words. Thus the plural of indoda,
a man, is amadoda, men; of umfazi, a woman, is
abafazi, women; of isikali, a weapon, is izikali,
weapons. And so with every part of speech which is capable of
being inflected. This difference is, however, a slight one, when
compared with the changes which the other parts of speech undergo
to make them harmonize in sound with the principal noun in the
sentence. According as the noun commences with a particular syllable,
so the first syllable of the adjective, the verb, the adverb,
and even the preposition, must be altered to agree with it in
sound. Only the root syllables of these parts of speech remain
the same in all combinations.
Kaffir words are in most instances combined together to form
sentences in such a way that they cannot be separated from each
other as English words are. What appears in writing to be only
one word, is often really three or four, but as in another combination
these would change their positions, and as very frequently a
single letter represents a word, it would create much greater
confusion to separate them than to write them as one.
There is no difficulty whatever in expressing any ideas in
the Kaffir language. The present infinitive of any verb can be
transformed into an abstract noun. The numerals are as complete
as is necessary for any calculation. Adjectives proper are not
numerous, but their place is supplied by abstract nouns; as if
we should say, a thing with goodness, instead of, a good thing.
The adjective follows the noun, as abaidwana bane, children
four, izinto zine, things four.
The language of the Amaxosa contains three clicks, which are
now represented in writing by the superfluous letters c,
q, and x. These clicks are easily sounded separately
by Europeans, the c by withdrawing the tongue sharply
from the front teeth, the q by doing the same from the
roof of the mouth, and the x by drawing the breath in
a peculiar way between the tongue and the side teeth; but they
generally prove an insurmountable difficulty to an adult who
wishes to learn to speak the language. By such a person a syllable
commencing with a click can only be sounded as a distinct word
with a considerable interval of time between it and the one before
it. European children, however, readily learn to speak it fluently.
The women do not always use the same words as the men, owing
to the custom called ukuhlonipa, which prohibits females
from pronouncing the names of any of their husband's male relatives
in the ascending line, or any words whatever in which the principal
syllables of such names occur. Owing to this custom, in many
instances almost a distinct dialect has come into use. (This
custom is referred to in a note to follow the Story of Tangalimlibo.)
Before the advent of the white man, the Kaffirs knew nothing
of letters or of any signs by which ideas could be expressed.
Their history is thus traditional, and cannot be considered authentic
beyond four or five generations back. There are numerous old
men in every clan who profess to be acquainted with the deeds
of the past, but their accounts of these seldom correspond in
details beyond a period of about a century and a half. The genealog
of the great chiefs even, as given by them, is not the same beyond
the time of Sikomo, the eighth in order from the present one,
while with regard to minor chiefs considerable confusion exists
two or three generations later.
They know of no other periods in reckoning time than the day
and the lunar month, and can describe events only as happening
before or after some remarkable occurrence, such as the death
of a chief. The different seasons of the year are indicated by
the rise in the evening of particular constellations, to which,
as well as to several of the prominent stars and planets, they
have given expressive names.
Until European clothing was introduced, the dress of the Kaffirs
was composed of skins .of animals formed into a square mantle
the size of a large blanket, which they wrapped about their persons.
The skin of the leopard was reserved for chiefs and their principal
councillors alone, but any other could be used by common people.
Married women wore a short leather petticoat at all times; in
warm weather men and children went quite naked. No covering was
ordinarily worn on the head, though a fillet, intended for show,
was commonly bound round it, and a fantastic headdress was used
by the women on certain festive occasions.
They are fond of decorating their persons with ornaments,
such as shells, teeth of animals, and beads, used as necklaces,
copper and ivory rings on their arms, etc. They protect their
bodies from the effects of the sun by rubbing themselves all
over with fat and red clay, which makes them look like polished
bronze. Their clothing is greased and coloured in the same manner.
They live in villages, large or small according to circumstances.
Their habitations consist of hemispherical huts formed of strong
wickerwork frames thatched with reeds or grass; they are proof
against rain or wind. The largest are about twenty-five feet
in diameter, and seven or eight feet in height in the centre.
They are entered by a low, narrow aperture, which is the only
opening in the structure; their interior is smoky and dirty,
and not seldom swarms with vermin. The villages are usually in
situations which command a good view of the surrounding country.
The Kaffirs are warlike in disposition and brave in the field,
though when fighting with Europeans they seldom venture upon
a pitched battle, owing to their dread of firearms. Their weapons
of offence are wooden clubs with heavy heads, and assagais or
javelins. The assagai (a corruption of a Portuguese word derived
from the Latin hasta) consists of a long, thin iron head, with
both edges sharp, and terminating in a point, and is attached
by thongs to a slender shaft or rod. Poising this first in his
uplifted hand and imparting to it a quivering motion, the Kaffir
hurls it forth with great force and accuracy of aim. The club
is used at close quarters, and can also be thrown to a considerable
distance. Boys are trained to the use of both these weapons from
an early ftge. Before the introduction of firearms the Kaffir
used a shield to defend his person. It was made of ox-hide stretched
over a wooden frame, and varied in size and pattern among the
The warriors are formed into companies under their respective
chiefs, and are not divided into regiments of about the same
number. A battle between Kaffirs consists of a series of individual
encounters, in which the bravest combatants on each side challenge
each other by name, and when one falls, another is called upon
by the victor to take his place. The height of ambition is to
be mentioned in one of the rude chants which the bards, whose
principal employment is to sing the praises of the chief, compose
on the occasions of festivals, and to hear one's name received
with applause. The brave wear on their heads the feathers of
the blue crane, which are given to them by the chief as tokens
of distinction, and which no one else is permitted to wear (except
a single individual at a peculiar ceremony which will be referred
to in a note upon the custom of ntojane).
Horned cattle constitute their principal wealth, and form
a medium of exchange throughout the country. Great care is taken
of them, and particular skill is exhibited in their training.
They are taught to obey signals, as, for instance, to run home
upon a certain call or whistle being given. In former days every
man of note had his racing oxen, and prided himself upon their
good qualities as much as an English squire does upon his blood
horses. Ox racing was then one of the institutions of Kaffirland,
and was connected with all kinds of festivities.
The care of cattle is considered the most honourable employment,
and falls entirely to the men. They milk the cows, take charge
of the dairy, and will not permit a woman even to touch a milksack.
When Europeans first visited them they had, in addition to the
ox, domestic dogs and an inferior breed of goats, the last not
considered of much value. Barnyard fowls were also found in their
possession, but adults made no use of either their flesh or their
The Kaffirs are an agricultural as well as a pastoral people.
They cultivate the ground to a large extent, and draw the greater
portion of their food from it. A species of millet, called by
the colonists Kaffir corn, was the grain exclusively cultivated
by them prior to the advent of Europeans. Of this they raise
large quantities, which they use either boiled, or bruised into
a paste from which bread is made. They were acquainted with the
art of fermenting it and making a kind of beer, which they were
fond of drinking, and which soon caused intoxication. Of this
grain they were careful always to keep a good stock on hand.
They preserved it from the attacks of the weevil by storing it
in air-tight holes excavated beneath the cattle kraals. They
had also pumpkins, a species of gourd, a cane containing saccharine
matter in large quantities, and a sort of ground nut. The other
productions of their gardens, as we see them at present, have
been introduced since they became acquainted with the white man.
Of those mentioned their food consisted, with the addition of
curdled milk and occasionally flesh.
They have two meals a day, a slight breakfast in the morning,
and a substantial repast at sunset. Boys in early youth are permitted
to cat any kind of meat, even that of wild cats and other carnivora,
but when they reach the age of maturity the flesh of all unclean
animals is rejected by them. They use no kinds of fish as an
article of clict, and call them all snakes, without distinction.
They have a system of religion which they carefully observe.
It is based upon the supposition of the existence of spirits
who can interfere with the affairs of this world, and who must
therefore be propitiated with sacrifices. These spirits are those
of their deceased chiefs, the greatest of whom has power over
lightning. When the spirits become hungry, they send a plague
or disaster, until sacrifices are offered and their hunger is
appeased. When a person is killed by lightning no lamentation
is made, as it would be considered rebellion to mourn for one
whom the great chief has sent for. They have no idea of reward
or punishment in a world to come for acts committed in this life,
and each of the commonalty denies the immortality of his own
In olden times, when common people died, their corpses were
dragged away to a short distance from the kraal, and there left
to be devoured by beasts of prey; but chiefs and great men were
interred with much ceremony. A grave was dug, in which the body
was placed in a sitting posture, and by it were deposited his
weapons of war and ornaments. When it was closed, such expressions
as these were used: "Remember us from where you are. You
have gone to high places. Cause us to prosper!"
They believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, whom they
term Qamata, and to whom they sometimes pray, though they never
offer sacrifices to him. In a time of great danger a Kaffir will
exclaim, "O Qamata, help me! " and when the danger
is over he will attribute his deliverance to the same Supreme
Being. The Kaffirs cannot define their belief concerning Qamata
very minutely, and they do not trouble themselves with thinking
much about the matter.
The largest amount of information on this subject which I
ever obtained was from a group of aged Gaikas, among whom was
a celebrated native antiquary. Negatively they replied to my
inquiries much better than positively.
"Had he been once a chief, such as Xosa or Tshawe?"
"Was he the first man, the father of the nations, the
one whom some of the old Fingoes call Nkulunkulu?"
"No, not at all; Qamata was never a man."
"Was he the creator of all that we see, the mountains,
and the sun, and the stars?"
"Perhaps he was, we don't know; he is greater than all
"Where is he?"
"Does he see all things
"We think he does."
"Does he help people?
"We ask him to sometimes, and we believe he does."
"Is he altogether good, or altogether bad, or partly
good and partly bad?"
"We don't know about that; but we think he is altogether
"Are there any others like him?"
"No; he is all alone."
"Is there any other name for him?"
"In the olden times that was the only name, but now he
is called by some u-Tixo," (a name for God, introduced by
A superstitious act of a very peculiar kind is somehow or
other connected in their minds with prayer to, or worship of,
Qamata. In various parts of the Kaffir country there are artificial
heaps of stones, and a Kaffir, when travelling, may often be
seen adding one to the number. He repeats no words, but merely
picks up a stone and throws it on the heal?. Why does he do it?
That good fortune may attend him,-that he may not be carried
away by the river spirit when crossing a stream,-that he may
find food prepared for him where he is to rest,-that he way be
successful in the business he is engaged in,or something of the
kind that he is thinking of at the time. It is an act of superstition.
But old men have told me, when I inquired the object of this
act, that "it was for Qamata." How? They did not know;
but their ancestors had done the same thing, and said it was
for Qamata; and so they did it too.
The influence of the unseen world is ever acting upon the
Kaffir. Far nearer to him than Qamata or the spirits of his ancestors
is a whole host of water sprites and hobgoblins, who meet him
turn which way he will. There is no beautiful fairyland for him,
for all these fanciful beings who haunt the mountains, the plains,
and the rivers, are either actively malevolent, or mischievous
and addicted to playing pranks. To protect himself from them
lie carries on his person charms in numbeis, only to find himself
still exposed to their attacks. This superstition influences
all his acts and gives a tone of seriousness to his character.
The rites of religion consist merely in sacrifices to appease
the spirits. These are numerous. On great occasions they are
performed by individuals who act the part of priests, on ordinary
occasions by heads of families. The meat of the animal sacrificed
is eaten, for the hunger of the spirit is allayed with the smoke.
No sacred days or seasons are observed.
A corollary to the belief in malevolent spirits is the belief
in witchcraft. Certain persons obtain from the dernons power
to bewitch others, and thus sickness and death are caused. The
same individual who acts as a priest acts also as a witch-finder.
In olden times the person whom the witch-finder pronounced guilty
was liable to confiscation of property, torture, and even death.
The priest and witch-finder professes also to have the power
of making rain, and of causing the warriors of his clan to be
invulnerable in battle. When following any of these occupations,
he attires himself most fantastically, being painted with various
colours, and having the tails of wild animals suspended around
Before the supremacy of the Europeans it was seldom that the
individual who filled this office died a natural death. Sooner
or later he would fail to cause rain to fall when it was needed,
or warriors whom he had made invulnerable would be struck down,
or something else would happen which would cause him to be regarded
as an impostor. He was then generally tied hand and foot and
cast into the first stream at hand. Nevertheless, implicit confidence
was placed in his successor, until he, too, met the same fate.
Sometimes a person intimates that he has received revelations
from the spirit world. He is really a monomaniac, but if his
statemerits are believed his power at once becomes greater than
that of the highest chief, and his commands are implicitly obeyed.
The snake is treated with great respect by the Kaffirs. lf
one is found in a hut, the people will move out and wait patiently
until it leaves.
The owner will say that it is perhaps the spirit of one of
his ancestors who has come to visit him in this form. It may
be only an ordinary snake, he will add, but it is not advisable
to run any risk, lest harm should befal his house.
In the division of labour the cultivation of the ground falls
to the woman's share, as does also the collection of firewood,
and the thatching of the huts. A man who meddles with work of
this kind is regarded as an intruder into a domain not his own.
The females look upon it as pertaining to them, just as in England
they look upon housework.
The descent of property is regulated in the same manner as
the succession to the chieftainship. Many of their manufactures
display considerable skill and ingenuity. Foremost among these
must be reckoned metallic wares, which include implements of
war and husbandry, and ornaments for the person. Iron and copper
are now obtained in trade from Europeans, but when the country
was first visited, the Kaffirs were found in possession of these
metals, and to the present day a few stubborn conservatives prefer
to smelt ore for themselves, as their ancestors did before them.
There are certain families to whom the working in metals is confined,
the son following the father in his occupation. This is the case
with every kind of manufacture, and no one pretends to know anything
about a trade which does not belong to his own family.
In many parts of the country iron ore of excellent quality
is abundant, and this they smelt (or rather did so until recently)
in a simple manner. Forming a furnace of a boulder with a hollow
surface, out of which a groove was made to allow the liquid metal
to escape, and into which a hole was pierced for the purpose
of introducing a current of air, they piled up a heap of charcoal
and virgin ore, which they afterwards covered in such a way as
to prevent the escape of heat. The bellows by which air was introduced
were made of skins, the mouthpiece being the horn of a large
antelope. The molten iron escaping from the crude yet effective
furnace, ran into clay moulds prepared to receive it, which were
as nearly as possible of the same magnitude as the implements
they wished to make. These were never of great size, the largest
being the picks or heavy hoes used in gardening.
The Kaffir smith, using a boulder for an anvil and a hammer
of iron or stone, next proceeded to shape the lump of metal into
an assagai head, an axe, a pick, or whatever was required. The
iron was worked cold. In this laborious operation a vast amount
of patience and perseverance was exercised, and the article when
completed was very creditable indeed.
Copper is worked into a great variety of ornaments for their
persons. This metal is found in certain parts of the country,
but it is now generally obtained in trade from Europeans.
Hardly less remarkable was their skill in pottery, an art
rapidly becoming lost since the introduction of European wares.
Vessels containing from half a pint to fifty gallons were constructed
by them of earthenware, some of which were highly ornamented,
and were almost as perfect in form as if they had been turned
on a wheel. Though they were frequently not more than an eighth
of an inch in thickness, so finely tempered were they that the
most intense heat did not damage them. These vessels were used
as beer pots, grain jars, and cooking utensils.
In the manufacture of wooden articles, such as spoons, bowls,
fighting sticks, pipes (since the introduction of tobacco), rests
for the head when sleeping, etc., they display great skill and
no little taste. Each article is made of a single block of wood,
requiring much time and patience to complete it, and upon it
is frequently carved some neat but simple pattern.
Baskets for holding grain, rush mats, bags, and drinking vessels
made of grass are among the products of their labour. Rush bags
are made so carefully and strongly that they are used to hold
water or any other liquid.
Skins for clothing are prepared by rubbing them for a length
of time with grease, by which means they are made nearly as soft
and pliable as cloth.
Ingenious as they are, the men are far from being industrious.
A great portion of their time is spent in visiting and gossip,
of which they are exceedingly fond. They are perfect masters
of that kind of argument which consists in parrying a question
by means of putting another. They are not strict observers of
truth, and, though not pilferers, they are addicted to cattle
lifting. According to their ideas, stealing cattle is not a crime;
it is a civil offence, and a thief when detected is compelled
to make ample restitution; but no disgrace attaches to it, and
they have no religious scruples concerning it.
Such, in brief, are the Kaffirs, the people among whom the
following stories are current.
STORY OF THE BIRD THAT MADE MILK. I.
THERE was once upon a time a poor man living with his wife
in a certain village. They had three children, two boys and a
girl. They used to get milk from a tree. That milk of the tree
was got by squeezing. It was not nice as that of a cow, and the
people that drank it were always thin. For this reason, those
people were never glossy like those who are fat.
One day the woman went to cultivate a garden. She began by
cutting the grass with a pick, and then putting it in a big heap.
That was the work of the first day, and when the sun was just
about to set she went home. When she left, there came a bird
to that place, and sang this song:
"Weeds of this garden,
Weeds of this garden,
Spring up, spring up;
Work of this garden,
Work of this garden,
It was so.
The next morning, when she returned and saw that, she wondered
greatly. She again put it in order on that day, and put some
sticks in the ground to mark the place.
In the evening she went home and told that she had found the
grass which she had cut growing just as it was before.
Her husband said: "How can such a thing be? You were
lazy and didn't work, and now tell me this falsehood. just get
out of my sight, or I'll beat you."
On the third day she went to her work with a sorrowful heart,
remembering the words spoken by her husband. She reached the
place and found the grass growing as before. The sticks that
she stuck in the ground were there still, but she saw nothing
else of her labour. She wondered greatly.
She said in her heart, "I will not cut the grass off
again, I will just hoe the ground as it is."
She commenced. Then the bird came and perched on one of the
"Citi, citi, who is this cultivating the ground of my
Pick, come off;
Pick handle, break;
Sods, go back to your places!"
All these things happened.
The woman went home and told her husband what the bird had
done. Then they made a plan. They dug a deep hole in the ground,
and covered it with sticks and grass. The man hid himself in
the hole, and put up one of his hands. The woman commenced to
hoe the ground again. Then the bird came and perched on the hand
of the man, and sang:
"This is the ground of my father.
Who are you, digging my father's ground?
Pick, break into small pieces
Sods, return to your places."
It was so.
Then the man tightened his fingers and caught the bird. He
came up out of the place of concealment.
He said to the bird: "As for you who spoil the work of
this garden, you will not see the sun any more. With this sharp
stone I will cut off your head!"
Then the bird said to him: "I am not a bird that should
be killed. I am a bird that can make milk."
The man said: "Make some, then."
The bird made some milk in his hand. The man tasted it. It
was very nice milk.
The man said: "Make some more milk, my bird."
The bird did so. The man sent his wife for a milk basket.
When she brought it, the bird filled it with milk.
The man was very much pleased. He said: "This pretty
bird of mine is better than a cow."
He took it home and put it in a jar. After that he used to
rise even in the night and tell the bird to make milk for him.
Only he and his wife drank of it. The children continued to drink
of the milk of the tree. The names of the children were Gingci,
the first-born son; Lonci, his brother; and Dumangashe, his sister.
That man then got very fat indeed, so that his skin became shining.
The girl said to her brother Gingci: "Why does father
get fat and we remain so thin?"
He replied: "I do not know. Perhaps he eats in the night."
They made a plan to watch. They saw him rise in the middle
of the night. He went to the big jar and took an eating mat off
it. He said: "Make milk, my bird." He drank much. Again
he said: "Make milk, my bird," and again he drank till
he was very full. Then he lay down and went to sleep.
The next day the woman went to work in her garden, and the
man went to visit his friend. The children remained at home,
but not in the house. Their father fastened the door of the house,
and told them not to enter it on any account till his return.
Gingci said: "To-day we will drink of the milk that makes
father fat and shining; we will not drink of the milk of the
The girl said: "As for me, I also say let us drink of
father's milk to-day."
They entered the house. Gingci removed the eating mat from
the jar, and said to the bird: "My father's bird, make milk
The bird said "If I am your father's bird, put me by
the fireplace, and I will make milk."
The boy did so. The bird made just a little milk.
The boy drank, and said: "My father's bird, make more
The bird said: "If I am your father's bird, put me by
the door, then I will make milk."
The boy did this. Then the bird made just a little milk, which
the boy drank.
The girl said My father's bird, make milk for me."
The bird said: "If I am your father's bird, just put
me in the sunlight, and I will make milk."
The girl did so. Then the bird made a jar full of milk.
After that the bird sang:
"The father of Dumangashe came, he came,
He came unnoticed by me.
He found great fault with me.
The little fellows have met together.
Gingci the brother of Lonci.
The Umkomanzi cannot be crossed,
It is crossed by swallows
Whose wings are long."
When it finished its song it lifted up its wings and flew
away. But the girl was still drinking milk.
The children called it, and said: "Return, bird of our
father," but it did not come back. They said, "We shall
be killed to-day."
They followed the bird. They came to a tree where there were
The boy caught one, and said to it: "My father's bird,
It bled. They said. "This is not our father's bird."
This bird bled very much; the blood ran like a river. Then
the boy released it, and it flew away. The children were seized
They said to themselves: "If our father finds us, he
will kill us to-day."
In the evening the man came home. When he was yet far off,
he saw that the door had been opened.
He said: "I did not shut the door that way."
He called his children, but only Lonci replied. He asked for
Lonci said: "I went to the river to drink; when I returned
they were gone."
He searched for them, and found the girl under the ashes and
the boy behind a stone. He inquired at once about his bird. They
were compelled to tell the truth concerning it.
Then the man took a riem and hung those two children on a
tree that projected over the river. He went away, leaving them
there. Their mother besought their father, saying that they should
be released; but the man refused. After he was gone, the boy
tried to escape. He climbed up the riem and held on to the tree;
then he went up and loosened the riern that was tied to his sister.
After that they climbed up the tree, and then went away from
their home, They slept three times on the road.
They came to a big rock. The boy said
"We have no father and no mother; rock, be our house."
The rock opened, and they went inside. After that they lived
there in that place. They obtained food by hunting animals, they
were hunted by the boy.
When they were already in that place a long time, the girl
grew to be big. There were no people in that place. A bird came
one day with a child, and left it there by their house.
The bird said: "So have I done to all the people."
After that a crocodile came to that place. The boy was just
going to kill it, but it said: "I am a crocodile; I am not
to be killed; I am your friend."
Then the boy went with the crocodile to the house of the crocodile,
in a deep hole under the water.
The crocodile had many cattle and (much) millet. He gave the
boy ten cows and ten baskets of millet.
The crocodile said to the boy You must send your sister for
the purpose of being married to me."
The boy made a fold to keep his cattle in; his sister made
a garden and planted millet. The crocodile sent more cattle.
The boy nade a very big fold, and it was full of cattle.
At this time there came a bird.
The bird said: "Your sister has performed the custom,
and as for you, you should enter manhood."
The crocodile gave one of his daughters to be the wife of
the young man. The young woman went to the village of the crocodile,
she went to be a bride.
They said to her: "Whom do you choose to be your husband?"
The girl replied: "I choose Crocodile."
Her husband said to her: "Lick my face."
She did so. The crocodile cast off its skin, and arose a man
of great strength and fine appearance.
He said: "The enemies of my father's house did that;
you, my wife, are stronger than they."
After this there was a great famine, and the mother of those
people came to their villace. She did not recognise her children,
but they knew her and gave her food. She went away, and then
their father came. He did not recognise them either, but they
knew him. They asked him what he wanted. He told them that his
village was devoured by famine. They gave him food, and he went
He returned again.
The young man said: "You thought we would die when you
hung us in the tree."
He was astonished, and said: "Are you indeed my child?
Crocodile then gave them (the parents) three baskets of corn,
and told them to go and build on the mountains. He (the man)
did so and died there on the mountains.
THE STORY OF THE BIRD THAT MADE MILK. II.
The following is another version of this story of the Bird
that made Milk, as current among the Barolongs, a tribe speaking
the Sechuana language, and residing beyond the Orange River.
It was written down for me by an educated grandson of the late
IT is said that there was once a great town in a certain place,
which had many people living in it. They lived upon grain only.
One year there was a great famine. There was in that town a poor
man, by name Masilo, and his wife. One day they went to dig in
their garden, and they continued digging the whole day long.
In the evening, when the digging companies returned home, they
returned also. Then there came a bird and stood upon the house
which was beside the garden, and began to whistle, and said:
"Masilo's cultivated ground, mix together."
The ground did as the bird said. After that was done the bird
In the morning, when Masilo and his wife went to the garden,
they were in doubt, and said:
"Is it really the place we were digging yesterday?"
They saw that it was the place by the people working on each
side. The people began to laugh at them, and mocked them, and
said It is because you are very lazy."
They continued to dig again that day, and in the evening they
went home with the others.
Then the bird came and did the same thing.
When they went back next morning, they found their ground
altogether undug. Then they believed that they were bewitched
by some others.
They continued digging that day again. But in the evening
when the companies returned, Masilo said to his wife:
"Go home; I will stay behind to watch and find the thing
which eats our work."
Then he went and laid himself down by the head of the garden,
under the same house which the bird used always to stand upon.
While he was thinking, the bird came. It was a very beautiful
bird. He was looking at it and admiring it, when it began to
"Masilo's cultivated ground, mix together."
Then he caught it, and said: "Ah! is it you who eat the
work of our hands?"
He took out his knife from the sheath, and was going to cut
the head of the bird off.
Then the bird said: "Please don't kill me, and I will
make some milk for you to eat."
Masilo answered: "You must bring back the work of my
The bird said: "Masilo's cultivated ground, appear,"
and it appeared.
Then Masilo said: "Make the milk now," and, behold,
it immediately made thick milk, which Masilo began to eat. When
he was satisfied, he took the bird home. As he approached his
house, he put the bird in his bag.
When he entered his house, he said to his wife, "Wash
all the largest beer pots which are in the house," but his
wife was angry on account of her hunger, and she answered
"What have you to put in such large pots?"
Masilo said to her: "just hear me, and do as I command
you, then you will see."
When she was ready with the pots, Masilo took his bird out
of his bag, and said: "Make milk for my children to eat."
Then the bird filled all the beer pots with milk.
They commenced to eat, and when they were finished, Masilo
charged his children, saying-,
Beware that you do not tell anybody of this, not one of your
They swore by him that they would not tell anybody.
Masilo and his family then lived upon this bird. The people
were surprised when they saw him and his family. They said:
"Why are the people at Masilo's house so fat? He is so
poor, but now since his garden has appeared he and his children
are so fat!"
They tried to watch and to see what he was eating, but they
never could find out at all.
One morning Masilo and his wife went to work in their garden,
and about the middle of the same day the children of that town
met together to play. They met just before Masilo's house. While
they were playing the others said to Masilo's children:
"Why are you so fat while we remain so thin? "
They answered: "Are we then fat? We thought we were thin
just as you are."
They would not tell them the cause. The others continued to
press them, and said: "We won't tell anybody."
Then the children of Masilo said: "There is a bird in
our father's house which makes milk."
The others said: "Please show us the bird."
They went into the house and took it out of the secret place
where their father had placed it. They ordered it as their father
used to order it, and it made milk, which their companions drank,
for they were very hungry.
After drinking they said: "Let it dance for us,"
and they loosened it from the place where it was tied.
The bird began to dance in the house, but one said: "This
place is too confined," so they took it outside of the house.
While they were enjoying themselves and laughing, the bird flew
away, leaving them in great dismay.
Masilo's children said: "Our father will this day kill
us, therefore we must go after the bird."
So they followed it, and continued going after it the whole
day long, for when they were at a distance it would sit still
for a little while, and when they approached it would fly away.
When the digging companies returned from digging, the people
of that town cried for their children, for they did not know
what had become of them. But when Masilo went into the house
and could not find his bird, he knew where the children were,
but he did not tell any of their parents. He was very sorry for
his bird, for he knew that he had lost his food.
When evening set in, the children determined to return to
their home, but there came a storm of rain with heavy thunder,
and they were very much afraid. Among them was a brave boy, named
Mosemanyanamatong, who encouraged them, and said:
"Do not be afraid; I can command a house to build itself."
They said: "Please command it."
He said: "House appear," and it appeared, and also
wood for fire. Then the children entered the house and made a
large fire, and oegan to roast some wild roots which they dug
out of the ground.
While they were roasting the roots and were merry, there came
a big cannibal, and they heard his voice saying: "Mosemanyanamatong,
give me some of the wild roots you have."
They were afraid, and the brave boy said to the girls and
to the other boys, "Give me some of yours."
They gave to him, and he threw the roots outside. While the
cannibal was still eating, they went out and fled. He finished
eating the roots, and then pursued them. When he approached they
scattered some more roots upon the ground, and while he was picking
them up and eating, they fled.
At length they came among mountains, where trees were growing.
The girls were already very tired, so they all climbed up a tall
tree. The cannibal came there, and tried to cut the tree down
with his sharp and long nail.
Then the brave boy said to the girls: "While I am singing
you must continue saying, 'Tree be stroncr, Tree be strong!'"
He sang this song:
"It is foolish,
It is foolish to be a traveller,
And to go on a journey
With the blood of girls upon one!
While we were roasting wild roots
A great darkness fell upon us.
It was not darkness,
It was awful gloom!"
While he was singing, there came a great bird and hovered
over them, and said Hold fast to me."
The children held fast to the bird, and it flew away with
them, and took them to their own town.
It was midnight when it arrived there, and it sat down at
the gate of Mosemanyanamatong's mother's house.
In the morning, when that woman came out of her house, she
took ashes and cast upon the bird, for she said: "This bird
knows where our children are."
At midday the bird sent word to the chief, saying, "Command
all your people to spread mats in all the paths."
The chief commanded them to do so. Then the bird brought all
the children out, and the people were greatly delighted.
THE STORY OF FIVE HEADS.
HERE was once a man living in a certain place, who had two
daughters big enough to be married.
One day the man went over the river to another village, which
was the residence of a great chief The people asked him to tell
them the news. He replied, that there was no news in the place
that he came from. Then the man inquired about the news of their
place. They said the news of their place was that the chief wanted
The man went home and said to his two daughters: "Which
of you wishes to be the wife of a chief?"
The eldest replied: "I wish to be the wife of a chief,
my father." The name of that girl was Mpunzikazi.
The man said: "At that village which I visited, the chief
wishes for a wife; you, my daughter, shall go."
The man called all his friends, and assembled a large company
to go with his daughter to the village of the chief. But the
girl would not consent that those people should go with her.
She said: "I will go alone to be the wife of the chief."
Her father replied: "How can you, my daughter, say such
a thing? Is it not so that when a girl goes to present herself
to her husband she should be accompanied by others? Be not foolish,
The girl still said: "I will go alone to be the wife
of the chief."
Then the man allowed his daughter to do as she chose. She
went alone, no bridal party accompanying her, to present herself
at the village of the chief who wanted a wife.
As Mpunzikazi was in the path, she met a mouse.
The mouse said: "Shall I show you the way?"
The girl replied: "Just get away from before my eyes."
The mouse answered If you do like this, you will not succeed."
Then she met a frog.
The frog said: "Shall I show you the way?"
Mpunzikazi replied: "You are not worthy to speak to me,
as I am to be the wife of a chief."
The frog said: "Go on then; you will see afterwards what
When the girl got tired, she sat down under a tree to rest.
A boy who was herding goats in that place came to her, he being
The boy said: "Where are you going to, my eldest sister?
Mpunzikazi replied in an angry voice: "Who are you that
you should speak to me? just get away from before me."
The boy said: "I am very hungry; will you not give me
of your food? "
She answered "Get away quickly."
The boy said: "You will not return if you do this."
She went on her way again, and met with an old woman sitting
by a big stone.
The old woman said: "I will give you advice. You will
meet with trees that will laugh at you: you must not laugh in
return. You will see a bag of thick milk: you must not eat of
it. You will meet a man whose head is under his arm: you must
not take water from him."
Mpunzikazi answered: "You ugly thing! who are you that
you should advise me? "
The old woman continued in saying those words.
The girl went on. She came to a place where were many trees.
The trees laughed at her, and she laughed at them in return.
She saw a bag of thick milk, and she ate of it. She met a man
carrying his head under his arm, and she took water to drink
She came to the river of the village of the chief. She saw
a girl there dipping water from the river. The girl said: "Where
are you going to, my sister? "
Mpunzikazi replied: "Who are you that you should callme
sister? I am going to be the wife of a chief."
The girl drawing water was the sister of the chief. She said:
"Wait, I will give you advice. Do not enter the village
by this side."
Mpunzikazi did not stand to listen, but just went on.
She reached the village of the chief. The people asked her
where she came from and what she wanted.
She answered: "I have come to be the wife of the chief."
They said: "Who ever saw a girl go without a retinue
to be a bride? "
They said also: "The chief is not at home; you must prepare
food for him, that when he comes in the evening he may eat."
They gave her millet to grind. She ground it very coarse,
and made bread that was not nice to eat.
In the evening she heard the sound of a great wind. That wind
was the coming of the chief. He was a big snake with five heads
and large eyes. Mpunzikazi was very much frightened when she
saw him. He sat down before the door and told her to bring his
food. She brought the bread which she had made. Makanda Mahlanu
(Five Heads) was not satisfied with that bread. He said: "You
shall not be my wife," and he struck her with his tail and
Afterwards the sister of Mpunzikazi said to her father: "I
also wish to be the wife of a chief."
Her father replied: "It is well, my daughter; it is right
that you should wish to be a bride."
The man called all his friends, and a great retinue prepared
to accompany the bride. The name of the girl was Mpunzanyana.
In the way they met a mouse.
The mouse said: "Shall I show you the road? "
Mpunzanyana replied: "If you will show me the way I shall
Then the mouse pointed out the way.
She came into a valley, where she saw an old woman standing
by a tree.
The old woman said to her: "You will come to a place
where two paths branch off. You must take the little one, because
if you take the big one you will not be fortunate."
Mpunzanyana replied: "I will take the little path, my
mother." She went on.
Afterwards she met a cony.
The cony said: "The village of the chief is close by.
You will meet a by the river: you must speak nicely to her. They
will give you millet to grind: you must grind it well. When you
see your husband, you must not be afraid."
She said: "I will do as you say, cony."
In the river she met the chief's sister carrying water.
The chief's sister said: "Where are you going to?"
Mpunzanyana replied: "This is the end of my journey."
The chief's sister said: "What is the object of your
coming to this place? "
Mpunzanyana replied: "I am with a bridal party. "
The chiers, sister said: "That is right, but will you
not be afraid when you see your husband? "
Mpunzanyana answered: "I will not be afraid."
The chief's sister pointed out the hut in which she should
stay. Food was given to the bridal party. The mother of the chief
took millet and gave to the bride, saying:,You must prepare food
for your husband. He is not here now, but he will come in the
In the evening she heard a very strong wind, which made the
hut shake. The poles fell, but she did not run out. Then she
saw the chief Makanda Mahlanu coming. He asked for food. Mpunzanyana
took the bread which she had made, and gave it to him. He was
very much pleased with that food, and said:
"You shall be my wife." He gave her very many ornaments.
Afterwards Makanda Mahlanu became a man, and Mpunzanyana continued
to be the wife he loved best.
THE STORY OF TANGALIMLIBO.
HERE was once a man who had two wives, one of whom had no
children. She grieved much about that, till one day a bird came
to her and gave her some little pellets. The bird said she must
eat of these always before she partook of food, and then she
would bear a child. She was very glad, and offered the bird some
But the bird said: "No, I do not want millet."
The woman then offered an isidanga (an ornamental breast-band
which women wear), but the bird said it had no use for that.
Then she got some very fine gravel and placed before the bird,
which it received at her hands.
After this the woman had a daughter. Her husband knew nothing
of what had happened, because he never went to her house. He
did not love her at all, for the reason that she bore no children.
So she said:
"I will keep my daughter in the house till my husband
comes; he will surely love me when he sees I have such a beautiful
The name given to the girl was Tangalimlibo.
The man went always to the house of the other wife, and so
it happened that Tangalimlibo was grown to be a young woman when
her father first saw her. He was very much pleased, and said:
"My dear wife, you should have told me of this before."
The girl had never been out of the house in the daytime. Only
in the night-time she had gone out, when people could not see
The man said to his wife:
"You must make much beer, and invite many people to come
and rejoice with me over this that has happened."
The woman did so. There was a big tree in front of the kraal,
and the mats were spread under it. It was a fine sunny day, and
very many men came. Among them was the son of a certain chief,
who fell in love with Tangalimlibo as soon as he saw her.
When the young chief went home he sent a message to the father
of the girl that he must send her to him to be married. The man
told all his friends about that. He told them also to be ready
at a certain time to conduct his daughter to the chief. So they
came and took her, and the marriage feast was very great. The
oxen were many which were killed that day. Tangalimlibo had a
large and beautiful ox given to her by her father. That ox. was
called by her own name. She took off a piece of her clothing
and gave it to the ox, which ate it.
After she had been married some time, this woman had a son.
She was loved very much by her husband, because she was pretty
and industrious; only this thing was observed of her, that she
never went out in the daytime. Therefore she received the name
of Sihamba Ngenyanga (the walker by moonlight).
One day her husband went to a distant place to hunt with other
men. There were left at his home with this woman only her father-in-law,
her mother-in-law, and a girl who nursed the little child.
The father-in-law said
"Why does she not work during the day?
He pretended to become thirsty, and sent the girl to Tangalimlibo
to ask for water, saying:
"I die with thirst."
The woman sent water to her father-in-law, but he threw it
on the ground, saying:
"It is water from the river I desire."
"I never go to the river in the daytime."
He continued to ask, saying again
"I die with thirst."
Then she took a milk-basket and a calabash ladle, and went
weeping to the river. She dipped the ladle in the water, and
it was drawn out of her hand. She dipped the milk-basket in the
water, and it was drawn away from her. Then she tried to take
some water in her mantle, and she was drawn under the surface.
After a little time the girl was sent to look for her, but she
came back, saying:
"I found her not who is accustomed to draw water only
in the night."
Her father-in-law drove oxen quickly to the river. He took
the big ox that was called by her name and killed it. He put
all the flesh and everything else that was of that ox into the
"Let this be instead of my child."
A voice was heard saying:
"Go to my father and my mother and say to them that I
am taken by the river."
That evening the little child of Tangalimlibo, was crying
very bitterly. Its father was not yet home. Its grandmother tried
by every means to keep it from crying, but in vain. Then she
gave it to the nurse, who fastened it on her back. Still the
child continued to cry. In the middle of the night the nurse
went down to the river with the child, singing this song
"It is crying, it is crying,
The child of Sihamba Ngenyanga;
It is crying, it will not be pacified."
Then the mother of the child came out of the river, and wailed
"It is crying, it is crying,
The child of the walker by moonlight.
It was done intentionally by people whose names are unmentionable.
They sent her for water during the day.
She tried to dip with the milk-basket, and then it sank.
Tried to dip with the ladle, and then it sank.
Tried to dip with the mantle, and then it sank."
With the name as a chorus at the end of each line.
Then she took her child and put it to her breast to suck.
When the child had finished sucking, she gave it back to the
nurse, telling her to take it home. She commanded the nurse never
to say to any one that she came out of the water, and told her
that when people asked where the child got food she must say
she gave it berries to eat.
Thit continued for some days. Every night the nurse took the
child to the river, when its mother came out and suckled it.
She always looked round to see that no one was present, and always
put the same command on the girl.
After a time the father of the child returned from hunting.
They told him of Tangalimlibo's going to the river and not returning.
Then the nurse brought the child to him. He inquired what it
ate, and was told that berries were given to it.
He said: "That cannot be so; go and get some berries,
and let me see my child eat them."
The girl went and brought some berries, but they were not
eaten by the child. Then the father of the child beat the girl
until she told the truth. She said she went at niaht to the river,
when the mother came out and caressed her child and gave it of
Then they made a plan that the husband of Tangalimlibo should
hide himself in the reeds and try and catch his wife when she
came out of the water. He took the skin of an ox and cut it into
a long riem, one end of which he fastened round his waist. The
other end he gave to the men of that village, telling them to
hold it fast and to pull hard when they felt it being drawn from
At night the man hid himself in the reeds. Tangalimlibo came
out of the water and looked all round while she was singing her
song. She asked the girl if any one was there, and when the girl
replied that there was no one she took her child. Then her husband
sprang upon her, clasping her very tight. She tried to pull back,
but the men at the village drew upon the riem. She was drawn
away, but the river followed her, and its water turned into blood.
When it came close to the village, the men who were pulling at
the riern saw it, and became frightened. They let the riem. go,
when the river at once went back, taking Tangalimlibo with it.
After that her husband was told of the voice which came from
the water, saying:
"Go to my father and my mother and tell them I am taken
by the river."
He called his racing ox, and said:
"Will you, my ox, take this message to the father and
mother of Tangalimlibo?"
The ox only bellowed.
He called his dog and said:
"Will you, my dog, take this message to the father and
mother of Tangalimlibo?"
The dog only barked.
Last of all he called the cock.
He said: "Will you, my cock, take this message to the
father and mother of Tangalimlibo?"
The cock answered: "I will do so, my master."
He said: "Let me hear what you will say."
The cock answered: "I will sing-
The chief said That is good, my cock, go now.
As the cock was going on his way, some boys who were tending
calves saw him.
One of them said to the others: "Come here, come here,
boys; there is a cock for us to kill."
Then the cock stood up, and sang his song.
The boys said: "Sing again, we did not hear you plainly."
So he sang again:
Then the boys let him go on his way.
He travelled far from that place and came to a village, where
the men were sitting in the kraal. He flew up on the back of
the kraal to rest himself, and the men saw him.
They said: "Where does this cock come from? We thought
all the cocks here were killed. Make haste, boys, and kill him."
The cock began to sing his song.
Then the men said Wait, boys, we wish to hear what he says."
They said to him: "Begin again, we did not hear you."
The cock said: "Give me some food, for I am very hungry."
The men sent a boy for some millet, and gave it to him. When
he had eaten, he sang his song.
The men said: "Let him go;" and he went on his way.
Then he came to the village of the father of Tangalimlibo,
to the house of those he was seeking. He told the message he
was. sent to carry. The mother of Tangalimlibo was a woman skilful
in the use of medicines.
She said to her husband: "Get a fat ox to go with us."
They arrived at the river, and killed the ox.
Then that woman worked with her medicines while they put the
meat in the water. There was a great shaking and a rising up
of the river, and Tanoalimlibo came out. There was great joy
among those people when they took her home to her husband.
STORY OF THE GIRL WHO DISREGARDED THE CUSTOM OF NTONJANE.
HERE was once a chief's daughter who had reached the age when
it was necessary for her to observe the ntonjane. She
was therefore placed in a hut, in which she was to remain during
the period of the ceremony. One day her companions persuaded
her to go and bathe in a stream near at hand, though this was
against the custom of the ntonjane. When they came out
of the water, they saw a snake with black blotches, called the
Isinyobolokondwana, near their clothes. They were very much afraid,
and did not know what to do at first. But by and-by one of them
commenced to sing these words:
The snake replied:
The companions of the chief's daughter, one after the other,
asked the snake for their mantles in this manner, and obtained
permission to take them. Last of all was the chief's daughter.
But instead of speaking to the snake respectfully as the others
had done, she said mockingly, "Ngcingcingci, ngcingcingci."
 So the snake became very angry, and bit her, when she immediately
became of the same hideous colour as it was. Her companions were
so frightened that they left her and ran away home. They put
another girl in the hut, and pretended that she was the chief's
daughter. The girl, thus left alone, went to a forest close by,
and climbed up a tree to hide herself.
[1. Words without meaning, but used to express contempt, being
merely a repetition of the sound ngci.]
About this time the chief was killing an ox on account of
his daughter, and so he sent a young man to the forest to get
pieces of wood with which to peg out the skin. The young man
was cutting sticks, when he heard some one crying: "Man
cutting sticks, tell my father and mother that the sinyobolokondwana
bit me." He heard this repeated twice, and, without looking
to see what was crying, he ran home and told the chief. Two young
men were then sent back with him to see what it was, one of these
happening to be the girl's brother. These two were told to hide
themselves and listen while the other cut the sticks. They did
so, and heard the voice crying as before. Then the brother of
the girl knew the voice of his sister, and they all went to the
tree where she was, and took her home with them.
The chief was very much surprised to see his daughter in that
state, and was so angry with her companions for taking her to
the river, and then for substituting another girl so as to deceive
him, that he caused them all to be killed.
Then he sent some of his men with forty cattle to take his
daughter to a distant country, where she was to remain far away
from him. They did as they were told, and built huts in that
place to live in. After they had been there a long time, they
found that the cows which the chief sent with them were giving
more milk than they could consume, so they poured what was left
in a hole in the ground. To their amazement, the milk rose, and
rose, and rose, higher and still higher, till at last it stood
up out of the ground like a great overhanging rock. They called
the girl to see this wonderful thing that was happening. In her
curiosity she went close to the precipice, when it fell down
on her, and, as the milk ran over her, all her ugly blotched
skin disappeared, and she was again beautiful as at first.
Soon afterwards a young chief who was passing by saw the girl,
and fell in love with her. He thought she was the daughter of
one of the men who were there to protect her, but when he made
inquiries they told him she was the daughter of their chief.
Then he went to her father, and some of the men went also to
tell how the milk had cured the girl. The young chief had very
many cattle, which he offered to her father. So the old chief
agreed to let him marry the girl, and she became his great wife,
and was loved by him very dearly.
THE STORY OF SIMBUKUMBUKWANA.
THERE was a man whose wife had no children, so that he was
much dissatisfied. At last he went to a wise woman (Igqirakazi)
and asked her to help him in this matter. She said: "You
must bring me a fat calf that I may get its tallow to use with
my medicine " (or charms-the Kaffir word is -Imifizi).
The man went home and selected a calf without horns or tail,
which he took to the wise woman. She said: "Your wife will
have a son who will have no arms and no legs, as this calf has
no horns and no tail." She told him, further, that he was
not to inform any one of this.
The man returned to his home and told his friends what was
to happen. Not long after this his wife bore a child, but it
was a daughter and had arms and legs. The man would not own that
child, he said it was not his. He beat his wife, and commanded
her to take the child away and leave it to perish. Then he went
to the wise woman, and told her what had taken place. The wise
woman said: "It was because you did not obey my command
about keeping this matter to yourself, but your wife will yet
have a son without arms and without legs."
It was so. His wife bore another child, which was a boy without
arms and without legs, thercfore he was called Simbukumbukwana.
He began to speak on the day of his birth. During this time the
girl that was first born was growing tip in the valley where
her mother left her; she lived in a hole in an antheap, and ate
honey, and "nongwes," and gum.
One day the mother of Simbukumbukwana went to work in her
garden, and left the boy at home with the door fastened. While
she was away the girl came; she stood at a distance and said:
"Where are the people?"
There came a voice from inside which said: "Here am I."
She said: "Who are you?
The voice replied: "I am Simbukumbukwana."
She said: "Open for me."
He answered: "How can I open? I have no legs and no arms."
She said: "My mother's Simbukumbukwana, have legs and
arms " (Simbukumbukwana sikama, yiba nemilenze nemikono).
Then legs and arms came on the boy, and he arose and opened
for his sister. She went in and swept the floor; then she took
millet and ground it and made bread. She told her brother when
his parents asked him who did these things to say that he did
them himself, and if they should ask him to do them again to
reply, "I have done it already." Then she said "My
mother's Simbukumbukwana, sink legs and sink arms " (Simbukumbukwana
sikama, tshona milenze tshona mikono). Then his legs and
arms shrunk up, and his sister went away.
After a time his father and his mother came home; they went
in and saw the clean floor and bread ready for eating. They were
surprised, and said to Simbukumbukwana, "Who did this?"
He replied: "I did."
They said: "Do so again that we may see you.
He answered: "I have done it already."
The next day the woman went again to work in her garden, but
the man hid himself to watch what would happen. After a time
came the sister of Simbukumbukwana and said: 'Where are the people?"
(Exactly the same conversation as before.) She went in and began
to smear the floor; water was wanting, so she sent Simbukumbukwana
to the river for some. His joy in walking was great, so that
he did not stop at the river, but put the pot down there and
continued to go forward. The girl thought he ought not to be
so long absent, for the river was close by, so she went to look
for him. She saw him walking up a hill far away, and she called
to him to return. He would not. Then she sang, Simbukumbukwana
sikama, tshona milenze, tshona mikono, and immediately his
legs shrank up. Then she was going away, but her father came
out and caught her; he kissed her, and said she must remain with
Her mother was coming home, when she saw something moving
on the hillside. She went to see what it was, and found her son.
She said: "How did you come here?"
He replied: "I came by myself."
She said: "Let me see you go further."
He answered: "I have done it already."
Then she put him on her back and went home. She found her
daughter there, and her husband much pleased. The girl said:
Simbukumbukwana sikama, yiba nemilenze nemikono, and legs
and arms came on him.
One day his sister and some other girls went to get red clay,
and he followed them. When they looked behind they saw him, and
his sister got angry. She said to him: "What do you want
He replied: "I am going for red clay for my mother."
His sister compelled him to sit down; but as soon as they
went on, he followed; then his sister beat him, and left him
in the path. After that there was a heavy storm of rain, but
none fell where the little boy was. When the rain was over, the
other girls said to the one who had beaten her brother: "Let
us go and look after the little boy." They went and saw
he was quite dry. He called to his sister: "You have beaten
me," but she asked him to forgive her.
Then he said: "I want my father's house to be here,"
and immediately it came.
He said: "I want the fire of my father to be here,"
and there was a fire.
He said to them: "Now go in; although you have beaten
me, there is a house and fire for you."
He said afterwards: "I want the cattle of my father to
be here," and at once they were all there.
That was a nice place, so they remained there ever after.
THE STORY OF SIKULUME.
There was once in a certain village an old man who was very
poor. He had no children, and only a few cattle. One day, when
the sky was clear and the sun was bright, he sat down by the
cattle-fold. While he was sitting there, he noticed some birds
close by which were singing very joyfully. He listened for a
while, and then he stood up to observe them better, They were
very beautiful to look upon, and they sang differently from other
birds. They had all long tails and topknots on their heads. Then
the old man went to the chief and told him what he had seen.
The chief said: "How many were they?
The old man replied: "There were seven."
The chief said: "You have acted wisely in coming to tell
me; you shall have seven of the fattest of my cows. I have lost
seven sons in battle, and these beautiful birds shall be in the
place of my seven sons. You must not sleep to-night, you must
watch them, and to-morrow I will choose seven boys to catch them.
Do not let them out of your sight by any means."
In the morning the chief ordered all the boys of the village
to be assembled at the cattle-fold, when he spoke to them of
the birds. He said "I will choose six of you, and set my
son who is dumb, over you, that will make seven in all. You must
catch those birds. Wherever they go, you must follow, and you
must not see my face again without them." He gave them weapons,
and instructed them that if any one opposed them they were to
fight till the last of them died.
The boys set off to follow those beautiful birds. They chased
them for several days, till at last the birds were exhausted,
when each of the boys caught one. At the place where they caught
the birds they remained that night.
On the morning of the next day they set out on their return
home. That evening, they came to a hut in which they saw a fire
burning, but no one was there. They went in, and lay down to
sleep. In the middle of the night one of those boys was awake.
He heard some one saying: "There is nice meat here. I will
begin with this one, and take this one next, and that one after,
and the one with small feet the last." The one with the
small feet was the son of the chief. His name was Sikulume, for
he had never been able to speak till he caught the bird. Then
he began to talk at once.
After saying those words the voice was still. Then the boy
awakened his companions, and told them what he had heard.
They said: "You have been dreaming; there is no one here
how can such a thing be?"
He replied: "I did not dream; I spoke the truth."
Then they made a plan that one should remain awake, and if
anything happened, he should pinch the one next him, and that
one should pinch the next, till all were awake.
After a while the boy who was listening heard some one come
in quietly. That was a cannibal. He said the same words again,
and then went out for the purpose of calling his friends to come
to the feast. The boy awakened his companions according to the
plan agreed upon, so that they all heard what was said. Therefore,
as soon as the cannibal went out, they arose and fled from that
place. The cannibal came back with his friends, and when the
others saw there was no one in the hut, they killed and ate him.
As they were going on, Sikulume saw that he had left his bird
belaind. He stood, and said: "I must return for my bird,
my beautiful bird with the long tail and topknot on its head.
My father commanded that I must not see his face, again unless
I bring the bird."
The boys said: "Take one of ours. Why should you go where
He replied: "I must have the one that is my own."
He stuck his assagai in the ground, and told them to look
at it. He said: "If it stands still, you will know I am
safe; if it shakes, you will know I am running; if it falls down,
you will know I am dead." Then he left them to return to
the hut of the cannibals.
On the way he saw an old woman sitting by a big stone. She
said: "Where are you going to?" He told her he was
going for his bird. The old woman gave him some fat, and said:
"If the cannibals pursue you, put some of this on a stone."
He came to the hut and got his bird. The cannibals were sitting
outside, a little way back. They had just finished eating the
owner of the hut. When Sikulume came out with his bird they saw
him and ran after him. They were close to him, when he took some
of the fat and threw it on a stone. The cannibals came to the
stone, and began to fight with each other.
One said: "The stone is mine."
Another said: "It is mine."
One of them swallowed the stone. When the others saw that,
they killed him and ate him. Then they pursued again after Sikulume.
They came close to him again, when he threw the remainder of
the fat on another stone. The cannibals fought for this also.
One swallowed it, and was killed by the others.
They followed still, and Sikulume was almost in their hands,
when he threw off his mantle. The mantle commenced to run another
way, and the cannibals ran after it. It was so long before they
caught it that the young chief had time to reach his companions.
They all went on their way, but very soon they saw the cannibals
coming after them. Then they observed a little man sitting by
a big stone.
He said to them: "I can turn this stone into a hut."
They replied: "Do so."
He turned the stone into a hut, and they all went inside,
the little man with them. They played the "iceya"
there. The cannibals came to the place and smelt. They thought
the hut was still a stone, for it looked like a stone to them.
They began to bite it, and bit till all their teeth were broken,
when they returned to their own village.
After this, the boys and the little man came out.
The boys went on. When they reached their own home they saw
no people, till at length an old woman crept out of a heap of
ashes. She was very much frightened, and said to them: "I
thought there were no people left."
Sikulume said: "Where is my father?"
She replied: "All the people have been swallowcd by the
inabulele" (a fabulous monster).
He said: "Where did it go to?
The old woman replied: "It went to the river."
So those boys went to the river, and Sikulume said to them:
"I will go into the water, and take an assagai with me.
If the water moves much, you will know I am in the stomach of
the inabulele; if the water is red, you will know I have killed
it." Then he threw himself into the water and went down.
The inabulele swallowed him without tearing him or hurting
him. He saw his father and his mother and many people and cattle.
Then he took his assagai and pierced the inabulele from inside.
The water moved till the inabulele was dead, then it became red.
When the young men saw that, they cut a big hole in the side
of the inabulele, and all the people and the cattle were delivered.
One day Sikulume said to another boy I am going, to the doctor's;
tell my sister to cook food for me, nice food that I may eat."
This was done.
He said to his sister: "Bring me of the skin of the inabulele
which I killed, to make a mantle." She called her companions,
and they went to the side of the river. She sang this song:-
The body of the inabulele then came out. She cut two little
pieces of the skin for sandals, and a large piece to make a mantle
for her brother.
When he was a young man, Sikulume said to his friends: "I
am going to marry the daughter of Mangangezulu."
They replied: "You must not go there, for at Mangangezulu's
you will be killed."
He said: "I will go."
Then he called those young men who were his chosen friends
to accompany him. On the way they came to a place where the grass
was long. A mouse came out of the grass, and asked Sikulume where
he was going to.
He replied: "I am going to the place of Mangangezulu."
The mouse sang this song
"Turn back, turn back, Sikulume.
No one ever leaves the place of Mangangezulu.
Turn back, turn back, O chief."
Sikulume replied: "I shall not turn back."
The mouse then said: "As it is so, you must kill me and
throw my skin up in the air."
He did so.
The skin said: "You must not enter by the front of the
village; you must not eat off a new mat; you must not sleep in
a hut which has nothing in it."
They arrived at the village of Manggangezulu. They entered
it from the wrong side, so that all the people said: "Why
They replied: "It is our custom."
Food was brought to them on a new mat, but they said It is
our custom to eat off old mats only."
An empty hut was given to them to sleep in, but they said:
"It is our custom only to sleep in a hut that has things
The next day the chief said to Sikulume and his companions:
"You must go and tend the cattle."
They went. A storm of rain fell, when Sikulume spread out
his mantle and it becarne a hut as hard as stone, into which
they all went. In the evening they returned with the cattle.
The daughter of Mangangezulu came to them. Her mother pressed
her foot in the footprint of Sikulume, and he became an eland.
The girl loved the young chief very much. When she saw he
was turned into an eland, she made a great fire and drove him
into it. Then he was burned, and became a little coal. She took
the coal out and put it in a pot of water, when it became a young
Afterwards they left that place. The girl took with her an
egg, a milksack, a pot, and a smooth stone. The father of the
girl pursued them.
The girl threw down the egg, and it became mist. Her father
wandered about in the mist a long time, till at length it cleared
away. Then he pursued again.
She threw down the milksack, and it became a sheet of water.
Her father tried to get rid of the water by dipping it up with
a calabash, but he could not succeed, so he was compelled to
wait till it dried up. He followed still.
The girl threw down the pot, and it became thick darkness.
He waited a long time till light came again, when he followed
them. He could travel very quickly.
He came close to them, and then the girl threw down the smooth
stone. It became a rock, a big rock with one side steep like
a wall. He could not climb up that rock, and so he returned to
his own village.
Then Sikulume went home with his wife. He said to the people:
"This is the daughter of Mangangezulu. You advised me not
to go there, lest I should be killed. Here is my wife."
After that he became a great chief. All the people said: "There
is no chief that can do such things as Sikulume."
THE STORY OF HLAKANYANA.
ONCE upon a time there was a village with many women in it.
All the women had children at the same time except the wife of
the chief. The children grew, and again all the women gave birth
to others. Only the wife of the chief had no child. Then the
people said: "Let us kill an ox, perhaps the wife of the
chief will then bear a child."
While they were killing the ox, the woman heard a voice saying:
"Bear me, mother, before the meat of my father is all finished."
The woman did not pay any attention to that, thinking it was
a ringing, in her ears. The voice said again: "Bear me,
mother, before the meat of my father is all finished."
The woman took a small piece of wood and cleaned her ears.
She heard that voice again. Then she became excited. She said:
"There is something in my ears; I would like to know what
it is. I have just now cleaned my ears."
The voice said again: "Make haste and bear me, mother,
before the meat of my father is all finished."
The woman said: "What is this? there was never a child
that could speak before it was born."
The voice said again: "Bear me, mother, as all my father's
cattle are being finished, and I have not yet eaten anything
of them." Then the woman gave birth to that child.
When she saw that to which she had given birth, she was very
much astonished. It was a boy, but in size very little, and with
a face that looked like that of an old person.
He said to his mother: "Mother, give me a skin robe."
His mother gave him a robe. Then he went at once to the kraal
where the ox was being killed.
He asked for some meat, saying: "Father, father, give
me a piece of meat."
The chief was astonished to hear this child calling him father.
He said: "Oh, men, what thing is this that calls me father?"
So he continued with the skinning, of the ox. But Hlakanyana
continued also in asking meat from him. The chief became very
angry, and pushed him, and said Get away from this place."
Hlakanyana answered: "I am your child, give me meat."
The chief took a little stick, and said: "If you trouble
me again, I will strike you with this."
Hlakanyana replied: "Give me meat first, and I will go
away;" but the chief would not answer, because he was very
Hlakanyana continued asking. Then the chief threw him outside
the kraal, and went on with his work. After a little time, the
child returned, still asking.
So the chief said to the men that were with him: "What
strange thing is this? "
The men replied: "We don't know him at all."
The chief asked of them also advice, saying: "What shall
The men replied: "Give him a piece of meat."
So the chief cut off a piece of meat and gave it to him. Hlakanyana
ran to his mother and gave the meat to her to be cooked.
Then he returned to his father, and said again: "Father,
give me some meat."
The chief just took him and trampled upon him, and threw him
outside of the kraal, thinking that he was dead.
But he rose again and returned to his father, still saying:
"Father, give me some meat."
Then the chief thought to get rid of him by giving him meat
again. The chief gave him a piece of liver. Hlakanyana threw
it away. Fat was then given to him. He put it down on one side.
Flesh was then given to him, and a bone with much marrow in it.
Hlakanyana said: "I am a man to-day." He said This
is the beginning of my father's cattle."
At this time the men were saying to each other: "Who
will carry the meat to our huts? "
Hlakanyana answered: "I will do it."
They said "How can such a thing as you are carry meat?"
Hlakanyana replied: "I am stronger than you; just see
if you can lift this piece of meat."
The men tried, but could not lift it. Then Hlakanyana took
the piece of meat and carried it out of the kraal. The men said
That will do now, carry our meat for us."
Hlakanyana took the meat and carried it to the house of his.
mother. He took blood and put it on the eating mats at the houses
of the men. The men went to their houses, and said: "Where
is our meat?" They called Hlakanyana, and asked him what
he had done with the meat.
He replied: "Surely I put it here where the blood is.
It must have been taken by the dogs. Surely the dogs have eaten
Then those men beat the women and children because they did
not watch that the dogs did not take the meat. As for Hlakanyana,
he only delighted in this trick of his. He was more cunning than
any of the old men.
Hlakanyana said to his mother, that she must put the meat
in the pot to cook, but that it must not be eaten before the
next morning It was done. In the night this cunning little fellow
rose and went to the pot. His mother heard something at the pot,
and struck with a stick. Hlakanyana cried like a dog. His mother
said: "Surely a dog is eating the meat." Hlakanyana
returned afterwards, and left nothing but bones in the pot. In
the morning he asked his mother for meat. His mother went to
the pot, and found nothing but bones. The cunning little fellow
pretended to be astonished.
He said: "Where is the meat, mother?
His mother replied: "It has been eaten by a dog."
Hlakanyana said: "As that is so, give me the bones, for
you who are the wife of the chief will not eat from the same
pot with a dog."
His mother gave him the bones.
Hlakanyana went to sleep in the same house with the boys.
The boys were unwilling to let him sleep with them. They laughed
They said: "Who are you? You are just a child of a few
Hlakanyana answered I am older than you.
He slept there that night. When the boys were asleep, he got
up and went to the cattle kraal. He killed two cows and ate all
their insides. He took blood and smeared it on one of the boys
who was sleeping. In the morning the men found those two dead
They said: "Who has done this thing?"
They found the boy with blood upon him, and killed him, because
they thought he was the robber.
Hlakanyana said within himself: "I told them that I was
older than they are; to-day it is seen who is a child and who
is a man."
Another day the father of Hlakanyana killed an ox. The head
was put in a pot to be cooked. Then Hlakanyana considered in
his mind how he could get that meat. So he drove all the cattle
of the village into a forest, a very thick forest, and tied them
by their tails to the trees. After that he cut his arms, and
legs, and breast, with a sharp stone, and stood on a hill, and
cried out with a loud voice: "The enemy has taken our cattle;
the cattle are being driven away. Come up, come up; there is
an army going away with the cattle."
The men ran quickly to him.
He said to them: "Why are you eating meat while the enemy
is going away with the cattle?
"I was fighting with them; just look at my body."
They saw he was covered with blood, and they believed it was
as he said. So the men took their assagais and ran after the
cattle, but they took the wrong way. Only one old man and Hlakanyana
were left behind.
Then Hlakanyana said to the old man: "I am very tired
with fighting; just go to the river, grandfather, and get some
The old man went; and as soon as he was alone, Hlakanyana
ate the meat which was in the pot. When the old man returned
with the water he was very tired, for the river was far for an
old man to go to, therefore he fell asleep. When he was sleeping,
Hlakanyana took a bone and put it beside the old man. He also
took some fat and put it on the mouth of the old man. Then he
ran to the forest and loosened the cattle that were tied by the
At this, time the men were returning from seeking the enemy.
Hlakanyana was coming also from the other side with the cattle.
He shouted: "I have conquered the enemy." He also
said: "The meat must be eaten now."
When they opened the pot they found no meat. They found only
dung, for Hlakanyana had filled the pot with dung.
Then the men said: "Who has done this?
Hlakanyana answered: "It must be the old man who is sleeping
They looked, and saw the bone by the side of the old man,
and the fat on his mouth. Then they said: "This is the thief."
They were intending to kill the old man because he had stolen
the meat of the chief.
When the children saw that the old man was to be killed, they
said that he did not eat the meat of the chief.
The men said: "We saw fat on his mouth and a bone beside
The children replied: "He did not do it."
The men said: "Tell us who did it."
The children answered: "Hlakanyana ate the meat and put
dung in the pot. We were concealed, and we saw him do it."
Hlakanyana denied. He said: "Let me go and ask the women;
perhaps they saw who ate the meat of the chief."
The men sent a young man with him to the women; but when they
were a short distance away, Hlakanyana escaped.
The chief sent an army after him. The army pursued, and saw
Hlakanyana sitting by a bush. They ran to catch him. When they
came to the bush, only an old woman was sitting there.
They said to her: "Where is Hlakanyana?"
The old woman replied: "He just went across that river.
See, you must make haste to follow him, for the river is rising."
The army passed over the river quickly. Then that old woman
turned into Hlakanyana again. He said in himself: "I will
now go on a journey, for I am wiser than the councillors of my
father, I being older than they."
The little cunning fellow went to a village, where he saw
an old woman sitting beside her house.
He said to her: "Would you like to be made young, grandmother?"
The old woman replied: "Yes, my grandchild; if you could
make me young, I would be very glad."
Hlakanyana said: "Take that pot, grandmother, and go
for some water."
The old woman replied: "I cannot walk."
Hlakanyana said: "Just try, grandmother; the river is
close by, and perhaps you will be able to reach it."
The old woman limped along and got the water.
Then Hlakanyana took a large pot and set it on the fire, and
poured the water into it.
He said to the old woman: "You must cook me a little
first, and then I will cook you a little."
The old woman agreed to that. Hlakanyana was the first to
be put in the pot. When the water began to get hot, he said:
"Take me out, grandmother; I am in long enough."
The old woman took him out, and went in the pot for her turn.
Soon she said: "Take me out now, my grandchild; I am in
Hlakanyana replied Not yet, grandmother; it is not yet time."
So the old woman died in the pot.
Hlakanyana took all the bones of the old woman and threw them
away. He left only the toes and the fingers. Then he took the
clothing of the old woman and put it on. The two sons of this
old woman came from hunting.
They went into the hut, and said Whose meat is this in the
Hlakanyana was lying down. He said in a voice like that of
their mother: "It is yours, my sons.
While they were eating, the younger one said: "Look at
this, it is like the toe of mother."
The elder one said: "How can you say such a thing? Did
not mother give us this meat to eat?"
Again the younger one said: "Look at this, it is like
the finger of mother."
Hlakanyana said: "You are speaking evil of me, my son."
Hlakanyana said in himself: "I shall be discovered; it
is time for me to flee." So he slipped quietly out of the
house and went on his way. When he got a little way off, he called
out: "You are eating your mother. Did any one ever see people
eating their mother before?"
The two young men took their assagais and ran after him with
their dogs. They came to the river; it was full.
The cunning fellow changed himself into a little round stone.
One of the young men picked up this stone, saying: "If I
could see him, I would just throw this stone at him." The
young man threw the stone over the river, and it turned into
Hlakanyana again. He just laughed at those young men.
Hlakanyana went on his way. He was singing this song:-
Ndahlangana Nonothloya. I met with Nonothloya.
Sapekapekana, We cooked each other,
Ndagwanya, I was half cooked,
Wapekwa wada wavutwa. She was well cooked.
Hlakanyana met a boy tending some goats. The boy had a digging
stick with him.
Hlakanyana proposed that they should pursue after birds, and
the boy agreed. They pursued birds the whole day.
In the evening, when the sun set, Hlakanyana said: "It
is time now to roast our birds."
The place was on the bank of a river.
Hlakanyana said: "We must go under the water and see
who will come out last."
They went under the water, and Hlakanyana came out last.
The cunning fellow said: "Let us try again."
The boy agreed to that. They went under the water. Hlakanyana
came out quickly and ate all the birds. He left the heads only.
Then he went under the water again. The boy came out while he
was still under the water.
When Hlakanyana came out he said: "Let us go now and
eat our birds."
They found all the birds eaten.
Hlakanyana said: "You have eaten them, because you came
out of the water first, and you have left me the heads only."
The boy denied having done so, but Hlakanyana said: "You
must pay for my birds with that digging-stick."
The boy gave the digging-stick, and Hlakanyana went on his
He saw some people making pots of clay. He said to them: "Why
do you not ask me to lend you this digging-stick, instead of
digging with your hands
They said: "Lend it to us."
Hlakanyana lent them the digging-stick. Just the first time
they stuck it in the clay it broke.
He said: "You have broken my digging stick, the digging-stick
that I received from my companion, my companion who ate my birds
and left me with the heads."
They gave him a pot.
Hlakanyana carried the pot till he came to some boys who were
herding goats. He said to them: "You foolish boys, you only
suck the goats, you don't milk them in any vessel; why don't
you ask me to lend you this pot?
The boys said: "Lend it to us."
Hlakanyana lent them the pot. While the boys were milking,
the pot broke. Hlakanyana said: "You have broken my pot,
the pot that I received from the people who make pots, the people
who broke my digging-stick, the digging-stick that I received
from my companion, my companion who ate my birds and left me
with the heads."
The boys gave him a goat.
Hlakanyana came to the keepers of calves.
He said to them: "You foolish fellows, you only sit here
and eat nothing. Why don't you ask me to let you suck this goat?"
The keepers of calves said: "Allow us to suck this goat."
Hlakanyana gave the goat into their hands. While they were
sucking, the goat died.
Hlakanyana said: "You have killed my goat, the goat that
I received from the boys that were tending goats, the boys that
broke my pot, the potthat I received from the people who make
pots, the people who broke my digging-stick, the digging-stick
that I received from my companion, my companion who ate my birds
and left me with the heads."
They gave him a calf.
Hlakanyana came to the keepers of cows.
He said to them: "You only suck the cows without letting
the calf suck first. Why don't you ask me to lend you this calf,
that the cows may be induced to give their milk freely?"
They said: "Lend us the calf."
Hlakanyana permitted them to take the calf. While the calf
was in their hands it died.
Hlakanyana said: "You have killed my calf, the calf that
I received from the keepers of calves, the keepers of calves
that killed my,oat, the goat that I received from the boys that
were tending goats, the boys that broke my pot, the pot that
I received from the people who make pots, the people who broke
my digging-stick, the digging-stick that I received from my companion,
my companion who ate my birds and left me with the heads."
They gave him a cow.
Hlakanyana continued on his journey. He saw a young man going
the same way.
He said: "Let us be companions and travel together."
The young, man agreed to that. They came to a forest.
Hlakanyana said: "This is the place for picking up kerries."
They picked up kerries there.
Then they reached another place, and Hlakanyana said: "This
is the place for throwing away kerries."
They threw the kerries away.
Again they came to another place, and Hlakanyana said: "This
is the place for throwing away spoons."
The companion of Hlakanyana threw his spoon away, but the
cunning little fellow only pretended to throw his away. In fact,
he concealed his spoon. They went on.
They came to another place, and Hlakanyana said: "This
is the place for throwing knives away."
It happened again as with the spoons. Hlakanyana concealed
his knife, when his companion threw his away.
They came to a certain place, and Hlakanyana said This is
the place for throwing away izilanda (awls used to make holes
in skins when they are sewed together, and also for taking thorns
out of the bare feet and legs of pedestrians).
His companion threw his isilanda away, but Hlakanyana kept
his. They went on and reached a place where they had to walk
on thorns. Afterwards they looked at their feet, and saw many
thorns in them.
Hlakanyana said: "Let us sit down and take out the thorns."
His companion replied I cannot do so, because I have no isilanda."
Then Hlakanyana took the thorns out of his feet, and the other
was obliged to walk lame. They came to a village.
The people said to them: "Tell us the news."
Hlakanyana replied: "just give us something to eat first;
look at our stomachs and behold the pinchings of hunger."
The people of that village brought meat.
Hlakanyana said to his companion: "Now let us eat."
The companion of Hlakanyana answered: "I have no knife."
Hlakanyana said: "You are just a child; I shall not lend
you my knife.'
The people of that village brought millet and put before them.
Hlakanyana said to his companion: "Why do you not eat?
He answered: "I have no spoon."
Hlakanyana said: "You are just a child; I shall not lend
you my spoon."
So Hlakanyana had all the meat and the millet to himself.
Hlakanyana met a girl herding some goats.
He said: "Where are the boys of your village, that the
goats are herded by a girl?"
The girl answered: "There are no boys in he village."
He went to the father of the girl and said: "You must
give me your daughter to be my concubine, and I will herd the
The father of the girl agreed to that. Then Hlakanyana went
with the goats, and every day he killed one and ate it till all
were done. He scratched his body with thorns.
The father of the girl said: "Where are all the goats?"
Hlakanyana replied: "Can you not see how I have been
fighting with the wild dogs? The wild dogs have eaten the goats.
As for me, I will stay here no longer."
So he went on his way.
As he was going on, he saw a trap for catching birds. There
were some birds in it. Hlakanyana took the birds out and ate
them. The owners of the trap were cannibals. They saw the footprints
of Hlakanyana, and said: "This is a little boy that is stealing
our birds." They watched for him. Hlakanyana came again
to the trap and saw a bird caught in it. He was just going to
take the bird out when the cannibals caught him. They made a
big fire and put a pot on for the purpose of cooking him. Hlakanyana
saw two oxen. One was white, the other was red.
He said to the cannibals: "You can take which one of
these oxen you like instead of me."
The cannibals said: "We will take the white one, because
it is white inside also."
Then Hlakanyana went away with the red ox. The cannibals ate
the white ox, and then pursued after Hlakanyana. They came up
to him by a big stone. He jumped on the stone, and sang this
Ndaharnba ndayakuva indaba I went to hear the news,
Zemvula ku mankazana. About rain from the girls.
The cannibals began to dance when they heard him sing. Then
he ran away, and the stone continued to sing that song.
As he was journeying, Hlakanyana came to a place where some
baboons were feasting. He asked them for some food.
The baboons replied: "If you will go for some water for
us, we will give you food."
He agreed to that. When he returned with the water, the baboons
refused to give him food. Then Hlakanyana shouted loudly and
said: "At my village there is a marriage of baboons to-day."
When the baboons heard that they fled, old and young. So Hlakanyana
remained there, and ate all the food.
As he was going along, he saw a hyena building a house, having
cooked some meat.
Hlakanyana asked the hyena to give him some.
The hyena said: "No, I will not give you any; it is too
little even for me."
Hlakanyana said: "Will you not have me to assist in building?"
The hyena replied: "I would have you without delay if
you are intending to help me."
While they were fastening the thatch, Hlakanyana sewed the
hair of the tail of the hyena fast. Then he took the pot and
The hyena said: "Let that pot alone, Hlakanyana."
He replied: "I am going to eat now."
The hyena wanted to come down, but he found his tail was fast,
Hlakanyana ate all the meat, and threw the bones at the hyena.
The hyena tried to frighten him by saying there were many hyenas
coming quickly to devour him. He just answered: "That is
false; " and continued eating till the meat was finished.
Then he went on his way.
Hlakanyana came to a river. He saw an iguana that was playing
on an ugwali (a simple musical instrument).
Hlakanyana said to the iguana: "Lend me your ugwali for
a little, please."
The iguana said: "No, you will run away with my ugwali."
Hlakanyana replied: "How can I run away with a thing
that is not mine? "
So the iguana lent him the ugwali. When Hlakanyana saw that
he could play upon the instrument nicely, he ran away with it.
The iguana pursued him. Then Hlakanyana changed himself into
a rush. The iguana took that rush and threw it across the river,
saying: "If I could only see him, I would throw him like
this." Then the rush turned to be Hlakanyana again, and
he went on his way playing on the ugwali of the iguana.
Hlakanyana came to the house of a leopardess. He proposed
to take care of her children while the leopardess went to hunt
animals. The leopardess agreed to that. There were four cubs.
After the leopardess had gone to hunt, Hlakanyana took one of
the cubs and ate it.
At the time for giving food, the leopardess came back and
said: "Give me my children that I may suckle them."
Hlakanyana gave one.
The mother said: "Give all at once."
Hlakanyana replied: "It is better that one should drink
and then another."
The leopardess agreed to that. After three had drunk he gave
the first one back the second time. Then the leopardess went
to hunt again.
Hlakanyana took another of the cubs and ate it. He also made
the door of the house very small so that the mother of the cubs
could not come in, and then he made a little hole in the ground
at the back so that he could go out. The next day the leopardess
came to give her children suck. There were only two left now.
Hlakanyana gave them both back the second time. After that the
leopardess went away as before.
Hlakanyana ate another of the cubs, so that only one was left.
When the mother came, he gave this one four times. When he gave
it the last time the leopardess said: "Why does my child
not drink to-day?" It was already full, and did not want
to drink more.
Hlakanyana replied: "I think this one is sick."
The mother said: "You must take good care of it."
Hlakanyana promised to do so, but when the leopardess was
gone he ate that one also.
The next day when the leopardess came there was no cub left
to give her. She tried to get in the house, but the door was
too small. She sat down in front to watch. Then Hlakanyana went
out through the hole he had made in the ground behind. The leopardess
saw him and ran after him. He went under a big rock, and cried
out loudly for help, saying the rock was falling.
The leopardess said: "What is that you are saying? "
Hlakanyana replied: "Do you not see that this rock is
falling? just hold it up while I get a prop and put under it."
The leopardess went to hold the rock up, and Hlakanyana did
not return. He just ran away from that place.
Hlakanyana came to the village of the animals. The animals
had trees that bore fruit. There was one tree that belonged to
the chief of the animals only. This tree was a very good one,
bearing much fruit on it. One day when all the animals were assembled,
Hlakanyana asked them the narne of the tree of the chief. They
did not know the name of that tree. Then Hlakanyana sent a monkey
to the chief to ask the name of the tree. The chief told the
monkey. As the monkey was returning he struck his foot against
a stone and fell down, which caused him to forget the name of
In the night when all were sleeping, Hlakanyana went up the
tree of the chief add ate all the fruit of it. He took a branch
of the tree and fastened it to one of the monkeys. In the morning
when the animals awoke and found that the tree of the chief was
finished in the night, they asked each other: "What became
of the fruit of the chief's tree? What became of the fruit of
the tree of the chief?"
Hlakanyana looked at the monkey with the branch on him, and
said: "It is eaten by the monkey, it is eaten by the monkey;
look at the branch on him."
The monkey denied, and said I don't know anythin,g about it.
I never ate the fruit of the tree of the chief."
Hlakanyana said: " Let us make a plan to find out who
ate the fruit of the tree of the chief."
All the animals agreed to this.
Hlakanyana said: "Let us put a rope froin one rock to
another, and let all go over it. He that has eaten the fruit
of the tree will fall down from that rope."
One of the monkeys went over first. The next was Hlakanyana
himself. He went over carefully and avoided falling. It came
to the turn of that monkey with the branch on. He tried to go,
but when he was in the middle he fell down.
Hlakanyana said: "therefore I have told you that it is
After that he went on his way.
Hlakanyana came to the house of a jackal. He asked for food,
but the jackal said there was none. Then he made a plan.
He said to the jackal: "You must climb up on the house
and cry out with a loud voice, 'We are, going to be fat to-day
because Hlakanyana is dead.'"
The jackal did so. All the animals came running to hear that
news. They went inside the house, because the door was open.
Then Hlakanyana shut the door, and the animals were caught. After
that Hlakanyana killed the animals and ate.
Hlakanyana returned to the home of his father again. He was
told that his sister was gone away for some red clay. When she
was returning he shouted: "Let all the black cattle which
have white teeth be killed. The daughter of my father is coming
who has white teeth."
The chief said: "What is the matter with you, Hlakanyana?"
He just repeated the same thing.
The chief said: "Let a black ox be killed, but you must
not break any of its bones, because it belongs to the daughter
of a chief."
So Hlakanyana got fat meat to eat that day.
Hlakanyana went one day to tend the calves of his father.
He met a tortoise.
He said: "Where are you going to, tortoise?"
The tortoise answered: "To that big stone."
Hlakanyana said: "Are you not tired? "
The tortoise replied: "No, I am not tired."
Hlakanyana took it and put it on his back. Then he went to
the house of his mother.
His mother said: "What have you got there, my son? "
Hlakanyana answered: "just take it off my back, mother."
The tortoise held fast to Hlakanyana, and would not be pulled
off. His mother then heated some fat and poured on the tortoise.
The tortoise let go quickly, and the fat fell on Hlakanyana and
burnt him, so that he died. That is the end of this cunning little
THE STORY OF DEMANE AND DEMAZANA.
ONCE upon a time a brother and sister, who were twins and
orphans, were obligied on account of ill usage, to run away from
their relatives. The boy's name was Demane, the girl's Demazana.
They went to live in a cave that had two holes to let in air
and light, the entrance to which was protected by a very strong
door, with a fastening inside. Demane went out hunting by day,
and told his sister that she was not to roast any meat while
he was absent, lest the cannibals should discover their retreat
by the smell. Thc girl would have been quite safe if she had
done as her brother commanded. But she was wayward, and one day
she took some buffalo meat and put it on a fire to roast.
A cannibal smelt the flesh cooking, and went to the cave,
but found the door fastened. So he tried to imitate Demane's
voice, and asked to be admitted, singing this song:-
Child of my mother,
Open this cave to me.
The swallows can enter it.
It has two apertures."
Demazana said: "No. You are not my brother; your voice
is not like his."
The cannibal went away, but after a little time came back
again, and spoke in another tone of voice: "Do let me in,
The girl answered: "Go away, you cannibal; your voice
is hoarse, you are not my brother."
So he went away and consulted with another cannibal. He said:
"What must I do to obtain what I desire? "
He was afraid to tell what his desire was, lest the other
cannibal should want a share of the girl.
His friend said: "You must burn your throat with a hot
He did so, and then no longer spoke hoarse. Again he presented
himself before the door of the cave, and sang,-
child of my mother,
Open this cave to me.
The swallows can enter it.
It has two apertures."
The girl was deceived. She believed him to be her brother
come back from hunting, so she opened the door. The cannibal
went in and seized her.
As she was being carried away, she dropped some ashes here
and there along the path. Soon after this, Demane, who had taken
nothing that day but a swarm of bees, returned and found his
sister gone. He guessed what had happened, and followed the path
by means of the ashes until he came to Zim's dwelling. The cannibal's
family were out gathering firewood, but he was at home, and had
just put Demazana in a big bag, where he intended to keep her
till the fire was made.
Demane said: "Give me water to drink, father."
Zim replied: "I will, if you will promise not to touch
Demane promised. Then Zim went to get some water; and while
he was away, Demane took his sister out of the bag, and put the
bees in it, after which they both concealed themselves.
When Zim came with the water, his wife and son and daughter
came also with firewood.
He said to his daughter: "There is something nice in
the bag; go bring, it."
She went, but the bees stung her hand, and she called out:
"It is biting."
He sent his son, and afterwards his wife, but the result was
the same. Then he became angry, and drove them outside, and having
put a block of wood in the doorway, he opened the bag himself.
The bees swarmed out and stung his head, particularly his eyes,
so that he could not see.
There was a little hole in the thatch, and through this he
forced his way. He jumped about, howling with pain. Then he ran
and fell headlong into a pond, where his head stuck fast in the
mud, and he became a block of wood like the stump of a tree.
The bees made their home in the stump, but no one could get their
honey, because, when any one tried, his hand stuck fast.
Demane and Demazana then took all Zim's possessions, which
were very great, and they became wealthy people.
THE RUNAWAY CHILDREN; OR, THE WONDERFUL FEATHER.
ONCE in a time of famine a woman left her home and went to
live in a distant village, where she became a cannibal.
She had one son, whose name was Magoda. She ate all the people
in that village, until only herself and Magoda remained. Then
she was compelled to hunt animals, but she caught people still
when she could. In hunting she learned to be very swift of foot,
and could run so fast that nothing she pursued could escape from
Her brother, who remained at home when she left, had two daughters,
whom he did not treat very kindly. One day he sent them to the
river for water, which they were to carry in two pots. These
pots were made of clay, and were the nicest and most valuable
in the village. One of the girls fell down on a rock and broke
the pot she was carrying. Then she did not know what to do, because
she was afraid to go back to her father. She sat down and cried,
but that did not help, the pot would not be whole again.
Then she said to her sister: "Let us go away to another
place, where our father will not be able to find us."
She was the younger and the cleverer of the two, and so she
persuaded her sister. They walked away in the opposite direction
from their home, and for two days had nothing but gum to eat.
Then they saw a fire at a distance, and went to it, where they
saw a house. It was the house of their aunt, but they did not
know it. They were afraid to go in, but Magoda came out and talked
to them. Wlien he heard who they were, he was sorry for them,
and told thern their aunt was a cannibal, giving them advice
not to stay there. But just then they heard her corning, so they
went into Magoda's house and hid themselvesl for he lived in
one house and his mother in another.
The woman came and said: I smell something nice; what is it,
Magoda said there was nothing.
She replied: "Surely I smell fat children."
But as she did not go in, they remained concealed that night.
The next morning, Nomagoda (so called because she was the
mother of Magoda) went out to hunt, but she did not go far, so
the children could not get away. They went into her house, where
they saw a person with only one arm, one side, and one leg.
The person said to them: "See, the cannibal has eaten
the rest of me; take care of yourselves."
When it was nearly dark, Nomagoda came home again, bringing
some animals which she had killed. She smelt that children had
been in the house, so she went to her son's house and looked
She said to Magoda: "Why do you not give me some? Do
I not catch animals for you?"
Then she saw the children, and was very glad. She took them
to her house, and told them to sleep. They lay down, but were
too frightened to close their eyes. They heard their aunt say,
"Axe, be sharp; axe, be sharp;" and to let her know
that they were awake, they spoke of vermin biting them.
After a while the cannibal went to sleep, when they crept
out, first putting two blocks of wood in their places, and ran
away as fast as they could. When Nomagoda awoke, she took the
axe and went to kill them, but the axe fell on the blocks of
As soon as it was day, the cannibal pursued the children.
They looked behind, and saw clouds of dust which she made as
she ran. There was a tall tree just in front of them, so they
hastened to climb up it, and sat down among the branches. Nomagoda
came to the tree and commenced to cut it down; but when a chip
fell out, a bird (Ntengu) sang-
Chips, return to your places,
Chips, return to your places,
Chips, be fast."
The chip then went back to its place and was fast again. This
happened three times; but Nomagoda, who was very angry, caught
the bird and swallowed it. Then she put it in her mouth, one
of the feathers dropped to the ground. Then she began to chop
at the tree again; but as soon as a chip was loose the feather
Chips, return to your places,
Chips, return to your places,
Chips, be fast."
The chip then stuck fast again. The cannibal chopped till
she was tired, but the feather continued to keep the tree from
receiving harm. Then she tried to catch the feather, but it flew
about too quickly for her, until she sank down exhausted on the
ground at the foot of the tree.
The children, up in the branches, could see a long way off;
and as they strained their eyes, they observed three dogs as
big as calves, and they knew these dogs belonged to their father,
who was seeking for them. So they called them by name, and the
dogs came running to the tree and ate up the cannibal, who was
too tired to make her escape.
Thus the children were delivered, and their father was so
glad to get them back again that he forgave them for breaking
the pot and running away.
STORY OF IRONSIDE AND HIS SISTER.
A LONG time ago a woman who went to cultivate her garden took
her little daughter with her, and before she began to hoe the
ground she laid the child down in the shade of a tree. About
midday there came two birds and flew away with the girl. They
carried her across a great river, and laid her gently down in
a pumpkin field on a plain.
As the birds were carrying her away, she called to her mother,
who took no notice of her cries, because she could not imagine
her child was being carried away. In the afternoon the girl was
missing, and her mother searched for her without success. She
made inquiries of the neighbours, and some of them told her they
had heard the child crying, "I am going away with the birds."
The plain on which the little girl was put down was near a
town in which lived a nation of cannibals who had one leg much
longer than the other. There she remained alone till the next
That night the chief of the cannibals dreamed that he saw
a very pretty girl in that place; so in the morning he sent a
party of men to look for her. When the girl saw them coming she
was afraid, and hid herself among the pumpkins. But the men had
already noticed where she was, so they easily found her, and
took her home with them.
The chief was very much pleased with her appearance. He gave
her to his mother to take care of, and when she grew up he took
her to be his wife.
Afterwards she had two children, one very pretty, and with
two legs like her own; the other ugly, and like its father, with
one leg longer than the other. The cannibals saw the advantage
of having two legs of equal length, and they became jealous of
the woman and her child. They told the chief it would be dangerous
to allow the child to grow up, because then a nation stronger
than themselves might arise. They persuaded him to consent to
her being put to death, and then they rejoiced greatly, because
she was very fat, and they intended to eat her; but one of them,
who had more compassion than the others, told the woman what
they were about to do.
After the little girl had been taken away by the birds, her
mother had a son, one of whose sides was flesh like other people's,
and the other side was iron. His mother told him of his sister
who was lost, and when he became a man he determined to go in
search of her.
In his journey he came to a great river full of water. He
had an iron rod in his hand, with which he struck the water,
and at the same time he called out with a loud voice: "River,
I have no sister. Be empty."
Then the river dried up, and he went safely across.
After this he came to the stream where the cannibals drew
their water, and concealed himself among the reeds which grew
on its banks. While there his sister came to get water, and he
at once knew who she was. She, of course, did not know him, but
he told her he was her brother. Then she said the cannibals would
cat him if he went to their town without an introduction. So
they arranged that he should smear himself with mud and go to
the top of a high hill, and when he was coming down she would
tell the cannibals who he was.
Ironside went on the hill, and as soon as he came in sight
of the town, his sister said: "There is the servant of the
wife of the chief of the cannibals." These words she repeated
When Ironside reached the town, a mat was brought to him and
spread in front of his sister's house; but after a time he was
allowed to go inside, still covered with mud.
The next day they all went to hunt, and Ironside killed more
game than the others, upon which they became envious of him.
This was shortly before the cannibals agreed to kill and eat
the daughter of their chief. When the one who had compassion
made known what was about to be done, Ironside was present and
heard what was told. He said to his sister that she must pluck
the hair from her head and scatter it about in different directions.
This she did, after which Ironside and his sister and her child
left the town in haste.
The cannibals came, and when they could not find the child
they called her loudly by name. Then the tufts of hair all answered
in her voice, and the seekers became confused.
Ironside and his companions, having two legs, could walk much
quicker than the cannibals, and soon they were on the other side
of the large river. The child trembled, and was very much frightened;
but Ironside told her not to fear at all. After they had crossed,
Ironside struck the river with his iron rod, and said: "River,
I have found my sister. Be full." Then the water rose very
high, quite to the top of the banks.
A party of cannibals who were in pursuit came to the river
after it was full, and Ironside made a long rope, and threw the
end over to them. They caught hold of it, thinking that he would
pull them across; but when they were in the middle of the river
he let go the rope, and they were all drowned. Another party
then came and asked where their companions were. Ironside said
they had gone to a ford further down; but they knew that was
not true, so they returned home. Afterwards they discovered who
it was that gave warning of their intentions, and they killed
and ate that one.
Ironside took his sister home to her mother, who received
her with the greatest joy, never having forgotten her during
that long time.
STORY OF THE CANNIBAL'S WONDERFUL BIRD.
A NUMBER of girls once went away their homes early in the
morning purpose of getting imbola (the red ith which they colour
their bodies and clothes). Among them was the daughter of a chief,
a very pretty girl. After they had collected the imbola, they
were about to return home, when one of them proposed that they
should bathe in a large pool of water that was there. To this
they all agreed, and so they went into the water and played about
in it for a long time. At last they dressed themselves again,
and set out for home; but when they had gone some distance, the
chief's daughter noticed that she had forgotten one of her ornaments,
which she had taken off when they went to bathe. So she asked
her cousin to return with her to get it. The cousin refused.
Then she asked another girl, and another, but one and all refused
to go back. She was thus obliged to return to the water alone,
while the other girls went home.
On arriving at the pool, a big ugly cannibal with only one
leg came up to her, caught her, and put her in his bag. She was
so frightened that she lay quite still. The cannibal then took
her round to the different villages and made her sing for him.
He called her his bird.
When he came to a village he asked for meat, and when it was
given to him he said "Sing, my bird." But he would
never open the bag, so that any one could see what sort of a
bird he had.
When the girls reached home, they told the chief that his
daughter had reached the age of ntonjane, and they selected one
of themselves and shut her up in a hut. The chief believed that
story, and so he killed a large ox and said the people must eat.
That day they ate fat beef, and were very merry. The boys took
meat, and went away from the village to eat it.
The cannibal, who did not know that the girl's father was
chief at this place, came there just at this time. He said to
the boys if they would give him meat he would make his bird sing
for them. So they gave him meat, and he said: "Sing, my
bird." The girl's brother was among those boys, and he thought
the bird sang like his sister, but he was afraid to ask the cannibal
to let him see. He advised the cannibal to go to the village
where the men were, and told him there was plenty of meat that
The cannibal then went to the village and made his bird sing.
The chief wanted very much to see the bird, but the cannibal
would not open the bag. The chief offered him an ox for the bird,
but the cannibal declined the offer. Then the chief made a plan.
He asked the cannibal to go for some water, and said he would
give him plenty of beef when he returned. The cannibal said he
would go if they would promise not to open his bag while he was
away. They all promised not to touch the bag. They gave the cannibal
a leaky pot to carry the water in, so that he was gone a long
time.As soon as he was out of sight the chief opened the bag
and took his daughter out. At first he could not believe it was
his daughter, for he thought she was observing ntonjane. But
when he knew how those other girls had deceived him he said they
must all die, and so they were killed. Then he put snakes and
toads in the bag, and tied it up again.
When the cannibal came back he complained of the leaky pot,
but they gave him plenty of meat to satisfy him, so he picked
up his bag and went away. He did not know what had happened while
he was absent. When he came near his own house he called to his
wife: "Make ready to cook." He sent and called all
the other cannibals to come to a feast, and they came expecting
to get something nice. He let them wait a little to get very
hungry. Then he opened his bag and thought to take the girl out,
but found only snakes and toads in it. The other cannibals were
so angry when they saw this, that they killed him and made their
feast of him.
THE STORY OF THE CANNIBAL MOTHER AND HER CHILDREN.
THERE was once a man and a woman who had two children, a son
and a daughter. These children lived with their grandfather.
Their mother was a cannibal, but not their father.
One day they said to their grandfather: "We have been
long with you, we should like very much to go and see our parents."
Their grandfather said: "Ho! will you be able to come
back? Don't you know your mother is a cannibal?"
After a time he consented. He said: "You must leave at
such a time that you may arrive there in the evening, so that
your mother may not see you, only your father."
The boy's name was Hinazinci. He said: "Let us go now,
They started when the sun was set. When they arrived at their
father's house, they listened outside to find out if their mother
was there. They heard the voice of their father only, so they
called to him. He came out, and when he saw them he was sorry,
and said: "Why did you come here, my dear children? Don't
you know your mother is a cannibal? "
Just then they heard a noise like thunder. It was the coming
of their mother. Their father took them inside and put them in
a dark corner, where he covered them with skins. Their mother
came in with an animal and the body of a man. She stood and said:
"There's something here. What a nice smell it has! "
She said to her husband "Sohinazinci, what have you to
tell me about this nice smell that is in my house? You must tell
me whether my children are here."
Her husband answered: "What are you dreaming about? They
are not here."
She went to the corner where they were, and took the skins
away. When she saw them, she said: "My children, I am very
sorry that you are here, because I must eat people."
She cooked for them and their father the animal she had brought
home, and the dead man for herself After they had eaten, she
Then their father said to them: "When we lie down to
sleep, you must be watchful. You will hear a dancing of people,
a roaring of wild beasts, and a barking of dogs in your mother's
stomach. You will know by that she is sleeping, and you must
then rise at once and get away.
They lay down, but the man and the children only pretended
to go to sleep. They were listening for those sounds. After a
while they heard a dancing of people, a roaring of wild beasts,
and a barking of dogs. Then their father shook them, and said
they must go while their mother was sleeping. They bade their
father farewell, and crept out quietly, that their mother might
not hear them.
At midnight the woman woke up, and when she found the children
were gone, she took her axe and went after them. They were already
a long way on their journey, when they saw her following them.
They were so tired that they could not run.
When she was near them, the boy said to the girl: "My
sister, sing your melodious song; perhaps when she hears it she
will be sorry, and go home without hurting us."
The girl replied: "She will not listen to anything now,
because she is in want of meat."
Hinazinci said: "Try, my sister; it may not be in vain."
So she sang her song, and when the cannibal heard it, she
ran backwards to her own house. There she fell upon her husband,
and wanted to cut him with the axe. Her husband caught hold of
her arm, and said: "Ho! if you put me to death who will
be your husband?"
Then she left him, and ran after the children again.
They were near their grandfather's village, and were very
weak when their mother overtook them. The girl fell down, and
the cannibal caught her and swallowed her. She then ran after
the boy. He fell just at the entrance of his grandfather's house,
and she picked him up and swallowed him also. She found only
the old people and the children of the village at home, all the
others being at work in the gardens. She ate all the people that
were at home and also all the cattle that were there.
Towards evening she left to go to her own home. There was
a deep valley in the way, and when she came to it she saw a very
beautiful bird. As she approached it, the bird got bigger and
bigger, until at last when she was very near it, it was as big
as a house (ie., a native hut).
Then the bird began to sing its song. The woman looked at
it, and said to herself: "I shall take this bird home to
The bird continued its song, and sang:
The bird came slowly towards her, still singing its song.
When they met, the bird took the axe from the woman, and still
sang the same song.
The cannibal began to be afraid.
She said to the bird: "Give me my axe; I do not wish
for your flesh now."
The bird tore one of her arms off.
She said: "I am going away now; give me what is mine."
The bird would not listen to her, but continued its song.
She said again: "Give me my axe and let me go. My husband
at home is very hungry; I want to go and cook food for him."
The bird sang more loudly than before, and tore one of her
She fell down and cried out: "My master, I am in a hurry
to go home. I do not want anything that is yours."
She saw that she was in danger. She said to the bird again:
"You don't know how to sing your song nicely; let me go,
and I will sing it for you."
The bird opened its wings wide, and tore open her stomach.
Many people came forth, most of them alive, but some were dead.
As they came forth she caught them and swallowed them again.
The two children were alive, and they ran away. At last the woman
There was great rejoicing in that country. The children returned
to their grandfather, and the people came there and made them
rulers of the country, because it was through them the cannibal
was brought to death.
The girl was afterwards married to a son of the great chief,
and Hinazinci had for his wife the daughter of that great one.
STORY OF THE GIRL AND THE MBULU.
THERE was once a widow woman who had one son and two daughters.
On a certain day she went to her garden, talking with her one
of the girls. While she was away the boy quarrelled with his
sister and killed her.
In the course of the day the woman sent the gi rl that was
with her to the hut, and when she came there a fly told her what
had happened. She did not believe it.
Then a mouse told her the same thing, but still she did not
believe it was true.
Afterwards the fly told her to look in a certain place, and
there she saw the head and the bones of her sister.
When the woman came home and found out what had happened,
she killed her son. Then she gave the girl a stick, and told
her to go to her uncle's house, saying that when she got there
she must strike the ground with the stick, and all the clothes
and other things that belonged to her would then rise up out
of the earth. The woman said she was now all alone, and therefore
intended to kill herself.
The girl was very sorry, but she did as her mother told her.
When she was a little way off, she looked back and saw smoke
coming out of the hut, from which she knew that her mother had
burned herself and was no longer a person under the sun.
After this she met an old woman, who called to her, but she
took no heed and walked on. Next she met a mbulu at a place close
by a river. The mbulu said, whoever wetted any part of their
body.in crossing, the river must go in and bathe. The girl was
standing on the bank, and the mbulu struck the water with its
tail and splashed it in her face, so that she had to go in and
bathe. Then the mbulu took her clothes and put them on.
When the girl came out of the water she asked for her clothes,
but the mbulu said: "I will give them when you are dry."
So they went on together. After a while the girl asked again,
and the mbulu said: "I will give them when we get to the
But when they arrived there the mbulu said: "You must
tell the people here that you are my servant, and that I am the
daughter of a chief."
The poor girl was so afraid that she promised to do so. They
were well received at the village, because the people believed
that the mbulu was a great person. They wondered at her voice,
but she told them she had been ill and her throat was not well
After a time one of the men of that kraal married the mbulu,
and the real girl was sent to the gardens to drive the birds
away from the corn. While engaged in this occupation she used
to sing about the mbulu taking her clothes and passing itself
off for a person, until the women who worked in the gardens took
notice of this song of hers.
Then they made a plan to find out if what the girl was singing
was the truth. They said: "The tail of a mbulu will want
mice and fat," so they set snares to catch the mice. In
the night the tail was pursuing mice, and itself got fast in
a snare. The mbulu then asked the man who was married to her
to go and get some medicine, as she was sick, and when the man
went she took off the snare.
After this they made another plan. They said: "The tail
of a mbulu will seek milk," so they dug a hole in the ground,
put milk in it, and required every one in the village to jump
over the hole. The mbulu was unwilling at first, but they urged
her. She tried to jump quickly, but the tail could not pass the
milk. When it went down the people saw that this was a mbulu,
so they killed it and buried it in that hole.
After this the same man who had married the mbulu took the
girl to be his wife. She had a child, and one day, when it was
playing a square pumpkin came out of the ground where the mbulti
was buried, and tried to kill the infant. But the people chopped
the pumpkin in pieces, and burned it. They afterwards threw the
ashes into a river, so that nothing more could come of that rnbulu.
THE STORY OF MBULUKAZI.
There was once a man who had two wives, one of whom had no
children, and for that reason she was not loved by her husband.
Her name was Numbakatali. The other wife had one daughter who
was very black, and several children besides, but they were all
crows. The one who had no offspring was very downcast on that
account, and used to go about weeping all day.
Once when she was working in her garden, and crying as usual,
two doves came and perched near her. One of them said to the
other: "Dove, ask the woman why she is crying." So
the dove questioned her.
She replied: "It is because I have no children, and my
husband does not love me. His other wife's children are crows,
which come and eat my corn, and she laughs at me."
The dove said: "Go home and get two earthen jars, and
bring them here,"
Numbakatali went and got them. Then the doves scratched her
knees till the blood flowed, and put the blood in the jars. The
woman gave the doves some corn to eat, after which she took the
jars home to her hut, and set them carefully down in a corner.
Every day the two doves came to be fed, and always -told the
woman to look at what was in the jars.
At last, when she looked one day, she saw two children, one
a boy, the other a girl, and both very handsome. She was very
much delighted at the sight, but she did not tell any one.
When the children grew a little she made a snug place for
them in the hut, where they were to sit all day, because she
did not wish them to be seen. Always before she went to her work
she charged them not to go out, and as her husband never came
to see her, no one knew of the existence of these children except
herself and a servant girl.
But one day, when they were big, she went out, and aftcr she
was away some time, the boy said to his sister:" Come, let
us help our mother by bringing water from the river."
So they went for water; but they had not reached the river
when they met a company of young men with a chief's son, who
was looking for a pretty girl to be his wife. The young chief
was called Broad Breast, because his chest was very wide, and
it was also made of a glittering metal that shone in the sun.
These men asked for water to drink. The boy gave them all some
water, but the young chief would only take it from the girl.
He was very much smitten with her beauty, and watched her when
she left, so as to find out where she lived.
As soon as the young chief saw the hut that the girl went
to, he returned home with his party and asked his father for
cattle with which to marry her. The chief, who was very rich,
gave his son many fine cattle, with which the young man went
to the girl's mother's husband, and said: "I want to marry
So the girl who was very black was told to come, but the young
chief said:"That is not the one I want; the one I saw was
lighter in colour and much prettier."
The father replied I have no other children but crows."
But Broad Breast persisted, so the man called his wives, both
of whom denied that there was such a girl. However, the servant
girl went to the man and privately told him the truth. In the
evening he went to his wife's hut, and to his great joy saw the
boy and his sister. He was so delighted that he remained there
that nicht, and after talking it over with his wife, he agreed
to let Broad Breast marry the girl.
In the morning a mat was spread in the yard, and the young
chief was asked to sit down. The two children and the servant
girl who told their father about them wgre also called, and they
all sat down on the mat.
The young chief, as soon as he saw her, said: "This is
the girl I meant."
He stayed part of the day, and then with his attendants went
to his father for more cattle, which, having obtained, he brought
them to the father of the girl.
The mother of the very black girl and the crows was very jealous
when she saw such a fine young chief coming with so many cattle.
She wanted her daughter to be the one that was to be married;
so she dressed her as finely as she could, but she had no such
pretty clothes as the other girl had. Her name was Mahlunguluza,
for she was called after the crows, who were the other children
of her mother. The pretty girl's name was Mbulukazi, which name
was given to her because her handsome dress was made of the skin
of a mbulu.
The mother of Mahlunguluza spoke to the young chief about
her daughter, and so he married both the girls. Their father
gave to each an ox, with which they went to their new home. Mbulukazi's
ox was a pretty young one, and Mahlunguluza's ox was an old and
poor one. When they arrived, Broad Breast gave to Mbulukazi a
very nice new house to live in, but to Mahlunguluza was given
an old one quite in ruins.
Then the very black one saw she was not loved, and she became
jealous, so she made a plan to kill her sister. One day she told
her she heard their father was sick, and proposed that they should
go to see him. Mbulukazi consented, and as soon as they obtained
leave from their husband they left. Their road led them along
the edge of a cliff, below which was a deep pool of water.
Mahlunguluza lay down on the rock, and said: "Come, see
what is here in the water."
Her sister lay down with her head over the edge of the rock,
when Mahlunguluza jumped up quickly and pushed her over. Mbulukazi
sank in the water and was drowned. Then the very black one returned
home, and when her husband asked where Mbulukazi was, she said
that she was still with their father.
The next day the ox of the drowned one came running to the
village and walked about lowing for a while, after which it tore
down the old ruined house of Mahlunguluza with its horns. Its
actions attracted the notice of the men, and the), said: "Surely
this ox means something, why is it doing this?"
Then it went to the deep pool of water, the men following
it; it smelt all over the rock, and then jumped into the water
and brought out the body of Mbulukazi. The ox licked her till
her life came back, and as soon as she was strong once more,
she told what had happened.
They all went home rejoicing greatly, and informed Broad Breast.
When the young chief heard the story he was angry with Mahlunguluza,
and said to her: "Go home to your father; I never wanted
you at all; it was your mother who brought you to me."
So she had to go away in sorrow, and Mbulukazi remained the
great wife of the chief.
THE STORY OF LONG SNAKE.
ONCE upon a time a certain girl left her father's place, and
went to the village of Long Snake. Having arrived at the village
of Long Snake she remained there, but the owner of the place
was absent. The only person present was the mother of the owner
of the place.
Then in the evening the mother of Long Snake gave that girl
some millet, and told her to grind it. After it was ground she
made bread. When it was ready the mother of Long Snake said:
"Carry this bread into the house of Long Snake."
A short time after that girl went into the house, the owner
of the place arrived. Then she gave him bread and fermented milk,
and he ate. When they had finished the food they went to sleep.
Then early in the morning Long Snake went away, because in the
daytime he lived in the open country.
The girl went to the house of the parents of Long Snake. The
mother of Long Snake clothed her with a very beautiful robe.
After she was dressed she called for an axe, and went to cut
firewood. Having arrived in the open fields she did not cut the
firewood, but she threw away the axe and ran to her father's
When she arrived at her father's place, her sister asked for
where she had got that beautiful robe. She told her, and her
sister said: "I am going to that village too."
The girl said: "Just listen, and I will tell you the
custom of that village."
But her sister said in reply: "I do not want you to tell
me anything, because you yourself were not warned before you
Then she set off at once, and went on till she arrived in
the evening at the village of Long Snake. When she sat down the
mother of Long Snake gave her millet, telling her to grind it
and make bread. When it was ready she took it into the house
of Long Snake. Then in the evening the owner of the place arrived,
and the girl gave him bread and fermented milk. When they had
finished eating they went to sleep, and early in the morning
Long Snake went away.
Then the girl went to the house of Long Snake's parents. His
mother clothed that girl also in the same manner as she had dressed
the elder one. Then she borrowed an axe and went to cut fuel.
In doing so she made an excuse to run away.
On this day, however, the man went after his wives, and arrived
at his father-in-law's place as the sun was setting.
They went out of the house that the bridegroom might sleep
in it. While he was eating, the people of the village piled up
bundles of grass, and the bridegroom was burned in the house.
In this manner he died.
THE STORY OF KENKEBE.
THERE was once a great famine in a certain country, and the
people were obliged to cat wild plants to keep themselves alive.
Their principal food during this time was nongwes (Hypoxis,
p. 385, "Harvey's Gen. S. A. Plants"), which they dug
out of the ground.
There was living at that place a man called Kenkebe, and one
day his wife said to him, "My husband, go to my father and
ask him to give us some corn."
The man said Yes, I will go."
So he rose up early in the morning, and went on till he arrived
at his father-in-law's village, where he was received with every
mark of kindness. A very large ox was killed for his entertainment.
It was so large that it was six days before it was all eaten.
His father-in-law asked of him the news.
He said: "There is no news to tell to friends. All the
news is this, that at my home there is not a grain to be eaten.
Famine is over our heads. Will you give us some corn, for we
His father-in-law gave him seven bags (i.e. skins of
animals dressed entire) full of millet, and his wife's sisters
went with him to carry them. When they came to a valley close
by his home, he told his sisters-in-law that they could now go
back to their father.
They said: "How will you manage to carry all those bags
He replied: "I shall be able to carry them all now, because
we are not far from my home."
So those girls went back to their father.
Then he carried the bags one by one, and hid them in a cave
under a great rock that was there. Afterwards he took some of
the millet and ground it. When it was ground very fine he made
it into cakes just like nongwes. Then he dug some real nongwes
out of the ground, and went home to his wife.
He said to her: "There is a great famine at your father's
also. I found the people there eating themselves."
He told his wife to make a fire. Then he pretended to cut
a piece of meat out of his thigh, and said: "So are they
doing at your father's village. Now, my wife, let us do the same."
His wife cut a piece from her leg and roasted it. The piece
that Kenkebe put on the fire was some that he had brought home
Then Kenkebe's little boy said: "Why does my father's
meat smell nice in roasting, and my mother's meat does not smell
Kenkebe answered: "It is because it is taken from the
leg of a man."
After this he gave his wife some nongwes to roast. He took
for himself some of those he had made of corn.
The little boy said: "Why do my father's nongwes smell
nice in roasting and my mother's do not smell nice?"
Kenkebe said: "It is because they were dug by a man."
After eating, he went outside, but he had dropped one of his
nongwes by the fire. When he went out the boy found the nongwe.
He broke it in two and gave half to his mother.
He said: "There is a difference between our nongwes and
those of father's."
His mother said: "Yes, my child, this one is made of
The next morning, just at the first beginning of dawn, Kenkebe
got up and went away with a pot in his hand. The boy was awake,
and saw his father go out. So he called to his mother, and said:
"Mother, mother, wake, my father is going away with the
pot in his hand."
So she got up, and they followed after Kenkebe. They saw him
go to the cave where he took some corn out of one of the bags
and began to grind it. Then they went on top of the rock, and
rolled a big stone over.
When Kenkebe saw the stone coming he ran away, but it followed
close behind him. He ran down the valley, the stone kept running
too. He jumped into a deep hole in the river, down went the stone
too. He ran up the hill, up went the stone also. He ran over
the plain, but whenever he turned to look, the stone was there
just behind him, So it continued all that day. At night he reached
his own house, and then the stone stopped. His wife had already
come home, and had brought with her one of the bags of corn.
Kenkebe came in crying.
His wife said to him: "Why do you cry as if you were
He said: "Because I am very tired and very hungry."
She said: "Where are your clothes and your bag?"
He replied I was crossing a river, and I fell down. The stream
carried away my mantle, and my bag, and my kerries, and everything
that was mine."
Then his wife gave him his mantle, which she had picked tip
when he was running away, and she said to him: "You are
foolish to do such things. There is no food for you tonight."
The next morning Kenkebe rose early and went out to hunt with
his two dogs. The name of the one was Tumtumse, and the name
of the other was Mbambozozele. He found an eland with a young
calf, which he drove to his place. He cut an ear off the calf
and roasted it in the fire. It was fat, and he liked it so much
that he cut the other ear off and cooked it also. Then he wished
to kill the calf, but he said to himself: "If I kill this
calf I shall not be able to get milk from the eland."
So he called his two dogs, and said to the one: "Tumtumse,
my dog, if I kill this calf, will you imitate it and suck the
eland for me?"
The dog said: "No, I will bark like a dog."
Kenkebe said: "Get out of my sight and never come near
me again you ugly, useless animal."
He said to the other Mbambozozele, my dog, if I kill this
calf, will you imitate it and suck the eland for me?"
The dog said: "I will do so."
Then he killed the calf and ate it. He took the skin and put
it upon Mbambozozele, so that the eland thought it was her calf
that sucked before Kenkebe milked her. But one day the dog was
sucking too long, and Kenkebe wanted him to leave off. He tried
to drink just a few drops more, when his master got angry and
struck him with a stick. Thereupon the dog began to howl, and
the eland saw how she had been deceived. At once she ran after
Kenkebe and tried to stick him with her horns. He ran one way
and the eland ran after him, then he ran another way, and still
the eland chased him.
His wife came out and saw him running. She cried out to him:
"jump up quickly on the big stone." He did so, and
the eland ran with such fury against that stone that it broke
its head and fell down dead.
They then cut the eland up and wanted to cook it, but there
was no fire. Kenkebe said to his son: "Go to the village
of the cannibals that is on that hill over the valley, and ask
for some fire; but do not take any meat with you, lest the),
should smell it."
The boy went, but he hid a piece of meat and took it with
him. When he got to the first house he asked for fire, but they
sent him to the next. At the next they sent him farther, and
so he had to go to the house that was farthest away. An old woman
lived there. The boy gave her a little piece of meat, and said:
"Do not cook it till I am far away with the fire."
But as soon as the boy was gone, she put it on the coals.
The smell came to the noses of the cannibals, and they ran to
the place and swallowed the old woman, and the meat, and the
fire, and even the ashes.
Then they ran after the boy. When he came near his own house,
he cried out: "Hide yourselves, you that are at home."
His father said: "My son is saying, we must gather wood
that will make coals."
His mother said: "No, he is saying we must hide ourselves."
The boy cried again: "Hide yourselves."
Then his mother hid herself in a bush: an old woman that was
there covered herself with ashes, and Kenkebe climbed up into,
a tree, with the breast of the eland in his hand. The boy slipped
into a hole that was by the side of the path.
The cannibals came to the place. First they ate the eland.
Then one of them said: "Search under the ashes."
There they found the old wornan, and they ate her. Then they
said: "Search in the tree."
There they found Kenkebe. He cried very much, but they would
not spare him. They ate him and the breast of the eland. Then
the wise one said: "Look in the bush."
They looked there and found the wife of Kenkebe. They said:
"We will eat her another time," and so they took her
home with them. They did not look for the boy.
The woman made a plan to escape. She made beer for the cannibals,
and they all came to drink. They sat together in a big house,
and drank very much beer. Then she said: "Can I go out?"
They said: "You can go, but come back quickly."
She said: "Shall I close the entrance?"
They said: "Close it."
Then she took fire and put it on the house and all those cannibals
were burnt to death. So the woman escaped, and afterwards lived
happily with her son.
ANOTHER STORY OF KENKEBE.
At a certain time, Kenkebe went to get his wife at the place
of her parents. When he was on the way, he met a crow. He borrowed
its cyes. Then he arrived at his wife's parents' place with the
eyes of the crow.
When he arrived, his wife said: "Where are your own eyes?"
He replied My eyes have been taken away by the crows."
Then his wife said: "Let us go home."
When they reached home, his wife said: "Take those eyes,
you silly one, to their owner, and bring back your own."
Accordingly Kenkebe went for his eyes and got them back.
Then, as he was returning, he met an ant, and exchanged stomachs
with it. When he arrived at his house, his wife gave him food.
After he had finished eating, he went to milk a cow.
When he was gone out, his little boy went to the place where
he had been sitting. He said, "Mother, this food that is
spilt here, whose is it?"
His mother replied: "Perhaps it has been spilt by your
father. You must not eat it until our father comes."
When Kcnkebe came in, his wife said: "Where does this
food come from?"
The man replied: "My stomach has been borrowed by an
His wife said:" You must go and take this stomach back
He went to do so. When he arrived at the ant s place, he demanded
his stomach. His stomach was given to him, and then he went home.
STORY OF THE WONDERFUL HORNS,
HERE was once a boy whose mother that bore him was dead, and
he was ill-treated by his other mothers. On this account he determined
to go away from his father's place. One morning he went, riding
on an ox which was given to him by his father. As he was travelling,
he came to a herd of cattle with a bull.
His ox said: I will fight and overcome that bull.
The boy got off his ox's back. The fight took place, and the
bull was defeated. The boy then mounted his ox again.
About midday, feeling hungry, he struck the right horn of
his ox, and food came out. After satisfying his hunger, he struck
the left horn, and the rest of the food went in again.
The boy saw another herd of dun-coloured cattle. His ox said:
"I will fight and die there. You must break off my horns
and take them with you. When you are hungry, speak to them, and
they will supply you with food."
In the fight the ox was killed, as he had said. The boy took
his horns, and went on walking till he came to a village where
he found the people cooking a weed (called tyutu), having no
other food to eat.
He entered one of the houses. He spoke to his horn, and food
came out, enough to satisfy the owner of the house and himself.
After they had eaten, they both fell asleep. The owner of the
house got up and took away the horns. He concealed them, and
put two others in their place.
The boy started next morning with the horns, thinking they
were the right ones. When he felt hungry, he spoke to the horns,
but nothing came out. He therefore went back to the place where
he had slept the night before. As he drew near, he heard the
owner of the place speaking to the horns, but without getting
anything out of them.
The boy took his horns from the thief, and went on his way.
He came to a house, and asked to be entertained. The owner refused,
and sent him away, because his clothes were in tatters, and his
body soiled with travel.
After that he came to a river and sat down on the bank. He
spoke to his horns, and a new mantle and handsome ornaments came
out. He dressed himself, and went on. He came to a house where
there was a very beautiful girl. He was received by the girl's
father, and stayed there. His horns provided food and clothing
food for them all.
After a time he married the girl. He then returned home with
his wife, and was welcomed by his father. He spoke to his horns,
and a fine house came out, in which he lived with his wife.
THE STORY OF THE GLUTTON.
THERE was once a man who quarrelled with his wife, so that
she left him, and went home to her father's place.
When she got home she found nobody, for all the people had
been swallowed by a monster. She went into the house that used
to be her father's, and noticed that there were footprints of
animals and spots of blood all over the floor. She then got into
the top of the hut and hid herself. She heard the monster corning,
She kept awake. Shortly the house was filled with all kinds
of animals, which made a fire, cooked their food, ate it up,
and slept. Next morning they awoke, and all went out to search
for something to eat.
The woman had two children born while the animals were away.
She came down from her hiding-place, and took up a stone used
for raising pots above the fire (called isoko), and went again
into her hiding-place.
The animals returned in the evening; and while their pots
were on the fire, she threw down the stone into one of them.
The animals all rushed out of the house. Outside they held a
consultation, and their chief decided that those living in holes
should go to the holes, that those living in forests should go
to the forests, and that those living in rivers should go to
After this, the woman set a trap, and succeeded in catching
a buffalo, but she could not skin it. She saw a glutton (called
an igongqongqo, a fabulous monster, like a man, but capable of
devouring enormous quantities of food) coming, and asked him
to help her. He consented.
He pulled out his knife and skinned the buffalo. She gathered
some wood, and kindled a fire for the purpose of roasting the
liver. The glutton roasted it. She went away and picked up an
empty calabash, and when she returned she found the glutton roasting
the legs, having already eaten the liver. She then said I am
going for water."
She ot behind a bush, and blew the empty calabash. The glutton
wondered what this was, and called her. She continued blowing
until the glutton was so frightened that he took his bag and
put the remainder of the meat into it, and ran away.
She followed him, still blowing, until he threw away the bag
containing the meat. She still followed, blowing. The glutton
stumbled, and fell into a thorny bush, where he was held fast.
The woman then ceased blowing, and heard him blubbering out:
She blew again, and he struggled and got free. He ran away
with all his might. She then took the bag home with her, made
a fire, and cooked the meat. When it was ready, she took it to
her hiding-place, and lived on it till her children were able
to run about outside.
One day, these twins asked their mother to make bows and arrows
for them. Their mother advised them not to wander away from the
house, saying to them The glutton will swallow you."
But at a certain time they left home, and went in the direction
where the monster lived. They found it asleep, and shot it with
their arrows in both eyes. The boys returned home and told their
mother. Next day they went to the place, and found the glutton
The boys heard people talking inside the glutton. Having told
their mother, she took a knife and cut it open, when people came
out, and cattle, and dogs. The people asked: Who killed the glutton?"
The mother of the twins told them, and they rewarded the boys
with a large number of cattle.
STORY OF THE GREAT CHIEF OF THE ANIMALS.
THERE was once a woman who had occasion to leave her home
for a short time, and who left her children in charge of a hare.
The place where they lived was close to a path, along which droves
of wild animals were accustomed to pass.
Soon after the woman left, the animals appeared, and the hare
at sight of them became frightened. So she ran awav to a distance,
and stood to watch. Among the animals was one terrible monster,
which called to the hare, and demanded to know what children
those were. The hare told their names, upon which the animal
swallowed them entire.
When the woman returned, the hare told her what had happencd.
Then the woman gathered some dry wood, and sharpened two pieces
of iron, which she took with her and went along the path.
Now this was the chief of the animals; therefore, when she
came on a hill over against him, the woman began to call out
that she was looking for her children. The animal replied: "Come
nearer, I cannot hear you."
When she went, he swallowed her also. The woman found her
children alive, and also many other people, and oxen, and dogs.
The children were hungry, so the woman with her pieces of iron
cut some pieces of flesh frorn the animal's ribs. She then made
a fire and cooked the meat, and the children ate.
The other people said: "We also are hungry, give us to
Then she cut and cooked for them also.
The animal felt uncomfortable under this treatment, and called
his councillors together for advice, but they could suggest no
remedy. He lay down and rolled in the mud, but that did not help
him, and at last he went and put his head in thekraal fence,
His councillors were standing at a distance, afraid to approach
him, so they sent a monkey to see how he was. The monkey returned
and said: "Those whose home is on the mountains must hasten
to the mountains; those whose home is on the plains must hasten
to the plains; as for me, I go to the rocks."
Then the animals all dispersed.
By this time the woman had succeeded in cutting a hole through
the chief's side, and came forth, followed by her children.
Then an ox came out, and said "Bo! bo! who helped me?"
Then a dogy who said: "Ho! ho! who helped me?
Then a man, who said: "Zo! zo! who helped me?"
Afterwards all the people and cattle came out. They agreed
that the woman who helped them should be their chief.
When her children became men, they were out hunting one day,
and saw a monstrous cannibal, who was sticking fast in a mud
hole. They killed him, and then returned to tell the men of their
tribe what they had done. The men went and skinned the cannibal,
when a great number of people came out of him also. These joined
their deliverers, and so that people became a great nation.
STORY OF THE HARE.
ONCE upon a time the animals made a kraal and put some fat
in it. They agreed that one of their number should remain to
be the keeper of the gate. The first one that was appointed was
the coney (imbila). He agreed to take charge, and all the others
went away. In a short time the coney fell asleep, when the inkalimeva
(a fabulous animal) went in and ate all the fat. After doing
this, he threw a little stone at the coney.
The coney started up and cried out: "The fat belonging
to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
It repeated this cry several times, calling out very loudly.
The animals at a distance heard it, they ran to the kraal, and
when they saw that the fat was gone they killed the concy.
They put the fat in the kraal a second time, and appointed
the muishond (iqaqa) to keep the gate. The mouse-dog consented,
and the,animals went away as before. After a little time the
inkalimeva came to the kraal, bringing some honey with it. It
invited the keeper of the gate to eat honey, and while the muishond
was enjoying himself the inkalimeva went in and stole all the
fat. It threw a stone at the inuishond, which made him look up.
The muishond cried out: "The fat belonginto all the animals
has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
As soon as the animals heard the cry, they ran to the kraal
and killed the muishond.
They put fat in the kraal a third time, and appointed the
duiker (impunzi) to bc the keeper of the gate. The duiker
agreed, and the others went away. In a short time the inkalimeva
made its appearance. It proposed to the duiker that they shouht
play at hide and seek. The dulker agreed to this. Then the inkalinieva
hid itself, and the duiker looked for it till he was so tired
that he lay down and went to sleep. When the dulker was asleep,
the inkalimeva ate up all the fat.
Then it threw a stone at the duiker, which caused him to jump
up and cry out: "The fat belonging to all the animals has
been eaten by the inkalimeva."
The animals, when they heard the cry, ran to the kraal and
killed the duiker.
They put fat in the kraal the fourth time, and appointed the
bluebuck (iputi) to be the keeper of the gate. When the
animals went away, the inkalimeva came as before.
It said: "What are you doing by yourself?
The bluebuck answered: "I am watching the fat belonging
to all the animals."
The inkalimeva said "I will be your companion. Come,
let us sit down and scratch each other's heads."
The bluebuck agreed to this. The inkalimeva sat down; it scratched
the head of the other till he went to sleep. Then it arose and
ate all the fat. When it had finished, it threw a stone at the
bluebuck and awoke him.
The bluebuck saw what had happened and cried out: "The
fat belonging to all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
Then the animals ran up and killed the bluebuck also.
They put fat in the kraal the fifth time, and appointed the
porcupine (incanda) to be the keeper of the gate. The
animals went away, and the inkalimeva came as before.
It said to the porcupine: "Let us run a race against
It let the porcupine beat in this race.
Then it said: "I did not think you could run so fast,
but let us try again." They ran again, and it allowed the
porcupine to beat the second time. They ran till the porcupine
was so tired that he said: "Let us rest now."
They sat down to rest, and the porcupine went to sleep. Then
the inkalimeva rose up and ate all the fat. When it had finished
eating, it threw a stone at the porcupine, which caused him to
He called out with a loud voice: "The fat belonging to
all the animals has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
Then the animals came running up, and put the porcupine to
They put fat in the kraal the sixth time, and selected the
hare (umvundla) to be the keeper of the gate. At first
the hare would not consent.
He said: "The coney is dead, and the muishond is dead,
and the duiker is dead, and the bluebuck is dead, and the porcupine
is dead, and you will kill me also."
They promised him that they would not kill him, and after
a good deal of persuasion he at last agreed to keep the gate.
When the animals were gone he laid himself down, but he only
pretended to be asleep.
In a short time the inkalimeva went in, and was just going
to take the fat when the hare cried out: "Let the fat alone."
The inkalimeva said: "Please let me have this little
The hare answered, mocking: "Please let me have this
little bit only."
After that they became companions. The hare proposed that
they should fasten each other's tails, and the inkalimeva agreed.
The inkalimeva fastened the tail of the hare first.
The hare said:"Don't tie my tail so tight."
Then the hare fastened the tail of the inkalimeva.
The inkalimeva said: "Don't tie my tail so tight;"
but the hare made no answer. After tying the tail of the inkalimeva
very fast, the hare took his club and killed it. The hare took
the tail of the inkalimeva and ate it, all except a little piece
which he hid in the fence.
Then he called out: "The fat belonging to all the animals
has been eaten by the inkalimeva."
The animals came running back, and when they saw that the
inkalimeva was dead they rejoiced greatly. They asked the hare
for the tail, which should be kept for the chief.
The hare replied: "The one I killed had no tail."
They said: "How can an inkalimeva be without a tail?
They began to search, and at length they found a piece of
the tail in the fence. They told the chief that the hare had
eaten the tail.
He said: "Bring him to me."
All the animals ran after the hare, but he fled, and they
could not catch him. The hare ran into a hole, at the mouth of
which the animals set a snare, and then went away. The hare remained
in the hole for many days, but at length he managed to get out
without being caught.
He went to a place where he found a bushbuck (imbabala)
building a hut. There was a pot on the fire with meat in it.
He said to the buslibuck: "Can I take this little piece
of meat? "
The bushbuck answered: "You must not do it."
But he took the meat and ate it all. After that he whistled
a particular tune, and there fell a storm of hail which killed
the bushbuck. Then he took the skin of the bushbuck, and made
for himself a mantle.
After this the hare went into the forest to get himself some
weapons to fight with. While he was cutting a stick the monkeys
threw leaves upon him. He called to them to come down and beat
him. They came down, but he killed them all with his weapons.
[This story terminates so abruptly that I have little doubt
about its being merely a fragment. There is a story very similar
to it, in which a pool of water is guarded by different animals
in turn, all of which are deceived by the jackal.]
STORY OF LION AND LITTLE JACKAL.
LITTLE jackal one day went out hunting, when he met Lion.
Lion proposed that they should hunt together, on condition that
if a small antelope was killed it was to be Little Jackal's,
and if a large one was killed it was to be Lion's. Little Jackal
agreed to this.
The first animal killed was a large eland. Lion was very glad,
and said to Little Jackal: "I will continue hunting while
you go to my house and call my children to carry the meat home."
Little Jackal replied: "Yes, I agree to that."
Lion went away to hunt. When he had gone, Little Jackal went
to his own house and called his own children to carry away the
meat. He said: "Lion takes me for a fool if he thinks I
will call his children while my own are dying with hunger."
So Little Jackal's children carried the meat to their home
on the top of a high rock. The only way to get to their house
was by means of a rope.
Lion caught nothing more, and after a time he went home and
asked his wife where the meat was. She told him there was no
meat. He said: " Did not Little Jackal bring a message to
my children to carry meat? "
His wife replied: "No; he has not been here. We are still
dying with hunger."
Lion then went to Little Jackal's house, but he could not
get up the rock to it. So he sat down by the water and waited.
After a time Little Jackal came to get water. He was close to
the water when he saw Lion. He at once ran away, and Lion ran
after him. He ran into a hole under a tree, but Lion caught his
tail before he got far in. He said to him: "That is not
my tail you have hold of; it is a root of the tree. If you do
not believe me, take a stone and strike it, and see if any blood
Lion let go the tail, and went for a stone to prove what it
was. While he was gone for the stone, Little Jackal went far
into the hole. When Lion returned, he could not be found. Lion
lay down by the hole and waited. After a long time Little Jackal
wanted to come out. He went to the entrance and looked round,
but he could not see Lion. To make sure, he said: "Ho, I
see you, my master, although you are in hiding."
Lion did not move from the place where he lay concealed. Then
Little Jackal went out, and Lion pursued him, but he got away.
Lion watched for him, and one day, when Little Jackal was
out hunting, he came upon him in a place where he could not escape.
Lion was just about to spring upon him, when Little Jackal said
softly: "Hush! do you not see that bushbuck on the other
side of the rock? I am glad you have come to help me. just remain
here while I run round and drive him towards you."
Lion did so, and Little Jackal made his escape.
At another time there was a meeting of the animals, and Lion
was the chief at the meeting. Little Jackal wanted to go too,
but there was a law made that no one should be present unless
he had horns. So Little Jackal took wax out of a nest of bees,
and made horns for himself with it. He fastened the horns on
his head, and went to the meeting. Lion did not know him on account
of the horns. But he sat near the fire and went to sleep, when
the horns melted.
Lion looked at him and saw who it was. He immediately tried
to catch him, but Little Jackal was quick, and sprang away. He
ran under an overhanging rock and sang out: "Help! help!
this rock is falling upon me!"
Lion went for a pole to prop up the rock that he might get
at Little Jackal. While he was away, Little Jackal escaped.
After that they became companions again, and went hunting
another time. They killed an ox. Lion said:"I will watch
it while you carry the pieces away."
Lion gave him the breast, and said: "Take this to my
Little Jackal took it to his own wife. When he returned, Lion
gave a shin, and said: "Take this to your wife."
Little Jackal took the shin to Lion's house. Lion's wife said:
"I cannot take this, because it should not come here."
Little Jackal thereupon struck Lion's wife in the face, and
went back to the place where the ox was killed. Lion gave him
a large piece of meat, and said: "Take this to my wife."
Little Jackal took it to his own wife. This continued till
the ox was finished. Then they both went home. When Lion arrived
at his house he found there was weeping in his family. His wife
said: "Is it you who sent Little Jackal to beat me and my
children, and is it you who sent this shin? Did I ever eat a
When Lion heard that, he was very angry, and at once went
to Little Jackal's house. When he reached the rock, Little Jackal
looked down and said: "Who are you, and what is your name,
and whose son are you, and where are you from, and where are
you going to, and whom do you want, and what do you want him
Lion replied: "I have merely come to see you. I wish
you would let the rope down."
Little Jackal let down a rope made of mouse skins, and when
Lion climbed a little way up, the rope broke, and he fell and
was hurt. He then went home.
PROVERBS AND FIGURATIVE EXPRESSIONS.
THE language of a Kaffir is adorned with figurative expressions,
some of which are readily understood by an Englishman, but others,
when literally interpreted, are to us meaningless. Such expressions,
however, are found upon inquiry to refer to some circumstance
in their mode of living, or some event in their traditional history,
which makes the meaning very clear. A few of their commonest
proverbs and figurative expressions are here given:-
Isikuni sinyuka nomkwezeli.
A brand burns him who stirs it up.
This proverb is an exact equivalent to our English one, Let
sleeping dogs lie.
Njengo mdudo ka Mapassa.
Like the marriage feast of Mapassa.
This saying is used to denote anything unusually grand. The
marriage festivities of one of the ancients, Mapassa by name,
are said to have been carried on for a whole year.
Ishwa lomhluzi wamanqina.
Misfortune of soup made of shanks and feet.
Applied to any person who never does well, but is always getting
into scrapes. The kind of soup spoken of is very lightly esteemed
by the Kaffirs.
Akuko mpukane inqakulela enye.
One fly does not provide for another.
A saying of the industrious to the idle, meaning that each
should work for himself as the flies do.
Kude e-Bakuba, akuyiwanga mntu.
Bakuba is far away, no person ever reached it.
Bakuba is an ideal country. This proverb is used as a warning
against undue ambition, or as advice to be content with that
which is within reach. It is equivalent to our English saying,
It is no use building castles in the air.
Kuxeliwe e-Xukwane apo kumaqasho makulu.
They have slaughtered at Kukwane where much meat is obtainable.
According to tradition, there was once a very rich chief who
lived at Kukwane (near King William's Town), and who was in the
habit of entertaining strangers in a more liberal manner than
any who went before or who came after him. This proverb is used
to such as ask too much from others, as if to say, It was only
at Kukwane that such expectations were realized.
Qabu Unoqolomba efile.
I rejoice that Kolomba's mother is dead.
The mother of Kolomba was, according to tradition, a very
disagreeable person. This saying is used when anything that one
dreads or dislikes has passed away.
Izinto azimntaka Ngqika zonke.
It is not every one who is a son of Gaika.
Gaika was at the beginning of this century the most powerful
chief west of the Kei. This proverb signifies that all are not
Uyakulila ngasonye uxele inkawu.
You will shed tears with one eye like a monkey.
A warning used to deter any one from being led into a snare
of any kind. It is said that when a monkey is caught in a trap
he cries, but that tears come out of one eye only.
It is the seed of the umya (a species of wild hemp).
This saying is applied to any thing or person considered very
beautiful. The seed referred to is like a small jet black bead.
He has drunk the juice of the flower of the wild aloe.
Said of a dull, sleepy person. This juice when drunk has a
stupefying effect, and benumbs the limbs so as to make them powerless
for a time.
The walls have come into collision.
Said of any dispute between persons of consequence.
Uvutelwe pakati nje nge vatala.
He is ripe inside, like a water-melon.
Said of any one who has come to a resolution without yet expressing
it. From its appearance it cannot be said with certainty whether
a watermelon is ripe or not.
Isala kutyelwa siva noolopu.
A person who will not take advice gets knowledge when trouble
Uyakuva into embi eyaviwa ngu Hili wase Mambalwini.
You will find out what Hili of the Amambalu experienced.
Hili, or Tikoloshe, is, according to the belief of the Kaffirs,
a mischievous being who usually lives in the water, but who goes
about as a human dwarf playing tricks upon people. He milks the
cows when no one is watching them. He causes women to fall in
love with him, for he is of a very amorous disposition towards
the female sex. The uncivilized Kaffirs, even at the present
day, do not doubt the existence of such a being. It is said that
a long time ago there was a man of the Amambalu who had good
reason to suspect that his wife had fallen in love with Hili.
He accordingly pretended to go upon a journey, but returned in
the middle of the night and fastened his dogs at the door of
his hut. He then went inside and kindled a fire, when, as he
anticipated, he found Hili there. The man called his neighbours,
who came with sticks and beat Hili till he was unable to move.
They then tied him up in a bundle, fastened him to the back of
the woman, and sent her away to wander wherever she liked.
This saying is applied as a warning to people to avoid doing
wrong, lest the punishment of Hili overtake them.
Ulahla imbo yako ngopoyiyana.
You have cast away your own for that which you are not sure
This proverb is equivalent to the English one, A bird in the
hand is worth two in the bush.
He is a buck of an endless forest.
A saying applied to a shiftless person, one who never continues
long in any occupation.
You are lighting a fire in the wind.
Said to any one who favours strangers in preference to relatives,
or to their disadvantage.
A spy for both.
Said of a talebearer.
Akuko ranincwa lingagqimiyo kowalo umxuma.
There is no beast that does not roar in its den.
This proverb means that a man recognises no superior in his
own establishment. It is the Kaffir equivalent for, Every cock
crows on his own dunghill.
A dog of the wind.
A saying applied to any one who has no settled plan of living.
The shield turned the wrong way.
This saying is applied to any one who goes over from one party
to another. It is a common expression for one who turns evidence
against accomplices in crime.
It is a cob stripped of maize in an ashpit.
Said of a worthless character.
I, the adhesive grass, will stick fast to you.
The isinama is a kind of grass that sticks to one's clothing
when it is touched, and can hardly be brushed off afterwards.
This proverb is used as a warning to any one to avoid a bad habit
or an unworthy companion that cannot easily be got rid of.
The sun never sets without fresh news.
Amaqotyazana angalaliyo emzini.
They are people of experience who do not sleep at a strange
This proverb is used in praise of one who is smart in going
a message, or who performs any duty at a distance quickly.
You will prefer roasted meat.
This saying is applied to any one who is boasting immoderately,
as a warning that if he does not take care he will get into trouble,
when he will be glad to take whatever comes to hand. He will
prefer roast meat because it is easily cooked, and he will have
neither time nor means to boil it. This saying is also used as
a threat, as if one said, I will punish you thoroughly.
Throats are all alike in swallowing
This proverb is used when one asks another for anything, and
implies, If you do not give to me now, I will not give to you
when I have anything that you would like a share of.
The people who rescue and kill.
This saying is applied to Europeans. It first arose from the
heavy demands made by Lord Charles Somerset upon the Gaikas in
return for English protection, but the Kaffirs maintain that
we have acted up to the description ever since. It is sometimes
put in this form, The people who protect with one hand and kill
with the other.
Kukuza kuka Nxele.
The coming of Nkele.
Nkele (the lefthanded), or Makana, one of the most remarkable
men that Kaffirland has produced, rose by his own merits from
a private station to be the leader of the Ndlambe clans in the
second decade of this century. It was he who united them against
the English after Lord Charles Somerset invaded their country
with a view of compelling them to recognise a chief whom they
detested. He led in person the attack upon Grahamstown, and only
retreated after the flower of his forces was swept away. To obtain
peace for his people, he voluntarily surrendered to the English
troops, and was sent as a prisoner of state to Robben Island.
In attempting to make his escape from the island in a boat, he
was drowned. But the Kaffirs would not believe that Makana was
dead, for they deemed him immortal. All through the wars Of 1835,
1846-7, and 1851-2, they looked for his reappearance to lead
them to victory. Ten years ago his personal ornaments were still
in preservation at a village near King William's Town, but about
that date the hope of his return was generally abandoned. Injunctions
which Alakana laid upon his countrymen are still implicitly obeyed.
Before his time the corpses of common people were not usually
interred, but by his orders it has been done ever since.
The saying implies anything long expected, but which never
occurs. It is now in general use, though it is only of a few
The land is dead.
A saying which implies that war has commenced.
One does not become great by claiming greatness.
This proverb is used to incite any one to the performance
of noble deeds. It means, a man's actions, not his talk and boasting,
are what people judge of his greatness by.
Kuhlangene isanga nenkohla.
The wonderful and the impossible have come into collision.
A saying applied to any intricate question.
The mist and the sun are together.
A saying denoting a very great number.
It is the foot of a baboon.
A saying denoting a treacherous person.
We shall hear, we are on the side towards which the wind blows.
The saying denotes, we shall soon know all that is going on.
Umke namangabangaba aselwandhle.
He has gone in pursuit of the (fabulous) birds of the sea.
A saying applied to one whose ambitious aspirations are not
likely to be realized.
Umona wasemlungwini ubandeza icitywa ungaliqabi.
They prevent us from getting red clay from the pit, and they
do not use it.
This saying is used of Europeans, to denote that they act
as the dog in the manger towards the Kaffirs. It has unfortunately
become a very common expression.
Usela ngendebe endala.
You drink out of the old cup.
The indebe is a drinking vessel made of rushes. The saying
is used to a wealthy man, and means, You use a vessel handed
down to you from your ancestors.
You are creeping on your knees to the fireplace.
This saying is used as a warning to any one who is following
a course that must lead to ruin. It is as if one said, You are
like an infant crawling towards the fire circle (in the middle
of a Kaffir hut), who is sure to get burnt.
To skin a mouse.
A saying which implies, to do anything secretly. A mouse can
be skinned without any one seeing it, but an ox cannot.
It has stuck fast by one of the front legs.
This saying is used when one has committed oneself to any
matter of importance. An animal cannot extricate itself easily
when fast by one of its front legs.
One who eats the remains of a meal without first obtaining
This saying is used of an uncalled-for expression of opinion.
Ukaulela inkawu ziyakasela.
You disturb monkeys on their way to drink.
This saying is used to express uncalled-for interference.
Umafa evuka njengenyanga.
It dies and rises like the moon.
Said of any question that springs up again after it is supposed
to be settled.
Akuko nkanga idubula ingeti.
There is no wormwood that comes into flower and does not wither.
A proverb descriptive of the life of man.
The foot has no nose.
This proverb is an exhortation to be hospitable. It is as
if one said, Give food to the traveller, because when you are
on a journey your foot will not be able to smell out and avoid
a man whom you have turned from your door, but to your shame
it may carry you to his.
You have exposed yourself.
This saying is applied as a warning not to give anything to
an importunate person, as he would very likely be encouraged
thereby to continue asking for more.
The crab has stuck fast between the stones at the entrance
of its hole.
Said of any one who is involved in difficulties of his own
creation, or of one who raises an argument and is beaten in it.
Ubopelele inja enkangeni.
He has fastened a dog to a shrub.
This saying is used to denote a very greedy person, one who
is so greedy as to fasten his dog to a shrub that the animal
may not beg for food while he is eating. The shrub denoted is
the very common one that is covered with yellow flowers at midsummer.
Yimbini yezolo yakwa Gxuluwe.
Guluwe's two of yesterday.
This is a saying of any one who goes away promising to return,
and does not do so. It had its origin in an event which happened
five generations back. Guluwe was a hunter of great renown, who
crossed the Kei with Khakhabay, the great-grand father of the
late Sandile. No man was ever so skilful and successful in the
pursuit of game as he. But when Khakhabay took possession of
the Amatolas, which he purchased from the Hottentot chieftainess
Hoho, he found them infested by great numbers of bushmen. One
day Guluwe, who had two young men with him, killed an eland,
but while he was still shouting his cry of triumph: "Tsi!
ha! ha! ha! ha! the weapons of Khakhabay!" he was surprised
by a number of these inhuman abatwa. They said: "Look at
the sun for the last time, you shall kill no more of our game."
Guluwe offered them a large quantity of dacha (a species of wild
hemp, used for smoking) for his ransom. One of the abatwa was
unwilling to spare him, but all the rest agreed. They kept him
with them while he pretended to send the two young men for the
dacha, but privately he told them not to return. The bushmen
then commenced to eat the eland. They ate that day, and all that
night, never ceasing to watch Guluwe. The next morning they asked
him when the young men would be back with the dacha, and he replied
that he did not expect them before sunset. The abatwa, gorged
with meat, then lay down to sleep, all except the one who advised
that Guluwe should not be spared. That one watched a while longer,
but at length he too was overcome by drowsiness. Guluwe then
with his assagai put one after another to death, until, forgetting
himself, he shouted his cry: "Tsi! ha! ha! ha! ha! Izikali
zika Rarabe!" This awakened the bushman who had advised
that he should be killed; he now sprang to his feet and escaped,
calling out as he ran with the speed of the wind: "I said
this Guluwe of the Khakhabays should be destroyed; you who are
dead have perished through not following my advice."
STORY OF THE BIRD THAT MADE MILK.
(a) The word amasi, translated milk, means that kind
of fermented milk which is used by the Kaffirs. When taken from
the cow, the milk is put into a skin bag, where it ferments and
acquires a sharp acid taste. When poured out for use by the master
of the household, who is the only one permitted to touch the
milk-sack, a portion is always left behind to act as leaven.
Amasi is very nutritious; it forms one of the principal articles
of food of the Kaffirs, and is relished by most Europeans in
Kaffirland. In warm weather, especially, it is a pleasant and
(b) Among the Kaffirs the work of cultivating the ground fell
entirely upon the women in olden times, The introduction of the
plough has caused a change in this respect, but to the present
day the planting and weeding is performed by females.
(c) lkùba, a pick or hoe. Before the advent of Europeans,
the largest implement that was made was this instrument for breaking
up the ground. It was of nearly the same shape as a European
hoe; but in place of having an eye, into which a handle could
be fastened, it was made with a top like a spike, which was driven
into the large knob of a long and heavy club. It was at best
a clumsy tool.
(d) Kaffir law recognises the right of individuals to possess
landed property. The chief allots a piece of ground to a family,
by whom it is retained and held in possession as long as it is
cultivated. It is forfeited by abandonment for a long time without
assigning sufficient cause. It cannot be sold. Pasture land is
held in common.
(e) ltungoa, a basket used to milk the cows in. It is woven
so nicely as to be watertight. The Kaffirs are expert in making
baskets and mats, but never attempt to dye any of the materials
of which they are composed, or otherwise to ornament them. They
use mats as we use dishes, to eat from.
(f) The potter's art is now being lost by the Kaffirs. The
large jars are being replaced by wooden casks purchased from
Europeans, and iron pots have already come into general use.
(g) The Kaffir house has only one opening, which is low and
narrow, but which serves for door, window, and chimney.
(h) The fireplace is a circle in the centre of the hut. It
is made by raising a ring on the hard and smooth ant-heap floor.
Round it the inmates sleep, while the back of the hut, or the
side opposite the entrance, is used as a store room. There the
jars and other household utensils would usually be placed.
(i) Intambo, a riem, or thong of untanned oxhide.
(j) Equivalent to saying that they journeyed for three days.
(k) There are no crocodiles in the rivers of the present Amaxosa
country, but the reptile and its habits are well known to the
people by hearsay. According to their traditions, the tribe migrated
from the north-east. It is not unlikely that the Xosa belief
in a water-spirit which has power to charm people and entice
them into rivers to their destruction, may have originated in
the fact of their having come from a country where these destructive
animals were common, as the spirit and the reptile have the same
name. In this story it is seemingly a crocodile that appears,
but very shortly we learn that it is really a man who has been
bewitched and forced to assume that appearance.
(l) Boys "enter manhood," or acquire the privileges
of men, by a ceremony similar to the ntonjane.
(m) Up to this point there is nothing to indicate that the
girl knew he was not in reality a crocodile, but here it is evident
that she was aware he was a man under the power of a charm, for
she uses a proper name when speaking of him, as is indi. cated
by the prefix U.
(n) The inference from this is that his enemies had bewitched
him and made him assume the appearance of a crocodile, but that
the young woman on account of her good qualities and great love
for him had power to dispel the charm, and by licking his face
had enabled him to resume his proper form as a man.
THE STORY OF FIVE HEADS.
In this story some liberty is taken with the Kaffir marriage
ceremonies, a description of which will serve as a key to much
that is contained in several of these tales. The wholc of the
ceremonies are included in the term umdudo, a word. (derived
from the verb ukudada, which means to dance by spinning up and
down, as ukuxentsa means to dance by moving the upper part of
the body. The dance at a marriage is considered of more importance
than any of the others, and is therefore frequently practised
until skill in its performance is attained.
The marriage of a young Kaffir woman is arrange by her father
or guardian, and she is not legally supposed to be consulted
in the choice of a husband. In point of fact, however, matches
arising from mutual love are not uncommon. In such cases, if
any difficulties are raised by the guardians on either side,
the young people do not scruple to run away together, after which
their relatives usually come to an arrangment. Yet instances
are not wanting of girls being compelled against their wishes
to marry old men, who have already perhaps five or six wives.
Kaffir ideas of some kinds of morality are very low. The custom
is general for a marricd woman to have a lover who is not her
husband, and little or no disgrace attaches to her on this account.
The lover is legally subject to a fine of no great amount, and
the husband may give the woman a beating, but that finishes the
That which makes a Kaffir marriage binding in their estimation,
is not the performance of a ceremony, but the transfer of a certain
number of cattle, as agreed upon, from the husband or his friends
to the father or guardian of the woman. In practice the umdudo
is often deferred to a convenient season, yet the woman is considered
not less a wife, and her children not less legal, provided always
that the transfer of cattle has taken place according to agreement.
This system of transfer of cattle is of great advantage to a
Kaffir female. It protects her from gross ill-treatment by her
husband, as violence gives a woman's relatives a right to claim
her divorce without restoring the cattle. It creates protectors
for herself and her children in the persons of all the.individuals
among whom the cattle are shared. And lastly, it gives her the
status of a married woman in the estimation of her people, whereas,
if no cattle are transferred, she is not regarded by them as
having the rank of a wife.
Marriages are absolutely prohibited between people of the
same family title. This peculiarity seems to indicate that the
tribes and clans of the present day are combinations of others
that were dispersed before their traditional history commenced.
A man may marry a woman of the same clan that he belongs to,
provided she is not a blood relative; but he may not marry a
woman whose father's family title is the same as his own, even
though no relationship can be traced between them, and the one
may belong to the Xosa and the other to the Pondo tribe. As an
instance, we will take a man who belongs to, say, the Dushane
clan of the Xosa tribe, and whose family title is the Amanywabe.
Among the Tembus, the Pondos, the Zulus, and many other tribes,
are people with this same family title. They cannot trace any
relationship with each other, but wherever they are found they
have ceremonies peculiar to themselves. Thus the customs observed
at the birth of a child are exactly the same in every part of
the country among people of the same family title, though they
may never have heard of each other, while neighbours of the same
clan, but of different family titles, have these customs altogether
dissimilar. All the children take the family title of the father,
and can thus marry people of the same family title as the mother,
provided they are not closely related in blood.
Marriage proposals may come from the father or guardian of
the young woman, or they may first be made by the man himself
or the relatives of the man who wishes to take a wife. The father
of a young man frequently selects a bride for him, and intimates
his wish by sending a messenger to make proposals to the girl's
father or guardian. In this case the mes, senger takes some cattle
with him, when, if the advances are favourably received, an assagai
is sent back, after which the relatives of the young people discuss
and finally arrange the terms of the marriage. If the proposal
comes from the girl's father, he sends an assagai, which is accepted
if the suit is agreeable, or returned if it is not.
When the preliminary arrangements are concluded, a bridal
procession is formed at the young woman's kraal, to escort her
to her future home. It consists of her relatives and all the
young people of both sexes who can get away. It leaves at such
a time as to arrive at its destination after dark, and endeavours
to reach the place without attracting notice. The bridal party
takes with it a cow, given by the bride's father or guardian
to confer fortune upon her, and hence called the Inqakwe. This
cow is afterwards well taken care of by the husband. The party
has also an ox provided by the same person, as his contribution
towards the marriage feast. On the following morning at daylight
the ox is killed, when a portion of the meat is taken by the
bride's party, and the reinaincler is left for the people of
the kraal. The bridegroom's friends then send messengers to invite
the people of the neighbourhood to the feast, and as soon as
these arrive the dancing commences.
In the dance the men stand in lines three, four, or more rows
in depth, according to their number, and at a little distance
behind the women stand in the same order, that is, they are ranged
The men stand with their heads erect and their arms locked
together. They are nearly naked, but wear ornaments of brass
around their waists. The trappings of the war dance are altogether
wanting. The women are, however, in full dress, for their part
consists only in singing. When all are ready, a man who has been
selected for the purpose commences to sing, the others immediately
join in, and at a certain note the whole of the men rise togethcr
from the ground. The dance consists merely in springing straight
up and coming down with a quivering of the body but when the
men warm to it, it gives them great satisfaction. The song is
very monotonous, the same note occurring at every rise from the
ground. This dancing, with intervals of rest and feasting, continues
as long as the bridegroom's relatives supply oxen for slaughter.
A day suffices for a poor man, but a rich man's marriage festivities
may last a week or upwards.
On the closing day the bridegroom and his friends march from
one hut, while the bride and her party march frorn another, so
as to meet in front of the entrance to the cattle kraal. The
bride carries an assagai in her hand, which she throws so as
to stick in the ground inside the kraal in an upright position.
This is the last of the ceremonies, and the guests immediately
begin to disperse, each inan taking home the milk-sack which
he had brought with him. In olden times ox-races usually took
place on the closing day; but this custom is now falling into
THE STORY OF TANGALIMLIBO.
This is a favourite story, and is therefore very widely known.
Sometimes it happens that native girls are employed as nurses
by Europeans, and that little children are taught by them to
sing, or rather chant the song of the cock, so that this story
may even be like "an old acquaintance with a cheerful face"
to many of our own race who have grown up on the frontier,
The original of the first songs is:-
Uyalila, uyalila, umta ka Sihamba Ngenyanga.
Wenziwe ngabomu Sihamba Ngenyanga,
Ngabantu abantloni. Sihamba Ngenyanga.
Bamtuma amanzi emini. Sihamba Ngenyanga.
Waba kuka ngetunga, laza latshona. Sihamha Ngenyanga.
Waba kuka ngomcepe, waza watshona. Sihamba Ngenyanga.
Waba kuka ngexakato, laza latshona. Sihaniba Ngenyanga.
That of the second is:-
Ndiyi nkuku nje ndingebulawe. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Ndize kubika u-Tangalimlibo. Kukulu ku-u-u.
U-Tangalimlibo ufile. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Ukelele umntu ntloni amanzi. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Ibe kutunywa inkomo, yakonya. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Yaba kutunywa inja, yakonkota. Kukulu ku-u-u.
Amon., the Kaffirs a childless woman finds little or no favour.
In many cases she would be treated by her husband in exactly
the manner described in this tale, so that by becoming a mother
she might say from the bottom of her heart, with Elizabeth of
old, that "her reproach was taken away from among men."
Sometimes she is returned by her husband to her parents, a proceeding
commonly adopted when she has a marriageable sister who can be
given to him in exchange. The husband is required, however, before
repudiating his wife, to go through the customary ceremonies,
which are described in the following case tried before me when
acting as a border magistrate in 1881:-A, a Kaffir, sued B, another
Kaffir, to recover the value of a heifer lent to him two years
before under these circumstances. B's wife, who was distantly
related to A, had been niarried more than a year without bearing
a child. B thereupon applied to him for a heifer, the hair of
the tail of which was needed by the doctor of the clan to make
a charm to put round the woman's neck. He had lent him one for
the purpose, and now wanted payment for it. The defence was that
A, being the woman's nearest relative who had cattle, was bound
to furnish a heifer for the purpose. The hair of the tail was
needed, the doctor had made a charm of it and hung it round the
woman's neck, and she had thereafter given birth to a son. The
heifer could not be returned after being so used. In this case,
if the plaintiff had been so nearly related to defendant's wife
as to have participated in the benefit of the cattle given by
her husband for her, he could not have justified his claim under
Kaffir law; but as he was very distantly connected, he got judgment.
The feeling entertained by the Kaffirs about the court in this
instance was that B had acted very ungratefully towards A, who
had not even been present at the woman's marriage feast, but
who had cheerfully acted in conformity with the custom which
requires that a charm must be made out ot the hair of the tail
of a heifer belonging to a relative of a childless wife, in order
to cause her to bear children.
It will be observed that the woman speaks of those whose names
are unmentionable. According to Kaffir custom no woman may pronounce
the names of any of her husband's male relatives in the ascending
line. She is bound to show them the greatest respect, and implicitly
to obey their commands. She may not sit in the house where her
father-in-law is seated, she may not even pronounce any word
in which the principal syllable of his name occurs. Thus, a woman
who sang the song of Tangalimlibo for me used the word angoca
instead of amanzi for water, because this last contained
the syllable nzi, which she would not on any account pronounce.
She had therefore manufactured another word, the meaning of which
had to be judged of by the context, as standing alone it is meaningless.
The beer-drinking company on the mats under a tree, the escort
of the bride to her husband, and the wedding feast are true to
The idea of the Kaffir with regard to drowning is also shown
very distinctly in this tale. He believes that a spirit pulls
the person under water, and that this spirit is willing sometimes
to accept an ox as a ransom for the human victim. How this belief
works practically may be illustrated by facts which have come
under my own cognizance.
Some time in 1875, a party of Kaffir girls went to bathe in
a little stream not far from the place where I was then living
There was a deep hole in the stream, into which one of them lot,
and she was drowned. The others ran away home as fast as they
could, and there told a story how their companion had been lured
away from their side by the spirit calling her. She was with
them, they said, in a shallow part, when suddenly she stood upright
and said, "It is calling." She then walked straight
into the deep place, and would not allow any of them to touch
her. One of them heard her saying, "Go and tell my father
and my mother that it took me." Upon this, the father collected
his cattle as quickly as possible, and set off for the stream.
The animals were driven into the water while the man stood on
the bank imploring the spirit to take the choicest of them and
restore his daughter. The failure to get the exchange effected
is still attributed by the relatives of the drowned girl to the
absence of one skilful to work with medicines.
On another occasion, a Kaffir was trying to cross one of the
fords of a river when it was in flood. He was carried away by
the current, but succeeded in getting safely to land sonic quarter
of a mile or so further down. Eight or ten lusty fellows saw
him carried off his feet, but not one made the slightest effort
to help him. On the contrary, they all rushed away frantically,
shouting out to the herd boys on the hill sides to drive down
the cattle, As might be supposed, the escape of the man from
being drowned was then attributed to his being in possession
of a powerful charm.
Besides these spirits, according to the belief of the Kaffirs,
there are people living under the water, pretty much as those
do who are in the upper air. They have houses and furniture,
and even cattle, all of their domestic animals being, however,
of a dark colour. They are wiser than other people, and from
them the most skilful witchfinders are supposed to obtain a portion
of the knowledge of their art. This is not a fancy of children,
but the implicit belief of grown-up men and women at the present
day. A knowledge of this is of great service to those who have
to do with Kaffirs. As an instance, a woman came to me in July,
1881, to be., assistance. A child had died in her village, and
the witchfinder had pointed her out as the person who had caused
its death. Her husband was absent, and the result of her being
"smelt out" was that no one would enter her hut, share
food with her, or so much as speak to her. If she was in a path
every one fled out of her way, and even her own children avoided
her. Being in the colony she could not be otherwise punished,
but such treatment as this would of itself, in course of time,
have made her insane. She denied most emphatically having been
concerned in the death of the child, though she did not doubt
that some one had caused it by means of witchcraft. The witchfinder
was sent for, and, as the matter was considered an important
one, a larger number of Kaffirs than usual appeared at the investigation.
On putting the ordinary tests to the witchfinder he failed to
meet them, and when he was compelled, reluctantly, to admit that
he had never held converse with the people under the water, it
was easy to convince the bystanders that he was only an impostor.
STORY OF THE GIRL WHO DISREGARDED THE CUSTOM OF NTONJANE.
A large proportion of Kaffir tales have a similar termination
with many English ones; the heroine gets married to a prince.
These show that a desire for worldly rank is as great in the
one people as in the other. Most Kaffir tales are destitute of
moral teaching from our point of view. What recommendation, for
instance, has the girl in this story to the favour of the young
The custom which the chief's daughter disregarded is the following
When a Kaffir girl arrives at the age of puberty, messengers
are sent by her father to all the neighbouring villages to invite
the young women to attend the "Ntonjane." The girl
in the meantime is kept secluded in the house of an aunt, or
other female relative, and her father does not see her. Soon
parties are seen coming from all sides, singing as they march.
The first party that arrives halts in front of the cattle kraal,
where it is joined by those that come after. When the girls are
all assembled, the father chooses an ox to be slaughtered. The
rneat is cooked, and men and women come from all directions to
the feast. The men then instruct the women to dress the girls
for the dance, and when this is done they are ranged in rows
in front of the cattle kraal. They ire almost naked having on
only a girdle round the waist, and an apron, called cacawe, made
for the occasion out of the leaves of a certain plant. In their
hands they hold assagais, using them as walking sticks.
When all is ready, four of the girls stop out of the front
row and dance, the rest singing; and when these are tired four
others step out, and so on, until all the girls present have
danced. The spectators then applaud the best dancer, or if they
do not at once unanimously fix upon the same person, the girls
dance until all present agree.
The girls then give room to the men and women, who form themselves
in lines in the same manner, and dance until it is decided which
of them surpass the others. The dancing is continued until sunset,
when the men and women return home, leaving the party of girls
(called the "jaka") who remain overnight.
Next day dancing is resumed in the same order, the guests
usually arriving very early in the morning.
If the girl's father is a rich man three oxen are slaughtered,
and the ntonjane is kept up for twelve days. On the thirteenth
day the young woman comes out of the house where she has all
the time been living apart from her family. If the girl is a
chief's daughter the ntonjane is kept up for twenty-four days.
All the councillors send oxen to be slaughtered, that there may
be plenty for the guests to eat.
The following ceremony takes place on the occasion of a chief's
daughter coming out of the house in which she was concealcd during
the twenty-four days:-
A son of her father's chief councillor puts on his head the
two wings of a blue crane (the indwe), regarded by the Kaffirs
as an emblem of bravery only to be worn by veterans in time of
war. He goes into the house where she is, and when he comes out
she follows him. They march towards the kraal where the dancing
took place, the girl's mother, the jaka, or party of young women,
the girl's father, and his councillors, forming a procession.
More cattle are slaughtered for the "indwe," and then
dancing is renewed, after which the girl drinks milk for the
first time since the day when she was concealed in the house.
Large skins containing milk are sent from different kraals to
the place where the ntonjane is held. Some milk is put into a
small vessel made of rushes, a little of it is poured on the
fireplace, the aunt, or other fernale relative, in whose charge
the girl was, takes the first mouthful, then she gives the milk
to the girl, who, after having drunk, is taken to her mother's
house. The people then disperse, and the ntonjane is over.
This ceremony is frequently attended with gross licentiousness.
The girls of the jaka are allowed by immemorial custom to select
sweethearts, and this liberty often leads to depravity.
THE STORY OF SIMDUKUMBUKWANA.
Charms and medicines for the cure of diseases are classed
together by the Kaffirs. Some of the women as well as of the
men have really a wonderful knowledge of the properties of herbs
and roots. They are acquainted with various vegetable-poisons
and with their antidotes, and not unfrequently make use of them.
A case recently came before me for investigation, in which
a Kaffir woman was suspected of having administered poison to
another person. In her hut a great variety of roots and dried
herbs was found. These were carefully separated, and then persons
skilled in such matters were brought to give evidence as to their
properties. Anything like collusion was impossible, yet each
one without hesitation stated what each medicine was to be used
for, and all agreed.
One plant was for curing stomach-ache, another acted as an
emetic, a third cured the sting of a venornous insect, and so
on. But among them was a plant to be chewed when crossing a stream,
to prevent the river spirit from biting a person. Another was
a root to be used to gain the favour of a judge during a trial.
The method of using this last was as follows:-
A portion of it was to be placed upon some coals, over which
the man was to sit, covering himself and the fire with his mantle
so as to be thoroughly smoked. During the trial another portion
was to be kept in the mouth.
Not the slightest distinction was made by the witnesses between
these different kinds of "medicines."
The Kaffir is a perfect slave to charms, and hardly ever undertakes
any matter of importance without using them.
THE STORY OF SIKULUME.
The game called Iceya is mentioned in this story as being
played in the rock that became a hut. The games with which Kaffir
boys are accustomed to amuse themselves are, as a rule such as
require a large amount of exertion of legs, arms and lungs. In
the European towns, and at Mission stations, they have generally
adopted the English game of cricket, but at their own kraals
they still practise the sports of their ancestors.
At a very early age they commence trials of skill against
each other in throwing knobbed sticks and imitation assagais.
They may often be seen enjoying this exercise in little groups,
those of the same age keeping together, for there is no greater
tyrant in the world than the big Kaffir boy over his younger
fellows. Commencing with an ant-heap at a distance of ten or
fifteen yards, for a target, they gradually become so perfect
that they can hit an object a foot square at double and even
treble that distance. The knobbed stick and the imitation assagai
are thrown in different ways, the object of the first being to
inflict a heavy blow upon the mark aimed at, while that of the
last is to pierce it. This exercise strengthens the muscles of
the arms, and gives expansion to the chest. The result is that
when the boys are grown up and become men, they are able to use
their weapons without any further training. When practising,
they keep up a continual noise, and if an unusually successful
hit is made the thrower shouts the common Kaffir cry of exultation,
Tsi! ha! ha! ha! ha! Izikali zika Rarabe! (The weapons of Khàkhàbay).
Kaffir boys above the age of nine or ten years are fond of
shamfighting with sticks. They stand in couples, each with a
foot advanced to meet that of his antagonist, each with a cudgel
elevated in the right hand. Each fixes his eye upon the eye of
his opponent, and seeks to ward off blows as well as to inflict
them. In these contests pretty hard strokes are sometimes given
and received with the utmost good humour.
A game of which they are very fond is an imitation hunt. In
this, one of them represents a wild animal of some kind, a second
acts as a hunter, and the others take the part of dogs in pursuit.
A space is marked off, within which the one chased is allowed
to take breath, when he is said to be in the bush. He tries to
imitate as closely as possible the animal he is representing.
Thus if he is an antelope he simply runs, but if he is a lion
he stands and fights.
The calves of the kraal are under the care of the boys, and
a good dcal of time is passed in training thern to run and to
obey signals made by whistling. The boys mount them when they
are eighteen months or two years old, and race about upon their
backs. When the boys are engaged in any sport, one of the number
is selected by lot to tend the calves. As many blades of grass
as there are boys are taken, and a knot is made on the end of
one of them. The biggest boy holds the blades between the fingers
and thumb of his closed hand, and whoever draws the blade with
the knot has to act as herdsman.
They have also a simple game called hide and look for.
If they chance to be disinclined for active exercise, they
amuse themselves by moulding clay into little images of cattle,
or by making puzzles with strings. Some of them are skilful in
forming knots with thongs and pieces of wood, which it taxes
the ingenuity of the others to undo. The cleverest of them sometimes
practise tricks of deception with grains of maize. They are so
sharp that although one is sure that he actually sees the grain
taken into the right hand, that hand when opened will be found
empty and the maize will be contained in the left, or perhaps
it will be exhibited somewhere else.
The above comprise the common out-door sports of boys up to
the age of fourteen or fifteen years, At that time of life they
usually begin to practise the different dances which they will
be required to take part in when they become men. These dances
differ one from another almost as much as those practised by
The commonest indoor game of the Kaffirs is the one called
Iceya. This can be played by two persons or any number exceeding
two. The players sit in a circle, and each has a little piece
of wood, a grain of corn, or something of the kind. It must be,
so small that it can easily be concealed in a folded hand, and
no player must have more than one. If there are many players
they form themselves into sides or parties, but when they are
few in number one plays against the rest. This one conceals the
toy in either of his hands, and throwing both arms out against
an opponent he announces himself either as an Inhlangano (one
who meets), or an Ipambo (one who evades). His opponent throws
his arms out in the same manner, so that his right hand shall
be opposite the first player's left, and his left opposite the
first player's right. The clenched hands are then opened, and
if the toys are found to meet, the first player wins if he has
called himself an inhlangano, or loses if an ipambo. If the toys
do not meet, the case is reversed. When there are many players,
one after another is beaten until two only are left. This part
of the game is called the Umnyadala (the winding up). Those two
then play against each other, and the one who is beaten is said
to be left with the umnyadala, and is laughed at. The winner
is greeted as the wearer of the tiger skin mantle. In playing,
the arms are thrown out very quickly, and the words are rapidly
uttered, so that a stranger might fancy there was neither order
nor rule observed. Young men and boys often spend whole nights
playing the Iceya, which has the same hold upon them as dice
upon some Europeans.
Next to the Iceya, the most popular indoor game with Kaffir
children is the Imfumba. One of the players takes a grain of
maize, or any other small substance, in his hands, and pretends
to place it in the hands of the others, who are seated in a circle
around him. He may really give it to one of them, or he may keep
it himself. One is then selected to guess in whose possession
The last of the Kaffir indoor games is called Cumbelele. Three
or four children stand with their closed hands on top of each
other, so as to form a column, They sing "Cumbelele. cumbelele,
pang-alala," and at the last la they draw their hands
back sharply, each one pinching with his thumb nail the hand
Toys, as playthings, are few in number. Bows and arrows are
sometimes seen, but generally boys prefer an imitation assagai.
The nodiwu is a piece of wood about six or eight inches long,
an inch and a half or two inches wide, and an eighth or a quarter
of an inch thick in the middle. Towards the edges it is bevelled
[1. A Kaffir who went with the mission party from Lovedale
to Lake Nyassa, and remained there several years, informs me
that he found the Imfumba the commonest game of the children
in that part of Africa. When he had learned the language of the
people there, he was surprised to hear many of the common Kaffir
folklore stories told nearly as he had heard them related by
Gaka women when he was a boy.]
off, so that the surface is convex, or consists of two inclined
planes. At one end it has a thong attached to it by which it
is whirled rapidly round. The other end of the thong is usually
fastened to a small round piece of wood used as a handle. The
nodiwu, when whirled round gives forth a noise that can be heard
at a considerable distance. Besides the use which it is put to
by the lads, when a little child is crying inside a hut its mother
or nurse will sometimes get a boy to make a noise with a nodiwu
outside, and then induce the child to be still by pretending
that a monster is coming to devour it. There is a kind of superstition
connected with the nodiwu, that playing with it invites a gale
of wind. Men will, on this account, often prevent boys from using
it when they desire calm weather for any purpose. This superstition
is identical with that which prevents many sailors from whistling
I have greatly reduced this story in bulk by leaving out endless
repetitions of exactly the same trick, but performed upon different
individuals or animals. In all other respects it is complete.
The word Hlakanyana means the little deceiver.
THE STORY OF DEMANE AND DEMAZANA.
Among the natives of South Africa relationship is viewed differently
from what it is by Europeans. I have more than once heard Kaffirs
accused of falsehood because they asserted one person to be their
father or mother at one time and a different person at another
time. Yet they were telling the truth according to their ideas.
A common complaint concerning native servant girls is that they
claim every other person they meet as a brother or a sister.
Now, from their point of view, what we should term cousins are
really brothers and sisters. It is not poverty of language, for
they have words to express shades of relationship where we have
none, but a difference of ideas, that causes them to use the
same word for father and paternal uncle, for brother and cousin,
etc. Bawo is the word used in addressing father, father's
brother, or father's half-brother. Little children say Tata.
But there are three different words for father, according as
a person is speaking of his own father or uncle, of the father
or uncle of the person he is speaking to, or of the father or
uncle of the person he is speaking of. Speaking of my father,
bawo is the word used: of your father, uyihlo;
of his father, uyise. Malume is the brother of
any one called mother. Ma is the word used in addressing
mother, any wife of father, or the sister of any of these. The
one we should term mother can only be distinguished from the
others, when speaking of her, by describing her as uma wam
kanye-i.e., my real mother; or uma ondizalayo-i.e.,
the mother who bore me. Speaking of my mother, ma is the
word used: of your mother, unyoko; of his or her mother,
unina. A paternal aunt is addressed as dadebobawo-i.e.,
sister of my father. Mnakwetu is the word used by females
in addressing a brother, half-brother, or male cousin. Males,
when addressing any of these relations older than themselves,
use the word mkuluwa; and when addressing one younger
than themselves say mninawe. Dade is used in addressing
a sister, a half-sister, or a female cousin. Females, when speaking
to any of these relations younger than themselves, usually say
msakwetu. Mtakama is an endearing form of expression,
meaning child of my mother. Bawomkula is the address of
a grandfather. Makulu is grandmother. Mtshana is
the son of a sister.
THE RUNAWAY CHILDREN.
There are three or four versions of this story, but all agree
in the main points. In one, it is the grandmother of the children
who is the cannibal, in another, it is their mother, and in a
third it is the husband of their aunt. One version makes Magoda
escape with the children, and introduces a great deal of obscenity.
The parts referring to the bird and the manner of the children's
delivery are the same in all. So also is the episode of the broken
pot, but the conversation between the two girls differs in some
When a Kaffir woman is married, her husband's parents give
her a new name, by which she is known to his family ever after.
Upon the birth of her first child, whether son or daughter, she
is frequently called by every one else after the name given to
the child, "the mother of so-and-so."
The ntengu is rather larger than a swallow, and is of a bright
bluish-black colour. It may often be seen on the backs of cattle,
seeking for insects on which it feeds.
THE GIRL AND THE MBULU.
The mbulu is a fabulous creature, firmly believed in by little
folks. It can assume the human form, but cannot part with its
tail. One of its peculiarities is that it never speaks the truth
wben it is possible to tell a falsehood.
THE STORY OF LONG SNAKE.
In this story the girls are represented as taking fermented
milk to the man. This is not in accordance with ordinary Kaffir
usage, which prohibits females from serving out milk. But Long
Snake, though a man, has been bewitched and obliged to assume
the appearance of a serpent, retaining however the faculties
of a human being.
Kaffir women grind, or rather bruise, millet by putting it
on a flat stone, before which the worker kneels, and crushing
it with a small round stone hold in the hands. When several are
working near each other of an evening, they usually lighten their
labours by a rude chant. The bruised substance is mixed with
water, and formed into small loaves of very insipid bread.
THE STORY OF KENKEBE.
In the above story Kenkebe is represented as the personification
of selfish greed. In this character his name has passed into
a common proverb-
This saying is used to any one who does not readily share
food with others. It means, we are all entitled to a portion,
you greedy one. A Kaffir, when eating, commonly shares his food
with any others who may be present at the time.
STORY OF LION AND LITTLE JACKAL.
This story is very likely of Hottentot origin. It is generally
told by the Kaffirs, but I have observed that it is a special
favourite in places only where there is a very strong tinge of
It is capable of indefinite extension by the narrator, but
the tricks of Little Jackal are always very silly ones. The above
are among the best of them.