LIVINGSTONE also took great interest in another tribe, the famous
Makololo, some account of which will prove instructive and entertaining.
In the whole of Africa south of the equator, we find the great
events of the civilized world repeated on a smaller scale. Civilized history
speaks of the origin and rise of nations, and the decadence and fall of
empires. During a course of many centuries, dynasties have arisen and
held their sway for generations, fading away by degrees before the influx
of mightier races. The kingdoms of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece,
Rome, Persia, and the like, have lasted from generation after generation,
and some of them still exist, though with diminished powers. The
Pharaohs have passed from the face of the earth, and their metropolis is
a desert; but Athens and Rome still retain some traces of their vanished
In Southern Africa, however, the changes that take place, though
precisely similar in principle, are on a much smaller scale, both of mag-
nitude and duration, and a traveller who passes a few years in the
country may see four or five changes of dynasty in that brief period.
Within the space of an ordinary life-time, for example, the fiery genius
of Tchaka gathered a number of scattered tribes into a nation, and created
a dynasty, which, when deprived of its leading spirit, fell into decline,
and has yearly tended to return to the original elements of which it was
Then the Hottentots have come from some unknown country, and
dispossessed the aborigines of the Cape so completely that no one knows
what those aborigines were. In the case of islands, such as the Poly-
nesian group, or even the vast island of Australia, we know what the
aborigines must have been ; but we have no such knowledge with regard
to Southern Africa, and in consequence the extent of our knowledge is,
that the aborigines, whoever they might have been, were certainly not
Hottentots. Then the Kaffirs swept down and ejected the Hottentots,,
and the Dutch and other white colonists ejected the Kaffirs.
So it has been with the tribe of the Makololo, which, though thinly
scattered, and by no means condensed, has contrived to possess a large
portion of Southern Africa. Deriving their primary origin from a branch
of the great Bechuana tribe, and therefore retaining many of the customs
of that tribe together with its skill in manufactures, they were able to
extend themselves far from their original home, and by degrees contrived
to gain the dominion over the greater part of the surrounding, country.
Yet in 1861, when Dr. Livingstone passed through the country of the
Makololo, he saw symptoms of its decadence.
Cowards Put To Death
They had been organized by a great and wise chief named Sebituane,.
who carried out to the fullest extent the old Roman principle of mercy
to the submissive, and war to the proud. Sebituane owed much of his
success to his practice of leading his troops to battle in person. When
he came within sight of the enemy, he significantly felt the edge of
his battle-axe and said, ' wha ! it is sharp, and whoever turns his
back on the enemy will feel its edge." Being remarkably fleet of foot,
none of his soldiers could escape from him, and they found that it was
far safer to fling themselves on the enemy with the chance of repelling"
him, than run away with the certainty of being cut down by the chief's
Sometimes a cowardly soldier skulked, or hid himself Sebituane,.
however, was not to be deceived, and, after allowing him to return home,
he would send for the delinquent, and^ after mockingly assuming that
death at home was preferable to death on the field of battle, would order
him to instant execution.
He incorporated the conquered tribes with his own Makololo, saying
that, when they submitted to his rule, they were all children of the chief,
and therefore equal ; and he proved his words by admitting them to par-
ticipate in the highest honors, and causing them to intermarry with his
own tribe. Under him was an organized system of head chiefs, and
petty chiefs and elders, through whom Sebituane knew all the affairs of
his kingdom, and guided it well and wisely. But, when he died, the
band tJiat held together this nation was loosened, and bid fair to give
way altogether. His son and successor, Sekeletu, was incapable of
following the example of his father. He allowed the prejudices of race
to be again developed, and fostered them himself by studiously excluding
all women except the Makololo from his harem, and appointing none but
Makololo men to office.
A Worthless Ruler.
Consequently, he became exceedingly unpopular among those very
tribes whom his father had succeeded in conciliating, and, as a natural
result, his chiefs and elders being all Makololo men, they could not
enjoy the confidence of the incorporated tribes, and thus the harmonious
system of Sebituane was broken up. Without confidence in their rulers,
a people cannot retain their position as a great nation ; and Sekeletu, in
forfeiting that confidence, sapped with his own hands the foundation of
his throne. Discontent began to show itself, and his people drew
unfavorable contrasts between his rule and that of his father, some even,
doubting whether so weak and purposeless a man could really be the son.
of their lamented chief, the " Great Lion," as they called him. " In his
days," said they, " we had great chiefs, and little chiefs, and elders, to
carry on the government, and the great chief, Sebituane, knew them all,
and the whole country was wisely ruled. But now Sekeletu knows noth-
ing, and the Makololo power is fast passing away."
Then Sekeletu fell ill of a horrible and disfiguring disease, shut him-
self up in his house, and would not show himself; allowing no one to
come near him but one favorite, through whom his orders were
transmitted to the people. But the nation got tired of being ruled by
deputy, and consequently a number of conspiracies were organized
which never could have been done under the all-pervading rule of Seb-
ituane, and several of the greater chiefs boldly set their king at defiance.
As long as Sekeletu lived, the kingdom retained a nominal, though not
a real existence, but within a year after his death, which occured in 1864,
civil wars sprang up on every side ; the kingdom thus divided was
weakened, and unable to resist the incursions of surrounding tribes, and
thus, within the space of a very few years, the great Makololo empire
fell to pieces.
According to Dr. Livingstone, this event was much to be regretted,
considering the character of its people.
Mr. Baines, who knew both the father and the son, has the very
meanest opinion of the latter, and the highest of the former. In his
notes, which show a man of very keen discernment, he briefly character-
izes them as follows : " Sebituane, a polished, merciful man. Sekeletu, his
successor, a fast young snob, with no judgment. Killed off his father's
councillors, and did as he liked. Helped the missionaries to die rather
than to live, even if he did not intentionally poison them then plundered
their provision stores."
The true Makololo are a fine race of men, and are lighter in color than
the surrounding tribes, being of a rich warm brown, rather than black,
and they are rather peculiar in their intonation, pronouncing each sylla-
ble slowly and deliberately.
The general character of this people seems to be a high one, and in
many respects will bear comparison with the Ovambo. Brave they have
proved themselves by their many victories, though it is rather remarkable
that they do not display the same courage when opposed to the lion as
when engaged in warfare against their fellow-men. Yet they are not
without courage and presence of mind in the hunting-field, though the
dread king of beasts seems to exercise such an influence over them that
they fear to resist his inroads.
The buffalo is really quite as much to be dreaded as the lion, and yet
the Makololo are comparatively indifferent when pursuing it. The
animal has an unpleasant habit of doubling back on its trail, crouching
in the bush, allowing the hunters to pass its hiding-place, and then to
charge suddenly at them with such a force and fury that it scatters the
hunters before its headlong rush like autumn leaves before the wind.
Hospitality is one of their chief virtues, and it is exercised with a
modesty which is rather remarkable. " The people of every village,"
writes Livingstone, " treated us most liberally, presenting, besides oxen,
butter, milk, and meal, more than we could stow away in our canoes.
The cows in this valley are now yielding, as they frequently do, more
milk than the people can use, and both men and women present butter
in such quantities, that I shall be able to refresh my men as we go along.
Anointing the skin prevents the excessive evaporation of the fluids of
the body, and acts as clothing in both sun and shade.
Famous Story of the Wagon.
"They always made their presents gracefully. When an ox was given,
the owner would say, ' Here is a little bit of bread for you.' This was
pleasing, for I had been accustomed to the Bechuanas presenting a
miserable goat, with the pompous exclamation, ' Behold an ox! 'The
women persisted in giving me copious supplies of shrill praises, or 'lulli-
looing,' but although I frequently told them to modify their Great
Lords,' and * Great Lions,' to more humble expressions, they so evidently
intended to do me honor, that I could not help being pleased with the
poor creatures' wishes for our success."
One remarkable instance of the honesty of this tribe is afforded by
Dr. Livingstone. In 1853, he had left at Linyanti, a place on the Zam-
besi River, a wagon containing papers and stores. He had been away
from Linyanti, to which place he found that letters and packages had
been sent for him. Accordingly, in i860, he determined on revisiting
the spot, and, when he arrived there, found that everything in the wagon
was exactly in the same state as when he left it in charge of the king
seven years before. The head men of the place were very glad to see
him back again, and only lamented that he had not arrived in the
previous year, which happened to be one of special plenty.
This honesty is the more remarkable, because they had good reason
to fear the attacks of the Matabele, who, if they had heard that a wagon
with property in it was kept in the place, would have attacked Linyanti
at once, in spite of its strong position amid rivers and marshes. How-
ever, the Makololo men agreed that in that case they were to fight in
defence of the wagon, and that the first man who wounded a Matabele
in defence of the wagon was to receive cattle as a reward. It is prob-
able, however, that the great personal influence which Dr. Livingstone
exercised over the king and his tribe had much to do with the behavior
of these Makololo, and that a man of less capacity and experience would
have been robbed of everything that could be stolen.
How Strangers are Received.
When natives travel, especially if they should be headed by a chief,
various ceremonies take place, the women being intrusted with the task
of welcoming the visitors. This they do by means of a shrill, prolonged,
undulating cry, produced by a rapid agitation of the tongue, and
expressively called " lullilooing." The men follow their example, and it
is etiquette for the chief to receive all these salutations with perfect
indifference. As soon as' the new comers are seated, a conversation
takes place, in which the two parties exchange news, and then the head
man rises and brings out a quantity of beer in large pots. Calabash
goblets are handed round, and every one makes it a point of honor to
drink as fast as he can, the fragile goblets being often broken in this
Besides the beer, jars of clotted milk are produced in. plenty, and each
of the jars is given to the principal men, who are at liberty to divide it
as they choose. Although originally sprung from the Bechuanas, the
Makololo disdain the use of spoons, preferring to scoop up the milk in
their hands, and, if a spoon be given to them, they merely ladle out
some milk from the jar, put it into their hands, and so eat it. A chief is
expected to give several feasts of meat to his followers. He chooses an
ox, and hands it over to some favored individual, who proceeds to kill it
by piercing its heart with a slender spear. The wound is carefully
closed, so that the animal bleeds internally, the whole of the blood, as
well as the viscera, forming the perquisite of the butcher.
Scarcely is the ox dead than it is cut up, the best parts, namely, the
hump and ribs, belonging to the chief, who also apportions the different
parts of the slain animal among his guests, just as Joseph did with his
brethren, each of the honored guests subdividing his own portion among
his immediate followers. The process of cooking is simple enough, the
meat being merely cut into strips and thrown on the fire, often in such
quantities that it is nearly extinguished. Before it is half cooked, it is
taken from the embers, and eaten while so hot that none but a practised
meat-eater could endure it, the chief object being to introduce as much
meat as possible into the stomach in a given time.
It is not manners to eat after a man's companions have finished their
meal, and so each guest eats as much and as fast as he can, and acts
as if he had studied in the school of Sir Dugal Dalgetty. Neither is it
manners for any one to take a solitary meal, and, knowing this custom,
Dr. Livingstone always contrived to have a second cup of tea or coffee
by his side whenever he took his meals, so that the chief, or one of the
principal men, might join in the repast.
Among the Makololo, rank has its drawbacks as well as its privileges,
and among the former may be reckoned one of the customs which regu-
late meals. A chief may not dine alone, and it is also necessaiy that at
each meal the whole of the provisions should be consumed. If Sekeletu
had an ox killed, every particle of it was consumed at a single meal, and
in consequence he often suffered severely from hunger before another
could be prepared for him and his followers. So completely is this cus-
tom ingrained in the nature of the Makololo, that, when Dr. Livingstone
visited Sekeletu, the latter was quite scandalized that a portion of the
meal was put aside. However, he soon saw the advantage of the plan,
and after awhile followed it himself, in spite of the remonstrances of the
old men ; and, while the missionary was with him, they played into each
other's hands by each reserving a portion for the other at every meal.
Great Skill in Using- Canoes.
As the Makololo live much on the banks of the river Zambesi, they
naturally use the canoe, and are skilful in its management. These canoes
are flat-bottomed, in order to enable them to pass over the numerous
shallows of the Zambesi, and are sometimes forty feet in length, carrying
from six to ten paddlers, besides other freight. The paddles are about
?eight feet in length, and, when the canoe gets into shallow water, the pad-
dles are used as punt-poles. The paddlers stand while at work, and keep
time as if they were engaged in a University boat race, so that they pro-
pel the vessel with considerable speed.
Being flat-bottomed, the boats need very skilful management, especi-
ally in so rapid and variable a river as the Zambesi, where sluggish
depths, rock-beset shallows, and swift rapids, follow each other repeat-
-edly. If the canoe should happen to come broadside to the current, it
would inevitably be upset, and as the Makololo are not all swimmers,
several of the crew would probably be drowned. As soon, therefore, as
such a danger seems to be pending, those who can swim jump into the
water and guide the canoe through the sunken rocks and dangerous ed-
dies. Skill in the management of the canoe is especially needed in the
chase of the hippopotamus, which they contrive to hunt in their own
element, and which they seldom fail in securing, in spite of the enormous
.size, the furious anger, and the formidable jaws of this remarkable animal.
Terrible Encounter witli the River-Horse.
The dangers of travel are seen from the following account given by a
traveller while making a trip up the Nile :
It was on this trip that I had a narrow escape from falling into the
jaws of "the river-horse," hippopotamus, one of the largest of mammals.
This animal can never have been very common on the lower part of the
river, for you do not see his easily recognized figure among the hiero-
glyphics with which the temples are filled, between the Delta and the
first cataract. Nor does Roman history often mention them in the games
or triumphs of the emperors, which is singular, when tigers, lions and
elephants figure so often. But farther up" the river you meet him still,
usually swimming very low in the water, with simply his nose, eyes and
ears above its surface, and followed by his mate, for they travel usually
in couples. But on the day to which I refer, this number was increased
to three and huge specimens they were sunning themselves on the
left bank of the river, and on the back of the female rested a young one,
uglier, if possible, than its fond parents.
We were six of us, only one a native, rowing along the shore in a skiff
and one of my companions, a Frenchman, with the careless thoughtless-
ness of his race, raised his rifle and let drive at the youngster. There
was a tremendous splashing and racket, and the water for yards was
stirred up by the four mighty bodies diving into it simultaneously. A
cry of warning came from our guide, who began jabbering away in his
own lingo at a great rate.
"What's the beggar raising all this row about?" asked the Frenchman.
"Pull for your life!" shouted I. "You'll have the whole party round
ais in a minute."
The boat was a poor one for speed, and we were still a long way from
the nearest point of land when the snouts of the hippopotomi came to the
surface within pistol-shot of the stern. In a moment they were around
us, threatening to crush the thwarts of our craft and make two mouthful*
of the whole party.
We dropped our oars for flight was out of the question and seized
our guns. Placing my barrel almost against the eye of the largest, I
emptied both barrels into his head, and he sank without a gurgle into
the muddy water. Meanwhile the other end of the boat had been less
fortunate. The remaining male had fastened his massive jaws in the
gunwale and was crunching it like paper, while the Frenchman, the cause
of all the danger, was ineffectually belaboring his head with an oar, his
empty gun being, of course, useless.
Luckily for us, one of the party had a loaded rifle and some presence
of mind left, and to these hippopotamus number two reluctantly yielded,
and went to join his friend at the bqttom of the muddy river. It is
really curious how easily and quickly so huge an animal will die under
modern weapons, when you remember what difficulty the ancients expe-
rienced in killing large game, and how an entire army was needed to cope
with an elephant or hippopotamus.
But to return to our still rather unpleasant predicament: before
the female could reach us, we were all reloaded and ready for her.
She seemed to realize this, for, without waiting for our cordial reception,
she turned tail and made for the other shore, leaving a wake behind her
like a harbor steamboat. Reaching a long tongue of land near the far-
ther bank, she waded through the shallows and across it, disturbing the
crocodiles sunning thereon, and driving them into the water beyond, into
which she followed them and was lost to our sight. And not one of the
party seemed to care!
Singular Habits of the Makololo.
The dress of the men differs but little from that which is in use in other
parts of Africa south of the equator, and consists chiefly of a skin
twisted round the loins, and a mantle of the same material thrown over
the shoulders, the latter being only worn in cold weather. The Makololo
are a cleanly race, particularly when they happen to be in the neighbor-
hood of a river or lake, in which they bathe several times daily. The
men, however, are better in this respect than the women, who seem
rather to be afraid of cold water, preferring to rub their bodies with
melted butter, which has the effect of making their skins glossy, and
keeping off parasites, but also imparting a peculiarly unpleasant odor to
themselves and their clothing.
As to the women, they are clothed in a far better manner than the men,
and are exceedingly fond of ornaments, wearing a skin kilt or kaross,
and adorning themselves with as many ornaments as they can afford.
The traveller who has already been quoted mentions that a sister of the
great chief Sebituane wore enough ornaments to be a load for an ordi-
nary man. On each leg she had eighteen rings of solid brass, as thick
as a man's finger, and three of copper under each knee ; nineteen similar
rings on her right arm, and eight of brass and copper on her left. She
had also a large ivory ring above each elbow, a broad band of beads
round her waist, and another round her neck, being altogether nearly one
hundred large and heavy rings. The weight of the rings on her legs
was so great, that she was obliged to wrap soft rags round the lower
rings, as they had begun to chafe her ankles. Under this weight of
metal she could walk but awkwardly, but fashion proved itself superior
to pain with this Makololo wom^n, as among her American sisters.
Both in color and general manners, the Makololo women are superior
to most of the tribes. This superiority is partly due to the light warm
brown of their complexion, and partly to their mode of life. Unlike the
women of ordinary African tribes, those of the Makololo lead a compara-
tively easy life, having their harder labors shared by their husbands, who
aid in digging the ground, and in other rough work. Even the domestic
work is done more by servants than by the mistresses of the household,
so that the Makololo women are not liable to that rapid deterioration
which is so evident among other tribes. In fact they have so much time
to themselves, and so little to occupy them, that they are apt to fall
into rather dissipated habits, and spend much of their time in smoking
hemp and drinking beer, the former habit being a most insidious one, and
apt to cause a peculiar eruptive disease. Sekeletu was a votary of the
hemp-pipe, and, by his over-indulgence in this luxury, he induced the
disease of which he afterward died.
Women Who Build Houses.
The only hard work that falls to the lot of the Makololo women is
that of house-building, which is left entirely to them and their servants.
The mode of making a house is rather remarkable. The first business
is to build a cylindrical tower of stakes and reeds, plastered with mud,
and some nine or ten feet in height, the walls and floor being smoothly
plastered, so as to prevent them from harboring insects. A large conical
roof is then put together on the ground, and completely thatched with
reeds. It is then lifted by many hands, and lodged on top of the circular
tower. As the roof projects far beyond the central tower, it is supported
by stakes, and, as a general rule, the spaces between these stakes are
filled up with a wall or fence of reeds plastered with mud. This roof is
not permanently fixed either to the supporting stakes or the central tower,
and can be removed at pleasure. When a visitor arrives among the
Makololo, he is often lodged by the simple process of lifting a finished
roof off an unfinished house, and putting it on the ground.
Although it is then so low that a man can scarcely sit, much less
stand upright, it answers very well for Southern Africa, where the whole
of active life is spent, as a rule, in the open air, and where houses are only
used as sleeping-boxes. The doorway that gives admission into the cir-
cular chamber is always small.
In a house that was assigned to Dr. Livingstone, it was only nineteen
inches in total height, twenty-two in width at the floor, and twelve at the
top. A native Makololo, with no particular encumbrance in the way of
clothes, makes his way through the doorway easily enough ; but an
American with all the impediments of dress about him finds himself sadly
hampered in attempting to gain the penetration of a Makololo house.
Except through this door, the tower has neither light nor ventilation.
Some of the best houses have two, and even three, of these towers, built
concentrically within each other, and each having its entrance about as
large as the door of an ordinary dog-kennel. Of course the atmosphere
is very close at night, but the people care nothing about that.
Our illustration is from a sketch furnished by Mr. Baines. It repre-
sents a nearly completed Makololo house on the banks of the Zambesi
river, just above the great Victoria Falls. The women have placed the
roof on the building, and are engaged in the final process of fixing the
thatch. In the centre is seen the cylindrical tower which forms the inner
chamber, together with a portion of the absurdly small door by which it
is entered. Round it is the inner wall, which is also furnished with its
doorway. These are made of stakes and withes, upon which is worked
a quantity of clay, well patted on by hand, so as to form a thick and
strong wall. Even the wall which surrounds the building and the whole
of the floor are made of the same material.
Walls Within Walls.
It will be seen that there are four concentric walls in this building.
First comes the outer wall, which encircles the whole premises. Next is
a low wall, which is built up against the posts that support the ends of
the rafters, and which is partly supported by them. Within this is a third
wall, which encloses what may be called the ordinary living room of the
house ; and within all is the inner chamber, or tower, which is in fact
only another circular wall of much less diameter and much greater
height. It will be seen that the walls of the house increase regularly in
height, and decrease regularly in diameter, so as to correspond with the
On the left of the illustration is part of a millet-field, beyond which are
some completed houses. Among them are some of the fan-palms with
recurved leaves. That on the left is a young tree, and retains all its
leaves, while that on the right is an old one, and has shed the leaves to-
ward the base of the stem, the foliage and the thickened portion of the
trunk having worked their way gradually upward. More palms are
growing on the Zambesi River, and in the background are seen the vast
spray clouds arising from the Falls.
The comparatively easy Jife led by the Makololo women makes polyg-
amy less of a hardship to them than is the case among neighboring
tribes, and, in fact, even if the men were willing to abandon the system,.
the women would not consent to do so. With them marriage, though it
never rises to the rank which it holds in civilized countries, is not a mere
matter of barter. It is true that the husband is expected to pay a cer-
tain sum to the parents of his bride, as a recompense for her services,
and as purchase money to retain in his own family the children that she
may have, and which would by law belong to her father. Then, again,,
when a wife dies her husband is obliged to send an ox to her family, in
order to recompense them for their loss, she being still reckoned as form-
ing part of her parent's family, and her individuality not being totally
merged into that of her husband.
Plurality of wives is in vogue among the Makololo, and, indeed, an ab-
solute necessity under the present condition of the race, and the women
would be quite as unwilling as the men to have a system of monogamy
imposed upon them. No man is respected by his neighbors who does
not possess several wives, and, indeed, without them he could not be
wealthy, each wife tilling a certain quantity of ground, and the produce
belonging to a common stock. Of course, there are cases where polyg-
amy is certainly a hardship, as, for example, when old men choose to-
marry very young wives. But, on the whole, and under existing condi-
tions, polygamy is the only possible system.
Another reason for the plurality of wives, as given by themselves, is
that a man with one wife would not be able to exercise that hospitality
which is one of the special duties of the tribe. Strangers are taken to
the huts and there entertained as honored guests, and as the women are
the principal providers of food, chief cultivators of the soil, and sole
guardians of the corn stores, their co-operation is absolutely necessary^
for anyone who desires to carry out the hospitable institutions of his
tribe. It has been mentioned that the men often take their share in the
hard work. This laudable custom, however, prevailed most among the
true Makololo men, the incorporated tribes preferring to follow the usual
African custom, and to make the women work while they sit down and
smoke their pipes.
The men have become adepts at carving wood, making wooden pots
with lids, and bowls and jars of all sizes. Moreover, of late years, the
Makololo have learned to think that sitting on a stool is more comforta-
ble than squatting on the bare ground, and have, in consequence, begun
to carve the legs of their stools into various patterns.
The Boatman's Strange Ideas.
Like the people from whom they are descended, the Makololo are a
law-loving race and manage their government by means of councils or
parliaments, resembling the pichos of the Bechuanas, and consisting of a
number of individuals assembled in a circle round the chief, who occupies
the middle. On one occasion, when there was a large halo round the
sun. Dr. Livingstone pointed it out to his chief boatman. The man im-
mediately replied that it was a parliament of the Barimo, that is, the gods^
or departed spirits, who were assembled round their chief, that is the sun.
For major crimes a picho is generally held, and the accused, if found
guilty, is condemned to death. The usual mode of execution is for two^
men to grasp the condemned by his wrists, lead him a mile irom the
town, and then to spear him. Resistance is not offered, neither is the
criminal allowed to speak. So quiet is the whole proceeding that, on
one very remarkable occasion, a rival chief was carried off within a few
yards of Dr. Livingstone without his being aware of the fact.
Shortly after Sebituane's death, while his son Sekeletu was yet a young
man of eighteen, and but newly raised to the throne, a rival named
Mpepe, who had been appointed by Sebituane chief of a division of the
tribe, aspired to the throne. He strengthened his pretensions by super-
stition, having held for some years a host of incantations, at which a num-
ber of native wizards assembled, and performed a number of enchantments
so potent that even the strong-minded Sebituane was afraid of him. After
the death of that great chief, Mpepe organized a conspiracy whereby he
should be able to murder Sekeletu and to take his throne. The plot,
however, was discovered, and on the night of its failure, his executioners
came quietly to Mpepe's fire, took his wrists, led him out, and speared
Flung to tlie Crocodiles.
Sometimes the offender is taken into the river in a boat, strangled, and
flung into the water, where the crocodiles are waiting to receive him.
Disobedience to the chief's command is thought to be quite sufficient
cause for such a punishment. For lesser offences fines are inflicted, a par-
liament not being needed, but the case being heard before the chief
Dr. Livingstone relates in a very graphic style the manner in which
these cases are conducted. "The complainant asks the man against
whom he means to lodge his complaint to come with him to the chief.
This is never refused. When both are in the kotla, the complainant
stands up and states the whole case before the chief and people usually
assembled there. He stands a few seconds after he has done this to
recollect if he has forgotten anything. The witnesses to whom he has
referred then rise up and tell all that they themselves have seen or heard,
but not anything that they have heard from others. The defendant, after
allowing some minutes to elapse, so that he may not interrupt any of the
opposite party, slowly rises, folds his cloak about him, and in the most
quiet and deliberate way he can assume, yawning, blowing his nose, etc.,
begins to explain the affair, denying the charge or admitting it, as the
case may be.
"Sometimes, when galled by his remarks, the complainant utters a sen-
tence of dissent. The accused turns quietly to him and says, ' Be silent, I sat
while you were speaking. Can not you do the same? Do you want to have
it all to yourself?' And, as the audience acquiesce in this bantering, and
enforce silence, he goes on until he has finished all he wishes to say in his
defence. If he has any witnesses to the truth of the facts of his defence,
they give their evidence. No oath is administered, but occasionally,
when a statement is questioned, a man will say, By my father,' or By
the chief, it is so.' Their truthfulness among each other is quite remark-
able, but their system of government is such that Americans are not in a
position to realize it readily. A poor man will say in his defence against
a rich one, ' I am astonished to hear a man so great as he make a false
accusation,' as if the offence of falsehood were felt to be one against the
society which the individual referred to had the greatest interest in up-
When a case is brought before the king by chiefs or other influential
men, it is expected that the councillors who attend the royal presence
shall give their opinions, and the permission to do so is inferred whenever
the king remains silent after having heard both parties. It is a point of
etiquette that all the speakers stand except the king, who alone has the
privilege of speaking while seated
Dividing the Spoils.
There is even a series of game-laws in the country, all ivory belonging
of right to the king, and every tusk being brought to him. This right
is, however, only nominal, as the king is expected to share the ivory
among his people, and if he did not do so, he would not be able to
enforce the law. In fact, the whole law practically resolves itself into
this: that the king gets one tusk and the hunters get the other, while
the flesh belongs to those who kill the animal. And, as the flesh is to
the people far more valuable than the ivory, the agreement is much fairer
than appears at first sight.
Practically it is a system of make-believes. The successful hunters
kill two elephants, taking four tusks to the king, and make believe to
offer them for his acceptance. He makes believe to take them as his
right, and then makes believe to present them with two as a free gift
from himself. They acknowledge the royal bounty with abundant thanks
and recapitulation of titles, such as Great Lion, etc., and so all parties
are equally satisfied.
Among the Makololo, as well as among Americans, the spirit of play
is strong in children, and they engage in various games, chiefly consisting
in childish imitation of the more serious pursuits of their parents. The
following account of their play is given by Dr. Livingstone: "The chil-
dren have merry times, especially in the cool of the evening. One of
their games consists of a little girl being carried on the shoulders of two
others. She sits with outstretched arms, as they walk about with her,
and all the rest clap their hands, and stopping before each hut, sing
pretty airs, some beating time on their little kilts of cow-skin, and others
making a curious humming sound between the songs. Excepting this
and the skipping rope, the play of the girls consists in imitation of the
serious work of their mothers, building little huts, making small pots,
and cooking, pounding corn in miniature mortars, or hoeing tiny gar-
Sports of African Boys.
The boys play with spears of reeds pointed with wood, and small
shields, or bows and arrows; or amuse themselves in making little cattle-
pens, or cattle in clay they show great ingenuity in the imitation of
variously shaped horns. Some, too, are said to use slings, but, as soon
as they can watch the goats or calves, they are sent to the field. We saw
many boys riding on the calves they had in charge, but this is an innova-
tion since the arrival of the English with their horses. Tselane, one of
the ladies, on observing me one day noting observations on the wet
and dry bulb thermometers, thought I too was engaged in play. On
receiving no reply to her question, which was rather difficult to answer,
.as their native tongue has no scientific terms, she said with roguish glee,
''Poor thing! playing like a little child!'"
Mr. Baines represents a domestic scene in a Makololo family. The
house belongs to a chief named M'Bopo, who was very friendly to Mr.
Baines and his companions, and was altogether a fine specimen of a
savage gentleman. He was exceedingly hospitable to his guests, not
only feeding them well, but producing great jars of pombe, or native
beer, which they were obliged to consume either personally or by
M'Bopo's chief wife sits beside him, and is distinguished by the two
ornaments which she wears. On her forehead is a circular piece of hide,
kneaded while wet so as to form a shallow cone. The inside of this cone
is entirely covered with beads, mostly white, and scarlet in the centre.
Upon her neck is another ornament, which is valued very highly. It is the
base of a shell, a species of conus the whole of which has been ground
away except the base. This ornament is thought so valuable that when
the great chief Shinte presented Dr. Livingstone with one, he took
the precaution of coming alone, and carefully closing the tent door,
so that none of his people should witness an act of such extravagant
White People Better Looking Than Supposed.
This lady was good enough to express her opinion of the white trav-
ellers. They were not so ugly, said she, as she had expected. All that
hair on their heads and faces was certainly disagreeable, but their faces
were pleasant enough, and their hands were well formed, but the great de-
feet in them was, that they had no toes. The worthy lady had never heard
of boots, and evidently considered them as analogous to the hoof of cat-
tle. It was found necessary to remove the boots, and convince her that
the white man really had toes.
The Makololo have plenty of amusements after their own fashion^
which is certainly not that of an American. Even those who have lived
among them for some time, and have acknowledged that they are among
the most favorable specimens of African heathendom, have been utterly
disgusted and wearied with the life which they had to lead. There is no
quiet and no repose day or night, and Dr. Livingstone, who might be ex-
pected to be thoroughly hardened against annoyance by trifles, states
broadly that the dancing, singing, roaring, jesting, story-telling, grumb-
ling, and quarreling of the Makololo were a graver penance than any-
thing which he had undergone in all his experience. He had to live
with them, and was therefore brought in close contact with them.
A Crazy Dance.
The first three items of savage life, namely, dancing, singing and roar-
ing, seem to be inseparably united, and the savages seem to be incapable-
of getting up a dance unless accompanied by roaring on the part of the
performers, and singing on the. part of the spectators the latter sounds
being not more melodious than the former.
Dr. Livingstone gives a very graphic account of a Makololo dance..
"As this was the first visit which Sekeletu had paid to this part of his
dominions, it was to many a season of great joy. The head men of each
village presented oxen, milk and beer, more than the horde which accom-
panied him could devour, though their abilities in that way are something'
"The people usually show their joy and work off their excitement in
dances and songs. The dance consists of men standing nearly naked in
a circle, with clubs or small battle-axes in their hands, and each roaring^
at the loudest pitch of his voice, while they simultaneously lift one leg,,
stamping twice with it, then lift the other and give one stamp with it;
this is the only movement in common. The arms and head are thrown
about also in every direction, and all this time the roaring is kept up with
the utmost possible vigor. The continued stamping makes a cloud of
dust ascend, and they leave a deep ring in the ground where they have
"If the scene were witnessed in a lunatic asylum, it would be nothing
out of the way, and quite appropriate as a means of letting off the exces-
sive excitement of the brain. But here, gray-headed men joined in the
performance with as much zest as others whose youth might be an excuse
for making the perspiration start off their bodies with the exertion.
Motebe asked what I thought of the Makololo dance. I replied, It is
very hard work, and brings but small profit' ' It is,' he replied ; ' but it
is very nice, and the Sekeletu will give us an ox for dancing for him.'
He usually does slaughter an ox for the dancers when the work is
"The women stand by, clapping their hands, and occasionally one ad-
vances within the circle, composed of a hundred men, makes a few move-
ments, and then retires. As I never tried it, and am unable to enter into
the spirit of the thing, I cannot recommend the Makololo polka to the
dancing world, but I have the authority of no less a person than Motebe,
Sekeletu's father-in-law, for saying that it is very nice."
Many of the Makololo are inveterate smokers, preferring hemp even to
tobacco, because it is more intoxicating. They delight in smoking them-
selves into a positive frenzy, which passes away in a rapid stream of un-
meaning words, or short sentences, as, "The green grass grows," "The
ifat cattle thrive," " The fishes swim." No one in the group pays the
slightest attention to the vehement eloquence, or the sage or silly utter-
ances of the oracle, who stops abruptly, and, the instant common sense
returns, looks foolish. They smoke the hemp through water, using a
koodoo horn for their pipe, much in the way that the Damaras and other
tribes use it.
Over-indulgence in this luxury has a very prejudicial effect on the
'health, producing an eruption over the whole body that is quite unmis-
takable. In consequence of this effect, the men prohibit their wives from
using the hemp, but the result of the prohibition seems only to be that the
women smoke secretly instead of openly, and are afterward discovered by
the appearance of the skin. It is the more fascinating, because its use im-
parts a spurious strength to the body, while it enervates the mind to
such a degree that the user is incapable of perceiving the state in which
he is gradually sinking, or of exercising sufficient self-control to abandon
or even modify the destructive habit. Sekeletu was a complete victim of
the hemp-pipe, and there is no doubt that the illness, something like the
dreaded " craw-craw " of Western Africa, was aggravated, if not caused
by over-indulgence in smoking hemp.
PERILS OF TROPICAL EXPLORATIONS
Continued in ERBzine 5099_05