to sleep, but if you sleep it is M'ganwazam's command that
Proceeding S.W. up this lovely valley, in about an hour's time we reached Sandia's village. The chief was said to be absent hunting, and they did not know when he would return. This is such a common answer to the inquiry after a headman, that one is inclined to think that it only means that they wish to know the stranger's object before exposing their superior to danger. As some of our men were ill, a halt was made here.
As we were unable to march next morning, six of our young men, anxious to try their muskets, went off to hunt elephants. For several hours they saw nothing, and some of them, getting tired, proposed to go to a village and buy food. "No!" said Mantlanyane, "we came to hunt, so let us go on." In a short time they fell in with a herd of cow elephants and calves. As soon as the first cow caught sight of the hunters on the rocks above her, she, with true motherly instinct, placed her young one between her fore-legs for protection. The men were for scattering, and firing into the herd indiscriminately. "That won't do," cried Mantlanyane, "let us all fire at this one." The poor beast received a volley, and ran down into the plain, where another shot killed her; the young one escaped with the herd. The men were wild with excitement, and danced round the fallen queen of the forest, with loud shouts and exultant songs. They returned, bearing as trophies the tail and part of the trunk, and marched into camp as erect as soldiers, and evidently feeling that their stature had increased considerably since the morning.
Sandia's wife was duly informed of their success, as here a law decrees that half the elephant belongs to the chief on whose ground it has been killed. The Portuguese traders always submit to this tax, and, were it of native origin, it could hardly be considered unjust. A chief must have some source of revenue; and, as many chiefs can raise none except from ivory or slaves, this tax is more free from objections than any other that a black Chancellor of the Exchequer could devise. It seems, however, to have originated with the Portuguese themselves, and then to have spread among the adjacent tribes. The Governors look sharply after any elephant that may be slain on the Crown lands, and demand one of the tusks from their vassals. We did not find the law in operation in any tribe beyond the range of Portuguese traders, or further than the sphere of travel of those Arabs who imitated Portuguese customs in trade. At the Kafue in 1855 the chiefs bought the meat we killed, and demanded nothing as their due; and so it was up the Shire during our visits. The slaves of the Portuguese, who are sent by their masters to shoot elephants, probably connive at the extension of this law, for they strive to get the good will of the chiefs to whose country they come, by advising them to make a demand of half of each elephant killed, and for this advice they are well paid in beer. When we found that the Portuguese argued in favour of this law, we told the natives that they might exact tusks from THEM, but that the English, being different, preferred the pure native custom. It was this which made Sandia, as afterwards mentioned, hesitate; but we did not care to insist on exemption in our favour, where the prevalence of the custom might have been held to justify the exaction.
The cutting up of an elephant is quite a unique spectacle. The men stand remind the animal in dead silence, while the chief of the travelling party declares that, according to ancient law, the head and right hind-leg belong to him who killed the beast, that is, to him who inflicted the first wound; the left leg to bins who delivered the second, or first touched the animal after it fell. The meat around the eye to the English, or chief of the travellers, and different parts to the headmen of the different fires, or groups, of which the camp is composed; not forgetting to enjoin the preservation of the fat and bowels for a second distribution. This oration finished, the natives soon become excited, and scream wildly as they cut away at the carcass with a score of spears, whose long handles quiver in the air above their heads. Their excitement becomes momentarily more and more intense, and reaches the culminating point when, as denoted by a roar of gas, the huge mass is laid fairly open. Some jump inside, and roll about there in their eagerness to seize the precious fat, while others run off, screaming, with pieces of the bloody meat, throw it on the grass, and run back for more: all keep talking and shouting at the utmost pitch of their voices. Sometimes two or three, regardless of all laws, seize the same piece of meat, and have a brief fight of words over it. Occasionally an agonized yell bursts forth, and a native emerges out of the moving mass of dead elephant and wriggling humanity, with his hand badly cut by the spear of his excited friend and neighbour: this requires a rag and some soothing words to prevent bad blood. In an incredibly short time tons of meat are cut up, and placed in separate heaps around.
Sandia arrived soon after the beast was divided: he is an elderly man, and wears a wig made of "ife" fibre (sanseviera) dyed black, and of a fine glossy appearance. This plant is allied to the aloes, and its thick fleshy leaves, in shape somewhat like our sedges, when bruised yield much fine strong fibre, which is made into ropes, nets, and wigs. It takes dyes readily, and the fibre might form a good article of commerce. "Ife" wigs, as we afterwards saw, are not uncommon in this country, though perhaps not so common as hair wigs at home. Sandia's mosamela, or small carved wooden pillow, exactly resembling the ancient Egyptian one, was hung from the back of his neck; this pillow and a sleeping mat are usually carried by natives when on hunting excursions.
We had the elephant's fore-foot cooked for ourselves, in native fashion. A large hole was dug in the ground, in which a fire was made; and, when the inside was thoroughly heated, the entire foot was placed in it, and covered over with the hot ashes and soil; another fire was made above the whole, and kept burning all night. We had the foot thus cooked for breakfast next morning, and found it delicious. It is a whitish mass, slightly gelatinous, and sweet, like marrow. A long march, to prevent biliousness, is a wise precaution after a meal of elephant's foot. Elephant's trunk and tongue are also good, and, after long simmering, much resemble the hump of a buffalo and the tongue of an ox; but all the other meat is tough, and, from its peculiar flavour, only to be eaten by a hungry man. The quantities of meat our men devour is quite astounding. They boil as much as their pots will hold, and eat till it becomes physically impossible for them to stow away any more. An uproarious dance follows, accompanied with stentorian song; and as soon as they have shaken their first course down, and washed off the sweat and dust of the after performance, they go to work to roast more: a short snatch of sleep succeeds, and they are up and at it again; all night long it is boil and eat, roast and devour, with a few brief interludes of sleep. Like other carnivora, these men can endure hunger for a much longer period than the mere porridge-eating tribes. Our men can cook meat as well as any reasonable traveller could desire; and, boiled in earthen pots, like Indian chatties, it tastes much better than when cooked in iron ones.
Magnificent scenery--Method of marching--Hippopotamus killed--Lions and buffalo--Sequasha the ivory-trader.
Sandia gave us two guides; and on the 4th of June we left the Elephant valley, taking a westerly course; and, after crossing a few ridges, entered the Chingerere or Paguruguru valley, through which, in the rainy season, runs the streamlet Pajodze. The mountains on our left, between us and the Zambesi, our guides told us have the same name as the valley, but that at the confluence of the Pajodze is called Morumbwa. We struck the river at less than half a mile to the north of the cataract Morumbwa. On climbing up the base of this mountain at Pajodze, we found that we were distant only the diameter of the mountain from the cataract. In measuring the cataract we formerly stood on its southern flank; now we were perched on its northern flank, and at once recognized the onion-shaped mountain, here called Zakavuma, whose smooth convex surface overlooks the broken water. Its bearing by compass was l80 degrees from the spot to which we had climbed, and 700 or 800 yards distant. We now, from this standing-point, therefore, completed our inspection of all Kebrabasa, and saw what, as a whole, was never before seen by Europeans so far as any records show.
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