Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Africa, for the Dark Continent is on the whole less forested than any other part of the tropics. But as a happy contrast to this dreary "veldt," as it is called in the south, rise the magnificent mountain systems of Usambara, Taïta, Pare, Uguéno, Kilimanjaro, Kiulu; not to mention other mighty ranges which Thomson has made known to us, and which offer from his description the same characteristics as those I have myself explored. Another break in the Nyika is made by the courses of perennial rivers flowing to the Indian Ocean, such as the Ruvu, or Luvu, the Tzavo or Sabaki, the Tana, and a few minor streams of less importance. The marked distinction between the outward aspects of the well-watered forest country on the banks of rivers or amid high mountains, and the great rolling plains sparsely covered with stunted trees or thorny scrub which I call the Nyika, is carried out further in the races of man inhabiting either. The forest country on the hills or along the rivers is occupied by resident agriculturists almost exclusively belonging to the Bantu family, ethnologically and linguistically, and the forbidding wilderness in the plains is ranged over by tribes of either Galla or Masai origin, both of which may be roughly classed with the Ethiopic or Hamitic group. In the extreme north-east the recent excursions of the Somal tribes have brought them into contact with the Gallas, to whom, indeed, they seem to be closely allied in origin. Besides the two important divisions of Africans already alluded to, viz., the Bantu and the Ethiopic, other natural families are represented. There is a curious colony of Nilotic negroes settled on the eastern bank of the Victoria Nyanza, who in their language, at any rate, are allied to the Shilluks and other negroes of the Nile. Ancient Arab settlements on the coast represent the Semitic family in this congeries of peoples, while much yet remains to be ascertained about the relationships and affinities of the reported dwarf races lying between Kilimanjaro and the Nyanza and the curious helot tribes known as the Wa-boni, Wa-sania, Wa-ta, Wa-ndurobo, and others whose very designation is foreign, as you may observe by the Swahili prefix "Wa" which precedes them.

I shall not say anything about these dwarfs and helot races to-night, as I have had few or no opportunities of examining them; but I would remark that some of the tribes of Wa-ndurobo or A-ndurobo, whom I have seen living with the Masai as a helot race of hunters and smiths, seemed to me from their physiognomy negroes of a low type, and very different in outward aspect from both the Masai and Bantu people around them, especially in the conformation of the lower limbs, which were relatively short and somewhat bowed, with a negro's shin.

As to the Nilotic negroes of Kavirondo there is little doubt that they inhabit the eastern bank of the Victoria Nyanza. From the specimens of their language received through Swahili traders and communicated to the missionaries on the coast we see that they are, philologically at any rate, distinctly related with Shillucks of the White Nile, and must represent a curious and isolated colony of negro stock, the remnant of some former invasion now surrounded on all sides by tribes of alien origin. They are only known as yet from the descriptions of Swahili traders, and no European has visited their country save in the hasty coasting trip along their coasts which Stanley made when circumnavigating the Victoria Nyanza. Thomson in reality missed Kavirondo altogether, and really reached the country of U- or Bu-nyara to the north; for he tells us the people of this district, which he calls "Upper Kavirondo," were Bantu in origin and language, and differed wholly from the people of Kavirondo proper to the south.

I will now proceed to consider the people of Bantu race which are known to inhabit this part of Africa.

From somewhere to the south of the Island of Lamu, in about 2° S. latitude, down to Algoa Bay in Cape Colony, the east coast of Africa is held by the Bantu race, mingled slightly here and there with the blood of Arabs or Portuguese, where these nations have been in long possession as rulers. From Lamu down to the coast opposite Zanzibar the tongue chiefly spoken is Ki-swahili, but there are also local dialects, such as Ki-nika, peculiar to the inhabitants of the district round Mombasa, and Ki-bondei, the language of the low country between Usambara and the sea. On the great Dana river, which flows through Southern Gallaland and takes its rise about the southern slopes of Mount Kenia, we have the interesting Wa-pokomo dwelling just along the river banks and surrounded north and south by Gallas. Fragments of Bantu people are also reported to the east and north of Kenia, and to the south of that mountain we have the district of the Wa-Kikuyu, who, according to Thomson, speak a dialect closely related to that of their neighbours to the east, the A-kamba, which latter tribe extends southwards to the borders of Taïta. The clump of mountains known as Taïta is separated by about forty miles of uninhabited plain from the lovely country of Usambara, which again is inhabited by Bantu people of several tribes, the Wa-sambara being only one but the dominating race, and the Wa-mbugu seeming to belong to a more truly indigenous stock. North-west of these, in the valley of the Ruvu, are colonies of the Wa-zegua; then comes the mountain range of Pare, inhabited by the kindly Wa-pare; then the hill-tribes of Ugueno, the Wa-kahe in the plains of the upper Ruvu, the

interesting colony of Taveita on the river Lumi, to the southeast of Kilimanjaro, the populous states of Chaga round the southern and eastern flanks of this mighty snow-crowned volcano, and lastly a small colony of the same race inhabiting Mount Méru to the west.

Hitherto, I am conscious that my paper has been a bare record of names, and that you know nothing of the people, how they live, how they feel, or anything beyond their merely geographical existence. I will therefore endeavour to describe them somewhat in detail, especially those with whom I have come into personal contact during my expedition to Kilimanjaro. After leaving Rabai, near Mombasa, we encountered no inhabitants until we reached the hills of Maungu, on the borders of Taïta. Here some people came and sold us honey and spoke to us in the Ki-taïta dialect. At Ndara and Bura we subsequently saw more of the Wa-taïta, and many of them afterwards emigrated to Taveita and Chaga, and even entered my service as hunters and scouts, so that I was enabled to see a good deal of them from first to last, and take down vocabularies of their dialect.

In outward appearance the Wa-taïta are unprepossessing. They are about the medium height, the men varying generally from 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 7 inches, and the women from 4 feet 11 inches to 5 feet 3 inches. They have fairly good figures, the limbs, especially the legs, are well formed but the men are somewhat effeminate and slight looking. In facial aspect there is much variation. While many have little pug noses with no perceptible bridge, and a much rounded, projecting forehead, others exhibit an almost Red Indian physiognomy, with aquiline noses, high cheekbones, and retreating foreheads. The teeth are artificially filed and sharp pointed, but are naturally set somewhat wide apart in the jaw. The whites of the eyes are much clouded. The ears are so tortured and misshapen by prevailing fashion that it is hard to guess their original shape. The body is disposed to be hairy, but is carefully depilated all over, even to the plucking out of eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and moustache. The colour of the skin is generally dull, sooty black, but this is often disguised by the coating of soot or red earth and fat or castor oil, which is rubbed over the skin. The hair is generally shaved all round the head and only allowed to grow on the occiput. Here it is much cultivated and pulled out into long strings, which are stiffened with grease and threaded with beads. Beads, indeed, are the adoration of the Wa-taïta. The women wear massive collars of them, sometimes 6 inches broad and 3 inches deep, which are placed round the neck, and sometimes so lift up the chin as to compel the wearer to keep the head well thrown back. Several hundred strings of beads are bound round the waist,

smaller bands cross and recross the back and breasts, they are banded round the shaven part of the head, they hang in scattered strings from the temple downwards, they decorate the tiny "tablier," or leather apron which is worn for purposes of decency, and the borders of the two-tailed leathern garment which hangs on the back and legs are also edged with beads of various colours. In both sexes the lobes of the ears are pierced, and the hole is widened until the distended flap of skin nearly reaches the shoulder. When this result has been attained, many rings of beads are inserted, and continue to weigh down the distorted ear, the outer auricle of which is further pierced and hung with beads of a larger kind. This hanging the ears with beads is peculiar to the Wa-taïta, the other mountain races in the vicinity employing for the like purpose fine iron chains, bolts of wood, or rings of wood or ivory. There are but slight traces of religion among them. They are afraid of spirits, who are supposed to dwell in large forest trees, and perhaps for the reason that their dead are always buried in the forest. The country is but slightly wooded, but on the hill-tops clumps of high trees are religiously conserved. The baobabs among these people, as among others East African races, are looked upon as particularly the abode of spirits. The word for God in their language is Mulungu, but I more than suspect it is a borrowed term from the coast tribes, and that "Eruwa," Sun, is their true conception of an overruling deity. Among the Wa-pare, the Wa-gweno, the Wa-taveita, and the Wa-chaga the word for "sun" and "God" is identical. Mulungu is in use among the A-nika, and the A-kamba, and Muungu and Mungo among the Wa-swahili and the Wa-pokomo. All these variants descend from an original form, "Mu-n-kulunkulu," which is most closely preserved in the modern Zulu “U-nkulunkulu." The adjective "-kulu" in nearly all Bantu tongues has the meaning of great or old. To this was added the "n" prefix, then the personal prefix "mu," so that finally the combination meant the "old, old one," for great and old in this sense are almost synonymous, and Bleek conjectures the term to have been a relic of ancestor worship, or the deification of some tribe-founder.

One other incident may be mentioned about the Wa-taïta before I leave them. Their marriages are arranged first by purchase, the intending husband paying the father of the girl the three or more cows fixed as the price. When these preliminaries are settled the girl runs away and affects to hide. She is sought out by the bridegroom and three or four of his friends. When she is found, the men seize her and carry her off to the hut of her future husband, generally each man holding a limb, so that she is supported by four men including the bridegroom. On arriving

at their destination, being accompanied on the way by bands of laughing girls and women, she enters the hut with her four captors, and each in turn enjoys her. Then having been in this strange manner repaid for their services, they leave her to the exclusive possession of her husband. She remains with him for three days, then is escorted back to her father's house by another procession, and finally returns to her future home to take up the cares and duties of domestic life.

The language of the Wa-taïta is about intermediate between the dialects of the coast and those of Chaga.

The A-kamba, who live on a broad stretch of country to the north of Taïta nearly to the base of Kenia, are the neighbours of the Gallas on the coast. They are very roving, colonising people, and great hunters. I have seen many of them at Taveita, whither they would bring rhinoceros horns and dried rhinoceros flesh for sale. These are on the whole a good-looking race, and I was surprised to find in many that the hair, though short, is straight, which together with a light skin shows an intermixture of Galla blood. They are slightly clothed in leathern coverings with a certain regard for decency.

The beautiful forest district of Taveita is inhabited by two different colonies. One a Kwavi people of Masai origin, and the other and more primitive a most interesting Bantu tribe, the Wa-taveita, who exhibit marked peculiarities in their language and ideas. Let me begin by saying that they are one of the pleasantest people I have ever encountered in Africa. They are of fair height, some of the men being both tall and robust, and attaining occasionally 6 feet in height. Their figures are often models of symmetery and grace. They anoint the body with oil and ochre, as do the neighbouring people already described. The hair is dressed in many fashions, more often divided with fat into separate strips and the whole united in a pigtail at the back, or else allowed to hang in long locks about the face and shoulders. They frequently let the beard and moustache grow, and generally abstain from plucking out eyelashes and eyebrows, as is done elsewhere, though this is also occasionally practised at Taveita. Circumcision is general. Marriage is of course a matter of purchase, but no sign of imitating capture seems to be practised here. If the young man cannot afford to pay for his wife at once, he gives over to the father a certain portion of the price, and his intended bride is betrothed to him and carefully prevented from communicating with other males until the rest of the purchase is paid. Then she becomes a wife, and directly signs of pregnancy are manifest she is dressed with much display of beads, and over her eyes a deep fringe of tiny iron chains is hung, which hides her and also prevents her from seeing clearly.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »