Page:Africa (Volume I).djvu/43

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INHABITANTS.

who approach nearest to the traditional type as popularised on the stage are those of the Atlantic seaboard. Nowhere else has the slave-trade caused greater havoc than amongst these tribes, and the hatred of the white master for his slave has tended to exaggerate the repulsive type attributed to the slave races in general.

According to physiologists, the blood of the Negro is thicker and less red than that of the whites. It coagulates more rapidly and flows more sluggishly. The Negro, like the yellow Asiastic Mongol, is of a less sensitive temperament than the European. He suffers less under surgical operations, and runs less danger from their consequences; his nervous life is less intense, his pulsation less active, than that of Europeans. Several of the maladies common in Europe are unknown, or at least very rare, in Africa. Cancer, croup, dental caries, typhoid and marsh fevers, seldom attack the Negro, who on the other hand suffers more from bilious and cutaneous disorders. Tetanus also is much dreaded by them, and the least change of climate exposes them to pulmonary affections. Where the whites and blacks live side by side on the same plantations, the former fall victims to yellow fever, the latter to cholera. Home-sickness is also one of the most fatal affections of the African race.

The portion of Africa lying in the southern hemisphere is mainly occupied by the Bantus, whose various communities present a somewhat analogous type, and speak languages derived from a common stock, as had already been observed by Lichtenstein at the beginning of the century. The Kafirs of Natal and Cape Colony are amongst the finest of this noble Bantu race, which rivals the Barabra of the Nile in its proud carriage and graceful attitudes. But in direct contact with these superb Africans are found other aborigines presenting a totally different and far less noble type. These are the Koikoin, or Hottentots, characterised by a yellowish complexion, low stature, and slightly developed muscular system. These communities, as distinct from the Bantus as are the Chinese from the Aryans, may perhaps represent a vanquished race driven by the invaders gradually to the southernmost limits of the continent. But such a hypothesis seems much more justified in respect of certain "pigmy peoples" scattered over a great part of Africa. Such are the San, or Bosjesmen, that is "Bushmen," of South Africa, the Dokos of Kaffa, the Akka or Tikki-tikki of the Welle River, the Obongo of the Ogowé basin. In connection with these dwarfish populations, and especially the Bushmen, anthropologists have observed that if Africa is the continent of the great anthropoid apes, such as the gorilla and chimpanzee, it is also the home of the most ape-like human races. In this region of the globe, they tell us, the two orders of primates approach nearest to each other. One is tempted to regard these pigmies as a remnant of the aboriginal element deprived of their lands by stronger intruding races.

The inhabitants of Madagascar are only partly connected with those of the neighbouring continent, for a portion of the population is certainly of Malay origin. Like the local plants and animals, it bears witness to the geographical independence of the island. But in the adjacent Comoro group the prevailing speech is African.