Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/118

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which here grew to perfection, the leaves of this plant often attaining the size of three feet by two. What they did not consume themselves was bartered for cattle to their wealthier countrymen.

Here, however, their civilization seemed to be at a standstill. The missionaries were laudably and strenuously exerting themselves in their behalf, but as yet they had met with little or no encouragement. To the mind of a Damara, the idea of men visiting them solely from love and charity is utterly inconceivable. They can not banish a suspicion that the motives of the stranger must be interested; and they not unfrequently require a bribe in return for any services they may render to the missionary cause. As an instance of the utter failure of religious zeal in these parts, I may mention that Mr. Hahn, who is liked and respected by the natives, never succeeded, as he himself told me, in converting a single individual! In one instance, however, he imagined that he had made a convert; but, before the individual in question could be finally admitted as a member of the Christian Church, it was necessary that he should give satisfactory answers to certain questions. One of these was, whether, according to the usages of Christianity, he would be contented with one wife. To this the man replied that though he was very anxious to oblige Mr. Hahn and his friends personally, and to further the objects of the mission in every way possible, yet his conscience would not permit him to make so great a sacrifice as that required.

The wealthy Damaras were even more indifferent to spiritual matters than their poorer brethren; and if they happened to visit any of the stations, it was not for the purpose of hearing the Gospel preached, but either in the hope of protection against their enemies, or with a view to business by bartering tobacco, iron-ware, and so forth. One exception to this rule was found in the case of the chief Kahichené, who had settled with part of his tribe at Schmelen's Hope.