Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/155

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147
KAHICHENÈ.

receive us; he had already announced his intention to visit us, and, in order to propitiate our favor, had a few days previously forwarded us a present of several head of cattle. The chief was accompanied by about forty of his people, who, taking them as a whole, were the finest body of men I have ever seen before or since; yet they were all arrant knaves. Kahichenè told them as much in our presence; but, strange to say, they were not in the least abashed.

This tribe had at one time been the richest, the most numerous, and the most powerful in the country; but, what with their own civil broils, and the exterminating wars with the Namaquas, they had gradually dwindled to about twenty-five villages, with perhaps ten or fifteen thousand head of horned cattle.[1]

Notwithstanding Kahichenè in former days had committed many depredations against his neighbors, we could not help liking him. In a very short time he had thoroughly ingratiated himself in our favor. Indeed, he was the only Damara, whether high or low, for whom we entertained any regard. Perhaps, also, his late misfortunes had insured our sympathy. With the missionaries, Kahichenè had always been a very great favorite, and they looked upon him as the stepping-stone to the future civilization of Damara-land; but we have already seen how far this was realized.

Kahichenè was somewhat advanced in years, but his deportment was dignified and courteous. He was, moreover, truthful and courageous—rare virtues among his countrymen. It would have been well had the rest of the nation at all resembled this chief.

Kahichenè was at this period at variance with a very warlike and powerful tribe of Damaras, under the rule of Omugundè, or rather his son, whom he represented as a man degraded by every vice, and particularly inimical toward

  1. Previously to my leaving Africa, I learned that the entire tribe had been broken up.