Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/191

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183
A PANIC—ARRIVAL AT OMUTJAMATUNDA.

Shortly after leaving Otjikoto, and when walking in advance of the caravan, in company with several of the head men of the Ovambo, in the hope of procuring some specimens of natural history, I suddenly flushed a brace of sand-grouse, both of which I brought to the ground. The effect produced on my companions was ludicrous in the extreme. They looked as if they had received an electric shock, and stood aghast, with their mouths wide open. On requesting them to pick up the dead birds, they absolutely refused, and seemed petrified with fear. Their conduct was the more singular, as, on our first meeting, they had given us to understand that, through the Portuguese, with whom they had indirect intercourse, they were well acquainted with fire-arms, but that they were not afraid of them, as, by simply blowing in the muzzle, they lost all power.

In the afternoon of the 29th of May we reached Omutjamatunda, the first cattle-post belonging to the Ovambo. On account of this being harvest-time, our friend Chikor'onkombè did not expect to find many of his countrymen here; but he was mistaken, for it swarmed with people as well as cattle. The latter I estimated at no less than from three to four thousand.

Immediately on our arrival we were surrounded by great numbers of inquisitive people, who looked upon the European portion of our party as some raræ aves. They appeared to be gratified at seeing their countrymen safe home again, and expressed much admiration at the fine herd of sleek cattle they had brought with them.

The way of welcoming friends among the Ovambo is somewhat singular. In our case, after every one was seated an immense dish of fresh butter was produced, when the head man of the post besmeared the face and breast of each individual with an abundance of the unction. The ceremony being satisfactorily performed on their own friends and kinsmen, it became evident that they contemplated the same