Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/206

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Although generally very rich in cattle, and fond of animal diet, their beasts would seem to be kept rather for show than for food. When an ox is killed, the greater portion of the animal is disposed of by the owner to the neighbors, who give the produce of their ground in exchange.

The morality of the Ovambo is very low, and polygamy is practiced to a great extent. A man may have as many wives as he can afford to keep; but, as with the Damaras, there is always one who is the favorite and the highest in rank. Woman is looked upon as a mere commodity—an article of commerce. If the husband be poor, the price of a wife is two oxen and one cow; but should his circumstances be tolerably flourishing, three oxen and two cows will be expected. The chief, however, is an exception to this rule. In his case, the honor of an alliance with him is supposed to be a sufficient compensation. Our fat friend Nangoro had largely benefited by this privilege; for, though certainly far behind the King of Dahomey in regard to the number of wives, yet his harem boasted of one hundred and six enchanting beauties!

In case of the death of the king, the son of his favorite wife succeeds him; but if he has no male issue by this woman, her daughter then assumes the sovereignty. The Princess Chipanga was the intended successor to Nangoro. My friend thought that his bearded face had made an impression on this amiable lady; but, though experience has since taught us that he was by no means averse to matrimony, he preferred to settle his affections on one of his own fair country-women rather than marry the "greasy negress" Chipanga, heiress of Ondonga.

We read of nations who are supposed to be destitute of any religious principles whatever. If we had placed reliance on what the natives themselves told us, we should have set down the Ovambo as one of such benighted races. But can there be so deplorable a condition of the human mind? Does