Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/210

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time of the year. Both sexes assist in tilling the ground, which, near the surface, consists of a flinty sand-soil. A short distance beneath blue clay appears. The land must be rich and fertile, as manure is seldom made use of. The only farm-implement we saw in use among the Ovambo was a kind of hoe of very rude workmanship. Instead of cultivating a whole piece of ground, as with us, they simply dig a hole here and there, in which they deposit a handfull of corn. When a little above ground, those seedlings which are too thick are transplanted. The process of reaping, cleaning, and grinding falls almost exclusively on the women. The grain is reduced to flour by means of a stout pole in a kind of mortar or hollow wooden tube. While the females are thus employed, some of the men tend to the herding of the cattle, and the rest make trading excursions to the neighboring tribes.

The chief article of export is ivory, which they procure from elephants caught in pitfalls. In exchange for this they obtain beads, iron, copper, shells, cowries, &c.; and such articles as they do not consume themselves they sell to the Damaras. As far as we could learn, they make four expeditions annually into Damara-land, two by the way of Okamabuti, and two by that of Omaruru. The return for these several journeys, on an average, would seem to be about eight hundred head of cattle. Since we were in the country, however, it is probable that great changes may have taken place.

Next to their cattle they prize beads; but, though they never refuse whatever is offered to them, there are some sorts that they more especially value, and it is of very great importance to the traveler and the trader to be aware of this, as, in reality, beads constitute his only money or means of exchange. Thus, throughout Ondonga, large red (oval or cylindrically-shaped), large bluish white, small dark indigo, small black (spotted with red), and red, in general, are more particularly in request.