Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/225

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217
CLIMATE—SEASONS—WHIRLWINDS.

the oppressors. In proportion as they grew powerful and successful, the prospect of booty, which the vast herds of sleek cattle so amply afforded them, was the sole object of their inroads upon the Damaras. They appeared to have adopted the motto of the old sea-kings,


"That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can."

From my first arrival in the country to the time I left it—a period of less than four years—the Namaquas had deprived the Damaras of fully one half of their cattle, the other portion having already been taken from them previously to my visit. With the loss of their property followed that of their independence.

Although a large tract of country is marked on the maps as Damara-land, a small portion only is inhabitable. This may also be affirmed of Namaqua-land; and in both cases the disparity arises either from scarcity of water or the frequency of inextricable jungles of thorn-wood.

Damara-land being situated in the tropic of Capricorn, the seasons are naturally the reverse of those in Europe. In the month of August, when our summer may be said to be at an end, hot westerly winds begin to blow, which quickly parch up and destroy the vegetation. At the same time, whirlwinds sweep over the country with tremendous velocity, driving along vast columns of sand many feet in diameter and several hundred in height. At times ten or fifteen of these columns may be seen chasing each other. The Damaras designate them Orukumb'ombura, or rain-beggars, a most appropriate name, as they usually occur just before the first rains fall.

Showers, accompanied by thunder and vivid lightning, are not unusual in the months of September and October, but the regular rains do not set in till December and January, when they continue with but slight intermission till May. In this month and June strong easterly winds prevail, which