Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/229

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221
SUPERSTITION.

offerings of cattle are made, after which the fire is relit in the primitive way, namely, by friction. This again reminds us of the "holy fire" of the Romans, which, under similar circumstances, could only be relit by fire from heaven.

A portion of such fire is also given to the head man of a kraal when about to remove from that of the chief. The duties of a vestal then devolve on the daughter of the emigrant.

For every wild animal that a young man destroys, his father makes four small oblong incisions on the front of the son's body as marks of honor and distinction. He is, moreover, presented with a sheep or cow. If either of these should produce young ones, they are slaughtered and eaten, but only males are allowed to partake of such food.

The chief of a kraal must always taste the provisions before they can be eaten by the rest of the tribe. Though sweet milk, when boiled, may be freely drunk by the women and children, it is more commonly swallowed in an acid state.

Should a sportsman return from a successful hunt, he takes water in his mouth, and ejects it three times over his feet, as also in the fire of his own hearth.

When cattle are required merely for food, they are suffocated; but if for sacrifices, they are speared to death. On the decease of one of the tribe, they have also the cruel practice of destroying the poor beasts with clubs, which I believe to be a kind of expiatory offering. The flesh of such cattle as are killed on the death of a chief is principally consumed by his servants.

The women marry at very much the same age as those in Europe, but few ceremonies are connected with this important affair. A girl is sometimes betrothed to a man when yet a child, though, under such circumstances, she remains with her parents till of proper age. The woman, upon being asked in marriage, puts on a helmet-shaped head-dress,