Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/323

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315
TRIBES—HOUSES.

that is, people who have come over land. Be this as it may, the Namaqua-Hottentots consider it as a compliment to be addressed as "Oerlam." "Topnaar," on the other hand, signifies the First, the Highest, the Great, or those who originally inhabited Great Namaqua-land, and they view with considerable jealousy the progress and superiority of the "Oerlams," whom they justly consider as intruders.

The northern Namaquas are divided into numerous tribes, each under petty chiefs. The principal of these are Jonker Afrikaner, Cornelius, Amral, Zwartbooi, Jan Boois, William Fransman, Paul Goliath, David Christian, and Bondel Zwartz.

The Namaquas dwell in small round huts, made on the same principle as those of the Damaras, and covered with mats composed of rushes, which are prepared in the following manner: A quantity of the inner bark of the mimosa is collected and dried. When wanted for immediate use, the required portion is put into hot water and softened. Each member of the family then fills his mouth with as much of the fibre as it can hold, and chews it until it becomes quite pliable, when it is at once converted into strings by the rude process of twisting it on the naked leg. A large quantity is in this manner manufactured in an incredibly short time. The rushes are then cut to the desired length, and laid out on the ground singly, and in a row, when holes are made, at intervals of about two inches, through each rush, and the string in question passed through them by means of a bone or thorn needle. The ends of the rushes, however, are secured more strongly by back-stitches. These mats serve a double purpose. In warm weather they are open and airy, while, being of a porous texture, a shower closes them, and after a while they become proof against the most deluging rains.

When they remove their habitations, these mattings and the frame-work of the hut, which consists of semicircular