Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/327

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319
WITCH-DOCTORS—AMULETS.

remainder of the animal, of course, being appropriated to the sorcerer's own stomach. A few days afterward the wizard returned, and cut some small holes in the abdomen of the patient, on which a small snake escaped, then a lizard, numerous other animals following.

To become a witch-doctor of any importance, a person is required to be instructed by one previously well versed in the mysteries of the black art. He must begin his lessons by swallowing animal poison, be bitten by venomous reptiles, or have poison inoculated into his body. A cap, a handkerchief, or any sort of clothing worn by such a person until it has become perfectly saturated with filth is considered the most infallible cure for all kinds of diseases, poisonous bites, &c. On emergences a corner of this treasure is washed, and the dirty water thus produced is given to the patient, beast or man, to drink. The chief Amral assured me that he possessed a cap of this kind with which he had effected innumerable cures. "It is sure," he said, "to cause relief when nothing else is of any avail." The witch-doctors have also other disgusting methods of effecting cures.

Like most of the tribes in Southern Africa, the Namaquas have great faith in amulets, which consist, as usual, of the teeth and claws of lions, hyænas, and other wild beasts, pieces of wood, bone, dried flesh and fat, roots of plants, &c.

When a chief died, it was formerly customary to call the whole tribe together, and to give a grand feast in honor of the occasion. The fat, and all the choice parts of the slaughtered animals, were preserved for the son of the deceased, who was to succeed his father in the chieftainship.[1] The raw fat was placed on his head, and worn until it became dry, when

  1. After a great hunt, it was also the custom to reserve for the chief the best pieces of the different kinds of game which had been killed, such as the breast of the eland, the hump of the rhinoceros, and so forth, the rest being divided among the tribe.