Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/444

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
436
SERPENTS—FISH—THE BATOANA.

numerous; but, though they at times attain a gigantic size, they appear very harmless, being often destroyed by the natives, who devour them with great relish. I never myself saw a specimen exceeding seven or eight feet in length, but procured skins measuring fully three times that size. The Bushmen assured me that they not unfrequently surprise these monsters when asleep and gorged, and that on such occasions it was not unusual to dispatch them with a blow on the head from the knob-kierie. These snakes feed chiefly on birds and smaller quadrupeds.

The finny tribe was also pretty numerous; but my stay at the Lake was of too short a duration to collect much information on this head. I saw and tasted many different kinds, some of which were most excellent eating, and had a rich and agreeable flavor. The only ones, however, which I remember had any likeness to northern fishes were a sort of perch, and one or two barbel kinds.

 

 

CHAPTER XXXV.

The Batoana.—Government.—Eloquence.—Language.—Mythology.—Religion.—Superstition.—The Rain‑maker.—Polygamy.—Circumcision.—Burial.—Disposition of the Bechuanas.—Thievish Propensities.—Dress.—Great Snuff-takers.—Smoking.—Occupations.—Agriculture.—Commerce.—Hunting and Fishing.

The people who dwell on the shores of the Lake are, as before said, called Batoana,[1] under the rule of Lecholètébè. They are a small tribe of that large family of "blacks"

  1. Some of the notions entertained of these people before the existence of the Ngami was known to Europeans are curious and amusing. Captain Messum, in an article in the Nautical Magazine on "the exploration of Western Africa," says that he had heard the inhabitants of the Lake regions represented as monsters, with only one eye in the centre of the forehead, and feeding on human flesh, as the giants of old used to take their breakfasts. "A baby was nothing; they swallowed it whole."