Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/445

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THE BECHUANAS—THE BATOANA—GOVERNMENT.

known as Bechuanas, who, as a whole, are probably the most widely distributed and the most powerful of all the dark-colored nations in Southern Africa. The Batoana have not been long dwellers in the Lake regions; they came as conquerors under Lecholètébè's father. Having dispossessed the aborigines, they reduced them to a state of slavery, giving them a name corresponding to their condition, viz., Bakoba or Makoba, that is, "serfs." These people, however, style themselves Bayeye, or "Men;" and by that appellation I shall hereafter call them.

In giving a general description of the manners and customs, religious rites, superstitions, &c., of the Bechuanas—the parent stock, as shown, of the Batoanas—I shall also have described those of the latter tribe; for, though they may differ in some respects, they agree in the main.

"The government of the people is at once both monarchical and patriarchal, and comparatively mild in its character. Each tribe has its chief or king, who commonly resides in the largest town, and is held sacred from his hereditary right to that office. A tribe generally includes a number of towns or villages, each having its distinct head, under whom there are a number of subordinate chiefs. These constitute the aristocracy of the nation, and all acknowledge the supremacy of the principal one. His power, though very great, and in some instances despotic, is, nevertheless, controlled by the senior chiefs, who, in their pichos or pitshos (their Parliament or public meetings), use the greatest plainness of speech in exposing what they consider culpable or lax in his government. An able speaker will sometimes turn the scale even against the king.***These assemblies keep up a tolerable equilibrium of power between the chiefs and their king; but they are only convened when it is necessary to adjust differences between tribes—when a predatory expedition is to be undertaken—or when the removal of a tribe is