Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/449

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441
SUPERSTITION—THE RAIN-MAKER.

lieve that, in making white people, he had improved on his work. He tried his hand on Bushmen first, and he did not like them, because they were so ugly, and their language like that of frogs. He then tried his hand on the Hottentots; but these did not please him either. He then exercised his power and skill, and made the Bechuanas, which was a great improvement; and at last he made the white people. Therefore,' exulting with an air of triumph at the discovery, 'the white people are so much wiser than we are in making walking houses (wagons), teaching the oxen to draw them over hill and dale, and instructing them also to plow the gardens, instead of making their wives do it, like the Bechuanas.'"

Dealers in the black art are numerous among the Bechuanas, who place the most implicit confidence in the sayings and prescriptions of the wizards. This applies more especially to those persons who devote themselves to the study of "rain-making."

The rain-maker possesses an influence over the minds of the people superior even to that of their king, who is likewise compelled to yield to the dictates of these "arch-officials." They are, in general, men of natural talent and ingenuity. Indeed, it is probable that, in the full consciousness of their superiority, they are emboldened to lay the public mind prostrate before their mysteries. Being, moreover, usually foreigners, they take good care to magnify prodigiously their feats abroad. Each tribe has one rain-maker, and sometimes more. The wizards are also doctors; and, at times, they assume the office of sextons by superintending the disposal of the dead, it being generally believed that the ceremonies practiced by these impostors have some influence over the watery treasures floating in the skies. It not unfrequently happens that the rain-maker prohibits the usual form of interment, and perhaps orders the dead to be dragged to a distance to be devoured by beasts of prey.

Mr. Moffat, in his "Missionary Labors and Scenes in