Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/462

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smokers, a habit (as already mentioned when speaking of the Hill-Damaras) often productive of serious bodily disorders.

The occupations of the men consist chiefly in going to war, hunting, preparing fur and skins for carosses, milking the cows, &c., while those of the women are by far the heaviest—namely, the erection of houses, collecting and bringing fuel, tilling, sowing, reaping, thrashing and grinding the corn, not to mention the heavy task of rearing a family. While cultivating the ground, I have often seen a woman with one or two babies fastened to her back under a scorching sun. Yet, notwithstanding all these exhausting and galling duties, they would be amazed were a person to tell them that a state of "single blessedness" would be preferable to that of being the drudge of a haughty and indolent husband.

"While standing near the wife of one of the grandees," writes Mr. Moffat, "who, with some female companions, was building a house, and making preparations to scramble, by means of a branch, on to the roof, I remarked that they ought to get their husbands to do that part of the work. This set them all into a roar of laughter. Mahuto, the queen, and several of the men drawing near to ascertain the cause of the merriment, the wives repeated my—to them—strange and ludicrous proposal, when another peal of mirth ensued. Mahuto, who was a sensible and shrewd woman, stated that the plan, though hopeless, was a good one, as she often thought our custom was much better than theirs. It was reasonable that woman should attend to household affairs and the lighter parts of labor, while man, wont to boast of his superior strength, should employ his energy in more laborious occupations; adding, she wished I would give their husbands medicine to make them do the work."

The Bechuanas who inhabit the shores of the Ngami are rich in sheep and goats, but possess comparatively few horned cattle. Like other tribes of that nation, they are excessively fond of their oxen, but more particularly prize their