Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/485

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477
THE BAYEYE.

in their present abode for a long period. Formerly, and before their subjugation by the Bechuanas, they must have possessed a large territory, and even now the country they occupy is of considerable extent, consisting, as I believe, of one continued plain, intersected by rivers, with extensive marshes. The banks of the rivers are, in general, very low, but wherever they rise a few feet above the level of the water they are shaded by a rank and wild vegetation. The trees are of a gigantic size, having their stems and branches interwoven with beautiful parasitical plants and creepers.

In person, feature, and complexion the Bayeye appear closely allied to the Ovambo and the Hill-Damaras.

The language of the Bayeye bears considerable resemblance to the Ovaherero, and has, moreover, some affinity with the dialects of the East Coast, though two or three "klicks" would seem to indicate a Hottentot origin.[1]

The Bayeye are of a merry and cheerful disposition, and, like my friends the Damaras, are the happiest of creatures, provided they have a pot full of flesh and a pipe. These elements of human felicity are not, however, peculiar to savages, as may be seen in the following stanza. of an old song, often chanted by our English rustic forefathers:

"What more can any man desire,
Nor sitting by a good coal fire,


  1. As perhaps many of my readers are interested in philology, I may mention that in the "Geographical Journal" of this year I have introduced a short vocabulary of the Bayeye language. The words, though necessarily few in number, have been selected with a view to their utility, and consist chiefly of those denoting family relations, names of the different parts of the body, familiar objects, numerals, &c. I have, at the same time, given the corresponding terms in the Otjiherero (Damara) and the Chjlimanse (a tribe inhabiting the country west of the Portuguese settlement on the East Coast) to show the striking analogy existing between these languages. The nations here mentioned occupy a narrow strip of territory extending obliquely across the continent from the West Coast almost to that of the East.