Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/70

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Ricliterfeldt was founded in 1848, and Mr. Rath had consequently not been very long settled there. He had taken up his quarters in a temporary hut, consisting of a mud wall four feet high, covered over by mat-work and canvas. At the back of his house were three small native villages, composed of about fifty or sixty wretched hovels, and numbering—children included—about two hundred inhabitants. They were all very poor; but a few possessed a small drove of sheep or goats, which they obtained in barter for goods given them by the missionary as recompense for labor, errands, and other services. The currency is ironware: the regular price for an ox, at this time, was an iron assegai, without the handle; that of a sheep or goat, a certain quantity of iron or copper wire, or two pieces of iron hoop, each five or six inches in length. The Damaras have a perfect mania for copper and iron, but more especially for the latter; and it is strange to see how well a few pieces of polished iron become them, when worn as ornaments.

The Damaras, speaking generally, are an exceedingly fine race of men. Indeed, it is by no means unusual to meet with individuals six feet and some inches in height, and symmetrically proportioned withal. Their features are, besides, good and regular; and many might serve as perfect models of the human figure. Their air and carriage, moreover, is very graceful and expressive. But, though their outward appearance denotes great strength, they can by no means compare, in this respect, with even moderately strong Europeans.

The complexion of these people is dark, though not entirely black; but great difference is observable in this respect. Hence, in their own language, they distinguish between the Ovathorondu—the black individuals—and Ovatherandu, or red ones. Their eyes are black, but the expression is rather soft.

I never saw any albinos in Damara-land, though such are said to occur among the Caffres.