Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/74

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a dozen yards they will shoot tolerably well, but beyond that distance they are wretched marksmen.

The Damaras are divided into two large tribes, the Ovaherero and the Ovapantiereu, of which the former lives nearest to the sea; still, with the exception of a slight difference in the language, they appear to be one and the same people. They may again be divided into rich and poor Damaras,[1] or those who subsist on the produce of their herds, and those who have no cattle, or at least very few, and who live chiefly by the chase, and what wild fruit and roots they can pick up abroad. These are called Ovatjimba, and are looked upon with the utmost contempt by the prosperous classes, who reduce them to a state of slavery, and do not even scruple to take their lives.

But, as the Damaras are little known to Europeans, much is to be said of them, and they will require a chapter to themselves. I shall, therefore, reserve a more detailed account of their peculiarities, customs, manners, &c., to a later period, when I became better acquainted with them and their country.

In consequence of an unusually severe drought this year, most of the rain-pools in the neighborhood of Richterfeldt were dried up; but as spring-water was still to be found at that place, a great number of wild animals nightly congregated there. As usual under such circumstances, the game was followed by troops of lions, who were a constant annoyance to us. To guard against their attacks, we had on our first arrival made a strong fence or inclosure round the camp, but even then we did not feel very secure.

One evening these beasts were more than usually troublesome. The sun had hardly sunk below the horizon when they began their terror-striking music, and kept it up with-

  1. To prevent confusion, when speaking hereafter of these people, I shall simply call them Damaras, in contradistinction to the Hill-Damaras, who are a totally different race of natives.