Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/669

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A SOUTH AFRICAN ARCADIA.

651

through the thickets by foot-men and the heavy ox-wagons, and the chief villages are connected by a kind of highway, but no one is obliged to keep the roads if he does not want to. They are of no more significance than the zebra or rhinoceros tracks which led to the drinking-places before man appeared in the country; and there is no reason why the traveler should not make a new road at pleasure. The pasturage is free for the teamster's hungry cattle, the wood for the fire needed to cook his supper. If a stray spark sets the grass on fire, no one thinks of complaining; if a hunter commits devastation among the game, the native may grumble at the waste, but he will not imagine that his rights are trespassed upon, or venture to interfere with the proceedings. The game is as much the strange hunter's as his. If one sees a spot that pleases him, he is at liberty to settle upon it, and build himself a house there. If any objection is made to the stranger, nothing worse happens than that something unreasonable is demanded of him, in the same way that people in other parts of the world are not ashamed to overreach strangers: this is not so easily done, however, if the intruder is a native or a member of the same tribe; and even a stranger, if he does not allow himself to be scared away, is at last permitted to remain undisturbed. Whoever settles in any particular spot must, however, expect that other persons, finding it well supplied with water and pasturage, will bring their herds there too; and it is the practice of the Herero, when they wish to get rid of an unwelcome neighbor, notwithstanding their communism, to bring up so many herds and establish so many cattle-ranges about his house that he becomes disgusted with the frequent intrusions, and is obliged to go away from the exhausted tract. Some of the Herero chiefs have recently begun to drive single settlers away by force, but they are actuated by ulterior political views. The people are not disposed to grudge a stranger the particular spot of land he occupies, but they wish to drive foreigners out of the country altogether. An incident from Damara history will help to illustrate the extent to which this sense of communism goes. When the Hereros had succeeded, after nine years of warfare, in shaking off the domination of the Namaquas, to whom they had previously been subjected, the Namaqua chief, Jan Afrikaner, asked the missionaries to help him make a peace with them. The missionaries proposed that the two parties should fix a boundary between themselves, which they would both respect. Both refused to do this. They were ready to make a peace, they said, and keep it, but they would have the land, over which they had fought so hard, in common. The Herero chief, Kamaherero, declared repeatedly that Jan might live in any part of the land he chose after the peace, and that he should expect a fair proportion of his own people to be allowed to live in Jan's land. The peace contracted on these terms lasted fully ten years.

The custom is the same with regard to that which the earth con-