Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/255

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243
EAST CENTRAL AFRICAN CUSTOMS.

ful, poison, known only to themselves, into the ear.[1] For this there is no cure; the patient withers away, and dies "when all the flesh has melted off the bones." They bewitch fowls, cattle, crops, everything a man possesses. They make his wives barren, and himself incapable of begetting children. They put enmity between him and his friends. In one word, there is no evil but they practice, and a great deal of the legislation of the country is designed to put down this crime, and punish those who are found guilty of it.

In South Africa war resolves itself into a cattle hunt; in the lake region of East Central Africa it is largely a slave hunt. A dangerous neighbor or rival can be effectually curbed by carrying away a large number of his subjects and sending them to market. This resolves war largely into raiding by means of a sudden and unexpected descent. The elaborate preparation of the South would warn the whole country, and while the doctor was engaged "charming" the army, and distributing magic tokens to render the braves invulnerable, the enemy would have put "seven hills" between himself and the advance column. All the same, there is a close resemblance between the war usages of the South and what we find in Central Africa. There we find, especially among the Angoni, the Basuto habit of cutting out an enemy's heart and liver, and eating them on the spot. We also find the habit of mutilation, for the purpose of reducing the parts to ashes, to be stirred into a broth or gruel, which must be "lapped" up with the hand and thrown into the mouth, but not eaten as ordinary food is taken, to give the soldiers courage, perseverance, fortitude, strategy, patience, and wisdom. Should a brave leader retire to a mountain, and die there unconquered, his spirit becomes, according to Yao tradition, the guardian of the rain clouds that gather there, and to him offerings and prayers are presented at the great national gatherings for rain. Mantanga inhabits Mangohi, the mountain the Yao remember as their home, and to him they pray and sacrifice for rain. He is liberal to his children, and bestows great plenty. Chitowe, on the other hand, is surly, and is associated with drought, famine, and leanness. He sometimes appears as an emaciated child or a young woman. These, and many others, are the spirits of warriors who perished centuries before the white man came to bring a new and terrible implement of destruction, and to introduce strange customs and stranger gods to people whose ways have been uniform since before the Flood.

Death is largely caused by wizards. The very introduction of death into the world has a suspicious look of witchcraft about it; in any case, it was caused by a woman who taught two men to go


  1. Manganga, Angoni, Yao, Walolo.