The Periplus of Hanno/Chapter 9

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The Periplus of Hanno by Wilfred Harvey Schoff
The Negritos (The Hairy People of § 18)


"We have seen that the African pygmies probably reached Europe during the Stone Ages, and were certainly frequent visitors at the Courts of the Pharaohs. At present they are all denizens of the woodlands, everywhere keeping to the shelter of the Welle, Ituri, Ruwenzori, Congo, and Ogoway forests within the tropics. To this may be due the fact that they are not black but of a yellowish colour, with reddish-brown woolly head, somewhat hairy body, and extremely low stature ranging from 3 ft. (Lugard) to perhaps 4 ft. 6 in. at most. The hirsuteness and dwarfish size were already noticed two thousand five hundred years ago by the Carthaginian Admiral Hanno, to whom we owe the term gorilla applied by him, not to the anthropoid ape so named by Du Chaillu, but to certain hairy little people seen by him on the west coast—probably the ancestors of the dwarfs still surviving in the Ogoway district.

"Here they are called Abongo and Obongo, and elsewhere are known by different names—Tikitiki, Akka, or Wochua in the Welle region, Dume in Gallaland, Wandorobo in Masailand, Batwa south of the Congo, and many others. Dr. Ludwig Wolf connects the Batwa both with the northern Akka and the southern Bushmen, all being the scattered fragments of a primeval dwarfish race to be regarded as the true aborigines of equatorial Africa. They live exclusively by the chase and the preparation of palm-wine, hence are regarded by their Bantu friends as benevolent little people whose special mission is to provide the surrounding tribes with game and palm-wine in exchange for manioc, maize, and bananas. Many are distinguished by sharp powers of observation, amazing talent for mimicry, and a good memory. Junker describes the comic ways and nimble action of an Akka who imitated with marvelous fidelity the peculiarities of persons he had once seen—Moslems at prayer, Emin Pasha with his 'four eyes' (spectacles), another in a towering rage, storming and abusing everybody, and Junker himself, 'whom he took off to the life, rehearsing down to the minutest details, and with surprising accuracy, my anthropometric performance when measuring his body at Rumbek four years before.'"—A. H. Keane, The World's Peoples, 148-9.