NEXT to the hare the tortoise is the most conspicuous figure in Bantu folklore. In some parts, indeed, he is more so: of the sixty-one stories collected by Dr Nassau in the Corisco Bay district twenty have the tortoise as the principal character. There seem to be no hares in this part of the country; the animal who most frequently measures his strength and his wits against the tortoise is the leopard, and he is invariably defeated, though on one occasion his son avenges his death by killing the tortoise.
The African tortoise in the tales is usually of the land variety, though in one of the Benga stories  he is represented as taking to the water with his family, to escape the vengeance of the leopard. In Angola  they tell of a man who found a turtle (mbashi) and tried to drown him, as Brer Fox did "ole man Tarrypin," with the same result. The American terrapin is distinctly a water-tortoise, or turtle: there are various kinds of these in the African rivers and swamps, but, as might be expected from the immense extent of desert and forest country, the land ones are the commoner.
"Brer Tarrypin " figures in six of the earlier " Uncle Remus stories;  one of these has already been mentioned of the others the best are the "Tug of War" (the 'hare' version of which was given in the last chapter) and the famous race with Brer Rabbit) which he won, not (as in the later, moralized fable) through his own perseverance and the other's careless self-confidence, but by planting out his relatives at intervals all along the track.
In the later collection  we have him tricking the buzzard
[1. Nassau, Where Animals Talk, p. 158: "The Deceptions of Tortoise."
2. Chatelain, Folk-tales of Angola, p. 153.
3. The stories referred to are Nos. X, XII, XIV, XVIII, XXVI, and XXX.
4. Nights with Uncle Remus, Nos. XIV, XV, and XLVI.]
into getting burned to death, and then making the quills of his wing-feathers into a musical instrument, which is stolen from him by Brer Fox and recovered with difficulty. This recalls Hlakanyana killing a hare (not the hare!) and making a whistle out of one of his bones, which the 'iguana' subsequently steals from him, and the Ronga hare, with his pipes made from the little horns of the gazelle he has treacherously done to death. Out of seventy stories in this book eleven introduce Brer Tarrypin; the only one that need be noticed just now is where he rescues Brer Rabbit from the ungrateful wolf. Mr Wolf had got pinned under a falling rock; Brer Rabbit, passing by, raised up the rock enough to release him, whereupon he found himself caught, and was about to be eaten when he suggests that they might "leave the whole case with Brer Tarrypin." His decision is the same as that of the hare against the crocodile in the Yao story, and Brer Rabbit escapes.
This, like some African examples one has met with, shows the tortoise in a kindly light; but in general he appears to be less lovable than, with all his wicked tricks, we cannot help feeling the hare to be. The tortoise is slow, patient, vindictive, and, sometimes, cruel in his revenge; but he never shows the inveterate and occasionally motiveless malignancy of the West African spider, the hero of the Anansi tales.
It is easy to see why the tortoise should get a reputation for uncanny wisdom. There is something mysterious about him. As Major Leonard says: 
Absolutely harmless and inoffensive in himself, the tortoise does not prey on even the smallest of insects, but subsists entirely on the fallen fruits of the forest. In the gloomy forests of the Niger Delta there are only two enemies capable of doing him any serious harm. The one is man, who is able to lift him up and carry him bodily away, which, however, he does not do, unless the creature is required in connection with certain religious
[1. The Lower Niger and its Tribes, pp. 314 and 315 (here somewhat condensed).]
ceremonies. His other and most dangerous enemy is the python, who, having first crushed him, swallows him alive, shell and all. But pythons large enough to do this, unless the tortoise happens to be young and small, are very scarce. Thus the tortoise has been practically immune from attack-a fact that in a great measure explains his longevity. [His reputation has been enhanced by] the fact that he can exist longer without food than perhaps any other animal. . . . In process of time, the word which stood for 'tortoise' became a synonym for cunning and craft, and a man of exceptional intelligence was in this way known among the Ibo as Mbai and among the Ibani as Ekake,[l] meaning a tortoise. Although slow, he was sure, and this sureness, in the native mind, implied doggedness and a fixed determination, while silence and secrecy implied mystery and a veiled purpose, behind which it is impossible to get.
The Race won by the Tortoise
The 'Race' story is known in Africa to the Kamba, Konde,  Lamba, Ila, Duala, Bakwiri, and, I believe, to many others. I have come across only two in which the one challenged is the hare, and one of these (the Ila) is curiously mixed up with the story of the Animals and the Well. The race is run by all the animals to the river, to get water in time of drought, and the youngest tortoise, who has been buried close to the bank, brings them a supply as they lie exhausted. In most cases it is an antelope who runs and loses-the duiker, the harnessed antelope, or some other kind-but the Kamba make the tortoise and the fish-eagle the competitors, and the Bondei the tortoise and the falcon; this last tortoise, strangely enough, turns into a fine young man. And, finally, in Kondeland
[1. Cf. Mpongwe ekaga, 'tortoise.'
2. Better, Ngonde, but their proper name appears to be Nyakyusa; they inhabit the northern end of Lake Nyasa, on its western side.
3 Between the Wuri and Sanaga rivers, in the Cameroons. Their nearest neighbours are the Duala and the Isubu.
4. See Woodward, "Bondei Folk-tales," p. 182. Here and in the Kamba story referred to the two are contending for the hand of the chief's daughter; but in general there is no inducement to the contest beyond the trial of strength, This Kamba story is given in Mr Hobley's book (The Akamba), but Dr Lindblom has another version; in which the tortoise races a young man.]
the match is between the tortoise and the elephant. This is as follows:
The tortoise one day met the elephant, and said, "Do you think you are the greatest of all the beasts?" The conversation continued:
"Haven't you seen me, then?"
"Did you ever see your own head?"
"What of that?"
"Why, if I were to jump I could jump over it!"
"Well, try it, then!"
"Not to-day. I'm tired. I have come a long way."
The elephant thought this was a mere excuse, and told the tortoise he was a liar; but it was agreed that the trial should take place next day. The tortoise hastened away, fetched his wife, and hid her in the bushes close to the spot they had fixed on.
With daybreak the elephant arrived, and found the tortoise already there. He got the elephant to stand in the middle of a clear space, and then took up his position on one side of him, opposite to the point where his wife was hidden in the grass. The elephant said, "Jump away, Tortoise!" The tortoise cried, "Hi-i!" took off for the high jump, and crept into the grass, while his wife, on the other side, cried "Ehe!" The elephant looked and found the tortoise (as he thought) on the farther side, though he had not seen the actual leap. "Joko!"  Try it again, for I couldn't see you doing it! This time the wife cried, "Hi-i!" and the tortoise "Ehe!" and the elephant suspected nothing, thinking that the leap had been too swift for his eye to catch, and acknowledged himself beaten, but was sure that he would be the better in a foot-race. The tortoise was willing to try, "but not to-day, for my legs are tired with the jumping. But could you come to-morrow?" The elephant agreed, and the same place was fixed for
[1. Schumann, Grundriss einer Grammatik der Kondesprache, p. 82.
2. An exclamation expressive of surprise.]
the starting-point of the course-the race to begin at sunrise.
The tortoise went home, called his children together, and spent the night in collecting the rest of the clan, stationing them at convenient intervals along the course and instructing them what to do.
The elephant appeared punctually in the morning, and after greetings started off at a trot-ndi! ndi! ndi!  When he had been running for some time he called out, "Tortoise!" thinking he must have left him far behind, but, to his consternation, he heard a voice in front of him: "Yuba! Why, I'm here!" This happened again and again, till he reached the goal and found the original tortoise awaiting him there. "And so it befell that the elephant was defeated." (The original expresses this in three words.) The Benga wind up the story by saying, "So the council decided that, of all the tribes of animals Tortoise was to be held as greatest; for that it had outrun Antelope. And the animals gave Tortoise the power to rule."
Another favourite story is that of the friendship between the tortoise and the baboon, which ended (as in the case of Æsop's fox and crane) in consequence of their mutual invitations to dinner. The baboon, having brewed his millet-beer (moa, pombe, or utshwala), placed the pots up in a tree, and the tortoise, being, of course, unable to climb up, while his host offered no other accommodation, had to return home hungry and thirsty. The tortoise paid his friend out by inviting him at the end of the dry season (the time of the grass-fires) and preparing his feast on a spot which could be reached only by crossing a patch of burnt ground. When the baboon arrived he was politely requested to wash his hands. As he had to cross the burnt grass again to reach the stream in order to do so he came back with them as black as ever .
[1. This is one of the famous 'descriptive adverbs,' or 'onomatopceias,' which abound in the Bantu languages. Cf. kuputu kuputu, of a horse galloping, etc.
2 Baboons, of course, do not as a rule walk upright.]
This went on so long-for the tortoise would not let him sit down till his hands were clean-that he was tired out, and went home in disgust.
Still more spitefully vindictive is the character given to the tortoise in the Nyanja story which associates him with the ng'anzi, a large lizard, probably a species of Varanus (monitor). It opens, like many other tales of this kind, with the statement that these two "made friendship," by which we are to understand that they went through the ceremonies of the blood-covenant, binding themselves to help each other whenever called upon. One day the tortoise was in need of salt-well known to be a very precious commodity in certain parts of Africa-and set out to beg some from his friend. Having reached the ng'anzi's abode and got his salt, he next asked to have it tied up with string in a piece of bark-cloth. (Such bundles, each a man's load, used to be brought in to Blantyre by people who had been making salt on the shores of Lake Chilwa.) He passed the string over his shoulder, so that the parcel hung under his other arm, and started for home, dragging the salt after him-gubudugubudu! The ng'anzi came up behind him and seized the salt; the tortoise, pulled up short, njutu njutu! turned back to see what had caught his load. He found that the ng'anzi had seized the bundle of salt in the middle, and said to him, "Don't seize my salt. I have just brought it from my friend's house." The ng'anzi replied, "I've just picked it up in the path." "But you can see the string passing round my neck as we tied it. I, the tortoise, am the owner." But the ng'anzi insisted that he had found the parcel, and, as the tortoise would not give in, said, "Let us go to the smithy [this being the local gossip-shop or men's club of the village], that the elders may decide our case." The tortoise agreed, and they went to the smithy, where
[1. Intended to express the bumping of the parcel along the path as the tortoise makes his slow progress. When he is pulled up, njutu njutu! expresses the sudden stop which almost jerks him off his feet.]
they found eight old men. The ng'anzi opened the case in proper form: "I have a suit against the tortoise." The elders said, "What is your suit with which you have come hither to us?" He stated his case, and they asked, "How did you pick up the tortoise's salt?" The tortoise replied, "Because I am short as to the legs I tied the salt round my neck, and it went bumping along, and then the ng'anzi took hold of it, and I turned back to see what had caught it, and there was my friend the ng'anzi, and he said, 'Let us go to the smithy,' and therefore we have come here." The elders suggested that they should compromise the case by cutting the bag of salt in two. The tortoise consented, though unwillingly, seeing that he had no chance, since the judges were all relatives of the ng'anzi, as he perceived too late. "Perhaps I have been wrong in taking to the road alone," was his reflection on finding that he had fallen among thieves. The bag was cut, and, of course, a great deal of salt fell out on the ground. The tortoise gathered up what he could, but it was only a little, "because his fingers were so short," and he failed to tie it up satisfactorily in the piece of bark-cloth left to him. The ng'anzi, on the contrary, had his full half, and the elders scraped up what had been spilt, earth and all. So the tortoise went away, crying, "because my salt is spoilt," and reached his home with one or two tiny screws done up in leaves. His wife asked him what had become of the salt, and he told her the whole story, adding that he would go again to his friend and get a fresh supply. He rested four days, and then started once more.
On reaching the ng'anzi's burrow he found that the owner had entered it and was enjoying a meal of lumwe (the winged males of the termites, which are about an inch long and accounted a great delicacy). The tortoise came walking very softly, nyang'anyang'a, looked carefully about him, spied the ng'anzi, crept up to him without being seen, and seized him by the middle of his body. Thereupon he cried out, "Who has seized me by the waist? As for me, I am just eating white ants." The tortoise replied, "I have picked up. Yes, I have picked up. The other day you picked up my salt, and to-day I have picked you up! Well, let us go to the smithy, as we did the other day." The ng'anzi said, " Do you insist? " The tortoise answered, "Yes." So they came out of the burrow and went to the smithy, where they found nine old men. Having heard the case stated, these elders said, "You should do what you did the other day: you cut the salt in two." The tortoise cried in triumph, "Ha! ha! ha! ha!-it is good so," and rejoiced with his whole heart; but the ng'anzi said, "Are you absolutely resolved on killing me?" "You formerly destroyed my salt, and I, for my part, am going to do the same to you!" "Ha! This is the end of me! To want to cut me in half! . . . Well, do what you want to do. It's all over with me, the ng'anzi!" The tortoise leapt up, tu! I and took a knife and cut the ng'anzi through the middle, and he cried, "Mother! Mother! I am dead to-day through picking up!" and. died.
The tortoise took the tail and two legs and went on his way, and when he came to his wife's house he said, "We have settled the score: the ng'anzi ate that salt of mine, and to-day I have paid him back in his own coin, and he is dead."
Perhaps he deserved it; but the tortoise reminds one of Shylock in his determination to get his pound of flesh.
This story may seem to have been related at unnecessary length (though in the original the speeches are repeated verbatim, over and over again); but it makes such a quaint picture of African life as it is, or was not so very long ago in Nyasaland, that the temptation to paraphrase it was irresistible: the journey for the salt, the covenant of friendship (in this instance basely betrayed), the old men talking over the case at the village blacksmith's forge.
There is a very curious story, found in places as far apart as Corisco Bay in the north and Transvaal in the south, in which the tortoise, as a rule, plays the principal part, though this is sometimes given to the hare. It may have a mythological
[1. From a manuscript taken down by me at Blantyre in 1893]
background now partly or completely forgotten: this is suggested by the fact that God (Leza, Maweza) is introduced in some versions as the owner of the mysterious tree.
On occasions it opens with the statement that there was a famine in the land. The animals, searching for food (or sometimes accidentally, while hunting), come across a tree previously unknown to them, full of ripe and tempting fruit. They send messenger after messenger to the tree's owner, in order to ask its name, or sometimes, simply, "what sort of a tree it is, that we may know whether the fruit can be eaten or not." But the exact name is so often insisted on that it would seem to have some magical significance. The "owner of the tree" is in two cases (Sublya, Bena Kanioka ) said to be 'God'; the Bapedi and Baila speak of "an old woman"; the Basuto say, "The owner of the tree is called Koko." As this word means 'grandmother,' it would seem as if the old woman were the tribal ancestress. Other versions do not specify the owner more particularly, or call him, or her, simply "the chief."
The messengers (in some instances a whole series is enumerated in others, after the first, only "all the rest of the animals" are mentioned) invariably forget the name on the way back. At last an insignificant and despised member of the community-usually the tortoise, but sometimes the hare, and in one case the gazelle-is successful. Here the story should end, and does so in, I think, the best versions, with the triumph of the tortoise. But in some the animals turn on their benefactor and refuse him a share in the fruit. The Bapedi make him revenge himself by a trick which properly belongs to the hare, and several subsequent incidents are identical with those in a Ronga hare story, in which that of the tree follows on one of an entirely different character. This, like the Suto and Pedi versions of our tortoise story, makes it an essential point that the fruit on the topmost branch is not to be touched, but left for the chief. The Ronga hare gets at the fruit and eats it out of
[1. On the Upper Sankuru, in the Belgian Congo.]
mere mischief (afterwards putting the blame on the elephant); the tortoise to revenge himself for ill-usage.
Here follows the Lamba tale:
In a time of famine all the animals gathered near a tree full of wonderful fruit, which could not be gathered unless the right name of the tree was mentioned, and built their huts there. When the fruit ripened W'akalulu ("Mr Little Hare") went to the chief of the tree and asked him its name. The chief answered, "When you arrive just stand still and say Uwungelema." The hare started on his way back, but when he had reached the outskirts of his village he tripped, and the name went out of his head. Trying to recover it, he kept saying to himself, "Uwungelenyense, Uwuntuluntumba, Uwu-what?"
When he arrived the animals asked, "What is the name, Little Hare, of these things?" But he could only stammer the wrong words, and not a fruit fell. Next morning two buffaloes arose and tried their luck-it seems to have been considered safer to send two-but on their return both tripped and forgot the word. In answer to their eager questioners they said, "He said, Uwumbilakanwa, Uwuntuluntumba, or what? "-which, of course, could not help matters.
Then two elands were sent, with the same result.
Then the lion went, and, though he took care to repeat the word over and over again on the way home, he too tripped against the obstacle and forgot it. "Then all the animals, the roans and the sables, and the mungooses, all came to an end going there. They all just returned in vain."
[1. Doke, Lamba Folklore, p. 61.
2 Some versions have it that the messengers, one after another, stumbled against an ant-hill in the path. The Benga makes them go to the chief's place by sea, and forget the name when the canoe is upset. (Also the successful one is warned not to eat or drink while on the water, and is careful to observe this.) In the Luba story they forget the name if they look back; and with the Bena Kanioka Maweza gives the tortoise a little bell, which reminds him of the name by ringing.
3 It may be worth noting that the two kinds of antelope mentioned have in the original the honorific prefix Wa. The mungooses (mapulu) are presumably considered too insignificant.]
Then the tortoise went to the chief and asked for the name. He had it repeated more than once, to make sure, and then set out on his slow and cautious journey.
He travelled a great distance and then said, "Uwungelema." Again he reached the outskirts of the village, again he said, "Uwungelema." Then he arrived in the village and reached his house and had a smoke. When he had finished smoking, the people arrived and said, " What is it, Tortoise? " Mr Tortoise went out and said, "Uwungelema!" The fruit pelted down. The people just covered the place, all the animals picking up. They sat down again: in the morning they said, " Go to Mr Tortoise." And Mr Tortoise came out and said, "Uwungelema!" Again numberless fruits pelted down. Then they began praising Mr Tortoise, saying, " Mr Tortoise is chief, because he knows the name of these fruits."
This happened again and again, till the fruit came to an end, and the animals dispersed, to seek subsistence elsewhere.
So in the Benga country the grateful beasts proclaimed Kudu, the tortoise, as their second chief, the python, Mbama, having been their sole ruler hitherto. "We shall have two kings, Kudu and Mbama, each at his end of the country. For the one, with his wisdom, told what was fit to be eaten, and the other, with his skill, brought the news."
This has an entirely different opening. The animals, discussing who was to be their chief, decided to settle the point by seeing who could throw a lump of earth across the river. One after another tried, but their missiles all fell short, till it came to the turn of the little 'gazelle' (kabuluku), who was thereupon unanimously elected.
Some time after this the animals, wearied out with hunting,
[1. De Clercq, "Vingt-deux Contes," No. 9.
2 Sir Harry Johnston said that there are no true gazelles in the Congo region, unless in the far north. I do not know the proper designation of the kabuluku, translated 'gazelle' by P. De Clercq; it may possibly be the water chevrotain, Dorcatherium. The Luba country is on the upper reaches of the Kasai.]
came across a tree bearing large fruits, of which they did not know the name. They sent the elephant to Mvidi Mukulu, the High God, who told him it was Mpumpunyamampumpu, but he must never look behind him on the way back or he would be sure to forget it. He did look behind him, and had to confess his failure, at which the animals were greatly annoyed, and told him he was no good. (In the original udi chintuntu, which P. De Clercq translates "Tu es un homme méprisable!")
Then the buffalo was sent, but did no better; then all the other animals, except the gazelle, and they also failed.
The gazelle kept her instructions in mind, never looked back, and returned successfully with the name. The ovation with which they received her is described by saying that "they all stood up, and the gazelle skipped about on their backs"-one supposes that they carried her in triumph.
The Bena Kanioka version, while beginning in much the same way, ends very differently. After the various animals have failed in their quest the tortoise comes to Maweza, who tells him the name of the tree and gives him a little bell, saying, " If you forget the name the bell will put you in mind of it." (It is not said why none of the other animals had been thus favoured.) The tortoise did, in fact, forget the name on the way, but the bell, ringing in his car, recalled it to him. He reached the tree in safety, and told the name to the animals, who joyfully climbed the tree and ate the fruit, but refused to give him a share of it. When they had eaten their fill they killed him. But the little ants took his body away, and sang:
"Knead the sand and mould the clay
Till he comes whom God has made."
It is not explained who this person is or how he appeared, but the ants handed over the dead tortoise to him, and he rcstored him to life. The animals killed him again, smashing his shell to pieces; the ants put the pieces together, and he again revived. As soon as he had regained his strength he uprooted the tree, with all the animals in its branches, and they perished in its fall.
The Pedi version, which is, I think, mixed with a hare story, contains one or two points not found elsewhere: the old woman, when telling the name (which, by the by, has not been asked for: they only say, "May we eat of this tree?"), adds, "You may eat, but leave the great branch of the chief's kraal alone!" (Elsewhere one gathers that this is the topmost branch of the tree.) The tortoise, deprived of his share in the fruit and shut up in a hut (a variant says buried by order of the chief), gets out during the night and eats all the fruit off the forbidden bough. Before returning to his prison he disposes the kernels about the body of the sleeping elephant. This and the sequel, with which we need not concern ourselves, do not, as already pointed out, belong to the tortoise.
Another incidental touch is that the tortoise-no doubt as an aid to memory-kept playing on his umqangala while crooning over his message to himself-strangely enough, if he is correctly reported, not the old woman's words, but the following song:
"They say they bumped
On the way back.
There is an obstacle in the way."
The nature of the obstacle is not specified, but what appears to be the same story (told to Jacottet by a girl at Morija ) mentions an ant-hill. In this story the lion is said to be the chief of the animals who sends the messengers to Koko, and then goes himself. Angered that so insignificant a creature as the tortoise should have succeeded where he failed he has a pit dug, and orders the tortoise to be
[1. A point of contact with numerous stories which profess to explain the formation of the tortoise's shell. See, e.g., ante, p. 255.
2 Contes populaires, p. 42. Probably from North Transvaal. None of the Basuto seemed to be acquainted with it. Jacottet obtained another version from a Transvaal native, but this appears to be very imperfect.]
buried in it. The tortoise burrows his way out in the night, eats the fruit on the top branch, and returns to the hole. The animals, of course, when questioned, deny all knowledge of the theft. The tortoise is then dug up, and asks, "How could I have eaten the fruit when you had buried me so well?"
This ends the story.
The name of the fruit is in every case different; usually it seems to be a nonsense-word (or perhaps an old forgotten one), of which no one knows the meaning. But in Pedi it is Matlatladiane, which the aged guardian of the tree explains to mean: "He will come presently." It is not stated who will come-perhaps the successful messenger.
In some stories in which children escape from an ogre it is the tortoise who saves them by swallowing and afterwards producing them uninjured. The Ronga version of this tale, however, makes the deliverer a frog.
Another incident showing the tortoise in a kindly aspect comes from the Tumbuka,  in Northern Nyasaland. The hyena, for no apparent reason beyond ingrained ill-nature, put the tortoise up into the fork of a tree, where he could not get down. A leopard passed by and saw him: "Do you also climb trees, Tortoise?" "The hyena is the person who put me there, and now I can't get down if I try." The leopard remarked, "Hyena is a bad lot," and took the tortoise out of the tree.
We are not told what the leopard looked like at this time, but he would seem to have been 'self-coloured,' for the tortoise, offering out of gratitude for his rescue to "make him beautiful, did so by painting him with spots, saying, as he worked, Where your neighbour is all right, be you also all right [makora]." The leopard, when he went off, met a zebra, who admired him so much that he wanted to know "who had made him beautiful, and himself went to
[1. "L'Homme-au -Grand-Coutelas "; see ante, p. 221.
2. Cullen Young, Tumbuka-Kamanga Peoples, p. 229.]
the tortoise. In this way he got his stripes. This "Just-so" story accounts not only for the markings of the leopard and the zebra, but for their being creatures of the wild, for when the people, hoeing their gardens, saw them they exclaimed, "Oh! the big beauty! Catch it and let us domesticate it!" or words to that effect, so both of them fled into the bush, where they have remained ever since. The hyena too met with his deserts, as follows.
"The zebra met a hyena, who asked, 'Who beautified you?' He said, 'It was the tortoise.' So the hyena said, 'Let him beautify me too,' and went away to the tortoise with the words, 'Make me beautiful!' 'Come,' said the tortoise, and began [the work], saying, 'Where your neighbour is a bad lot [uhene], be you too a bad lot!' and then said, 'Go to the place where the people are hoeing.' But at the sight 'That's an evil thing!' said they. 'Kill! kill! kill!' And the hyena turned tail and fled, dashing into the bushes, kweche! and saying, 'I will smash him to-day where I find the little beast 1 Previously I only stuck him up in a tree-fork.' And he burst out upon the spot, but found no sign of the tortoise, who had gone down a hole."
The old man who told the story added this moral for the benefit of the young: "So nowadays they laugh at a hyena in the villages. You see that one evil follows upon another."
The Zulus have a rather vague tradition about a Great Tortoise (Ufudu olukulu), who has nothing to do with our friend of the adventures related above, but seems to be a mythical being, possibly akin to the kraken, who may not, after all, be entirely mythical. Perhaps it is not out of place, when mentioning the kraken, to relate, in passing, the experience-whether we take it as fact or as folklore of an East African native who had served as a fireman on British ships in many waters. Somewhere between Australia and New Zealand the steamer's anchor-chain was seized by a giant octopus (pweza: "The pweza is an evil person," say the Swahili). The body of the creature was out of sight, but the tentacle which held the chain was-so Ali declared-the width of the table at which we were seated-say, three to four feet. The ship's company stabbed the tentacle with a boathook till it let go, and the pweza sank and was seen no more. Otherwise, one was given to understand, the vessel would have gone down with all on board.
As to the Great Tortoise, Umpondo Kambule told Bishop Callaway  that it had taken his grandmother as she, with her three daughters, was crossing the river Umtshezi. It was "as big as the skin of an ox"-not merely "as an ox," being equal to the diameter of the spread-out skin. At any rate, it was big enough to dam up the current: "the river filled, because it had obstructed the water." The three younger women crossed in safety: the grandmother lost her footing, was seized by the tortoise, and dragged into deep water. Her children-the rest of them hastened, to the spot on the alarm being given-just caught sight of her as she was raised for a moment above the surface; then she sank, and was never seen again.
The monster seemingly came out sometimes to sun itself, and on one occasion was seen by some herd-boys, who took it for a rock and played about on it, not heeding the warning of a little brother, who declared that "this rock has eyes." Nothing happened that time, but on another day the tortoise turned over with the boys who were on it and drowned them.
In another aspect this Great Tortoise recalls the European nixies, who entice people into the depths of rivers and pools. This is explained by Umpengula Mbanda as follows:
It is said there is a beast in the water which can seize the shadow of a man; when he looks into the water, it takes his shadow; the
[1. Mtu (muntu) properly speaking means a human being, but one often hears animals referred to as watu. "There are bad people in the sea," said Muhamadi Kijuma of Lamu, meaning, no doubt, sharks and such.
2. Nursery Tales, p. 339]
man no longer wishes to turn back, but has a great wish to enter the pool; it seems to him that there is not death in the water; it is as if he were going to real happiness where there is no harm; and he dies through being eaten by the beast, which was not seen at first, but is seen when it catches hold of him. . . . And people are forbidden to lean over and look into a dark pool, it being feared that their shadow should be taken away.
This is given by way of comment on a story told by the bishop's other informant, about a boy who threw a stone into a pool (it is not said that he looked at his reflection, but this must surely be understood), and, on going home, refused his food and could not be kept from returning to the place. His father followed him, but was only in time to see the boy's head in the middle of the pool, though he did not actually sink till after sunset. just as he disappeared he cried out, "I am held by the foot." His father, who had been forcibly restrained from throwing himself into the pool, had offered a reward to anyone who should save his son; but it seems to have been accepted as a fact that nothing could be done: "the child is already dead." And after he had sunk they said, "He has been devoured by the tortoise."
The rivers of Africa, not to mention lakes and pools, merit a chapter to themselves, which cannot here be given. The subject has scarcely been touched: we have only a few scattered hints from Zulu and Xosa sources. There is Tikoloshe, or Hili, the water-sprite, who comes out to make unlawful love to women, and Isitshakamana, who scares fishermen to death, and when on land 'hirsels ' about in a sitting position (though provided with legs), like Kitunusi of the Pokomo.
Some of the stories (eg., that of Tangalimlibo, included
[1. Du stiegst hinunterwie du bist, Und würdest erst gesund!-GORTHE, Der Fischer
2. Callaway, Nursery Tales, p. 342.
3. Or Tokolotshe. I have never heard what this being looks like, beyond the fact that a Natal Zulu, on my showing him the picture of a chimpanzee in Lydekker's Natural History, exclaimed, unexpectedly, "Tokolotshe!"]
in several collections) describe cattle being driven into a river in the hope of saving the drowning, by inducing the water-spirits to accept life for life. And it is said that the Umsunduzi (which rises in the Natal Table Mountain Umkambati-near Pietermaritzburg) claims a human life every year-like the Tweed (the Till takes three and the Lancashire Ribble one every seventh year)-unless some other living creature is sacrificed. But this is to digress too far from our subject.
[1. See Theal, People of Africa, p. 192.]