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WE do not make a great distinction between hail and lightning; we say, each is an army of the lord who smites us in this world. p. 376 We distinguish them, however, by the effect of the hail, which is different from that of the lightning; and the hail is heard in the direction from which it is coming; for after great thunder there is heard a great sound in the sky, which resembles the singing of maize in a pot when the water has boiled away. And the doctors, who are herds of the sky, when they hear that, go out at once, whilst the sound of the hail is still afar off, and begin to light a fire in the isolo;22 they do this before it has come near, whilst it is still audible at a distance, that when it comes near it may have lost its power, and chiding23 be sufficient. For if when it thunders the doctor does not at once go out, but stays indoors till the hail cames, even should he go out when it has come, he has no longer power to overcome the hail; for it is difficult to make it turn back again when once it has came.
As regards their preparing for the contest, when they hear the sky rumbling, they too begin to get themselves ready, that they may not be conquered. For as to p. 377 the hail, if a doctor has not fasted, it is said if the hail-stones strike him much he is near to danger; and it is said that the hail-stones make it manifest that he has no longer any power to contend with the lightning.24 And he will require to be again purified a second time, that he may have courage. For if whilst herding25 he observes that he cannot subject either the hail or the lightning, he has no longer any courage, but is afraid; and even if he see the lightning dazzle his eyes, he is afraid, and wishes to go indoors.
It is this then about which black men speak, when they say that black men have power; for they say that they know how to quell the wrath which comes from the whole heaven, that is, the two powers, lightning and hail. I do not say they know also how to make the sky rain; but they say they know.
But it is especially this which darkens their eyes, for they do not p. 378 say there is any other wrath but that, for which they have already found medicines, which are capable of subduing it.
The hail then has its doctors in all places; and though there is a chief in a certain nation, the people do not say, "We have corn to eat through the power of the chief;" but they say, "We have corn to eat through the son of So-and-so; for when the sky rolls cloud upon cloud, and we do not know that it will go back to another place, he can work diligently and do all that is necessary, and we have no more any fear."
There is thunder; if it26 thunders without hailing, but hurls lightning, they do not appoint an inyanga of hail to herd, but an inyanga of lightning to go out and shout; and take courage when there is a heaven-herd herding outside the house. But if the herd is not at home, they take his blanket, and put it outside. The blanket is made, as it were, the herd himself.
This then is what those izinyanga do who herd the heaven. For if it thunders excessively, the inyanga begins to frown, that he p. 379 too may be dark as the heaven when it is covered with clouds. If the people of the house, whether he has gone out or not, speak very loudly, he silences them, saying, "Be still altogether." For his heart too is gathering clouds, as the heaven when it is coming quickly; and he no longer wishes that any one else should speak, but himself only by shouting. And if you go with him on a journey, and it suddenly thunders whilst you are at a distance from any village, and you are going first and he following, he will say to you, "Go on in front;" and he will follow at some distance from you; for he says if you go behind him you will meet with an accident, for the heaven will think you are killing him.27 And he makes you go on in front till you reach home.
Such then is the action of the heaven and of the inyanga; for black men believe in that scolding of the heaven, and that silencing of the hail. They do not imagine that when they say they know p. 380 that the heaven-herd28 is able to contend with the lightning and hail; for these people say, if we ask them, that they do not understand where they get the courage with which they contend with the heaven.
They say that when the heaven is about to be clouded,29 and before the clouds appear or it is evident that it is about to thunder excessively, the inyanga's heart already feels, for there is heat within him, and he is excited by anger; when the sky just begins to be clouded, he too becomes dark like it. For the doctors say they scarify with the heaven,30 and eat it. To eat the heaven is this, for the heaven eats cattle, and the p. 381 doctor takes the flesh of such cattle, and plaes it in a sherd, and the doctor eats it whilst hot,31 mixed with his medicines; for where the lightning strikes the ground, the doctors say there is something resembling the shank of assagai,32 which remains in the earth, and this thing is called a thunderbolt; they dig till they find it,33 and use it as a heaven-medicine; and so they say that the courage which they possess of contending with the heaven is that thunderbolt, which is found where the lightning has struck. Especially the bird also which is called the lightning-bird,34 they p. 382 say that that is the most powerful among all lightning-medicines. If a doctor does not possess it, but is a doctor only, he cannot have courage as that doctor can who possesses the lightning-bird, and who has eaten it. For doctors make their boast of this bird; for it is fat, and it is said to be the fat especially with which the doctors treat those who are struck, when one has been slightly struck and then left; but has been left full of dread. If it thunders he has no courage, and is much troubled at all times; he is not troubled mentally only; it is evident that he is troubled, for he continually moves about in the house, and seeks a place where he may hide himself. But if the doctor has been surrounded to come and give him heaven-medicine,35 then after that if it thunders he says, "The doctor has given me medicine; I am no longer afraid."
But as regards that bird, there are many who have seen it with their eyes. And especially doctors, and those persons who have seen it when it thunders and the lightning strikes the ground; the bird remains where the ground was struck. If there is any one near that place, he sees it in the fog on the ground, and goes and kills it. When he has killed it, he begins to be in doubt, saying, "Can it be that I shall continue to live as I have hitherto, seeing that I have killed this bird, which I never saw before? Is it not really that bird which it is said exists, the lightning-bird which goes with the lightning?" He is in doubt because he sees that its characteristics are not like those of birds which he has known for a long time; he sees that it is quite peculiar, for its feathers glisten. A man may think that it is red; again he sees that it is not so, it is green. But if he looks earnestly he may say, "No, it is something between the two colours, as I am looking at it." And I myself once saw a feather of this bird whilst I was living on the Umsunduzi; for I had wished for a long time to see the colour of the bird; and at length I saw one of its feathers. The man to whom it belonged p. 384 took it out of his bag; and truly I saw it, and said, "Indeed it is the feather of a dreadful bird." He also showed me one of its bones; it was like a bone in which are many little blood-vessels and many little grey lines; I saw many lines in the bone, and said, "Truly." This then is what I have heard on this matter, and that was confirmed by what I saw for myself with my own eyes.
When we say herding-doctors, we speak metaphorically, for a man who herds cattle has weapons and his rain-shield.36 We take the name of a herder of cattle, and give it to one who counteracts the lightning, for when he keeps it back he shouts as a boy who is herding cattle; if he goes into the cattle-pen with his weapons and is silent, the cattle cannot go out; but by whistling the cattle understand that he tells them to go to the pastures, that is, to go out of the pen. And the herd that herds the lightning does the same as the herder of the cattle; he does as he does by whistling; he says, "Tshui-i-i. Depart, and go yonder; do not come here." He repeats this again and again.
Such doctors as these say they have a common feeling with the heaven. They say this because p. 385 sometimes it is said a certain doctor sends the lightning37 to another doctor to try him whether he is a powerful doctor or not. He does not try the doctor who appointed him; he tries others whose appointment he does not understand;38 for it is this by which he sees that another is a doctor indeed, by his sending back to him the lightning, and he too begins to bustle about and to enter his house to set himself in order.39
It happened in times past when I visited my people, on my arrival I lay down; on the following day in the afternoon the sky became overcast, and was very dark indeed; at the time when the maize was blossoming. I was sitting at the doorway whilst it was thundering excessively; and my brother who is a doctor entered the house, running, and took down his shield and his string of medicines, and went out. When it thundered aloud, he too shouted aloud, and whistled. I asked my mother what the man was doing. She replied, "Do not speak, for when it is like this no one any longer speaks. He is a heaven-herd." So I was silent. And the heaven cast down many hail-stones. And I thought he would die, for I heard them striking on his shield; it was as though maize had been thrown on him. But although he was resisted very much, he did not enter the house. And as regards the lightning, in like manner the heaven resisted him; but he did not enter the house until it was bright again.
In the morning I heard it said that at my uncle's village, at Inyama, down the river, one Umathlati said he would go out before the great doctors went out; he shouted aloud, saying, "Depart, p. 387 and go yonder." But the hail smote loudly on his body, and he came into the house backwards. Another went out, and when he shouted, the heaven stopped his mouth. On that day the heaven turned its back40 on the village; it was entirely in its power, and it did its will. They remained in their houses; it entirely destroyed the corn.
When I heard this I said, "Forsooth is such a doctor as that conquered? What shall we eat this year, since they have been unable to herd?"
They replied, "They did not fast.41 They are therefore conquered."
As regards this fasting which is spoken of a man that herds the sky, it is said that the doctor who appoints him says, "Let him not p. 389 drink if he is given beer in a cup that is not full." And, "Let him not eat herbs before the feast of firstfruits."42 And, "Let him not take a handful of boiled maize from the fireplace, if the maize has not been taken from the pot." And, "Let him not eat the flesh of a bullock until it has been opened." And, "Let him not eat izindumba if he has not been given them." This is the fasting which the doctors speak of. And if a man is hungry and come to men who are drinking43 beer, if the vessel is not full, he would say, "For my part indeed you know that I herd the heaven."
When I was young, about the size of Ungangamana, I saw a rain-man;44 his name was Umkqaekana. He was a great doctor even among the Amazulu,45 skilful p. 390 in producing rain. But among the Amazulu he did not show himself much to the chief; for the chiefs of the house of Uzulu used not to allow a mere inferior46 to be even said to have power over the heaven; for it was said that the heaven belonged only to the chief of that place. Umkqaekana therefore remained hidden. But he did not cease to produce rain in secret. At length he crossed to this side the Utukela, for he heard that Utshaka had said, "Let all the heaven-doctors be killed." He escaped, and came among the English; he came here without any property, by himself alone.47 He came without any thing, because he came to his own relations.
He became a dependent of the chief of the Amadhlala; it is the same to whom we were subject; his name was Unjeje, the son of Usechele. And when he had staid a short time, the heaven became very hot and dry.48 His own people began to whisper about him to the chief, saying, "You see that man; if you ask him, he can cause the rain to drop for you. p. 391 He is a great doctor above all other doctors."
And this was first spoken of a little, and at last openly; and we all heard that Umkqaekana was a rain-doctor. The chief asked him just to set to work, that he might see if it were true or not. And—for at that time the heaven was hot and dry—I heard it said, "Umkqaekana says, 'Let the people look at the heaven at such a time; it will rain.'"
And he went away into the forest to get his things ready; he went there continually, until the day he had mentioned came. And when it rained, the people said, "Truly, he is a doctor!" And it was always thus. He was given cattle, and very quickly became rich.
And after that year the heaven was hard, and it did not rain. The people persecuted him exceedingly. When he was persecuted I saw him and pitied him, for I saw men come even by night and smite his doorway with clubs, and take him out of his house, telling him to come out and give them back their cattle which they had given him, because the heaven no longer yielded rain. They did this constantly. And he was greatly troubled, for sometimes they came in the morning and took him out of his house; he fled, and they p. 392 threw clubs at him; he ran away down into the bush, until the sun set, without eating, being afraid to go home; for they said they would really kill him, if it did not rain. But they said that through their subtlety, thinking that he would do what they wished at once, because he expected them to kill him. And I saw that it sometimes rained whilst he was working.
And on another year, when they saw that the heaven wished to destroy the corn, they hated him exceedingly. I was not there at that time. I was with my own people, the Amapepete. I heard it said that it rained excessively, that it might cover the dead body of Umkqaekana with earth. It is said they poisoned him, and did not stab him. I heard it said that those people were troubled, for their gardens were carried away by a flood. This then is what I heard of this rain-doctor.
One day his son, (the one that was most dear to his father, named Unqeto, who went with his father to the forest when he went there; for he said he loved him because he could send him where he wished;49 for if a man is causing it to rain, he requires a child, that he may send him constantly without refusing in the least, that the heaven p. 393 may be yielding,)—this son said to me, after I had earnestly besought him, "Come, and I will show you where my father placed his things with which he treated the heaven." We went at noon, having herded our cattle near the place. Under an overjutting rock we found covered vessels, and a churning stick; he showed us what his father did, and little bundles of medicine bound with inkonthlwane;50 he showed us also how his father churned. But when we saw that we were afraid, and did not wish to go in, but ran away, thinking perhaps the lightning would strike us if we touched the medicines of the doctor. We left them under the rock, and ran away to the cattle.
This is the end of what I saw.
The Sky, Sun, Moon, and Stars.
THE blue heaven which we see we suppose is a rock,51 and that it p. 394 encircles the earth, the earth being inside the heaven, and the heaven ending outside the earth; and we suppose there is no other earth on the other side of the heaven.
And the men52 who, we suppose, are on the other side of the heaven, we do not know whether they are on the rock, or whether there is some little place which is earth on the other side; we do not know that. The one thing which we know is this, that these heavenly men exist. Therefore we say there is a place for them, as this place is for us.
And the sun we do not say is on the other side of the heaven; for if it were on the other side we should not be able to see it; it would be hidden like the men who are on the other side whom we do not see. The sun is on this side, for we see the whole of it thoroughly; not even one little spot of it is concealed.
And the moon too, like the sun, is on this side; and the stars too are on this side,—all three. And the clouds are on this side; and rain we say is on this side, which descends on this world; for if the rain were on the other side it could not come here to us, for we suppose that the heaven is a rock.
The sun in its course has only two paths; by day it travels by a path in the heaven; at night it enters by a path which goes into the sea, into the water; it passes through the water, until it again comes out at the place where it rises53 in the morning.
As regards the path of the sun, its winter path is different from its summer path; for it travels northward till it reaches a certain place—a mountain or a forest, [where it rises and sets,] and it does not pass beyond these two places; it comes out of its winter house; when it comes out it goes southward to its summer place. We say that when it quits its winter place it is fetching the summer, until it reaches a certain mountain or tree; and then it turns northward again, fetching the winter, in constant succession. These are its houses, where we say it enters; we say so, for it stays in its winter house a few days; p. 396 and when it quits that place we know that it has ended the winter and is now fetching the summer; and indeed it travels southward, until, when the summer has grown, it enters the summer house a few days, and then quits it again, in constant succession.
As to the renewal of the moon, we say it is new moon because we see it in the west. It used to be said the moon dies utterly; but it is not so; the days devour it,54 and it goes on diminishing until to appearance it is as thin as a man's nail; and then it is taken by the sun; the sun finds it in the east and travels with it, until he leaves it in the west, and it can be seen when the twilight begins, and we say it is new moon; and it goes on growing until it is full. At last it has it back to the east,55 and we say the moon is rising more and more eastward, and at last it is full;56 it rises when the sun sets; and at last the sun rises before the moon sets; and it again wanes, until it dies.
We do not say the stars travel like the sun and moon; they are fixed continually. But there are stars which travel, and which die like the moon.
Isikcelankobe57 (the evening star) is sometimes invisible, sometimes seen.
And Isilimela58 (the Pleiades) dies, and is not seen. It is not seen in winter; and at last, when the winter is coming to an end, it begins to appear—one of its stars first, and then three, until going on increasing it becomes a cluster of stars, and is perfectly clear when the sun is about to rise. And we say Isilimela is renewed, and the year is renewed, and so we begin to dig.
Ikwezi (the morning star) keeps its place constantly; it precedes the morning and the sun; and by its rising we see that the morning is coming; the night has passed, the morning star has arisen, and the sorcerer turns back rapidly from the place where he is going, because he says, "If I go slowly, the light will rise on me, and I shall reach home when it is light." And the spy rapidly turns back; when the morning star rises he knows that it is now morning. Such then is this star.
Indosa is a star which arises before the morning star, when night p. 398 is advanced; and if men have staid drinking beer, or eating the meat at a wedding feast, if they see Indosa arisen, for it arises red, they say, "Let us lie down; it is now night." And so they lie down. A man does not say, "Since Indosa has arisen I shall not now lie down;" he will lie down for a long time.59 In the morning Indosa is very high in the heaven, and the morning star risen.
The Sun, Moon, and Stars.
AS regards the position of the sun, in the opinion of the people he is chief above the moon and stars; for when he has arisen both moon and stars become dim, and he alone shines, until he sets, and then they shine.
As regards his motion, it is said he really travels in the heaven, until it goes into the sea, and returns to the east from whence he arose. It is said he travels in the water. Where he arises in the morning there is a great ball; this ball is called the sun's mother; it accompanies him when he is about to rise, and leaves him on his arising, and goes back into the sea. It is as red as fire. This then is what I know about the sun.
As regards the moon, it was said at first the moon dies, and another moon comes into being. But at length it was seen that it is not so; that the moon does not die, but is one like the sun. But its death is that it diminishes, being eaten by the days, until it hides itself in the sun, that is, in its rays, and is then no longer visible. It is taken by the sun, and he goes with it a few days, and then leaves it again, and the moon is seen when the sun sets. Observers at length saw by their observation, and said, "Why is it said that the moon is dead, when it is merely hiding itself in the sun?" And during the day when the sky can be looked at, and the sun no longer pierces the eyes much with his rays, the moon is seen by a man standing in a deep shade, and looking upwards, and fixing his eyes intently on a spot near the sun and ceasing to look on the earth, and raising his eyes to the sky, until the light which pierces the eyes ceases, when the eyes are accustomed to look at a spot near the sun, and the sky is clear to the eyesight, and the sun no longer forces him to close his eyes, the moon is seen at the edge of the sun, whether the sun will leave it when he sets, or set with it. He who sees it calls another, p. 400 and says, "The moon is not dead, as they say it dies; there it is. Look up. Shade your eyes, and bring the eyelids together, and get accustomed to the sun, and then you will see it." And indeed he seeks and seeks until he sees it, and says, "Truly it is hidden by the rays."
Men saw the stars too during the day; and I too have seen them. We were living on the Umbava. At midday I too disputed and said, "The moon really dies." But we were herding when the sun was very high; we were in the shade, lying on our backs without sleeping, and looking upwards. My brother said to me, "You see the moon. There it is; it is close to the edge of the sun." I contradicted him. He said, "Look hard; you will soon see it." And indeed I fixed my eyes, and looked earnestly at the sun and at the edge of the sun; I saw the moon for a moment; I again fixed my eyes, and saw it clearly, and said, "It is true." I saw also the stars—at first one; at last I saw many. So I was satisfied that the moon does not die. That is what I know about the moon.
The moon is said to be the sun's officer.
The Male and Female Heavens.
THE people speak of two heavens; the one which thunders with a deep roar is the male; it is not dreadful, it does no harm; for although it thunders, it causes nothing but rain. When the male heaven thunders we say, "This year the heaven is peaceful, for it does not thunder injuriously."
It is said of the female heaven that it thunder is attended with lightning and hail; and the breeze which comes with it is rather bad. And men run away and go into their houses at once. Its lightning is usually forked and rapid; as soon as a man starts it has passed; its colour is bluish, and has little reddish streaks; this kind of heaven thunders very shrilly; it is as though it would split the head; and so its thunder is bad.
If it meet with a man in the open country he cannot tell where to go; and even indoors the house seems small, and he wants a second house into which the lightning cannot enter; and the world itself seems small at the time of its shrill thunderings, and men seek for a place where they can hide themselves. The female heaven causes much pain. The pain it causes is that it does not give a p. 402 man time to take courage; it presses upon him suddenly with constant repetition; it therefore tears a man with terror, and a man cannot see that to-morrow will ever come; he says, "No; there is no to-morrow;" and he can no longer see that the light of another day will shine in the heaven and pass away; he sees that the heaven will pass away with him.
What we know of the female heaven is the injury that it does; that it belongs to it only to injure cattle, and men, and trees. After it there follows intense heat. We are afraid if the female heaven occurs again and again; in such a year we say, "The sun will burn up our crops; this heaven is followed by evil."
The Smiting of the Heaven.
IF there are cattle which have been struck by the lightning, it is difficult for the people to approach them unless they are heaven-doctors; for they say, "If we approach these cattle, we shall be calling the heaven to come to us; do not let us go, then it will not come to us." But the doctor goes to them; perhaps he says, "Let them be eaten."
The mode of eating them is p. 403 this:—The people eat them, and take emetics continually; when they leave off emetics, they go and wash; and the doctor gives them medicines, that he may prevent the lightning from coming.
But as to all that fear of eating cattle which have been struck by the lightning, the people are not afraid because they suppose that it will come to them on account of the cattle; but they are afraid especially because if they have gone to the cattle, and it thunders after that, they will no longer think, but will say what is apparently true, "We shall now really see it come to us." For they say that by going to the cattle they have sinned against the heaven; and it will punish them by striking them as it struck the cattle. It is this then that causes fear in men, because the dreaded thing comes from above and not from below; if it come from below, a man might say, "I shall see it coming from yonder mountain, and avoid it." This then is the fear of men; they are afraid of something that looks down upon all of us; the fear does not arise because it will really strike; but it arises from thinking that it is a thing above us; we cannot defend ourselves from it as from a stone thrown by another.
Treating the Heaven.
WHEN it thunders the doctors go out and scold it; they take a stick and say they are going to beat the lightning of heaven. They say they can overcome the lightning. They shout and take shields and sticks; they strike on their shields and shout. And when it clears away again, they say, "We have conquered it." They say they can overcome the heaven. When it thunders they take medicines and burn them in the fire; they say, they are smoking the heaven. If it does not thunder, but is afraid of the medicines, they are glad because they shout to the heaven and their heart is glad when they overcome the heaven. They say they overcome the heaven with their medicines.
If a house is burnt by the lightning, they go to doctors who know how to treat the heaven and they come with their medicines, and treat all the inhabitants of the village where the lightning has struck. They are treated very much; they are scarified and take umsizi; and little rods are driven into the ground on the upper side of the village, and in front of the village in all the paths, and near the doorways of the houses, and on the tops of the houses, and near the entrance of the cattle pen. p. 405 They are treated with a black sheep,60 that the heaven may be dark61 and not wish to strike there again; for if they kill a white sheep it will again strike in that homestead. They wish to work with a black sheep, that the lightning may not strike that homestead again.
The doctor who treats the heaven goes with a black sheep; if he has not a black sheep, they cannot treat the heaven; for they require a black sheep. The doctor kills it; its flesh is mixed with medicines, and the people are scarified, and the little rods are smeared with medicine and fixed and driven into the paths.
UMABOPE is a heaven-medicine which is burnt in the isolo62 when there is a threatening of a severe thunder storm.63 Ubokqo also is used for smoking the heaven; and umthlonyane is used for the same purpose; and umkatazo is a medicine kept among the doctor's medicines, that if the lightning comes into the house he may p. 406 puff64 at it with this medicine, which he mixes with other medicines, whose names I do not know. These then are the heaven-medcines which I know.
Another heaven-medicine is isibetelelo; its oil is taken and mixed with other heaven-medicines, and obstructions are made on every side of the village; rods to be which these medicines are applied are placed above the village, and others at the side; so these rods herd the village; they are placed too at the entrance of the cattle-pen; the whole village is thus herded; and inside the houses, and on the tops of the houses these rods are placed. And the heaven is shut out by these means, that it may be unable to find a place where it can enter. This then is what I know.
And at the end of the year the rods are renewed by setting new ones in their place; it being known that the old heaven of the year which has passed away has passed away with the old year; but the present year has its own heaven.65 Hence new rods are set up every year.
When a doctor who herds the heaven eats green food of the new p. 407 year, and the people are told that he is eating new food, they leave off work on that day, and stay at home without working. And if it hails they do not work, but leave off, saying, "O, if we work we summon the lightning." All the works of men are omitted. Or if a great wind arises during the digging season, they leave off digging in like manner; thinking that if they work they summon the ligntning to smite them. It is proper for them to leave off, and then the violent wind will not come again.
This is what I know of the heaven. But heaven-medicines which are used by the doctors are many, many of which I do not know.
The Insingizi and Ingqungqulu.
THE account of the Insingizi. The Insingizi is a heaven-bird; it is a large bird. If the heaven is scorching, and the sun burns up the corn, the people go to rain-doctors; others hasten to find an Insingizi, thinking that if they find one, and kill it, the heaven will rain, when the bird has been thrown into a pool of the river. And indeed it is killed and thrown into a pool. And if it rains, it is said it rains for the sake of the Insingizi which has been killed. It is said the heaven becomes soft p. 408 if an Insingizi is killed; it sympathises with it, and ceases to be hard; it wails for it by raining, wailing a funeral wail. And so the people are saved by having corn to eat. This then is what I know about the Insingizi.
It is this bird which is sought for more than all others; for although the heaven be dry and scorching, if the people see many Izinsingizi walking in the open country and crying, it seems to men that they see a sign of rain because they see the Izinsingizi, and they trust that it will rain because they cry so much.
Another bird, the Ingqungqulu, is larger than all other birds; the Insingizi is next in size to it. But the Insingizi is of more importance, because it gives but one kind of omen, that of rain,—that the heaven will rain if it is killed. But the Ingqungqulu gives omens of many things. If it drops its dung on a man, the sun will not set before that man has run in all directions looking for a doctor to treat him; and it is a matter of great consequence, and men expect some evil to happen to him. Another sign which the Ingqungqulu gives is, that if it cries whilst flying, it is said it will rain. And if as it goes along it smites its wings together, it is said it reports the arrival of an enemy.
IN the Zulu Nursery Tales we meet with an instance of the use of an incantation or magical song to produce a storm. Umkxakaza-wako-gingqwayo sung her song, and raised the tempest which destroyed the Amadhlungundhlebe. (P. 203.) In another case, Ubongopa-kama-gadhlela raised a storm by spitting on the ground. The spittle boiled up and saluted him; a great storm arose, from which every one suffered but himself. (P. 228.) Every tribe has its tribal or national song, which is called "The chief's song." This song is sung on two occasions only; on the feast of firstfruits, when, if there has been a continued drought, it is supposed to be capable of causing rain; it is also sung by an army if overtaken with continuous rain on the march; on singing the chief's song the rain ceases, and the army is able to go on its way. Thus the national song is an incantation supposed to be capable of producing rain, or causing it to cease. The song of the Amapepete is given in the following account; its meaning is scarcely understood.
THERE are among black men magical songs, by singing which it happens on the day of the great festival,66 although the sun has been for a long time scorching, that rain comes, and it is said, "The heaven rains with reason, for it is filling up the footprints of the chief, that they may no longer appear where he stood, but be obliterated by the rain."
The people are scattered to their homes; they set out already drenched, hastening to reach the rivers before they are flooded.
If it does not rain on the day of the festival, the people say, "It will not rain for a long time, for it has not filled up the footprints of the chief."
As it happened when Umyeka, the chief of our people, among p. 410 the Amapepete, went up to the old site of his father's village, which was called Umzimvubu; for it was said his father, who was now an Itongo, did not wish to go down to the Inanda, but staid at the old site. But in consequence of the constant illness of the son Umyeka, Umyeka went up to the old site, saying, "To-day I am going to fetch my father, for him to come and protect the village. It was not thus when I was living on the Umbava."67
There went up with him many people, the whole nation, old men, and young men and youths; they went, sleeping in the way till they came near the old site, when they slept at the village of Usisila. On the following morning Umyeka set out to go to the old site; when he reached the hill overlooking it, they were divided into regiments as though they were an army; the men went by themselves, and the young men by themselves, and the youths by themselves.
It so happened that the sun had been very scorching at the time of eating new food, in the month called Ungcela,68 when they would have been eating new food if there had not been so much drought. p. 411 They went on towards the old site, Umyeka going first, followed by his soldiers; they sung the song of his father to arouse him by it, that he might unite with them. The lauders69 who lauded the father, and grandfather, and the son Umyeka, were innumerable. When they reached the cattle-pen, they halted there, and formed a circle; there came too the portion of the tribe which still lived in that neighbourhood, for they knew the day when Umyeka would come, and were staying near the old site, waiting for the chief; they came with the women, their wives and their daughters carrying beer. Thus then they assembled, and danced the shield-dance for a long, long time; after dancing they sang their father's song:—
"Dig for71 the chief, and watch our gardens which are at Isiwandiye.72
Those words are naught.73
Dig for the chief, and watch our gardens which are at Isiwandiye.
Those words are naught.
"Which are at Isiwandiye, I-i-i-zi74—which are at Isiwandiye.
Those words are naught."
Whilst in the midst of the song the heaven became clouded, and thundered; they did not leave off, neither did they say, "O, let us run home, for we shall get wet." The old women said, "This day there has come the chief of our land75 where our nation dwells; we shall see rain also."
The women shouted; it was as though they were mad when they saw the clouds gathering tumultuously and rapidly coming on. They continued singing, the people now sweating exceedingly through the heat of the sun. It poured; the rain ran on the ground; they still went on dancing and rejoicing, and saying, "This day the Itongo of our people has united with us, for we see a drop of rain."76
Umyeka took his shield and went and stood under a tree. The people tired of dancing. He told them to go home. They sat under the tree, and drank all the beer, and then went towards their homes.
This song is sung only on two occasions; it is not sung before p. 413 the new year,77 when it is sung. It is also sung when, if an army has gone out, it has been overtaken by rain78 in the way, and as it is travelling it rains excessively. It will not become bright until this song is sung; then the heaven clears, and they go whither they wish to go.
Such then are the songs of chiefs. A chief has not two each has his own, the ancient song of the chiefs of the several nations.79
21 Heaven-herds; or Sky-herds.
HEAVEN-HERDS are said to herd the heaven, because when it is overcast, they at once see that the heaven is bad, and has ceased to be calm, and has gone out to do evil; and the hearts of the herds are kindled; they are no longer happy, are unable to swallow any food, and are struck with fear, as though an enemy was coming to kill them. At last they become brave when the lightning begins to flash. They quit their huts and drive it away, trying to make it return to whence it came; they forbid the hailstones to fall, because they know that they will destroy the food, the grass, and the trees. They are therefore herds who herd the heaven, that it may not break out and do its will on the property of people. They do not turn back the rain, for it is good; they turn back the lightning and the hail; they turn back the lightning from the village where they live.
22 Isolo is a fireplace outside the kraal, but near it, where medicines capable of influencing the heaven—heaven-medicines—are burnt.
23 That is, by burning the heaven-medicines whilst the hail is still distant, they diminish its power, so that when it comes, if it should be able to come at all, it may be unable to do any harm; but may be readily made to obey the doctor's command to depart.
24 Ukumelana nezulu,—ukumelana nonyazi,—to counteract the heaven or the lightning,—is an expression we shall often meet with. I point out, without being able to say whether there is any similarity in meaning, a passage—Ps. lxxiii. 9—"They set their mouth against the heaven," which we shall best render by, Ba melana ngomlomo wabo nezulu. No doubt the heaven in the Hebrew Scriptures is often synonymous with God; in other places it is spoken of as an object of idol-adoration. There were sorcerers, diviners, and those with familiar spirits known to the Hebrews; there might also have been rain-doctors and sky-doctors.
25 That is, whilst endeavouring to turn back the storm.
26 It—izulu, throughout spoken of as though it was a person, possessed of intelligence. The literal translation of the sentence is: There is thunder; if the heaven thunders, without bringing hail-stones, but urges on the lightning.
27 From this it is clear that we are not to regard the heaven-herd as an opponent of the heaven; but as a priest to whom is entrusted the power of prevailing mediation. He is under the protection of the heaven; and his enemies, real or supposed, are liable to be destroyed by it, whilst he is safe so long as he is observant of the laws of his office. Heathen have sometimes asked me to pray for rain because I am one whose office it is "ukumelana nenkosi," to contend with God. Compare Gen. xxxii. 24-28. And see below, where the heaven avenges the death of the rain-doctor.
28 Or sky-doctor, heaven meaning the sky, which is not supposed to be very high above the earth.
29 Lit., about to arm.
30 I have translated literally here, but it will be scarcely intelligible to the English reader without explanation. The natives say they scarify with the heaven, that is, make scarifications and rub in medicines, and eat it. The heaven is here used for those substances in which it, or its power or virtue, is supposed to be. A bullock struck with lightning is supposed to have the heaven, or power of the heaven, in it; so the thunderbolt which comes from heaven; and the fabulous bird which is supposed to descend in a thunder storm. Therefore when they say they scarify with the heaven, they mean that the doctors make scarifications in their own bodies and rub in medicines mixed with the flesh of a bullock struck with lightning, or with the thunderbolt, or with the flesh of the inyoni-yezulu, the lightning-bird. And "eating the heaven" means in like manner eating those things in which the heaven, or its power or virtue, is supposed to be. By this practice they are brought into sympathy with the heaven,—feel with it, know when it is going to thunder, and are able to counteract it. Here again we see the homœopathic principle coming out in their therapeutics, as we do in so many other instances; similia similibus,— lightning by lightning.
31 Ukuncinda, makes an izembe, and eats it, see p. 290, note 52.
32 Umsuka is the shank of an assagai, or of a native pick, or any thing of that kind.
33 It is said that the doctors are directed to the place where the thunderbolt is by watching during a storm, and, going to the place where they suppose they saw the lightning strike, they find a heap of jelly-like substance over the spot where the bolt entered, and digging find it.
34 In the legends of the American Indians we meet with accounts of Thunder-birds, or Cloud-birds. "They frequently explain the thunder as the sound of the cloud-bird flapping his wings, and the lightning as the fire that flashes from his tracks, like the sparks which the buffalo scatters when he scours over the stony plain." A metaphor which probably arose from personifying the clouds, and supposing that motion meant life, and where there was a voice there must be a living being to utter it; like the Maruts or Storm-gods of the Hindoo. The metaphor may have been a simple metaphor at first, to become at last to the minds or the masses a truth expressing a fact of nature. (Brinton's Myths of the New World, p. 102-104.)—A Dahcotah thus explains the theory of thunder:—"Thunder is a large bird, flying through the air; its bright tracks are seen in the heavens, before you hear the clapping of its wings. But it is the young ones that do the mischief. The parent bird would not hurt a Dahcotah. Long ago a thunder-bird fell from the heavens; and our fathers saw it as it p. 382 lay not far from the Little Crow's village." (Dahcotah; or, Life and Legends of the Sioux. By Mrs. Mary Eastman, p. 191.) See also the legend of Unktahe and the Thunder-bird. Cloudy-Sky, during one of his earthly sojournings, had allied himself with the thunder-birds to fight against the spirits of the waters, and with his own hand killed the son of Unktahe, the God of rivers. For this he was doomed to death on his fourth appearance on earth as a great medicine-man. (Id., p. 213, &c.)—Catlin relates that some Indians led him to "The Thunder's nest," where it is supposed the thunder-bird, a very small bird indeed, hatches its eggs, and the thunder is supposed to come out of the egg. (Life among the Indians, p. 166.)—Jupiter's Eagle probably has some connection with such legends.
35 Lit., the very heaven, meaning thereby, the fat of the lightning-bird, or its flesh, or portion of a thunder-bolt.
36 A small shield which is used as an umbrella to ward off rain and hail.
37 Lit., the heaven, or sky.
38 Here again we have apparently an intimation that the izinyanga were priests—not self-appointed, but commissioned by others who preceded them. But there appears also to have been dissidents—those whose commission was not known. Man is the same every where.
39 We find similar trials of skill among sorcerers of other countries. It is said a German sorcerer was called to see if he could not "extinguish" our far-famed sorcerer Roger Bacon. He raised a spirit which he ordered to carry off Roger Bacon. But Roger was too strong for the German, and the raised spirit, instead of taking away Roger as commanded, carried off his own master.—In like manner "the priest Eiríkur" having snatched by his sorcery from the hands of "the good folk of Sída" a murderer who was condemned to lose his head,—a not very priestly act, it may be,—they "hired a man from the West firths who dabbled in magic to send a great cat to slay Eiríkur." Eiríkur's magic and prophetic power could not protect him from this cat. The sender worked,—the "sending" was sent,—and unlooked-for rushed upon its victim; and Eiríkur was saved, not by magic and inner sight, but by "quickness" and help of a pupil in sorcery. And "Puss," that is, the "sending," soon lay dead upon the ground. Eiríkur had triumphed. But triumph is nothing without revenge. He must teach the people that Eiríkur—priest and sorerer, strange but not uncommon combination—must not be trifled with. So he "despatehed a sending to the man in the West firths, and put an end to him almost as quickly as to his goblin-cat." (Icelandic Legends, p. 262.)
40 It is well to note this use of fulatela; to turn the back on an enemy means to have conquered him utterly.
41 Here we find fasting—abstinence from food and labour—one of the conditions of successful performance of the duties of an office. There is this saying among the natives, "Umzimba ow esutayo njalo-njalo u nge bone kahle oku-imfihlo," The continually stuffed body cannot see secret things. And they have no faith in a fat diviner—do not believe that he can divine. Their diviners fast often, and are worn out by fastings, sometimes of several days' duration, when they become partially or wholly ecstatic, and see visions, &c. This is very instructive, and throws light on the results of fasting among those who suppose themselves to be the objects of a divine revelation.
It is curious how universally a system of fasting prevails amongst different peoples, being regarded as a merit, or as a means of preparation for a work, or for the reception of a revelation from a superior power, or as an expression of self-contrition, or as a means of producing a high order of spirituality. It would be interesting to trace this custom to its root, but this is not the place for such a subject. We may, however, refer to some instances among the Polynesians, where neglect of fasting by others is supposed to have seriously interfered with the work of some great man:—
"Maui then left his brothers with their canoe, and returned to the village; but before he went he said to them, 'After I am gone, be p. 388 courageous and patient; do not eat food until I return, and do not let our fish be cut up, but rather leave it until I have carried an offering to the gods from this great haul of fish, and until I have found a priest, that fitting prayers and sacrifices may be offered to the god, and the necessary rites be completed in order. We shall thus all be purified. I will then return, and we can cut up this fish in safety, and it shall be fairly portioned out to this one, and to that one, and to that other; and on my arrival you shall each have your due share of it, and return to your homes joyfully; and what we leave behind us will keep good, and that which we take away with us, returning, will be good too.'
"Maui had hardly gone, after saying all this to them, than his brothers trampled under their feet the words they had heard him speak. They began at once to eat food, and to cut up the fish. When they did this, Maui had not yet arrived at the sacred place, in the presence of the god; had he previously reached the sacred place, the heart of the deity would have been appeased with the offering of a portion of the fish which had been caught by his disciples, and all the male and female deities would have partaken of their portions of the sacrifice. Alas! alas! those foolish, thoughtless brothers of his cut up the fish, and behold the gods turned with wrath upon them, on account of the fish which they had thus cut up without having made a fitting sacrifice. Then, indeed, the fish began to toss about his head from side to side, and to lash his tail, and the fins upon his back, and his lower jaw. Ah! ah! well done Tangaroa, it springs about on shore as briskly as if it was in the water.
"That is the reason that this island is now so rough and uneven—that here stands a mountain—that there lies a plain—that here descends a vale—that there rises a cliff. If the brothers of Maui had not acted so deceitfully, the huge fish would have lain flat and smooth, and would have remained as a model for the rest of the carth, for the present generation of men. This, which has just been recounted, is the second evil which took place after the separation of Heaven from Earth." (Polynesian Mythology. By Sir George Grey. Pp. 43-45.)
So when the powerful magician Ngatoro-i-rangi wished to ascend to the snow covered top of Mount Tongariro he said to his companions, "Remember now, do not you, who I am going to leave behind, taste food from the time I leave you until I return, when we will all feast together." Then he began to ascend the mountain, but he had not quite got to the summit when those he had left behind been to eat food, and he therefore found the greatest difficulty in reaching the summit of the mountain, and the hero nearly perished in the attempt. (Id., p. 156.)
42 At the period of the year when the new food is ripe, varying with different places, the chief summons all his people to a festival, (which is called ukudhlala umkosi;) all the people make beer, which they take with them to the chief's village; at the chief's village, too, much beer is made. When the people are assembled the chief has oxen killed by his soldiers, and there is a great feast of one day with singing and dancing. This is called ukushwama, and the people return to their homes and begin to eat the new produce. If any one is known to eat new food before this festival he is regarded as an umtakati, and is killed, or has all his cattle taken away.
43 The natives speak of beer as food,—and of eating it, and appeasing hunger by it. They also call snuff food, and speak of eating it.
44 I translate literally, a rain-man or man of rain, a rain-doctor, one capable of causing rain or drought.
45 Lit., In the house, country, or nation of Uzulu; that is, of the traditional founder or unkulunkulu of the Zulu nation.
46 Uzana, dim. of ize, nothing; izana, a little nothing, that is, something less than nothing itself. Uzana, a proper name, meaning The-less-than-nothing-man. All men of low degree are called aba-ntwana bakazana, Children of Uzana,—this hypothetical man of naught.
47 Lit., Just walking, that is, without any incumbrances of property or cattle.
48 There was long continued drought and hot weather.
49 Lit., Send-able,—ready to go on a mission.
50 Inkonthlwane, a small tree whose bark is white, and used to tie up bundles.
51 The notion that the heaven is a solid body or roof over this world is very common, probably universal, among primitive peoples. The Hebrews spoke of it as a firmament, that is, a beaten out solid expanse, which was "strong as a molten looking glass." Job. xxxvii. 18. It was supposed to support a celestial reservoir of waters, and to have doors, open lattices, and windows, through which rain, hail, and dew descend. It also supported the heavenly bodies; and is spoken p. 394 of as a floor on which the throne of God rests. Ezek. i. 26. The Greeks had similar ideas, and applied the terms brazen and iron to the sky. The Latin cœlum is a hollow place, or cave scooped out of solid space. (Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. FIRMAMENT.) The Arabs believed in numerous heavens one above the other, a belief which St. Paul entertained, and which is common to the Hindus, and to the Polynesians. Among the Chinese there is a myth, in which Puanku or Eldest-Antiquity is represented as having spent 18,000 years in moulding chaos, and chiseling out a space that was to contain him. And it is through openings made by his mighty hand that the sun, moon, and stars appear; not as the Amazulu think, shining on this side of the blue rock. (See Nursery Tales of the Zulus. Vol. I., p. 152. The Heaven-Country.) See some amusing diagrams by Cosmas-Indicopleustes, made on the supposed revealed cosmogony of the Bible. (Types of Mankind. Nott and Gliddon, p. 569.)
52 See Nursery Tales of the Zulus. Vol. I., p. 316. Appendix.
53 We see here the reason of the rising of the sun being expressed by ukupuma, to come out, because it is supposed to come out of the water.
54 How easily a mythical personification may arise from such a metaphor as this.
55 Enzansi here meaning by the sea, which is, Eastward.
56 Dilingana is also used to express full moon. Inyanga se i dilingene, The moon is now full.
57 Isikcelankobe, also called Isipekankobe.—Isi-kcela-nkobe: Izinkobe is boiled maize; ukukcela, to ask. The star which appears when men are asking for boiled maize,—their evening meal.—Isi-peka-nko-be: ukupeka, to boil. When the maize is boiling for the evening meal.
58 Isilimela, The digging-for-[stars.] Because when the Pleiades appear the people begin to dig. Isilimela se si ba landile abalimi, The Pleiades have now fetched the diggers.
59 Lit., until he forgets, that is, is in a deep sleep.
60 The Ossetes, in the Caucasus, a half Christian race, sacrifice a black goat to Elias, and hang the skin on a pole, when any one is struck by lightning. (Thorpe. Op. cit. Vol. I., p. 173.)
61 That is, unable to see clearly, so as to strike again where the black sheep has been sacrificed.
62 See p. 376, note 22.
63 Lit., If the heaven is coming badly.
64 The medicine is chewed, and whilst the breath is saturated with it, the doctor puffs at it.
65 That is, each year has a character of weather peculiar to itself. This is remarkably true of Natal, no two years being alike.
66 That is, the great festival of firstfruits.
67 Umbava, a river, on which Umzimvubu was built. It is near Table Mountain, and runs into the Umgeni. Umzimvubu, if interpreted, means the Hippopotamus-village.
69 Imbongi se inye, the lauders were one; that is, the lauders were innumerable. Just as in such sentences as the following:—A ku se si yo nembongi e bongayo, There is not now even one lauder lauding; that is, the lauders are very many.
71 Limel’—dig for, not known for whom, but probably, as here translated, the chief.
72 Asesiwandiye.—Isiwandiye for Isiwandile. The name of a place, as if of a place where there were many gardens.
73 Those words are naught,—that is, we object to dig at Isiwandile.
74 I-i-i-zi.—Z in zi pronounced as in azure. This chorus is used for the purpose of emphatically asserting the subject of the song.
75 Inkosi yomhlaba, The chief to whom the land belongs,—an inkosi yohlanga, or chief descended from a race of primitive chiefs.
76 Itonsi lemvula.—Here again a drop of rain means abundance of rain.
77 The feast of firstfruits.
78 Lit., heaven.
79 These are national songs.
The national song of the Amazulu consists of a number of musical sounds only, without any meaning, and which cannot be committed to writing. Each tribe has its own chief's song; some of these consist of words more or less intelligible, and once had doubtless a well understood meaning; others of mere musical sounds which have no meaning whatever.