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BECHUANALAND

speaker has either supported or condemned, not forgetting to clear his own character of any imputation. These public assemblies are now, except in Basutoland, of very rare occurrence. The clothing of the men consists of a leather bandage; the women wear a skin apron, reaching to the knee, under which is a fringed girdle. Skin cloaks (kaross) are worn by both sexes, with the difference that the male garment is distinguished by a collar. The hair is kept short for the most part; women shave the head, leaving a tuft on the crown which is plastered with fat and earth, and adorned with beads. Beads are worn, and various bracelets of iron, copper and brass.

The Bechuana are mainly an agricultural people, the Bangwaketse and Bakuena excelling as cultivators. Cattle they possess, but these are used chiefly for the purpose of purchasing wives, especially among the Basuto. At the same time they are excellent craftsmen, and show no little skill in smelting and working iron and copper and the preparation of hides and pottery vessels. The most efficient smiths are the Barolong and Bamangwato (the latter were spared by the Matabele chief Umsilikazi on this account); the Bangwaketse excel as potters; the Barolong as wood carvers, and the Bakuena as hut builders. The huts, with the exception of those of the Basuto who have adopted the Kaffir model, are cylindrical, with clay-plastered walls and a conical roof of thatch. In spite of the constant tribal feuds dating from the beginning of the 19th century, the Bechuana cannot be classed as a warlike people, especially when they are compared with the Zulu. Their weapons consist of the throwing assegai, usually barbed, axes, daggers in carved sheaths, and, occasionally, bows and arrows, the last sometimes poisoned. Hide shields of a peculiar shape, resembling a depressed hour-glass, are found except among the Basuto, who use a somewhat different pattern. Hunting usually takes the form of great drives organized in concert, and the game is driven by means of converging fences to a large pitfall or series of pits. Their religious beliefs are very vague; they appear to recognize a somewhat indeterminate spirit of, mainly, evil tendencies, called Morimo. The plural form of this word, Barimo, is used of the manes of dead ancestors, to whom a varying amount of reverence is paid. There is universal belief in charms and witchcraft, and divination by means of dice is common. Witch-doctors, who are supposed to counteract evil magic, play a not insignificant part, and the magician who claims the power of making rain occupies a very important position, as might be expected among an agricultural people inhabiting a country where droughts are not infrequent. They have a great dread of anything connected with death; when an old man is on the point of expiring, a net is thrown over him, and he is dragged from his hut by a hole in the wall, if possible before life is extinct. The dead are buried in a sitting position with their faces to the north, in which direction lies their ancestral home. Under the influence of missionaries, however, large numbers of the Bechuana have become Christianized, and many of the customs mentioned are no longer practised.

Polygamy is the rule, but, except in the case of chiefs, is not found to the same extent as among the Zulu-Xosa [Kaffirs]. The woman is purchased from her father, chiefly by means of cattle, though among the western Bechuana other articles are included, many of which become the property of the girl herself. The wives live in separate huts, and the first is given priority over those purchased subsequently. Chastity after marriage is the rule, and adultery and rape are severely punished, as offences against property. Cannibalism is found, but is rare and confined to certain tribes.

The Bechuana language, which belongs to the Bantu linguistic family, is copious, with but few slight dialectic differences, and is free from the Hottentot elements found in the Kaffir and Zulu tongues. The richness of the language may be judged from the fact that, though only oral until reduced to writing by the missionaries, it has sufficed for the translation of the whole Bible.

Bibliography. G. W. Stow, The Native Races of South Africa (London, 1905); Gustav Fritsch, Die Eingeborenen Sud-Afrikas (Breslau, 1872); Robert Moffat, Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa (1842); David Livingstone, Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa (London, 1857); J. C. MacGregor, Basuto Traditions (Cape Town, 1905).

 (T. A. J.) 


BECHUANALAND (a name given from its inhabitants, the Bechuana, q.v.), a country of British South Africa occupying the central part of the vast tableland which stretches north to the Zambezi. It is bounded S. by the Orange river, N.E. and E. by Matabeleland, the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, and W. and N. by German South-West Africa. Bechuanaland geographically and ethnically enjoys almost complete unity, but politically it is divided as follows:—

I. British Bechuanaland, since 1895 an integral part of Cape Colony. Area, 51,424 sq. m. Pop. (1904) 84,210, of whom 9276 were whites.

II. The Bechuanaland Protectorate, the northern part of the country, governed on the lines of a British crown colony. Area (estimated), 225,000 sq. m. Pop. (1904) 120,776, of whom Europeans numbered 1004. The natives, in addition to the Bechuana tribes, include some thousands of Bushmen (Masarwa). Administratively attached to the protectorate is the Tati concession, which covers 2500 sq. m. and forms geographically the south-west corner of Matabeleland.

The Griqualand West province of Cape Colony belongs also geographically to Bechuanaland, and except in the Kimberley diamond mines region is still largely inhabited by Bechuana. (See Griqualand.)

Physical Features.—The average height of the tableland of which Bechuanaland consists is nearly 4000 ft. The surface is hilly and undulating with a general slope to the west, where the level falls in considerable areas to little over 2000 ft. A large part of the country is covered with grass or shrub, chiefly acacia. There is very little forest land. The western region, the Kalahari Desert (q.v.), is mainly arid, with a sandy soil, and is covered in part by dense bush. In the northern region are large marshy depressions, in which the water is often salt. The best known of these depressions, Ngami (q.v.), lies to the north-west and is the central point of an inland water system apparently in process of drying up. To the north-east and connected with Ngami by the Botletle river, is the great Makari-Kari salt pan, which also drains a vast extent of territory, receiving in the rainy season a large volume of water. The marsh then becomes a great lake, the water surface stretching beyond the horizon, while in the dry season a mirage is often seen. The permanent marsh land covers a region 60 m. from south to north and from 30 to 60 m. east to west. In the south the rivers, such as the Molopo and the Kuruman, drain towards the Orange. Other streams are tributaries of the Limpopo, which for some distance is the frontier between Bechuanaland and the Transvaal.

The rivers of Bechuanaland are, with few exceptions, intermittent or lose themselves in the desert. It is evident, however, from the extent of the beds of these streams and of others now permanently dry, and from remains of ancient forests, that at a former period the country must have been abundantly watered. From the many cattle-folds and walls of defence scattered over the country, and ruins of ancient settlements, it is also evident that at that period stone-dykes were very common. The increasing dryness of the land is partly, perhaps largely, attributable to the cutting down of timber trees both by natives and by whites, and to the custom of annually burning the grass, which is destructive to young wood.

Climate.—The climate is healthy and bracing, except in the lower valleys along the river banks and in the marsh land, where malarial fever is prevalent. Though in great part within the tropics, the heat is counteracted by the dryness of the air. Throughout the year the nights are cool and refreshing; in winter the cold at night is intense. In the western regions the rainfall does not exceed 10 in. in the year; in the east the average rainfall is 26 in. and in places as much as 30 in. The rainy season is the summer months, November to April, but the rains are irregular, and, from the causes already indicated, the rainfall is steadily declining. From December to February violent