Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/679

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THE AFRICAN PYGMIES.

De Commerson, who accompanied Bougainville on his voyage round the world, and visited Madagascar in 1771, heard of a small race in the interior of that island, called Kimos or Quimos, and actually saw one woman—a slave in the household of the governor of the French settlement, the Comte de Modave. De Modave collected all the information he could about the Quimos from native chiefs, but never succeeded in reaching the valleys where they were said to live, or meeting with any, except the slave-woman before mentioned, who may or may not have been a typical specimen. Ellis and other missionaries, in later times, heard of these people under the name of Vazimba, but never appear to have seen them; and it may be doubted whether any of them exist at the present day. The native statements preserved by De Commerson and De Modave would, if true, show the Quimos to have been in some respects physiologically different from the rest of mankind; but these statements—and rightly so, in the absence of further evidence—are treated by both gentlemen with extreme caution. For the rest, the description of the Comte de Modave's Quimo slave might very well stand for the portrait of the average Bushwoman.

Captain Boteler, who was on the east coast of Africa, between the years 1821 and 1826, heard of a tribe of small people, living in the interior, called Waberikimo; and reports of these seem at different times to have reached Zanzibar. The native information on this point was somewhat vague; but from all accounts they would appear to be the same as the Doko, of whom Dr. Krapf received a description in 1840 from a slave of the name of Dilbo, a native of Enarea. The Doko were said to live in the Galla country; they were small in stature, and of a dark olive color. They lived on fruits, roots, mice, and wild honey, and were unacquainted with the use of fire. They had neither weapons, houses, nor temples, nor even, like the Gallas, sacred trees. Yet they had some notion of a Supreme Being, to whom, under the name of Yer, they sometimes addressed prayers, "in moments of sadness and terror," said Dilbo. There is a certain pathos in what follows; but we must remember that it was filtered through the imagination—perhaps elicited by the leading questions—of a kind-hearted German with a touch of poetic mysticism about him. "In their prayer they say: 'Yer, if thou dost really exist, why dost thou let us be slain? We ask thee not for food or clothing, for we only live on snakes, ants, and mice. Thou hast made us, why dost thou let us be trodden down?'"

The Doko had neither chiefs nor laws; they "lived in the woods, climbing trees for fruit, like monkeys"; but diseases were unknown among them, and they were much liked as slaves in Enarea, being docile and obedient.