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LET the reader imagine us now, after weeks of hardship, danger, and worry, enjoying a well–earned holiday. We were once more among most pleasing natives, who recalled by their honesty, their unassuming ways, and their charming, unsophisticated manners, the delightful Arcadians of Taveta –to whom, indeed, they are allied by blood. It required but the gorgeous vegetation, and the rich supplies of food, to make our position quite as agreeable as among the Wa–taveta. One thing above all we thoroughly appreciated. We were safe from the ferocious and arrogant warriors of the Masai country. We could ramble about without guns or attendants, doze over the babbling Guaso Tigirish, under shady sycamores, and read a favourite poet, or pretend to catch the wary denizens of the liquid deeps. How glorious it was to loll about in all the Bohemian abandon permissible in Central Africa–to swing in a hammock, contemplating our toes or gazing into space as we enwrapped ourselves in dolce far niente dreams! In such circumstances we could vow to ourselves that African travelling was not such a bad thing after all–though pictures of home, friends, and country would somehow project themselves on the magic screen of memory–and impart an element of pleasing melancholy to our thoughts.

At other times we bethought ourselves that we were travelling with scientific objects in view, and in our imagination we would go up in a balloon and try to focus the country and to form a comprehensive picture or a bird’s–eye view of the region we had traversed. Then, again, as the mood changed, we would glide into reverie over the strange ways of the peoples we had seen, musing within ourselves as to what this or that meant, and otherwise striving to fathom the queer problems presented by the many aspects of savage life.

Let me make a corresponding pause in the career of my narrative while I attempt to give you some of the results of my Njemps cogitations, that you may learn more in detail what kind of people we have visited in each other’s company, and make quite sure that you have a clear idea of the general physical features of the region. In other words, let me, in the pages of this chapter, describe to you the Masai and their country. [235] [236] Let us take the country first.

The Masai country is very markedly divided into two quite distinct regions, the southerly or lower desert area and the northerly or plateau region. The southerly is comparatively low in altitude, that is to say, from 3000 to nearly 4000 feet. It is sterile and unproductive in the extreme. This is owing, not to a barren soil, but to the scantiness of the rainfall, which for about three months in the year barely gives sufficient sustenance to scattered tufts of grass. The acacia and mimosa have almost sole possession of those dreary plains, except near the base of some isolated mountain, or other highland where small rivulets trickle down, to be speedily absorbed in the and sands. No river traverses this region, and many parts are covered with incrustations of natron, left by the evaporation of salt–charged springs. We have seen something of this lower region in the flat reach of Njiri, and the forbidding desert of Dogilani.

It is not, however, to be conceived as a monotonous level. Far from it. The collossal Kilimanjaro, and the conical Mount Meru belong to it. The hills of Gelei and the Guaso N’Ebor circle round in the form of an amphitheatre, to meet the metamorphic masses of Ndapduk and Donyo Erok. Further to the west and north are the volcanic masses of Donyo Engai, Donyo la Nyuki, and Donyo Longonot, with the hills of Nguruma–ni.

Except in the immediate vicinity of the higher mountains, such as Mount Meru and Donyo Engai, the country is to a large extent uninhabited. To summarize this tract we may say that it is triangular in general shape, the apex towards the north, reaching to within thirty miles of the equator, and extending beyond to Baringo as a species of trough or deep, irregular cutting. The Masai are only to be found at all seasons about such favourable situations as the base of Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Ndapduk, Gelei, Kisongo, to the west of Meru, Donyo Engai, and along the edge of the plain at the bases of the bordering highlands and Kapt� The country is sufficiently characterized when the fact is stated that it is a region of later volcanic activity, which in a very recent geological period has produced the cones and craters already referred to. These results of volcanic energy may, to some extent, be accounted for–though the statement may seem to savour of reasoning in a circle–by the lower region as an area of depression having subsided or sunk from the higher level of the flanking table–lands. [237]

The northerly or higher plateau region of Masai Land may be described as rising from an elevation of nearly 5000 feet on either side, and culminating in the centre at an elevation of little short of 9000 feet–although through this very line of highest elevation runs from the Dogilani plain the remarkable meridional trough which encloses the charming chain of isolated lakes, Naivasha, Elmeteita, Nakuro, and Baringo; and which, at the last–named place, begins to widen out till it assumes the characteristics of the southerly plain of Masai Land.

On the eastern half of this divided plateau rises, as we have seen, the snow–clad peak of Kenia–and the picturesque range of the Aberdare Mountains, which runs almost parallel with the central line of depression. A more charming region is probably not to be found in all Africa, probably not even in Abyssinia. Though lying at a general elevation of 6000 feet, it is not mountainous, but extends out in billowy, swelling reaches, and is characterized by everything that makes a pleasing landscape. Here are dense patches of flowering shrubs; there noble forests. Now you traverse a park–like country enlivened by groups of game; anon, great herds of cattle, or flocks of sheep and goats are seen wandering knee–deep in the splendid pasture. There is little in the aspect of the country to suggest the popular idea of the Tropics. The eye rests upon coniferous trees, forming pine–like woods, and you can gather sprigs of heath, sweet–scented clover, anemone, and other familiar forms. In vain you look for the graceful palm–ever present in the mental pictures of the untravelled traveller. The country is a very network of babbling brooks and streams–those of Lykipia, forming the mysterious Guaso Nyiro; those of Kikuyu. the Tana, which flows to the Indian Ocean through the Galla country; while farther south in Kapt� the streams converge to form the Athi River, which flows through U–kambani to the Sabaki River.

Kikuyu occupies the higher areas of the eastern half of the plateau, cutting across it immediately south of the equator. Some of the higher parts are covered with a dense forest of bamboo; notably to the east of Naivasha, and between it and the Aberdare Mountains. Hence the Swahili name of one recruiting–place–Mianzi–ni (Bamboo Country).

The greater part of Lykipia–and that the richer portion –is quite uninhabited, owing, in a gnat degree, to the [238] decimation of the Masai of that part, through their intestine wars–a fact that has caused them to retreat from the northerly districts, which are in dangerous proximity to the Wa–suk.

The Masai country, so called, may be said to include the area lying between 1 N. lat., and 5 S. In breadth it is very irregular; but if we say that the average is ninety miles, we shall be pretty near the truth. In this, however, we are including several isolated areas occupied either by tribes wholly different from the Masai, or by the agricultural Wa–kwafi, who are mere off–shoots of the Masai.

The rainfall is very small over the greater part of this large area. Only in approximate guess, of course, can be given–but I think I am within the mark in placing the rainfall of the lower desert region at fifteen inches, and the higher plateau areas at from thirty to forty inches in the year. During the fourteen months in which I travelled in that region my caravan was not caught ten times on the march by rain,–a striking contrast to my experience in the region further south, where, for weeks together, rain was incessant. The rains are almost entirely confined to February, March, and April. The consequence of this in rainfall is, as we have seen, that the lower plains are practically desert, though the soil is of the richest nature. There are absolutely no marshes, with their physical discomforts and poisonous exhalations breeding disease and death. The air is dry and invigorating and though the days are hot yet the breezes blow with refreshing coolness, and a night of low temperature–and even frequently of intense cold–braces one up for the fatigues of the garish day. The contrast, indeed, is felt to be just a little too great, when you rise, shivering, in the morning, to see the grass covered with hear frost, and then in the afternoon find yourself perspiring in the airiest of costumes, under a shady bush, with the temperature above 90 Fahr. The air, however, being so dry, I felt no inconvenience from these abrupt changes, and it was simply wonderful to see how the men would lie in the open air without a shred of clothing and with the temperature at the freezing–point.

At the high altitudes of this plateau region, hailstorms of very great violence are of frequent occurrence, more particularly in the neighbourhood of the Aberdare Mountains. More than once caravans have been overtaken by them while on the march, and great numbers of the men killed by the [239] exposure; for the damp cold is singularly fatal to the coast natives, who, under its influence, drop down paralyzed, apparently utterly unable to make the slightest exertion to better themselves. On these occasions you may beat them with a stick till you are tired, but they will simply put their heads between their knees like an obstinate donkey, and whine out, "Si wezi," "Si wezi" (I am not able). On my return march at Mianzi–ni, to the east of Naivasha, one of these storms came on, accompanied with thunder and lightning of appalling fury and violence. The hail fell continuously for hours, and when it ceased the country was actually white, and remained so all night. If we had been caught out in that storm, without huts, I question very much if ten men would have survived. As it was, so utterly paralyzed were they that even in their huts they allowed their fires to go out, and they had literally to be compelled to bestir themselves.

So much for Masai Land. Let us now take up the deeply interesting subject of the inhabitants.

In dealing with the manners and customs of this remark. able race, I think I shall best picture them to the reader not by describing them in catalogue fashion, but by setting forth the prominent facts in the life history of a male and female Masai tracing their career in the various epochs of their savage existence, and trying to understand their ideas of man and nature, and their sociological relations.

But first of all, let me say a few words more immediately descriptive of the Masai as a race. Learned philologists profess to have discovered from a study of the Masai language and I suppose the theory may be accepted as correct –that it belongs to the Hamitic family, as does also the language spoken by the tribes of the Nile and North Africa. This seems to be the only clue to their family relationship, and it reveals very little. The reader, therefore, will clearly understand that the Maul are in no sense negroes, or allied to the Bantu tribes with which he is so familiar from the works of our most prominent later African travellers. In their cranial development, as in their language, they are widely different hom. the natives of Central and South Africa, occupying in the former respect a far higher position in the scale of humanity.

The Masai tribe is divided into about twelve principal clans or sub–tribes, with numerous smaller divisions. These have not all the same position in Masai society, some clans having more "blue" blood, and being reckoned of purer [240] breed than others. The most aristocratic of these clans are the Ngaj�– Masai, Molilian, Lyser�, and Leteyo. These have the finest physical development, and are undoubtedly superior to the others in the shape of the head, the less depressed nose, and thinner lips. Indeed,–but for the prominence of the cheek–bones, a tendency to a Mongolian shape and up. ward slant of the eyes, the chocolate–coloured skin, and the hair with a tendency to become frizzy–they might pass muster as very respectable and commonplace Europeans. The Ngaj�–Masai are the purest breed, and are to be found chiefly around Kilimanjaro. The most degraded tribe physically is that which is known to the coast traders by the name of Wa–kwafi. They seem to have acquired a strain of negro blood, as will be perceived by an examination of the photograph of the Masai of Lykipia (p. 205). The higher development of the Ngaj�–Masai is seen in the photo of an aristocratic woman of Njiri.

The country is divided into about ten principal districts, such as Sigirari, Njiri, Matumbato, Kapt� Dogilani, Lykipia, Guas’ Ngishu, &c. The various members of the race are generally designated by their native district. Various clans may be found occupying the same district, but they usually keep in distinct kraals. Hence they speak of the "El–Masai Matumbato," or El–Masai Kapt� Each district also is further distinguished by having special heraldic devices on the shields of the warriors, painted with wonderful skill and taste in black, white, red, or yellow colours. Between the various sections of the tribe there is not the slightest cohesion. Wars among themselves are of constant occurrence, though when a state of war is not declared, they are on the most friendly terms,–their feuds not being I of that deep–seated character which distinguishes those of semi–civilized lands.

Of these internal wars none have been so disastrous or so oft–repeated as that between the main mass of the Masai and the Wa–kwafi (I here use the name for convenience). The original home of the latter was the large district lying between Kilimanjaro, Ugono, and Pare on the west, and Teita and U–sambara on the east. This large region is known to the Masai as Mbaravui Some fifty years ago the Wa–kwafi, were numerous and strong, able to hold their own against all comers. About 1830–as far as I can gather–a series of misfortunes fell upon them. In a great war–raid against the Wa–gogo to the south they suffered a severe repulse, and great numbers were slaughtered. The same [241] disaster fell upon them shortly after, in a raid against their brethren of Kisongo. The saying that misfortunes never come singly was well exemplified by their case, for nature took up the work of ruin. A cloud of locusts settled on the land, and left not a blade of grass or other green thing, so that the cattle died in enormous numbers through starvation.

While the Wa–kwafi were in this unhappy plight, the Masai of the plains to the west fell upon them and smote them hip and thigh, and thus broke up and revenged themselves upon the most powerful division of the tribe. Great numbers having lost their cattle and been reduced to starvation, were compelled to throw in their fortunes with tribes they had hitherto despised. Some found an asylum in the forests of Taveta and Kahe, and the lower slopes of Mount Meru or [242] Arusha–wa–juu. Others, driven south, threw in their lot with the Wa–zeguha, keeping tribally more or less distinct from them. These are the hybrid tribes visited lately sby the energetic missionaries, Messrs. Last and Baxter, and of which such interesting accounts have been given in the "Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society." Another section of the Wa–kwafi was driven westward, and now forms the colonies of Nderserria–ni and Nguruma–ni. The establishment of these colonies has been an unmitigated blessing to the country. In every case they have become the centres of trade, where men’s lives and goods are safe; and indeed there is no wore striking feature in the results of the enforced change in the people’s mode of life than the remarkable development of peaceable habits and honest ways. This shows what the Masai, from their distinctly higher mental development, are capable of, when cut away from their traditions and brought under conditions more favourable to their advancement towards civilization. As throwing light on the origin of minor races and the blending of two distinct types as at Taveta, the subject is an interesting study.

The Wa–kwafi were not all scattered thus, however, for a large division of the clan kept together, and contrived to exit their way through Kikuyu and to reach Lykipia, where they settled.

Another section crossed the meridional trough and reached the opposite half of the plateau in Guas’ Ngishu. In both. districts they found superb grazing–grounds and plenty of elbow–room, and there for a time they remained quietly, and increased rapidly in numbers. At last their wars began again. Grown bold, they attacked the Masai about fifteen years ago. The opposing parties formed regular camps, and fought pitched battles with. great fury, thousands being killed on both sides. The women stood by and watched, while they incited and urged on the combatants in their terrible hand–to–hand encounters. The Masai were at first beaten, but, fighting, with the stubbornness of despair, they disputed every foot of ground. They were driven from the whole of Naivasha and Kinangop, and their enemies, still victorious, carried the war into Kapt�. Matters now changed, however. The Masai of the entire region to the south gathered together and came to the assistance of their brethren of Kapt�. Soon the tables were turned, and the Wa–kwafi were gradually forced back. The great majority of them [243] were killed, and the cattle driven off. Famine came upon them, and they were reduced to the terrible necessity of selling their children. Large numbers took refuge at Njemps and Nyiro, where they had to bow themselves to the cultivation of the soil. The war lasted several years. At last only a remnant of the Wa–kwafi of Lykipia were left, and these contrived to make peace. Not so fortunate were those of Guas’ Ngishu. The Masai swept from north to south, and left not a man in the entire land, those who escaped the spear and sword finding refuge in Kavirondo.

Such is the history of the bloody feud between the Masai clans. Now they live peaceably together, with kraals in friendly proximity.

Having thus conveyed to the reader some general notions about the tribe as a whole, we may now conveniently turn to follow with the eye of our imagination the life–history of one of its members.

Very many years ago a matron of the Masai lay in what is pleasingly described as an "interesting condition." Her environment was not of a luxurious or oven comfortable nature. She lay on no better a bed than a dressed bullock’s hide spread on the bare ground. The hut which protected her from the blazing sun or the cold night was not built on sanitary principles, and was not commodious. It reached a maximum height of three feet and a half, and might be nine feet long by five feet broad. It was constructed of boughs bent over and interwoven together, forming a flat–roofed building with rounded corners. To keep out the wind a composition of cow’s dung was liberally plastered over the boughs. This sufficed for the dry season, but for the rainy one a further covering of hides had to be laid upon it. The doorway was of the smallest, and stood at right angles to the line of the house in the manner of a porch. The hut of the expectant Masai lady was one of a circle enclosing a considerable area, in which the cattle were kept during the night. As this central space was never swept up, its condition may be better imagined than described. The smells were strikingly suggestive of the farmyard; and if the reader is so inclined, he may imagine some charming picture of full–uddered kine, with their mild eyes and expression of repose as they contentedly chew the cud. For any such picture, however, I can accept no responsibility. Outside the circle of huts there extends a strong fence of thorns as a protection from wild beasts, and in case of an attack. Inside [244] the hut were gathered together the gossips of the kraal mingling, so far as space permitted, with calves and goats. A number of large calabashes lay ill one corner, and a coarsely–made earthen cooking–pot ill another. Fleas ill thousands skipped about, and the midwives had their time well taken up with the myriads of flies which pertinaciously would insist on cultivating personal intimacy with them.

The anticipated event passed over safely. Indeed, the whole affair was hardly thought worthy of remark, except on the part of the mother, who heard with deep pleasure that her offspring was a boy. Girls are sadly at a discount among the Masai. They would always prefer to have boys, but happily nature sees ahead a little, and takes care that a fail. supply of girls is provided. As there is no registrar or birth column, I am totally unable to state when our hero first saw the light. That, however, is a small matter. No particular ceremonies marked the occasion, and the happy mother was about next day, attending to her household duties as if nothing unusual had happened, the little stranger being warmly ensconced on her back beneath the bullock’s hide which formed the mother’s garment.

Babies are babies everywhere, and for the first year or two the embryo warrior grappled with the problem of life like a philosopher as he sucked his mother’s milk. Then he spoke. Having next found his legs, he grew apace. Getting above mother’s milk, he was soon exercising his incipient teeth on a huge chunk of beef. Now this was a very reprehensible indulgence on the part of our young friend, for it doubtless [245] produced that unpleasant setting, of the teeth which belongs to him in common with the whole of his race. The gums being tender, and the beef tough and leathery, the teeth acquired an outward projection unpleasant to behold, and, what was still worse, they seemed to become separated from each other, till they appeared as isolated fangs. It was noticeable also that his gums were of a very dark blue colour. Neither of these characteristics, however, were any disadvantage to the young sMasai, as ill his country to be hideous is to be beautiful.

As a boy Moran–for such we may call him for conveniences sake–was pleasing in the extreme–when his mouth was shut. He was the very ideal of an imp, and for diabolical versatility would doubtless have made an admirable page, such as were so much in vogue in former times. At a very early age Moran broke away from his mother’s apron–strings, and with miniature bow and arrow aped the bigger boys in their play. As he had no linen to soil, he only roused his mother’s laughter if he turned up encrusted with filth. He [246] was not even put through the horrors of the tub. Sometimes, however, his mother, in a fit of affection, and imbued with the belief that some day lie would make a name for himself as a smasher of skulls and a lifter of cattle, would make up an unctuous and odoriferous composition of grease and clay, and anoint him therewith till lie shone forth with a splendour dear to the Masai heart On these occasions he would strut forth with all the pride proper to a small boy who has just had a suit of new clothes.

And so life went on, and lie was promoted to the rank of a boy proper. He was provided with a real bow and arrow. A square piece of sheep–skin was tied over the left shoulder, leaving the legs quite bare. He now began to cultivate, not a moustache, but his ear–lobes; that is to say, he took means to stretch them out till they would almost touch his shoulder, and he could nearly put his fist through the distended portion. This is done by first putting a slender stick through the lobe, and gradually replacing it by a bigger, till a piece of ivory six inches long can be inserted lengthwise. Our hero now looked longingly forward to the day when lie should be a warrior; but meanwhile lie must employ himself herding the –Oats and sheep. This was his first occupation. He had by this time acquired some notion of the geography of the country around, as his parents had not been stationary, having been compelled to move about from place to place according to the pasturage. The donkeys on these occasions conveyed their household gods, though his mother had to carry nearly as much, and build the hut after. He had also to accompany his parents in moving up from the plains to the highlands in the dry season and vice versa in the wet season. Beyond these studies in practical geography his education proceeded in a very irregular fashion. lie learned something of the mystery of the universe by hearing his elders continually howl out prayers by the hour together to some unseen Being called Ngai (God, or the heavens). He heard also that the place of Ngai was among the eternal snows of Kilimanjaro, or that the thunders of Donyo Ngai (an active volcanic mountain) were His voice.

It is very pleasing to think of Moran at this period reclining under a bush or standing watchfully over his flock with one foot brought up to his knee and supported by his bow, trying to penetrate the great problem as to the where, whence, and whither of life. We can imagine him [247] appealing to his father to learn something about his origin, and this I believe is–among other stories–what he was told. The primal ancestor of the Masai was one Kidenoi, who lived at Donyo Egger (Mount Kenia), was hairy, and had a tail. Filled with the spirit of exploration, he left his home and wandered south. The people of the country, seeing him shaking something in a calabash, were so struck with admiration at the wonderful performance that they brought him women as a present. By these he had children, who, strangely enough., were not hairy, and had no tails, and these were the progenitors of the Masai. As Moran had not heard anything of the theories which were convulsing scientific Europe and America, he remained ignorant of the fact that he had struck upon an interesting legend which the savants of civilized society would have given their beards to verify.

Meanwhile Moran practised with the spear, and killed innumerable imaginary enemies. He listened intently with beating heart to the stories of daring cattle–raids and sanguinary fights, but as yet he could only dye his spear in the blood of an antelope, or, it might be, of a buffalo. His food still continued to be that of a non–fighter, namely, curdled milk, maize, or millet, and meat. But vegetable paste was the meat of women and children, and he loathed it, though he ate it.

As he approached the age of fourteen he began to develop a truculent and ferocious expression, instead of making himself sick in the attempt to smoke a cigar, or examining his upper lip in the glass, as a lad of proper spirit in England would have done at the same age. It is quite laughable to think of Moran trying to look dangerous, pursing his brow, and generally cultivating the fiendish. And really, I am told he was the admiration and the envy of all the L�on (boys) of the district, and quite won the hearts of the girls.

At last it was agreed that Moran had become a man, and was fit to be a warrior. A certain rite, better known in Africa than in Europe, was performed; and Moran was no longer a boy, he was an El–moran–a warrior. His father, who was wealthy, resolved to rig him out in the height of military fashion. For this purpose they journeyed to a neighbouring settlement of Andorobbo–a clan who are despised heartily by their distant relatives, the aristocratic Masai, on account of their ignoble mode of gaining a livelihood by the chase. After making the Andorobbo quake in their [248] sandals, they chose a handsome shield of buffalo hide, beautifully made, elliptical in shape, and warranted to stand a tremendous blow from a spear. The price being asked, a bullock was mentioned as the very lowest cost price. But the unfortunate maker had to be content with a scraggy sheep–and a blow. This purchase accomplished–for the Masai never make shields or spears, though there is nothing in the possession of which they pride themselves so much they returned to the kraal, and then called for an El–konono. This is an inferior race kept in servitude to the Masai, for whom they make spears and swords. They do not go to war, and are not allowed to intermarry with their superiors. They all speak Masai, though it is believed they have a language of their own. In response to the call a miserable, half–starved object appeared with a selection of most murderous–looking weapons. After a careful examination Moran selected a spear, with a blade two feet and a half long, a wooden handle fifteen inches, and a spike at the end about one foot and a half. The blade had an almost uniform width of from two to three inches, up to near the top, where it abruptly formed a point. A sword and a knobkerry of formidable appearance completed his warlike equipment.

These important acquisitions made, our hero now proceeded to dress himself up as became his new character. He first worked his hair into a mop of strings, those falling over the forehead being cut shorter than the rest. Instead of the ivory ear–stretcher hitherto used, he put in a swell ear ornament formed of a tassel of iron chain. Round his neck he put a bracelet of coiled wire, and round his wrists a neatly formed bead mitten. On his ankles he bound a strip of the black hair of the colobus (monkey) of Central Africa. A glorious layer of grease and clay was plastered on his head and shoulders. This completed, he donned a very neat and handsomely decorated kid–skin garment, of very scanty dimensions, which served to cover his breast and shoulders, but hardly reached below the waist, and thus stood forth the complete military masher, ready for love or war.

And now the great step of his life was taken. Thus far he had lived in the kraal of the married people, and accordingly had to comport himself as "only a boy." Now he proceeded to a distant kraal in which were none but young, unmarried men and women. To keep up his dignity and supply him with food his father provided him with a number [249]

[250] of bullocks. Reaching the kraal, our friend found himself among a large number of splendidly built young savages–indeed the most magnificently modelled men conceivable. And here let me for a moment pause in my story to indulge in a passing word of description.

There is, as a rule, not one of the El–moran under six feet (I am speaking of a superior clan). Their appearance, however, is not suggestive of great strength, and they show little of the knotted and brawny muscle characteristic of the ideal Hercules or typical athlete. The Apollo type is the more characteristic form, presenting a smoothness of outline which might be called almost effeminate. In most cases the nose is well raised and straight, frequently as good as any European’s (though passing into the negro type in the lower class, such as Wa–kwafi). The lips also vary from the thin and well–formed down to the thick and everted. The eyes are bright, with the sclerotic whiter than is common in Africa. The slits are generally narrow, with a Mongolian upward slant. The jaws are rarely prognathous, while the hair is a cross between the European and the negro, rarely in piles, but evenly spread over the head. Hair is scarcely in any case seen on the face or any part of the body. The cheek–bones are in all remarkably prominent, and the head narrow both above and below. The teeth and gums of almost every one are such as I have already described, though I think I have neglected to mention that the two lower middle incisors are extracted. Tatooing is not practised; but every Masai is branded with five or six marks on the thigh.

Such are the main characteristics of the El–moran; but before we resume our narrative let us note a few facts about the young damsels–the Ditto–who are soon to be flirting with our hero.

Happily facts support the verdict of gallantry when I say that they are really the best–looking girls I have ever met with in Africa. They are distinctly ladylike in both manner and physique. Their figures are slender and well formed, without the abnormal development about the hips characteristic of the negro. They share, like the men, the dark gums, and the bad sets of teeth. The hair is shaved off totally, leaving a shiny scalp. As to dress, they are very decent, and almost classical, if a stinking greasy hide can have anything to do with things classical. They wear a dressed bullock’s hide from which the hair has been scraped. This is tied over the left shoulder, passing under the right [251] arm. A beaded belt confines it round the waist, leaving only one limb partly exposed. Frequently it is slipped off the shoulder, and depends entirely from the waist, leaving the bosom exposed. Their ornaments are of a very remarkable nature. Round the legs from the ankles to the knees telegraph wire is coiled closely in spiral fashion. So awkward is this ornament that the wearer cannot walk properly, she cannot sit down or rise up like any other human being, and she cannot run. Round the arms she has wire similarly coiled both above and below the elbow. Round the neck more iron wire is coiled–in this case, however, horizontally –till the head seems to sit on an inverted iron salver, When the leg–ornaments are once on they must remain till finally taken off, as it requires many days of painful work to fit them into their places. They chafe the ankles excessively, and evidently give much pain. As they are put on when very young, the calf is not allowed to develop, and the consequence is, that when grown up the legs remain at a uniform thickness from ankle to knee–mere animated stilts, in fact. The weight of this armour varies according to the wealth of the parties, up to thirty pounds. Besides the iron wire, great quantities of beads and iron chains are. disposed in various ways round the neck.

Such, then, were the people that now greeted Moran, who, being a novice, had to suffer a good deal of chaff from both sexes. He was, however, soon initiated into the mysteries of a warrior kraal, and had seen a bit of life. The strictest diet imaginable was the rule. He had to be content with absolutely nothing but meat and milk. Tobacco or snuff, beer or spirits, vegetable food of all kinds, even the flesh of all animals except cattle, sheep, and goats, were alike eschewed. To eat any of those articles was to be degraded –to lose caste; to be offered them was to be insulted in the deepest manner. As if these rules were not strict enough, lie must needs not be seen eating meat in the kraal, neither must he take it along with milk. So many days were devoted entirely to the drinking of new milk and then, when carnivorous longings came over him, lie had to retire with a sbullock to a lonely place in the forest, accompanied by some of his comrades, and a Ditto to act as cook. Having scrupulously made certain that there was no trace of milk left on their stomachs by partaking of an extremely powerful purgative, they killed the bullock either with a blow from a rungu or by stabbing it in the back of the neck. They then [252] opened a vein and drank the blood fresh from the animal. This proceeding of our voracious young friends was a wise though repulsive one, as the blood thus drunk provided the salts so necessary in the human economy; for the Masai do not partake of any salt in its common form. This sanguinary draught concluded, they proceeded to gorge themselves on the flesh, eating from morning till night–and keeping their cook steadily at work. The half–dozen men were quite able to dispose of the entire animal in a few days, and then they returned to the kraal to resume the milk diet.

If they lived an ascetic life in the matter of food, they could not be said to do so in other ways. Life in the warriors’ kraal, as may easily be conceived, was promiscuous in a remarkable degree. They may, indeed, be described as a colony of free lovers. Curiously enough the "sweetheart" system was largely in vogue, though no one confined his or her attentions to one only. Each girl, in fact, had several sweethearts, and, what is still stranger, this seemed to give rise to no jealousies. The most perfect equality prevailed between the Ditto and El–moran, and in their savage circumstances it was really pleasant to see how common it was for a young girl to wander about the camp with her arm round the waist of a stalwart warrior.

Till a war–raid was planned, Moran, our interesting protege, found lie had nothing to do but make acquaintances and amuse himself with the girls. His cattle were looked after by some poor menials, and though the kraal was stationed near a dangerous neighbour, yet no fighting took place. It was, however, a rule in the warrior kraals that no fence for protection was allowed, hence the utmost vigilance had to be exercised. Moran thus in the course of his duty had frequently to act as watch. At other times he practised various military evolutions, and lie kept up his muscle by the peculiar mode of dancing described in the Taveta chapter. Unlike negro tribes, they led what might be called a serious life. They had no rollicking fun, no moonlight dancing, no lively songs, no thundering drums. No musical, instrument whatsoever enlivened the Masai life, and their songs were entirely confined to such occasions as the return home from a successful raid, or the invocation of the deity. As soon as darkness fell upon the land tile guard was appointed, the cattle milked, and everything hushed up in silence.

Shortly after joining the kraal, Moran was called upon to record his vote in the election of a Lytunu and a Lygonani. [253] The Lytunu is a warrior elected by a number of kraals as their captain or leader, with absolute power of life and death. He is their judge in cases of dispute. He directs their battles, though, curiously enough, he does not lead his men, but, like the general of a civilized army, he stands aside and watches the progress of the fight under the direct command of the Lygonani. If, however, lie sees symptoms of his men wavering, he forthwith precipitates himself with his bodyguard into the battle. Of course lie holds his office purely on sufferance, and if he fails to give satisfaction lie is summarily deposed. This, indeed, is almost the only attempt at a form of government. Each war–district elects its own Lytunu. The Lygonani, again, is a very different personage. He is the public leader of a kraal, leads and guides the debate in cases of dispute. To be such arrogant and pugnacious savages, the Masai are the most remarkable speakers and debaters imaginable. In some American novels we have the Indian belauded for his eloquence and dignity; but commend me to the Masai for grace and oratorical power, for order and decorum in debate; and, indeed, for most of the good qualities which in these days are conspicuous by their absence in our own House of Talking. Not that their genius in this line is always worthily applied; for in their finical persistency in talking, out a question they might even beat our Parliamentary Obstructionists. They will spend days discussing the most trivial matter–nothing indeed, can be settled without endless talk. But we must proceed with our history.

The Lytunu and Lygonani having been elected, a raid to the coast was determined on. For a month they devoted themselves to all indispensable, though somewhat revolting, preparation. This consisted ill their retiring ill small parties to the forest, and there gorging themselves with beef. This they did under the belief that they were storing up a supply of muscle anti ferocity of the most pronounced type. This strange process being finished, and the day fixed on, the women of the kraal went outside before sunrise, with grass dipped in the cream of a cow’s milk. Then they danced and invoked Nagai. for a favourable issue to the enterprise, after which they threw the grass in the direction of the enemy. The young men spent several hours at their devotions, howling out in the most ludicrous street–singer fashion, "Aman Ngai–ai! Aman Mbaratien!" (We pray to God! We pray to Mbaratien!"). Previous to this, how [254] ever. a party had been sent to the chief lybon of the Masai –Mbaratien–to seek advice as to the time of their start, and to procure medicines to make them successful. On their return the party mustered, and set off. It was a remarkable sight to behold these bloated young cut–throats on the march, and it is almost an impossibility to convey any clear picture of their appearance in words. The Frontispiece illustration, however, will help to some extent.

Let us pause and in imagination watch some enthusiastic young ditto buckling on the armour of her knight. First there is tied round his neck, whence it falls in flowing lengths, the naiber�,–a piece of cotton, six feet long, two feet broad, with a longitudinal stripe of coloured cloth sewed down the middle of it. Over his shoulders is placed a huge cape of kite’s feathers–a regular heap of them. The kid–skin garment which hangs at his shoulder is now folded up, and tied tightly round his waist like a belt, so as to leave his arms free. His hair is tied into two pigtails, one before and one behind. On his head is placed a remarkable object formed of ostrich feathers stuck in a band of leather, the whole forming an elliptically–shaped head–gear. This is placed diagonally in a line beginning under the lower lip and running in front of the ear to the crown. His legs are ornamented with flowing hair of the colobus, resembling wings. His bodily adornment is finished off by the customary plastering of oil. His sim� or sword is now attached–it does not hang–to his right side; and through the belt is pushed the skull–smasher or knobkerry, which may be thrown at an approaching enemy, or may give the quietus to a disabled one. His huge shield in his left hand and his great spear in his right complete his extraordinary equipment. For the rest you must imagine an Apollo–like form and the face of a fiend, and you have before you. the beauideal of a Masai warrior. He takes enormous pride in his weapons, and would part with everything he has rather than his spear. He glories in his scars, as the true laurel and decorative marks of one who delights in battles.

With astonishing hardihood, Moran and his comrades, thus terribly arrayed, shaped their course towards Swahililand; for, strangely enough, they have found that they can lift the cattle with greater impunity there than anywhere else–in spite of the Swahili –guns and a large population. The reason is the complete absence of anything like patriotism or public spirit among the coast people. Their argument [255] is that they receive no benefit from the cattle of their neighbours. "We get neither meat nor milk they say; I why, therefore, should –we fight for the preservation of your cattle.?" With a consummate knowledge of the region, the Masai warriors threaded their way by special pathways, passing Taveta, and crossing the Nyika. Nearing the coast, they stowed themselves away in the bush, while a few of the bravest went forward to spy out the land, knowing, however, full well that the very sight of one of their number was quite sufficient to stampede a hundred Wa–nyika or Wa–digo. Sadi, indeed, told me that on one occasion he actually met some of these spies in the town of Mombasa at midnight. This is, I think, doubtful, but it shows what they are considered capable of; and there can be no doubt as to the astonishing hardihood of these scouts. Stories are continually heard to that effect, thus rendering the Masai a terror in the land; and it is a fact that they have even reached Bagamoyo, opposite Zanzibar.

The raid was, of course, successful, and our savage friends returned in great glee. On reaching their homes, however, m matters had to be squared up, and the spoil divided. So many head of the captured cattle were set apart as the portion of the lybon Mbaratien, who had directed them so well, and whose medicines had been so potent. Then followed a sanguinary scene over the apportionment of the remainder. There was no attempt at a fair division. The braver men and bullies of the party, consulting only their own desires, took possession of such cattle as pleased them, and dared the rest to come and seize them. The understood rule was that if any warrior could hold his own in single combat against all comers for three days, the cattle were his. And thus began the real fighting of the expedition, revealing sickening sights of savage ferocity. There were more warriors killed over the division of the spoil than in the original capturing of it. To kill a man in this manner was considered all fair and above board. Blood feuds were unknown, a man not being considered worth avenging who could not hold his own life safe. If, however, a man was murdered treacherously, the criminal had to pay fortynine bullocks. Our young warrior, as lie was only as yet winning his spurs, had to be content with the–honour and glory of the raid, and he had the modesty not to pit himself against abler and more ferocious fighters. It must be remembered that the cattle thus captured did not remain [256] the property of the successful warriors. A warrior can have no property, and hence they all become his father’s.

The spoil being divided, the party were next able to do full honour to the men lost in the raid–those being considered worthy of all praise "who rush into the field, and foremost fighting fall;" while men who die ignobly at home are only worthy to be despised and thrown to the vultures. Hence the warriors howled and jumped into the air in the dance, till the dead were duly commemorated.

In this manner, Moran saw a good deal of fighting, and soon rose to fame in many a campaign to U–kambani, Gallaland, the Coast region, Suk, Kavirondo, Elgumi, and Nandi. The two latter tribes proved to be the most difficult to deal with, the one from its great numbers, the other from its fighting powers.

Civil war next broke out, and he had to proceed to the assistance of his brethren of Naivasha, who were hard pressed by the Wa–kwafi. In these civil wars,. the affair was gone about in a very civilized fashion. Sudden and unexpected attacks were not indulged in. A cause of war was first discovered–probably, as in more civilized countries, merely to keep their hands in or as an outlet for internal unrest. Preliminaries were then settled most amicably, and the stakes arranged. A place was next chosen as the field of battle, and to this all the warriors of the two districts came with their cattle and young women. As the fighting would be protracted, a truce was declared, while kraals were built in the opposing camps. A certain number then proceeded from both sides, and like gladiators in the arena, they closed in furious strife, spurred to deeds of daring by the women on both sides. The Wa–kwafi were the conquerors, and the cattle of the Masai fell into their hands; and following up their advantage, they nearly drove their brethren from the entire region. (Of this war I have already spoken.)

As a mild relief, and a variation from these serious matters, it was the dearest delight of our swaggering young friend Moran to "draw the badger" in the person of the Swahili porters who might be meekly endeavouring to pass through his country. These he would dub "donkeys," in allusion to their being burden–bearers like those interesting quadrupeds. He could keep the kraal –in a roar of delight, as he described how he had frightened this one out of his wits, or spitted another on his spear, or smashed the skull of a third into jolly. The seneng� and the beads he received [257] from the traders, he, of course, did not keep himself, but divided among his sweethearts of the kraal.

And so with war and women, life passed in happy fashion. His demeanour was serious, and his expression ferocious, though he acquired an aristocratic hauteur truly striking. He showed curiosity in a dignified manner. He rarely indulged in vulgar laughter, and smiling was hardly possible on a face which could only be called fiendish.

He passed some twenty years in this manner. At last his father was found to be on the point of death, and he was sent for. Shortly after his arrival, the old man succumbed. It was not thought necessary to recognize this common–place occurrence in any way whatever, and therefore Moran lost no time in picking up the corpse and throwing it outside the kraal. Next morning, he smiled grimly as on going out, he kicked aside some freshly–picked bones, and glanced at some disgusting hyenas slinking away, in company with marabout storks, while vultures flapped grossly overhead.

He was now sole heir of his father’s herds, for his younger brothers did not receive a single head of cattle, though they had captured in their raids considerable numbers of them. Any they might secure now, however, would be their own property. Moran decidedly preferred the free and easy life of the warrior’s kraal, but, alas! he discovered, not that he was [258] becoming bald or developing grey hairs, but that lie could not take the, regulation dose of purgative as formerly. From this, coupled with the fact that lie could not take such liberties with his stomach, he gathered that he was not quite so strong as formerly. We can imagine how he would curse his luck and look fiendish on discovering this unpalatable truth. There was nothing for it but to marry, and become a staid and respectable member of society. He had sown his wild oats.

Casting about, he fixed upon a damsel after his heart. The preliminaries having been arranged–the number of bullocks to be paid, &c.–she was sealed to him. Then an operation was performed on the damsel. Recovered from its effects, she had to wait till the calving season, as abundance of milk is an indispensable requisite in the honeymoon. Meanwhile, she allowed her hair to grow till it assumed the appearance of an old shoe–brush clotted up with blacking. Round the head she wore a band of cowries from which depended a number of strings, forming in fact the bridal veil. At last the happy day arrived, and the final seal was put upon the marriage by both parties disposing of their chain earrings, and substituting a double disc of copper wire arranged spirally. The lady also shaved her head, laid aside the garment of the ditto, and clothed herself with two skins, one suspended from the waist the other from the shoulder. Strangest of all, however, and strikingly indicative of the fact that he had exchanged the spear for the distaff, Moran had actually to wear the garment of a ditto for one month. Just imagine what fun it would be in this staid and dignified country of ours, if a young man had to spend his honeymoon in a cast–off suit of his wife’s maiden clothes. What our friend’s feelings were in this guise, I do not know, and this veracious chronicle does not admit of conjecture.

And now Moran’s sole idea was to rear a brood of young cattle–lifters, and so that lie got them, he was not very particular as to the manner of it. He was not jealous, asked no awkward questions, and employed no spies. If a friend should visit him, he was hospitable in a degree not consistent with a high level of morality. We shall here prudently follow his example of non–inquisitiveness; for we might find that the domestic affairs of our friend’s household will not bear a too curious scrutiny.

He was now wholly a changed being–as indeed who is not when lie gets married? His strict rules of diets were [259] abandoned, and, though meat and milk were still the main items of his eating, lie could now vary it with vegetable food, obtained by his wife from neighbouring agricultural tribes. Luxuries, also, lie might now indulge in. He aborted a fancy snuff–box and tobacco–box of ivory or rhinoceros’ horn, and delighted to rap up its contents as he handed it to a friend. He chewed tobacco (mixed always with natron), though he never smoked. Then, as often as convenient, he liked to foregather with his friends, and have a jolly carouse over beer or mead.

It is pleasant to know that with this change in his mode of life there was a corresponding alteration (very much for the, better) in his views of* things. He delighted to talk with the traders whom before he had gloried in killing or annoying, and would in token of good–will cordially exchange the courtesies of life by spitting upon them and being spat upon. In his conversation he showed an intelligence far superior to any specimen of the Bantu. tribes. He had no suspicions, and was communicative about his affairs and beliefs. He would even at times exercise a friendly guardianship of passing traders, and was able to ward off many a disaster by judicious warning. He was not stinted in his presents, and generally gave far more than he got. He has been known even to protect strayed porters, and tend sick men left behind.

The softening down of his ferocity reacted upon his face. The habitual scowl gradually died away, and was replaced by a more pleasing and genial. expression. His thoughts turned more to the strange mystery of life. He alas I had little that was cheering to look forward to. He believed in the existence of a Supreme Being, and yet had not the faintest conception of an after–life. Unlike the men of the Bantu races, lie did not believe in ghosts or spirits. He had no theory of dreams, and did not imagine like the negro that when he dreamed he was really experiencing all that was passing through his brain, and that his soul or spirit was actually knocking around somewhere, having a good time of it, unclogged by his body. Moran believed nothing of that; indeed, whether he had any idea on the subject, I have not been able to determine. When the man died, he was finished utterly, except so far as he might go piecemeal to build up the body of a hyena, a vulture, or a marabout stork. The _Masai believe in annihilation. To bury a corpse would, they think, be to poison the soil: it must be thrown to the wild beasts without ceremony.[260]

In connection with the decided belief of the Masai in a God, it may be noted that they have also some minor deity called Neiterkob–apparently, as far as I could learn, an earth spirit. They have faith in witchcraft, though the efficacy of the lybon, or medicine–man, lies not in any innate ability of his own, but in his power of intercession with Ngai, who works through him, and imparts magical virtues to various objects. Their conception of the Deity seems to be marvellously vague. I was Ngai My lamp was Ngai. Ngai was in the steaming holes. His house was in the eternal snows of Kilimanjaro. In fact, whatever struck them as strange or incomprehensible, that they at once assumed had some connection with Ngai. Their prayers to him were incessant. Nothing could be done without hours of howling, whether it was to seek direction where to slaughter their enemies, or to ward off a disease. The most sacred thing among them is the grass. Held in the hand, or tied in a sprig to the dress, it is a sign of welcome and peace. Thrown at any one, or into some mysterious place, it is an invocation for a blessing on the person, or a propitiatory offering. Next to the grass comes the milk. No liberties may be taken with it. The milk must be drawn into calabashes specially reserved for its reception, into which water is not allowed to enter–cleanliness being ensured by woodashes. To boil it is a heinous offence, and would be accounted a sufficient reason for massacring a caravan. It is believed that the cattle would cease to give milk. The cows, it maybe remarked, are never milked except in the dark.

Moran found married life sadly dull after his warrior experiences, and to kill time he accompanied one or two war–parties. But that was exceptional. His time henceforward was chiefly occupied in eternal and interminable discussions on the most trivial questions, or wandering long distances on visits to his friends, while his wife stayed at home to milk the cattle, or occasionally made journeys to neighbouring hostile tribes to buy grain. She, however, was in her element when a caravan came round, and then she enjoyed the double pleasure of an intrigue and a lovely present of iron wire and beads.

In time Moran’s first wife became old and ugly, and he took to himself a second –the former being stripped of all her iron wire for the purpose of decking the new comer. At last the day closed for both of them, and one after the other, they formed the subject of horrible hyenas’ laughter. These fierce [261] creatures, with the vultures and the storks, tore their flesh under the light of the moon. Nothing remained but a couple c of grim skulls and some bloody bones when the sun rose over the grassy plain in the morning; and the young urchins of the kraal kicked them about and laughed as they threw them. at one another.

Such is the history of the commonplace life of Moran as retailed to me by men who had lived with him as boy, warrior, and husband, and for whose accuracy and truthfulness I can vouch. The next traveller will listen to the same story, and will doubtless be able to verify the main features of the narrative. [262]

Before closing this chapter it may not be out of place to say a few words regarding a tribe of people whom I have referred to as the Andorobbo. This tribe–the Wa–ndorobbo of the Wa-swahili

swahili–is a small race of people scattered over Masailand, who gain their entire livelihood by the chase. They neither keep cattle nor cultivate the land. The antelope, the buffalo, and the elephant supply them with such meat as they may desire, while they always find neighbouring tribes, less skilful in hunting, eager to exchange vegetable food for game. The elephant, however, seems to be their staple food, and as a rule the Andoroddo are to be found only where those animals abound; as, for instance, in the dense forests of Kenia and Kikuyu, the forest–clad escarpment of Mau, the top of Elgeyo, Maragwet, Chibcharagnani, Buru, Dondol� &c. They are rarely found in numbers, and usually in very small villages, so that there is nothing like tribal life among them. They enjoy considerable immunity from attack by the Masai, as they are sources of wealth to the latter by attracting the coast traders; usually, too, the Masai fall heir to a considerable share of the ivory. They also act as go–betweens or middlemen in getting the married people the vegetable food they require. To such an extent is this system carried, that on the plateau to the east of Naivasha, at the place called by the traders Mianzi–ni, a very large village of Andorobbo have altogether given up hunting, and subsist entirely by buying vegetable food from the Wa–kikuyu and selling it again to the Masai, or it may be the traders.

The language spoken by the Andorobbo is allied to that of the Masai, but they can all speak the latter in its purity. They build regular villages, and in general appearance they resemble the inferior class of the Masai. As I have already remarked, they make the buffalo–hide shields of the warriors, as well as the coarse earthen cooking–pots of the women. They are on the whole looked upon as a species of serf, and treated accordingly. Their transactions with the traders must be done secretly, or everything would be stolen from them.

In hunting the elephant the Andorobbo use a peculiar weapon. In shape it is like the rammer of a cannon, the heavy head being intended to give additional weight in dealing a blow. In the thickened part is placed a weapon like a short but thick arrow, fifteen inches long, the head of the arrow being smeared over with the deadly poison of the murju. The whole spear is little short of eight feet. With this the [263] elephant is attacked at close quarters, the arrow part driven into the great brute, and being loosely fixed in the handle, it remains when the latter is withdrawn. Another arrow is then affixed, awl the same operation performed. It is said that an elephant will live a very short time after being thus stabbed, and entire herds are killed without one escaping, So dexterous and daring are these hunters. The Andorobbo also use the ordinary bow and arrow, but only for the smaller game.


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