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The Lost City of the Kalahari.

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
Posts: 2603
Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:59 pm Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 15.

The following morning Farini was told that there would be a bone throwing ceremony. Farini who was quite sleight of hand got an idea.

They all squatted around the Soenya who arrived in great gusto and set about his work as only a skilful professional of his trade could, preparing to divulge the dread secrets of the future.

All eyes were on him as he rose and shook the bones and other charms in his palms before casting them on the ground.

As they went down his eyeballs went up, till nothing but the whites were visible. He then bowed and picked them up and shook them again, this time blowing on them and then cast them, this time muttering some unintelligible gibberish while arranging them with his forefinger. Then after a short break he looked up and gave a wide mouthed laugh, the sides of his mouth nearly touching his ears, displaying his white teeth and red gums.

He seemed to relax and spoke to Gert: “they should have many difficulties but should overcome them. Some of them would get sick, they would not die. The expedition would be successful, and they would find the little people near big water. At first they would refuse to come to them, but afterwards they would consent. The Master (Farini) must shoot a Giraffe and other big game. A Lion would attack him, but he would escape unhurt, he would also see Ostriches but he would not kill any. Finally they would go to a place where the Tsamma would be bitter and water scarce, but, after a time all would be well”.

Farini who was quite sceptical about the whole thing was quite surprised at the mention of “the little people”. On enquiring later Gert confessed to telling the wily old fortune teller of their plans . . . .

When the oracle had finished, Farini rose and gathered the bones and charms, he rattled them in the approved style and cast them on the ground, just as the Soenya had done. Picking them up between his right forefinger and thumb, pretended to transfer it to his left hand, while really palming it in the right, as would have stood any magician proud. Now placing his left hand over his mouth, he made a violent pretence of swallowing the bone, he sidled up to Gert who was standing close by with eyes and mouth and coat pockets wide open, dropping the bone into one of the latter, Farini showed his empty hands and asked the sorcerer to convince himself that the bone was really swallowed and not just being held in his mouth. He repeated this a few times.

Then he took out his pocket knife and passed it several times over the side of his leg at the knee joint, increasing the rapidity of the movement, he then half squatted on the ground and at the same instant raised his hand up to his mouth, pretending to swallow the knife. Which in fact was held tightly in the bend of his knee, Farini opened his mouth for all to see that the knife had been swallowed? Lulu then came as previously arranged, came up behind Farini wiping his hands on a towel, which he dropped over the knife as it was released from the knee.

The mouths of the onlookers were wide agape; Farini now went around everyone his mouth also wide opened for everyone to once more see that the knife had been swallowed. Lulu in the meantime picked up the towel and with it, the knife, innocently asking what the matter was. Farini warned him off and told him not to interrupt, and wait like the rest of the audience. He made his way to the Soenya and secreted the knife in a cattle horn that lay beside him.

At the same moment Farini walked over to the head man, who sat farthest from the witch-doctor, and with an indelible pencil marked sundry hieroglyphics on his face, assuring him through Gert that as long as those markings were there, he would find many Jackals, but no feathers and also meet many tribes to trade with.

Farini then described what they had as their trading goods, as per Gert the previous evening. In return he then asked the Soenya to describe the contents of any wagon.

The Soenya was uneasy about the loss of his bones and asked Gert to ask Farini to restore them to him.

Farini said only after the Soenya had returned his knife, holding out his hand and looking him straight in the face. The Soenya protested that he did not have it. It was with the bones, he saw the white man swallow it all. Farini old the Soenya to a sure that he did not have the knife, he slowly searched himself with every eye of the audience fixed on him.

When he found the knife in the horn, he assumed an expression of great wonder, his black face turning pale. He seemed quite afraid to hand the knife back to its owner. Farini leaned over to collect the knife and in the same movement, dropped a half a crown into the folds of his skin blanket. And stepping a few paces back produced another coin, onto which Gert marked a cross with the recovered knife. He then passed one hand over the other and told Gert to blow on it. When his hand was opened – the half crown was gone.

The Soenya was indignant when asked to search himself a second time: as he moved out rolled the half a crown from the blanket to the ground. Farini flattered him about his powers as a witch-doctor to be able to extract the coin from his hand. Farini promised him his bones back again.

Farini took Gert’s hat and held it under his head for a moment, making a few contortions as a make believe. He placed the hat the wrong side up on Gert’s head and told him to jump. As he jumped Farini struck his pocket with a stick, he then told the Soenya to stick his hand into Gert’s pocket. Gert was to awe struck to object, what surprised Farini most was that the old pretender, who knew that all he did was humbug, showed signs of real fear as trembling dipped his hand into Gert’s pocket and took out one by one his prized charms and bones.

After the performance breakfast was ready, Lulu still wanted to take a plate of the group, but they had vanished.

Gert had ascertained that there was water at Kwang Pan about a day and a half to the north-east.
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Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
Posts: 2603
Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:25 am Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 16.

Arriving at their destination they found to be sandy covered with thin long grass, the prevalence of trees gave the impression of an English park.

Many k’gung trees with their short hooked thorns, and dark in colour decorated the landscape. What amazed the party most was the huge thatch like nests stretching from branch to branch, woven together in a dense mass, nearly two metres thick. The structure was pierced with hundreds of holes, from each of which peered a pair of bright eyes, the work of many years and still being added on every year.

Unfortunately the Kwang Pan had recently dried up – no water and not a Tsamma within miles. Disappointment was depicted on every face; they could survive on Tsamma juice.

They decided to dig a pit, milky coloured water filtered in and they could fill their barrels.

The oxen were given a whole day to rest and then they set off early the following evening and trekked until about ten that evening, they set up camp in the now warmer area.

The wagons were parked on each side of the fire, with the party sitting in a semi circle next to the fire.

All of a sudden there was a crash, with coals flying in all directions and a deep blood curdling growl and a yell “the Lion has got me” – it was Klaas, Farini saw the Lion stretched out at full length flat on the ground, his tail lashing to and fro clutching the poor Klaas.

Not a moment was to be lost but he did not know what to do. The thought that Lions were scared of fire struck him, he grabbed a burning stick and threw it at the Lion and in the same movement, kicked some burning coals over the growling brute.

The Lion let go of Klaas and with three bounds tackled and pulled down one of the oxen, by now everyone had either a gun or a firebrand and boldly ran forward for the rescue. Shots were fired but the Lion held onto his prey.

They quietly approached the now lifeless Lion and saw that it was quite dead, the claws still sticking into the shoulders and neck of the bullock, the Lion was pulled off and the ox rolled over and quietly stood up.

Returning to Klaas they found him sitting up, with a half dazed look, half smothered in sand and ashes, muttering “I am dead”, Klaas was examined and it was found that his was face was scratched, he had some ugly wounds in his thigh made by the hind claws and his shoulder painfully out of place, fortunately no bones were broken.

The dislocation was righted and the wound carefully washed and dressed. Klaas then was the hero of the evening, and came in for everybody’s sympathy, considering the narrow escape he had had, he was more shocked than hurt, and afterwards he told them that he was sure they had broken his shoulder when righting it as “he felt it crack when they pulled it so”.

Blomberg (the bullock) whose wounds were deep but not past being cured and after having his shoulder stitched up and some tar and grease from the wagon wheels seemed to do the job. After a few days rest he was again fit to be put in the harness.

The rest of the cattle were nowhere to be seen, they had stampeded, they were all recovered by midday the following day, they were inspanned and the group left the place they called “Lion’s Surprise”.

Klaas’ wound was dressed twice a day by the Bushmen who used a pulpy kind of weed, it seemed very cooling and healing, as he was soon able to bear his weight on the injured leg, he was looking forward to a speedy recovery to again soon be the accomplished hunter, he regarded himself to be.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
Posts: 2603
Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:11 pm Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 17.

The skins of the hunted animals were tanned as follows: as soon as the animal had been skinned, it was rolled up, the heat causes decomposition and the hair becomes loosened and was easily removed.

It was then stretched out and pegged and left to dry for a few days, then it was moistened and rubbed and twisted and pulled and trampled on until nearly dry, then grease is applied and again rubbed and pulled and trampled and stretched and twisted until it was as pliable as cloth and nearly white. It is then immersed in a liquid prepared from the root of a small bush. This root contains a great deal of tannin and gives the leather a reddish colour.

Smaller skins are done by the women and the larger, heavier ones by the men.

The riems were made of ox-hide, it was cut into strips and tied to a branch of a tree and a heavy stone was attached to the lower end. It was then wound up as tight as possible and then let go, this process was repeated as often as was needed before it could be tanned. Gemsbok and Kudu hides were considered stronger than any other, a few lengths were always available for in case the trek-tou broke.

While man and beast were recovering, they were badly missed – Blomberg was accompanying the cows while invalidated and Klaas was riding on the wagon watching Fritz trying to emulate him with the whip.

They were soon in sight of Lihutitung, overtaking a string of women, carrying gourds full of water and singing as they trooped lightly home. They were well built, with well proportioned limbs; bodies erect, and gait free, their habit of carrying their burdens on their heads showing their figures off to advantage. Some with a baby strapped to their backs, were partially covered with a skin shawl, others evidently the unmarried maidens wore nothing but a bunch of short cords, like leather shoe-strings, hanging from the front, from a line fastened around the waist. Some of them on seeing the Farini party squatted behind a bush to hide, while others ran and hid in their huts.

Dozens of naked children of all ages and sexes came outside and gazed upon the group as they entered the little village, silently standing like statues. Gert was sent to announce their arrival to Chief Mapaar and obtain permission to outspan. Gert returned about half an hour later accompanied by several women who were laden with calabashes filled with Sorghum wheat and pounded melon seeds as well as a supply of beer concocted from the Sorghum as well as four melons, having presented their offerings, the women retired.

Two men also accompanied Gert, they would show the animal carers the way to a spring where they were to water and also point out a pan where they could bathe.

Not another soul coming near them, either to trade or to beg.

The first thing the group did was enjoy their bath, their first for weeks, a bath they remembered for years. Drinking Tsamma was bad enough but using it as a washing agent . . . .

Farini who grew a beard now had difficulty in disentangling the growth on his face as the Tsamma juice and the heat of the sun had cemented it all hard together, he eventually suffered the indignity of resting the hardened mass in a dish of hot water in order that he could again get it manageable.

Their feet sank some inches into the clay bottom of the pan, this did not detract from their enjoyment.

Life was great again, chalky water, and abundance of fresh meat

Early te next morning an ox was brought to their wagon where it was slaughtered, hung up on the branch of a tree and dressed – a present from the Chief. Gert was sent to announce their intentions of a visit.

At about ten o’clock they were received in a small court a thatched-roofed circular structure made of poles, stuck into the ground interlaced with grass and then plastered over with clay, in the centre sat the Chief.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
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Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:17 am Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 18.

Mapaar motioned the group to sit down, not greeting or saying a word. They squatted onto the skins scattered in a half circle around him.

Farini signalled to the two Bushman to bring forward the gift, he had brought for the Chief – two brightly coloured striped woollen blankets, were solemnly laid before him, the big heavy boned man about forty years of age and an intelligent face, did not make a sound and did not even look towards the gaudy gift . . . .

Gert broke the silence and after nearly twenty minutes with many gesticulations and evident references to Farini, sat down with the air of a popular orator. Still not a sound from the mighty Chief.

Farini of course did not understand a word of what Gert had so dramatically put forward.

The eventually Chief Mapaar spoke and Gert interpreted, the Chief was very pleased to see the Great London Captain, and was glad that the Queen was still well. He was especially pleased to hear that the Queen had inquired about his (Mapaar’s) health and also sent her good wishes to him personally.

The blankets were very beautiful but he had heard that there was a Lion’s skin in one of the wagons, and that he the Great Chief of the Bakalahari would like to have it for his kraal.

The London Captain was a great man to have killed the Lion and he Mapaar would take great pleasure in showing it to all his people when the Great Captain was gone, and also to future visitors. With all the compliments the Royal beggar made best of the opportunity – he made it plain that he would not be denied the skin. He also indicated that it was the big Lion’s skin and not the little one he was speaking about.

The skin was not of great value and Farini intended keeping it as a trophy, it was handed over with as much grace as possible; Farini was quite pleased that it was not his favoured rifle or his best pair of boots.

Upon receipt of the skin, the blankets were handed back to Farini, which he returned saying he never took back a gift once given, so the audience ended.

Mapaar told Gert that Farini was welcome to anything he needed, while staying there, provided it was placed in a separate kraal apart for his own use.

Two attendants showed Farini the way to the hut which was to be his home for the next week. At the entrance stood two old women, but on entering he was somewhat surprised to find standing in the middle of the floor which was covered with skin mats, a young woman who was evidently expecting them, and made no signs of intentions to retire.

Gert explained the situation as being the height of hospitality among the Balala was to provide a visitor with a wife for the duration of the visit, and that the dark beauty present had been allotted to him by the thoughtful consideration of Mapaar.

Here Farini was in the interior of Africa, a wanderer in the face of the earth, far from home, relations and friends, was suddenly provided with a home and a wife, without any trouble, expense or ceremony. How many men would have some of these customs of Africa introduced into Europe and America, and marriage made easy a la Bakalahari?

Making a semblance of being pleased, Farini called for his blankets and took possession of his domicile.

Towards evening Farini walked to the wagons and found a few women there who seemed to have made themselves quite at home. Upon enquiring about the situation he was told that they were also their temporary wives, the men were quite happy they had plenty of meat and wives to cook for them.

The women seemed resigned to their fate.

Farini returned to his hut and with an air of great fatigue, threw himself on his blankets and feigned sleep, to avoid offending the dusky bride who silently left the hut attracted by the by the singing and revelry going on at the wagons.

She returned at sunrise with some milk and mealies for breakfast, she seemed quite pleased when she saw her “husband” partake in the fare. Farini gestured to her to join in but she withdrew appearing quite shocked at the idea, it was not custom for a woman to eat with a man, even her husband.

After breakfast Gert was summoned to ask permission from the Chief to visit his gardens. Farini was eager to learn how they cultivated the land and what crops they grew.

Mapaar himself came with quite e retinue of followers; carrying his folding chair – a wooden frame with strips of leather for the seat – another carrying a fan and another with a skin and another . . . .

The Chief enquired about Farini’s health and laughed loud when told that he as well and much refreshed after his fatigues, having slept soundly all night.

The gardens were close by, were fenced with thick rows of Noi thorn brush, and carefully laid with butt end inwards with the bushy side projecting outwards forming a perfect barrier.

Each Chief of the tribe was allotted a piece of land to cultivate his garden. Mapaar’s was the largest, nearly an acre in extent. Cultivation was restricted to mealies and melons. Mapaar showed Farini his pride behind the mealies; about two hundred stalks of tobacco and then his real gem some dagga.

After the visit to the garden Mapaar was invited to the wagons where he was offered a generous helping of ginger-brandy, he tasted it but did not like it, he asked for some eau de Cologne instead, fortunately a bottle was handy, the cork was extracted and Mapaar put the bottle to his lips and emptied the bottle down his throat. . . . and asked for more. A second bottle followed the first.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
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Sat Apr 24, 2010 3:00 pm Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 19.

Mapaar was not seen for the rest of the day.

Farini spent the evening at the wagons after enjoying a supper of cooked meat and pumpkin with mealies boiled in milk, finished off with a large calabash of milk.

Early the following morning Farini was informed that there was quite a large herd of Gemsbok grazing not far away, scouts had already been sent out to prepare the animals for the hunt. They were all to set out and hunt Gemsbok.

They walked a while and then settled behind a dune. Mapaar indicated the grazing Gemsbok in the valley below. Farini saw movement further away and then realised that what he had seen was strategically placed men to manage the movement of the Gemsbok.

Mapaar seemed to be giving instructions to them in some way, then Farini noticed that he had a stick to which the tail of a Jackal had been tied to from where signals were being sent to the men.

A signal was sent and some men further away jumped up and startled the Gemsbok who ran a little distance and then stopped and looked back, they were again startled and took off – straight into where a band of spearmen were hidden –the leading bull fell behind with about half a dozen assegais sticking into him, he slackened his pace and was passed by several of his followers, who ran straight into the armed men. Three Gemsbok were stabbed by the short assegais.

The wounded animals now stopped and stood at bay, each surrounded by a small group of hunters, each ready to take the first opportunity to rush in and make the final stab.

Game to the last the handsome Old Master faced his foes, he who until minutes earlier was in the prime of his lusty strength, now his harem scattered in all directions, bidding a last defiance of his enemies. His long sharp straight horns were sweeping over his back reaching to his hind-quarters, and then with his head bent low with his horns forward he again swept forward and sideways defying a direct attack.

The tormentors gathering closer round him, firmly grasping their sharp weapons in both hands: one of them made a rush at the bull’s head which at once was met by a sidelong sweep of the straight sharp black horns, another immediately ran in from the opposite side and thrust his assegai in deep behind the shoulder – the Old Master of the dunes staggered and fell, with a last toss of his head he reached the hunter’s arm, wounding him and then fell at their feet.

The hunted animals were skinned and cut up, a fire was lit and soon the still warm entrails of the Gemsbok were roasting on the coals.

The entrails were “cleaned” by stripping them through their fingers.

Farini pleaded for the horns of the Old Master, Mapaar instructed one of his men to clean the pair of horns and take them to the wagons.

When all was done not three but thirteen Gemsbok had been hunted. The skins and carcasses had to be carried to the Village. Every man of the hunting party was laden with either skins or large joints of fresh Gemsbok meat.

It was a weary walk back but they were soon met by the women of the Village who took over much of the prize.

All was taken to a certain spot where the villagers aligned and then came forward in an orderly way to accept his portion of the booty. All suddenly disappeared and then Farini saw his son Lulu with the dreaded camera pointing in the direction of where they had congregated.

Mapaar was invited to come and inspect the camera, which with a bit of trepidation was done. He looked into the camera and saw his reflection and was quite thrilled, but when he saw the upside down reflection of the kraal, it took many words from Gert and also much of his tact to explain all was in order.

After satisfying himself that all was safe he called his panic stricken subjects, who then still hesitantly appeared from many directions.

They collected their share and soon the fires were surrounded by the smell of roasting and cooking meat.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:39 am Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 20.

When Farini got back to his hut, he was surprised to find it full of women.

An old woman sitting next to his wife began to speak and Gert interpreted. The old woman was the mother of the bride, she said that her daughter had been taught to obey her husband and to cook corn and melons and meat and to make coffee.

She now wanted to know what her daughter had done to offend the London Captain. Mapaar had selected this daughter of her to be his wife during their stay and they were all looking forward to having a son of London’s great Captain, to be brought up in his household as remembrance of this very important visit.

Now the White Captain has spurned his bride and cast a dark cloud over her family. She asked the Great Captain to please speak his heart in order for what was at fault could be righted.

Farini had to apply all his self discipline to restrain his laughter, but he also realised that he had to think up some good excuse otherwise it could be made very uncomfortable for him.

He then said that he was greatly honoured by the kindness of the great Bakalahari tribe. The beautiful daughter of Mapaar’s father was worthy of the best of husbands. From the first moment he laid his eyes on her, her dark eyes had been haunting him. Her cooking skills were extremely good. But the Captain could not always do as he would wish, she may have thought that he had neglected her, but as the principle Witch-doctor of the Great Queen of England, he could not marry. Were he to take this beautiful daughter of Balala as his wife, his power of foretelling good and evil would vanish. He dare not do so. Yet the pleasure of seeing her so close to him was very great and he would indeed be very grieved if she did not take her accustomed place and to honour him with her presence as before.

They were to pity and not blame him, as he could treat her altogether as his wife.

One of the women left the hut and returned a little while later with Chief Mapaar, there was a long discussion and eventually Gert said that Mapaar was satisfied, the girl was to remain with Farini.

But seeing the Farini was a Witch-doctor and it being very dry, he should use his powers and call the rains to their land.

Farini replied that he needed time to prepare himself and would return the following morning.

He studied the meteorology of South Africa by means of an almanac he had, which had been published in Cape Town. He noticed that with the prevailing winds and the clouds on the horizon, rain may be expected. He also noticed that the barometer was still falling as it had been during the past two days.

The following morning the rain doctor visited the chief, with Gert as the interpreter. The rain doctor took out his pocket watch and wound it, it was put onto the dusty floor, the tic, tick, tick clearly audible in the otherwise silence of the hut. Feigning satisfaction he looked up and told the chief, that before the new moon was many day old, he might expect rain and wind, in actual fact before the end of the following day, there would be rain and game would be plentiful in the neighbourhood.

Mapaar seemed very pleased, and offered Farini anything he needed.

Farini did want to overstay his welcome and replied that he was indeed deeply honoured by the offer, but they had to leave as his duties would compel him to leave in the evening.

He had to go to Lake Ngami and find the Little People and get back to the sea in time catch the steamship to return to England where he had to report the Great Queen.

Mapaar replied that they could leave the day after the following day; he obviously wanted to ensure that the promised rain would fall before leaving.

Farini was also quite anxious to leave as he wanted to get to Lake Ngami before the weather changed and they get bogged down, however he also realised that they would not be able to leave without Mapaar’s consent.

If the next twenty four hours did not bring a downpour, things could possibly turn out awkward for the group.

Farini decided to stay and go and shoot some ducks with Fritz and Korap, at the nearby vlei.

They hid behind the bush and soon Korap had to wade in and collect eleven ducks – that evening’s supper.

That evening Farini was welcomed by his bride with a wide smile, Gert did the interpreting and they were talking about the history of the Bakalahari when there was a pitter patter on the thatched roof and a vivid flash of lightning followed by the roar of thunder and then a gush of wind which nearly lifted the thatch. Farini’s prophecy had been fulfilled – the rain was coming down in torrents the next morning the pan was a lake, the wagons standing in the middle, up to their axels deep in water.

“Mrs. Farini” had by now prepared breakfast – coffee and baked mealies.

Later the morning Farini was told by Farini that he need not stay until the following day, he could leave when he wanted to, he was rather upset because the Queen’s Witch-doctor had caused so much rain. His plantations were injured and if the rain continued, would be destroyed

Farini was anxious to leave as the ground was softening by the hour, and the wagon wheels were sinking deeper and deeper into the clay of the pan.

Mapaar gave instructions that their cattle be fetched and soon the in spanning was completed and with much shouting and cracking of whips, the whole procession started moving.

As a farewell gift Mapaar was given a waist coat, upon which he requested Farini to convey his best wishes to the Queen, before he strutted off . . . .

The next three days they proceeded quietly, and watched the countryside change, the k’gung trees were now growing in great clumps not unlike a forest. Driving in their shade was pleasant and everyone was in a happy mood.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
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Thu May 13, 2010 1:41 pm Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 21.

The group set off and trekked towards the lake. Farini and Klaas, Dirk and Gert in advance. Maybe they could get some Elephants.

On reaching the lake they enquired from the locals and were told had been seen the previous day, grazing and drinking close to a large pool a little further to the north.

One of the locals was engaged as a guide and off they went in search of the large grey beasts.

Towards evening they set off towards evening they arrived at a large marshy, reedy pool a few miles square with plenty of large trees growing in and around it.

They set up camp under the tall Anna trees with wide-spreading branches from which their scarlet coloured fruit was hanging between the healthy looking green leaves.

The horses were secured for the night, the men climbed into the trees for just in case a lurking predator paid them a visit – some distant Lion roars were rolling in on the faint evening breeze. Some Jackals and Hyaenas also made their calls.

Farini imagined that he was listening to some Orchestra playing the composition of some great composer.

The evening passed by uneventful, and soon the friendly sunrays lit the eastern horizons.

After feeding the horses and a quick breakfast the group mounted and cautiously followed the little peninsulas of the marshy lake.

Suddenly the guide motioned them to stop and pointed downwards – there was the clear imprint of an Elephant foot in the mud – his first sighting of this in AFRICA. His heart beat with excitement at the thought of soon being face to face with a tusker.

The guide motioned them to stay and set off, on his return he told that there were six Elephants feeding a little distance away, fortunately the wind was blowing from them towards the party.

The trees were thick and the bush almost impenetrable by horse, the guide suggested that they dismount and follow on foot, until they found a suitable spot to await the approaching beasts.

After a few hundred yards they came to a small clearing with tallish grass, they hid behind the surrounding trees, Farini could not help feeling a bit cowardly while awaiting the unsuspecting Elephants.

Farini was anxious and the guide whispered to him that their sense of hearing and smelling was much better than that of man, if they sense the group the Elephants would flee and would never again be seen as they could not chase them through the mud an underbrush thicket.

The wind wafted a rustling crushing sound over the grass, Farini’s blood seemed to run faster. Then clear above the tramping, cracking, rumbling crushing noise of the approaching animals, there was a shrill trumpeting coming from their right. The waving grass gradually came closer and closer, then forty yards away another trumpeting and some screams – four young Elephants appeared the hunters fired and the animals took off.

They mounted their horses and Farini caught sight of an Elephant coming for him, its trunk raised displaying a pair of short tusks – charging straight at him. The mare refused to move, the spurs being driven into her flanks seemed to have no effect, she stood stock still as if paralysed, shivering and snorting with fright. Farini dismounted and fired another shot at the oncoming beast. The hunter grab the mare’ bridle and pulled her a few yards away in behind some trees, he mounted and fortunately the mare set off, this time without the assistance of any coaxing spurs, she seemed to realise that safety lay in flight with the pursuing Elephant not far behind. Farini heard a shot fired and then another, he looked around and saw the Elephant stagger and collapse four yards behind them.

The animal was lying on its side, trying to get up – struggling with death.

The guide indicated in another direction saying that there was another wounded animal staggering a little way off.

Farini and Gert set off, the guide declined the invite to join. The broken bush indicated to where animals had fled, at last the sound of heavy snorting swept though the tangled undergrowth.

Farini climbed up a tree to survey the area. He spotted an Elephant kicking up dust and then sucking it up and blowing it onto a bleeding wound on the shoulder. It seemed quite hard hit, for as it moved his right foreleg dragged. Farini waited for it to move into a suitable position and then fired another shot, he immediately heard another shot being fired – the Elephant crashed off through the branches.

Farini jumped down, mounted the tied mare and followed the Elephant – then he heard Gert calling.

Gert was a sorry sight, his hand and arm was skinned, his leg was injured and explained that when the Elephant ran off after he had also fired, his horse took fright and ran into a tree, the Elephant grabbed him and threw him, it then tackled the mare and badly injured it with its trunk and tusks.

Farini saw that the poor horse was dying and ended its misery.

The two decided it was useless following the enraged Elephant and walked back to the others.

Gert’s wounds were dressed; fortunately he had no fractures but plenty of bruises. He was sore and very stiff.

It was decided to set up camp for the evening. Soon the fire was burning and the smell of fresh roasting Elephant meat filled the air.

Farini imagined this was possibly one the best meals he had ever had.

After removing the tusks the following morning they followed the trail of the wounded Elephant.

After a little while they came across the wounded animal where it was leaning against a large tree, it saw the men, the only movement was that of the waving ears – it made no attempt to either attack nor flee. The hunters aimed and fired and the stricken beast just rolled over and quietly slipped of into eternity. . . . . .

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
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Fri May 14, 2010 7:03 am Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 22

The guide asked Farini to give him a bit of time as he needed to go and tell the people about all the available meat. They would come and camp and cut up all available meat and all that would remain would be the bare picked bones, of which the scavenging Hyaenas would eventually reduce to white chalk in their droppings.

After the Elephant hunt Farini decided that they should take a few days rest. The Bushmen were sent off to find Tsamma and Wild melons- Mangatan or water. After three days they returned with the good news “plenty of Mangatan” and a pan with plenty of good water and camping space.

The following morning they struck out to the west – avoiding Mapaar’s country.

They trekked through a green wonderland with crops of Bushman grass which had started ripening and would make excellent fodder for the animals. Tsamma and Mangatan were plentiful. Meat was readily available in the form of the Eland and Wildebeest that roamed the meadows.

Blomberg the ox that was nearly killed by the Lion had regained his condition; in fact he was fat and his coat shining.

On the fifth day they altered course in the direction of Ochimbunde.

Coming to a wide grassy plain the Little People said that on the other side of the trees they would find hollow stones that fill up with rain water and take some weeks to dry.

They outspanned and spent a comfortable night in the land of plenty.

The following morning they saddled the horses and went of to reconnoitre, they followed some tracks and after about two hours came across a huge herd of Zebra. The striped beauties watched them with their coats glistening in the sunlight. Farini did not have the heart to shoot at them; they just watched one another in amazement.

Gert mentioned that the hides could be sold at a good price. . . . .

After about a further hours ride they in the far distance some large rocks. On approaching Farini imagined that they must have been brought there at some remote time by human hands.

Had they ever been laid together?

Where did they come from and why?

Why had the workmen not completed their task?

There were no stones or rocks of any kind for hundreds of miles: nothing but sand. Had the sand been quarried away and exposed the slabs of rock.

Maybe the country many millenniums ago was free from sand, if so, why were the rocks stacked.

The rocks may have been exposed for long long times as they were a glistening black, where chips had been broken off the colour was grey.

Farini checked and examined the puzzle more closely. The sides seemed square as cut stone. Some were six feet wide and fifteen to twenty feet long, lying side by side about a foot apart. On the upper side of each was an oval like basin more than one foot deep all filled or partly filled with water.

He tasted the water and found it cool and with a delicious flavour, a bit of sediment from vegetable growth was at the bottom.

The group camped here for two days; the horses enjoyed the fresh water while cattle seemed to prefer the Tsamma.

The Little People found plenty of roots and bulbs and other edible offerings from the Kalahari soil.

After some more trekking the found some Damara people at Tunobis who were watering their animals at a running spring. These people were powerfully built, jet black with the splendid look of the Zulu people.

Funerals and weddings of the Damara People were celebrated with much singing and dancing and feasting on an ox.

Polygamy was in the order of the day, a man was permitted to have as many wives as he could afford to purchase. King Kamahamahero setting the example; he had twenty two, taking a new wife every year.

The Damara people are successful cattle breeders, the King’s herd alone numbered about 20000.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:06 pm
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Fri May 14, 2010 1:52 pm Unread post
Just a question on the mentioning of the Damara. I thought that they kept to the north west of Namibia and that this area was the traditional area of the Maherero. Further to the west you would find the Swartboois and the Namas and Tswanas to the east.

I do realise that you are telling the story within the nomadic nature of the region's inhabitants and I do not know the traditional boundaries of the peoples of the previous Betchuaneland.

One theory do hold that ancient Damara people were found in Botswana.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
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Fri May 14, 2010 2:58 pm Unread post
My current info is also that the Damara are now in Namibia, maybe there were some Damara that moved into Botswana.

What I am posting is what Farini (William Hunt) experienced.

What we must always realise is that people have always migrated and returned, some broke up and settled far away from their roots.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Fri May 14, 2010 5:48 pm Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 23.

From Tunobis they trekked in a southerly direction picking their way between trees and steep sand hills.

Lion spoor was all over. A laager was built each night using Noi- bushes.

Game was plentiful; the sand was covered with the spoor of Gemsbok, Giraffe, Eland, Hartebeest and Wildebeest.

Two days later they arrived at Sandfontein where they spent another two days, resting the oxen.

After a days trek they found an old wagon track, overgrown with grass. They decided to follow the tracks after three days the reached Anerougas there were two places with thus named, the one on the Nossob and the other a further one hundred and sixty miles further south.

They met some Namaqua people, these people were always making raids into Damaraland robbing the inhabitants and taking their children.

Three days further they reached Kerses here they met up with an Englishman with his Coloured wife and their children.

The wife was very friendly and brought them thick milk in exchange for coffee and tobacco.

The thick milk was prepared by putting fresh milk into a skin bag, once fermentation had set in the bag was shaken frequently. Once the milk had reached the correct consistency, the watery whey would be poured off. The bag would be resealed and trampled underfoot until every drop of liquid was squeezed out. - leaving only the thick white mass, which was either eaten as is or mixed with some fresh milk.

Farini added some sugar to reduce the slightly sour taste, but very soon he loved the fromage a la Kalahari. Milk in one form or another was the principle food of these people. The Englishman often came over to share their portions of cracked wheat and milk.

They were now four days journey away from the land of Dirk Verlander, the self appointed Chief of the local coloured people.

Gert proposed that he go in advance to prepare the Chief for their arrival.

They set off and then reached Mier – a collection of huts formed of bent sticks and covered with anything available.

In the centre of a stone kraal stood a stone house, thatched and plastered with clay – the residence of the Chief.

They outspanned on the camping ground which Gert had prepared near a fresh-water pit, dug out of solid rock.

They then went to meet the Chief. At the gate they were met by a tall dark brown person with large handsome eyes, which twinkled as he spoke, his face bearing a perpetual smile. The parted lips displayed a row of white even teeth; however a cunning expression was underlying his good looks.

He was dressed in shirt sleeves of which the original colour could only be guessed. He wore a pair of corduroy trousers and a pair of veldschoons covered his feet.

He wore several hoops of silver and brass on his fingers. Dirk Verlander invited them into his house where stools were where awaiting their visit.

In a corner of the square room was a bedstead covered with bullock hides. In the opposite corner were some blue painted wooden boxes which may have been designed to form the seats of a wagon. Near the door was a pail with drinking water, a cup was attached to it by a thin riempie.

In the middle of the smooth dried cow dung floor was heap of Springbok skins on which some young children and a few young goats were playing together. On the roof beams were perched a few fowls.

The room was filled with men; women with their faces blackened by some finely pounded paste mixed with grease kept passing in and out; some were wearing old dresses but barefooted, others were wearing skirts, shoes and even bonnets. All walked in a lazy, loose carefree manner, much different from their erect Bushwomen servants, who came in now and then, all as lithe and upright as reeds, wearing only a skin around their waists their firm bare upper bodies were in stark contrast to that of their mistresses.

Chief Verlander addressed Farini as the “London Chief” as he been coached by Gert beforehand, expressed curiosity to know why he was exploring the Kalahari and for what purpose Mier was part of the route. He then asked for the letter. Farini was surprised and Verlander added the letter from the Cape Government which Gert had mentioned, all the elders had been called in for this occasion.

Gert mentioned the letter which was read to the Magistrates and all the important people at Griqua-town and at Kheis who had given him whatever he wanted the moment they saw it. He had asked Chief Verlander to call the council together that he (Farini) might tell them that he had heard in Cape Town, that Farini was told that the Cape Government had no jurisdiction north of the Orange River.

He looked at Verlander and told him that now he would hear the truth.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Sat May 15, 2010 10:19 am Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 24.

Farini now in an awkward position had to think on his feet and do it very fast.

He took out the letter and read it in his best Dutch; all Chiefs, Captains and Commissioners were requested to render Farini all assistance in their power. He then said that he had been assured that if he bought any property from Verlander or any other Chief in an honest, straightforward manner, his title to it would be recognised when the Government came to annex the country.

He added that Korannaland would probably be annexed before Parliament was closed; the listeners seemed very pleased Farini concluded by asking whether they would sell him a tract of land if he saw something that suited him.

Verlander replied that he would be pleased to render any assistance but that he could not sell any land, as he was in treaty for the sale of the whole country. This treaty went back to Jan Afrikander and the Namaqua Hottentots after the slaves had been freed and moved in to the Namaqualand area. Dirk was sent eastwards by the great man to establish Jan’s power amongst the Bushmen of the Kalahari. Obtaining permission from the Bushmen to settle at Anerougas, he made a pit there and never again returned, although frequently sent for.

The Verlander settlement grew rapidly with the influx of more people coming across the Orange River. They lived principally by hunting, as the numbers increased Verlander’s Chieftainship also expanded. The Verlanders moved farther and farther north finding water by digging pits. Traders followed them, feathers and hides were traded and all did well. Cape smoke also had a very good market.

Much of the trading was done on credit.

The law was administered by field-cornets, appointed by Verlander. Certain grounds were allotted to persons for which tax or rent in the form of goats or sheep or cattle, had to be paid to the Chief.

After the meeting Verlander asked to look at the Farini group’s guns, he was very impressed at seeing the repeater, he also cast his eyes on the coloured blankets, he then asked for some coffee and sugar which was given to him.

The others begged for everything they saw. Tobacco was not asked for as a matter of course they reached into the pouch and helped themselves.

They would examine an article and praise it, and then say with utmost coolness “I see you have plenty of this, I would like this as a present, please” past-masters in the art of begging.

One or two would pretend to be anxious to buy, by offering ridiculous prices, but when told that they were not traders, they would again fall back into the begging mode.

That evening the were invited to Verlander’s house to drink thick milk, here they met a white man, Halliburton, tall lean lanky person, with cunning greyish-blue eyes, who introduced himself as Verlander’s private secretary. His general appearance did not inspire much trust. He said he did not believe that hunting alone was sufficient reason for Farini to be in the country – he was there for some obscure reason, maybe from some or other Government for some or other reason, maybe for the purchase of the land.

Later upon leaving Verlander mentioned that he would be very greatfull if Farini left behind half his coffee and sugar and also that the zinc pail would become very in dipping it into the well.

Halliburton added that it was customary that tollage be paid by anyone passing through the area.

Farini decided that an offering of a carriage clock would be a very good parting gift – and showed Verlander how to wind it, set the time and the alarm. Verlander mentioned that he did not have much use for a clock but that he would rather prefer a gift of some guns.

Farini mentioned that he could not be expected to give away of his guns – he was just at the start of a hunt.

Verlander said that Farini had six, but he would accept one on Farini’s return. Farini decided that that matter could rather be discussed upon their return. Verlander then mentioned that for the time being a blanket for his wife would do.

The group left and trekked for three days over the everlasting sand-dunes until they reached the dry bed of the Nossob River which they followed the going was good as the surface was smooth and hard, after a while the came to the confluence with the Auob River, here was a well about 100 feet deep, here the field-cornet warned them not to drink it as it was very salty and possibly poisonous, some people had tried to drink it and nearly died, some oxen who drank from it also became very sick – Farini reckoned that the water was not good due to copper possibly being in the mineral salts.

Later they came across a Tsamma belt; the thirsty cattle were let loose to feed. Passing eagerly from vine to vine they all soon had their fill, and within an hour all were laying down contentedly chewing the cud.

Birds were warbling; the crickets were playing their symphony while a Meerkat may pop its head from the underground burrow. Vultures were soaring high aloft searching for carrion.

All was peaceful as the great ball of fire set itself to rest behind the western horizon, hanging out curtains of rose-pink to crimson as it disappeared from view.

The silver light of the moon was welcomed by the laugh of Hyaenas, the call of some distant Jackals and Foxes. Later that night some mighty roars rolled across the sea of soft sand and waving grass.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Sat May 15, 2010 1:36 pm Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 25

The next morning they were up before daybreak, readying themselves for a days’ hunting.

On their way riding northwards over the grassy sand-hills passing under the broad Camel-thorn trees, through thick clumps of dark green k’gung bushes, past Raisin-bushes heavily laden with their sweet ripe berries and every now and then a tree nearly completely covered by a creeping vine full of plum sized fruit ranging in colour from green to deep rich scarlet.

The fruit looked very tempting, some of which had burst open and had birds feeding on the seeds. Farini imagined that they would be good to eat as the birds seemed to enjoy the seeds. He picked one and Gert warned that they were poisonous, he disregarded the warning and tasted the forbidden fruit, the pleasant juice was cool and refreshing. He plucked and had another.

They soon crossed the spoor of a Giraffe and followed it, they soon came across a spot of wet sand, the field-cornet dismounted and felt it, he said that it was still warm; therefore the animal must be close by. They were to be careful as the animal is tall and has very good eye-sight.

Soon the big animal came into their sight and it ran off, zig zagging across and over the sand. The chase commenced, soon the mare plunged into an Aardvark hole ploughing into the sand with her nostrils, without spilling her rider.

Up on the rise they again see the galloping long necked beauty, its head towering above the trees a hundred meters ahead of them. The filed-cornet yelled don’t shoot, ride him down and they chased, the plan was to chase it towards the wagons, however it would not turn. Soon the field-cornet dismounted, aimed and fired, almost simultaneously with Farini. The Giraffe ran on about five more paces and then collapsed. Farini ran closer to the kicking animal, there was despair in the drooping eye and it seemed to say “what harm have I ever done to you?” before it died. The animal was measured and Farini calculated that it would have been able to eat from branches of a tree 22 feet above the ground.

The horses were finished.

The Bushmen disembowelled the Giraffe and started cutting bushes to cover the dead animal while the wagons were fetched. Soon the carcass was covered and some paper was placed on top and gunpowder spread around to scare away any scavengers.

A fire was lit and of the meat grilled. Farini was given some liver and some fatty part which he found very good, upon enquiring which part this was, Gert replied that it was of the end intestine. Farini asked where it was washed as it seemed quite clean – the reply was that it wasn’t washed, it had been turned inside out, anything inside falls out and it is then put on the coals, when done it is fit for a queen.

Farini realised that his horse was very tired and offered to stay behind at the carcass while of the others went to fetch the wagons.

Gert refused the offer, saying that they always ride back to the wagons, after many arguments the group left on their way to the wagons, leaving Farini behind.

Farini climbed up a huge tree and was soon perched on a big branch, his feet resting on one just below and his back against a third. His gun was tied to a branch above. He tied himself to the branch behind him, so that he would have no fear of falling out of bed.

He was safe from all except possibly a Leopard. Sitting high up in his “crows nest” he could watch his fire and gaze into the clear cloudless expanse.

Soon his thoughts drifted and he started wondering what was happening the dreaming hills. Friends might be dead, Governments might have changed, and Empires may have been lost. He had forgotten about the luxuries of civilization, for something and exciting was always taking place.

He noticed a tiny speck in the sky, then another and another – soon a dozen were visible. As they approached they became larger – vultures. A few swooped down about a hundred yards away, followed by the rest, making a decent upon the heap of brushwood, the air seemed filled with their great heavy lumbering wings.

They took no notice of the paper that was supposed to have frightened them off, and started carrying away of the grass and smaller bushes till the head was uncovered. Some dived into the bush and appeared with entrails dangling a long string behind it. Another would make a dash at it, it would stop short and begin devouring as much as he can before his friends deprive him of his booty.

Soon the sand is covered by a swarm of gluttonous dark-brown birds pulling and tugging at the long leathery strips, flitting from point to point, snatching at the smallest morsel.

A large vulture started at the exposed head, pulling the eyes out, that was to much for the observer perched in the tree, who sent a leaden message that he was poaching. The vulture was so surprised to hear that it seemed top faint while the rest of the flock took to the air, giving up possession at once.

Farini climbed down and found the large vulture dead. It was a monster the wings measured from tip to tip across the back – ten feet six inches.

The carcass was again covered and Farini repeated the process of climbing and tying.

The twilight succeeded the day, ushering in a lovely warm evening, a bat set out from the branch from it was hanging, like a brown leaf, wafted by the breeze clinking and seeking its dainty supper of flies and maybe beetles.

The Jackals began to bark, notifying their intent to eat the Giraffe, as it darkened the night marauders got to quarrelling with one another around the bits exposed by their feathered friend of earlier the day. in the cool night air there came the long drawn out how – the cry of an Hyaena.

In the moonlight Farini could see the Jackals feasting on the entrails, he spotted the approaching heavy spotted body with the lowered rear and yelled, the Hyaena howled an apology and ran away into the tall grass, followed by the discontented Jackals.

The rest of the night was still, not a sound to be heard, not a leaf stirred; all of nature seemed hushed to sleep. Farini gazed at the moon making its silent silvery arch across the dark vault of heaven; counting the stars as they passed by in majestic procession, quietly listening for some sound to break the monotony of the solemn silence of the AFRICAN night, till at last his senses slowly fell under the same soothing spell.

He felt himself being lifted higher and higher by some soaring bird, towards the region of the stars. The sensation was that of most perfect enjoyment and peace.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
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Sun May 16, 2010 10:07 am Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 26.

A red streak on the eastern horizon announced the near approach of day. The new day was announced by the many flitting birds. In the increasing light he saw a shape coming along the tracks left by the departing group of the previous day. The approaching form turned into that of a large full grown Lion, seemingly attracted by the scent of the Giraffe. A second Lion was spotted and then a third. Farini gazed down and realized that things look different to a man up a tree. Seeing he three cats stealing towards where he was in impromptu ambush was a much unexpected excitement.

They slowly crept closer, now in line, the largest leading, a fine specimen of tawny, short legged, shaggy dark maned big headed animal. Passing an open space they dropped close to their bellies. They got behind a clump of bush where they were concealed from view, Farini knew that the big cats were making straight for his tree, but he could not see them, he anxiously waited for them to appear. Then – the leader cautiously appeared creeping towards its quarry and then almost within springing distance – stopped dead. He crouched as still as death, then on the other side Farini spots one of the companions approaching and then the third, they have now formed an attacking half circle, each allotted his own place and duty.

Now they all advanced simultaneously making themselves smaller and smaller, so close did they cling to the ground.

Then with a sudden leap the biggest Lion sprang clean over the bush pile, alighting with a roar on the other side, the others with a couple of bounds were at his side, all three roaring until the earth trembled and seemed to shake as they tore up the ground with their fore feet.

The roaring gave place to growling coughs as if something was stuck in their throats. Each sound was accompanied with a shower of sand dug from the earth with a jerk.

When their fury was spent they sniffed around the pile under which the dead Giraffe lay. The largest one contended himself by lapping the congealed blood that the Jackals and Vultures had left, while the others ate the remaining viscera.

The sun was now quite high above the horizon; Farini heard the sound of wagons and saw his people approaching from the other side of the sand dune, some sixty yards away. He was pleased to see his son – with his camera. Clearly they must have heard the Lions roaring and Lulu could possibly now fulfil his life’s dream – taking a photograph of a full grown wild Lion out in the Kalahari – in AFRICA.

Lulu was running ahead, he stopped on the crest of the sand dune, the glitter of the sunlight on the lens made Farini realise that he was focussing on the group. He saw the largest Lion tearing a hole in the shoulder of the Giraffe, glancing towards Lulu he saw that he was changing a shield; he had obviously taken one photograph and was going to get another.

Then of the hunters appeared, aimed and fired. The Lions started up with a thunderous roar, one paced back a pace or two, another and another volley followed. The Lions gave no visible impression that they had been wounded. The older Lion charged Lulu, Farini followed it with shots as fast as he could, shouting at the others to shoot!

Lulu came forward carrying the camera, his head still covered by the black cloth, the lion stopped and returned to the Giraffe where he stood breathing defiance, the shots seemed to have no effect on him, not seeming to be able to make up his mind whether to charge or to beat a retreat. The other two Lions had by now disappeared.

One of the Bushmen appeared in front of a Noi bush, the Lion charged and then collapsed, never to move again.

Re: The Lost City of the Kalahari.

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Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
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Tue May 18, 2010 10:08 am Unread post
The Lost City of the Kalahari Part 27.

Farini decided to spend a few days, resting the oxen and the people, the veld was good and they were as comfortable as could be.

Much time was spent exploring the meadows of the Kalahari. Butterflies were collected many hours were spent by Farini running around hat in hand puffing and blowing after these gaily coloured little insects.

Lulu blankly refused to assist and the rest of the party thought that the heat may have affected his mind – imagine running after these moths.

After picking himself up – he had just fallen headlong down a sandbank – he heard Lulu call, he had a stick in his hand and said “look at this, it beats anything you have found; it crawled out of the bush”. It was a Chameleon, now dead Lulu had stamped on it.

The dead Chameleon and some live butterflies were taken back to camp.

Farini looked at the k’gung trees and judged by their weather beaten looks that they may have been the guardians for centuries, keeping watch over the solemn dark precincts.

Arriving at camp the Bushmen were nowhere to be seen, only the few women and children were in camp, Gert said that they had gone to go and make poison for their little arrows. Farini asked to be taken to them, following their tracks they soon came across the little group, huddled in a circle, Gert spoke to them in their clicking language and they were gestured to come but were indicated to be quiet and motioned to be seated.

In front of them were a number of large bulbs, recognised as the fan-leaved poison bulb that bore such beautiful flowers. The root ends were cut off, and placed on the silk-looking dry skins of the outer parts, a creamy liquid was slowly oozing from the cut parts.

When the juice ceased to run another slice would be cut off about an inch thick, fresh flow would take place. At each new slice the Bushmen would dance around uttering a grunt and keeping time by stamping their heels into the ground.

The oozed liquid was then placed into an empty grease tin and placed onto the little fire; Korap was in charge of the tin, he ensured that it did not boil over. A Hyaena skin was placed hair side down, each man came forward and emptied the contents of his horn onto Hyaena skin – dried snake poison bags, two men disappeared into the bush and soon reappeared carrying four recently killed snakes, two yellow ones, a Puffadder and a darker coloured Cobra. The heads were dissected while the rest of the group danced in a circle clapping their hands, the poison sacks were dexterously removed as any surgeon would have been proud of. Two pieces of reed were also placed on the skin.

The poison sacks were also placed on the Hyaena skin, the Bushmen now all went to sit singing a song in monotone, still keeping time by clapping their hands. They seemed to sing as long as possible without breathing, when the breath ran out, the person would abruptly stop with a jerk and a grunt to catch his breath and then resume.

This went on for nearly an hour, when suddenly Korap clapped his hands, the chanting immediately stopped, the contents on the skin was grabbed by its owner and they lined up at the tin with its boiling contents still being stirred by Korap, each person still grunting and stamping, the one with the reeds second last in the queue.

Each man now ceremoniously added his part to the boiling juice still being stirred by Korap. The man with the reeds came forward and carefully split them and added the contents to the brewing cauldron. The last man came and added the poison ducts from the freshly killed snakes.

As soon as all had been added Korap hastily put a skin over the top of the cauldron and carried it to the Hyaena skin, the others following dancing around him, shouting and gesticulating frantically, putting themselves in all different positions, representing in pantomime the contortions of various animals dying with poison.

This kept on for nearly half an hour, Korap clapped on the cauldron and the activities ceased. All now dropped to their knees. The skin cover was removed from the cauldron; Gert motioned them to come closer. Each of the Bushmen dipped a small twig into the brew, when it was extracted a thick glutinous thread followed it, this was held up in the light inspecting the quality, like connoisseurs of wine . . . . only difference was that it was not tasted.

When all had expressed their satisfaction with the product, a skin bag containing a red coloured floury substance which was added to the poison brew and stirred it until it was of desired consistency. Up to now all was done in silence, now everyone began to talk.

Farini enquired what the reeds contained and what the red powder was.

He was told that it was a mixture of a spider found in the rocks and of the pupa of a grub dug from the sand.

The juice from the poisonous bulb is strong enough to kill on its own when boiled down, but reacts very slowly, therefore the contents of the reeds is added to speed up the killing. The red powder is ochre which is added to thicken the poison and to give the poison a recognisable colouring.

When cold the poison hardens, it is rolled into balls and kept in a piece of horn, the poison is to be put onto the arrows it is warmed up and smeared on.

The poison was rubbed onto the arrow-points using a piece of skin, it adhered evenly. The arrow heads were made of heavy hard wood, about six inches long, they were tipped with a flat piece of tin and fastened with gut.

The points were attached to the shaft which consisted of a long light hollow reed, feathered on one side, only when required.

After all the arrow points had been smeared, they were laid in the sun to dry.

The rest of the poison was now divided, each member of the party receiving an equal portion. Farini was amazed that these little people did not mind sharing the poison with all members of the party and not just keeping it for themselves.

Gert explained to Farini that he had to realise the trust the little people had in them for allowing the outsiders to view one of their great secrets, not even their women were allowed when poison was made. They were to remain behind and prepare the beer for the celebrations.

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