EDITED BY THE WORKING COMMITTEE OF THE SOUTH
AFRICAN FOLK-LORE SOCIETY.
Semper novi quid ex Africa.
J A N U A IR Y,
PREFACE ... ...
THE STORY Or LONG SNAKE...
THE LION AND THE OSTRIOII..
A NURSERY TALE ...
S 7 9.
... ... ... ... ... i
Collected by Mr. G. Mc. Theal. ... 6
,, the Rev. A. J. Wookey. 10
,, Miss J. P. iIeeiwssen.... 12
SAUL SOLOMON & CO., PRINTERS, 40 & 42, ST. GEORGE'S-STREET.
SAUL SOLOMON & CO.,
THE journal of the South African Folk-lore Society begins
its existence under serious disadvantages. Not the least
among these is the continued absence of a trained philologist
acquainted with the whole known field of South African
languages, to whom doubtful and difficult points could
safely be referred, and material to be printed, wherever
necessary, submitted. Another great difficulty is the
want of means for printing, which, for the present, restricts
each number to sixteen pages only, and forbids even the
addition of those simple illustrations which would, in many
cases, contribute to'the clearness and interest of the text.
But, considerable as are the obstacles to be encountered,
the attempt to publish such a journal has now been decided
upon. For, notwithstanding the efforts made in past years
by those aware of the importance of the subject, it is too
clearly seen that no other organised endeavour is at
present likely to be set on foot, to secure, before this
becomes wholly too late, anything approaching to a
representative collection of the traditionary literatures
existing among the South African aboriginal races, but
allowed on all hands to be rapidly passing away, under the
influence of European ideas, and the spread of European
civilisation. Already, even in well-remembered pieces, and
particularly in such as bear other marks of their ancient
origin, terms are found to occur, of the meaning of which
the narrator himself is ignorant; clearly showing that no
time should be lost in setting vigorously to work, if any
really satisfactory results ar to be attained.
Besides these traditionary literatures, orally handed
down fridm one generation to another, many curious beliefs
and customs are also to be met with among the aboriginal
inhabitants, not only possessed of great intrinsic interest,
but occasionally of such a nature as to throw some light
upon the past history of the race. But, as far as is at
present known, comparatively little of this kind of folk-
lore has been collected; and hardly anything of it has
been brought by publication within the reach of students,
with the exception of a portion of the collections formerly
made among the natives of Natal, by the Rev. Dr.
Callaway, now Bishop of St. John's. Many further
particulars, concerning country, climate, tribal migrations,
the habits of animals, food, modes of cooking, the construc-
tion and use of weapons, domestic implements, musical
instruments, habitations, &c., &c.-all in their different
ways not merely interesting, but important for a thorough
understanding of Native life and Native literature-have
yet to be adequately recorded..
In the, hope of doing some little to remedy these great
deficiencies,, a small working folk-lore society has been
established, by which the issue of a periodical, to be
published every two months, is contemplated. In this
latter, specimens of Native literature, as well as trustworthy
information on related subjects, may appropriately appear,
and by circulation among Missionary and other residents
with the Native races, it is hoped that it pnay prove of
material aid in stimulating the general collection of South
African aboriginal lore. For, its existence will afford
practical proof to all who have it in their power to aid in
this task, that such information, faithfully taken down, is
held worthy of permanent record.
Communications from the lips of the aborigines, written
down in their own language and words, and accompanied
by a Trauslation into English (or some other modern
European tongue) will, generally speaking, be published in
both languages at once ; andit is, therefore, hoped that the
proposed journal, even under present disadvantages.
may be of some little value to philologists, as well as'to
ethnologists, and those students of Comparative Folk-lore
for the benefit of whose branch of science it is chiefly
intended. For the latter class of readers, especially, it will
be necessary, in the translations given, to adhere as strictly
as possible to the facts, as well as to the spirit of the original
narrative ;* quaint and primitive as Native forms of speech
may frequently appear to the European eye. South
African folk-lore is, in its very nature, plain, and primitive
in its simplicity; not adorned with the wealth of palaces and
precious stones to be met with in the folk-lore of more
civilised nations, but descriptive in great measure of the
events of every day life, among those in a low state of
civilisation; and, with the exception of evidences of moral
qualities, and of such imagery as is connected with the
phenomena of nature, very little that is grand or magnifi-
cent must be looked for in it.
As questions regarding the distinctive features of the
principal Native races of South Africa are, by residents as
well as strangers, continually being asked, a fragment,
written by the late Dr. Bleek, and containing a brief
description of them, would have been printed in the present
issue, had this been practicable. Want of space and other
causes have, however, rendered it necessary to defer its
production for the present.
Grateful allusion must here be made to those fellow.
colonists who have generously come forward in support of a
periodical which, to many among them, whose studies lie
* Not always, however, necessarily for present publication.
in a wholly different direction, will contain little or nothing
that is personally interesting ; and who, by thus rendering
its production possible, are coSperating in the endeavour to
secure for science some reflection of the rich material
existing around us, in the minds, or, as the little Bushman
expresses it, in the thinking strings," of the aboriginal
inhabitants of Southern Africa.
Readers of the Zulu Nursery Tales, collected by th
present Bishop of St. John's, will remember a charming
story, in which the Princess Untombinde (or "Tall-maiden"),
,by virtue of her own faithful love, and that of her bride-
groom's mother, becomes the wife of the long invisible
Prince Unthlatu (" The boa-man"), who is thereupon
made known to the nation, and restored to his kingly
position amid public rejoicings (Izinganekwane, &c. Vol. I.,
Part II., pp. 55-69). The following story in Kafir,
kindly contributed by Mr. G. Mc. Theal, although descri-
bing a marriage between "Long Snake and two damsels
from a certain village, is very different in its intention ; for,
here, notwithstanding the kindness of his mother, one bride
after the other runs away to her former home, and when
the bridegroom goes to look for them he is destroyed, under
the guise of hospitality, by the people of their village.
Mr. Theal's remarks concerning the story of Long
Snake" are as follows:
This story is one of a class very common among the
Kaffirs, in which a man assumes the outward form of an
inferior animal, and while partaking partly of the nature of
the beast, still retains the faculties of a human being.
Usually the man has been bewitched by an enemy, and is
ultimately restored to his human form by a kiss from a
The Kafir manner of courtship, in which the first
advances are usually made by the female, is alluded to in
this tale.* Marriageable girls are commonly sent by their
friends to the village of the man they wish her to be
united to. If he is taken with her appearance, an arrange-
ment as to the number of cattle to be paid is made with
her father, and the wedding festivities follow.'
S[See Note 71 on p. 60 of the Zulu Inganerl'iane aboV'o alluded to ]
INTSOMI KA NYOKALIDE.
Yati intombi etile yemka kowayo yaya emzini ka Nyokalide.
Ifikileke kulomzi ka Nyokalide yahlala kona, kodwa engeko
umninitmi. Kupela umntu okoyo kulomzi ingunina.
Kute ngokuhlwa unina ka Nyokalide wanika lentombi
amazimba ukuba iwasile. Emveni kokuba iwasilile yenze
isonka. Sati sakuvutwa wati unina ka Nyokalide "yisa
esisonka kulandlu ka Nyokalide."
Kuteke kusemzuzwana lentombi ingene kulendlu wafika
umninimzi. Yaza yamnika isonka namasi, wadlake. Bate
bakugqiba ukudla baya kulala. Kute kusasa wemka
u-Nyokalide, ngokuba emini uhlala endle.
Ite ke nentombi yaya kokwayo. Waza unina ka Nyoka-
lide wayivatisa ngengubo ezinhle kakulu. Emveni kokuba
ivatisiwe ite yabiza izembe yaya kuteza inkuni. Ifikileke
endle ayigaulanga zinkuni, kodwa isuke yalilalila izembe
yazimela yaya kowayo.
Kute kwakuba ifikile kowayo udade wayo ubuzile ukuba
ezingubo zinhle uzitatepina. Udade wayo uyixelele, yati ke
" nam ndiyaya kulomzi."
Uteke udade wayo, ngaupulapule ndikuxelele isimo
salomzi." Kodwake udade wake ukupendula, "andifuni
ttkuba undixelele nto ngokuba nawe akuzange uyalwe mhla
Uhambile ke kwaoko wctyd kufika ngokuhlwa kulomzi ka
Nyokalice. Kuteke isahleli unina ka Nyokalide wayinika
amazimba ukuba mayiwasile yenze isonka. Site sakuvutwca
wasisa endlwini ka Nyokalide. Kute ngokuhlwa wafika
umninimzi, yaza intombi layo yamnikd isonka ntmasi. Kute
. FOLK-LORE JOURNAL.
STORY OF LONG SNAKE.
Once upon a time a certain girl left her father's place
and went to the village of Long Snake. Having arrived at
the village of Long Snake she remained there, but.the
&twner of the place was absent. The only person present
was the mother of the owner of the place
Then in the evening the mother of Long Snake gave
that girl some millet that she might grind it (Note. a).
After it was ground she made bread. When it was ready
the mother of Long Snake said bring this bread into the
house of Long Snake."
A short time after that girl went into the house the owner
of the place arrived. Then she gave him bread and
fermented milk (Note b), and he ate. When they had
finished the food they went to sleep. Then early in the
morning Long Snake went away, because in the daytime
he lived in the open country.
The girl went to the house of the parents of Long
Snake. The mother of Long Snake clothed her with a
very beautiful robe. After she was dressed she called
for an axe and vient to cut firewood. Having arrived in
the open fields she did not cut the firewood, but she threw
away the axe and ran to her father's place.
After she arrived at her father's place her sister enquired
where she had got that beautiful robe. Her sister told
her, and she said I am also going to that village."
Her sister said, "just listen to what I tell you of the
custom of that village." But her sister said in reply, I
do not want you to tell me anything because you yourself
were not warned before you went."
Then at once she journeyed and went until she arrived
in the evening at the village of Long Snake, When she
sat down the mother of Long Snake gave her millet that
she might grind it and make bread. When it was ready
she took it into the house of Long Snake. Then in the
bakugqiba ukudla baya kulala, kute kwakusa wemka u-
Yaza intombi yaya kokwayo. Unina ubuye wayivatiga
lentombi kwanjengokuba ebeyivatisile enkulu. Iteke yabo-
leka izembe yayakuteza inkuni. Kantike yenza iqinga
Kuteke naphla indocda yabaputuma abafazi bayo, yaya-
kufika xa litshonayo ilanga ebukweni.
Bamkwelela indlu umyeni yokulala. Kute xa adlayo
abantu balomzi bafumbela izitungu zenca watshiswake nen-
dlu umyeni. Wafake ngokunjalo.-From Nonge, a Gaika
NOTE (a.)-Th e Kaffir women grind or rather bruise millet
by putting it on a flat stone before which the worker kneels,
and crushing it with a small round stone held in the hands.
When several are working near each other of an evening,
they usually lighten their labours by a rude chant. The
bruised substance is mixed with water, and formed into
small loaves of very insipid bread.
NOTE (b.)-Amasi is milk which has been fermented in a
skin bag. It resembles curds in appearance, and has a
sharp acid taste.
evening the owner of the place arrived, and the girl gave him
bread and fermented milk. When they had finished eating
they went to sleep, and early in the morning Long Snake
Then the girl went to the house of Long Snake's parents.
His mother also clothed that girl in the same manner as she
had dressed the elder one. Then she borrowed an axe and
went to cut fuel. In doing so she made an excuse to run
On this day however the man went after his wives, and
arrived at his father-in-law's place as the sun was setting.
They went out of the house that the bridegroom might
sleep in it. While he was eating, the people of the village
piled up bundles of grass, and the bridegroom was burned
in the house. In this manner he died.
The fable of the Lion and the Ostrich is one of five pieces
of Native literature in Setshutina, sent down to the Grey
Library by the Rev. A. J. Wookey. In a letter accom-
panying the four first of these specimens (dated Kuruman,
May 3rd, 1878), Mr. Wookey says: I have taken down the
Secwana from the lips of Natives. It (Secwana) is very
old, and some of it is peculiar; so much so that it is difficult
to find words corresponding in English to the words used,
especially in the use of proper names. In one or two in-
stances I have not given exact translations, as it would be
scarcely desirable. But as a rule I have adhered as closely
as possible to the original,
Then again two natives will scarcely give the same
tale in the same words ; or indeed scarcely the same version.
Each of these I send you has probably several versions.
"I can propound. no theory as to the origin, or meaning
ot these fables and very many others in which the language
seems to be rich. Some treat of the world of ghosts and
monsters and unseen beings, or rather imaginary beings;
seeming to point to an old belief in an unseen power, or
powers, of an unbenign aspect. But it is a subject which
might well repay research if one had time to give to it. It
seems to me that these things are dim recollections of light
TAU LE NCHE.
Ga tua, tau e le ea duma, nche le ene a duma. Me yana
tn.u e le ea tsamaela kwa nche o gona. Me ba kopana. Tau
ea raea nche, ea re, a ko o dume. Nche a duma. Tau ea
duma. Kodu tsa lekana. Tau ea raea nche, ed re,
o molekane oa me.
Yana tau ea raea nche, ea re, a re come dipholoholo
mmagW; ba di bona, ba di hola. Tau ea chwara e le iwe
hela; nche a di bolaea di le dintse, ka a di raga ka lonala
lo lo mo lekotoi; me yana tau ea bolaea e le Awe hela; me
ba ea go kopana. Erile ba sena go kopana, yana ba ea mo
dipholohlofi; me tau ea bona nche a bolaile go le gontse.
Tau ea ba ea no le ditauana. Yana ba ea mo morutifi ba
itapolosa. Tau ea raea nche, ea re, tloga o phunye, re y6.
Nche a re, ea go phunya, nna, ke tla ya madi. Me tau ea
ema ea phunya, ea ya le ditauana. Me ka e sena go ya,
nche a tloga a ya madi; me ba robala.
Ditauana tsa tshameka. Erile ka di tshameka tsa ea mo
nchei ka a robetse. A ba a rile a robala a atlhama. Me
ditauana tsa bbna ha nche a sena mno. Tsa ea kwd go
mmaco, tsa re, Motho eo antse a re molekane oa gago, ga a na
long ago possessed, which has well nigh died out ; and has
now been revivified and made brighter by the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. That light may have been only superstition at best,
and belief in a supernatural power, which to-day is ascribed
to rain doctors, and charms, and medicines, &c., in endless
THE LION AND THE OSTRICH.
It is said, once a lion roared, and the ostrich also roared.
The lion went towards the place where the ostrich was.
They met. The lion said to the ostrich, "Please to roar."
The ostrich roared. (Then) the lion roared. The voices
were equal. The lion said to the ostrich, "You are my
mate (or equal)."
Then the lion said to the ostrich, Let us hunt game
together." They saw some, and surrounded them. The
lion caught only one; the ostrich killed a great many, by
striking them with the claw which was on his leg; but the
lion killed only one; and they went, and met. When they
had met, they went to the game, and the lion saw that the
ostrich had killed a great deal. The lion also had young
cubs. They went to the shade, to rest themselves. The
lion said to the ostrich, Get up and rip open; let us eat."
Said the ostrich, Go and rip open; I shall eat the blood."
The lion stood up, and ripped open, and ate with the cubs.
And when he had eaten, the ostrich got up, and ate the
blood. They went to sleep.
The cubs played about. While they were playing, they
went to the ostrich, who was asleep. When he went to
sleep, he also opened his mouth. The young lions saw that
the ostrich had no teeth. They went to their mother, and
said, This fellow, who says he is your equal, has no
meno, oa go roga. Me yana tan a ea go cosa nche, a re,
coga, re lw ; me ba lwa. Me nche a re, pota seolo ka kwa,
me nna ke tia se pota ka kwano. Nche a raga seolo, a se
kgokolosetsa kwa tafi. Me ga bobedi nche a raga tau
sebete, a mmolaea.
The following Setshuatna story, lately received from Miss
J. P. Meeuwsen, of Saul's Poort, in the Transvaal, appears
to be a version of a frequently recurring tale, in which a
bird comes to the assistance of children (or young people)
whose lives are endangered by the attack of one or more
Erile banyana ba bogolagolu, ba tseoa ki lelimo le letona;
mi ba isioa gareganaga. Mi ga bo gole mosimane eo birioaf
Mi erile pula e tla, a raea basetsana, a re: Ekare ha ki
raea mokgoro: Ikage! otla ikaga. Mi a lira yalo, mi
mokgoro oa ikaga.
Mi erile bosigo ga tla Marimo-maya-bathu, mi a rata go
ya banyana botle. Mi ga bo gole setlare se setona, ba se
kalama, ba tsabela gorimo mo setlarei.
Mi banyana ba raea setlare: Ki ki tla! Mi marimo-maya-
bathu a raea a sega setlare, a re: Re go segetla moko! Re ,
go segetla moko! Erile bosa boasa marimo-maya-bathu, a
teeth; he is insulting you." Then the lion went to wake
the ostrich, and said, "Get up, let us fight;" and they
fought. And the ostrich said, Go to that side of the ant-
hill, and I will go to this side of it." The ostrich struck
the ant-hill, and sent it towards the lion. But the second
time, he struck the lion by the liver, and killed him.
cannibals. It was related to Miss Meeuwsen by Abraham
RItnthogele, of the Batlaku tribe," who had heard it from
his wife and from other old women. The translation and
notes which accompany it were kindly added by Mis,
It happened that some children of old were taken up by
a great hurricane, and brought in the desert. And there
was a little boy, who was called Tsegana-nhokopana.
It happened, when the rain came, [that] he told the girls,
he said: "When I tell the straw hut, 'I say, Build your-
self,' it will build itself." And he did so ; and the straw
hut built itself.
It happened, when the night came, there came a cannibal,
and wanted to eat up all the children. Then there was a
large tree, which they climbed; they fled right to the top
of the tree.
Then the children said to the tree : "Don'tfall!" Then
the cannibal said, as he sawed the tree, he said : e go
segetla moko Ie go segetla moko !"* So, when it was.
daybreak, the cannibal went away.
0I cannot find the right translation of this sentence, and have there-
fore left it as it is.
Mi ga tla seio se setona se birioa Phuku-phuku, banyana
erile ba e bona, ba itumela that, ba re: Phuku-phuku ea
borara seeta Ie *mali a basetsana. 'Ntiliea! 'Ntiliea! SeUta
le mali a basetsana. 'Ntiliea! 'Ntiliea!
Mi Phuku-phuku ea tla ea ba tsaea, ea ba isa go bomabo
Ea ema ha khorofi ea motse, ea bola go ba tsisa. Ga tia
Ma-Tsegana-nkokopane a e tsela molora.
Mi ga tla mosari o mofiue, abotsa ea raea mosari, a re;
Ea u ree bathu, ba tsisa letsoku,t- le sebilo ; ea re go aloe
likhogo go simolola ka lekhotla go hitla khoro ea motso.
Mi ba rira yalo; mi a naea moilue le mofue nuana oa
Ea ea ka mosimane eo birioa Tsegana-nkokopane, ka
mague ae tsetse molora. Mi Phuku-phuku ea naea Nko-
0fMali a basetsana. My informant could not give me the right
meaning of this either, so I have left out the'words mali a in the
Lefsomk is red earth, used to ornament the wall, and also to smear
their clay pots when prepared.
+ Sebilo is a shining bluish stone, which the Kafirs mix with grease
and smear on their heads.
FOLK-LORE JOURNAL. 15
Then there came a great thing called Phuku-phuku,
which, when the children saw, they were very glad; and
they said: Phuku-phuku of our fathers Come and walk
with the young girls. 'Ntiliea 'Ntiliea Come and walk
with the young girls. 'Ntiliea 'Ntiliea !"
Then Phuku-phuku came, and took them, and brought
them all to their mothers.
He then stood at the gate of the town, when he had
brought them. Out came the mother of Tsegana-nkokopane,
and threw some ashes out over him.
Then there came another woman. He asked, and said to
the woman, he said: "Go and tell the people to bring red
earth, and blue stone ; and let them spread mats, beginning
from the courtyard, to the gate of the town."
And they did so; and he gave each one her child.
He went away with the boy called Tsegana-nhokopane,
because his mother had [thrown] the ashes on him. Then
Phuku-phuku gave Nhokopane to the cannibal.
NOTE.-Withregardto the piece of Native literature printed
above, it should be noticed, that, in a slip following the
Story of the Bird that made Milk printed by Mr. Theal at
Lovedale in 1877, a Setshuana version of the latter is given,
differing from it in many respects, and obtained by Mr. Theal
in English from Mlichael Moroko, a young man of the Ba-
Srolong tribe, at that time at Lovedale, "for the purpose of
being educated." The end of this Setshuana story so
nearly resembles that now sent by Miss Meeuwsen, that, as
the slip in which it occurs is very scarce, and inaccessible to
most of our readers, the concluding portion is given below.
Miss Meeuwsen's version may also be but a portion of a
lengthier narrative ; and such may also be the case with
regard to another Setshuana version of the story of" The
Bird and the Children," forwarded, by the Rev. A. J.
Wookey, to the Grey Library last year, from Kuruman.
From one or two pieces of Native literature, both published
and unpublished, it is evident that the bird who delivers the
children is a personage worth studying.
When evening set in, the children determined to return
to their home, but there came a storm of rain with heavy
thunder, and they were very much afraid. Among them
was a brave boy, named Mosemanyanamatong, who
encouraged them, and said, do not be afraid, I can com-
mand a house to build itself." They said, "please command
it." He said, "house appear," and it appeared, and also
wood for fire. Then the children entered the house and
made a large fire, and began to roast some wild roots which
they dug out of the ground.
While they were roasting the roots and were merry,
there came a big cannibal, and they heard his voice saying,
" Mosemanyanamatong,,give me some of the wild roots you
have." They were afraid, and the brave boy said to the
girls and to the other boys, give me some of yours." They
gave to him, and he threw the roots outside. While the
cannibal was still eating they ,went out and fled. He
finished eating the roots, and then pursued them. When
he approached they scattered some more roots upon the
ground, and while he was picking them up and eating they
At length they came among mountains, where trees
wereigrowing. The girls were already very tired, so they
all climbed up a tall tree. The cannibal came there, and
tried to cut the tree down with his sharp and long nail.
Then the brave boy said to the girls, while I am singing
you must continue saying 'tree be strong, tree be strong !'"
He sang this song, "It is foolish, it is foolish to be a
traveller, and to go on a journey with the blood of girls
upon one. While we were roasting wild roots a great
darkness fell upon us. It was not darkness it was awful
While he was singing there came a great bird and
hovered over them, and said, hold fast to me." The children
held fast to the bird, and it flew away with them and took
them to their own town. It was midnight when it arrived
there, and it sat down at the gate of Mosemanyanamatong's
mother's house. In the morning when that woman came
out of her house, she took ashes and cast upon the bird, for
she said, "this bird knows where our children are."
At midday the bird sent word to the chief, saying,
"command all your people to spread mats in all the paths."
The chief commanded them to do so. Then the bird
brought all the children out, and the people were greatly