Observations Upon the Windward Coast of Africa eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 128 pages of information about Observations Upon the Windward Coast of Africa.
of music are upon a very rude construction, consisting of a tabila, or drum, hollowed out from a piece of wood, and covered at each end with a bull’s hide, producing a most barbarous noise, accompanied by a baba, or rattle, loud shouts, palaver, songs, and violent gesticulations, forming a system of confused uproar, unmusical, and ungraceful.  Their motions are irregular, sometimes in violent contortion, and at others voluptuous and slow.  Nothing can be done without a palaver; and at the change of every dance, he from whom the proposition originates, makes a solemn harangue over the musical instruments, which is generally descriptive of some warlike action or exploit, when they again give themselves up with rapture to the pleasures of the dance, the females in particular, whose actions and shew of luxuriant pleasure are highly offensive to delicacy, exhibiting all the gradations of lascivious attitude and indecency.  At this period of unusual delight, they are applauded by the men with rapturous ardour; but suddenly a feeling of shame strikes the minds of the young creatures with a humiliating sense of their display, and amidst these plaudits they hastily retire to the matrons, who are spectators of the scene, and hide their blushes in their bosoms.  So strongly implanted is this ingenuous and amiable modesty in youth, which is frequently laid aside when engaged in the vortex of pleasure, that it is one of the highest charms of beauty; and wretches only, degraded by debauchery and systematic vice, are capable of insulting this sentiment.  A scrupulous regard to modesty and truth will not permit me to pursue the description of these amusements farther than observing, that they prepare them for a profound and tranquil sleep on their mats, from whence they arise at the dawn of day cheerful and easy.  Thus infancy and youth are singularly happy, and mothers attend their offspring with maternal feeling and delight; they are neither disturbed by painful commands or restraint; and it is a picture of perfect happiness to see these children of nature in sportive groups and infantine diversion.  This happy infancy and gay youth is peculiarly calculated to organise a vigorous manhood, and a firm old age; and, I am persuaded, that these are the physical causes why the Negro race are so muscular in body, and procreative of their species.  In some countries innoculation is practised; but the small pox is not so common, or dreadful in its effects, in these countries as in Europe.  The greatest term of their lives may be computed at from sixty to seventy years, it seldom or ever happening that life is prolonged beyond that period in this part of Africa.  They retain their vigour, and enjoy a permanent and regular state of health until the last; and I have observed a venerable chief of advanced years having the possession of a dozen of young handsome wives, and the father of a young progeny, whose legitimacy was never disputed or suspected.  In Europe the last stage of man is a daily anticipation of dissolution; but in Africa, declining years are only insensible approaches to the termination of a journey, the event of which he considers as the end of life, unconscious of the future, but as a fatality equally attached to all the creation.

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Observations Upon the Windward Coast of Africa from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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