The Negro eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 198 pages of information about The Negro.

Primitive man in Africa is found in the interior jungles and down at Land’s End in South Africa.  The Pygmy people in the jungles represent to-day a small survival from the past, but a survival of curious interest, pushed aside by the torrent of conquest.  Also pushed on by these waves of Bantu conquest, moved the ancient Abatwa or Bushmen.  They are small in stature, yellow in color, with crisp-curled hair.  The traditions of the Bushmen say that they came southward from the regions of the Great Lakes, and indeed the king and queen of Punt, as depicted by the Egyptians, were Bushmen or Hottentots.

Their tribes may be divided, in accordance with their noticeable artistic talents, into the painters and the sculptors.  The sculptors entered South Africa by moving southward through the more central portions of the country, crossing the Zambesi, and coming down to the Cape.  The painters, on the other hand, came through Damaraland on the west coast; when they came to the great mountain regions, they turned eastward and can be traced as far as the mountains opposite Delagoa Bay.  The mass of them settled down in the lower part of the Cape and in the Kalahari desert.  The painters were true cave dwellers, but the sculptors lived in large communities on the stony hills, which they marked with their carvings.

These Bushmen believed in an ancient race of people who preceded them in South Africa.  They attributed magic power to these unknown folk, and said that some of them had been translated as stars to the sky.  Before their groups were dispersed the Bushmen had regular government.  Tribes with their chiefs occupied well-defined tracts of country and were subdivided into branch tribes under subsidiary chiefs.  The great cave represented the dignity and glory of the entire tribe.

The Bushmen suffered most cruelly in the succeeding migrations and conquests of South Africa.  They fought desperately in self-defense; they saw their women and children carried into bondage and they themselves hunted like wild beasts.  Both savage and civilized men appropriated their land.  Still they were brave people.  “In this struggle for existence their bitterest enemies, of whatever shade of color they might be, were forced to make an unqualified acknowledgement of the courage and daring they so invariably exhibited."[34]

Here, to a remote corner of the world, where, as one of their number said, they had supposed that the only beings in the world were Bushmen and lions, came a series of invaders.  It was the outer ripples of civilization starting far away, the indigenous and external civilizations of Africa beating with great impulse among the Ethiopians and the Egyptian mulattoes and Sudanese Negroes and Yorubans, and driving the Bantu race southward.  The Bantus crowded more and more upon the primitive Bushmen, and probably a mingling of the Bushmen and the Bantus gave rise to the Hottentots.

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The Negro from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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