The Lost World of the Kalahari
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expedition, I found myself and my companions talking about the Bushman with great animation. In a flash the grim inarticulate years between the confused soldier and the child ceased to exist. And the scene was repeated night after night in every camp as we went deeper and more widely into the Kalahari. Soon the newcomers to the land caught the fever and I was struck by their spontaneous interest because it seemed to confirm that my interest was not purely subjective but valid also in the natural
white and black plaits not because they were better that way but, my aunt said with great emphasis, because the Bushman wanted to make them pretty. Hard-by among the singing reeds he dug pits with a cunningly-covered spike in the centre in order to trap the nocturnal hippopotamus whose sweet lard meant more to him than foie-gras to any gourmet. When my grandfather first crossed the Orange River, or the Great River as the Bushman and we who were born close always called it, there were still many
through in the end without delay or mishap, but the hard labour of the engines, the heat and dust of the day, the constant bumping and rocking up and down, added much to the strain of another long lap in the journey. When once more at sundown we found our way blocked by impassive waters, the sense of frustration was more than some of us could bear. I had gone ahead to pick a site for a camp on ground as high as possible above the water. It was a lovely situation in the open between immense
was part of the necessity of Africa and to have stung him only perfunctorily, as if merely to save their sensitive, jet-eyed, and oddly oriental little faces. Whenever some disaster overwhelmed his bees the Bushman would set out to look for a new swarm. He would be up early in the morning hoping to find the black water-carrier bees among the dew, and with his eyes would follow them and their silver burden in the slanted light back to their base. Or he would stand still in some fragrant spot at
it lay they had instantly turned and pointed out the direction. I had taken a compass bearing of our course and checked it. Nxou’s pointing arm might have been the magnetic needle of the instrument itself so truly did it register. So now, turning for home I only had to consult Nxou and follow his directions. But this was not yet the end of a wonderful day. Something very remarkable happened on the way back. We drove home slowly for the going was rough and our Land-Rovers deeply loaded with meat.