Project Canterbury

Memories of Mashonaland

By G. W. H. Knight-Bruce
Sometime Bishop of Mashonaland

London and New York: Edward Arnold, 1895.

Chapter VII. The Native as a Study.

I wish to preface any notes on this subject by saying that I know next to nothing whatever about it, and, further, that I have met very few people who do know very much. But I speak from the point of view of one who looked on natives and their ways as being of the greatest interest, and I feel that if I had known more I should have been capable of taking greater interest in them still.

So long as a native is looked on, as he too often is in Africa, as a thing to work and to be kicked, he will rouse no interest at all. A caterpillar rouses none in the mind of a gardener, who looks on it as something to be crushed, though to the naturalist it has another value. Perhaps it is natural that we should look at the native with the same contempt as, [151/152] no doubt, our descendants in some four hundred years' time, if the world lasts so long, will look back at us; but we should still plead that we of the nineteenth century were an interesting-study, if only on account of our slow ways and antiquated ideas. So I plead for the native.

I trust that none of those at whose feet I have sat will think I am in any way undervaluing their knowledge of natives and their ways when I say that I think no one can really understand the natives of Africa who has not been brought up among them, as were such men as Sir Theophilus Shepstone, of Natal, and Mr. John Moffat, of Bechuanaland, and that these are the men whose opinions were worth having on any 'native question.' Among those who had come from England and made Africa the land of their adoption, none in judgment on the question ever seemed to me to surpass Archdeacon Crisp. Of course, there are white men who in their earliest childhood have run about and played with native children, and have grown up thinking very much like them; but though their opinions are valuable as evidence as to what is passing in the native mind, they have not the value of the opinions of men who know both sides of the question.

[153] Will any expert wish to contradict me if I say that it is harder to know how a native thinks than how he speaks--that it is harder to understand their thoughts than their language? I heard the same idea expressed in almost the same words by a missionary from Corea, so there cannot be anything new in it.

Some people may be inclined to tell you that a native will nearly always think in precisely the opposite way to that in which we expect him to think; and though, of course, this would be, if taken literally, an absurd exaggeration, it has a good deal of truth in it. And yet one of the oldest of African missionaries said to me: 'You will often find a character among the natives about whom you will say, "I have seen you before, my friend, but you had a white face."' He meant that he had known the same character in England.

I suppose the discrepancies in these opinions are to be reconciled by remembering that to speak of native character is as misleading as to speak of European character. Natives are about as different in their characters as Europeans would be, had Europeans been left under similar conditions for a thousand years. To a casual observer, no doubt, there is a [153/154] general likeness between all natives; but there is at least as great a difference between a Zulu and a Mashona as there is between two Europeans of different nationalities; and to use the very comprehensive term 'native,' and to say that a native does this or that, would be as misleading as to say a European does this or that, when English, French, Italians, and Spaniards are meant. If they are looked on generally as a mass of brown humanity, it is not only conceivable, but most probable, that they will be found to be most uninteresting; but directly one goes below the surface they cease to be a mass of brown humanity.

I have said that it is more difficult to know how a native thinks than how he speaks; and I have constantly felt that there are Englishmen in Africa holding high civil and military positions under English rule who, scarcely knowing a word of the language, have a far more correct estimate of native character and native capabilities than many who can speak their language perfectly, but seem to have failed to understand them. Happily there are some who can do both. The high official of education seems seldom to look on them as a mass of 'niggers'; he will speak of them [154/155] separately, as he would of Europeans, recognising the differences between them; liking some, disliking others; trusting some, distrusting others. The result of this line of action seems admirable, and well repays the trouble taken.

You will hear, on the other hand, some of our countrymen speaking of the whole collection of humanity in one tribe as though they had all one character. Now, I have never been with native carriers for twenty-four hours without finding as much difference between them as between the same number of Europeans. Some were willing, some were lazy; some were most pleasant, others most unpleasant; some started at the earliest moment they could, others would not move without much persuasion; some would carry great weights, others only the smallest; some would walk over thirty miles a day, others hardly half that; some grumbled, others laughed all day; some I very much liked, others I very much disliked; some I was most sorry to lose, of others I was too glad to see the last.

I presume there are contrasts between the higher and lower class in a large tribe which are as striking in their way as those between the higher and lower classes in European [155/156] society. Allowing, for example, as much as we may wish for the effect that Christianity has had on Khama, the chief of the Bamangwato (and we may allow that it is the main factor in making him what he is), there still remains a good deal to be accounted for in the difference between him and the lower class of people of his tribe. As you talk to him, you forget he has a black face; you only remember you are speaking to a Christian gentleman. Of course, this could not be said of all the people of his tribe.

Then there was one Basuto chief that I knew; he was a very different type of man, but a good instance of the difference between a chief and certainly the ordinary type of native. I trust he would not mind my talking of him; I knew something about him. He had had great opportunities. He had been sent to Cape Colony to be educated; he had been baptized, but had come back to Basutoland and taken again to some heathen ways. Still, he was in manners and courtesy altogether delightful. If you had brought him to England, not only would he have been quite at home, but he would have looked quite at home. His way of saluting his friends he [156/157] would have had to change under the altered circumstances, for he met me with a following of his men on horses, who saluted by firing off guns and galloping; but his general manners need not have changed. I should very much like to put down some of the things that he said; but I do not think I should any more retail a private conversation with a black man that he would sooner not have had retailed than I should if he had been a white one. Perhaps someone will say that I have not taken a fair instance--that all the Basuto are superior. It is quite true; but even there the distinctions between them were most marked. Yes, there is no doubt the Basuto are very superior; and if they are left under the present form of government, with drink excluded from the country, their land reserved for themselves and the missionaries educating them, there is no reason that they should not go on becoming more and more superior.

I said that a native always seemed to think in the opposite direction to what you supposed he would think. But is not that true to some extent of all uneducated minds? They startle educated minds with the conclusions at which they arrive. And a native, when he is an [157/158] ordinary uneducated heathen, seems to do this in an exaggerated form. But there never seemed to me to be any impassable barrier between a native and a white man. Not that I am in the least a 'negrophilist'; but the untouched native seemed to be a poor child intended to be taught and helped, and possibly, in so far as a child should be, punished, but still treated as a child. Sometimes he was more or less a well-behaved child, sometimes more or less a badly-behaved child; sometimes he was clean, sometimes dirty; sometimes brave, sometimes cowardly; but always a child. He should have temptations kept out of his way, and be kept under the strictest rule, and taught and strengthened, so that in the future he may fight the battle of life for himself. I do not at all agree with the man who said: 'The best education for a native is the Martini-Henry rifle.'

The history of the races which have had the benefit of elevating influences would possibly point to the rapidity with which natives come to think as Europeans. In my own small experience, the gulf that separated the thought of an educated Christian native from the uneducated heathen native seemed very broad. [158/159] In travelling, I always felt that the gulf did not come between myself as the white man and the rest as black men, but between myself and my native Christians on the one hand and the heathen on the other. There were certain physical peculiarities which separated us. The most striking, probably, was that the native Christian had a black face, while I had a white one. But even this never seemed to me to be sufficient reason for supposing we were not 'of one blood.' After I had been sleeping in the open for weeks, and exposed to the sun all day, the colour of my hands made such a decided movement towards that of a native's, that when my men were speaking about the possibility of our all coming from one stock, I was able to put my hand near that of my half-caste servant, and show them that there was not so much difference between his and mine after all. And it does not seem impossible that a few thousand years of such exposure, with the sun 'discouraging' the thin-skulled ones, may, in connection with past conditions of climate, soil, and food in the life of both the races, have had much to do in producing the present results.

The wonder is how quickly natives come to think like Europeans. For hours I have [159/160] walked with and talked to educated natives, and I have no hesitation in saying their conversation was most interesting. It was neither annoyance nor self-denial to be alone with them. Their power of endurance astonished me; their unselfishness shamed me. One might think that an educated native who was a friend of the white man would show some contempt for the raw native. I have found it strangely the opposite. I have seen one sharing his only blanket with his wild relation--living on terms of perfect equality with wild Mashona. It is quite possible to believe that that class of educated black man whose prominent characteristics, if we may accept accounts given of them, are large shirt-collars and high hats, do despise their untaught brothers; but in mission-work I have not had to do with them. There have been exceptions, but, as a rule, I have found the characteristic of the ordinary Christian native to be simplicity and gentleness in his dealings with the heathen, combined with a perfectly inoffensive tendency to imitate the ways of the white men.

I am convinced that half the ill-feeling between the races is because we don't understand them, and they don't understand us. In one [160/161] large protectorate there is a tradition of an official who was supposed to have some African blood in his veins, and whose power over the natives was very remarkable. He probably did not speak their language better than many others, but he thoroughly understood them. They said of him: 'He can turn us inside out'--i.e., he knew what they were thinking of.

I feel deeply how constantly I misjudged both my Christian and heathen natives. Once, near the banks of the Zambesi, I came to within a few miles of a great chiefs town, and was stopped. A messenger had to be sent to say that I was coming. This was in the morning; and I waited, expecting the answer to come back. The day wore on, and I became hungrier and hungrier. I am afraid, also, that I became very much annoyed, and sat on a log preparing all kinds of remarks for the chief about his inhospitality. Towards evening the messenger arrived, and we were hurried away to the town. Then we found the cause of the delay: he could not receive us till everything was arranged properly. Our sleeping-huts had to be newly smeared with mud; an immense dinner had to be provided. And when we did [161/162] arrive, and I and my two head-servants sat down to his food, I felt thoroughly ashamed of my own ignorance, and was thankful I had not broken all the etiquette of the hospitable tribe by my impatience. I hope he felt repaid by the amount we ate; we had not had such a meal for a long time.

An instance of misunderstanding that might have been serious happened but a short time ago in Mashonaland. A white man came at night, when it was dark, to the neighbourhood of a village. He found some natives in a cave with wooden bars in front. He asked as well as he could to be allowed to come in. The natives gave their reasons for keeping him out. He did not understand them, and threatened to shoot into the cave if they kept him out; so they let him in, and he slept among them. The next morning he found that they all had the small-pox, and had been isolated by the rest of the tribe, and therefore they wished to keep him out.

In travelling, one constantly hears of trouble between the white men and their black carriers. One reason is that most of our ideas on the question of travelling are totally different to theirs. For instance, they hate starting early [162/163] in the morning because they have no shoes, and the cold ground hurts their feet; they have no clothes, so they like sitting over the fire till the sun is well up. We like starting early, so as to avoid the mid-day sun; they don't mind the mid-day sun. Again, they scarcely ever travel at night; 'only dogs and white men travel at night.' And if we had no boots we should not like to go through the dark carrying a load, and knocking our naked toes against stumps and stones. Then, as to hours of feeding: they take two meals a day; but the European often finds it hard to fit in his hours with those of the native, if he wants to do twenty miles a day or more. So someone's hours must be disarranged; and probably the European, for the sake of getting over the greatest amount of ground, disarranges his own, which is a dangerous thing to do when walking in that climate. So, the sun being hot, and the white man tired, and his nerves bad, and the black carrier irritating to him, he is apt to fly at the black carrier and kick him and beat him; and this the black man bears quite patiently at the time, but he, too, is apt on the first opportunity to retaliate by waiting till the white man's back is turned, and then [163/164] throwing his load into the bush and running away.

I do not remember carriers deserting me more than once when I was alone; and why these two carriers one day put their loads carefully down near the road and went away, I could never imagine; but as there were two more 'running loose,' and ready to pick them up immediately, no harm was done. On another occasion my men told me of a load being found near the road immediately on starting. I say especially that carriers used not to desert me when I was alone; for when there are other white men in the party, the spell that seems to bind them to their one master is broken. My humble advice is, always to travel without other white men, if possible. I don't say that then you will have no trouble, for I have always said that if you can keep your temper with bad native carriers you can keep it with anyone; but I think you will be less harassed if alone than if you have other white men with you. A difficulty arises if one is ill when alone; but, if the journey is not too long, the advantages of being alone outweigh this drawback. There is so much less responsibility; no one's opinion has to be asked in [164/165] a difficulty. Once, when alone, I knew I was going to be ill, and I gave my half-caste servant full instructions as to what he was to do if I became incapable of giving them him myself; and nothing could have been more admirable than the care that he and the other men took of me, doing exactly what they had been told to do, and scarcely making a sound for fear of disturbing me.

I should advise anyone intending to take a long journey on foot in Africa to study the native character for a year or so before starting, and to read any books that may bear on the subject. Of all the books that I read, those that helped me most were Dr. Livingstone's and Mr. Selous's. In all dealings with the natives in ordinary everyday intercourse, both these travellers treated them much alike; and consequently, considering where they went, they had comparatively little trouble with their natives: and there is none of the abuse of the 'nigger' which seems to delight some writers on the subject. They understood their natives, and their natives understood them. When one of the leading men of South Africa said to me, as nearly as I can remember, 'I always say, Bishop, that if I had a difficult journey to do, [165/166] I should ask you to go with me, for you always come through all right, and you seem to do it on nothing,' I answered that, if it were so, it would only be because, when I first came into the country, I had had no opinion of my own, but did exactly what Mr. Selous told me.

We shall never understand much about natives till at least we have recognised from what a different point of view the native looks at things to what we do. Even to their women, forgiveness would probably never be looked on as a virtue. It was the fashion among the widows of Umziligazi, the Matabele chief, to look down on Lobengula, who was then chief, as being somewhat degenerate. They used to say of Umziligazi: 'He was a king; he knew how to kill,' alluding to his despotic official murders among his own people. I think that they considered Lobengula did not exercise enough his prerogative of killing; and yet from our point of view the amount of killing seemed sufficiently terrible. Apart from casual killings, there was generally a yearly killing for witchcraft after the Ingwala dance--the dance of the firstfruits--the yearly gathering at the king's kraal.

This tendency to admire strength, however [166/167] brutal, makes, I think, a great difficulty in teaching natives one side of Christianity. If they have to do with two white men, one of whom beats them and the other does not, they will probably prefer working for the latter, but I think they would keep their admiration for the former. He represents strength--a chief's characteristic; he is the greater chief of the two. They may not like the painful kick with a heavy nailed boot on a naked body, but it represents strength.

On the other hand, their general not only acceptance of, but attachment to, our teachers, when they had a fair opportunity of knowing about them, was very remarkable. I remember reading in a book on Mashonaland that the natives disliked the missionaries. It may have been so. I should, however, say that the opinion of those who have studied the question for some time is as valuable as the opinion of a writer who gives his views after necessarily very imperfect observation; and I think we should find that most of those who know anything of the subject would agree that the relations which the natives have established between themselves and our missions are most strikingly friendly. And if they do hate our [167/168] missions, they have concealed it in a most remarkable way, and have apparently expressed their hatred, in the great majority of cases, by doing everything in their power to welcome and help us.

The spirit generally shown to the mission can be seen in the following extracts from letters by our missionaries, and I choose them, also, as containing one or two instances of our teachers not having been well received at first; but I consider the cases most exceptional. One of them writes:

'Bernard told me a Mashona who had been to Cape Town with some white men, and had now returned near Magucndi's, was anxious to be taught, so he is to go to Maconi's, as that is where we want to make a strong centre, especially as Kapuiya can and will impart what he has learned. I hear that Jacob has gone back to Mapondera's, though there was some talk of killing him; but he says: "Well, if one is doing right, one must not be afraid of being killed." Our oxen, which the natives had driven away, have been returned, as they said, "The umfundisi (teacher) has done no harm; why should we take his cattle?" '

Again he writes:

[169] 'I don't know whether I told you that catechist Frank has lately been raided by Maconi, who used to profess such friendship for Frank. He sent fifty men over to the mission-station and took away all that was worth taking, and rather knocked Frank about. I suggested Frank should go to Umtali; but he, being a Zulu, has great contempt for Mashonas generally, and says he shall not leave his people at the station. I think it will make Maconi feel small, and teach him a lesson.'

But then I always thought Maconi was the roughest chief with whom we had to do.

The next extract is from one of our native catechists:

'I went to Chiquaqua's, but there the chief only liked me, and not the people. They did not like to hear God's Word, and did not come to hear me, and they would not leave their work on Sunday. They wanted me to pay them for building a mission-hut there, but I only gave the chief a blanket, and it was built. I stayed a few days there, and came back to Chidamba's; and when I came there they were all crying, saying: "Why did I go away?" Another said that they wanted me only [169/170] there, and I must not go anywhere else, and that I am only their teacher. As for coming to church on Sunday, there came about forty or fifty every Sunday, and the children again came every day. When I sent the young men to work at the mission's work, they would do it without wanting pay, and I gave them little presents. When any of them are sick, they used to ask me to give medicine, and I used to go to the Mazoe and get them medicine there. I did not buy the medicine; I had it given me by a white man that lives there, because he liked to help them too. I can say that they do not believe a person can speak to God while here on earth; God is too high. Their ancestors can only speak to God, because they believe that when one dies he goes to heaven, and that the ancestors can speak for them.'

Then another European missionary writes, in 1893:

'When I got to the station I found Frank and Bernard looking out for me. The former is a Zulu, and a splendid boy; all his work is so solid; but unfortunately he knows but little English. The latter comes from the neighbourhood of Delagoa Bay, and is an excellent [170/171] linguist and a charming- companion. I have got very fond of them both. Our station here (Frank's work) is a very good one: three well-built huts and an excellent church.'

Soon afterwards he writes again:

'After breakfast I had a long talk with the chief, who came to see me with a lot of his people. He listened most carefully to all that was said, and repeated it to his people and made them repeat it again, as he said he wanted us to be sure that all had listened to what he described as "very good words." And so it was with nearly all the chiefs I saw: they are longing to be taught, and seem to be most intelligently interested in what is told them. In all cases they say they would like to live better lives, and feel the want of better lives, but say they do not know how they ought to live, or what they ought to do, without someone to teach them. There is certainly a most wonderful opening for missionary work in the country. . . . After seeing Tandi, we walked on to another kraal, where we spent the night, travelling about twenty-two miles. Here they were having a big beer-drinking after harvest, and were nearly all drunk. . . .

'July 28.--Saw Chiduku. We had a most [171/172] interesting talk. He told me that all his life he had been fighting to rid his people of certain evils--i.e., murder, theft, and immorality--but that nothing he did seemed to make any difference. If what I said was true, however, he thought the God I told him of could help him, and he begged that teachers might be sent at once, so that he might see a change before he died. It was a most striking interview. In the afternoon we went on to another village about seventeen miles away.

'July 29.--Went on to Maquarimba's country; the people are very surly, and we could buy no food.

'Sunday, July 30.--Had to go on, as we were short of food. We walked all day under the shadow of Mount Wedza, where the natives do most of their metal-working, the mountain being half iron. In the afternoon Frank developed a sharp attack of fever,' etc.

Then one of the missionaries quoted above writes again:

'I have just been out to Inyamweda's kraal, sixteen miles from Salisbury. The people asked after catechist Charlie, and great was the lamentation at hearing he was not coming back. I said in Mashona, "You loved Charlie." [172/173] "Yes, we loved him," they answered; "when is a new teacher coming?" I answered, "I hope when the rainy season is over." They long for a teacher. Next morning I got several of the boys to come to school, which they gladly did--bright-looking boys and very attentive. They squatted along by the wall, some with strings of beads hanging from the side of their heads, others with bands of beads round their waists. We said A, B, C, counted up to thirty, and then said "Our Father."' Again:

'I do long to have another catechist out; there are such opportunities. This morning I found Showra, chief of Inyamweda's kraal, where we have a station, sitting down at my door, having come in to see me. It was to tell me a sad tale of how the ants had brought down the church huts even with the ground. Still, I was glad to feel it was a matter of concern to him, and not of indifference. So I have promised to go and look at them on Monday, and see about the re-building, at which he seemed pleased.' Again: 'Jacob, our Mazoe catechist, seems to be [173/174] doing good work. Lately at Mapondera's, near the chiefs kraal, he got the Indunas of the kraals round, seven of them, and got them to promise to build a sort of school church, where their children are to be educated. This they did, each taking a part of the building, which is twenty-seven feet by twenty-one feet, ten feet walls, and to the pitch of the roof about fifteen to twenty feet. They did it without asking payment. Then they send their children and their food with them.'

The following comes from the Daily Graphic, November 26, 1892:

'Canon Balfour opened a mission station at Sekie's on the Hunyani River, thirteen miles south-east of Fort Salisbury, just a year ago; and affiliated stations were established in villages of the head-chiefs, Unyamwenda and Chidamba. On the 7th of August last, the first native-built mission church was opened at Chidamba's village, which is in the Mazoe district, about fifteen miles north of Fort Salisbury. It consists of poles, reeds, and grasses brought by natives of their own free will, and built by themselves under the direction of Mr. Frank Edwards. The building is thirty feet by fifteen feet. There being more poles, etc., [174/175] than were required, it was suggested that a "palace" should be built for the Bishop, and that was done. It is satisfactory to know that good work is being done by the mission. The chiefs Tseki and Unyamwenda are now building mission churches in their villages similar to this one.'

All of which may not mean much, and in this last extract there are mistakes in the names, but it does mean that the Mashona people are not hostile to the mission.

I quite allow that no one knows how a native is going to act. I remember that in 1888 the two men who would have been accepted as the best of authorities on native character predicted the massacre of every white man in Matabeleland; but no one was hurt.

It is very probable that the native has very mixed motives when he first wishes for a mission in his country. I have heard the advantages of clothes, and biscuits, and protection from the Gaza people, all mentioned as reasons why they should accept a missionary; but our own motives are not always quite pure, and we may make allowances for their child-state. Perhaps we can make allowances for poor blacks when we remember how our [175/176] ancestors thought about missions some twelve hundred years ago.

But there were several cases where real generosity was intended. When the question of building a hut for a teacher has been raised, one chief would say, 'Who should build it if I did not?' and another that 'it was a small thing to build a house for us.'

It is very difficult for a heathen native to suppose anything is being done for him from a disinterested motive. He would hardly act from any such motive himself, and doesn't expect it in anyone else. The things he would do, he expects other people to do. When the Matabele some seven years ago were afraid of an attack being made on their country by the white men, the Matabele women were asking whether the 'white impi' would kill children 'so high' or 'so high,' putting their hands out to show the height of the children they meant.

The value of time is totally unknown to a native. 'Time,' Lobengula used to say, 'is made for slaves.' In walking with carriers this can be trying beyond words. I have known them pass a considerable part of a morning in the most leisurely waste of time, and when the limited stock of patience that lives in a white [176/177] man under a hot sun was almost exhausted, and the quicker because he knew it was most important to reach a certain place that day, they remarked, in the most good-natured way, that it was getting late, and that they wouldn't be able to reach the place that night; or they would smile at all efforts to hurry matters on, probably feeling they ought to make allowances for the white man's imbecile desire to do things in a hurry. I once listened on the Zambesi to a man bringing an account of something that had happened to an ox. He seemed going on at great length, while his friend was saying 'Eh!' after each sentence; and I began to count how many more sentences he had to say. There were two hundred and seventeen more sentences.

We may feel a certain contempt for their animal-like existence; but in the everyday affairs of their life they show a sharpness that is by no means contemptible; but in this, even, African natives differ as much as Europeans. In tracking footsteps, for instance, a Mosuto would probably be little better than a European; while a Bushman, or one of the Amatonga, has a power that is to us almost incredible. One of my Basuto men had lost the horses in [177/178] the bush, and could do nothing. The ground was dry and caked, hardly any mark was made by their unshod hoofs; but a man from the Zambesi, who happened to be with us, wandered round till he found what I presume were their tracks, and went off on them and brought them back. I don't know enough of the Bushmen to speak from any experience, except in one case when the oxen had wandered and were lost in the bush. When the herd-boy had given up looking for them, two Bushmen were set to work. In this case the oxen came back alone, but at the exact place in the bush where they emerged and came into the camp, the Bushmen were seen to emerge too, following soon behind them.

When travelling with carriers it may be necessary to wait for them, but the possibility of losing them or their not finding one never occurs to the rest of the party. Near the Zambesi, where sometimes there was no path, and the grass so long that we could not see each other, we had to keep together by shouting; but this was most exceptional. To some extent Europeans learn their craft. When following after the British South Africa waggons in the Matabele war, I remember [178/179] cutting into their track in the night and not knowing which way they had gone, and lighting a match to find out in which direction the grass was crushed by the wheels, and so learning in which way they had travelled; but Europeans never become the adepts at this kind of work that natives do.

But I have gone away from the native, and had better stop; however, I will say one word about the Mashona language.

Father Hartman, a Roman Catholic priest, wrote the first grammar in the Mashona language; but, admirable as the effort was, we did not consider it to be sufficiently correct to be entirely accepted; so we made ourselves into a kind of committee, consisting of Mr. Walker, two native catechists, Bernard and Frank (the former of whom was, I believe, supposed to be the best Mashona scholar existing), Kapuiya, a most promising Mashona boy, and myself, who knew less of the language than any of them. We took Father Hartman's grammar as our basis, and revised it right through.

A bit of a letter of mine to our Mashonaland associates in England shows as well as anything else how elementary were our beginnings: 'We are all living in the mission-house, and [179/180] sit at our work for about five hours a day. We believe Kapuiya speaks the purest Seshona. Every word in the grammar and its pronunciation has to be passed by him before it is allowed to exist. The peculiarities of grammar are extraordinary. The Mashona, e.g., have a different tense to express an act which happened to-day to one expressing an act which happened yesterday or earlier; another tense implies, in one word, reverse action, so that there is a certain tense of "to die," which if it were used would mean, "he died and came to life again."' Then we began some small translations, our first methodical ones, into Seshona. The following may be interesting as our very first translation:

The Lord's Prayer in Seshona.

Baba wedu uri kudenga, Zita rako 'ngarierisgwe.

Ushe wako uswike.

Madanhako gaitwe pasi, sokudenga.

Utipe nasi sadza redu remisiyesi.

Uti sununguri mukutadza kwedu, seisu wo tinosunun-gura awo wanotitad zira.

Unsatiyise mukurunzirgwa, asi utiponesi mukuipa.

Zwo ushe uriwako, namasimba, nokuinzwidsgwa zwigari zwakadaru. Amen.

The insertion of the small 'g' subscript was the only way that suggested itself to us of [180/181] giving the touch of that letter that comes into some words.

But our language, like much else, was in the days of small things; and we trust our beginnings will soon be a thing of the past. However, we spent a good many hours over them, and so we dedicated our mission-house at Umtali.

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