The negroids of Southern and Eastern Africa resemble the negroes. They are generally tall; they have a fine dark brown color, long narrow heads, hair less kinky and woolly than the negroes, flat nose and thick lips. They do not have the negro’s odor. The negroids comprise many different tribes, but all speak related languages known as the Bantu languages. The tribes we shall consider are the Zulus, Kaffirs, and Waganda.
The Zulus and Kaffirs wear generally but little clothing. A man wears a cord about the waist with flaps of leather hanging from it in front and behind; the woman wears a fringed girdle about her waist. Sometimes they wear a mantle of hairy skins. At great festivals the men deck themselves finely. A traveller, describing a young man who was going visiting, says: “He will wear furs, among them the Angora goat; feathers in his head-dress; globular tufts of beautiful feathers on his forehead or at the back of his head; eagle feathers in fine head-dresses, as also ostrich, lory, and peacock feathers. He ties so many tufts and tails to his waist girdle that he may almost be said to wear a kilt.”
The negroids, like the negroes, are agriculturists and live in towns of huts. Some tribes are raisers of cattle and have large herds that yield milk, meat, and skins. They are hunters, too, and that on a large scale. They set up long hedges or lines of brush and stakes, which converge toward certain points where they dig pits and cover them. They then scatter over a large district and beat it, scaring in the animals and driving them between the lines of brush into the pits, where they easily kill them.
The two great weapons of the southern negroids are the kerry and the assegai. The kerry is a short wooden club with a knob at the end. This is thrown at the game. The assegai is a spear, the shaft of which is long and slender and the head of which, made of iron, is long and wide. Assegais are used all through South and Central Africa. The form and size of the blade varies with tribes: sometimes it is two feet in length and several inches across. Mrs. French-Sheldon saw the assegai maker, in one tribe she visited, using a natural leaf as his pattern, and he was careful to exactly copy its form. Both negro and negroid tribes in some parts of Africa, especially Western Central Africa, use throwing-knives; they are made from a flat piece of iron, worked into several blades projecting in different directions. They are thrown through the air, and some one of the ugly blades is quite sure to strike.
Kaffirs and Zulus make long oval shields almost as tall as themselves, for protection in battle. A cowskin, with the hair on, is stretched over a light and simple wooden frame. Each great section of Africans has its own kind of shield. The Niam-Niams and some Congo tribes weave beautiful close and light shields of wicker or basket work; they are long and narrow, and protect the whole body. The splints of which they are woven differ in color and are worked into rather handsome patterns. In Nubia they use shields made of thick and heavy hide, like elephant or rhinoceros hide; these are circular, not very large, and have a round or conical knob or boss raised at the centre.
Kaffirs and Zulus are fond of war and are brave in battle. They have war dances in which they are inflamed for the fray. A Kaffir who slays an enemy may have a great gash cut in his leg on his return home to show that fact. The scars of such gashes are objects of great pride. The Kaffirs are fine speakers and their speeches on important occasions are stirring and impressive. Like negroes, the negroids delight in music and have many instruments. None, however, is a greater favorite than the noisy drum.
Among Zulus and Kaffirs, the sorcerer is much feared and dreaded. When men are ill, or in trouble, they go to him for help and advice. He goes through with many strange performances. The people believe that he can detect thieves and find stolen property, that he can bewitch and cure bewitchment; he is frequently, also, a rain-maker. There is much jealousy between the sorcerers or rain-makers in a tribe, and they sometimes challenge each other to tests of their power. The description of such a test between two rain-makers, in one of Rider Haggard’s books, is probably true to life.