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The bushmen of Reyner mountain

The Bushmen of the Malalarene and 'Kolong.

The Bushmen of the 'Gij 'Gariep or Vaal.

The Bushmen of the 'Nu 'Gariep, or Upper Orange.

The Bushmen of the Genadeberg and the Mountains around Champagne.

The Bushmen of the ‘Kouwe (the Mountain) or Jammerberg.

The Bushmen of Makwatling or Koranaberg.

The Bushmen of Di-tse-thlong or Platberg on the Caledon.

The Bushmen of the 'Koesberg.

The Bushmen of the Upper Modder River and Rhenoster Spruit.

The Bushmen of the Washbank and Wittebergen, Cape Colony.


The bushmen of Reyner mountain

It has been said by the supporters of Griqua claims that when the missionaries first took possession of Klaarwater, the country was unoccupied. The fallacy of this assertion will be fully proved as we proceed with our investigation. In 1820 a considerable number of Bushmen were still living scattered over the country between Griquatown and Lithako, the great place at that time of the Batlapin. They appear, however, to have congregated principally about the locality called Reyner Mountain and from Koing Fontein and Alers plain on the west to the Malalarene and Kolong on the east. They were often met with in small parties, in miserable huts, on the open flats. These all belonged to the sculptor tribes, and few of them, as we have already pointed out, appear to have lived in caves, owing doubtless to the peculiar formation of the country, in which any large numbers of rock-shelters are seldom met with.

As in every instance where the stronger races have come in contact with these aboriginal hunters, the Koranas, Griquas, and Batlapin displayed the utmost vindictiveness towards them. It seemed a strange perversion of ideas in all these tribes, which were accustomed to condemn the Bushmen with such vehemency as rogues, that they should themselves be professional thieves whenever they had an opportunity. The only difference between them as to roguery was that the Bushmen stole in small companies and the others in large parties like an army. The same way of judging, however, is as common in Europe, the crime and the charge seem both lost where the perpetrators are numerous.

Mr. Campbell states that upon one occasion when with their accustomed hatred, some Batlapin could scarcely be restrained from dispatching a couple of Bushmen who had been made prisoners by his Hottentot servants, he attempted to point out to them that the only difference between the crime of the Batlapin and the Bushmen was that the former did it upon a larger scale than the latter. While the Bushmen contented themselves with what was necessary to supply present wants, the Batlapin in their commandos took from one another hundreds and thousands of cattle. When the Batlapin were reasoned with on the cruelty of their disposition towards the Bushmen, they justified themselves by the bad qualities they ascribed to them.

These Bushmen seldom attempted to seize many cattle at once, and their raids were made more to supply the cravings of hunger than to gratify any desire for the accumulation of large herds, such as impelled the neighbouring Hottentot and Bachoana tribes to make continuous forays upon one another. As soon as they had succeeded in securing a small quantity of cattle, they generally signalled to their brethren from the top of some hill, that they might know from the ascending smoke that a capture had been made and that they had better get out of the way.

One of the great places of refuge for the Bushmen in this part of the country was about three miles to the south of Neale's Fontein, on an elevation in the plain where there was a remarkable excavation in the solid rock. It was about a quarter of a mile in circumference. The rock was perpendicular all round, and about one hundred feet high, excepting a declivity in one part of it which was easily ascended. This was covered with trees, while no other trees were found in that part of the plain. At the bottom was a deep pool of excellent water. Almost on a level with the surface of the water was a cave, which had a narrow entrance, and was frequently used by Bushmen as a refuge from their pursuers when they had stolen cattle, because here they could feast in safety, for though the Batlapin would sometimes pursue them to the mouth of the cave, they never had courage to follow them into that dark abode.

That these Bushmen under different treatment would have been capable of improvement, and were not altogether the irreclaimable savages that their enemies, the Griquas and Batlapin, delighted to depict them, is illustrated by a fact mentioned by Mr. Campbell, of a Griqua who had been able with great labour to cut a canal near the source of a stream, by which he could lead .a sufficient supply of water over all his land, and this he had been enabled to accomplish through the assistance of the Bushmen.

One of their chiefs was living in 1820 in a district at the south end of Reyner Mountain, about half-way between Griquatown and Lithako. His name was 'Hon'ke, or the Little Lamb, and he was the son of 'Hon'ke-yeng, the Very Little Lamb. He informed Mr. Campbell that he and his forefathers had always lived at the same place, and that his people were formerly more numerous than at that time, their number having been reduced by disease and by attacks of the Bachoana. 'Hon'ke stated that he had never travelled farther to the north than Koening Fontein, a place about twenty miles from his kraal, except once when he carried a letter to Lithako, or farther to the east than the 'Gij- 'Gariep or Vaal river, where he went to steal cattle. He confessed that he had killed five men, either in fighting about game or in revenge for their having murdered some of his friends. Common report, however, gave him credit for having killed a much larger number. In all his combats he had only received two wounds from poisoned arrows, one in his right arm, the other in his side, either of which would have proved mortal had not the flesh been instantly cut out. Although in earlier times there were frequent skirmishes among Bushmen, he said that the men of other Bushman tribes never attacked him then, being afraid because they knew that he was a brave and resolute man.

Like all their countrymen, these Bushmen were exposed to great hardships, being often destitute of food for several successive days during seasons when both roots and game were scarce. When flesh was plentiful they had a mode of drying it and then pounding it to powder, in which state it kept many days. One of the Bushmen of this tribe was pointed out who had an aged mother-in-law, and it was stated that one day during his absence from home her own daughter, his wife, dragged the old woman into the veld and left her alive among the bushes, where she was torn to pieces by the hyenas the same night. The chief said, in speaking of such matters, that the Bushmen did not think they had souls ; they died one after the other, the young people were buried and the old thrown to the wild beasts.

The greater number of these Bushmen were subsequently hunted down and destroyed by the Griquas and Batlapin, who never allowed an opportunity to escape of venting their feelings of hatred upon them ; the miserable remnant the Griqua chief Waterboer took under his protection.

The Bushmen of the Malalarene and 'Kolong.

The branch of the Vaal now generally marked on maps as the Hart river appears in former days to have been distinguished by three different names, each indicating a particular portion of the stream. The Lower Hart near its junction with the Vaal was known as the ‘Kolong, the central portion as the 'Hhou, while the upper had received the appellation of the Malalarene, the two first being of Bushman origin, the last of Bachoana.

Bushmen were at one time very numerous in this locality, hunting as far to the north as Kuruman, and even in 1820, between this place and T'shopo numerous pitfalls were to be seen, which had been excavated by them. To the eastward their hunting grounds reached to the Vaal, and the great chief of their clans was looked upon as the most powerful Bushman captain in that region. They, like those of Reyner Mountain, belonged to the sculptor branch of the Bushman family. Much of the little history which has been preserved about them is so intermingled with that of the neighbouring tribes that we shall reserve its details until treating of the latter.

In 1820 the name of their great chief was Ma'ku-une ; his father's name was 'Kama'cha, and that of his mother 'Ab. His father died before he was born, when his mother married another Bushman, named 'Ta'ku. He informed Mr. Campbell that when he was young the Bushmen of those parts were far more numerous than they were at that time. Many of them had been destroyed in attacks by the Batlapin and Koranas. The first raid in which he had been engaged was against the Batlapin, in which, though many oxen were captured, the whole were eaten in two days. His second was undertaken against the Ta-ma-has, but in this they were frustrated, as their design had been discovered, and his party returned without booty. Only one woman, who was found concealing herself, was killed. Another foray in which he was engaged was directed against the Baharara, another portion of the same tribe, when they were more successful ; but again on this occasion the cattle which were captured only furnished a sufficiency for a feast of two days. His last expedition was when his people united with the Koranas against the Batlapin. He had raised his fame among his tribe as a great hunter, having killed during his lifetime four lions, one panther, two leopards, three camelopards, seven buffaloes, two rhinoceroses, two gnus, one hippopotamus, and numberless quaggas, besides other game.

A few years previously he had about one hundred people with him in his kraal ; murders and disease had, however, so thinned their ranks that in 1820 they were reduced to a small number. He had still a few people at three different places who acknowledged subjection to him.

The Bushmen of this part were all of diminutive size, and did not paint their bodies like many of the other tribes, except on special occasions. However wretched and starved they appeared in times of scarcity, with a change to good living they fattened in a few weeks, like cattle when translated from barren heaths to good pasturage.

The Bushmen of the 'Gij 'Gariep or Vaal.

There can be no doubt but that the portion of this river valley between the junction of the Vaal with the 'Gumaam or Vet and the 'Kolong was thickly inhabited by the sculptor branch of the Bushman race from a very remote period. Some of the evidences of this lengthened occupation have already been referred to ; similar proofs upon this point might be advanced, but those to which we have alluded will be sufficient to substantiate the fact. Their headquarters appear to have been at the kopje behind the Pniel mission station and the one situated half-way between that place and the Kimberley diamond mine. Scattered around these, the traces of a number of minor outstations are to be found.

It is here and at the 'Gumaap, or Great Riet river, that the finest specimens of their sculptures are to be found, and it was here also that Bushmen had made the greatest advances towards a more comfortable state of existence. This was especially the case with those clans occupying the country towards the 'Gu-maam, or Vet river, where the friendly intercourse which had sprung up between them and the Leghoya, an emigrant tribe of the Bachoana who had settled amongst them, had been beneficial in advancing them in the scale of comfort and civilisation far beyond that found among any of the more western tribes. They had become semi-pastoral, possessing comparatively many cattle, some of the kraals being the owners of as many as five hundred head.

This progress, however, proved the very means of ensuring their speedy destruction as soon as their country was invaded by the more lawless, yet stronger races, with whose history their extermination was so interwoven that it will be necessary for us to postpone the investigation of this portion of our subject until we treat of the career of such tribes as the Koranas, Griquas, and Basutu. It is the same story of injustice, oppression, and cruelty as that which we have related about the Bushmen of the Tooverberg, aggravated towards its close by the advent of the men who for the last century had been the bitterest persecutors of this ill-fated race.

The Bushmen of the 'Nu 'Gariep, or Upper Orange.

The Bushman tribes inhabiting the basin of the 'Nua 'Gariep may be divided into several groups. One of these occupied the country from the Makaleng or Komet Spruit to beyond Thaba Bosigo, including the 'Kheme, and to Platberg on the right bank of the Noka Mogokare or Caledon. They acknowledged a Bushman captain, Lekoumetsa by name, as their great chief, who was an old man in 1820,N and who was succeeded by 'Khiba, or 'Kheba, who was the paramount chief over the men of the caves from Matlakeng, or the Place of the Vultures, to the Great Hang-lip in the Genadeberg. These Bushmen were called Baroa ba Makhoma Khotu by the Basutu, as some of the kraals had cattle in their possession. M. Arbousset mentions a second group called Mamanchou, who took their name from one of the great women of the tribe, but he does not mention the locality in which they lived. He also states that 'Kheme, 'Rhosatsaneng, 'Ku'ku, and 'Koes (Koesberg) are some of the oldest Bushman names in the country.

Notes: Notes of Charles Sirr Orpen. Letter from M. Arbousset in 1859.

Another powerful group of clans occupied the right bank of the 'Nu 'Gariep from its junction with the Noka Mogokare or Caledon, up along the course of the stream beyond Lotter's Kop, Lichtenstein, and Riebeeksdal ; and in the opposite direction as far as Badfontein to Bosjes Spruit, while towards the north the caves in Mononong or Great Aasvogelkop were included in their territory. The paramount chief at the beginning of this century was Ow'ku'ru'keu, or as he was called by the Bastaards and Dutch, Baardman the elder. 'Kwaha,N who was a petty captain of his tribe, says that although Ow'ku'ru'keu, who was his mother's uncle, was a true Bushman, he was a big man and fat. He and different members of his family had obtained the sobriquet of Baardman, or the bearded man, on account of a marked peculiarity which they possessed. They were not only, like the other Bushmen of their tribe, short and well-built, but they had thick heavy beards and large moustaches, which marked them at once from the ordinary Bushmen, whose faces, as a rule, are destitute of any such hirsute appendages ; and which in this case arose in all probability from some intermixture of blood. His great place or cave was lower down the Caledon than that of 'Kwaha, a little above its junction with the 'Nu 'Gariep. The cave, or as it might be called from the beauty and number of its paintings, the palace-cave of his father, however, was the one which from its symbolic figure was termed the Cave of the Hippopotamus, in the rocky gorge or ravine running to the Orange river on the farm Lichtenstein.

Notes: 'Kwaha informed Mr. C. S. Orpen that his father was a Ghona Hottentot, who was born at the Sea-cow river, in the district of Colesberg, and therefore in the territory of 'Na'na'kow, the last chief of the Tooverberg. His mother, whose name was Candass 'Khou'kuha, belonged to a clan living in the Kraamberg, near the present Aliwal North, and was a niece of Ow'ku'ru'keu. The influence therefore of this chief extended to the left bank of the 'Nu Gariep. 'Kwaha was born in a cave on the right side of the Caledon, opposite Tweefontein, and a little distance above the junction of this river with the 'Nu Gariep. 'Kwaha was a young man, and had not taken a wife, when the first missionary came to T'kout'koo, now Bethulie. He was known by the name of Aerk, and was followed by Mr. Kolbe.

Ow'ku'ru'keu, although he did not live there himself, was proud of this grand representation of the large charging hippopotamus as well as the other paintings which adorned the home of his fathers. He was already a very old man in 1839, when he was first met by one of the voortrekkers named David Swanepoel,N to whom he frequently boasted of the beautiful paintings which ornamented the wall of the great place of his father, saying that when he had seen them he would be able to say that he had seen paintings. In those days all the rivers abounded with hippopotami, and troops of elephants were found in every kloof and near every vlei, which extended, in some parts, in great chains of reed-fringed pools for miles in the hollows of the vast plains.

Notes: David Swanepoel, an old farmer of considerable intelligence, was one of those who in the early days were in the habit of crossing the Orange river for the purpose of hunting, when the Bushmen were still in undisturbed possession of the country.

Ow'Ku'ru'keu was always desirous of maintaining peace with his neighbours. The number of his subjects was considerable, and 'Kwaha affirmed that he was loved very much by them and always gave advice towards peace. Living so near the banks of large rivers, these people were great and successful fishermen. The voortrekkers termed them Friendly Bushmen, but their peaceful disposition did not save them ; the tribe was broken up by the intruders, and they were dispossessed of their land.

Ow'ku'ru'keu escaped the dismemberment of his tribe caused by the intrusion of the Boer squatters into the country originally occupied by his people, yet, although he abandoned the place himself, a small clan still clung to the grand retreat of their ancestors in the Lichtenstein gorge ; but their end was a tragical one. They fell, together with Knecht Windvogel and his tribe, by the treachery of a notorious and still more infamous freebooter, called Danster by the Dutch. His vindictiveness was directed against Windvogel and his people, when the Bushmen from Lichtenstein accompanying them fell likewise into the snare.

What the cause of the offence was is not known, but having resolved upon his diabolical scheme, he gave a grand feast and beer-drinking for the express purpose of entrapping these people, towards whom he had always previously expressed great friendship. He sent therefore an invitation to them, informing them that on a certain day he intended to give this great feast, desiring them to be present. Not having the slightest suspicion of any sinister design, the proffered hospitality was accepted without hesitation ; and on the appointed day the whole of both the clans attended. Their host was lavish both in demonstrations of friendship and in supplies of beer. Not suspecting the least evil or danger, they gave themselves up to conviviality and the indulgences of the banquet ; feasting and dancing were the order of the day, but when his too confident guests, whom he plied steadily for that purpose, were muddled with the heavy potations or lying helpless with the intoxication which followed, suddenly, without notice, at a given signal — a shrill whistle — the entertainers with assagai and shield sprang upon their unsuspecting victims, and murdered men, women, and children without mercy. Not a soul escaped !

Ow'ku'ru'keu survived until the year 1860, and although at that time he was in extreme old age, he was still energetic and active. He then occupied a small kraal with his wives and a few of his sons, near the junction of the Riet and Modder rivers, on a farm in the possession of one Joubert. His eldest son, Baardman the younger, whom he had not seen for some fifty years, he had sold for three she-goats to a wandering hunter named Hans Pretorius, who, according to Bushman tradition, was the first Boer that ever crossed the Orange river.

This fact was corroborated in the following manner : In 1860 the locality above mentioned was visited by Mr. Jan Wessels, who saw the old Bushman captain there. Mr. Wessels had with him at the time a Bushman who had been a number of years in his service. This man was about sixty years of age, and also possessed a thick bushy beard and moustache. He was called Baardman the younger, and had always declared himself to be a son of the great Bushman captain Baardman, who had some fifty years before sold him to a Boer. Since that time he had never seen his father, but had always remained in the service of the Boers, one of whom he had accompanied to Natal.

Long as the intervening time had been since the parent and child had seen each other, the younger Baardman immediately recognised and pointed out his father, and went up and accosted him. So little had the old man aged, that there appeared to be hardly any difference between them. The meeting was a very cool one, and the son immediately upbraided his father, charged him with having sold him to the Boers, and demanded as a matter of right and justice the same number of ewe goats as his progenitor had obtained by selling him. After some altercation, the parent agreed to hand over to his descendant the spoil he had obtained for him. This was accordingly done, and they parted never to meet again.

The date of old Ow'ku'ru'keu's death is unrecorded ; but the son still continued, as he had always done before, whenever slightly elevated, to proclaim the extent of his father's former dominions, his numerous subjects, and the power which he possessed as one of the greatest Bushman captains of the 'Nu 'Gariep. In his later years' he added to his former declarations that as soon as he possessed the means he would go to Victoria and show her how unjustly he and his father had been dispossessed of their lands. He died about 1875 in Rouxville, at an advanced age, being last in the service of Mr. J . C. Chase, of that town ; and thus perished the last representative of the great chiefs of the Bushmen of the 'Nu 'Gariep.

The Bushmen of the Genadeberg and the Mountains around Champagne.

The caves and fastnesses of these mountains formed the strongholds of a very powerful and numerous tribe, or rather group of tribes, as there were a number of outstations which were occupied by smaller clans, but who acknowledged the paramount authority of the chief of the great cave in Poshuli's Hoek. They for a long time maintained their independence, and kept the country round them clear of intruders. Beyond this bare fact, very few traditions have been preserved regarding them, with the exception of a disaster which befell them and the story of the final annihilation of their tribe.

The circumstances of the latter we shall detail when we speak of the Bushman struggle for existence ; the former, however, which forms a portion of their earlier history, occurred at the time when a number of emigrant Kaffirs belonging to the coast tribes attempted to settle in portions of the country afterwards taken possession of by some of the Bakuena clans. This was about 1806-12, when the latter were still north of the Intaba e Muthlope, or the Wittebergen of the Orange Free State. Upon these Kaffir intruders the Genadeberg Bushmen made a foray. They succeeded in capturing a number of cattle, and not only kept their pursuers at bay, but beat back the large body of Kaffirs that followed them. These, finding out the direction the Bushmen were likely to take, dispatched a party by short footpaths to waylay them near a nek on the farm now called Hoogeland. Here they succeeded in concealing themselves among the reeds and grass on either side of the pass. The Bushmen, imagining that in defeating the body which had pursued them all chance of further danger was at an end, approached the spot just as evening was closing in, carelessly and with gleeful confidence driving their captured spoil before them. Before they were aware of it, however, the Kaffirs were upon them, and knowing that the Bushmen's arrows were nearly expended during the day's fight, rushed in upon them, dashing out their brains with knobkerries or clubs, before the latter, who were taken completely by surprise, had time to make any defence. Very few escaped, and the Kaffirs returned in triumph to their kraals with the recaptured cattle.

The Bushmen of the ‘Kouwe (the Mountain) or Jammerberg.

This isolated range formed another of the great centres around which a considerable number of Bushman clans congregated ; but as usual, except the fact that they once existed, and that traces of many of their paintings are still to be found in its caves and rock-shelters, little has been preserved of their history. The name of the last great or paramount chief was 'Co-ro-ko or 'Koroko, the uncle of 'Kou'ke. He was termed the chief of the 'Kouwe, or the Mountain. There were secondary chiefs under him : Palare, who occupied the caves in the ravine of the mountain near Ramanape's kraals, and Ma'khema, the chief of those in a deep gorge in the range towards the poort leading to Hermon mission station ; besides petty captains or the heads of detached caves. Another powerful Bushman captain, named Ma'kla, inhabited the Spitzkop in Basutoland, opposite Leeuw River.

'Kou'ke stated that all the men of these tribes were shot without mercy by the different commandos that came to attack them. When the writer was trying to persuade her and her husband to accompany him on his travels for a short time, that he might have an opportunity of learning more of their history, she said : "Do you see where the mountain comes down to the river ? " pointing to where its steep shoulder formed the left bank of the Caledon, in the Jammerberg Poort. " There," she continued, " were all the best of our tribe shot down ; there all our brave men's bones were left in a heap : my captain's, my brothers', and those of every friend that I had. Do you think I could live in the land of the men who did me that evil ? No ! not for a single night would I sleep on their accursed ground ! " Her reasons were unanswerable. She departed, and the opportunity to obtain their unrecorded history was lost.

The Bushmen of Makwatling or Koranaberg.

This grand old mountain with its table-topped precipitous crown, its steep and rocky gorges, afforded a home and secure retreat for a powerful group of tribes for unknown generations ; yet, notwithstanding this acknowledged fact, the writer when visiting the locality was unable to learn the name of a single one of their great chiefs. They were still, however, very numerous, and held possession of their caves up to the time of the last Free State and Basutu war. At that time they were attacked by a commando under Commandants Fick and Dreyer, and although rifles, hand-grenades, and cannon were employed against them, — the marks of bullets and cannon shot are still to be seen round some of their shelters, attesting the vigour with which the siege was prosecuted, — they were able to keep their enemies at bay, and forced them to retire without dislodging them from their strongholds in the mountain. The besiegers, however, succeeded in killing a number of Bushmen who held advanced positions, although they defended themselves with desperation to the very last.

During these operations an incident occurred, which was related to the writer by a Korana who was an eye-witness of it, and which illustrates in a marked manner the intrepid daring so frequently displayed by men of the Bushman race. A large patrol had just returned to camp. It was towards evening, and having knee-haltered their horses, they turned them out to graze in the neighbourhood, at about one hundred yards distance. Here, without the least indication of his presence, a solitary Bushman was lying concealed among the long grass, over which but a few minutes before the patrol must have ridden, but where he had well hidden himself beneath the spreading tuft with which he had disguised himself. He had evidently placed himself there to spy out the position and movements of the people in the camp.

Without being noticed, he worked himself among the horses, and after selecting one, fastened a thong of leather round one of its fore legs, and then by slowly moving along on his belly, he gradually led it off some short distance from the others, hoping by this means to get it sufficiently far to be able to mount it with impunity. After a time the owner of the horse, seeing what appeared to him to be his horse straying away, ran after it to turn it, shouting to it as he ran. The horse, now becoming alarmed, struggled to free himself ; but the Bushman, still concealed, held on with a tenacious grip. The horse's terror increased, and struggling more fiercely, he sprang round and round, plunging and snorting, until at last with a more desperate effort than before he reared over, and with the sudden jerk swung the persistent Bushman into the air at the end of the thong, while the pursuing Boer was astonished at the apparition of a great tuft of grass with the arms, body, and legs of a Bushman attached, flying round as if in an infernal waltz with the maddened horse.

Seeing at last all chance of success had gone, the Bushman relinquished his hold, with a bound sped away like a racer, and before any alarm could be given placed a safer distance between himself and the camp of his enemies. Before disappearing, he turned to give a last look at those who were now in pursuit of him, and with upraised hand and bitter voice he cursed them as the destroyers and ruin of his country.

Upon the retreat of the commando, the Bushmen, after their dauntless resistance to the fearful odds brought against them, determined to abandon for ever the time-honoured strongholds of their forefathers. They evacuated them in a body, and withdrew unobserved and safely to the most rugged parts of the Malutis. Here some years afterwards they were again attacked, but on this occasion by the Baputi, under their chief Mogorosi, or as he was afterwards called, Morosi, and in the conflicts which ensued the tribe was annihilated. Most of the men were either shot or assagaied, whilst all the women and girls were made captive and became the wives or concubines of the victors.

The Bushmen of Di-tse-thlong or Platberg on the Caledon.

These mountains seem to have formed a species of nucleus, around which a number of Bushman clans congregated, over whom one chief was acknowledged as paramount, although the subsidiary captains exercised a large amount of independent authority over their respective hordes. Upon all occasions affecting the common weal, or in times of public danger, they at once acted in union, submitting to the command of the great chief of the mountain. The head or palace-cave of the Di-tse-thlong Bushmen was the great cavern among the domed rocks of the mountain opposite Tennant's Kop. Its walls were at one time covered with paintings, depicting the history of the aboriginal inhabitants of the mountain, their manners, and customs ; but these, alas ! have now been destroyed by the goats and cattle of the Basutu and the Boers, who have turned the ancestral abode of the Bushmen into a cattle and sheep kraal.

The name of the last great Bushman captain of the mountain, who lived in this cave, was 'Kabasisi. The informant of the writer was a half-caste Mosutu belonging to the clan of the petty Basutu captain Ramanape. He stated that his grandfather, whose name was Rama'kale, was a solitary fugitive who sought refuge among these Bushmen long before any of the other Basutu were in this part of the country. 'Kabasisi not only gave him shelter, but also Sile'gou, his daughter, to wife. Rama'kale lived under this captain all his life, and all his children, among whom was the father of the narrator, were born in this cave. This was long before Moshesh's time, and when Bushmen alone occupied all the land.

The Bushman chief was very old at the time, and died a few years afterwards in a small cave in a neighbouring ravine. Many years after this, long after his father had grown up to manhood, and these Bushmen had acquired a few cattle, they were attacked by Moselekatze's people, when some of the inhabitants of the cave fell under the assagais of the invaders, and the remainder fled towards Kopje Alleen, in the great central plains towards the 'Gij 'Gariep or Vaal, where his grandfather died. His father afterwards returned to the old cave, and he and several other children were born there. Here they all remained in right of their father's descent until they were driven out by the Boers in the last Basutu war.

'Koroklou was the last great chief of the Bushmen of the Middle Veld, near Kopje Alleen. After many of them had been shot and their children seized and sold to the Boers as slaves, and the Boers themselves began to take possession of the land, he left the open country and sought refuge in the Jammerberg, where he was captured by the last commando sent against the Bushmen of the 'Kouwe, and carried to Bloemfontein, where he was kept as a kind of state prisoner on parole, and was still living there in 1877.

The Bushmen of the 'Koesberg.

Traces of Bushman occupation are to be found on every side of this extensive mountain and its outlying branches. Several large caves and rock-shelters, such as those of Tienfontein Nek to the east, Knecht's Kloof on the south, and Brakfontein on the west, are illustrations of this. There were also several important caves under the precipices of the neighbouring Matlakeng, Moolman's Hoek, and other places, showing that at one time the whole of this part of the country was densely populated with Bushmen. Some of the great caves were adorned with innumerable paintings, of which a number were of remarkable excellence, showing that the captains or chiefs to whom they belonged were men of considerable rank and importance. The banks of every watercourse and pool in the surrounding country were fringed with pitfalls. This was especially the case in Devenaar's Spruit, where the remains of them are still to be seen.

No record has been preserved of any paramount chief who asserted sway over the entire district, and from the evidence of the caves it would appear not improbable that there were several great chiefs ruling over groups of clans in different parts of it. One of these was the head of the clan which inhabited the rock-shelter on Tienfontein Nek, before they were driven to seek a securer shelter in the more rugged and nearly inaccessible fastnesses of the mountain. This chief, on account of his determined daring, was known among the Dutch squatters by the name of Kwaai Stuurman. Little else has been preserved of his career. Several of the fertile valleys surrounding the mountain were seized upon by some emigrant Amaxosa Kaffirs, while fugitives from the north, of Basutu origin, appropriated others in the same unceremonious manner. Hence the seeds of discord were thickly sown around the ancient abodes of the primitive inhabitants. These rival races lived in a state of continual hostility ; stragglers and wayfarers were waylaid, robbed, and murdered.

During the early days of this Kaffir intrusion into the Bushman hunting grounds, a constant series of skirmishing and fighting, of robbery and murder, went on, not only with the Bushmen, the original inhabitants of the mountain, but between the petty robber chiefs who had located themselves in its vicinity. The law of might was the law of right, and no one retained his property longer than he had the power of defending it successfully. Any unhappy native, not allied to one or other of the swarthy bandits, who had the misfortune to possess a small herd of cattle, was sure sooner or later to fall a victim to the lawless rapine and violence that was rampant throughout the country.

As an example of this, a fugitive Fingo, who obtained the name of Knecht, established his kraal, by permission of the Bushman captain of the great cave in the precipitous glen of Knecht's Kloof — the cave of the White Hippopotamus — near the mouth of the ravine. He had not been long there, however, before he found his huts set on fire in the night and his cattle driven off by a party of these marauders, who, not satisfied with this, massacred the unfortunate Knecht and all his family in cold blood, as they attempted to escape, or threw them back into the flames to meet an equally terrible death. In the morning, when day broke, pools of blood and the charred ruins of the dwellings alone remained to mark the spot, and thus it was that the locality obtained the name of Knecht's Kloof.

Besides these there were several other Bushman tribes, such as those of the Mogokare and Bushmansberg, but, although almost every rock shelter contains the remains of their paintings, proving how numerous they must once have been, nothing has been preserved of their history except that most of them were shot down by the sons and grandsons of the men who were so active in the extermination of the Bushman hordes of the Karoo, the Tooverberg, and the Northern Plains.

The Bushmen of the Upper Modder River and Rhenoster Spruit.

At one time a powerful tribe inhabited the ridges above the junction of these streams, near a place called Keerom. These Bushmen made a raid upon some of the Batlapin who had migrated towards the Vaal river. The latter determined not only to recapture the cattle, but to revenge themselves by following up and destroying the entire horde that had robbed them- A large party sent in pursuit of the Bushmen for this purpose arrived at the ravine in which their stronghold was situated. The Bushmen, however, were prepared for them. A few of these wily hunters, intended as a decoy, took up a conspicuous position at the head of it with some of the cattle ; the main body, however, had in the meantime thickly lined the rocks on either side of the gorge, where they were entirely hidden from the view of the advancing Kaffirs, while another strong party concealed themselves in the long grass around the mouth of the valley, and closed up its entrance as soon as the unsuspecting Kaffirs were sufficiently within the toils which had been laid for them.

It was not until they were well entangled in this cul-de-sac that they discovered, when too late, the manner in which they were entrapped. Assailed by flights of arrows from every side, in flank, in front, and rear, a panic seized them ; they made no attempt at defence or resistance, but merely in desperation cut away pieces of flesh from their bodies wherever the poisoned barbs fixed themselves. There was scarcely one of them who was not hit in several places, and many bled quickly to death from the ghastly wounds they thus inflicted upon themselves. Only one or two of the entire party managed to burst through the encircling lines unscathed ; all the rest perished in the fatal glen. This desperate affair was remembered by the Bushmen as " the Battle of Blood," from the frightful quantity that was shed by the self immolation of their panic-stricken enemies. The informant of the writer was a youth at the time, and was within a mile or two of the spot when it occurred.

When first examining some of the Bushman paintings representing battle scenes between themselves and Kaffirs who had invaded their country, the quantity of blood flowing from the wounds appeared somewhat exaggerated ; but this the writer discovered from facts similar to that just related, was not the case, as it appears from all native evidence that the Kaffirs and Basutu in their encounters with the Bushmen were almost universally in the habit of excising the piece of flesh containing the poisoned barb of the arrow, cutting through without hesitation any vessels or sinews in the neighbourhood of the wound ; and thus numbers, in the desperate hope of saving their lives, inflicted such terrible wounds upon themselves that they bled to death before any effort could be made to stanch it. Thus it was that whenever any combat took place, numbers of the Kaffir warriors were seen covered with streams of their own blood, while great pools of it were found every here and there saturating the ground, thus also proving that the observant Bushman artists were in this respect, as in many others, true to nature.

The Bushmen of the Washbank and Wittebergen, Cape Colony.

Many caves are to be found in this mountainous region, several of them of immense size. In some of these the large amount of rock surface adapted for painting enabled the native artists to revel in the exhibition of their talent. Thousands of groups once adorned their walls, which have been since their expulsion wantonly defaced by the so-called civilised intruders, There is every evidence that at one time densely populated centres were sprinkled through the whole of these mountain glens, where, whilst the tribes remained in their undisturbed state, both game and fish abounded. This was notably the case in the valleys of the Washbank, along the tortuous and precipitous course of the Kraai river and its branches, in New England and the present district of Herschel.

But if the extent and number of the caves and paintings contained in them make known the numerous clans which once occupied these picturesque glens, and the surprising degree of excellence at which some of their leading artists arrived, so also do these spots proclaim in an equally unmistakable manner the tragic fate which befell their former inhabitants ; they tell us but too plainly of the infernal storm of lead which was poured in upon them by their vindictive and remorseless pursuers.

The sides of the great cave of the White Rhinoceros and Serpent, in a rocky ravine on the right bank of the Washbank Spruit, are so thickly bespattered with hundreds of the bullet marks of their assailants, that one could almost write an account of its siege and point out where in their desperate struggle the intrepid defenders were forced back from point to point, where they from time to time turned at bay in their attempts to keep back their enemies, and where, behind a great heap of piled rocks at the end of the cave, they turned for the last time, overpowered but unsubdued, and resolutely continued the conflict until the shout and the turmoil closed with the final discharge of the echoing musketry, in the silence of death.

It was considered that when a Boer or Mosutu, armed only with the old-fashioned flint firelock, met a Bushman in single combat, his chance of success, or even of escape, was not very great. In such a case there was no possibility of obtaining a steady aim, as the Bushman always kept in a state of rapid movement, jumping and springing from side to side, now here, now there, in a most uncertain manner, but always advancing, and as soon as a ball was fired at him, knowing that his opponent's gun was empty, he ran in upon him and shot him, almost at close quarters. One Boer, however, is said to have possessed such coolness that when he found himself face to face with a Bushman, he drew his ramrod, and with surprising dexterity was able to parry every shaft that was sent at him, until he came within a few paces, when no chance of a mis-shot could exist.

In the attacks of the Boer commandos upon the Bushman caves, some of the most daring of the invading force would advance upon the stronghold, under cover of rudely extemporised shields, such as a few thick branches plaited together, or one of their great duffel coats, such as were then in fashion with them, or else a closely woven Kaffir mat.

Their mode of attack used to be as follows : three or four of their best marksmen were told off, who took up the most commanding position they could obtain, in order to cover the advance of the storming party, when the greater part of the force kept up a continuous fire from a more respectful distance. Thick branches were obtained, where available, and plaited in such a way that the arrows became entangled in them or glanced off ; when these were not to be had, their great duffel coats were stretched on two cross sticks, one of which was thrust through the sleeves, thus keeping them extended as widely as possible ; arrows striking these would drive their points into the thick material of which they were composed, and then hang harmlessly. Such a shield, which gave shelter to a couple of men, would frequently be struck twenty or thirty times during the advance.

Where Kaffir mats were employed, a large one was extended upon sticks, and carried carefully forward, while several marksmen advanced under the cover. In this case, owing to the pliancy of the rushes of which the mat was made, most of the arrows rebounded on the outer side ; a few would occasionally penetrate the shield, but it was a rare occurrence that one burst through with sufficient force to do any harm.

An advance of this kind, over the rugged ground that had generally to be traversed, was one which was not only made with great caution, but considerable slowness also. In the meantime, when any of the Bushmen exposed themselves too much in taking aim at their advancing enemies, they generally fell under the bullets of those who had been told off for the express purpose. But even with all their precaution, the attack sometimes ended in the confusion and flight of the Boers. When successful, however, the slow advance continued until the Bushmen's arrows were expended ; then, when they were no longer able to defend themselves for want of weapons, a rush was made, and they were shot down indiscriminately, some of the women and children occasionally escaping or being made captives.

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