A person never dies from a purely natural cause in the opinion of the natives. Some enemy has cast a spell on the deceased and caused his or her death. Even if an able-bodied, sound man be killed by an elephant or buffalo, some person has caused the accident.
It will take a very long time for the missionary teachers to eradicate these superstitions and beliefs, so it car easily be seen that as long as the minds of the natives are full of such fantastical ideas, their intellects are quite unable to assimilate the truths of the Christian religion. What we look on as fancy and superstition, they consider well-grounded facts, and it will take many years of sound education to cause their enlightenment. Without any desire to be considered sacrilegious, I consider the Bible an unsuitable book for them, as many of its stories are too much akin to their own beliefs. The miracles described in that book are only extra nourishment for their minds in the shape of the supernatural.
A native is quite unable to " read between the lines," and he always looks at bare facts, and anything that happens to be on paper can seem nothing but the truth to him.
As many natives are notorious liars, and some are dishonest, it would be better to teach them to try and be truthful and honest, and also to stop practising senseless cruelty on human beings and animals.
Before they ever saw a white man they had a belief in a supreme being who was able to influence men for good or bad, and they call this being " Mlungo" (God).
If it rains too hard or too little, this is the work of Mlungo. If a man dies, the Mlungo has made another man kill him, and so on. Therefore, they are not altogether Pagans.
Contact with the more highly developed kind of civilisation cannot be said to benefit the natives; indeed, it does them harm, for they do not copy the best of the Europeans they come across, as they have less to do with them than the lower class whites, who assume friendliness so as to get their money.
The natives who go to the South African mines are highly paid in comparison to the moderate wages they earn in this country for their labour. Thus, they learn extravagance and wants that are useless to them in their natural lives. They learn to imitate the whites in dress, and thus appear most grotesque, although they do not know it. This sale of inferior European clothing is said to be good for trade ; but, if fine races of savages are to be ruined because this trade benefits a few low-class white traders, it is time it was stopped. Again, natives love strong drink, and we know how this has ruined and practically exterminated fine races of savages throughout the world. White men, with all their higher qualities of self-denial and self-restraint, have often a great struggle to resist the drink demon, so what can be expected of weak-minded natives ?
The native is quite happy in his own country, and he can, if he wishes, make more than enough to be comfortable. The Government hut tax is moderate, a single month's work will pay it, and a remission is allowed if a native works for a white man for a month. In fact, I think it would be a good thing if the tax were raised, as this would prove an incentive to the natives to do more work.
For three months they are pretty busy in their gardens, but for the rest of the year they can idle and loaf about, and they spend their time chiefly in drinking beer and holding dances.
A native is an expert in killing time, yet on occasions he can work, hard, and his good qualities in this respect are never more apparent than when he accompanies a white man on a shooting trip. Then he gets heaps of meat, and he enjoys the hunting and cutting up of the game, and there is nothing he enjoys better than plenty of fat.
The Angoni have that arrogance of race seen in all fighting tribes which at one time were rulers of a great extent of country. All dominant races show this in their bearing and the way they walk, and it is noticeable in animals also. A lion by day, when he is disturbed, has a furtive, slouching look; but when he has fed and drunk, I expect he looks round with an air of command and contentment, as he feels dominant.
The elephant, with his easy, dignified manner, when he has not been frightened or hurt, seems quite oblivious of anything else on earth, and, among animals, he is king, for nothing can harm him except puny man ; and it is only by man's ingenuity in making weapons of destruction that he is able to assert his superiority.
The Angoni make good personal servants, and the younger lads are intelligent wrhen they are taught. It cannot be expected that they can accustom themselves to the white man's ways all at once, so, although they may at first be aggravating and stupid, it is best to be patient with them.
Some years ago I was rather inclined to be hasty with them, for during a residence of some seven years in India I had become accustomed to the intelligent Indian servants, and I found it very difficult to put up with the stupid, procrastinating ways of the Africans.
Central Africa is a land where patience and forbearance has to be exercised if one is to be tolerably happy. It is one of the most isolated countries in the world, for mails take six weeks to come from home, and nothing is done in a hurry.
The white man who possesses a slow, phlegmatic nature is likely to be more popular with the natives than an energetic man who likes things done quickly ; and who also likes to live like a civilised being, and not among dirty surroundings.
Above all things natives like honesty of purpose in the white man, although they do not always practise this themselves, so one should never break a promise given or attempt to cheat the natives, as I am afraid many low-class Europeans do.
Natives are very sensitive to ridicule or sarcasm, and a little of this will often act better than a good beating. I do not believe in the use of the hippo whip called "chikoti," for it is a most cruel implement when used severely, and it should only be used in extreme cases. There is no comparison between a few punches with the fists and a dose of the "chikoti," which will cut a man fearfully, and in some cases kill him if he happens to be unwell. The use of a light boot occasionally or a smack on the head is usually quite sufficient; and if a boy deserves beating often for lying or theft, he can be dismissed, as there are generally plenty of others to take his place. Of course, as in Europe, there are scoundrels that deserve the whip, and there is no doubt that the natives have been accustomed in the past to much more severe treatment than they ever get from white men.