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WERE-WOLVES is a term used for convenience, as being most familiar, but there are no wolves in Africa, at any rate south of the Sahara. It is the hyena (called 'wolf ' by South Africans), the lion, and the leopard who have the unpleasant habit of assuming at will the human form or, which comes to the same thing, sorcerers have the power of turning themselves into these animals; and some tribes even have the strange notion that a course of treatment with certain medicines will enable a person to take after his death the shape of any animal he wishes.

I have already referred to the numerous stories of which the theme is the "Robber (or Demon) Bridegroom." In one collected by R.E. Dennett on the Lower Congo the original idea seems to have dropped out of sight: the chief character is simply called a 'robber' (mpunia); and in Dr Doke's book [1] he is a chiwanda, [2] which this writer translates 'devil'-a word I prefer to avoid in discussing African beliefs.

"The Choric Story of the Lion," also given by Dr Doke, [3] is a fairly good specimen of this type, but is without the usual opening. Most stories of this kind begin by saying that a girl refused every offer of marriage, sometimes imposing a difficult, or even impossible, condition on her suitors.

The Girl who married a Lion

A lion "went to a village of human beings and married." It is not expressly said that he changed his shape, but this seems to be implied in the following sentence: "And the

[1. Lamba Folklore, p. 85.

2 The Balamba distinguish between chiwanda ('demon or evil spirit'), sisimwe ('ogre'), mukupe ('goblin,' 'half-man,' also called mupisi and chinkuwaila), and akachekulu (pl. utuchekulu) ('gnome').

3 Lamba Folklore, p. 107.]

people thought that maybe it was but a man and not a wild creature."

In due course the couple had a child. Some time after this the husband proposed that they should visit his parents, and they set out, accompanied by the wife's brother. In several parallel stories a younger brother or sister of the bride desires to go with her, and when she refuses follows the party by stealth, but there is no indication of this here.

At the end of the first day's journey they all camped in the forest, and the husband cut down thorn-bushes and made a kraal (mutanda), after which he went away, saying that he was going to catch some fish in the river. When he was gone the brother said to his sister, "He has built this kraal very badly," and he took his axe and cut down many branches, with which to strengthen the weak places.

Meanwhile the husband had gone to seek out his lion relations, and when they asked him, "How many animals have you killed?" he replied, "Two and a young one." When darkness fell he "had become a huge male lion," and led the whole clan (with a contingent of hyenas) to attack his camp. Those inside heard the stealthy footfalls and sat listening. The lions hurled themselves on the barrier, trying to break through, but it was too strong, and they fell back, wounded with the thorns. He who by day had been the husband growled: "M. . .," and the baby inside the kraal responded: "M. . ." Then the mother sang:

"The child has bothered me with crying; watch the dance!
    Walk with a stoop; watch the dance!"

The were-lion's father, quite disgusted, said, "You have brought us to a man who has built a strong kraal; we cannot eat him." And as day was beginning to break they all retired to the forest.

When it was light the husband came back with his fish, and said that he had been detained, adding, "You were nearly eaten," meaning that his absence had left them exposed to danger. It seems to be implied that the others were taken in by his excuses, but the brother, at any rate, must have had his suspicions. When the husband had gone off again, ostensibly to fish, he said, "See, it was that husband of yours who wanted to eat us last night." So he went and walked about, thinking over the position. Presently he saw the head of a gnome (akachekulu) projecting from a cleft in a tree; it asked him why he had come, and, on being told, said, "You are already done for; your brother-in-law is an ogre that has finished off all the people in this district." The creature then asked him to sweep out the midden inside his house [1]-and after he had done so told him to cut down the tree, which it then hollowed out and made into a drum, stretching two prepared skins over the ends. It then slung the drum round the man's waist, and said, "Do as if you were going to do this"-that is, raise himself from the ground. And, behold, he found himself rising into the air, and he reached the top of a tree. The gnome told him to jump down, and he did so quite easily. Then it said, "Put your sister in the drum and go home." So he called her, and, having stowed her in it, with the baby, rose up and sat in the tree-top, where he began to beat the drum. The lion, hearing the sound, followed it, and when he saw the young man in the tree said, "Brother-in-law, just beat a little"; so the man beat the drum and sang:

"Boom, boom sounds the little drum
    Of the sounding drum, sounds the little drum!
Ogre,[2] dance, sounds the little drum
    Of the sounding drum, sounds the little drum!

The lion began to dance, and the skins he was wearing fell off and were blown away by the wind, and he had to go back and pick them up. Meanwhile the drum carried the fugitives on, and the lion pursued them as soon as he had recovered his skins. Having overtaken them, he called up into the tree, "Brother-in-law, show me my child!" and the following dialogue took place:

"What, you lion, am I going to show you a relation of mine?"

[1. Meaning, evidently, the hollow tree!

2. It is noticeable that the name sisimwe is here applied to the lion.]

"Would I eat my child?" conveniently ignoring the fact that he had himself announced the killing of "the young one."

"How about the night you came? You would have eaten us!"

Again the brother-in-law beat the drum, and the lion danced (apparently unable to help himself), and as before lost his skins, stopped to pick them up, and began the chase again, while the man went springing along the treetops like a monkey. At last he reached his own village, and "his mother saw as it were a swallow settle in the courtyard" of his home. She said, "Well, I never! Greeting, my child!" and asked where his sister was. He frightened her at first by telling her that she had been eaten by her husband, who was really a lion, but afterwards relented and told her to open the drum. Her daughter came out with the baby, safe and sound, and the mother said, praising her son, "You have grown up; you have saved your sister!" She gave him five slave-girls-a form of wealth still accepted in Lambaland not so very long ago.

The lion had kept up the pursuit, and reached the outskirts of the village, but, finding that his intended victims were safe within the stockade, he gave up and returned to the forest.

The Hyena Bridegroom

A story from Nyasaland is different enough from the above to be interesting. I was told it, many years ago, by a bright little boy at Blantyre; but, as might be expected, he did not know it perfectly, and very likely I missed some points in writing it down from his dictation. I have therefore pieced it out from another version, written out much later by a Nyanja man, Walters Saukila, which clears up several difficult points.

There was a girl in a certain village who refused all suitors, though several very decent young men had presented themselves. Her parents remonstrated in vain; she only said,

I don't like the young men of our neighbourhood; if one came from a distance I might look at him!" So they left off asking for her, and she remained unmarried for an unusually long time.

One day a handsome stranger arrived at the village and presented himself to the girl's parents. He had all the appearance of a rich man; he was wearing a good cloth, had ivory bracelets on his arms, and carried a gun and a powder-horn curiously ornamented with brass wire. The maiden exclaimed, on seeing him, "This is the one I like!" Her father and mother were more doubtful, as was natural, since no one knew anything about him; but in spite of all they could say she insisted on accepting him. He was, in fact, a hyena, who had assumed human shape for the time being.

The usual marriage ceremonies took place, and the husband, in. accordance with Yao and Nyanja custom, settled down at the village of his parents-in-law, and made himself useful in the gardens for the space of several months. At the end of that time he said that he had a great wish to visit his own people. His wife, whom he had purposely refrained from asking, begged him to let her accompany him. When all was ready for the journey her little brother, who was suffering from sore eyes, said he wanted to go too; but his sister, ashamed to be seen in company with such an object, refused him sharply. He waited till they had started, and then followed, keeping out of sight, till he was too far from home to be sent back.

They went on for many days, and at last arrived at the hyenas' village, where the bride was duly welcomed by her husband's relations. She was assigned a hut to sleep in, but, to keep her brother out of the way, she sent him into the hen-house.

In the middle of the night, when she was asleep, the people of the village took their proper shape and, called together by the hyena husband, marched round the hut, chanting:

    "Timdye nyama, sananone!"
[Let us eat the game, but it is not fat yet."]

The little boy in the hen-house was awake and heard them; his worst fears were confirmed. (W. Saukila says: "Though that one was small as to his size, he was of surpassing sense.") In the morning he told his sister what he had heard, but she would not believe him. So he told her to tie a string to her toe and put the end outside where he could get it. This he drew into the hen-house, and that night, when the hyenas began their march, he pulled the string and awakened his sister. She was now thoroughly frightened, and when he asked her next morning, "Did you hear them, sister?" she had nothing more to say.

The Magic Boat

The boy then went to his brother-in-law and asked him for the loan of an axe and an adze. The man (as he appeared to be), who had no notion that he was detected and every reason to show himself good-natured, consented at once, and watched him going off into the bush, well pleased that the child should amuse himself.

The latter soon found and cut down a tree such as he needed, and then began to shape a thing which he called nguli [1]-something in the nature of a small boat. When he had finished it he got into it and sang

Chinguli changa delu-delu!
Chinguli changa delu-delu!
[My boat! swing! swing!]

And the nguli began to rise up from the earth. As he went on singing it rose higher and higher, till it floated above the tops of the tallest trees. The hyena-villagers all rushed out to gaze at this wonder, and the boy's sister came with them. Then he sang once more:

"Chinguli changa, tsikatsika de-de, tsikatsila!"

["My boat! come down! down, de-de! [expressive of descending] come down!"]


[1. Nguli is properly a spinning-top-a toy very popular in African villages. Chinguli, the word used later on, means a large nguli, This object has hitherto been a great puzzle. The Rev. H. B. Barnes (Nyanja-English Vocabulary) says, "Chinguli in a native story apparently plays the part of the 'magic carpet' in the Arabian Nights." The explanation that it was "like a canoe to look at" is due to Walters Saukila.]

And it floated gently down to the ground. The people were delighted, and cried out to him to go up again. He made some excuse for a little delay, and whispered to his sister to get her bundle (which, no doubt, she had ready) and climb in. She did so, and when both were safely stowed he sang his first song once more. Again the vessel rose, and this time did not come down again. The spectators, after waiting in vain, began to suspect that their prey was escaping, and shouted to the boy to come back, but no attention was paid to them, and the nguli quickly passed out of sight. Before the day was out they found themselves above the courtyard of their home, and the boy sang the words which caused them to descend, so that they alighted on their mother's grain-mortar. The whole family came running out and overwhelmed them with questions; the girl could not speak for crying with joy and relief, and her brother told the whole story, winding up with: "Look here, sister, you thought I was no good, because I had sore eyes-but who was it heard them singing, 'Let us eat her!' and told you about it?" The parents, too, while praising the boy, did not fail to point the moral for the benefit of their foolish daughter, who, some say, had to remain unmarried to the end of her days.

Anyone who has heard a native story-teller chant Chinguli changa cannot help wondering whether we have a far-off echo of it in Uncle Remus's "Ingle-go-jang, my joy, my joy!" though it occurs in an entirely different story.

The Half-men

Some of the amazimu, as stated in the last chapter, are described as having only half a body, but this by no means applies to all of them, and there is a distinct set of half-beings who cannot be classed as ogres.

In Nyasaland a being called Chiruwi is, or was, believed to haunt lonely places in the forest, carrying an axe. He has one eye, one arm, one leg, the other half of his body being made of wax. He challenges any man he meets to wrestle with him; if the man can overcome him he offers to show him "many medicines" if he will let him go, and tells him the properties of the various trees and herbs. But if the man is thrown "he returns no more to his village; he dies."

A little boy at Ntumbi, in the West Shire district, told me a curious story in which "a big bird," with one wing, one eye, and one leg, carried some children across a flooded river.

In a tale of the Bechuana, which is something like this, the children are pursued by an ogre, take refuge up a tree, and are rescued before he is able to cut it down by a "great thing called Phuku-phuku," which is not further described. What seems to be a parallel version attributes the rescue to "a great bird," which "hovered over them and said, 'Hold fast to me.'" There is no indication that this bird was without the usual number of wings and legs; but it is quite evident that he is, as the editor of the South African Folklore Journal [1] remarks, "a personage worth studying."

A fuller form of the story, however, was obtained by the Rev. C. Hoffmann among the Bapedi in the Transvaal. But even this throws no light on the bird's nature; he is simply called nonyana votze, " a beautiful bird," and carries the children home under his wings. In retelling it in a more popular form for young readers [2] Mr Hoffmann calls him a peacock, and represents him as such in his illustration; but this must be a picturesque addition of his own, for the peacock was quite unknown in South Africa till introduced by Europeans, and it is very unlikely that the original narrators had ever heard of it.

The Baronga tell of a village of "one-legged people (mangabangabana), who also possess wings, or, at any rate, the power of flying. They seem to be quite distinct from ogres-called in Ronga simply "eaters of men," though they sometimes have another name, switukulumukumba. A girl who escapes from the cannibals' village is, later on, carried off by the flying half-men; but there is no suggestion that they intend to eat her.

[1. Vol. i, Part I, January 1879, p. 16.

2. Afrikanischer Grossvater, p. 5.]

In the story of Namachuke, however, the one-legged beings are certainly cannibal ogres. Part of this story is much like that given in the last chapter, of the girl escaping from the ogre's house; but the opening is different, and there is also an unexpected sequel: Namachuke and her co-wives are beguiled by curiosity into leaving their home and following the monsters, and are devoured, together with the unfortunate children who have come to look for them.

Similarly, the Zulu amadhlungundhlebe, who had only one leg, were said to be man-eaters.

But these are exceptions: the genuine half-men are more akin to Chiruwi, though their character varies; some are merely terrifying, like the one formerly believed to haunt the Cameroons Mountain, to see whom was death.

Sechobochobo of the Baila is "a kind of wood-sprite, described as a man with one arm and one eye, living in the forest; he brings good luck to those who see him; he takes people and shows them trees in the forest which can serve as medicines.

But the accounts of this being would seem to vary, for elsewhere we read, "If one chances to see it he will die."


The Basubiya say that Sikulokobuzuka is wax on one side of him; the leg on the other is like that of an animal. Some say that he has a wife and children, in form like himself. He lives on wild honey, and is reported to have a hut made of elephants' tusks and python skins, but his village, where are stored many pots of honey, meat, and fat, is invisible to human eyes. His axe and spears are made of wax. The account given to M. Jacottet by Kabuku, a young man of the Subiya tribe, scarcely bears out the statement made by some that it is death to meet Sikulokobuzuka-fortunately, he has a shorter name, Chilube, which will be more convenient to use. A certain man, Mashambwa,[l] told Kabuku that while looking for honey in

[1. "Textes Subiya," No. 47, p. 138.]

the forest he heard a honey-guide calling; he whistled to it, and it led him to a tree containing a bees' nest. He lit a torch, climbed the tree, smoked the bees out, and had just taken the honey, when he saw Chilube approaching. He came down, carrying his honey on a wooden platter, and met Chilube, who at once demanded it. Mashambwa refused, and Chilube said, "Come, then, let us wrestle." They did so, Mashambwa taking care to get his opponent off the grass and on to a sandy place, where, after a long struggle, he succeeded in throwing him. He said, "Shall I kill you?" and Chilube replied, "Don't kill me, my chief, and I will get you the medicine for bewitching people and killing them." Mashambwa said, "I don't want that," and Chilube said, "There is another, which helps you to get plenty of meat." He agreed to accept this, and Chilube said, "Let me go, and I will get it for you." So he showed him all the herbs and trees which possessed healing properties or were good as charms for luck in hunting, or finding food in other ways, or for gaining the favour of one's chief.

Mashambwa set off homeward, but soon lost his way and wandered about till he once more met Chilube, who guided him to his village, telling him that he must not speak to anyone or answer if spoken to. This seems to have been a recognized rule, for when Mashambwa reached home and the people found that he did not respond to their greetings they knew that he had met Chilube, and let him alone, but built a hut for him in a place apart.

Mashambwa lay ill in that hut for a whole year. Chilube arrived as soon as those who had built it had left, and thenceforth came regularly, bringing him food and medicine. At last he recovered, and, looking out over the forest one day, saw a number of vultures. This appears to have been the sign that his period of silence and seclusion was over, for he called out, "Look at my vultures over there!"and the villagers went to the spot and found a freshly killed animal. So they brought back the meat and gave him some, and he ate with them and took up his old life again.

After this it seems hardly fair to dismiss Chilube as "cruel and wicked" or "a strange and maleficent being" (in M. Jacottet's words, "être étrange et malfaisant"). Nor is it apparent why an up-to-date hunter, meeting Chilube in the forest, should, without provocation, have pointed his gun at him and set his dogs on him. Chilube fled-he is said (not unnaturally) to fear dogs and guns-and one would not be surprised to learn that no more medicines were shown to people in that neighbourhood.

In Angola[1] we find that Fenda Madia is helped by an old woman with "one arm, one leg, one side of face, and one side of body," and among the Wangonde a similarly formed old woman takes some girls across a river.

There is a curious development of the same notion in a story about a jealous woman who tricked her co-wife into throwing away her baby. When she found out that the mother had recovered her child and received rich gifts in addition she threw her own baby into the river-and recovered it, indeed, but only to find that it had but half a body.[2]

There is a strange legend of the Wagogo to the effect that the first heaven (there are four in all, one above the other) is inhabited by half-beings of this kind; I do not know whether such a notion has been recorded elsewhere.

Perhaps the lake-god Mugasha, on the Victoria Nyanza, who has only one leg, should be mentioned in this connexion; and I recall a curious statement made by a Giryama, Aaron Mwabaya, at Kaloleni in 1912: "When the print of a human foot is seen side by side with a hyena's spoor the traces are those of a sorcerer who is on one side human, on the other a hyena." This I have never heard elsewhere: -people in Nyasaland had a different way of accounting for human footprints beside a hyena's track, but that is "another story."

Gnomes and Spirits

We have already come across Dr Doke's 'gnomes,' fearsome beings called by the Balamba "little ancient ones,"

[1. Chatelain, Folk-tales of Angola, p. 32

2. See ante, p. 96.]

who kill their victims with "one long tooth, blood-red and sharp." But, as we have seen in the story of the lion, they are by no means always malignant. They may be of either sex.

The chitsimbakazi of the Duruma perhaps belongs to the same family; their neighbours the Giryama have a katsumbakazi-no doubt the same word-of which W. E. Taylor remarks that it is "said to be seen occasionally in daylight. It is usually malignant." He does not describe its appearance, beyond saying that its stature is very low-a point on which it seems to be sensitive: "When it meets anyone it . . . asks him, 'Where did you see me?' If the person is so unlucky as to answer, 'Just here,' he will not live many days; but if he is aware of the danger and says, 'Oh, over yonder,' he will be left unharmed, and sometimes even something lucky will happen to him." [1]

A similar story used to be told by the Zulus of the Bushmen, only, instead of inflicting death by some occult means, they would retaliate on the spot with a poisoned arrow.

The "little people" in Nyasaland, known by a name which means "Where did you see me?" are similarly quick to resent this insult.

The forests of the Tana Valley are haunted by a thing which the Wapokomo call kitunusi, which behaves like Chiruwi or Chilube, though not shaped like them. As far as one can gather, its form is that of a normal human being, and it does not seem to be particularly small. There are two kinds: one walks about upright, "like a child of Adam, as my informant said, the other hitches itself about in a sitting position, though not devoid of legs. It wears a cloth of kaniki (dark blue cotton stuff): if anyone who wrestles with it can manage to tear off a bit of this his fortune is made: "he puts it away in his covered basket [kidzamanda] and becomes rich"; presumably the cloth multiplies itself, but this is not explained. Those who meet the kitunusi and do not stand up to it boldly are apt to

[1. Giryama Vocabulary, p. 32.]

be stricken with paralysis in all their limbs, or with some other illness.

Two other creatures, classified by Professor Meinhof as "haunting demons" (Spukdämonen), are, or were some time ago, to be found in the Tana forests. One is the ngojama, in sight like to a man, but with a long claw ("an iron nail," say some) in the palm of his right hand. Other people, the Galla, for instance, say that the ngojama is simply a lion who has grown too old to hunt game and taken to eating men. This is curiously borne out by the very similar names for 'lion' in Zulu, Herero, and Tswa[1]; in the last-named language, moreover, it is confined to man eating lions. I was told, by Pokomo natives, a strange story about a man named Bombe, which to some slight extent resembles Mashambwa's adventure with Chilube. The ngojama came upon Bombe when he was up a tree taking honey, and waited to seize him when he came down, but Bombe handed him the best pieces of honeycomb, and made his escape while the monster lingered to eat them. When he saw Bombe in his canoe, half-way across the river, he stood on the bank, crying, "Wai! wai! If I had known I would not have eaten the honey!" There is no suggestion of a contest (as with the kitunusi), and it is evident that the ngojama cannot swim. His last words to Bombe were, "Go I You are a man I But we shall meet another day."

The other forest-haunting bogy is the ngoloko, described to me as a huge serpent-so huge that when my informant's father saw him at night he took him for a great dead tree-a white bulk which would be clearly visible even without a moon. When he got nearer he saw that it was a monstrous snake, with luminous ears (a strange touch), which he had at first taken for flames. They were like the yellow flowers I had just picked from a bush-which, if I remember rightly, were something like the Corchorus of our gardens. This seems to have been all I could gather about the ngoloko. A writer in Blackwood's Magazine [2] some years ago

[1. The language of a tribe near Inhambane, in Portuguese East Africa.

2 November 1917.]

gave an account of what he had heard from the natives about this being, but his description rather fits the ngojama. He took it to be an anthropoid ape-hitherto unknown in Africa east of the Great Lakes. He was shown a print of its foot (which, in fact, seemed to show a long claw), and heard uncanny roarings at night, which people assured him were the voice of the ngoloko. But the print, of which a tracing was procured, was credibly pronounced to have been made by the foot of an ostrich; and the cry of the ostrich is powerful enough to be heard at a great distance, especially by night.

About the kodoile, also enumerated among the dangers of the Tana forests, I did not succeed in getting any information, beyond the fact that "the Swahili call it dubu," which is dubb, the Arabic name for the bear. In the Pokomo New Testament (Revelation xiii, 2) 'bear' is translated kodoile, and ngojama is the rendering of 'dragon.' There are, so far as known at present, no bears in Africa south of the Sahara-the 'Nandi bear,' concerning which many reports have been in circulation, is now generally held to be a mythical animal. In fact, a Zanzibar man who saw a bear for the first time in his life in the London Zoo could only describe it as "the illegitimate offspring of a hyena (yule mwana haramu wa fisi).

Next: Chapter XIV: The Swallowing Monster