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UTIKXO, the word adopted for God by the early missionaries among the Kxosa or Frontier Kafirs, was not a word known to the natives of these parts, but was introduced by missionaries and others. And it is generally supposed that the word does not properly belong to the Kxosa or any other of the alliterative dialects spoken in South Africa;1 but has been derived from the Hottentots. The word Utikxo has the nearest resemblance to the Tikxwoa of the Cape Hottentot dialect.
We cannot doubt that this is the word which Kolb means to express as the Hottentot name for God.2 Having declared his undoubting conviction that the Hottentots generally "believe in a supreme Being, the Creator of heaven and earth, and of every thing in them; the arbiter of the world, through whose omnipotence all things live and move and have their being. And that he is endowed with unsearchable attributes and perfections," he goes on to say:—"The Hottentots call him Gounja Gounja or Gounja Ticquoa; that is, the God of all gods; and say he is a good man, who does nobody any hurt; and from whom none need be apprehensive of any; and that he dwells far above the moon."3
If the investigations of Moffat, Appleyard, Casalis, and others are correct, Kolb very much exaggerated the Hottentot notion respecting God, and substituted instead of what they really believed, the belief of a Christian man. Nothing is more easy than to enquire of heathen savages the character of their creed, and during the conversation to impart to them great truths and ideas which they never heard before, and presently p. 106 to have these come back again as articles of their own original faith, when in reality they are but the echoes of one's own thoughts. But even here in Kolb's statement we have the idea, more clearly and distinctly enunciated by after investigators, that great, and mighty and good, as, according to him, the Hottentots might have regarded their Tikxwoa, they believed that he was but "a good man."
And further on Kolb tells us they also "worship an evil deity whom they look upon as the father of mischief, and source of all plagues. They call him Touquoa; and say he is a little, crabbed, inferior captain, whose malice against the Hottentots will seldom let him rest; and who never did, nor has it in his nature to do, any good to any body. They worship him therefore, say they, in order to sweeten him and to avert his malice."4
The two words—Ticquoa and Touquoa—here given for a good and evil deity, are remarkably alike; and it is not improbable that Kolb mistook two words, identical in meaning, and applied to one imaginary being, for the name of two beings, a good and evil one. If not, then we must suppose that since the time of Kolb a great corruption has taken place in the original creed of the Hottentots, and that the good and evil, which were formerly kept distinct and referred to different agents, have become confused, and are indiscriminately ascribed to one being.
Observing that Dr. Bleek speaks of Tikxwoa as being one with "Kolb's Tikquoa or touquoa," I supposed he might have more ample reason for thinking them identical than I had.5 His reasons, however, are simply philological. I quote from his letter on the subject:—"By identifying this Toukquoa with Tikquoa, the name for God found in the vocabulary (where Cham-ouna is that for the devil, who is called in Nama Hottentot Kau-ap), I do not think I exceeded the probability. But it may yet be that Kolb meant a different word. However, considering it fully, I have not much doubt it is really the same word, identical with the Nama Tsuikxoap, which contain both the vowels in the first syllable of which the two renderings of Kolb give only each one."
I may add that whilst recently on a visit amoug the Griquas I met with several persons who were acquainted with the Hottentots, and understood their language, They told me that the p. 107 name they used for God was Tikqwa. They did not know any other name for an evil principle resembling it, They also understood the language of the Bushmen, and told me that their word fur God was Ikqum’n; and that the meaning of the word was, "Father who is above."
Moffitt quotes from Dr. Vanderkemp the following, which appears to justify the surmise that Kolb was mistaken in supposing the two words referred to two beings from not observing that he was dealing with a merely tribal difference of pronunciation:6—"A decisive proof of what I here say with respect to the national atheism of the Kafirs, is, that they have no word in their language to express the idea of Deity; the individuals just mentioned calling him ’Thiko, which is a corruption of a name by which God is called in the language of the Hottentots, literally signifying one that induces pain."7
But Moffat is equally decisive that the Hottentots and Namaquas are just as ignorant of God, and their language just as devoid of a word for God, as Dr. Vanderkemp and others have represented the Kafirs. Whilst pursuing his investigations among the inbabitants of Great Namaqualand, he says:—"I met with an ancient sorcerer or doctor, who stated that he had always understood that Tsui’kuap was a notable warrior, of great physical strength; that in a desperate struggle with another chieftain, he received a wound in the knee, but having vanquished his enemy, his name was lost in the mighty combat which rendered the nation independent; for no one could conquer the Tsui’kuap (wounded-knee). When I referred to the import of the word, one who inflicts pain or a sore knee, manifesting my surprise that they should give such a name to the Creator and Benefactor, he replied in a way that induced the belief that he applied the term to what we should call the devil, or to p. 108 death itself; adding that he thought death, or the power causing death, was very sore indeed."8
And then he asks:—"May not the Tsui’kuap of these people be like the Thlanga of the Kafirs, an ancient hero; or represent some power which they superstitiously dread, from its causing death or pain?"9
We see, then, that Moffat comes to a conclusion somewhat similar to that of Kolb, that there is an evil principle or being, feared by the Hottentots, and which has received the name of Tsui’kuap, which is equivalent to Utikxo. But he does not appear to have heard any thing of the good principle or being, of which Kolb speaks.
Again, Casalis expresses an equally decided opinion as to the "endemical atheism" of the inhabitants of South Africa generally. He says:—"The tribes had entirely lost the idea of a Creator. All the natives whom we have questioned on the subject have assured us that it never entered their heads that the earth and sky might be the work of an invisible being."10
Shaw also says:—"The Kafir nations cannot be said to possess any religion."11 And again:—"Before Missionaries and other Europeans had intercourse with the Kafirs, they seem to have had extremely vague and indistinct notions of God. The older Kafirs used to speak of Umdali, the Creator or Maker of all things, and Uthlanga, which word seems to have been used to denote the source or place from which all living things came forth."12
A similar statement is made by Arbousset. He says:—"They have scarcely retained the idea of a Supreme Being. The more enlightened admit that there is a Morena in heaven, whom they call the powerful master of things, but the multitude deny that there is, and even this name of morena is the same as they give to the lowest of their chiefs. All the blacks whom I have known are atheists, but it would not be difficult to find amongst them some theists. Their atheism, however, does not prevent p. 109 their being extremely superstitious, or from rendering a kind of worship to their ancestors, whom they call barimos, or in the singular morimo."13
He says of the Mountain Bushmen's faith:—"They say that there is a Kaang or Chief in the sky, called also Kue-Akeng-teng, the Man, that is to say, the Master of all things. According to their expression, 'one does not see him with the eyes, but knows him with the heart.' He is to be worshipped in times of famine and before going to war, and that throughout the whole night, performing the dance of the mokoma."14
The same notion of malevolence is connected in the native mind among the Bechuanas with the word Morimo, which the Missionaries have adopted for God. The meaning of Morimo as given by Moffat,15 and of Molimo as given by Casalis,16 is, like that given to the Bushmen's Ikqum’n, "He that is in heaven." But, says Moffat, "Morimo, to those who knew any thing about it, had been represented as a malevolent selo or thing."17 And again, "According to native testimony Morimo, as well as man, with all the different species of animals, came out of a cave or hole in the Bakone country."18 "There is," says Casalis, "an obvious contradiction between the language and the received ideas."19—That is, I presume, Casalis supposes that the word Morimo or Molimo,—a heavenly one,—is a testimony preserved in the language of the people against their present infidelity and corruption of faith. And Archbishop Trench, in his work on "The Study of Words," has brought this word forward as a remarkabIe instance of the disappearing of an important word from a language, and with it "the disappearing as well of the great spiritual fact and truth whereof that word was once the vehicle and the guardian."20
But Dr. Bleek has made it more than probable that Moffat and Casalis are mistaken in the derivation and meaning of this word; and that Molimo has a sound by accident only similar to Moh‘olimo—"one who is in heaven." He says:—"In other South African languages, different words are found indicating the idea of a supreme being; but in Se-tshuana at p. 110 least the word for 'God' has a similar reference to their ancestor worship as the Zulu Unkulunkulu. Thus in Se-suto Mo-limo means God, and me-limo gods, but mo-limo, ancestral spirits, plur. ba-limo."21
This is a far more probable derivation. And when we remember that Morimo is supposed to have come out of the same hole that gave origin to man and beasts, as Unkulunkulu came out of the same bed of reeds; and that in the native mind there is no connection of thought between a heavenly being and this Morimo, there can be little doubt of the correctness of the view taken by Dr. Bleek.
Further, it may be added in corroboration that although the Amazulu do not say Unkulunkulu is an Itongo,—an ancestral spirit; they say he was an Ukoko,—an ancestor: and not only does it appear that they suppose that at one time he was regarded as an Itongo, and was worshipped among other Amatongo by his own laud-giving names, but we find them incidentally giving intimations of a belief in a great Itongo from whom all things proceeded. Thus they are heard to say in explanation of the superiority of the white man to the coloured that the former remained longer with a great Itongo than the blacks, and therefore came into being more perfect, with better habits and accoutrements.22
This view brings the notions of different people of South Africa into a certain similarity and consistency. Whilst on the other view they are neither consistent with themselves nor with each other.
Appleyard gives a somewhat similar account to that of Moffat as to the meaning of Utikxo. He says:—"Tshoei’koap is the word from which the Kafirs have probably derived their Utixo, a term which they have invariably applied, like the Hottentots, to designate the Divine Being, since the introduction of Christianity. Its derivation is curious. It consists of two words which together mean 'the broken knee.' It is said to have been originally applied to a doctor or sorcerer of considerable notoriety and skill among the Hottentots or Namaquas, some generations back, in consequence of his having received some injury of the knee. Having been held in high repute for extraordinary powers during life, he continued to be invoked, even after death, as one who could relieve and protect;23 and hence, in process of p. 111 time, he became the nearest in idea to their first conceptions of God."24
If this account be correct, and there appears no reason whatever for doubting its accuracy, it is clear that the early Missionaries, in using the word Utikxo for God, adopted an isibongo, or laud-giving name, of some old brave.
To my mind nothing here found conveys the idea that the notion of divinity was ever in the uneducated native mind connected with Utikxo; much less that Utikxo ever meant God: on the contrary that it meant something very different from God; in some instances, at least, an evil spirit, which was worshipped just on the same grounds as the Yezidis worship Satan, "because he must be conciliated and reverenced; for as he now has the means of doing evil to mankind, so will he hereafter have the power of rewarding them."25 And it appears to me to have been unwisely and improperly adopted by the early Missionaries; to be explained and excused only on the ground that at first the teachers and taught were unable freely to communicate ideas one to the other.
The term Molimo or Morimo appears equally improper. How very objectionable is it to use a word for God in teaching savages the doctrines of Christianity, to which they have a natural or rather educated repugnance, and of the Being whom it is meant to represent they can speak as a native chief spoke to Mr. Moffat:—"When we assured him that God (Morimo) was in the heavens, and that He did whatever He pleased, they blamed us for giving Him a high position beyond their reach; for they viewed their Morimo as a noxious reptile. 'Would that I could catch it, I would transfix it with my spear,' exclaimed S., a chief, whose judgment on other subjects would command attention."26
At the same time it is quite possible that the confusion of ideas between good and evil,—the association of the idea of evil with God,—which we here meet with, is a confusion of comparatively recent times; that originally there existed a defined belief in a good and an evil Being; but that the common multiform natural phenomena, which are constantly exhibiting the Creator's beneficence, were lost to these afflicted populations amidst phenomena of an apparently p. 112 opposite character, and especially amidst the sufferings and wants of their daily life; until created things spoke to them only of suffering, and fixed their attention on a pain-creating being, whom they feared more than reverenced, and whom if they worshipped, it was to deprecate wrath, rather than to express their faith in his love.
And may not the legend,—so bizarre and bald,—given by Dr. Bleek in the "Hottentot Tales"27 of a contest between Heitsi Eibip and Gqagqorip be a confused tradition of some old faith, the fundamental principle of which was that of a contest between good and evil in nature; but which in process of time has been lost, and the good and the evil come to be confounded, and referred alike to one fabulous being.
According to Du Chaillu, we find even at the present time among the inhabitants of the Western coast of Africa the worship of a good and evil spirit. He says:—
"Aniambia enjoys the protection of two spirits of very great power, named Abambou and Mbuirri. The former is an evil spirit, the latter is beneficent. They are both worshipped; and their accommodations, so far as I was permitted to see, were exactly alike.
"Abambou is the devil of the Camma. He is a wicked mischievous spirit, who lives near graves and in burial grounds. He takes occasional walks through the country; and if he is angry at any one, has the power to cause sickness and death. In worshipping him they cry, 'Now are we well! Now are we satisfied! Now be our friend, and do not hurt us!'
"Mbuirri, whose house I next visited, is lodged and kept much as his rival. He is a good spirit, but has powers much the same as Abambou, so far as I could see. Being less wicked, he is less zealously worshipped."28
This coincides remarkably with Kolb's statement; and leads to a reasonable suspicion that his Touquoa,—probably only some local or tribal variation of the word now come down to the Kafirs as Utikxo,—and the Morimo of the Bechuanas and Basutos, is the same as the Abambou of the people of Aniambia. Yet what missionary would choose Abambou as the name for God, even though he should have ascribed to him, in addition to his own, the only "less wicked" attributes of Mbuirri?
Dr. Bleek's Hottentot legend just alluded to, begins with the p. 113 significant words, "At first there were two," And among the natives of these parts we have the two words Unembeza and Ugovana to express the good and evil hearts which are supposed to be contending within them. And they ascribe good and evil to the Amatongo which they worship, and worship more sedulously to avert evil than to acknowledge good.
Be this as it may, the impression so generally existing among those who have laboured long in South Africa of the "endemic atheism" of the different peoples, and the difficulty universally confessed of being able to determine whether the name, applied to some being to whom certain supreme acts are referred, is in the native mind any thing more than the name of their great forefather, or of some great hero-benefactor of times gone by, to whom with perfect consistency an ancestor-worshipping people would refer such acts, suggest that it would be both more wise and reverent, and more likely to be effectual in attempting to teach them a new faith, to introduce a new name,—a name not really newer to them than the idea of the supreme Being itself. I am myself persuaded that such a new name is very desirable, aye more, very necessary. For there is no name, whether Utikxo, or Morimo, or Unkulunkulu, which, without possessing any primary signification referring to divinity, has not much, both etymologically and traditionally, which is highly objectionable, and calculated to mislead the young convert. Bishop Colenso felt this on his first introduction to mission work. And I do not doubt that his impression was the result of devout and intelligent thought, which is not at all invalidated by a change of opinion, which led him to attempt to introduce an equally objectionable word for God, and to which exception has been justly taken by many on grounds similar to those which may be taken against Utikxo.
In connection with the word Utikxo, "the broken knee," the following interesting and curious corroboration of the idea that Utikxo is but the isibongo or laud-giving name of some ancient brave, is well worth considering. Among the Amazulu there is a word, clearly an isibongo, U-gukqa-ba-dele, which means, He kneels and they get enough of it. And the following explanations appear to show the character and circumstances of the conflict from which he obtained the name:—
We apply the name U-gukqa-ba-dele to a man who has been surrounded by many others, who trust to their number, and expect to be able to confuse him by surrounding him, and so kill him before he can well see what to do; and perhaps they stab him, or without having stabbed him, they see him sink on his knee, and say, "He is falling; we have stabbed him." And they draw near to him, no longer now as when he was standing; they go quite close to him now he has fallen, saying, "Ah, now then, let us make an end of him," But a long time passes without their killing him; it is he alone who kills them, they not understanding in what way he is so difficult to kill; until at length they say, "Hau! are we then at length all killed by one man? Let us let him alone."
And so they leave him still in the same place where they first found him, so then when they have left, going away with their faces towards him, they go on looking back and see him still kneeling and watching them, for he thinks they may take heart and come back to him again. But when they do not return he arises and goes away.
They have had enough of it forsooth, that is, they are satisfied, p. 115 and do not go after him any more. Such a man, then, is called U-gu-kqa-ba-dele. It is not the name of a common person. It is a name which we heard from people when the Dutch first came from the Kxosa tribes; they brought some Kxosa people with them; when they took an oath, they said, "Tikxo who is above. Gukqa-ba-dele." But it is by no means clear whether the word "gukqa" (kneel) came at precisely the same time as the word Utikxo. We heard from the Amakxosa that Utikxo is the Lord who is above.29
At first chiefs used to go out with the army, and invade other people with it; but it happened through their shrewdness that the enemy devised a plan, saying, "In order that we may conquer these people, let us kill their king, that they may be discouraged." And in fact they might kill the king and scatter the army; for the kings used to go out, saying, "Then my people will be brave, when they see me there."
So the custom of accompanying the army was given up; it is no longer usual; it may still be among some nations; it is no longer the custom among the Amazulu. p. 116 Among the Amazulu the chief is praised for the conduct of his people among the enemy; they conquer, and it is not said that the conquest was made by the king's people. For instance, if a powerful army appears on the high lands, and the other army is below, a wise officer says, "O, the place is bad; we shall be borne down; our position is bad; kneel, and stab them in the bowels." If they succeed by this stratagem, their chief may be called by the name U-gukqa-ba-dele, as though it was he who did it, when forsooth it was his people through the bravery which the recollection of their chief gave them. This is the manner, then, in which kings get names; as it is said when lauding the king of the Amazulu, "You who ate up So-and-so, the son of So-and-so; and it was nothing to you." So the chief is praised for the conduct of his army. The power which is exhibited by the army is the source from which the lauds of the chief are taken. So it is that it is not clear whether it was done by him in person or by his people.
Hence it appears certain that the word Utikxo is the laud-giving name of an ancient hero, and that it was given in consequence of some conflict in which he repulsed enemies more powerful from numbers than himself by the stratagem of kneeling, and so causing them to approach him under the impression that they could make an easy prey of him.
1 Bleek. Comparative Grammar, p. 92, sec. 397.—Moffat. Missionary Labours, pp. 257, 258.—Appleyard. Kafir Grammar, p. 13.
2 The Present State of the Cape of Good Hope, &c. Written originally in High German. By Peter Kolben, A.M. Done into English from the original, by Mr. Medley. Kolb's Work was published in German, Folio, 1729. I quote from the translation by Medley, 2 Vols. 8vo., published 1731.
3 Id., Vol. I, p. 93.
4 Id., p. l04.
5 Comparative Grammar, p. 92.
6 Dr. Bleek gives the fonowing variations of the Hottentot name of God, which, not having the requisite characters, I shall spell in accordance with the principles laid down in the Preface to Vol. I. of Zulu Nursery Tales:—
"I add here the Hottentot name for God, which is Tsuikqwap (Schmelen's Tsoeikwap) or Tsuigxoap (Wallmann's Zuigxoap) in the Nama; and Tshukxoap in the Kqora dialect; Thuikxwe (Van der Kemp's Thuickwe) among the Eastern Hottentots; and Tikxwoa (Kolb's Tikqwoa or Toukqwoa) near the Cape." (Comp. Gram., p. 92.)
It will be seen that most of these words differ from each other more than the two words of Kolb.
7 Moffat. Op. cit., p. 257.
8 Moffat. Op. cit., p. 259.
9 Id., p. 259.
10 Casalis. The Basutos, p. 238.
11 Story of My Mission, p. 444.
12 Id., p. 451.—My reasons for thinking that these views require very considerable modification are given in another place.
13 Op. cit., p. 69.
14 Op. cit., p. 363.
15 Op. cit., p. 260.
16 Op. cit., p. 248.
17 Op. cit., p. 261.
18 Id., p. 262.
19 Op. cit., p. 248.
20 P. 18.
21 Op. cit., p. 91.
22 See p. 80.
23 That is, strictly in accordance with the custom of an ancestor-worshipping people.
24 Grammar, p. 13.
25 Layard's Nineveh. Vol I., p. 298.
26 Op. cit., p. 265.
27 P. 77.
28 Op. cit., pp. 202, 203.
29 Compare the Bushman word, which is said to have a similar meaning, p. 64; and the dispute between the two Kxosa natives as to the use of Utikxo and Unkulunkulu, p. 68.