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Specimens of Bushman Folklore, by W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd, [1911], at


The star does in this manner, at the time when our heart falls down, that is the time when the star also falls down; while the star feels that our heart falls over.[1] Therefore, the star falls down on account of it. For the stars know the time at which we die. The star tells the other people who do not know that we have died.

Therefore, the people act thus, when they have seen a star, when a star has fallen down, they say: "Behold ye! Why is it that the star falls down? We shall bear news; for a star falls down. Something which is not good appears to have occurred at another place; for the star tells us, that a bad thing has happened at another place."

[1. As when something which has been standing upright, falls over on to its side.]

The hammerkop[1] acts in this manner, when a star has fallen, it comes; when it flies over us, it cries.[2] The people say: "Did ye not hear the hammerkop, when the star fell? It came to tell us that our person is dead." The people speak, they say that the hammerkop is not a thing which deceives, for it would not come to our home, if it did not know; for, when it knows, then it comes to our home; because it intends to come and tell us about it, namely, that our person has died.

Therefore, mother and the others used,--if they heard a hammerkop, when it flew, going over us, to say: "Do thou go (and) plunge in, * * * for I know that which thou camest to tell me", while mother and the others said that the story, which it came to tell, should go into the Orange River's water, where the stars stand in the water. That is the place where its stories should go in. For mother and the others did not want to hear the story which it came to tell; for they knew that the hammerkop does in this manner at the time when a man dies, that is the time at which it comes to us, it tells us about it, that the man has died. For, mother and the others used to say,

[1. Of this bird, the Seopus umbrella, or Hammerkop, the following description is given in "The Birds of South Africa" by E.L. Layard, Cape Town, 1867, p. 312.

"The "Hammerkop" (literally, Hammerhead) is found throughout the colony, and all the way to the Zambezi, frequenting ponds, marshes, rivers, and lakes. It is a strange, weird bird, flitting about with great activity in the dusk of the evening, and preying upon frogs, small fish, &c. At times, when two or three are feeding in the same small pool, they will execute a singular dance, skipping round one another, opening and closing their wings, and performing strange antics.

2. Yak! or Yaak! is the bird's cry, which it repeats twice.]

that the hammerkop is a thing which lives at that water in which we see all things. Therefore, it knows what has happened; while it is aware that it lives at the water which is like a pool, in which we see all things; the things which are in the sky we see in the water, while we stand by the water's edge. We see all things, the stars look like fires which burn.

When it is night, when another man walks across, we see him, as he walks passing the water. It seems as if it were noonday, when he walks by the water. We see him clearly. The place seems as if it were midday as we see him walking along. Therefore, mother and the others said, that, when the hammerkop has espied in the water a person who has died, even though it be at a distance, when it knows that (he) is our relative, it flies away from this water, it flies to us, because it intends to go to tell us about it, that our relative has died. (It) and the star are those who tell us about it when we have not heard the news; for they are those who tell us about it, and when we have heard the hammerkop, we also perceive the star, we afterwards hear the news, when we have just perceived them; and we hear the news, when they have acted in this manner towards us.

For, mother and the others used to tell us about it, that girls are those whom the Rain carries off; and the girls remain at that water, to which the Rain had taken them, girls with whom the Rain is angry. The Rain lightens, killing them; they become stars, while their appearance has been changed. They become stars. For, mother and the others used to tell us about it, that a girl, when the Rain has carried her off, becomes like a flower[1] which grows in the water.

We who do not know are apt (?) to do thus when we perceive them, as they stand in the water, when we see that they are so beautiful; we think, 'I will go (and) take the flowers which are standing in the water. For they are not a little beautiful.' Mother and the others said to us about it, that the flower--when it saw that we went towards it,--would disappear in the water. We should think, 'The flowers which were standing here, where are they? Why is it that I do not perceive them at the place where they stood, here?' It would disappear in the water, when it saw that we went towards it; we should not perceive it, for it would go into the water.

Therefore, mother and the others said to--as about it, that we ought not to go to the flowers which we see standing in the water, even if we see their beauty. For, they are girls whom the Rain has taken away, they resemble flowers; for (they) are the water's wives, and we look at them, leaving them alone. For we (should) also be like them (in) what they do.

Therefore, mother and the others do in this manner with regard to their Bushman women, they are not willing to allow them to walk about, when the Rain comes; for they are afraid that the Rain also intends, lightening, to kill them. For the Rain is a thing which does in this manner when it rains

[1. #kamme-ang's mother, |abbe-ttu, was the one who formerly told mamma about the flower which grows in the water; she said to mamma about it, that mamma seemed to think that she would not also become a flower, if she did not fear the Rain.]

here, it smells our scent, it lightens out of the place where it rains. It lightens, killing us at this place; therefore, mother and the others told us about it, that when the Rain falls upon us (and) we walk passing through the Rain, if we see that the Rain lightens in the sky we must quickly look towards the place where the Rain lightens; the Rain, which intended to kill us by stealth. It will do in this manner, even if its thunderbolts[1] have come near us, (if) we look towards (the place where it has lightened), we look, making its thunderbolts turn back from us; for our eye also shines like its thunderbolts. Therefore, it also appears to f ear our eye, when it feels that we quickly look towards it. Therefore, it passes over us on account of it; while it feels that it respects our eye which shines upon it. Therefore, it goes over us; it goes to sit on the ground yonder, while it does not kill us.

[1. Black, pointed, shining stones, which only come from the sky when it lightens. They disturb the ground where they fall. They are called !khwa !kweiten (the Rain's thunderbolts).]


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