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- People of Africa - 1/7 -


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PEOPLE OF AFRICA ===================================== by Edith A. How, B.A.

Universities' Mission to Central Africa

With Six Coloured Illustrations

LONDON Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge

New York: The Macmillan Co.

1921

--------------- PREFACE

It is hoped that this book and its companion volume dealing with non-African peoples will be the beginning of a series of simple, readable accounts for Africans of some of the various objects of general interest in the world of to-day. There are many such works published for the use of English and American children. But the native African has a totally different experience of life, and much that is taken for granted by a child of a Northern civilized land needs explanation to one used to tropical uncivilized surroundings. Again, the African knows the essential operations of everyday life in their simplest form, whereas the European knows them disguised by an elaborate industrial system. All this makes books written for English children almost unintelligible to a member of a primitive race. These two volumes are far from perfect, but it has been difficult to know always how to select wisely from the mass of material at hand. They will have served, however, a useful purpose if they form a basis for adaptations into the various African vernaculars, and afford an inspiration for other works of a similar nature. Thanks are due to Miss K. Nixon Smith, of the Universities Mission to Central Africa, for her kindness in criticizing the MSS. from her long experience of the African outlook.

EDITH A. HOW _June_, 1920.

I ----------- INTRODUCTION

In this book we are going to read about some of the other people who live in our own great country--Africa. Africa is very, very large, so big that no one would be able to go to all the places in it. But different people have been to different parts, and have told what they saw where they went. Wherever our home in Africa may be, if we walked towards the sunrise--that is, towards the east--day after day, at last we should reach the great salt sea. Again, if we walked towards the sunset in the west, we should at last get to the sea. To the north, again, is the sea, and to the south, the sea. Whichever way we walked, at last, after many months, we should be stopped by the sea. But on our journey we should have met many different kinds of people, and have seen many different customs. In some places there would be rivers, in some mountains, in some deserts, with no trees or grass to be seen. In these, people must make their homes in many ways, and have many kinds of food and clothes. Because we live in Africa, we want to know about Africa and the people in it. They are men and women and children like ourselves, though the colour of their skins may be lighter or darker than ours, and their languages quite different. But they, too, build houses and eat food and wear some kind of dress, and it is interesting to know about their customs. So in this book we shall read about some of them and of how they live; and, to help us to understand, we shall find with each part a picture of the people we are reading about. All the time we must remember that we could get to see them for ourselves if we were strong enough to walk so far, because they are all our own brothers and sisters in Africa.

Long ago most African peoples were shut off from the other people of the world by the sea and the great sandy desert. Only the people of Egypt could meet and learn from the people of Europe and Asia. So while the Egyptians grew wise and clever, all the other Africans, south of the desert, knew nothing except what they had learnt by themselves. Then Arabs began to cross the desert to get gold and slaves from the dark-skinned Africans. These Arabs taught them a little. But, later still, Europeans began to come in great ships over the sea. These came at first like the Arabs to trade, and afterwards began to plant great fields of cotton and tobacco, which will not grow in their own lands. But they found the dark-skinned Africans were still ignorant, and afraid of people of other races. They were always fighting among themselves, and no one could settle among them until there was peace and safety. At last the European nations made agreements with the chiefs, so that now in nearly every part of Africa there is a European governor to prevent wars and fighting. Thus in North Africa the governors are sent by France, in the Congo lands by Belgium, in East Africa by England, in some other parts by Portugal. These are different European nations who send men to keep peace, and to make it possible to carry on trade. Of course, the coming of the Europeans has made great changes in the lives of the Africans. In the old times all the men were busy fighting, and often whole villages of people were killed or made slaves. Now there is no fighting, but there is more need to work than before. There are more people, and less land for each family. Europeans want workmen to help on their great fields. The Africans want many things now, which they did not know about before, and they must have money to buy them. So work for money has taken the place of fighting. Again, in some ways the Europeans, enforcing peace and making many quick ways of travel, such as good roads and bridges, have helped to weaken the power of the chiefs. Nobody likes changes to come, and the old people are always sorry when their children begin new customs; but on the whole it is good for Africans that other nations came to their country, because they have brought peace in the place of war, and safety and freedom instead of the old fear of death or slavery.

II ----------- EGYPT

1. The Country and its River

Egypt is a country in the north of Africa. It has sea to the north and sea to the east. On the north it is called the Mediterranean Sea, and on the east the Red Sea. On the west is the great sandy desert called the Sahara, and to the south are great forests and mountains. Egypt itself is the land of the great River Nile. There is very seldom any rain there, and everyone has to get water from the great river. So all the people live near the Nile or the canals which lead out of it. A "canal" is a waterway, the channel of which has been dug by men. The big towns are where the river flows out into the sea, or where a canal meets the main stream, because the people bring their merchandise to market in boats. All over the land are little villages, where many people live and work in the fields to grow food. Year by year when there is heavy rain in the mountains far away south, the River Nile rises and floods the fields. Then the people plant their seed quickly and get a good harvest. It is not difficult to understand why the Egyptians love their great river, which gives them water for their fields and carries them in their boats from place to place.

2. Its Past History

Egypt is the only part of Africa that could be reached easily by people in Europe and Asia, because in Egypt is the only place where men could walk from Asia and Europe into Africa. Even if they did not want to walk, the sea was not too wide to cross in small boats. In the Bible we read how Abraham, who lived in Asia, walked to Egypt, and later how Moses led the Children of Israel back to Asia. Since that time Europeans have cut a waterway for ships through this narrow neck of land, which is called the Suez Canal. So now people can no longer walk from Asia to Africa, but in the old days the Egyptians grew wiser than others in Africa, because they were more able to meet men from other lands in Asia and Europe, and to learn something from them all. So hundreds and hundreds of years ago there were people living in this country of the Nile who were wise and great. They built large cities and temples and houses. They knew how to write, and covered the walls of their houses with writing. Their letters were not like ours, but were pictures of the things they were writing about. They also built huge stone tombs for their kings to be buried in, and these were called "pyramids." The kings of Egypt were called "Pharaohs." When the old Egyptians wrote books, instead of paper they used the dried leaves of a reed called "papyrus," which grows in the Nile. Several leaves were fastened together to make a book. These old writings on reeds and on the walls have been found after lying buried in the sand, which has covered so much of old Egypt. The hot sand has kept them dry, and prevented them being destroyed during hundreds of years. By reading these writings we are able to find out how these people lived so long ago. They had also a wonderful way of taking the waters of the Nile in ditches over the whole land. There is hardly any rain in Egypt, and this Nile water prevented the country becoming so sandy and dry. In those days Egypt was well-known for its wonderful harvests and stores of food.

But though these people were wise in many ways, yet they were proud and cruel to their enemies. In the Bible we read how they treated the Children of Israel in the time of Moses. Perhaps this was because they did not know God our Father, but worshipped many gods, whose pictures and images were like animals. Many of the great temples they built for these gods are still standing, and when we see pictures of them, we wonder at the skill of these people who lived so long ago. Egypt was one of the first great countries to become Christian, and many of the old heathen temples were turned into churches. But at last the Arabs, who were Mohammedans, conquered Egypt, and forced most of the people to become Mohammedans too. But some remained faithful in spite of all, and these to-day are called "Copts," from the old name for Egypt. For hundreds of years these Copts have lived in a country ruled by Moslem Arabs, or Turks, who hated their religion, but they have been true to Christ through all.

There are people of all lands living in the towns of Egypt in these days, for there is a great deal of business to be done in them. But the people who work in the fields are the children of the old Egyptians, though they have forgotten their old wisdom and are now very ignorant.

3. The People of Egypt

The Egyptians are a race different both from the dark-skinned people of Africa and from Europeans. They have olive skins, very dark, almond-shaped eyes, and dark, straight hair. Most of the men shave their heads, and wear a turban or tarboosh as a covering. The women fasten a veil below their eyes, which falls over the lower part of their face. Both the men and the women wear several loose garments,


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