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- People of Africa - 6/7 -

But the great difference between South Africa and Central Africa is that in cool South Africa Europeans can make their homes, and so the Africans there see many European customs which they copy. Trains make it easy to go from one part of the country to another, and no tribe is allowed to fight. Where there is no fighting, people have tried to learn and to grow wise. The dark-skinned races of South Africa are learning to be good workmen, and some to be wise enough to be teachers and even doctors to serve and help their own people to lead happier and more useful lives.


1. The Two White Races

In the last chapter we read about some of the dark-skinned Africans who live in South Africa, but we said also that there are many Europeans living there too. These Europeans came from two nations in Europe--the English and the Dutch. Now in South Africa they live side by side, doing the same work, and all obeying and helping the Government of South Africa, which is European. For many years these two nations kept separate, but the wisest men in each saw that this was bad, and they decided to make one strong nation. When Europeans go to live in another country, they take all their own customs with them, and so in South Africa there are cities and houses exactly like those in their old homes in Europe. In the towns many people live together, drawn there by their work. Some work on mines or railways, some have shops, some have to keep the town clean and healthy. In all European towns there are shops, because in Europe and in India and China no one can make everything he needs for himself. Each man learns to make one thing well, and spends all the day making one kind of thing. Then he sells what he has made, and buys from other people all the other food and clothes he needs. A country where people work and live in this way is called civilized. It is a good way to live, because people do their work better and have more time to think and learn from others. In another book we will read about civilized countries and the town people of Europe and Asia. In this chapter we will read about the Europeans on the great farms of South Africa, who live far away from the towns. These people are mostly Dutch or, as they are sometimes called, Boers, but some of the farmers are English.

2. What a Farm is Like

Now a farm is a large stretch of land which belongs to one man, who uses it either to grow food in the ground, or else to raise large herds of cattle, or horses, or sheep. In a civilized country people cannot grow their own food, because they are busy all day with some other trade. So some people make it their work to grow large quantities of food, and sell all they do not need themselves. Cattle are kept for their milk, which all Europeans drink. The flesh of cattle and sheep is used for food. The skins of cattle and horses are dried and made into leather for shoes and harness. Cattle and horses are also used to draw heavy carts and ploughs, and for riding long distances. A plough is a machine used to break up the ground ready for sowing seed. It is quicker and better than a hoe. Sheep are used as meat, and are kept especially for their wool. This is sheared or cut off every year, and is washed and spun and then woven into cloth. Woollen cloth is much warmer and stronger than cotton, and in cooler countries where Europeans can live people always need warm clothes some months in the year, because the sun is low down in the sky, not overhead, and the air is cold. It is quite easy to see how useful cattle and horses and sheep are in South Africa, and why some people work to rear large herds.

On other farms where food is grown, some plant wheat or maize for people to eat; some plant food for cattle to eat. But a great many farms grow maize, as this grows better than other grains in South Africa. Some parts of this country have great plains or low rolling hills covered with short grass as far as you can see. This kind of land is called the "veldt." In other places there are dry, dusty plains. Everywhere there are hills formed of great mounds of huge stones. These are called "kopjes." For many months in the year there is no rain, and the country becomes dusty and the smaller rivers dry up; then at last the rain comes and the rivers are filled up with water, and the whole land is covered with grass and flowers. If at times the rain is very late in coming, often whole farms are ruined because the crops wither, or the cattle die, for want of water.

3. The Farmer and his Family

We said that a farm always belongs to one man, called the farmer. This man lives with his wife and children in a brick or stone house in the middle of his land. Sometimes, when his children grow up, the sons marry and bring their wives to live in the father's house, while the daughters go away to live with their husbands on other farms. The girls who do not marry still live at home with their father and mother. So there are often many people living together in one great farmhouse. Each man and woman will have their own room to sleep in, and everyone will eat together in a big room, not used for sleeping. In the evening they all sit together to talk about what has been done during the day. Outside, not far away, there are huts for the Africans who work on the farm, and sheds for the cattle and horses and the carts and ploughs. The Africans who work on the farms are not like those who work on the mines for a while and then go home. The farm-workers usually make their homes where they work, living there with their wives and children. They have as a rule no other village or chief of their own. Their wives work in the farmer's house.

All the Europeans have some work to do. The men see that the ploughing and sowing is done well, and, because the farm is large, this takes a long time. They have to look after the cattle and horses and sheep, and to take care that their food and water are good and that their sleeping sheds are clean. If the cattle get ill, sometimes a whole herd will die, and the farmer will lose a great deal of money. The children watch the herds while they are grazing, and take care they do not stray too far away. The women have to see after the household. There are always African women servants to help, but there is a great deal of work in a European house. In every room there are many chairs and tables which have to be moved when the room is swept. On all the beds there are blankets and white cotton sheets. A white cloth is spread on the table when food is to be eaten. Europeans wear many clothes. All these have to be washed whenever they are dirty, and so one person will be kept busy all day washing and ironing if there are many people living on a farm.

Then Europeans eat three or four times a day, and have many different kinds of food. Maize or wheat flour is made into bread or cakes. Meat is either roasted or boiled, and is often eaten with green vegetables. Sometimes meat and vegetables are cut up into small pieces and all boiled together for a long time. Then it is called soup, and is eaten with a spoon. Milk from the cattle is used to drink, and is also made into butter and cheese, which are hard, and can be eaten with bread. Europeans drink coffee like the Arabs, or tea which is made from the leaves of another plant. When mealtime comes all the family come to the big room where a large table is covered with a white cloth. The food is brought in a large bowl or dish, and the farmer or his wife puts some on a plate for each person. Europeans use knives and forks and spoons in eating food. The men and women and children all sit together round the table. On the farms as a rule there is no wood or coal to make fires, so the sweepings of the cattle-shed are made into cakes and dried in the sun. This makes very good fuel for fires.

4. How South Africa is Ruled

The Europeans on the farms do not see many other people, as the farms are very large and are long distances apart. Sometimes the men have to go to town to sell their grain or cattle and to buy other things, but they cannot leave their work very often. The children are taught to read and write at home, and sometimes when they are big enough they are sent away to school in some town. There they will live with children from many other parts of South Africa, and will learn that their farm is only a little part of a very big country. Europeans are Christians, and the children are taught that they must love and help their country and other people always. It is because European children are taught to be ready to give up everything, even their lives, to help their country to be good and great, that the Christian European nations have grown as strong and wise as they are. The countries of Europe learnt about Christ many hundreds of years ago.

We said that South Africa was ruled by Europeans. Their king is King George who lives in England, but he does not rule or make laws by himself. In South Africa and in each of his other countries, King George sends a Governor, because he himself is so far away. Then the people of South Africa choose someone in each district to go and help the Governor to rule wisely. When all these men from different parts meet together it is called a Parliament. This Council or Parliament decides everything about ruling the country, and tells the Governor what it is best to do for all the people in South Africa.

So in thinking of South Africa we have to think of a nation of people, each doing one particular kind of work which is needed both by himself and by everyone else. Everyone's work is useful to the whole nation, whether he works in a town, or on a farm, or on a railway. The great towns are where people sell what they have made and buy what else they need. The farm families live far away from one another, growing food or wool for the nation. But they, too, meet from time to time, and they read newspapers about what is done in the great towns. Then, when the time comes to choose the men for the Parliament to help the Governor, farmers and townsmen in each district say which man they wish to go to it. In this way everyone can help the nation by his work, and everyone can help to keep peace and justice in the country and to prevent bad people hurting the weaker ones.


Now our book is finished, and we have read about some of the other people who also live in our country of Africa. There in the north are the Bedouin and the traders, always moving from waterspring to waterspring across the sand of the great Sahara, ever on the watch against robbers. Next there are the Egyptians living on the great River Nile: some in towns with shops and trades; some very poor in the villages, planting their seed when the river rises. All these Northern people are Mohammedans and the men marry several wives, and the women are veiled and live apart.

Farther south it is very hot, and is a land of great lakes and rivers. Here we read about the Baganda, the dark-skinned Africans who learned to make a strong nation where all the people helped each other and obeyed their king. These are now Christian, and are quickly learning other things from the Christian European nations who trade with them. Then we read about the tribes farther west in the land of the River Congo. These people still move their villages from time to time, and each man makes only what he needs in his own home. There is often fighting between the tribes, and many people are killed. These Congo people have learnt very little, and some eat the flesh of men and women, and the little Pigmies do not even live in villages, but each

People of Africa - 6/7

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