National Geographic : 1934 Jan
THREE-WHEELING THROUGH AFRICA on a quickly detach able partial plate. "Spit out your teeth, Flood. Let's see that plate. . .. Hurray!! Hard rubber!!" And I carved a bearing out of it that got us across Africa, but Flood had toruninontherim to the nearest dentist, in Khartoum - 1,500 miles away. This is the no man's land of Africa, the southern fringe of the desert back of Chad. But wherever there is water there are peo ple-even in no man's land-in a little clus ter of grass huts squat ting in a cuvette, and 15 or 20 villagers, as lean and sun-dried as the desert itself, anx iously scratching their scanty millet patches and hoping to harvest enough of the coarse grain to keep them alive another season. There's something gallant about them, these dwellers in a region of eternal want, tenaciously clinging to an existence so rig orous and unadorned Photograph from Georges-Marie Haardt THE HAUSA WOMAN WEARS A DISTINCTIVE COSTUME Her ideas of finery run to bright-hued sashes and much more clothing than many African belles deem necessary. Her face is marked with intentionally made scars (see text, page 38). that it seems scarcely worth the effort necessary to maintain it. Sometimes the water is deep in the rock. We stepped off one well rope. It was 154 feet long. No wonder a camel has to be his own windlass when he wants a drink, and no wonder he gets thirsty only once a week or so. But who dug the wells? The French? Yes, the French have dug a considerable number in the last 30 years. But many of those holes in the ground may well be older than the Bible. I remember one in par ticular at which we watered. The four hardwood logs which formed the curb had been almost sawed in two in dozens of places by the friction of the rope. A new curb had been laid on top of the old one, and worn out; then another and another-16 hardwood logs worn out by the sawing of a rope; and no telling how many times in the remote past history had repeated itself on successive series of curbs. I should like to know how many skins of water have been drawn out of that well for thirsty men and camels. But the most interesting wells are the ones that grow out of the ground. Accord ing to one legend, Perseus, after killing Medusa, flew across Africa with her head, and the drops of blood which fell on the sands turned into clusters of writhing snakes.