National Geographic : 1966 Nov
Hospitably, Natu showed me his house. "With me lives the youngest of my wives," he explained. "Her two children, a girl of two and a boy of five, still live with us. Later, they will move to their uncle's house." The chief's residence followed the pattern of Masakin houses (diagram, page 677). Clock wise from the main entrance, the first hut is the sleeping place of man and wife. The sec ond shelters chickens and goats or pigs, which have their own ground-floor entrance, and ac commodates boys or girls in the loft, reached by a separate portal at a higher level. In the third turret, the wife grinds grain. Here are millstones and a flat stone grinding table-and here also are stored spare grind ing stones and grain. Sometimes the husband occupies the fourth hut, sharing it with beer pots, water jars, and calabashes of reserve food. The fifth turret, devoted solely to stor age, contains the granary, where the family keeps its harvest of millet and sesame in big jars. A ledge in the granary is reserved for girls, who place their sleeping mats there while they are secluded during their coming of age. When a girl is released from her seclusion, the foster family puts on a big celebration. Gifts are presented to the girl: beads, orna ments, and live cattle. Chief's Wife Serves Mush for Lunch Natu casually led me to the compound's bathroom. To him, it plainly was just another convenience, like doorways or marissa pots. We were soon to observe that every Nuba dwelling has its inside shower. Running water falls from a clay pot-hold ing about a gallon-suspended between ante lope horns high on one of the courtyard walls. To work the shower, the bather tilts the pot forward in the horn cradle. The water pours out of a hole near the lip (page 678). One day we watched the chief's youngest wife, Koishe-Tutu, preparing lunch. As she set about cooking the meal, her "dress" was only a bead necklace and a narrow band of beaten bark passing between her legs and fastened to a girdle of beads. Taking two double handfuls of millet flour, Koishe-Tutu placed them in a pot of boiling water set over the wood fire in the courtyard. The flour cooked into a thick mush. The little boy ate out of his own pot, using a small wooden spoon. Chief Natu was going to be late for lunch, and so Koishe-Tutu rested his dish on pegs high on the wall to await her man's return. With the mush, which tastes surprisingly 682 KODACHROMESU N.G.S. Goddesses in ebony, women carry basketloads of millet weighing as much as 75 pounds. They step through an unharvested field on their way to drying racks two miles distant. The expedition tested the Nuba under the stress of heavy work. Results show that these human work horses endure burdens and heat that would fell a European. Women do most of the car rying while men thresh. From millet, the major crop, the Masakin make porridge and beer. "Doughnut" of grass (top) cushions the loads; nevertheless, these press so heavily that they deform the skull, leaving a bump under the hole. Nuba women bear such burdens from the time of marriage, perhaps at 15.