National Geographic : 1971 Dec
plentiful and virgin, and the children of Adam were un known. Modern scholarship is awkwardly silent about the first inhabitants. They simply appear, about 10,000 years ago, already in place: the Bushmen-small hunters with peppercorn hair who move with the game, sniff a track as adroitly as a dog, and bring their quarry down with tiny arrows dipped in poison-and the Hottentots-indigenous, presumably related to the Bushmen, but much advanced, with a pastoral way of life. These Hottentots appear only briefly in formal history. The tale goes that a party of white explorers led by Bartholomeu Dias, the redoubtable Portu guese commander, encountered some Hottentots in 1488. The natives threw stones. Dias leveled his crossbow at the nearest Hottentot, pulled the trigger, and announced the presence of the European in southern Africa. Many more, of course, followed Dias-first the Dutch (the ancestors of today's Afrikaner), then the English. Few of them were aware of a third people on southern Africa's turbulent stage. Organized in powerful clans, they were the Nguni, who spoke a Bantu language. Among them were the forefathers of the Zulus. In the waning years of the 18th century, the vanguard of the Dutch farmers, or Boers, spreading from the Cape of Good Hope, reached the Nguni frontier on the Great Fish River. There was surprise and shock on both sides. Whose land was this to be? Too many people pressed against too little land. The Xhosa clan and the Boers clashed first, but to the north a greater storm brewed in the figure of an Nguni chieftain, a black Napoleon named Shaka. " 'VE LIVED HERE since 1917," said Arie Harris, whose comfortable farmhouse stands near the White Umfolozi River, "and this is as long as I've ever seen it dry." He lifted the broad brim of his hat and wiped his freckled brow as we toiled up through a billow of brown hills. "Up ahead there now, that hill, that's where it all started for Shaka. It's called Gqokli." The clicking sound of the word caught my ear. "I've a Zulu tongue," he smiled. "It's the most beautiful, expressive language." Arie paused and peered around on the ground. "There," he said finally. He pointed to two clay nozzles protruding from the ground like the nostrils of a crocodile. "That's what's left of one of Shaka's forges. They used the skin of a goat for the bellows. This is where they made his infernal invention, the stabbing assegai.Before his time, the tribes used long throwing spears. Each man carried several, and the warriors would toss them at one another until they were all used up. Then one army would chase the other one home without too much harm done. "Shaka changed all that. He shortened the spears, put stout hafts on them, and taught his warriors a revolutionary battle tactic-to close with the enemy and sink the blade into the chest. Right there, on Gqokli Hill, he put his new army to the test, and before he was done he had disrupted a large piece of this continent." Shaka, who was born about 1787, was perhaps the most 748 Wide eyes on the future, this youth (right) learns arithmetic with such terms as inkulungwa ne namakhulu ayisikhombisa namashumi ayisishiyagalolunye nantathu-Zulu for 1,793. KODACHROMES BYDICK DURRANCEII © N.G.S. Descendant of warriors serves in an army founded on compas sion (far right). Like nearly all nonwhites who labor daily in the cities, she must by law return each evening to a black-only area. Kraal life forsaken, a chic Zulu (right) has adapted to city ways. Zulu women increasingly seek careers as nurses and teachers, but their job opportunities are limited to black-only areas. Mustachioed Zulu peers from behind safety goggles at a saw mill. South Africa's perennial labor shortage may offer the Zulus their best chance of ad vancement to better-paying jobs. Gallbladders from cattle crown a sangoma, or diviner (right), who diagnoses illnesses and sniffs out the spirits believed to cause them. Vials of herbs dangle from her necklace. KODACHROME BYVOLKMARWENTZEL Quest for knowledge demands concentration (far right). This student attends classes at Uni versity College of Zululand near Empangeni, one of three South African colleges for blacks.