Sunday, 6 June 2010

Sunshine and Shade in Central Africa

This slim volume is by Julia A. Smith and published in 1908. Julia was the wife of Edwin W. Smith, Ila Speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia (You can browse a copy at this link.)
who was famous for his work on the Ila language, and wrote

The book concerns their journey to and time at the Baila-Batonga mission at Nanzela, which lies on a tributary of the Kafue River in present day Zambia.
Mrs Smith in her hammock


In the usual fashion, they come up by ox wagon from the south, from Aliwal North and via Bulawayo, across the Zambezi, an 8 week journey, in the latter stages of which Mrs Smith is carried by machila.

They have been preceded at Nanzela by the Chapman and Pickering families (Mrs Pickering and daughter Madge are buried there), but are the first to teach in Ila.  Their predecessors seem to have mainly used Sesuto speaking teachers from South Africa and the Smiths also begin in this way. But the people in Nanzela are Ila speaking, and it is not surprising that the mission makes so little progress until Mr Smith starts putting together a grammar of Ila and translating the Bible and hymns.

The Smiths lose their young son but then have a daughter, who they name Matsediso, 'consolation'.

There are some interesting descriptions of the Ila people and their customs and a few photos, including of Mrs Smith's sewing class.

The name generally given to God is Leza ... also the name for rain... When it rains people say 'Ku la wa Leza' - God falls: when it thunders they say, 'Leza wa ndindima', or 'Leza wa chinka' - God is hoeing deeply: when it lightens, 'Leza wa kalala' - God is fierce... When a wave of great heat comes they say, 'Leza wa bala' - God surpasses; and of the wind 'Leza wa unga' - God blows.

An old man who had some stomach trouble came to us. He said 'Now, moruti [doctor], there is a little dog in my stomach. First he begins to rise up, then he shakes himself, by-and-by he goes round and round after his tail, and then he begins to scratch and claw, and at last he bites me very badly, and the pain is very great'.

Shamatanga (Pauluse) says God is like our shadows, always near us, never leaving us.

Nanzela scholars

Nanzela Mission Station

A Mwila

Matsediso
Unfortunately there are few full names given for people along the way. The Ila people are also interesting in that they have infancy names and then later names. It is taboo to speak your own name or use it in speaking to someone who has the same name as you (who is instead referred to as 'namesake'). It is taboo to speak your father's, mother's or sister-in-law's names (even in speaking to someone else of that name), or your wife's maiden name, and the wife must be given a new name when one marries. Most early converts seem to have taken on Biblical names on being received into the church.

Bimbea (1yr old) son of Joseph p20,25-27 d.measles
Bulongo, aka Maria, wife of Samoliko p24, 26, 104-5

Chapman, Mr p90, 103
Chikanda, aka Solomoni (Solomon) kitchen worker, p78, 104-5

Gray, Mr (owned the wagons used on trip) p9,11,12,13

'Johnny' (Dutch lad, fond of singing) p8, p11
Joseph, native teacher, wife d. malaria p13,19,20,22,25,26

Kalobe and daughter Nalhilobe p83

Leselo, chief p82-3
Letsatsi, domestic, p14
Lydia, teacher's wife, p82, 84

Mabeta, brother of Maria, married Tambo p23, 106
Mahiritona, Kemuel (teacher) p36
Manga, (abt 40) aka Matsediso p.24,26, 104-5 (photo)
Maolosi, Robert and wife Annie p19
Matsediso (photo)
Mokuena, p28
Mooba, local man, p21
Mukamatame, p82
Mushonto, brother of Samuele p106
Musuto, p38,61
Mwila (photo and book cover)

Namiyobo (sister of Sezungo) p100-1

Pickering, Mr and Mrs, daughter Madge p.22, 24, 27, 103

Ramathe, teacher from Aliwal North, wife Janet, p8
Rosie (3yrs old) daughter of Joseph p20

Samolike, aka Samuele (Samuel) p104-5
Seli, freed slave girl, p22, 23, 25
Sephoma (Nanzela, Sesuto speaking) p15
Sezungo, chief p61, 98-102, suspicious death (poisoned?)
Shaloba, chief p58,59
Shamatanga, aka Pauluse (Paul) p37, 104-6

Tambo, Mabeta's wife, freed slave, p22,23,106

Weldon, Mr p8,12,13

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