Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
Yet, although they are quite different in appearance and language, and separated by thousands of miles of ocean, they still have some habits and customs like those of savages in other countries.
Like the Bushmen, the lowest type of native in Africa, some of them live in a sort of nest without having the sense to build themselves huts – they are almost like monkeys, and yet in both countries they draw very good pictures on the rocks with coloured chalks and charcoal.
In both countries they signal to each other by using smoke fires like those described in “Scouting for Boys.”
For weapons they use assegais, spears, and shields, boomerangs, clubs, and hatchets, very much like other fighting tribes – except that the boomerang is almost entirely Australian, unless you count the camelstick, which the Sudanese also use as a throwing weapon.
Then, like all wild tribes, they are wonderful trackers, and can follow up a trail which is quite invisible to the untrained eye.
They are particularly clever at making network of the very finest description – they even make mosquito nets for themselves. They make their twine and string out of the fur of short-haired animals like rats.
Their chief garment for themselves in the wild state is a rope worn round the waist, and this rope is made out of hair, too, only it is human hair!
I had one given me as a particularly pleasing reminder of them!
Also the blacks are fond of carving curious rough patterns on wood. It is wonderful how they do these when they have no steel or metal knives – they do it with sharpened flints, or knives made out of broken glass bottles. Like all backwoodsmen, they are never at a loss if they haven’t got the exact thing – they make something else do.
Then, like most tribes in the Pacific, the men have a sacred piece of ground near the village or camp which is “taboo,” that is, no woman is to come on to it; if she does she will be killed.
They have often a slab of wood, sometimes a foot or two long, sometimes six or eight feet, marked with spots and stripes, but not in any regular order or pattern. Nobody seems to know the meaning of it, and the natives will not tell; but no woman or boy is allowed to see these bits of wood under pain of death.
The boys, before they are allowed to take their place as men in the tribe, are put through tests as to their powers of tracking, and finding their way, and of standing pain and hardship. If they pass these tests the men do not give them a first-class Scout’s badge as we do, but they allow them to be men of the tribe; but on the other hand, if they fail to pass they kill them or maim them.
I wonder how tenderfoots would like it if we altered our rules in the Scouts and did the same!
They have a grand ceremonial when admitting the boys to manhood. It is called a “Corrobborree.” They paint their faces white, and dance a war dance with songs not unlike the Scouts’ dance and chorus.
And that is just what natives do in almost every part of Africa, in America, and in the Pacific Islands.
A curious thing used by the Australian natives, as well as by some of the Pacific Islanders, is a bull-roarer – that is, a flat, leaf-shaped bit of wood about eight inches long by two and a half at the widest part. It has a loop of string at one end by which it is swung violently round and round