Recommended Articles

As a rule the Emopa are very brave indeed and are among the few Africans who still hunt lion with the spear. They also kill elephants, not for food but for spear blooding or to prove their manhood. When elephants are located, there is great excitement and fierce competition among the young men. Each tries to be first to blood his spear, the one who does so claims the trophy. No young man is looked upon with favour by the girls until he has won his spurs by killing a dangerous animal. But as brave as the Emopa are, two fierce man-eaters completely overawed them. This was partly due to the cunning and boldness of the lions, partly to the fact that when hunted, they would always retreat into dense riverine and undergrowth, where it was impossible for man to poise and throw a spear. Superstition had also added its quota to the fear with which they were regarded. It was said that before starting off on a raid the lions would retire to an open sandy place and there make two rows of depressions in the sand with their paws. Then, using twings as counters, they would play the ancient game of ‘baw’ (a game of unknown antiquity, which resembles draughts and is played all over Africa). If the omens were good they would raid a village and claim a victim, if not, they would wait. Another story had it that the lions were the spirits of two ‘holy men’ who had now come back in this shape to seek their revenge. So strongly was this view held that the local Emopa had petitioned a practising ‘holy man’ to come from a great distance to exorcise the spirits. He came with book, bell and candle and charged a fee of a hundred goats but the lions continued their depredations. To add to the legend of the lions invulnerability many hunters had tried on previous occasions to kill them and had failed owing to lack of time. This confirmed the Emopa’s opinion that lions were supernatural beings and that it was useless to hunt them. The lions played the game of ‘baw’ because

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *