A Niam-niam minstrel
As the darkness came on. our camp was enlivened by the appearance of the grotesque figure of a singer, who came with a huge bunch of feathers in his hat, and these, as he wagged his head to the time of his music, became all entangled with the braids of his hair. Altogether the head was like the head of Medusa. These "minne-singers" among the Niam-niam as known as "nzangah." They are as sparing of their voices as a worn-out prima donna; except for those close by, it is impossible to hear what they are singing. Their instrument is the local guitar, the thin jingling of which accords perfectly well with the nasal humming of the minstrel's recitative.
The occupation of these nzangah, however, notwithstanding the general love of the people for music, would not appear to be held in very high esteem, as the same designation is applied to those unfortunate women, friendless and fallen, who are never absent from any community.
One of the most influential personages of the neighbouring race of the Lao was a woman, already advanced in years, of the name of Shol. She played an important part as a sort of chief of the Meshera, her riches, according to the old patriarchal fashion, consisting of cattle. As wealthy as cattle copuld make her, she would long since have been a prey to the Nubians, who carry on their ravages principally in those regions, if it had not chanced that the intruders needed her for a friend. They required a convenient and secure landing-place, and the paramount necessity of having this induced them to consider plunder a secondary matter.
Shol, on her part, uses all her influence to retain her tribe on friendly terms with the strangers. The smallest conflict might involve the entire loss of her property.
The Dinka dwellings consist of small groups of huts clustered in farmsteads over the cultivated plains. Villages in a proper sense there are none, but the cattle of separate districts are united in a large part, which the Khartoomers call a "murah".
The drawing represents a Dinka farm surrounded by sorghum fields. Of the three huts, the one in the centre, with a double porchway, is set apart for the head of the family; that on the left is for the women; whilst the largest and most imposing hut on the right is a hospital for sick cows, which require to be separated from the throngs in the murah that they may receive proper attention.