From the notes of the African explorer
by Yury Nesterenko
(Editor's comment. This notes represents a memoirs about an
expedition to Africa in 1911, where a new tribe was encountered, which
was unknown for antropologists until now. In the beginning of 1912
author of this notes went to the U.S.A. apparently intending to make a
report about his sensational discovery to his American colleagues. Alas,
he choosed the Titanic for his voyage...
Thus, only at present days this notes came to the scientists with
the other things, raised from the deep. It's a pity that water destroyed
much of the notes and that is why we don't know neither the geographical
coordinates of this mysterious tribe, nor the name of this brave
Our way through the jungle lasted for seventeen days already and
some of my comrades expressed the more and more greater concern. But
Mbootoo, who was our local guide, walked ahead with an amazing
self-confidence. He walked and walked forward, to the place in the heart
of the rainforests where the unknown for us mysterious tribe Nterneti
Eventually we reached the village on the ninth day early in the
morning. It seemed that some kind of misfortune disturbes this village:
it’s dwellers sat on the ground with a great depression on their faces
or strolled one by one among the huts. From time to time one or another
took the bare stick, with which the natives usually extract fire, and
started to revolve it in the hole until the first smoke appears.
However, instead of finishing this task of inflaming the fire, the
nterneti looked sadly over the flying smoke and gone deep in his
thoughts again staying motionless.. We asked Mbootoo to find out the
reason of what have happen.
"Ser Ver down", answered our guide.
I thought that Ser Ver is the name of their local leader, who had
fallen down the palm-tree, and gave the natives my sincere regrets. Then
I curiously asked them about the meaning of this ritual.
"They are sending pingoos", explained Mbootoo. From the further
explanations I understood that pingoos are the devotions to the holy
spirits, offered up to the healing of the Ser Ver. I smiled, when I
heard about such a naive faith of this children of the forest, however,
from behind of the trees I saw a column of thick black smoke rising up
to the air just before the smile came off from my face. This smoke seems
to be visible for a many miles away. And all of the Nterneti immediately
started their happy shouts.
"Ser Ver up!, Ser Ver up!" - shouts continued and they all set to
extract their own smoke together. I have to abandon all further
inquiries, because from that point they payed no attention neither on
us, nor on the other events in the outside world.
That circumstance made extremely difficulties for our studies,
nevertheless, while living amongst this mysterious folk more than a
month we put together all of the collected facts and formed some idea
about their astonishing culture.
The whole life of the Nterneti is attented to a very complicated
religious cult. They devote themselves to the other things, including
hunting and breeding, very seldom and reluctantly, believing that this
distracts them from the main task. There are Connectoo as a good spirit
and Disconnectoo as a bad spirit in the center of their cult. Connectoo
can send nice weather and dry firewood, so the smoke ascends higher and
is visible from a greater distance. Disconnectoo can inflict winds and
rains that extinguishes the fires. They think that the terrestrial
incarnation of the Connectoo spirit is Provida, the sovereign shaman who
is maintaining the main fire of the tribe. Every Nterneti brings him a
sacrifice each month - if not, he will "cut-off", as they explained.
What exactly will cut Provida after such a disobedience, they didn't say
- the execution must be too horrible to describe it aloud. Provida is so
important link in the tribe that it's not allowed for simple Nterneti
folk to see him. All givings they leave in front of his hut, which is
covered by the skins of rhinoceroses. All problems they address to the
servants of the shaman - soop-ports, so they serve as a communicators
between Provida and the mortal men.
As usually in the tribes with primitive cults people hides their
real names, fearing those who know that names to get a witchy power over
them - Nterneti tribe is not an exception. So in the everyday life they
are using the name substitutes - the so-called "yurals"; but the true
names ("ai-pee" in the native language) knows only the Provida.
The way that simple Nterneti folk are extracting smokes is called
"day-lar-paw"; perhaps, that name goes from palms wich leaves are like
big paws, because branches of those palms Nterneti people usually uses
for setting up the smokes. However, Nterneti believes that most condign
of them will get a special fuel after death, which is immune to the
winds and rains and which produces smoke in many times greater. That's
why it is called "dee-see-el", or Double Smoking Line. They say that
some people are awarded with such a fuel in their lifetime, and the
first candidate is the Provida himself, of course. It's true - the smoke
of Provida is thicker than of any other members of the tribe.
Though all tribes confess one common cult, they have some minor
differences; however, it's enough for a constant religious wars. One of
the longest wars is related to what kind of sticks to use for the
smoke-extracting. One tribe is using msaiee sticks made of a coco palms
and the other is using ntscay-pee sticks made of banana palms. It's
interesting that all sticks are equally warped, however, each tribe
notices the warp of the enemy sticks only.
Besides religious opponents Nterneti has the other enemies. Once in
the morning I left my tent and was terrified by the view - all the
eastern part of the horizon was tighten by the the smoke. But the
natives seemed not to be worried by this sight of a grandiose fire in
the jungles, it caused just a vexatious irritation and no more than it:
"It's spamee again!", explained them to me, dryly.
Spamees are the outcasts, most despising part of the Nterneti
tribe. They absolutely don't know how to hunt and so they makes a great
number of fires asking to feed them with fruits of a breadfruit tree.
It's absolutely incomprehensible to understand why they believe in the
efficiency of those calls: if Nterneti manages to caught a spamee, they
do not feed him, but punish him by torments and executions. A lot of
dried spamees heads decorates the stakes around the Provida's hut. Those
heads have a size of a fist of an adult men. I asked the natives about
how can they reduce those heads in size so significantly, and they
answerred that spamees have such heads by nature, 'cause they have a
very little brain inside.
But if the spamees are in common contempt, then the other variety
of the violators of law of the tribe - hkrrs - causes the superstitious
horror amongst the vast majority of the Nterneti. Hkrrs are the native
wizards who are not assuming the power of Provida. Natives told me that
they [hkrrs] could quench the fire at an impressive distance or could
change it's smoke in such a way that it's owner surely wouldn't be
That's a pity that rain season came and we had to leave the village
and to go back as well as not having heard many other secrets of the
Nterneti tribe. But I'm looking forward to come back again with the next
(С) Yury Nesterenko, 2001
(Translator's comment: This notes were first found as English text,
but due to a strange chain of events it was once lost. We are lucky that
somebody ;-) translated them into Russian and saved for the mankind. Now
I took some work for restoring the original text)
Translated by Yury Lapitskiy, 2004
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