Boy Scouts


“The native boys of the Zulu and Swazi tribes learn to be scouts before they are allowed to be considered men, and they do it in this way: when a boy is about fifteen or sixteen he is taken by the men of his village, stripped of all clothes and painted white from head to foot, and he is given a shield and one assegai or small spear, and he is turned out of the village and told that he will be killed if anyone catches him while he is still painted white.

So the boy has to go off into the jungle and mountains and hide himself from other men until the white paint wears off, and this generally takes about a month; so that all this time he has to look after himself and stalk game with his one assegai and kill it and cut it up; he has to light his fire by means of rubbing sticks together in order to cook his meat; he has to make the skin of the animal into a covering for himself; and he has to know what kind of wild root, berries, and leaves are good for food as vegetables. If he is not able to do these things, he dies of starvation, or is killed by wild animals. If he succeeds in keeping himself alive, and is able to find his way back to his village, he returns when the white paint has worn off and is then received with great rejoicings by his friends and relations, and is allowed to become a soldier of the tribe since he has shown that he is able to look after himself.

It is a pity that all British boys cannot have the same sort of training before they are allowed to consider themselves men—and the training which we are now doing as scouts is intended to fill that want as far as possible.”