Siyafu Ants

Name ID 2465

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Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Extract Author: Richard F. Burton
Page Number: 113a
Extract Date: 24 Aug 1857

Siyafu Ants

The Lake Regions of Central Africa

Late in the morning of the 24th of August,… we followed the path that leads from Mbumi along the right bank of the Mukondokwa River to its ford…. The path was slippery with mud, and man and beast were rendered wild by the cruel stings of a small red ant and a huge black pismire. The former crossed the road in dense masses like the close columns of any army. They are large-headed, showing probably that they are defenders of the republic, and that they perform the duties of soldiers in their excursions. Though they can not spring, they show great quickness in fasteningthemselves to the foot or ankle as it brushes over them. The pismire, known to the people as the "chungu-fundo," or "siyafu" from the Arabic "siyaf" is a horse-ant, about an inch 12.5 centimetres] in length, whose bulldog-like head and powerful mandibles enables it to destroy rats and mice, lizards and snakes. It loves damp places upon the banks of rivers and stagnant waters; it burrows but never raises hills, and it appears scattered for miles over the paths.

Extract ID: 5741
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