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Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

versão On-line ISSN 2309-9070
versão impressa ISSN 0041-476X

Tydskr. letterkd. vol.55 no.3 Pretoria  2018 



Oswald Pirow's Ashambeni (1955): A "history" of dogs, humans, werewolves



Joan-Mari Barendse

Affiliated with the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, Stellenbosch University. Email:




In this paper I explore the human-dog interaction in Oswald Pirow's Ashambeni (1955). I focus on the position of the dog in Pirow's depiction of a world where the lives of animals and humans, and the natural and supernatural world, are entangled. In the novel, there are references to real historical figures and particulars of Portuguese East Africa and the South African Lowveld around 1850. The historical context sketched in the novel is from Pirow's far-right, racist perspective. While most critics place Pirow's work in the folkloric tradition, Ashambeni is more than a folkloric tale since it promotes Pirow's offensive views. In Ashambeni the role of the dog ranges from valuable possession to loving companion to hunting and fighting tool. It shows that a dog history cannot be separated from a human history, and that dogs are part of the social and cultural life of humans. The depiction of human-dog interaction in Ashambeni points to a historical anthropocentric entanglement rather than the boundary-crossing entanglement between human and animal proposed by contemporary human-animal studies. The human characters control the dog characters' status in the human society. Even more problematic, the description of the dogs is tied up with Pirow's racist ideology and subjective account of history.

Keywords: Ashambeni; human-animal studies; human-dog relationships; Oswald Pirow.




In Canis Africanis: A Dog History of Southern Africa, Swart and Van Sittert (1) show that dogs "have been entangled with human society for the past twelve thousand years". In this paper, I explore this entanglement of dog and human lives by examining the portrayal of the dog in Oswald Pirow's eponymous Ashambeni (1955). Ashambeni tells the story of Ashambeni, "the wonder hound" of Maska-katsi (7). After the death of Ashambeni's owner (the outlaw Antonie Buys) and mother, he is found and taken in by Maskakatsi, a young Maluleke chief. Maskakatsi and Ashambeni hunt, fight and survive together. One of their survival strategies is for Ashambeni to imitate the sound of the baloyi (a type of werewolf) to scare away their rivals. The novel therefore not only depicts the entanglement of human and animal lives, but also of the natural and the supernatural world.

Although literary critics mainly describe Pirow's works as a documentation of the stories and beliefs of indigenous groups in the folkloric tradition, Ashambeni (as is most of Pirow's fiction) is set within the context of a rather suspect account of a period in South African history. Pirow's background and ideological stance, as well as his portrayal of history in his fiction (which will be discussed below), will therefore be taken into account in my discussion of the entanglement of dogs, humans and the supernatural in the book.

Oswald Pirow (1890-1959) was born in South Africa to German parents in 1890. He studied law in England, returned to South Africa to practise as an attorney, and eventually qualified as an advocate. He was also involved in politics and supported J. B. M. Hertzog's National Party (Pirow wrote a biography of Hertzog titled James Barry Munnik Hertzog in 1957) and later the Herenigde Nasionale Party (HNP, Reunited National Party). Pirow is notorious for launching the New Order for South Africa, "a movement based on the Nazi ideology of race" (Garson). Garson described Pirow as "an admirer of Hitler" after Pirow met him in 1933, and Pirow acted as "an informal mediator with Hitler" during Pirow's tour of Europe in 1938 (Garson, also see Bunting 56-7). Although the HNP and the New Order shared some views, the party rejected the New Order's ideas on national socialism. Pirow was forced to leave the party and his political influence waned (Garson; Bunting 110-1), but he continued to propagate the views of the New Order. In the pamphlet titled Die Witman se Weg na Selfbehoud! (c. 1945, The White Man's Way to Self-preservation!), for instance, he gives a detailed plan of how to deal with racial issues in South Africa. Part of his plan included separate states for whites and Africans in order "to stop miscegenation and the degeneration of European culture" (Pirow, Witman 9, own translation).

The following works of fiction in Afrikaans were published by Pirow: Piet Pot-lood (1948), Mlungu Mungoma of Die Blanke Waarsêer (1949, Mlungu Mungoma or The White Soothsayer), Sjangani (1950) and Sikororo (1952). Ashambeni was published in English in 1955. Pirow's political views are reflected and promoted in his fiction. In the introduction to Sikororo he explains that the purpose of his books is not only to entertain readers but to give them insight into "the Bantu['s]" outlook on life. He writes: "Thorough and sympathetic knowledge of the Bantu is the first and unavoidable requirement of our guardianship system [referring to the apartheid system of separate development]" (Sikororo 4-5, own translation). Pirow hereby implies that you can only control a group of people if you understand their culture and beliefs. Considering Pirow's offensive and racist ideological stance, it is ironic that he describes his understanding of other races as "sympathetic".

Not much mention is made of Pirow's fiction in South African literary histories (Bosman 4). Where his work is discussed, it is never tied to his political views and it is almost exclusively placed in the folkloric tradition. In Afrikaanse Lit-eratuurgeskiedenis (Afrikaans Literary History) published in 1966, Dekker (354, 356-7) places Pirow's work in the section titled "Die nie-blanke in dieprosa-Die inboorling" (The non-white in the novel-The native"). Kannemeyer dedicates a sentence to Pirow's work under the heading of "Dier, inboorling en folklore in die verhaalkuns" (Animal, native and folklore in storytelling) in Geskiedenis van die Afrikaanse Literatuur 1 (History of Afrikaans Literature 1) published in 1978. In Kannemeyer's (115) Die Afrikaanse Literatuur 1652-2004 (Afrikaans Literature 1652-2004) published in 2005, Pirow is mentioned only as a political figure and no reference is made to his writing. In the 1982 print of Perspektief en Profiel (Perspective and Profile) the following sentence can be found: "O. Pirow's spellbinding Sjangani (1950) testifies to more insight into the native soul" (Antonissen 110, own translation). Roos (43) ties Pirow's work to the folkloric tradition in the 1998 edition of Perspektief en Profiel (Part 1), while in the latest edition of Perspektief en Profiel (2015-2016) no mention is made of him.

Bosman (6) also places Pirow's fiction in the folkloric tradition. According to her, he gives a "careful version of aspects of the history of the Shangaans" and "describe[s] their folklore, beliefs and superstitions in great detail": "The books teem with 'figures' such as the baloyi (a type of werewolf), the psikwembu (ancestral spirits) and witch doctors. In this documentation and not in any literary greatness lies the value of his fictional work" (own translation). She believes that Mlungu Mungoma of Die Blanke Waarsêer can furthermore be placed within the tradition of the historical novel because the narrative is set within the context of the Anglo-Boer War. It is common for Pirow though to place his books within a specific historical context. In Ashambeni there are references to real historical figures and particulars of Portuguese East Africa and the South African Lowveld around 1850. According to Pirow, the novel is set in the context of the outcome of the "upheaval caused by Chaka, the Zulu Napoleon". As discussed later, Pirow's account of South African history in his fiction is also underpinned by his racist ideology.

In his book Savage Delight, Dan Wylie shows that it is common in white writing on Shaka and the Zulu nation to compare "'the other' with something or someone European": "In particular, the comparison of Shaka to other 'tyrants'-Attila, Napoleon, Alexander, and so on-has become almost a reflex" (23). Wylie argues that this strategy of "associating Shaka with better-documented examples of genocide and/or heroism has several effects":

First, it reproduces or reinforces the prejudice of preceding comparisons; one familiar myth underwrites a new one. Secondly, it obscures rather than illuminates the cultural specifics of Shaka's reign. And thirdly, by proxy and proximity, it distorts or exaggerates the extent of Shaka's conquests and depredations. Shaka could not possibly have conquered as much territory as Napoleon did, or murdered as many people as Hitler or Stalin. (Wylie 26-7)

In his foreword to Ashambeni Pirow clearly plays into this mythology. He sketches the historical background of the book as follows:

After an inauspicious start, when he [Chaka] had a number of setbacks, this black dictator built up an army of many tens of thousands of the most merciless and most fearless warriors known to history. [...] As he extended his conquests in all directions, Chaka panicked his neighbours into stampeding the tribes nearest to them, until most of Southern Africa was in a state of upheaval. [...] In addition to the convulsions caused by the military operations of Chaka, he was responsible for other events, which appear to be the natural result of dictatorship. (7-8)

The "state of upheaval" Pirow (Ashambeni 8) refers to is the so-called Mfecane. Hamilton (1) writes that it is a widely held belief that "the emergence of the powerful Zulu Kingdom in the early decades of the nineteenth century caused massive upheaval among neighbouring chiefdoms [...] This, in turn, set in motion a ripple effect of dislocation and disruption that extended through much of southern Africa, namely, the 'Mfecane'" (Hamilton 1). In The Mfecane Aftermath, edited by Hamilton, debates and controversies over the name Mfecane, as well as the causes of the migration of people during this period are explored. Cobbing (487-8) argues that "the myth of a cataclysmic period of black-on-black destruction in the era of Shaka" gives "easy legitimation to modern apartheid propaganda".

In Ashambeni Pirow suggests that the effects of Shaka's reign could be felt more than 20 years after his death in 1828. The novel is set around 1850: the book spans over several years and ends with the death of Manukosi, which was around 1858. In Ashambeni the "dog history" becomes entangled with Pirow's controversial version of a period in South African history. Against this context, I examine the depiction of human-dog interaction in the novel.


Human-dog interaction in Ashambeni

Ashambeni and Antonie Buys

The story begins with "two burgers of the Voortrekker settlement of Schoeman-sdal, near the present village of Louis Trichardt" setting out on a "dangerous mission" (Ashambeni 11). The men are on their way to arrest Antonie Buys, "a well-known cattle thief, gun-runner and outlaw" (12). In the novel Antonie is a descendent of Coenraad de Buys (c. 1761-c. 1821). Coenraad, a descendant of the French Huguenots, was a rebel and wanderer who co-habited, married and had children with several indigenous women (De Jongh 86 and Giliomee 74-5).1

Not surprisingly, Pirow with his sentiments on racial purity, portrays the mixed Buys clan as morally lacking. He writes that while most of "the descendants of the famous Coenraad de Buys, lived in peace with the Voortrekkers, there were a few exceptions and of these Antonie was easily the worst":

He had all the courage and recklessness of his white ancestor, as well as his bulk and immense strength, but with these qualities were coupled the cruelty and vi-ciousness of his mother, a blood relation of the Cannibal Queen, Mantatise. His headquarters were at the confluence of the Sand and Hout Rivers, where he lived all by himself, having, so it was told, strangled his last wife during a quarrel about a pot of beer that had disappeared. (Ashambeni 12)

Antonie's cruelty extends to his dogs. (Antonie does not seem to have names for his dogs. At this stage Ashambeni is not called "Ashambeni". He only receives his name when he meets Maskakatsi.) When Ashambeni's mother, described as "a legend amongst the Buys clan and the Native tribes" because of her hunting skills, becomes older and fails to catch an injured bushbuck, Antonie beats her "within an inch of her life". After the brutal beating she becomes "almost useless as a game dog", and he ties her to a tree to die of starvation (16-7). The two men who come to arrest Antonie find her tied to the tree "in the last stages of starvation", with two half-grown pups crouching behind her (14). Despite her master's cruelty, she remains loyal to him. She manages to break free, she attacks the burgers, and Antonie escapes (15). During his escape Antonie is attacked by a crocodile. Again, Ashambeni's mother stays loyal to him and tries to save him, but he disappears under the water: "Finally she came back to the bank and crawled ashore as dejectedly as if she had lost all that mattered in life" (20).

Swart (268) explains that "dogs, like humans, are products of both biology and culture, yet it is human culture that defines a dog's condition, its status and its position". Ashambeni's mother's life is so entangled with the life of her master that she defends Antonie to the end and feels lost without him, even though he has abused her. She is a product of human culture and Antonie decides what her status and position is in this culture: the mother dog only has value while she can hunt. When she becomes old and injured he no longer has any use for her.

Swart (268) furthermore states that "behind every dog breed we find an ethnography and a social history as well as a genealogy-its cultural, as well as its genetic, heritage". The mother dog and her offspring are of a mixed breed, but their genetic heritage and appearance is still central in the book:

The two pups were as dissimilar from each other as they were from their mother. She was a typical, upstanding steekbaard boerhond [wire-haired boerdog], with an undershot jaw from some bulldog ancestor, while the daughter was a whippetlike kaffir dog. The dog-pup looked as if he were no relation of either of them.

His father, the property of a half-mad Englishman who had got right up to the Limpopo on a shooting expedition, had been a crossbred Irish Wolfhound-the largest dog known to man-and the son, by some freak of genetics, would have passed almost anywhere as a specimen of that breed. He was already taller than his mother, but as knock-kneed and clumsy as a baby giraffe. [...] All clumsiness, however, disappeared when he galloped. He did so with the immense strides of a big race-horse. Furthermore, the young wolfhound's jaws and teeth gave indications of a deadliness which in later years was to earn him the nickname of "gwenyane", or crocodile. Antonie had appraised these qualities, and with an eye to his future usefulness, had fed him when he starved the other two. (Ashambeni 18-9)

Antonie sees the dogs as commodities and he looks after the puppy that seems to have the most worth, while he neglects the other two dogs. Pirow's racial prejudice also comes across in the above description of the dogs. Ashambeni is compared to a thoroughbred racehorse. He is the offspring of an "upstanding boerhond', a dog bred by white people, and a "crossbred Irish Wolfhound". The Wolfhound is clearly identified as Ashambeni's father, while Pirow seems to suggest that the female puppy did not inherit any of the Wolfhound's "noble" blood.2 Because Ashambeni is of European heritage, he is considered to be worth more than his sister. Swart (271-2) writes that the brown whippet-like dog common in African communities (like the female puppy in Ashambeni) has traditionally been dismissed as "merely a 'kaffir dog'" or "just a dog". Recently there has been a move to reclassify the so-called "kaffir dog" as the "Africanis" and to classify it as a breed (Swart 267-8).3 In Ashambeni though, the female puppy is clearly seen as an inferior, ill-bred mongrel.

The female puppy, which is labelled as an African dog, is described as cowardly and disloyal. When a group of indigenous people raid Antonie's headquarters after his death, she immediately surrenders to them: "As the induna entered the thorn shelter, the bitch-pup crawled up on her belly, and one of the women fondled it. When the Natives moved off with Antonie's belongings, this pup followed them, while her mother sat up in the grass and watched them till they were out of sight" (Ashambeni 21). Although the mother dog does not attack the people, as a loyal "boerhond" she is not ready to betray her master and follow other people. The female puppy's easy surrender also contrasts to Ashambeni's reluctant surrender to Maskakatsi, which is discussed in the next section.

Ashambeni and Maskakatsi

Swart and Van Sittert (1) point out that "dogs connect the wild with the tame [...] They occupy an ambiguous position, straddling the opposing spheres of nature and culture" After his mother is killed and he is injured in his throat by Zulu warriors, Ashambeni wanders around in the wild for months (Ashambeni 29-30). He is wary of people because of the attack, but he gets drawn into the life of humans again when he meets Maskakatsi, a young Maluleke chief and enemy of Manu-kosi. Ashambeni saves Maskakatsi's life when Maskakatsi is pursued by three Zulu warriors. Maskakatsi is impressed by the massive dog who seems to hate the Zulu people as much as he does. He tries to gain the dog's trust, but Ashambeni is reluctant to go too close to Maskakatsi:

But when he got up, calling softly to the animal, it moved off, so he sat down again. [.] Again he tried to approach, and again the hound put the same distance between them. Its whole being called out for some sign of affection from this man who was an enemy of the Zulus, but it had been a wild animal too long to surrender its independence at the first or second approach. (35)

In Pirow's novel the dogs for the most part are capable of surviving on their own in the wild. Their yearning for human contact always gains the upper hand though. Ashambeni and his mother initially approach the Zulu warriors who attack them because they are "hungry for human company" (29). After the attack, Ashambeni is cautious of humans, but he still craves human affection when he meets Mas-kakatsi. In fact, he is so preoccupied with Maskakatsi that he fails to see a young crocodile when he goes for a drink of water. The crocodile grabs him by his snout and this time it is Maskakatsi who saves Ashambeni's life by killing the crocodile with his assegai (35). After this incident, Ashambeni surrenders to Maskakatsi:

Then, as he loosened the grip of the young amphibian's jaws, which had tightened as the body grew rigid before turning limp, he put his arms round the dog's neck and murmured, "Ashambeni, don't you know your master?" The hound shivered apprehensively, but did not draw away; and there and then, in the mud and marsh, Maskakatsi fondled the animal as if it were his long-lost property. Suddenly, feeling that he might be over-doing it, he turned to walk away. To his delight, the animal followed him to the bank and lay down near him. (36)

Maskakatsi and Ashambeni's lives become entangled and Ashambeni becomes an indispensable part of Maskakatsi's hunting and fighting strategies. Hall (309) states that "domestic dogs were almost certainly one of the factors that contributed towards altering the South African environment during the past 2,000 years" since new and more effective hunting strategies were developed by using dogs. In Ashambeni, for example, Maskakatsi and his companions can kill a buffalo with the help of Ashambeni. Before they had the dog, they could never hunt such a big and dangerous animal (44).

Unlike Antonie, Maskakatsi is fair and gives Ashambeni a ration of every animal killed "fed to him in reasonable pieces, which is what every dog likes" (Ashambeni 36). Even when Ashambeni fails in his hunting attempts, for instance when he foolishly takes on an antbear, Maskakatsi and his companions share the cane rat they had caught themselves with Ashambeni: "The dog got his share" (59). When Ashambeni is knocked out by a sable, Maskakatsi is so concerned about his beloved dog that he puts his own life in danger by bending "down over his hound, ignoring the possibility that the sable might repeat that vicious sweep" (62). Maskakatsi saves the dog's life in two further instances. In the first instance, Maskakatsi and his warriors treat Ashambeni's wounds with cobwebs to prevent infection after the dog is attacked by a leopard (54). In the second instance, when Ashambeni comes back with an assegai embedded in his chest after "looking for marriageable lady dogs" as Pirow puts it, Maskakatsi gives the nyanga (traditional healer) a goat as payment for him to operate on and treat Ashambeni (106).

Pirow portrays Maskakatsi as morally superior to Antonie when it comes to the treatment of dogs. As mentioned, it is expected that Pirow views the racially mixed Buys clan as inferior and morally lacking. His descriptions of Maskakatsi and his companions' virtues though often turns into racial stereotyping: they are portrayed as "noble savages", who are inherently closer to nature than people of European descent. The warriors are described as follows when they have to sit in a tree for hours to escape from a hungry lioness with cubs: "The warriors accordingly settled down to wait with that incredible patience which no white man will ever understand, let alone equal. Their stoicism was to be tested to the full" (51). The strong relationship between Maskakatsi and Ashambeni therefore reflects Pirow's racist view that African people are closer to nature, and therefore closer to animals, than their European counterparts. The objective of contemporary human-animal studies is to break down the boundaries between human and animal (see Barendse 70; Marvin and McHugh 2-3 and Woodward and Lemmer 2). However, Pirow's portrayal of the entanglement of human and animal lives in the case of Maskakatsi and Ashambeni is problematic since it covertly propagates Pirow's racist ideology.

It should further be noted that even though Maskakatsi and Ashambeni's lives are entangled and Maskakatsi is loving and caring towards his dog, they are not equals. As stated in the scene of surrender, Maskakatsi is Ashambeni's "master". He has power over the dog and has trained Ashambeni for his own benefit. Ashambeni is a valuable belonging to Maskakatsi and it is to his advantage to look after the dog. The boundaries between human and animal are therefore still in place, and Ashambeni is still a product of human culture.


The role of the supernatural in Ashambeni: Ashambeni as werewolf

For Maskakatsi Ashambeni is truly valuable because he produces a "terrifying banshee wail" that sounds as if it comes "straight from the nether regions":

The first time Maskakatsi heard it he had been both scared and delighted. He was frightened because it sounded like something from beyond the grave, but pleased because he knew no Zulu would face that howl at night-time. [...] When Maskakatsi therefore found that Ashambeni's howl was exactly like the shriek of the inoyi, he felt that a powerful weapon against the Zulus had been delivered into his hands. (Ashambeni 39-40)

In Ashambeni the inoyi (in the singular form) or the baloyi (in the plural) are described as follows:

They were a type of Bantu werewolf which far exceeded in frightfulness anything that the Teutonic or northern imagination has been able to devise. In part, the fear of them was based on the fact that the attributes of the inoyi are passed on by heredity, so that a mother who is a werewolf, mostly unbeknown to her husband, may taint a number of her children, and the girls-the damnable inheritance passing down the female line-may, in turn, infect their children. [...] The inoyi was said to carry out his raids on moonlit nights. When he did so, he would assume the form and size of a starving two-year-old child and grow the wings of a bat. In this guise, the baloyi would move about in swarms, attacking and bewitching both human beings and cattle. (39-40)

In Sikororo Pirow (91) writes that when the baloyi go on their raids they sometimes leave behind their bodies in the form of a hyena, and become flying ghosts on the hunt for human flesh. I could not find references to the terms inoyi or baloyi spelt with a "y" as Pirow does. Niehaus (191), however, explains the term baloi as follows:

In Northern Sotho the noun baloi (singular moloi) denotes a broad conceptual category, referring both to persons who inherit the power and the inclination to harm from their mothers and to those who deliberately acquire malevolent substances and skills. The verb loya encompasses the use of poisons (tshefu), potions (dihlare), and familiars (dithuri) to cause harm, misfortune, illness, and death.

The use of the body of a hyena by the baloyi is echoed by Penny Miller's (142) discussion of the muloi, a figure in Venda culture. The muloi is usually a woman who travels by night on a hyena or a baboon and inhabits the body of a sleeping person. Ian Woodward (209) describes a creature he calls the "Bultungin" which bears resemblances to Pirow's description of the baloyi. "Bultungin" means "I change myself into a hyena". He connects the creature to Nigerian, Sudanese, Ethiopian, Tanzanian, and Moroccan folklore, but not to South African.

Berglund (285) shows that it is not uncommon for dogs to be associated with witchcraft in African culture. He explains that "dogs which sleep during the day and are very active without barking at night, are suspect" (284). Furthermore, "dogs can be trained by witches to be their agents while remaining dogs of the home without the senior or anybody else of the homestead knowing about it" (Berglund 285). Ashambeni never barks, but "had always produced a long-drawn-out wolf howl" (Ashambeni 39) and Maskakatsi and Ashambeni carry out most of the exploits against the Zulus at night (41-2, 78, 80). Ashambeni's sense of smell, "scouting abilities and [...] his instinct to apprehend any move against them at night" (78) enables Maskakatsi and his warriors to attack their enemies when they least expect it (79-80).

Despite the reputation he has, Ashambeni is not a supernatural creature: he is an ordinary dog who has been trained very well and happens to sound like a mythical creature. He thus becomes part of the mythology of the indigenous people. That Ashambeni is just a normal, mortal dog is confirmed when he dies while once again saving the life of Maskakatsi: Maskakatsi is stormed by an enraged elephant during a hunt, and Ashambeni is crushed to death by the elephant when he intervenes. The entanglement of the lives of Ashambeni and Maskakatsi is reflected by Maskakatsi's words after this tragic event: "Bury him deep, bury him deep, very deep. My hunting days are over" (110). He cannot imagine ever hunting again without his faithful companion by his side.



In Ashambeni the role of the dog ranges from valuable possession to loving companion to hunting and fighting tool. Moreover, it does not only depict the entanglement of human and animal lives, but the boundaries between the natural and the supernatural world are blurred. Ashambeni becomes more than just a dog and is mythologised as the "the wonder hound of Maskakatsi" (7). Hereby, it shows that a dog history cannot be separated from a human history-dogs are part of the social and cultural life of humans.

The depiction of human-dog interaction in Ashambeni therefore points to a historical anthropocentric entanglement rather than the boundary-crossing entanglement between human and animal proposed by contemporary human-animal studies. Antonie, and then Maskakatsi, defines Ashambeni's, to use Swart's (268) words, "status and position" in the human society.

Even more problematic, the description of the dogs is tied up with Pirow's racist ideology and subjective account of history. Ashambeni can therefore not be dismissed as merely a folkloric tale of a man and his dog. The figure of the dog becomes a tool in promoting Pirow's offensive views.



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1. In Willem Anker's recent novel Buys (2014) the relationship between Coenraad de Buys and a pack of dogs is a central premise. In Buys dog lives and human lives are not only entangled, but the character Coenraad de Buys undergoes a process of becoming-animal in his interaction with the dogs.
2. It is possible for female dogs to become pregnant by different males at the same time, which means that not all puppies in one litter necessarily have the same father (see Hamilton and Vonk 124). It is unlikely though that Pirow suggests that the puppies have different fathers.
3. Maggs and Sealy (37) prefers to refer to the "Africanis" as a "land race" rather than a "breed" since it is not a breed in the Western dog-breeders sense of the word, but "the result of a diverse gene pool that most often yields medium-sized, short-haired dogs, but can produce a range of these animals of different appearance around this norm".

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