A Cruise on the Tanganyika Lake, by John Hanning Speke

Chapter I.

The Royal Geographical Society — The Strange Lake on the Map — Set Off — Arrive at Zanzibar — A Preliminary Excursion — A Sail along the Coast — The Pangani River — A Jemadar’s Trick — Journey up Country — Adventures — Return to Zanzibar — Scenes there — Objects of the Expedition — Recruiting for Followers — The Cafila Bashi — The Start — Fevers — Discussions about the Mountains of the Moon and the Victoria N’yanza — The Tanganyika.

On my arrival in England, the first thing I did was to visit Captain Burton, and obtain an introduction to the Royal Geographical Society, under whose auspices I was about to travel. I next visited the Society, and here was revealed to me, for the first time, the great objects designed for the expedition in question. On the walls of the Society’s rooms there hung a large diagram, comprising a section of Eastern Africa, extending from the equator to the fourteenth degree of south latitude, and from Zanzibar sixteen degrees inland, which had been constructed by two reverend gentlemen, Messrs Erhardt and Rebmann, missionaries of the Church Mission Society of London, a short time previously, when carrying on their duties at Zanzibar. In this section-map, swallowing up about half of the whole area of the ground included in it, there figured a lake of such portentous size and such unseemly shape, representing a gigantic slug, or, perhaps, even closer still, the ugly salamander, that everybody who looked at it incredulously laughed and shook his head. It was, indeed, phenomenon enough in these days to excite anybody’s curiosity! A single sheet of sweet water, upwards of eight hundred miles long by three hundred broad, quite equal in size to, if not larger than, the great salt Caspian.

Now, to the honour of Admiral Sir George Back be it said, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and an old explorer himself in the Arctic regions, that he had determined in his mind that this great mystery should be solved, and that an insight should be gained into those interesting regions, concerning which conjectures and speculations had been rife, and which had caused so many hot debates for so many ages past amongst all the first geographers of the day; debates which, hitherto, nobody had been found energetic enough to set at rest by actual inspection of the country.

Casting about for a man fitted to carry out his plans, the Admiral hit upon Captain Burton, who had recently returned from Constantinople, where he had been engaged with the Bashi–Bazuks; and it was thus, through Sir George’s influence in the Royal Geographical Society, that Captain Burton had now been appointed to the command of this expedition.

A difference now arose about the Government £2000 in aid of the expedition. The Foreign Office had paid their £1000, but the India House thought Captain Burton’s pay ought to be considered their share. Finding this was the case I objected to go, as I did not wish, for one reason, to put myself under any money obligations to Captain Burton; and, for another reason, I thought I had paid enough for a public cause in the Somali country, without having gained any advantage to myself. Captain Burton, however, knew nothing of astronomical surveying, of physical geography, or of collecting specimens of natural history, so he pressed me again to go with him, and even induced the President of the Royal Geographical Society to say there need be no fear of money if we only succeeded. I then consented to go, determining in my own mind, somehow or other, to have my old plans, formed in India, of completing my museum, carried into effect, even if, after all, the funds of the expedition did not suffice. Captain Burton now gave me a cheque for my passage out of the public funds;1 but my incorporation with the expedition was not quite so easy as had been expected; for the Government in India at this time were using every endeavour in their power to increase their Indo–European forces, and had written home to Leadenhall Street an urgent desire that no officers should have their leave extended, or be placed on duty out of India; and for this reason, the India House authorities, although privately evincing a strong disposition to permit my going, felt it necessary to withhold their sanction to it. I was now between two fires. I had sacrificed my Caucasian expedition, and could not speak with the authorities in India. So, to cut the matter short, with a kind hint from my friend Sir Henry Rawlinson, as I had still nearly three years’ furlough at my disposal, I ventured over with Captain Burton by the overland route to Bombay, and tried my luck again.

This time, fortunately, it turned up trumps; for I need only say that the Governor of Bombay at this time was Lord Elphinstone, a man whose large and comprehensive mind was not only able to discern the frown of a pending mutiny looming in the distance, but whose quick foresight, backed by a great and natural unremitting energy of body, was subsequently able to forestall and provide, as far as human powers extend, against its thundering outburst. He saw at a glance of how much importance to the improvement of the commercial objects of his presidency this exploring expedition was likely to be. The Secretary to Government, Mr Anderson, who was equally of this view, treated the matter as a great national object, and, at the request of Captain Burton, drew up an official application to incorporate me in the expedition, and sent it to the Government at Calcutta, with the recommendation of his lordship; whilst I, in anticipation of the sanction of the Governor–General, Lord Canning, was permitted to accompany Captain Burton to Zanzibar in the Hon. East India Company’s sloop-of-war Elphinstone, commanded by Captain Frushard, I.N., and commence operations at once.

This vessel had been detached especially on this duty to meet Captain Burton’s views, that a political importance should be given to the mission by our arriving in Government official state at the starting-point, in order to secure the influence and respect of the sultan reigning there.

After a residence of one week at Bombay, during which time I completed our outfit in scientific instruments and other minor points — for this charge was reposed in me, owing to my previous experience in those matters — we set sail on the 3d December 1856, taking two Goanese cook “boys,” by name Valantine and Gaetano, with us as servants, and in eighteen days landed at our destination, Zanzibar. The kindness of Captain Frushard, who shared his cabin with us, as well as the constant attentions of his officers, combined with pleasant weather and a liberal fare, provided for us by the Bombay Government in the capacity of political envoys, made the time occupied on the voyage fly quickly and very agreeably.2

Immediately on arrival at the island of Zanzibar, we were warmly received and welcomed by our consul, Colonel Hamerton, an Irish gentleman, and one characterised by the true merry hospitality of his race. He had been a great sufferer, by the effects of the climate operating on him from too long a residence in these enervating regions; but he was, nevertheless, vivacious in temperament and full of amusing anecdotes, which kept the whole town alive. He gave us a share of his house, and what was more, made that house our homes. His generosity was boundless, and his influence so great, that he virtually commanded all societies here. Our old and faithful ally, the Imaum of Muscat, who, unfortunately for us, had but recently died, was so completely ruled by him, that he listened to and obeyed him as a child would his father.

The present ruler of Zanzibar — that is, of the coastline, with all the islands which lie between the equator on the southern confines of the Somali country and the Portuguese possessions in Mozambique — is Sultan Majid, the second son of the old Imaum; for it must be remembered that the Imaum, at his death, divided his territories, then comprising Muscat in Arabia, and Zanzibar in Africa, into two separate states, giving the former, or Muscat, to his eldest son, Sayyid (Prince) Suwéni, whilst the latter was bequeathed to his favourite, the second son, Sayyid Majid, now styled Sultan. Sultan Majid was born of a Circassian woman, and in consequence is very light in complexion; and, taking much after the inclinations of his father, is likely to become as great a favourite as was the old Imaum. Zanzibar island is the seat of government, and consequently the metropolis. The town contains about sixty thousand inhabitants of all nations, but principally coloured people, of which the Suahili, or coast people, living on the opposite main, predominate in number, though they are the least important. Of the merchants, there are several European houses, comprising French, Germans, and Americans; and numerous Asiatics, mostly from Arabia and Hindostan — the Suahili ranking lowest of the whole. There are also three consuls, an English, French, and American, who look after the interests of the subjects of their respective governments.

We found, considering it would take more than a month to organise an expedition, that we had arrived here at the very worst season of the year for commencing a long inland journey — the height of the dry season in these regions, when water is so very scarce in the more desert tracts of the interior of the continent, that travelling, from want of that material element, is precarious; and it was just before the commencement of the vernal monsoon, or greater rainy season, when everything would be deluged.

Considering this, and giving due deference to the opinions of the travelling merchants of this place against our organising at once for the interior journey to the great lake, Captain Burton bethought himself of gaining a little elementary training in East African travelling, by spending the remainder of the dry season in inspecting various places on the coast; and, if a favourable opportunity presented itself, he felt desirous of having a peep at the snowy Kilimandjaro Mountain, of which the Rev. Mr Rebmann, who first discovered it, had sent home reports, and which had excited such angry and unseemly contests amongst our usually sedate though speculative carpet-geographers in England as rendered a further inspection highly necessary.

Now, as the Royal Geographical Society had desired us to place ourselves in communication with Mr Rebmann, who was then at his mission-station, Kisuludini, at Rabbai, on a high hill at the back of Mombas, and to try and solicit him to go with us into the interior, where it was thought his experience in the native languages would be useful to the expedition — my companion hired a small beden, or half-decked Arab vessel, by the month, to take us about wherever we pleased; and on the 5th January 1857, having engaged a respectable half-caste Arab Sheikh, named Said, to be our guide and interpreter, we took leave of our host, set sail, and steered northwards, coasting along the shores of this beautiful clove island, until we left it, and shortly afterwards sighted the still more lovely island of Pemba, or “The Emerald Isle” of the Arabs — named, doubtless, from the surprising verdure of its trees and plants. Here we called in at Chak-chak, the principal place, where there is a rude little fort and small garrison of Beluch soldiers, and a Wali, or governor. Starting the following morning, we put to sea again, and in three days — sailing against a strong southerly current, aggravated by a stiff north-easterly breeze, almost too much for our cranky little vessel, and which frightened the crew and our little timid Sheikh so much that they all lost presence of mind, and with the greatest difficulty were repressed from “‘bouting ship,” and wrecking themselves, together with us, on the shores of the coast — we harboured in the Mombas creek.

Mombas on the north, like Kilua on the south, are the two largest garrison towns belonging to the Sultan on the main shores. They each have a Wali or governor, custom officers, and a Beluch guard; and have certain attractions to the antiquarian in the shape of Portuguese ruins. We left our traps here to be housed by a Banyan called Lakshmidos, the collector of customs,3 and started on the 17th January to visit Mr Rebmann, beyond the hills overlooking this place. It was a good day’s work, and was commenced by rowing about ten miles up the Rabbai branch of the creek we were in, until we arrived at the foot of the hills bearing the same name, beyond which his house stands. This inlet was fringed with such dense masses of the mangrove shrub, on which clung countless numbers of small tree-oysters — adhering to their branches in clusters, and looking as though they subsisted thereon after the manner of orchidaceous plants — that we could obtain no view whatever, save of the hills towering to the height of some ten hundred or twelve hundred feet above us. The water-journey over, we commenced the ascent of Rabbai, and, soon crowning it by a steep slope, passed into the country of the Wanyika, the first true negro tribe of my acquaintance, and by a gentle decline passing through quiet little villages, we entered, after a walk of five miles, the Kisuludini mission-house, and there found Mr Rebmann, with his amiable English wife, living in their peaceful retreat. They gave us a free and cordial welcome and comfortable lodging, and supplied us with all the delicacies of a dry Wanyika season, for there was now a drought in the land, and consequently a famine. So hard were the times for the unfortunate negroes, that they were forced against their wills to support the bulk of their families by the sale of some of its junior members to keep themselves alive.

And now, according to Mr Rebmann, to aggravate their predicament, they were on the eve of a more dreadful enemy still than famine — that of the attacks of a marauding party of the barbarous pastoral Masai, a neighbouring tribe, who were now out engaged in pillaging some of the Wanyika villages, not far from this, of the few heads of cattle which they keep as a “safety-valve” against the scourge of droughts. The oddest thing to me was to see the placid equanimity with which Mr Rebmann and his wife coolly delayed a day or two, notwithstanding the near proximity of this savage band of thieves, to pack up their kit comfortably before leaving the place; but we were assured by the reverend gentleman that the Masai cared but little for anything save beef, and they therefore did not apprehend rough usage at their hands. The air of this high land is cool and pleasant, and the scenery from the station overlooking the sea was very picturesque and serenely beautiful. The Rabbai hills are an outlying range running parallel to the coast, or more properly, I should say, an abattis, which supports a high but slightly depressed flattish interior, gently declining westwards.

After a good night’s rest we returned to Mombas, housed ourselves in the dwelling appointed for our use by Lakshmidos, and had many civilities paid us by the Wali (governor) and coloured merchants of the place, who brought us fruits and paid us other delicate little attentions by way of showing their regard. The Wanyika having by this time sent to the Mombas fort for aid to support them against the attacks of their enemies, we felt some alarm at the position of Mr and Mrs Rebmann, and again returned to Kisuludini, to see if we could be of any use to them: but not so; they were as fearless as before, and would not leave their house until everything had been well packed up and sent away.4 We now bade them adieu a second time, and returned to our house at Mombas. Here we heard that several of the Beluch troops had been despatched against the Masai, and that some skirmishes had taken place, but they were nothing of any material consequence.

Seeing that there was this little excitement on the direct road to Kadiaro and the Kilimandjaro, Captain Burton thought it unadvisable to venture on that line, the more especially so as he judged the Mombas people were not over-well disposed to our travelling into the interior. Further, he had heard of fresh attractions on the coast, in the shape of ruins, both Portuguese and Persian; — those places from which, in former ages, the Portuguese — who had been led there by the adventurous Vasco de Gama, and were the first European occupants of these dark lands — were driven southwards by the Arabs. Moreover, he heard that the mountain of Kilimandjaro was just as accessible to us from Tanga or Pangani, a little farther down the coast, where there would probably be no war-parties standing in our way, as the case was here.

I, on the other hand, did not see any cause of alarm, for I thought we could easily have walked round the Masai party; but I saw various reasons for abandoning the projected plan of looking at the Kilimandjaro. In the first place, it had been already discovered by Mr Rebmann; it was, moreover, rather distant for our limited time; it would require more money than our limited funds could admit of; and last, though not least, as we had some time to spare, I thought it would be much more agreeable to spend it in hippopotamus-shooting on the coast, and on what game we might find on the hills of Usumbara, if we perforce were to go through that kingdom on our way towards the Kilimandjaro, an idea that had struck us; for though Usumbara had been traversed formerly by the Church missionaries, it was still a maiden country for the sportsman. Considering Mombas as a starting-point for an excursion into the interior, I can conceive no direction more interesting or advantageous for any one to embark upon. Dr Krapf has already been as far as Kitui, in the country of Ukambani, fourteen marches distant only from Mombas, and there he heard of a snowy mountain called Kenia, lying probably to the northward of and on the same hill-range as Mount Kilimandjaro, which most likely separates the river-systems of the east from those which flow to the westward into the Nile. In confirmation of this impression, I would mention the fact that a merchant caravan of about two hundred men, whilst we were stopping here, arrived from Kitui laden with elephant ivories, which they had bartered for American sheeting, Venetian beads, and brass wire, &c. &c., in the district of Ukambani; and they described the country in the most glowing terms, as possessing a healthy climate, pleasant temperature, wholesome water, and an abundance of provisions, both flesh and grain: they had, moreover, camels and donkeys as beasts of burden, which alone denotes a great facility for travelling in Eastern Africa, where usually men take the place of beasts. The Wakambani porters belonging to this caravan, as many as there were, were boisterous, humorous savages, who, as they danced and paraded about the town, all armed in savage fashion with bows and spears and sharp knives, in fact anything but clothes, looked as wild as animals just driven from a jungle. Noise and dancing seemed their principal delight, and they indulged in it, blowing horns and firing muskets with a boisterous glee, which showed the strangest contrast to the tame Hindus and other merchant residents of the place.

Captain Burton now decided on quitting Mombas; and on the 24th January, after embarking in our little beden, we set sail southwards. Following the coastline, we touched at the villages of Gasi, Wasin, Tanga — where I had my first flirtations with the hippopotami, of which more hereafter — and Tangata, to inspect ruins and make inquiries about the interior condition of the country.

The coast-line was one continuous undeviating scene of tropical beauty, with green aquatic mangroves growing everywhere out into the tidal waves, with the beetal, palmyra, and other palms overtopping this fringe; and in the background a heterogeneous admixture, an impervious jungle, of every tree, shrub, and grass, that characterise the richest grounds on the central shores of this peculiar continent. The little islands we passed amongst, and all the reefs that make these shores so dangerous to the navigator, whether large or small, were the produce of the industrious little coral insect. The lime with which their cellular beds are composed being favourable to vegetable growth, leaves it no wonder that the higher grounds and dryer lands are thus so densely clothed. The few villages there are, bordering on the coast, are poor and meagre-looking, but their inhabitants were very hospitable, especially where there were any Banyans. Nothing could exceed the mingled pride and yearning pleasure these exotic Indians seemed to derive from having us as their guests. Being Indian officers, they looked upon us as their guardians, and did everything they could to show they felt it so. Our conversing in their own language, and talking freely of their native land, must, as indeed they said it did, have felt to them as if after a long banishment they were suddenly thrown amongst their old and long-lost friends. To us how strange did these things appear! that men so full of life, good-breeding, intelligence, and affections — so meaning and calculating in their conversation, so gentlemanly in their behaviour — should live this life of utter banishment, amidst these savages, devoid of all sympathetic affections, and knowing not even what things constitute the commonest business of life. And why? To make a little money for their latter days, when life’s enjoyment has passed away. Their wretched case would not be so bad, only that, from being Hindus, they cannot marry or even bring their wives from India with them. It is a position even worse than that of hermits. Tanga was the most considerable of all the places we visited, being the grand terminus of those caravans, which, passing immediately to the south of the Kilimandjaro, traverse the Masai country to Burgenei, near the south-east corner of the Victoria N’yanza (Lake).5 Here Captain Burton again commenced making inquiries about the route to Kilimandjaro, and how, if that could not be managed, considering the means at our disposal, we could march into Usumbara, see the capital Fuga, and pay the king, Kimuéri, a cursory visit; but being more or less dissuaded from this, evidently, as it afterwards appeared, by the timorous inclinations rather than from any real difficulties which presented themselves to the mind of our Sheikh, Captain Burton thought it better to see first what could be done at Pangani.

We arrived in the mouth of the Pangani river on the 3d February; and, immediately on landing, were met by all the grandees of the place, who welcomed us as big men, and escorted us to a large stone house in the town overlooking the river. On the way to this domicile, a number of black singers were formed in line to serenade us, and they danced and sang in real negro peculiarity, with such earnest constancy that, although a novel sight, we were glad to be rid of them long before they were tired of performing. All inquisitive about other people’s concerns, the Panganyites at once eagerly busied themselves to find out what our intentions were in coming there, and accordingly began to speculate on what they could make out of us. First the Diwans (head-men) wanted us to pay our footing in the town; but that only provoking a sharp rebuff, they began a system of “making difficulties.” To go to the Kilimandjaro we must have a large and expensive escort, or nobody would go with us. But this we were not persistent in, for two reasons: in the first place, having frittered away so much time at Mombas, and in inspecting ruins on the way from it, we had no time left ere the kuzi, or little rains precursory to the great monsoon, which would shortly set in on the high lands near the Great Mountain, would fall and impede our progress; and, in the second, we were short of cash. Next we contemplated a flying trip to Fuga, for which alternative Sultan Majid had provided us with introductions to the king, Kimuéri, living there; and this, of course, being known to the people through the medium of Sheikh Said, they at once beset our doors to meet our proposals and make fresh difficulties.

King Kimuéri’s son, who happened to be here on his way to Zanzibar, presuming we had presents for the king, mildly begged us to give them up to him at once, he securing us a passage to his father — a cool request, which, of course, was just as coolly rejected. And now everybody, evidently actuated by him, stood in our way at every turn. We must not go the straight road, as the Wazégura living on the right bank of the Pangani river were “out,” and in open hostilities with the Wasumbara, and would intercept our passage; and, instead, they proposed our going viâ Tangata, a much longer route, but open to us if we only took a sufficient number of men, and paid handsomely for the convenience. Considering that the value attachable to the undertaking would be magnified in our minds in proportion to the amount of obstacles which had to be surmounted, difficulty upon difficulty was now conjured up and produced as fast as they thought they were working upon our inclinations. Sometimes our advisers would go, and then the opposite. They were verily as coy in their advancements and retractions as a woman who, in love, gives and takes with a wavering man on whom she has set her heart at a time when he is fearful of giving way to her little seductive artifices.

At this perplexing juncture, quite unforeseen by us, the jemadar of a small Beluch garrison (Chogué), about seven miles up the river, came to pay his respects, and by a clever artifice — purely an Oriental dodge, as anybody who has lived in India will readily admit — at once perceiving an advantage to be gained by which he might profitably fill his own pocket at the same time that he would save ours, and give a job to his own Beluches to the prejudice of those avaricious Panganyites, offered us an inducement which was too good not to be at once accepted. The plan was simply this: He was to leave at once and return to Chogué, and make arrangements with his guard for our reception there, whilst we, feigning abandonment of all our plans, were to prepare for a shooting excursion up the river, with only one servant and our sporting gear with us. This trick succeeded admirably, without provoking the slightest suspicion on anybody’s part. Leaving our Sheikh and one “boy” behind to take care of our property, we now set sail in a small canoe, on the 6th February, and made for Chogué. The river was extremely tortuous and filled with hippopotami, who, as the vessel advanced up the tidal stream, snorted and grunted as if they felt disposed to dispute our passage; but this never happened. Inquisitive in the extreme about the foreign intruders, they could not resist continually popping up their heads and apparently inviting us to take a shot, which, as may readily be imagined, I lost no opportunity in complying with. Whether I killed any or not is difficult to say, for as the guns were fired their heads immediately disappeared, to rise no more, or, if not struck, to peep above again some way distant at our stern. To shoot hippopotami properly, one must have time to wait for the receding of the tide, when, if killed, their bodies would be left exposed on the sandy bottom; or, if in deep water, to wait until, being filled with gases, they would float by the buoyancy of their bodies.

There was little to be seen in this voyage of any interest, for the curtains of mangroves, with palms and other trees growing in almost impenetrable denseness, veiled in our view to the limits of the stream’s breadth. As the tide was running out at sunset, we halted for its return at Pombui, a small village on the left bank, and resumed the journey after midnight. In two hours we reached the mooring-place opposite the station, Chogué, fastened the canoe, and lay down to sleep. Early after dawn, the jemadar, with his guard, advanced to meet us, welcomed us with sundry complimentary discharges of their matchlocks, and escorted us to their post. The jemadar’s guard was composed of twenty-five men, most of whom were here, whilst the other few held another fort on the top of a hill called Tongué. Volunteers were now called for to accompany us, who would carry each his arms, a little food, and such baggage as might be necessary — just enough to march up rapidly to Fuga, to have a little shooting in some favourable jungles near there, and return again as soon as possible. There was no difficulty, as the jemadar foresaw. The Beluches receive so little pay from their sultan that any windfall like this was naturally welcome; and out of the little garrison five men were readily enlisted; besides these, they supplied four slave-servants, and two men as guides.

With one day’s delay in preparing, we left Chogué in the evening, and commenced a scrambling journey; all the men fully loaded, and ourselves much the same.

On the morning of the following day, after travelling by a footpath over undulating country, we mounted the hill of Tongué, and put up in the fort.

Mount Tongué is itself an outlying hill, detached from the massive clusters of Usumbara by a deep rolling valley of broken ground of desert forest, which as we afterwards saw by their numerous tracks, must contain, during the rainy season, vast herds of the elephant and buffalo, as well as antelopes and lions, though but few animals of any kind appeared to be here now. Looking south by west from this height over the broad valley of the Pangani, I was able to take compass bearings on some cones in the Uzégura country, belonging to the Nguru hills. The whole country below appeared to be covered with the richest vegetation, and in the river we could hear the murmuring sound of a waterfall, said by the Beluches to be a barrier to the navigation of the river any farther inland.6

10th February. — Early in the morning we bid Tongué Fort adieu, and, descending by its northern slopes, threaded our way, arching round by north to westward, through the forests below, until late in the evening we arrived within a short distance of a hill called Khombora; and here, as the darkness of night was closing in, the party by accident divided: some, taking a more northerly track — the proper one — soon came across a nullah containing water — the thing we were then in search of; whilst we, following on the heels of the guide, lost the way, and, coming upon the same watercourse lower down the stream, bivouacked for the night alongside some green, fetid, stagnant pools, in which a host of young frogs were keeping up a merry concert. We fired guns, but without avail, the distance we were separated by being too great for the reports to be heard.

Next morning, after following up the nullah for some considerable distance, we lit upon the rest of the party, sitting by a chain of pools, where they had bivouacked like ourselves; and, mingling together, commenced the march. At this time it was discovered that the surveying compass had been left behind, and I wished to return at once; but as Captain Burton was knocked up, and would not wait for me, the instrument was abandoned. Then, with the party complete, we passed to the northward of Khombora, by an indenture of the ground lying between it and a much larger hill, called Sagama, which hill forms the south-eastern buttress of the Usumbara masses; and opening into the valley of Pangani again, we put up at a Wazégura village on its right bank, called Kohodé, crossing the river by a ferry. Here my companion, with all the party — save one exceptional Seedi soldier, Mabarak Bombay7 who knew a little Hindustani, and acted as my interpreter — stopped a day, to recover from the fatigues of the late harassing march, for they appeared thoroughly knocked up, and to revel on a feast of milk and flesh which, with great cordiality, was supplied them by Sultan Momba, a Wazégura chief. We were now fifteen miles distant from the compass, and I called on volunteers to forsake these festivities and follow me back to get it. It was a great trial, and Bombay of all the party was the only man who could be induced to go; but he, as will be seen in many subsequent parts of this book, was ever ready to do anything for anybody, and cheerfully started off with me. The first thing which we saw after crossing by the ferry was a dead hippopotamus, lying on the greensward of the alluvial plain, encircled by a number of savages (Washenzi), all armed with bow and arrows, looking wistfully at their prostrate game. The animal was scarcely cold, and lay on the ground like a large shapeless hog bristling with arrows. It appeared from their statements that these savage hunters had been waiting on the plain for several hours before daybreak, expecting the animal on his retreat from his nocturnal excursions under the lee of the Sagama hill, in quest of rank grasses and forest-trees growing there, which compose his ordinary food, to make for a certain deep place in the river, by which means he would have to cross the plain exactly where they posted themselves: they were not mistaken. The beast advanced at the usual time for going to his watery abode, and the savages at once surrounded him on the plain; by firing arrows from all sides at once in rapid succession, the huge awkward beast knew not which man to set on first, and in its constant, fruitless, angry endeavours to reach the last assailant, he soon became exhausted, and was eventually overpowered.

We now passed on to the nullah, followed it down to the place of bivouac, found the compass, and returned. In the bed of the nullah there were numerous pools, both large and small, but all were rapidly drying up, and destroying the numerous fish they contained; for as this desiccation increased, and the pools became smaller, the fervid sun heated the little remaining water to such an overpowering extent, that the fish, half suffocated, turned on their backs and became an easy prey to the numerous green-and-brown-striped iguanas that eagerly thronged their brinks for food. As we approached, these horrid-looking reptiles hurried off like frightened cats to their hiding-places, some bearing fish away in their mouths, whilst others, less composed, dropped what they had half devoured, to evade us all the more readily. This intense fear of man is caused by their being the negro’s game, who eat them with the same kind of pleasure and relish which a Frenchman has for frogs. Cheerily did we trip along, for Bombay — astonished at my oddities or peculiarities, as he thought them, when I picked up a river shell, or dilated much on the antelopes and birds we sometimes saw — broke into a series of yarns about his former life, and of the wild animals with which he was familiar in his fatherland. He seemed to me a surprisingly indefatigable walker, for he joked and talked and walked as briskly at the end of thirty miles as he did at starting. As the sun was setting we repassed the place where the hippopotamus had been slain, but not a vestige of his flesh or a bone remained to mark the place — every morsel had been carried off for food. Ferrying across the river, we were heartily met by the boisterous, mirthful Sultan Momba, who instantly on our landing shook us heartily by the hand, commented on our walking powers with enthusiastic pride, invited us to his palace (grass hut), and gave us a royal repast.

13th February. — We started early in the morning, and after crossing the Pangani, took to the beaten track and followed up the valley. Nearly at the outset we passed over the Luangéra river, close to its junction with the Pangani, by a tree thrown across it. The stream, though not broad, is deep and sullen, and, by native report, is infested with crocodiles. This may easily be imagined, for the Pangani, a much rougher, and therefore a less favourable river for them, undoubtedly is so. Here, near the junction of these two rivers, their united valleys cause a much greater expanse of alluvial ground; and had we turned northwards, we might have reached Fuga in two short marches, by crossing over a mountain spur called Vugiri; but in consideration of our men, who had to carry unusually heavy burdens, we determined to follow on our course up the valley by a lower and more easy road, passing round instead of over this spur. With the Vugiri hills overhanging us on the right, like a bluff high wall, prettily decked with bush and tree, and the boisterous Pangani murmuring on the left hand, which now in many places was divided by little inhabited islands, we tracked along the valley until we reached Pasunga, when we left the river still coming from the north-west, and then, turning sharply round the extreme western point of the Vugiri spur, we entered on a cultivated plain in a direct line facing Fuga. Here, on the second day, being overtaken by a fierce storm, we put up in some sheds outside a village. There were three small cones, called Mbara, close to us west by north; but besides these, to the northward, there was nothing save an uninterrupted plain of the densest jungle leading up to the Makumbara mountains, about ten miles distant. The village itself was enshrouded in a dense thicket, which was entered by the narrowest of passages, cut through branches for security’s sake, and was further protected by piles and stakes against the attacks of enemies. Everybody here feels an insecurity to life and property, which makes people wonder how they ever can be happy. Prosperous they are not, and never will be, until such time as enlightened men may happen to come amongst them to teach their chiefs the art of governing. Of all villages the most secure from attack seem those that are situated on the river islands, where the division of the stream affords a natural moat, which no African art can overcome.

15th February. — After waiting for a few hours this morning for the rain to subside, we got under way and made straight for Fuga. The first half of the journey led us by well-beaten footpaths through flat cultivated fields of sugar-cane and bananas, tamarind-trees, papaws, and various jungle shrubs, filling up the non-arable surface; and then began a steep ascent by rudely-beaten zigzags, to ease the abruptness of the hill, on which the capital is situated. The whole face of this hill was clothed with large timber trees, around which, here and there, entwining their trunks, clung the delicate sarsaparilla vine; and beneath them flourished, as by spontaneous growth, the universal plantain, a vegetable grown in this country as we do corn, and, like it also, regarded as the staff of life. At length, after a little hard toiling, we emerged from this prodigious wooding, and found ourselves on a naked, bold, prominent point overlooking the whole plain we had left behind, and from which we could clearly see its entire dimensions. To the northward, as already said, was the Makumbara range, a dense compact mass of solid-looking hills, much higher than the spur we stood upon, but joining it to the north-eastward; whilst its other extremity shot out to the north-westward, until it seemed as though it were suddenly cut off by the Pangani river.

Beyond the river, again, looking across the western extremity, but farther back than it, other large hills, bedimmed by distance, could be seen tending in a south-westerly direction, which in all probability are a link of the longitudinal chain, which, as our maps will show, fringe the whole of the southern continent of Africa.8 The country directly beyond the river valley rose into gentle undulations, but on this side all was flat and densely wooded, save in one little spot to the north-west of the Mbara cones, where a sheet of water or small lake made a bald conspicuous place — and here it was, by native report, that elephants and other large game abounded.

Having now completed the survey, we proceeded along the shoulder of the hill just ascended, and passing by a ferruginous spring, soon arrived unexpectedly to its inhabitants at Fuga, the capital of Usumbara, and presented ourselves to the astonished Fugaites, who naturally began to question what could possibly be the meaning of this stolen march on them; for, contrary to the laws of the land, no permission to enter their citadel had been asked, and consequently no one was prepared to see or receive us. Access to the village was strictly forbidden to us strangers, until at least the king, whose palace is situated some distance from it, had been consulted with in a certain form of ridiculous ceremony, which, for politeness’ sake, we felt ourselves bound to assent to, but in the meanwhile we took possession of some huts close to it, where Mr Krapf, our Church missionary, had some years previously, when visiting this place, taken up his abode.

A deputation was now sent with our compliments to the king, Kimuéri, soliciting an audience; and just before sunset they returned to say we must remain where we were for the present, as the king was in doubt about our intentions, regarding us with suspicion, as we had come through the territories of his enemies, the Wazégura, which was tantamount to a hostile declaration; and, moreover, he required leisure for his mganga or magic-man to divine what time would be propitious for an interview. The old man was in the wane of life, being upwards, it was said, of one hundred years of age, and his people thought he must die. Hearing this, Captain Burton, playing with his superstitious credulity, devised a plan by which he at once gained access to him. The king was lying on a cartel in a small round hut, encompassed on his near side by swarthy-looking counsellors, who smoked small pipes and sat on low three-legged stools. Sultan Majid’s introductory letter was now read, and all seemed satisfied as to who we were. We then returned to our lodgings, and found a bullock and some meal of Indian corn and plantains sent as a honorarium after us. Next morning, agreeably to promise, at the king’s direction, a guide came to show us about the place, in order that Captain Burton might be able to pick some leaves or herbs to make a certain decoction which would insure longevity; but as none such could be found, and the old king had seen through the trick, entrance to the “town” was still forbidden.

Whilst wandering about, however, we chanced to see a number of negroes turn out and chase down an antelope. It was a very small rufous-brown animal, much about the size and shape of the Kakur deer of the Himalayas; but what struck me most was, the peculiarity of its having, unlike all hitherto known African species, four points of horns. In consequence of this great novelty, I tried to purchase its head, but the greedy savages who caught it, coveting the flesh, would not, for any consideration, let me have it, and I never saw another killed. Rain poured down in torrents at night, and the days remained so cloudy, that we felt the kuzi or little monsoon had now fairly set in, and the sooner we could get away from the high lands so much the better for us. In the evening (15th February), therefore, we sent our return presents to the king, and asked permission to be allowed to go. A very civil reply was given, with certain additions, for which I could not help admiring him; but he would not accept the present, and we might go whenever we pleased.

Thinking to obviate to the best of my ability any differences with these benighted but cunning people, and to leave as favourable an impression of our visit as I could, I advised Captain Burton to distribute amongst the ministers those things which had been brought for the king, and this accordingly was done, but not without considerable debate, and the finally reluctant sanction of the king.9 The next morning (16th February) saw us descending the heights of Fuga, and in a few hours’ walk we left the cool congenial air incidental to 4000 or 5000 feet, for the hot, damp, morbid, close atmosphere of the jungle plains below, in which, as Miss Nightingale would say, you could palpably smell a fever. Then following the old route, we came down to the Pangani; and in three days’ travelling along it, as Captain Burton, being no sportsman, would not stop for shooting, we put up once more at Kohodé, with Sultan Momba.

19th February. — To vary the way and gain a better knowledge of the river, we now determined to follow it all the way down to Chogué, which we made on the third day, spending the two intervening nights at the Wazégura villages of Kiranga and Kizungu. The valley, though much varied, was generally contracted by the closing in of the rolling terminal abutments of the Tongué hill, on the one side — with rising land, and little conical hills almost joining, which overhung the river on the right bank in Uzégura, on the other side. We seldom met any people on the line of march; and the land being totally uncultivated, excepting in the immediate vicinity of these villages, we felt as though we were travelling through a desert wild of dreary jungle — which, indeed, it was. No animals, and scarcely any birds, moved about to cheer and keep the road alive; and all was silent, save the constant gurgling, rumbling sound of the river’s waters as they rushed rapidly over boulders and often plunged down many little falls in the bed of the stream. On passing the point opposite to Tongué Fort, we saw the cause which produced the sound like a cataract, which formerly we had heard when standing on its summit. It was, indeed, a cascade of considerable dimensions, and would, doubtless, be a sight of pleasing grandeur when the river is full.

In the afternoon of the 22d, as we approached Chogué, the little Beluch jemadar, with the rest of the guard, turned out to welcome us, and gloat over the successful termination of an artful trick he felt himself the father of. He spread mats for us to sit upon, and brought the universal coffee-pot and some sweetmeats as a relish to refresh us and increase the triumph; for the little man, no doubt, thought he had gained his prize.

The next three days were spent in making different excursions, shooting hippopotami in the vicinity of the outpost; and on the 26th February we returned to Pangani, Captain Burton dropping down the river in a canoe, whilst I, to complete the survey of the country and to check my former work on the river, walked with Bombay to Pombui, ferried across the stream there, and came by the right bank down to Buéni, on the shore of the Pangani Bay. Here I recrossed the river again, and found Sheikh Said and my “boy” Gaetano, with all the traps arranged, ready at the old house for our reception. Our vessel had been discharged at the expiration of the first month’s engagement, and we were now expecting a second one from Zanzibar, to continue the cruise southward along the shore, and gain a fuller knowledge of the various entrepôts of caravans. I had by this time become much attached to Bombay, for I must say I never saw any black man so thoroughly honest and conscientious as he was, added to which, his generosity was unbounded; and I thought (as we shall see afterwards proved to be the case) he would turn out a most valuable servant for the future journey — a regular “Friday.” The only difficulty now was how to obtain his discharge from the service he was in; but this the jemadar, who followed us down to Pangani to receive the wages for the men who accompanied us to Fuga, said he would arrange, if Bombay felt willing, and would leave a substitute to act for him whilst he was away. A compact was accordingly concluded, by which Bombay became my servant for the time being, at five dollars per mensem, with board and lodging on the journey found him. The jemadar now left us, with a present for himself and the hire of his men, and we were all alone.

On the 1st March a violent bilious fever attacked me, and also floored Captain Burton and Valantine. It appeared in the form of the yellow jack of Jamaica, and made us all as yellow as guineas; and had we been able to perspire, I have no doubt we should have sweated out a sort of yellow ochre which a painter might have coveted. In this state we lay physicking ourselves until the 5th, when a vessel chartered by the Consul, and stored with delicacies of all kinds by our generous, thoughtful old host for the journey southwards, arrived, and took us off. Captain Burton being still under the influences of this terrible scourge, and very ill, even to absolute prostration, and occasionally wandering in his mind, he gave up his projected plans, and we returned at once to Zanzibar, reaching it on the 6th March.

The Masika, or great vernal rainy season which follows up the sun as it passes to the north, broke over the island of Zanzibar this year early in April, and was expected to last for its normal period of forty days. For this to subside we had now to wait here as patiently as we could, occupying the spare time so forced on us in purchasing an outfit and in preparing for the journey. It was highly interesting to see here at this season of the year, as we well could do, so near the equator, the regular systematic procession of the wind and rain following up the sun in its northward passage. The atmosphere, at this time and place, was heated and rarefied by the vertical rays of the sun; that produced a vacuum, which the cold airs of the south taking advantage of, rush up to fill, and with their coldness condense the heated vapours drawn up daily from the ocean and precipitate them back again on the earth below. This occurring and continually repeating day by day, for a certain time, nearly in the same place, fills the air with electric excitement, which causes thunder and lightning to accompany nearly every storm. The atmospheric air’s being so surcharged with electricity was palpably felt by the nervous system; at any rate, judging from myself, I can only say I experienced a nervous sensibility I never knew before, of being startled at any sudden accident. A pen dropping from the table even would make me jump. Whilst stopping here, the Colonel’s house was one continuous scene of pleasure and festivities. The British Consulate was the common rendezvous of all men: Arab, Hindi, German, French, or American, were all alike received without distinction or any forced restraint. Indeed, the old Consul literally studied the mode of making people happy; and Zanzibar, instead of being an outlandish place, such as to make one wonder how men could exile themselves by coming here, was really a place of great enjoyment. The merchants, on the other hand, were not less hospitably inclined, and constantly entertained and gave very handsome dinners.

Besides our Consulate, there is a French and an American one, and the European merchants were composed of French, Germans, and Americans — the dark-coloured ones being principally confined to Arabs, Hindis, and the Wasuahili, or coast people. Taking advantage of the time, especially the evenings, I spent most of them in rating the chronometers and getting all the surveying instruments into working order; whilst Captain Burton, besides book-making, busied himself in making all the other arrangements for the journey, such as purchasing Venetian beads, brass wire, and American sheetings, &c., which come here in shiploads round the Cape of Good Hope, or in buying donkeys for our riding and their transport. Then in the cool of the mornings we took social walks or rides through the clove plantations, or amongst the palms, mango-trees, and orange gardens, treating pine-apples, which grew like common weeds on the roadsides, as if they were nothing better than ordinary turnips, though when placed upon the table they are certainly as delicious as any living fruit. The only fine houses are those occupied by the Europeans and the Sultan, and they front the harbour, which is considered a very good one, and is very constantly filled with shipping, the Sultan’s men-of-war, foreign square-rigged vessels, and a host of buggaloes from Aden, Muscat, Catch, and Bombay. The back of the town is very much like a common Indian bazaar, but there is a hollow square in its centre, which nowadays is peculiar to this place — it is the slave-market. Immediately after every fresh importation, you can see in the early morning unhappy-looking men and women, all hideously black and ugly, tethered to one another like horses in a fair, and calculating men, knowing judges of flesh and limb, walking up and down, feeling their joints and looking out to make a bargain. Women, of course, sell better than the men, being fitted to more general purposes. For a good wife any sum might be given. But the saddest sight which came under my observation was the way in which some licentious-looking men began a cool, deliberate inspection of a certain divorced culprit who had been sent back to the market for inconstancy to her husband. She had learnt a sense of decency during her conjugal life, and the blushes on her face now clearly showed how her heart was mortified at this unseemly exposure, made worse because she could not help it.

The amount of information gathered by the expedition concerning the interior of Africa at Zanzibar, I may say was nil, to use Captain Burton’s own words, in a letter written at the British Consulate, 22d April 1857, and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, page 52 of No. 1, vol. ii., where these remarkable words may be found:—“We could obtain no useful information from the European merchants of Zanzibar, who are mostly ignorant of everything beyond the island. The Arabs and Sawahilis, who were averse to, and fearful of, white travellers, did give us information, but it was worse than none.”

The orders of the Royal Geographical Society to Captain Burton were these, in short:—“The great object of the expedition is to penetrate inland from Kilwa, or some other place on the east coast of Africa, and make the best of your way to the reputed Lake of Nyassa; to determine the position and limits of that lake; to ascertain the depth and nature of its waters and tributaries; to explore the country around it, &c. Having obtained all the information you require in that quarter, you are to proceed northwards towards the range of mountains marked upon our maps as containing the probable sources of the Bahr el Abiad, which it will be your next great object to discover.”

Bearing these instructions in mind, Captain Burton naturally felt desirous of penetrating from Kilwa to attack the missionaries’ great slug-shaped lake in the tail. The reason why Captain Burton was prevented from doing so, I shall show again by a reference to the same letter. He writes thus:—“The accounts formerly made in Europe about the facility of penetrating inland from Kilwa (Quiloa), and the economy of travel in that region, are fabulous. The southern Sawahili are more hostile to explorers than the inhabitants of the northern maritime towns, and their distance from the seat of government renders them daring by impunity. But last year they persuaded the Waginda tribe of the interior to murder a peaceful Arab merchant, in order that strangers might be deterred from interfering with their commerce. Messrs Krapf and Erhardt, of the Mombas mission, spent a few hours at Kilwa, where they were civilly received by the governor and citizens, but they were sadly deceived in being led to imagine that they could make that port their starting-point.” “We shall probably land at Bagamoyo.”

Now we did land at Kaolé, close to Bagamoyo, but the route from Kilwa to Nyassa was afterwards safely traversed by Dr Boscher, though, after that, Boscher was murdered by some thieves in Whiyow.10 Having said this much, which shows that Captain Burton was bent on going by the great caravan road to Ujiji, I shall first of all dwell on the nature of the men we took with us, what agreements they made, and what pays they received. I feel bound to state this, as I was called on by the Consul to witness the agreements, and much of the journey was performed by myself alone; added to which, the funds of the expedition fell short, and as soon as it did so, I made a compact with Captain Burton that, in the event of the Government not paying our excess of expenditure, I would pay him the half of all those expenses; and I did so to the extent of £600 after the journey was over.

Our cafila bashi (head of caravan) was Sheikh Said, who went with us to Mombas. He said he would go with us if we only went to Ujiji on the Tanganyika Lake, but he would not go on any other line, as his relatives feared some accident might befall him. For this he received from Colonel Hamerton 500 dollars; and he was promised, if he succeeded in pleasing us, 1000 dollars more, and a gold watch, on his return. There was a little more difficulty in getting a Beluch escort, for the Consul cautioned us that we could not expect the Sultan to give one gratis. He asked the Sultan, however, for men, and we were told we might have them out of his army if they would volunteer. The head jemadar then came to make a bargain, and we said we would give to each man five dollars a-month, besides rations and clothing the same as Bombay got. This bait would not take, and we could not get one man until the Consul again spoke to the Sultan about it. A party then were marched up to the Consulate, when, in addition to the pay already offered, they demanded flesh as often as we killed a goat, bullock, or sheep, but they would not serve more than six months. To this last stipulation, arguing on my Somali experiences, I stoutly objected, but was overruled both by Colonel Hamerton and Captain Burton. The Colonel then gave the jemadar of our party a present of 25 dollars, and to each of the privates 20 dollars, to set themselves up for the journey. Further, he promised them a handsome reward on their return if they served us well, to be paid out of some public fund in the same way as he paid Sheikh Said.

The rest of our escort consisted of some slaves, who were furnished us by a Banyan named Ramji. They were armed with muskets, and enlisted not to carry loads, but to guard us and treat with the native chiefs on the line of march, as they were familiar with the road to Ujiji, and were friends with the chiefs we should find there. Their pay was fixed at 5 dollars a-month, half of which they were to keep themselves, and the other half to be given to their master in compensation for the loss of their services. Further, six months’ wages at this rate was to be paid in advance, and the remainder when the journey was over; but leaving a clause to the effect that they might be discharged at any time, supposing we did not require their services further.

Everybody at Zanzibar did his best to assist us, from the Sultan downwards. The European merchants gave us most hospitable entertainments on a very grand scale, and Mr Oswald, in particular, transported our spare boxes to England. Ladha, the customs master, was our banker, and found our outfit of beads, brass wire, and cloths, which is the circulating medium in inner Africa instead of money. Colonel Hamerton was so anxious for the success of the expedition, that he obtained a man-of-war — the corvette Artemise — from the Sultan on the 16th June 1857, and accompanied us over to Kaolé on the mainland, notwithstanding at the time he was dangerously ill. For some time we were detained here collecting baggage animals to carry our property. All we wanted could not be procured, as the bulk of the pagazis (porters) had been previously hired by the ivory merchant traders. However, thirty-six men were sent forward to Zungoméro by Ladha, and we bought thirty donkeys. When all was done that could be done in a hurry, we bade the generous old Colonel adieu, as well as his medical attendant, Mr Frost, and commenced the journey inland on the 27th June — Ladha promising to send the rest of our property after us as soon as he could find carriage for it.

I have already published, in my ‘Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile,’ a description of the countries we had to pass through to reach Kazé, so I shall not trouble the reader with the details on that point, contained in my previous publication. Suffice it to say that Kazé is a place in the centre of Unyamuézi, the Land of the Moon, situated in S. lat. 5°, and E. long. 33°. It is occupied by Arab merchants as a central trading depôt, and is fast expanding into a colony. At the time of our starting we did not know that, but imagined we should find a depôt of that sort at Ujiji. Travelling through the country of Uzaramo, both Captain Burton and I contracted fevers. Mine occasionally recurred at various intervals, but his stuck to him throughout the journey, and even lasted till some time after he came home.

At Zungoméro we overtook the porters that Ladha had sent forward. I calculated our rate of expenditure, found we had not enough for the necessities of the journey, and prevailed on Captain Burton to write back for more, notwithstanding our Government subsidy was out; for I could not brook the idea of failure, even though we might have to pay our future travelling expenses out of our own pockets.

I was also shocked here to hear that our good stanch friend, Colonel Hamerton, had died shortly after we left him. It struck a blow also on the minds of Sheikh Said and the Beluches, for they naturally thought their security was gone. Sheikh Said, however, I must say, very much to his credit, soon shook off his fears, and even told the Beluches to do the same, for another consul would come who would see justice done to them.

We then left Zungoméro and crossed the East Coast Range. During this stage the Beluches one day struck for food, as they were disappointed at our not killing goats, the fact being that I had supplied our table with guinea-fowls. An altercation took place which I had to settle, as was invariably the case when any difficulties arose in the camp. I managed the matter by ordering a march. This brought them to reason, for hitherto they thought we should be afraid to go without them. The consequence was that, finding themselves left behind, they forgot their wrath and followed us. On the way they found Captain Burton lying by the roadside prostrate with fever, and, taking compassion on him, brought him into camp. They were forgiven; but another difficulty arose in consequence of our donkeys dying faster than their loads were consumed, so that we could not have proceeded had not some of Ramji’s slaves carried some loads for us. Our supplies were already too short for our journey; nevertheless, Captain Burton said he would pay them if they carried our loads.

They did so; but Captain Burton, on my saying we should find it difficult to keep faith with them, mildly replied, “Arabs made promises in that way, but never kept them; and, moreover, slaves of this sort never expected to be paid.” I grew angry at this declaration — for I had seen Tibet ruined by officers not keeping faith with their porters — and argued the matter, but without effect. On arrival at Ugogi, on the west flank of the East Coast Range, our cattle were so completely done up that we could not have proceeded, had it not happened, by the greatest luck in the world, we found some pagazis here desirous of going to their homes in Unyamuézi. They had been left there by a caravan in consequence of a quarrel which originated in seduction. This lift took us over the interior plateau across Ugogo and Mgunda Mkhali to Kazé, where we arrived on the 7th November 1857. The Arabs we found collected here were extremely obliging, especially one Sheikh Snay, who furnished us with a house, looked after our wants, and supplied us with much useful information.

On my opening Messrs Rebmann and Erhardt’s map, and asking him where Nyassa was, he said it was a distinct lake from Ujiji, lying to the southward. This opened our eyes to a most interesting fact, for the first time discovered. I then asked what the word Ukéréwé meant, and was answered in the same way, that it was a lake to the northward, much larger than Ujiji, and this solved the mystery. The missionaries had run three lakes into one. In great glee at this I asked Snay, through Captain Burton, whether or not a river ran out of that lake? to which he replied, he thought the lake was the source of the Jub river; and he strongly advised us, if our only motive in coming here was to look at a large piece of water, to go to it instead of on to Ujiji. Captain Burton and I argued that we thought the lake in question, which was the Victoria N’yanza, would more likely prove to be the source of the Nile, from the simple fact of our knowing the Jub to be separated from the interior plateau by the East Coast Range. Time wore on. Our pagazis all left us, as is usual, on their arriving at their homes, and we had to procure more to carry our traps on to Ujiji.

Captain Burton attempted to get porters by giving presents to the best two men we had for that purpose, but without the least effect. They promised and kept us waiting, but never performed. In the mean time Captain Burton got desperately ill, whilst I picked up all the information I could gather from the Arabs, with Bombay as an interpreter.11 I heard that the Babisa, who live on the west of Nyassa, came to the southeast corner of Tanganyika in quest of ivory for the Kilua merchants. That caravans sometimes reached the Cazembé country by land, crossing the Manungu river, and also went to Katata for copper, which is of a dark rich red colour, and more prized than the imported copper. Some Arabs also went down the Tanganyika, disembarked at Manungu, and reached Cazembé. Further, I heard from Snay and his associates that the Kitangulé and Katonga rivers ran out of the Ukéréwé Lake (Victoria N’yanza), and that another river, which is the Nile, but supposed by them to be the upper portions of the Jub river, ran into the N’yanza. Further conversation explained this away, and I made them confess that all these rivers ran exactly contrary to the way they first stated; as it was obvious, if the N’yanza was the source of the Jub, the last river alluded to must flow out of the lake instead of into it, as they had said. Still more extraordinary than this, I heard from Snay that vessels frequented some waters to the northward of the equator, which confirmed some statement I had heard of the same nature in 1855 when travelling in the Somali country. I could not fix in my own mind exactly what this alluded to; but I felt so curious to find out, and so sure in my own mind that the Victoria N’yanza would prove to be the source of the Nile, I proposed going to see it at once, instead of going on to Ujiji. The route, however, to the northward was said to be dangerous — Usui alone would seize all our property — and Captain Burton preferred going west. How this even was to be managed then seemed very dubious, for not one of Ramji’s slaves would come near us, and the Beluches were so tired of the journey they begged for their discharge, crying it was their due, as they had served their turn of service. They wanted no pay if we would only give them certificates of satisfaction. We would not do this; and then they said, as they saw we wanted them, they would not desert us.

We had now been at Kazé rather more than a month, and I thought Captain Burton would die if we did not make a move, so I begged him to allow me to assume the command pro tem., and I would see what I could do to effect a move. Accordingly, as he agreed, I made arrangements with Snay, and transported half our property to Zimbili, where I prepared a house for Captain Burton’s reception on the 5th December. Three days after he was carried over, and he begged me to take account of his effects, as he thought he would die. I cheered him up, and found the change of air had the effect I desired. Still Ramji’s men would not come out to camp, so I tried with Bombay to see what they had at heart, and then it transpired they had not been paid for carrying loads on from the East Coast Range to Kazé. In a minute I recollected Captain Burton’s promise to them, brought them into the camp, and paid them their dues.

Bit by bit we pushed on to Mséné, another small colony occupied chiefly by Wasuahili, and here we ate our Christmas dinner. The country was rich in the extreme, and well under rice cultivation. Ramji’s men were quite in their element here, and even Bombay became so love-sick we could hardly tear him away. We broke ground on the 10th January 1858, but not until three days after did the whole of our men join us. I saw now we had too many mouths to feed; and as Ramji’s men had been hired more for show than work, their term of service had just expired, and I did not think we should require their guns any more, I begged Captain Burton to give them a present each, with leave to go to their homes — for it must be remembered they possess homes in Unyamuézi as well as at Zanzibar. The men craved to be allowed to go on with us, but I, more than any one else, insisted we ought to get rid of them, for the reasons stated above; and so they were discharged. I found we were on a great decline of the country draining to the westward; the soil was deeper and richer, and the vegetation proportionately richer as we went on with the journey. Shortly we crossed the Malagarazi river in a bark canoe at the Mpété ferry, and found that, after having travelled along this decline from Kazé about one hundred and fifty miles, we began to ascend at the eastern horn of a large crescent-shaped mass of mountains overhanging the northern half of the Tanganyika Lake, which I am now about to describe.

This mountain mass I consider to be THE TRUE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, regarding which so many erroneous speculations have been ventured. I infer this because they lie beyond Unyamuézi (country of the Moon), and must have been first mentioned to geographical inquirers by the Wanyamuézi (people of the Moon), who have from time out of mind visited the coast, and must have been the first who gave information of them. I am the more satisfied of the correctness of this view from observing the missionaries’ map; for what could have induced them to call their great lake, in general terms, the Sea of the Moon, except that it lay beyond the country of the Moon?12 The mountains form a crescent overhanging the north end of the lake, large and deep in the body to the north, and tapering to horns as they stretch southwards down the east and west sides of the lake. Our line of march, about six hundred rectilinear geographical miles, had been nearly due west from Zanzibar. Here you may picture to yourself my bitter disappointment when, after toiling through so many miles of savage life, all the time emaciated by divers sicknesses and weakened by great privations of food and rest, I found, on approaching the zenith of my ambition, the Great Lake in question nothing but mist and glare before my eyes. From the summit of the eastern horn the lovely Tanganyika Lake could be seen in all its glory by everybody but myself. The fact was, that fevers and the influence of a vertical sun had reduced my system so, that inflammation, caught by sleeping on the ground during this rainy season, attacked my eyes, brought on an almost total blindness, and rendered every object before me enclouded as by a misty veil. Proceeding onwards down the western slopes of the hill, we soon arrived at the margin of the lake, and hired a canoe at Ukaranga to take us to Ujiji, the chief place on the lake which Arabs frequent. This is a name we had long been familiar with, and is the term by which the Arabs in general call this lake. This mode of nomenclature is quite in accordance with the usual custom of semi-civilised people, as we see in Arabia, where the Arabs call the Red Sea by the names of the different ports which they frequent. Thus, for instance, at Jeddah, it is called by them the Sea of Jeddah, whilst at Suez it is the Sea of Suez, &c. &c. The Tanganyika Lake, lying between 3° and 8° south latitude, and in 29° east longitude, has a length of three hundred miles, and is from thirty to forty broad in its centre. The surface-level, as I ascertained by the temperature of boiling water, is only eighteen hundred feet, and it appears quite sunk into the lap of these mountains. Its waters are very sweet, and abound with delicious fish in great variety. The fertility of the northern end of the lake surpassed anything we had hitherto seen; but this was not surprising when duly considered. The hills, instead of being, as on the great plateau we had recently left, outcrops of granite, were composed of argillaceous sandstone. Rains there lasted all the year round, and the temperature was very considerable. In consequence of this the sides of the lake are thickly inhabited by numerous tribes of the true negro breed, amongst which the most conspicuous are the Wabembé cannibals, into whose territory no Arabs durst ever venture. Bombay, my interpreter, describes them as being very dreadful creatures, who are “always looking out for some of our sort.” The port we finally arrived at is called Kawélé, a small village in the Ujiji district. Here we landed all our property, and took up our abode in a deserted house, which had been left to decay by some Arab merchants. The Beluch guard received a present of cloth; they seemed very glad the land march was at an end. In that respect we felt the same as our men; but we found ourselves in the hands of a very ill-disposed chief, called Kannina — tyrannical, and, as such savages invariably are, utterly unreasonable. A heavy tribute was paid for the advantages of this savage monster’s protection, and we were too short of beads and cloth to search out for and pay another chief of more moderate inclinations. This was a serious misfortune; for, having once entered his dominions and established our headquarters there, we could not very well leave them. This was the more distressing, as comfort, pleasure, and everything is at the mercy of these headsmen’s wills, and we were destined for a long sojourn here. To war with these chiefs is like “cutting off the nose to spite the face.” Nobody, let his desire be what it may, dares assist you without the chief’s full approbation; and Kannina’s austere government we had occasion to feel from first to last. Our first object on arrival was to get boats for the survey of the lake; but here arose a difficulty. Hostilities were rife with nearly all the border tribes; and the little cockle-shell canoes, made from the hollowed trunks of trees, are not only liable to be driven ashore by the slightest storm, but are so small that there is but little stowage-room in them for carrying supplies. The sailors, aware of this defect, fear to venture anywhere except on certain friendly beats, and therefore their boats were quite unfitted for our work.

This dilemma made us try to hire a dhow or sailing-vessel, belonging to Sheikh Hamed bin Suléyim, living at Kasengé Island, on the opposite or western shore, as it was the only boat afloat on these waters fitted for carrying provisions and moving about independent of the border clans. On arriving here, we were so disabled by sickness — Captain Burton utterly, and I suffering from ophthalmia, and a weakness in the lower extremities resembling paralysis — that my companion proposed sending our Ras-cafila, Sheikh Said, across the lake to bargain for the dhow, and applied to Kannina for the means of transport. At first he seemed inclined to treat, though at an exorbitant rate; but when we came direct to terms, he backed entirely out. Fortunately we obtained a boat and crew from another chief, at the extortionate charge of four kitindis and four dhotis merikani, besides the usual sailors’ fee. The dhoti is a piece of American sheeting measuring eight cubits. The cubit is still the negro’s yard, the same as was adopted at the time of the Flood; they have no other measure than that with which nature has provided them — viz., the first joint of the arm, or from the elbow to the top of the middle finger. These kitindis are a sort of brass-wire bracelet worn on the lower arm by the negro females, coiled up from the wrist to the elbow, like a wax taper circling up a stick or stem. Sometimes this wire is reformed and coiled flat out round the neck to a breadth of about eight inches, and gives the wearer’s head much the appearance of John the Baptist’s standing in the middle of a charger. These necklaces are never taken off, so at night, or resting-time, the wearer on lying down places a block of wood or stone beneath his head, to prevent the wire from galling. This concession of the chief was given under the proviso that Kannina would not object, which, strange to say, he promised not to do; and hopes were entertained of an early departure. However, this, like every other earthly expectation in these black regions, was destined to be disappointed. In the first place, an African must do everything by easy stages, nor can he entertain two ideas in his head at the same moment. First a crew had to be collected, and when collected to be paid, and when paid the boat was found to be unseaworthy, and must be plugged; and so much time elapsed, and plans were changed. But after all, things, it happened, were wisely ordained; for the time thus wasted served to recruit my health, as I employed it in bathing and strolling gently about during the cool of the mornings and evenings, and so gained considerable benefit. There is a curious idea here with regard to the bathing-place, in fancying the dreaded crocodile will obey the mandates of a charm. They plant the bough of a particular tree in the water about fifty yards from the shore, which marks the line of safe bathing, for within it they say the animal dares not venture. At noon, protected by an umbrella, and fortified with stained-glass spectacles, I usually visited the market-place, with beads in hand, to purchase daily supplies. The market is held between the hours of 10 A.M. and 4 P.M., near the port, and consists of a few temporary huts, composed of grass and branches hastily tied together. Most of these are thrown up day by day. The commodities brought for sale are fish, flesh, tobacco, palm oil, and spirits, different kinds of potatoes, artichokes, several sorts of beans, plantains, melons, cotton, sugar-cane, a variety of pulse and vegetables, ivories, and sometimes slaves. Between these perambulations, I spent the day reclining with my eyes shut. At length, after eighteen days’ negotiations, improved by these constitutional diversions and rest, and longing for a change, especially one that led across the sea, and afforded the means of surveying it, I proposed to go myself, and treat directly with Sheikh Hamed. Captain Burton threw obstacles in my way at first, saying canoes were not safe on such a large lake, but he finally gave in when I pressed the advisability of my doing so. This intention soon reached the ears of Kannina, who, fearing that he might thus lose much cloth, threw obstacles in the way, and most unjustly demanded as large a passport-fee for my crossing as had been given to the other chief; which demand we were obliged to comply with, or the men would not take up an oar.

1 The cheque, I found, after my arrival in England, was not credited in my account, so I had, after all, to pay my own passage.

2 I must add here, to show that the generous hospitality of the Indian navy was now as strong in force as ever it was, that the wardroom officers, not being aware of the intended generosity of the Government to supply us with messing gratis, had laid in an extra store of provisions for the purpose of making us their guests.

3 Banyans are the only class of coloured men who have the ability to be accountants. They fill this office properly, and are therefore always selected for it.

4 On starting to the rescue, my companion complained of the shock his nerves had received since the Somali encounter, and this appeared to affect him during the whole of this journey.

5 Caravans have also reached the shores of the N’yanza at 1° S. lat., and entered Usoga, rounding its north-east corner.

6 See further description of this, page 185.

7 See Bombay’s history, page 210.

8 In future I shall call this fringe or mountain-chain the East Coast Range, in contradistinction to the same hill-formation on the western coast of Africa; for it must be remembered that there are three great leading features in the geographical formation of Africa — viz., a low exterior belt of land, or margin to the continent, varying in breadth according to circumstances, which is succeeded by a high belt of mountains or rugged ground, separating the lowlands from a high interior plateau, lying like a basin within the fringe of hills.

9 The officers of state cannot receive a present without the sanction of the government.

10 The murderers of Dr Boscher were sent to Zanzibar by the chief of their tribe, and were executed by orders of the Sultan.

11 To save repetition, I may as well mention the fact that neither Captain Burton nor myself were able to converse in any African language until we were close to the coast on the return journey.

12 Another question suggests itself. How did Ptolemy hear of the two lakes which he considered were the sources of the Nile? It is obvious he could not have done so by the channel of the Nile, for the Anthropophagi barred all communication in that direction. Here, however, the route from Zanzibar to the Tanganyika Lake and the Victoria N’yanza, in all probability, was kept open by the trading “Men of the Moon;” and thus two lakes were heard of situated east and west of one another, just in convenient situations to fit on to the two branches of Ptolemy’s Nile.


Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30