The Discovery of the Source of the Nile, by John Hanning Speke

Chapter xv. March Down the Northern Slopes of Africa

Kari — Tragic Incident there — Renewals of Troubles — Quarrels with the Natives — Reach the Nile — Description of the Scene there — Sport — Church Estate — Ascend the River to the Junction with the Lake — Ripon Falls — General Account of the Source of the Nile — Descend again to Urondogani — The Truculent Sakibobo.

7th to 11th. — With Budja appointed as the general director, a lieutenant of the Sakibobo’s to furnish us with sixty cows in his division at the first halting-place, and Kasoro (Mr Cat), a lieutenant of Jumba’s, to provide the boats at Urondogani, we started at 1 p.m., on the journey northwards. The Wanguana still grumbled, swearing they would carry no loads, as they got no rations, and threatening to shoot us if we pressed them, forgetting that their food had been paid for to the king in rifles, chronometers, and other articles, costing about 2000 dollars, and, what was more to the point, that all the ammunition was in our hands. A judicious threat of the stick, however, put things right, and on we marched five successive days to Kari — as the place was afterwards named, in consequence of the tragedy mentioned below — the whole distance accomplished being thirty miles from the capital, through a fine hilly country, with jungles and rich cultivation alternating. The second march, after crossing the Katawana river with its many branches flowing north-east into the huge rush-drain of Luajerri, carried us beyond the influence of the higher hills, and away from the huge grasses which characterise the southern boundary of Uganda bordering on the lake.

Each day’s march to Kari was directed much in the same manner. After a certain number of hours’ travelling, Budja appointed some village of residence for the night, avoiding those which belonged to the queen, lest any rows should take place in them, which would create disagreeable consequences with the king, and preferring those the heads of which had been lately seized by the orders of the king. Nevertheless, wherever we went, all the villagers forsook their homes, and left their houses, property, and gardens an easy prey to the thieving propensities of the escort. To put a stop to this vile practice was now beyond my power; the king allowed it, and his men were the first in every house, taking goats, fowls, skins, mbugus, cowries, beads, drums, spears, tobacco, pombe — in short, everything they could lay their hands on — in the most ruthless manner. It was a perfect marauding campaign for them all, and all alike were soon laden with as much as they could carry.

A halt of some days had become necessary at Kari to collect the cows given by the king; and, as it is one of the most extensive pasture-grounds, I strolled with my rifle (11th) to see what new animals could be found; but no sooner did I wound a zebra than messengers came running after me to say Kari, one of my men, had been murdered by the villagers three miles off; and such was the fact. He, with others of my men, had been induced to go plundering, with a few boys of the Waganda escort, to a certain village of potters, as pots were required by Budja for making plantain-wine, the first thing ever thought of when a camp is formed. On nearing the place, however, the women of the village, who were the only people visible, instead of running away, as our braves expected, commenced hullalooing, and brought out their husbands. Flight was now the only thought of our men, and all would have escaped had Kari not been slow and his musket empty. The potters overtook him, and, as he pointed his gun, which they considered a magic-horn, they speared him to death, and then fled at once. Our survivors were not long in bringing the news into camp, when a party went out, and in the evening brought in the man’s corpse and everything belonging to him, for nothing had been taken.

12th. — To enable me at my leisure to trace up the Nile to its exit from the lake, and then go on with the journey as quickly as possible, I wished the cattle to be collected and taken by Budja and some of my men with the heavy baggage overland to Kamrasi’s. Another reason for doing so was, that I thought it advisable Kamrasi should be forewarned that we were coming by the water route, lest we should be suspected and stopped as spies by his officers on the river, or regarded as enemies, which would provoke a fight. Budja, however, objected to move until a report of Kari’s murder had been forwarded to the king, lest the people, getting bumptious, should try the same trick again; and Kasoro said he would not go up the river, as he had received no orders to do so.

In this fix I ordered a march back to the palace, mentioning the king’s last words, and should have gone, had not Budja ordered Kasoro to go with me. A page then arrived from the king to ask after Bana’s health, carrying the Whitworth rifle as his master’s card, and begging for a heavy double-barrelled gun to be sent him from Gani. I called this lad to witness the agreement I had made with Budja, and told him, if Kasoro satisfied me, I would return by him, in addition to the heavy gun, a Massey’s patent log. I had taken it for the navigation of the lake, and it was now of no further use to me, but, being an instrument of complicated structure, it would be a valuable addition to the king’s museum of magic charms. I added I should like the king to send me the robes of honour and spears he had once promised me, in order that I might, on reaching England, be able to show my countrymen a specimen of the manufactures of his country. The men who were with Kari were now sent to the palace, under accusation of having led him into ambush, and a complaint was made against the villagers, which we waited the reply to. As Budja forbade it, no men would follow me out shooting, saying the villagers were out surrounding our camp, and threatening destruction on any one who dared show his face; for this was not the highroad to Uganda, and therefore no one had a right to turn them out of their houses and pillage their gardens.

13th. — Budja lost two cows given to his party last night, and seeing ours securely tied by their legs to trees, asked by what spells we had secured them; and would not believe our assurance that the ropes that bound them were all the medicines we knew of. One of the Queen’s sisters, hearing of Kari’s murder, came on a visit to condole with us, bringing a pot of pombe, for which she received some beads. On being asked how many sisters the queen had, for we could not help suspecting some imposition, she replied she was the only one, till assured ten other ladies had presented themselves as the queen’s sisters before, when she changed her tone, and said, “That is true, I am not the only one; but if I had told you the truth I might have lost my head.” This was a significant expression of the danger to telling court secrets.

I suspected that there must be a considerable quantity of game in this district, as stake-nets and other traps were found in all the huts, as well as numbers of small antelope hoofs spitted on pipe-sticks — an ornament which is counted the special badge of the sportsman in this part of Africa. Despite, therefore, of the warnings of Budja, I strolled again with my rifle, and saw pallah, small plovers, and green antelopes with straight horns, called mpeo, the skin of which makes a favourite apron for the Mabandwa.

14th. — I met to-day a Mhuma cowherd in my strolls with the rifle, and asked him if he knew where the game lay. The unmannerly creature, standing among a thousand of the sleekest cattle, gruffishly replied, “What can I know of any other animals than cows?” and went on with his work, as if nothing in the world could interest him but his cattle-tending. I shot a doe, leucotis, called here nsunnu, the first one seen upon the journey.

15th. — In the morning, when our men went for water to the springs, some Waganda in ambush threw a spear at them, and this time caught a Tartar, for the “horns,” as they called their guns, were loaded, and two of them received shot-wounds. In the evening, whilst we were returning from shooting, a party of Waganda, also lying in the bush, called out to know what we were about; saying, “Is it not enough that you have turned us out of our homes and plantations, leaving us to live like animals in the wilderness?” and when told we were only searching for sport, would not believe that our motive was any other than hostility to themselves.

At night one of Budja’s men returned from the palace, to say the king was highly pleased with the measures adopted by his Wakungu, in prosecution of Kari’s affair. He hoped now as we had cows to eat, there would be no necessity for wandering for food, but all would keep together “in one garden.” At present no notice would be taken of the murderers, as all the culprits would have fled far away in their fright to escape chastisement. But when a little time had elapsed, and all would appear to have been forgotten, officers would be sent and the miscreants apprehended, for it was impossible to suppose anybody could be ignorant of the white men being the guests of the king, considering they had lived at the palace for so long. The king took this opportunity again to remind me that he wanted a heavy solid double gun, such as would last him all his life; and intimated that in a few days the arms and robes of honour were to be sent.

16th. — Most of the cows for ourselves and the guides — for the king gave them also a present, ten each — were driven into camp. We also got 50 lb. of butter, the remainder to be picked up on the way. I strolled with the gun, and shot two zebras, to be sent to the king, as, by the constitution of Uganda, he alone can keep their royal skins.

17th. — We had to halt again, as the guides had lost most of their cows, so I strolled with my rifle and shot a ndjezza doe, the first I had ever seen. It is a brown animal, a little smaller than leucotis, and frequents much the same kind of ground.

18th. — We had still to wait another day for Budja’s cows, when, as it appeared all-important to communicate quickly with Petherick, and as Grant’s leg was considered too weak for travelling fast, we took counsel together, and altered our plans. I arranged that Grant should go to Kamrasi’s direct with the property, cattle, and women, taking my letters and a map for immediate despatch to Petherick at Gani, whilst I should go up the river to its source or exit from the lake, and come down again navigating as far as practicable.

At night the Waganda startled us by setting fire to the huts our men were sleeping in, but providentially did more damage to themselves than to us, for one sword only was buried in the fire, whilst their own huts, intended to be vacated in the morning, were burnt to the ground. To fortify ourselves against another invasion, we cut down all their plaintains to make a boma or fence.

We started all together on our respective journeys; but, after the third mile, Grant turned west, to join the highroad to Kamrasi’s, whilst I went east for Urondogani, crossing the Luajerri, a huge rush-drain three miles broad, fordable nearly to the right bank, where we had to ferry in boats, and the cows to be swum over with men holding on to their tails. It was larger than the Katonga, and more tedious to cross, for it took no less than four hours mosquitoes in myriads biting our bare backs and legs all the while. The Luajerri is said to rise in the lake and fall into the Nile, due south of our crossing-point. On the right bank wild buffalo are described to be as numerous as cows, but we did not see any, though the country is covered with a most inviting jungle for sport, which intermediate lays of fine grazing grass. Such is the nature of the country all the way to Urondogani, except in some favoured spots, kept as tidily as in any part of Uganda, where plantains grow in the utmost luxuriance. From want of guides, and misguided by the exclusive ill-natured Wahuma who were here in great numbers tending their king’s cattle, we lost our way continually, so that we did not reach the boat-station until the morning of the 21st.

Here at last I stood on the brink of the Nile; most beautiful was the scene, nothing could surpass it! It was the very perfection of the kind of effect aimed at in a highly kept park; with a magnificent stream from 600 to 700 yards wide, dotted with islets and rocks, the former occupied by fishermen’s huts, the latter by sterns and crocodiles basking in the sun — flowing between the fine high grassy banks, with rich trees and plantains in the background, where herds of the nsunnu and hartebeest could be seen grazing, while the hippopotami were snorting in the water, and florikan and guinea-fowl rising at our feet. Unfortunately, the chief district officer, Mlondo, was from home, but we took possession of his huts — clean, extensive, and tidily kept — facing the river, and felt as if a residence here would do one good. Delays and subterfuges, however, soon came to damp our spirits. The acting officer was sent for, and asked for the boats; they were all scattered, and could not be collected for a day or two; but, even if they were at hand, no boat ever went up or down the river. The chief was away and would be sent for, as the king often changed his orders, and, after all, might not mean what had been said. The district belonged to the Sakibobo, and no representative of his had come here. These excuses, of course, would not satisfy us. The boats must be collected, seven, if there are not ten, for we must try them, and come to some understanding about them, before we march up stream, when, if the officer values his life, he will let us have them, and acknowledge Karoso as the king’s representative, otherwise a complaint will be sent to the palace, for we won’t stand trifling.

We were now confronting Usoga, a country which may be said to be the very counterpart of Uganda in its richness and beauty. Here the people use such huge iron-headed spears with short handles, that, on seeing one to-day, my people remarked that they were better fitted for digging potatoes than piercing men. Elephants, as we had seen by their devastations during the last two marches, were very numerous in this neighbourhood. Till lately, a party from Unyoro, ivory-hunting, had driven them away. Lions were also described as very numerous and destructive to human life. Antelopes were common in the jungle, and the hippopotami, though frequenters of the plantain-garden and constantly heard, were seldom seen on land in consequence of their unsteady habits.

The king’s page again came, begging I would not forget the gun and stimulants, and bringing with him the things I asked for — two spears, one shield, one dirk, two leopard-cat skins, and two sheets of small antelope skins. I told my men they ought to shave their heads and bathe in the holy river, the cradle of Moses — the waters of which, sweetened with sugar, men carry all the way from Egypt to Mecca, and sell to the pilgrims. But Bombay, who is a philosopher of the Epicurean school, said, “We don’t look on those things in the same fanciful manner that you do; we are contented with all the common-places of life, and look for nothing beyond the present. If things don’t go well, it is God’s will; and if they do go well, that is His will also.”

22d. — The acting chief brought a present of one cow, one goat, and pombe, with a mob of his courtiers to pay his respects. He promised that the seven boats, which are all the station he could muster, would be ready next day, and in the meanwhile a number of men would conduct me to the shooting-ground. He asked to be shown the books of birds and animals, and no sooner saw some specimens of Wolf’s handiwork, than, in utter surprise, he exclaimed, “I know how these are done; a bird was caught and stamped upon the paper,” using action to his words, and showing what he meant, while all his followers n’yanzigged for the favour of the exhibition.

In the evening I strolled in the antelope parks, enjoying the scenery and sport excessively. A noble buck nsunnu, standing by himself, was the first thing seen on this side, though a herd of hertebeests were grazing on the Usoga banks. One bullet rolled my fine friend over, but the rabble looking on no sooner saw the hit than they rushed upon him and drove him off, for he was only wounded. A chase ensued, and he was tracked by his blood when a pongo (bush box) was started and divided the party. It also brought me to another single buck nsunnu, which was floored at once, and left to be carried home by some of my men in company with Waganda, whilst I went on, shot a third nsunnu buck, and tracked him by his blood till dark, for the bullet had pierced his lungs and passed out on the other side. Failing to find him on the way home, I shot, besides florikan and guinea-chicks, a wonderful goatsucker, remarkable for the exceeding length of some of its feathers floating out far beyond the rest in both wings. 21 Returning home, I found the men who had charge of the dead buck all in a state of excitement; they no sooner removed his carcass, than two lions came out of the jungle and lapped his blood. All the Waganda ran away at once; but my braves feared my answer more than the lions, and came off safely with the buck on their shoulders.

21 Named by Dr P. L. Sclater, Cosmetornis Spekii. The seventh pen feathers are double the length of the ordinaries, the eighth double that of the seventh, and the ninth 20 inches long. Bombay says the same bird is found in Uhiyow.

23d. — Three boats arrived, like those used on the Murchison Creek, and when I demanded the rest, as well as a decisive answer about going to Kamrasi’s, the acting Mkungu said he was afraid accidents might happen, and he would not take me. Nothing would frighten this pig-headed creature into compliance, though I told him I had arranged with the king to make the Nile the channel of communication with England. I therefore applied to him for guides to conduct me up the river, and ordered Bombay and Kasoro to obtain fresh orders from the king, as all future Wazungu, coming to Uganda to visit or trade, would prefer the passage by the river. I shot another buck in the evening, as the Waganda love their skins, and also a load of guinea-fowl — three, four, and five at a shot — as Kasoro and his boys prefer them to anything.

24th. — The acting officer absconded, but another man came in his place, and offered to take us on the way up the river to-morrow, humbugging Kasoro into the belief that his road to the palace would branch off from the first state, though in reality it was here. The Mkungu’s women brought pombe, and spent the day gazing at us, till, in the evening, when I took up my rifle, one ran after Bana to see him shoot, and followed like a man; but the only sport she got was on an ant-hill, where she fixed herself some time, popping into her mouth and devouring the white ants as fast as they emanated from their cells — for, disdaining does, I missed the only pongo buck I got a shot at in my anxiety to show the fair one what she came for.

Reports came to-day of new cruelties at the palace. Kasoro improved on their off-hand manslaughter by saying that two Kamravionas and two Sakibobos, as well as all the old Wakungu of Sunna’s time, had been executed by the orders of king Mtesa. He told us, moreover, that if Mtesa ever has a dream that his father directs him to kill anybody as being dangerous to his person, the order is religiously kept. I wished to send a message to Mtesa by an officer who is starting at once to pay his respects at court; but although he received it, and promised to deliver it, Kasoro laughed at me for expecting that one word of it would ever reach the king; for, however, appropriate or important the matter might be, it was more than anybody dare do to tell the king, as it would be an infringement of the rule that no one is to speak to him unless in answer to a question. My second buck of the first day was brought in by the natives, but they would not allow it to approach the hut until it had been skinned; and I found their reason to be a superstition that otherwise no others would ever be killed by the inmates of that establishment.

I marched up the left bank of the Nile at a considerable distance from the water, to the Isamba rapids, passing through rich jungle and plantain-gardens. Nango, an old friend, and district officer of the place, first refreshed us with a dish of plantain-squash and dried fish, with pombe. He told us he is often threatened by elephants, but he sedulously keeps them off with charms; for if they ever tasted a plantain they would never leave the garden until they had cleared it out. He then took us to see the nearest falls of the Nile — extremely beautiful, but very confined. The water ran deep between its banks, which were covered with fine grass, soft cloudy acacias, and festoons of lilac convolvuli; whilst here and there, where the land had slipped above the rapids, bared places of red earth could be seen, like that of Devonshire; there, too, the waters, impeded by a natural dam, looked like a huge mill-pond, sullen and dark, in which two crocodiles, laving about, were looking out for prey. From the high banks we looked down upon a line of sloping wooded islets lying across the stream, which divide its waters, and, by interrupting them, cause at once both dam and rapids. The whole was more fairy-like, wild, and romantic than — I must confess that my thoughts took that shape — anything I ever saw outside of a theatre. It was exactly the sort of place, in fact, where, bridged across from one side-slip to the other, on a moonlight night, brigands would assemble to enact some dreadful tragedy. Even the Wanguana seemed spellbound at the novel beauty of the sight, and no one thought of moving till hunger warned us night was setting in, and we had better look out for lodgings.

Start again, and after drinking pombe with Nango, when we heard that three Wakungu had been seized at Kari, in consequence of the murder, the march was commenced, but soon after stopped by the mischievous machinations of our guide, who pretended it was too late in the day to cross the jungles on ahead, either by the road to the source or the palace, and therefore would not move till the morning; then, leaving us, on the pretext of business, he vanished, and was never seen again. A small black fly, with thick shoulders and bullet-head, infests the place, and torments the naked arms and legs of the people with its sharp stings to an extent that must render life miserable to them.

After a long struggling march, plodding through huge grasses and jungle, we reached a district which I cannot otherwise describe than by calling it a “Church Estate.” It is dedicated in some mysterious manner to Lubari (Almighty), and although the king appeared to have authority over some of the inhabitants of it, yet others had apparently a sacred character, exempting them from the civil power, and he had no right to dispose of the land itself. In this territory there are small villages only at every fifth mile, for there is no road, and the lands run high again, whilst, from want of a guide, we often lost the track. It now transpired that Budja, when he told at the palace that there was no road down the banks of the Nile, did so in consequence of his fear that if he sent my whole party here they would rob these church lands, and so bring him into a scrape with the wizards or ecclesiastical authorities. Had my party not been under control, we could not have put up here; but on my being answerable that no thefts should take place, the people kindly consented to provide us with board and lodgings, and we found them very obliging. One elderly man, half-witted — they said the king had driven his senses from him by seizing his house and family — came at once on hearing of our arrival, laughing and singing in a loose jaunty maniacal manner, carrying odd sticks, shells, and a bundle of mbugu rags, which he deposited before me, dancing and singing again, then retreating and bringing some more, with a few plantains from a garden, when I was to eat, as kings lived upon flesh, and “poor Tom” wanted some, for he lived with lions and elephants in a hovel beyond the gardens, and his belly was empty. He was precisely a black specimen of the English parish idiot.

At last, with a good push for it, crossing hills and threading huge grasses, as well as extensive village plantations lately devastated by elephants — they had eaten all that was eatable, and what would not serve for food they had destroyed with their trunks, not one plantain or one hut being left entire — we arrived at the extreme end of the journey, the farthest point ever visited by the expedition on the same parallel of latitude as king Mtesa’s palace, and just forty miles east of it.

We were well rewarded; for the “stones,” as the Waganda call the falls, was by far the most interesting sight I had seen in Africa. Everybody ran to see them at once, though the march had been long and fatiguing, and even my sketch-block was called into play. Though beautiful, the scene was not exactly what I expected; for the broad surface of the lake was shut out from view by a spur of hill, and the falls, about 12 feet deep, and 400 to 500 feet broad, were broken by rocks. Still it was a sight that attracted one to it for hours — the roar of the waters, the thousands of passenger-fish, leaping at the falls with all their might; the Wasoga and Waganda fisherman coming out in boats and taking post on all the rocks with rod and hook, hippopotami and crocodiles lying sleepily on the water, the ferry at work above the falls, and cattle driven down to drink at the margin of the lake — made, in all, with the pretty nature of the country — small hills, grassy-topped, with trees in the folds, and gardens on the lower slopes — as interesting a picture as one could wish to see.

The expedition had now performed its functions. I saw that old father Nile without any doubt rises in the Victoria N’yanza, and, as I had foretold, that lake is the great source of the holy river which cradled the first expounder of our religious belief. I mourned, however, when I thought how much I had lost by the delays in the journey having deprived me of the pleasure of going to look at the north-east corner of the N’yanza to see what connection there was, by the strait so often spoken of, with it and the other lake where the Waganda went to get their salt, and from which another river flowed to the north, making “Usoga an island.” But I felt I ought to be content with what I had been spared to accomplish; for I had seen full half of the lake, and had information given me of the other half, by means of which I knew all about the lake, as far, at least, as the chief objects of geographical importance were concerned.

Let us now sum up the whole and see what it is worth. Comparative information assured me that there was as much water on the eastern side of the lake as there is on the western — if anything, rather more. The most remote waters, or top head of the Nile, is the southern end of the lake, situated close on the third degree of south latitude, which gives to the Nile the surprising length, in direct measurement, rolling over thirty-four degrees of latitude, of above 2300 miles, or more than one-eleventh of the circumference of our globe. Now from this southern point, round by the west, to where the great Nile stream issues, there is only one feeder of any importance, and that is the Kitangule river; whilst from the southernmost point, round by the east, to the strait, there are no rivers at all of any importance; for the travelled Arabs one and all aver, that from the west of the snow-clad Kilimandjaro to the lake where it is cut by the second degree, and also the first degree of south latitude, there are salt lakes and salt plains, and the country is hilly, not unlike Unyamuezi; but they said there were no great rivers, and the country was so scantily watered, having only occasional runnels and rivulets, that they always had to make long marches in order to find water when they went on their trading journeys: and further, those Arabs who crossed the strait when they reached Usoga, as mentioned before, during the late interregnum, crossed no river either.

There remains to be disposed of the “salt lake,” which I believe is not a salt, but a fresh-water lake; and my reasons are, as before stated, that the natives call all lakes salt, if they find salt beds or salt islands in such places. Dr Krapf, when he obtained a sight of the Kenia mountain, heard from the natives there that there was a salt lake to its northward, and he also heard that a river ran from Kenia towards the Nile. If his information was true on this latter point, then, without doubt, there must exist some connection between his river and the salt lake I have heard of, and this in all probability would also establish a connection between my salt lake and his salt lake which he heard was called Baringo. 22 In no view that can be taken of it, however, does this unsettled matter touch the established fact that the head of the Nile is in 3° south latitude, where in the year 1858, I discovered the head of the Victoria N’yanza to be.

22 It is questionable whether or not this word is a corruption of Bahr (sea of) Ingo.

I now christened the “stones” Ripon Falls, after the nobleman who presided over the Royal Geographical Society when my expedition was got up; and the arm of water from which the Nile issued, Napoleon Channel, in token of respect to the French Geographical Society, for the honour they had done me, just before leaving England, in presenting me with their gold medal for the discovery of the Victoria N’yanza. One thing seemed at first perplexing — the volume of water in the Kitangule looked as large as that of the Nile; but then the one was a slow river and the other swift, and on this account I could form no adequate judgment of their relative values.

Not satisfied with my first sketch of the falls, I could not resist sketching them again; and then, as the cloudy state of the weather prevented my observing for latitude, and the officer of the place said a magnificent view of the lake could be obtained from the hill alluded to as intercepting the view from the falls, we proposed going there; but Kasoro, who had been indulged with nsunnu antelope skins, and with guinea-fowl for dinner, resisted this, on the plea that I never should be satisfied. There were orders given only to see the “stones,” and if he took me to one hill I should wish to see another and another, and so on. It made me laugh, for that had been my nature all my life; but, vexed at heart, and wishing to trick the young tyrant, I asked for boats to shoot hippopotami, in the hope of reaching the hills to picnic; but boating had never been ordered, and he would not listen to it. “Then bring fish,” I said, that I might draw them: no, that was not ordered. “Then go you to the palace, and leave me to go to Urondogani to-morrow, after I have taken a latitude;” but the wilful creature would not go until he saw me under way. And as nobody would do anything for me without Kasoro’s orders, I amused the people by firing at the ferry-boat upon the Usoga side, which they defied me to hit, the distance being 500 yards; but nevertheless a bullet went through her, and was afterwards brought by the Wasoga nicely folded up in a piece of mbugu. Bombay then shot a sleeping crocodile with his carbine, whilst I spent the day out watching the falls.

This day also I spent watching the fish flying at the falls, and felt as if I only wanted a wife and family, garden and yacht, rifle and rod, to make me happy here for life, so charming was the place. What a place, I thought to myself, this would be for missionaries! They never could fear starvation, the land is so rich; and, if farming were introduced by them, they might have hundreds of pupils. I need say no more.

In addition to the rod-and-line fishing, a number of men, armed with long heavy poles with two iron spikes, tied prong-fashion to one end, rushed to a place over a break in the falls, which tired fish seemed to use as a baiting-room, dashed in their forks, holding on by the shaft, and sent men down to disengaged the pined fish and relieve their spears. The shot they made in this manner is a blind one — only on the chance of fish being there — and therefore always doubtful in its result.

Church Estate again. As the clouds and Kasoro’s wilfulness were still against me, and the weather did not give hopes of a change, I sacrificed the taking of the latitude to gain time. I sent Bombay with Kasoro to the palace, asking for the Sakibobo himself to be sent with an order for five boats, five cows, and five goats, and also for a general order to go where I like, and do what I like, and have fish supplied me; “for, though I know the king likes me, his officers do not;” and then on separating I retraced my steps to the Church Estate.

1st. — To-day, after marching an hour, as there was now no need for hurrying, and a fine pongo buck, the Ngubbi of Uganda, offered a tempting shot, I proposed to shoot it for the men, and breakfast in a neighbouring village. This being agreed to, the animal was despatched, and we no sooner entered the village than we heard that nsamma, a magnificent description of antelope, abound in the long grasses close by, and that a rogue elephant frequents the plantains every night. This tempting news created a halt. In the evening I killed a nsamma doe, an animal very much like the Kobus Ellipsiprymnus, but without the lunated mark over the rump; and at night, about 1 a.m., turned out to shoot an elephant, which we distinctly heard feasting on plantains; but rain was falling, and the night so dark, he was left till the morning.

2d. — I followed up the elephant some way, till a pongo offering an irresistible shot I sent a bullet through him, but he was lost after hours’ tracking in the interminable large grasses. An enormous snake, with fearful mouth and fangs, was speared by the men. In the evening I wounded a buck nsamma, which, after tracking till dark, was left to stiffen ere the following morning; and just after this on the way home, we heard the rogue elephant crunching the branches not far off from the track; but as no one would dare follow me against the monster at this late hour, he was reluctantly left to do more injury to the gardens.

3d. — After a warm search in the morning we found the nsamma buck lying in some water; the men tried to spear him, but he stood at bay, and took another bullet. This was all we wanted, affording one good specimen; so, after breakfast, we marched to Kirindi, where the villagers, hearing of the sport we had had, and excited with the hopes of getting flesh, begged us to halt a day.

4th. — Not crediting the stories told by the people about the sport here, we packed to leave, but were no sooner ready than several men ran hastily in to say some fine bucks were waiting to be shot close by. This was too powerful a temptation to be withstood, so, shouldering the rifle, and followed by half the village, if not more, women included, we went to the place, but, instead of finding a buck — for the men had stretched a point to keep me at their village — we found a herd of does, and shot one at the people’s urgent request.

We reached this in one stretch, and put up in our old quarters, where the women of Mlondo provided pombe, plantains, and potatoes, as before, with occasional fish, and we lived very happily till the 10th, shooting buck, guinea-fowl, and florikan, when, Bombay and Kasoro arriving, my work began again. These two worthies reached the palace, after crossing twelve considerable streams, of which one was the Luajerri, rising in the lake. The evening of the next day after leaving me at Kira, they obtained an interview with the king immediately; for the thought flashed across his mind that Bombay had come to report our death, the Waganda having been too much for the party. He was speedily undeceived by the announcement that nothing was the matter, excepting the inability to procure boats, because the officers at Urondogani denied all authority but the Sakibobo’s, and no one would show Bana anything, however trifling, without an express order for it.

Irate at this announcement, the king ordered the Sakibobo, who happened to be present, to be seized and bound at once, and said warmly, “Pray, who is the king, that the Sakibobo’s orders should be preferred to mine?” and then turning to the Sakibobo himself, asked what he would pay to be released? The Sakibobo, alive to his danger, replied at once, and without the slightest hesitation, Eighty cows, eighty goats, eighty slaves, eighty mbugu, eighty butter, eighty coffee, eighty tobacco, eighty jowari, and eighty of all the produce of Uganda. He was then released. Bombay said Bana wished the Sakibobo to come to Urondogani, and gave him a start with five boats, five cows, and five goats; to which the king replied, “Bana shall have all he wants, nothing shall be denied him, not even fish; but it is not necessary to send the Sakibobo, as boys carry all my orders to kings as well as subjects. Kasoro will return again with you, fully instructed in everything, and, moreover, both he and Budja will follow Bana to Gani.” Four days, however, my men were kept at the palace ere the king gave them the cattle and leave to join me, accompanied with one more officer, who had orders to find the boats at once, see us off, and report the circumstance at court. Just as at the last interview, the king had four women, lately seized and condemned to execution, squatting in his court. He wished to send them to Bana, and when Bombay demurred, saying he had no authority to take women in that way, the king gave him one, and asked him if he would like to see some sport, as he would have the remaining women cut to pieces before him. Bombay, by his own account, behaved with great propriety, saying Bana never wished to see sport of that cruel kind, and it would ill become him to see sights which his master had not. Viarungi sent me some tobacco, with kind regards, and said he and the Wazina had just obtained leave to return to their homes, K’yengo alone, of all the guests, remaining behind as a hostage until Mtesa’s powder-seeking Wakungu returned. Finally, the little boy Lugoi had been sent to his home. Such was the tenor of Bombay’s report.

11th. — The officer sent to procure boats, impudently saying there were none, was put in the stocks by Kasoro, whilst other men went to Kirindi for sailors, and down the stream for boats. On hearing the king’s order that I was to be supplied with fish, the fishermen ran away, and pombe was no longer brewed for fear of Kasoro.

12th. — To-day we slaughtered and cooked two cows for the journey — the remaining three and one goat having been lost in the Luajerri — and gave the women of the place beads in return for their hospitality. They are nearly all Wanyoro, having been captured in that country by king Mtesa and given to Mlondo. They said their teeth were extracted, four to six lower incisors, when they were young, because no Myoro would allow a person to drink from his cup unless he conformed to that custom. The same law exists in Usoga.


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