Leave Pungo Andongo — Extent of Portuguese Power — Meet Traders and Carriers — Red Ants; their fierce Attack; Usefulness; Numbers — Descend the Heights of Tala Mungongo — Fruit-trees in the Valley of Cassange — Edible Muscle — Birds — Cassange Village — Quinine and Cathory — Sickness of Captain Neves’ Infant — A Diviner thrashed — Death of the Child — Mourning — Loss of Life from the Ordeal — Wide-spread Superstitions — The Chieftainship — Charms — Receive Copies of the “Times” — Trading Pombeiros — Present for Matiamvo — Fever after westerly Winds — Capabilities of Angola for producing the raw Materials of English Manufacture — Trading Parties with Ivory — More Fever — A Hyaena’s Choice — Makololo Opinion of the Portuguese — Cypriano’s Debt — A Funeral — Dread of disembodied Spirits — Beautiful Morning Scenes — Crossing the Quango — Ambakistas called “The Jews of Angola” — Fashions of the Bashinje — Approach the Village of Sansawe — His Idea of Dignity — The Pombeiros’ Present — Long Detention — A Blow on the Beard — Attacked in a Forest — Sudden Conversion of a fighting Chief to Peace Principles by means of a Revolver — No Blood shed in consequence — Rate of Traveling — Slave Women — Way of addressing Slaves — Their thievish Propensities — Feeders of the Congo or Zaire — Obliged to refuse Presents — Cross the Loajima — Appearance of People; Hair Fashions.
JANUARY 1, 1855. Having, through the kindness of Colonel Pires, reproduced some of my lost papers, I left Pungo Andongo the first day of this year, and at Candumba, slept in one of the dairy establishments of my friend, who had sent forward orders for an ample supply of butter, cheese, and milk. Our path lay along the right bank of the Coanza. This is composed of the same sandstone rock, with pebbles, which forms the flooring of the country. The land is level, has much open forest, and is well adapted for pasturage.
On reaching the confluence of the Lombe, we left the river, and proceeded in a northeasterly direction, through a fine open green country, to the village of Malange, where we struck into our former path. A few miles to the west of this a path branches off to a new district named the Duke Braganza. This path crosses the Lucalla and several of its feeders. The whole of the country drained by these is described as extremely fertile. The territory west of Braganza is reported to be mountainous, well wooded and watered; wild coffee is abundant, and the people even make their huts of coffee-trees. The rivers Dande, Senza, and Lucalla are said to rise in one mountain range. Numerous tribes inhabit the country to the north, who are all independent. The Portuguese power extends chiefly over the tribes through whose lands we have passed. It may be said to be firmly seated only between the rivers Dande and Coanza. It extends inland about three hundred miles to the River Quango; and the population, according to the imperfect data afforded by the census, given annually by the commandants of the fifteen or sixteen districts into which it is divided, can not be under 600,000 souls.
Leaving Malange, we passed quickly, without deviation, along the path by which we had come. At Sanza (lat. 9° 37’ 46” S., long. 16° 59’ E.) we expected to get a little seed-wheat, but this was not now to be found in Angola. The underlying rock of the whole of this section is that same sandstone which we have before noticed, but it gradually becomes finer in the grain, with the addition of a little mica, the farther we go eastward; we enter upon clay shale at Tala Mungongo (lat. 9° 42’ 37” S., long. 17° 27’ E.), and find it dipping a little to the west. The general geological structure is a broad fringe of mica and sandstone schist (about 15° E.), dipping in toward the centre of the country, beneath these horizontal and sedimentary rocks of more recent date, which form an inland basin. The fringe is not, however, the highest in altitude, though the oldest in age.
While at this latter place we met a native of Bihe who has visited the country of Shinte three times for the purposes of trade. He gave us some of the news of that distant part, but not a word of the Makololo, who have always been represented in the countries to the north as a desperately savage race, whom no trader could visit with safety. The half-caste traders whom we met at Shinte’s had returned to Angola with sixty-six slaves and upward of fifty tusks of ivory. As we came along the path, we daily met long lines of carriers bearing large square masses of beeswax, each about a hundred pounds weight, and numbers of elephants’ tusks, the property of Angolese merchants. Many natives were proceeding to the coast also on their own account, carrying beeswax, ivory, and sweet oil. They appeared to travel in perfect security; and at different parts of the road we purchased fowls from them at a penny each. My men took care to celebrate their own daring in having actually entered ships, while the natives of these parts, who had endeavored to frighten them on their way down, had only seen them at a distance. Poor fellows! they were more than ever attentive to me; and, as they were not obliged to erect sheds for themselves, in consequence of finding them already built at the different sleeping-places, all their care was bestowed in making me comfortable. Mashauana, as usual, made his bed with his head close to my feet, and never during the entire journey did I have to call him twice for any thing I needed.
During our stay at Tala Mungongo, our attention was attracted to a species of red ant which infests different parts of this country. It is remarkably fond of animal food. The commandant of the village having slaughtered a cow, slaves were obliged to sit up the whole night, burning fires of straw around the meat, to prevent them from devouring most of it. These ants are frequently met with in numbers like a small army. At a little distance they appear as a brownish-red band, two or three inches wide, stretched across the path, all eagerly pressing on in one direction. If a person happens to tread upon them, they rush up his legs and bite with surprising vigor. The first time I encountered this by no means contemptible enemy was near Cassange. My attention being taken up in viewing the distant landscape, I accidentally stepped upon one of their nests. Not an instant seemed to elapse before a simultaneous attack was made on various unprotected parts, up the trowsers from below, and on my neck and breast above. The bites of these furies were like sparks of fire, and there was no retreat. I jumped about for a second or two, then in desperation tore off all my clothing, and rubbed and picked them off seriatim as quickly as possible. Ugh! they would make the most lethargic mortal look alive. Fortunately, no one observed this rencounter, or word might have been taken back to the village that I had become mad. I was once assaulted in a similar way when sound asleep at night in my tent, and it was only by holding my blanket over the fire that I could get rid of them. It is really astonishing how such small bodies can contain so large an amount of ill-nature. They not only bite, but twist themselves round after the mandibles are inserted, to produce laceration and pain, more than would be effected by the single wound. Frequently, while sitting on the ox, as he happened to tread near a band, they would rush up his legs to the rider, and soon let him know that he had disturbed their march. They possess no fear, attacking with equal ferocity the largest as well as the smallest animals. When any person has leaped over the band, numbers of them leave the ranks and rush along the path, seemingly anxious for a fight. They are very useful in ridding the country of dead animal matter, and, when they visit a human habitation, clear it entirely of the destructive white ants and other vermin. They destroy many noxious insects and reptiles. The severity of their attack is greatly increased by their vast numbers, and rats, mice, lizards, and even the ‘Python natalensis’, when in a state of surfeit from recent feeding, fall victims to their fierce onslaught. These ants never make hills like the white ant. Their nests are but a short distance beneath the soil, which has the soft appearance of the abodes of ants in England. Occasionally they construct galleries over their path to the cells of the white ant, in order to secure themselves from the heat of the sun during their marauding expeditions.
JANUARY 15TH, 1855. We descended in one hour from the heights of Tala Mungongo. I counted the number of paces made on the slope downward, and found them to be sixteen hundred, which may give a perpendicular height of from twelve to fifteen hundred feet. Water boiled at 206° at Tala Mungongo above, and at 208° at the bottom of the declivity, the air being at 72° in the shade in the former case, and 94° in the latter. The temperature generally throughout the day was from 94° to 97° in the coolest shade we could find.
The rivulets which cut up the valley of Cassange were now dry, but the Lui and Luare contained abundance of rather brackish water. The banks are lined with palm, wild date-trees, and many guavas, the fruit of which was now becoming ripe. A tree much like the mango abounds, but it does not yield fruit. In these rivers a kind of edible muscle is plentiful, the shells of which exist in all the alluvial beds of the ancient rivers as far as the Kuruman. The brackish nature of the water probably enables it to exist here. On the open grassy lawns great numbers of a species of lark are seen. They are black, with yellow shoulders. Another black bird, with a long tail (‘Centropus Senegalensis’), floats awkwardly, with its tail in a perpendicular position, over the long grass. It always chooses the highest points, and is caught on them with bird-lime, the long black tail-feathers being highly esteemed by the natives for plumes. We saw here also the “Lehututu” (‘Tragopan Leadbeaterii’), a large bird strongly resembling a turkey; it is black on the ground, but when it flies the outer half of the wings are white. It kills serpents, striking them dexterously behind the head. It derives its native name from the noise it makes, and it is found as far as Kolobeng. Another species like it is called the Abyssinian hornbill.
Before we reached Cassange we were overtaken by the commandant, Senhor Carvalho, who was returning, with a detachment of fifty men and a field-piece, from an unsuccessful search after some rebels. The rebels had fled, and all he could do was to burn their huts. He kindly invited me to take up my residence with him; but, not wishing to pass by the gentleman (Captain Neves) who had so kindly received me on my first arrival in the Portuguese possessions, I declined. Senhor Rego had been superseded in his command, because the Governor Amaral, who had come into office since my departure from Loanda, had determined that the law which requires the office of commandant to be exclusively occupied by military officers of the line should once more come into operation. I was again most kindly welcomed by my friend, Captain Neves, whom I found laboring under a violent inflammation and abscess of the hand. There is nothing in the situation of this village to indicate unhealthiness, except, perhaps, the rank luxuriance of the vegetation. Nearly all the Portuguese inhabitants suffer from enlargement of the spleen, the effects of frequent intermittents, and have generally a sickly appearance. Thinking that this affection of the hand was simply an effort of nature to get rid of malarious matter from the system, I recommended the use of quinine. He himself applied the leaf of a plant called cathory, famed among the natives as an excellent remedy for ulcers. The cathory leaves, when boiled, exude a gummy juice, which effectually shuts out the external air. Each remedy, of course, claimed the merit of the cure.
Many of the children are cut off by fever. A fine boy of Captain Neves’ had, since my passage westward, shared a similar fate. Another child died during the period of my visit. During his sickness, his mother, a woman of color, sent for a diviner in order to ascertain what ought to be done. The diviner, after throwing his dice, worked himself into the state of ecstasy in which they pretend to be in communication with the Barimo. He then gave the oracular response that the child was being killed by the spirit of a Portuguese trader who once lived at Cassange. The case was this: on the death of the trader, the other Portuguese merchants in the village came together, and sold the goods of the departed to each other, each man accounting for the portion received to the creditors of the deceased at Loanda. The natives, looking on, and not understanding the nature of written mercantile transactions, concluded that the merchants of Cassange had simply stolen the dead man’s goods, and that now the spirit was killing the child of Captain Neves for the part he had taken in the affair. The diviner, in his response, revealed the impression made on his own mind by the sale, and likewise the native ideas of departed souls. As they give the whites credit for greater stupidity than themselves in all these matters, the mother of the child came, and told the father that he ought to give a slave to the diviner as a fee to make a sacrifice to appease the spirit and save the life of the child. The father quietly sent for a neighbor, and, though the diviner pretended to remain in his state of ecstasy, the brisk application of two sticks to his back suddenly reduced him to his senses and a most undignified flight.
The mother of this child seemed to have no confidence in European wisdom, and, though I desired her to keep the child out of currents of wind, she preferred to follow her own custom, and even got it cupped on the cheeks. The consequence was that the child was soon in a dying state, and the father wishing it to be baptized, I commended its soul to the care and compassion of Him who said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” The mother at once rushed away, and commenced that doleful wail which is so affecting, as it indicates sorrow without hope. She continued it without intermission until the child was buried. In the evening her female companions used a small musical instrument, which produced a kind of screeching sound, as an accompaniment of the death wail.
In the construction of this instrument they make use of caoutchouc, which, with a variety of other gums, is found in different parts of this country.
The intercourse which the natives have had with white men does not seem to have much ameliorated their condition. A great number of persons are reported to lose their lives annually in different districts of Angola by the cruel superstitions to which they are addicted, and the Portuguese authorities either know nothing of them, or are unable to prevent their occurrence. The natives are bound to secrecy by those who administer the ordeal, which generally causes the death of the victim. A person, when accused of witchcraft, will often travel from distant districts in order to assert her innocency and brave the test. They come to a river on the Cassange called Dua, drink the infusion of a poisonous tree, and perish unknown.
A woman was accused by a brother-in-law of being the cause of his sickness while we were at Cassange. She offered to take the ordeal, as she had the idea that it would but prove her conscious innocence. Captain Neves refused his consent to her going, and thus saved her life, which would have been sacrificed, for the poison is very virulent. When a strong stomach rejects it, the accuser reiterates his charge; the dose is repeated, and the person dies. Hundreds perish thus every year in the valley of Cassange.
The same superstitious ideas being prevalent through the whole of the country north of the Zambesi, seems to indicate that the people must originally have been one. All believe that the souls of the departed still mingle among the living, and partake in some way of the food they consume. In sickness, sacrifices of fowls and goats are made to appease the spirits. It is imagined that they wish to take the living away from earth and all its enjoyments. When one man has killed another, a sacrifice is made, as if to lay the spirit of the victim. A sect is reported to exist who kill men in order to take their hearts and offer them to the Barimo.
The chieftainship is elective from certain families. Among the Bangalas of the Cassange valley the chief is chosen from three families in rotation. A chief’s brother inherits in preference to his son. The sons of a sister belong to her brother; and he often sells his nephews to pay his debts. By this and other unnatural customs, more than by war, is the slave-market supplied.
The prejudices in favor of these practices are very deeply rooted in the native mind. Even at Loanda they retire out of the city in order to perform their heathenish rites without the cognizance of the authorities. Their religion, if such it may be called, is one of dread. Numbers of charms are employed to avert the evils with which they feel themselves to be encompassed. Occasionally you meet a man, more cautious or more timid than the rest, with twenty or thirty charms round his neck. He seems to act upon the principle of Proclus, in his prayer to all the gods and goddesses: among so many he surely must have the right one. The disrespect which Europeans pay to the objects of their fear is to their minds only an evidence of great folly.
While here, I reproduced the last of my lost papers and maps; and as there is a post twice a month from Loanda, I had the happiness to receive a packet of the “Times”, and, among other news, an account of the Russian war up to the terrible charge of the light cavalry. The intense anxiety I felt to hear more may be imagined by every true patriot; but I was forced to brood on in silent thought, and utter my poor prayers for friends who perchance were now no more, until I reached the other side of the continent.
A considerable trade is carried on by the Cassange merchants with all the surrounding territory by means of native traders, whom they term “Pombeiros”. Two of these, called in the history of Angola “the trading blacks” (os feirantes pretos), Pedro Joao Baptista and Antonio Jose, having been sent by the first Portuguese trader that lived at Cassange, actually returned from some of the Portuguese possessions in the East with letters from the governor of Mozambique in the year 1815, proving, as is remarked, “the possibility of so important a communication between Mozambique and Loanda.” This is the only instance of native Portuguese subjects crossing the continent. No European ever accomplished it, though this fact has lately been quoted as if the men had been “PORTUGUESE”.
Captain Neves was now actively engaged in preparing a present, worth about fifty pounds, to be sent by Pombeiros to Matiamvo. It consisted of great quantities of cotton cloth, a large carpet, an arm-chair with a canopy and curtains of crimson calico, an iron bedstead, mosquito curtains, beads, etc., and a number of pictures rudely painted in oil by an embryo black painter at Cassange.
Matiamvo, like most of the natives in the interior of the country, has a strong desire to possess a cannon, and had sent ten large tusks to purchase one; but, being government property, it could not be sold: he was now furnished with a blunderbuss, mounted as a cannon, which would probably please him as well.
Senhor Graca and some other Portuguese have visited this chief at different times; but no European resides beyond the Quango; indeed, it is contrary to the policy of the government of Angola to allow their subjects to penetrate further into the interior. The present would have been a good opportunity for me to have visited that chief, and I felt strongly inclined to do so, as he had expressed dissatisfaction respecting my treatment by the Chiboque, and even threatened to punish them. As it would be improper to force my men to go thither, I resolved to wait and see whether the proposition might not emanate from themselves. When I can get the natives to agree in the propriety of any step, they go to the end of the affair without a murmur. I speak to them and treat them as rational beings, and generally get on well with them in consequence.
I have already remarked on the unhealthiness of Cassange; and Captain Neves, who possesses an observing turn of mind, had noticed that always when the west wind blows much fever immediately follows. As long as easterly winds prevail, all enjoy good health; but in January, February, March, and April, the winds are variable, and sickness is general. The unhealthiness of the westerly winds probably results from malaria, appearing to be heavier than common air, and sweeping down into the valley of Cassange from the western plateau, somewhat in the same way as the carbonic acid gas from bean-fields is supposed by colliers to do into coal-pits. In the west of Scotland strong objections are made by that body of men to farmers planting beans in their vicinity, from the belief that they render the mines unhealthy. The gravitation of the malaria from the more elevated land of Tala Mungongo toward Cassange is the only way the unhealthiness of this spot on the prevalence of the westerly winds can be accounted for. The banks of the Quango, though much more marshy, and covered with ranker vegetation, are comparatively healthy; but thither the westerly wind does not seem to convey the noxious agent.
FEB. 20TH. On the day of starting from Cassange, the westerly wind blew strongly, and on the day following we were brought to a stand by several of our party being laid up with fever. This complaint is the only serious drawback Angola possesses. It is in every other respect an agreeable land, and admirably adapted for yielding a rich abundance of tropical produce for the rest of the world. Indeed, I have no hesitation in asserting that, had it been in the possession of England, it would now have been yielding as much or more of the raw material for her manufactures as an equal extent of territory in the cotton-growing states of America. A railway from Loanda to this valley would secure the trade of most of the interior of South Central Africa.35
35 The following statistics may be of interest to mercantile men. They show that since the repression of the slave-trade in Angola the value of the exports in lawful commerce has steadily augmented. We have no returns since 1850, but the prosperity of legitimate trade has suffered no check. The duties are noted in Portuguese money, “milreis”, each of which is about three shillings in value.
The above account exhibits the total revenue and charges of the government of St. Paul de Loanda in each year, from 1844–45 to 1848–49, both included. The above three tables are copied from the appendix to a dispatch sent by Mr. Gabriel to Viscount Palmerston, dated the 5th of August, 1850, and, among other facts of interest, show a very satisfactory diminution in the duties upon slaves.
The returns from 1818 to 1844 have been obtained from different sources as the average revenue; those from 1844 to 1849 are from the Custom-house records.
As soon as we could move toward the Quango we did so, meeting in our course several trading-parties, both native and Portuguese. We met two of the latter carrying a tusk weighing 126 lbs. The owner afterward informed us that its fellow on the left side of the same elephant was 130 lbs. It was 8 feet 6–1/2 inches long, and 21 inches in circumference at the part on which the lip of the animal rests. The elephant was rather a small one, as is common in this hot central region. Some idea may be formed of the strength of his neck when it is recollected that he bore a weight of 256 lbs. The ivory which comes from the east and northeast of Cassange is very much larger than any to be found further south. Captain Neves had one weighing 120 lbs., and this weight is by no means uncommon. They have been found weighing even 158 lbs.
Before reaching the Quango we were again brought to a stand by fever in two of my companions, close to the residence of a Portuguese who rejoiced in the name of William Tell, and who lived here in spite of the prohibition of the government. We were using the water of a pond, and this gentleman, having come to invite me to dinner, drank a little of it, and caught fever in consequence. If malarious matter existed in water, it would have been a wonder had we escaped; for, traveling in the sun, with the thermometer from 96° to 98° in the shade, the evaporation from our bodies causing much thirst, we generally partook of every water we came to. We had probably thus more disease than others might suffer who had better shelter.
Mr. Tell remarked that his garden was rather barren, being still, as he said, wild; but when more worked it would become better, though no manure be applied. My men were busy collecting a better breed of fowls and pigeons than those in their own country. Mr. Tell presented them with some large specimens from Rio Janeiro. Of these they were wonderfully proud, and bore the cock in triumph through the country of the Balonda, as evidence of having been to the sea. But when at the village of Shinte, a hyaena came into our midst when we were all sound asleep, and picked out the giant in his basket from eighty-four others, and he was lost, to the great grief of my men. The anxiety these people have always shown to improve the breed of their domestic animals is, I think, a favorable point in their character. On looking at the common breeds in the possession of the Portuguese, which are merely native cattle, and seeing them slaughter both heifer-calves and cows, which they themselves never do, and likewise making no use of the milk, they concluded that the Portuguese must be an inferior race of white men. They never ceased remarking on the fine ground for gardens over which we were passing; and when I happened to mention that most of the flour which the Portuguese consumed came from another country, they exclaimed, “Are they ignorant of tillage?” “They know nothing but buying and selling: they are not men.” I hope it may reach the ears of my Angolese friends, and that they may be stirred up to develop the resources of their fine country.
On coming back to Cypriano’s village on the 28th, we found that his step-father had died after we had passed, and, according to the custom of the country, he had spent more than his patrimony in funeral orgies. He acted with his wonted kindness, though, unfortunately, drinking has got him so deeply in debt that he now keeps out of the way of his creditors. He informed us that the source of the Quango is eight days, or one hundred miles, to the south of this, and in a range called Mosamba, in the country of the Basongo. We can see from this a sort of break in the high land which stretches away round to Tala Mongongo, through which the river comes.
A death had occurred in a village about a mile off, and the people were busy beating drums and firing guns. The funeral rites are half festive, half mourning, partaking somewhat of the character of an Irish wake. There is nothing more heart-rending than their death wails. When the natives turn their eyes to the future world, they have a view cheerless enough of their own utter helplessness and hopelessness. They fancy themselves completely in the power of the disembodied spirits, and look upon the prospect of following them as the greatest of misfortunes. Hence they are constantly deprecating the wrath of departed souls, believing that, if they are appeased, there is no other cause of death but witchcraft, which may be averted by charms. The whole of the colored population of Angola are sunk in these gross superstitions, but have the opinion, notwithstanding, that they are wiser in these matters than their white neighbors. Each tribe has a consciousness of following its own best interests in the best way. They are by no means destitute of that self-esteem which is so common in other nations; yet they fear all manner of phantoms, and have half-developed ideas and traditions of something or other, they know not what. The pleasures of animal life are ever present to their minds as the supreme good; and, but for the innumerable invisibilities, they might enjoy their luxurious climate as much as it is possible for man to do. I have often thought, in traveling through their land, that it presents pictures of beauty which angels might enjoy. How often have I beheld, in still mornings, scenes the very essence of beauty, and all bathed in a quiet air of delicious warmth! yet the occasional soft motion imparted a pleasing sensation of coolness as of a fan. Green grassy meadows, the cattle feeding, the goats browsing, the kids skipping, the groups of herd-boys with miniature bows, arrows, and spears; the women wending their way to the river with watering-pots poised jauntily on their heads; men sewing under the shady banians; and old gray-headed fathers sitting on the ground, with staff in hand, listening to the morning gossip, while others carry trees or branches to repair their hedges; and all this, flooded with the bright African sunshine, and the birds singing among the branches before the heat of the day has become intense, form pictures which can never be forgotten.
We were informed that a chief named Gando, living on the other side of the river, having been accused of witchcraft, was killed by the ordeal, and his body thrown into the Quango.
The ferrymen demanded thirty yards of calico, but received six thankfully. The canoes were wretched, carrying only two persons at a time; but my men being well acquainted with the water, we all got over in about two hours and a half. They excited the admiration of the inhabitants by the manner in which they managed the cattle and donkeys in crossing. The most stubborn of beasts found himself powerless in their hands. Five or six, seizing hold on one, bundled him at once into the stream, and, in this predicament, he always thought it best policy to give in and swim. The men sometimes swam along with the cattle, and forced them to go on by dashing water at their heads. The difference between my men and those of the native traders who accompanied us was never more apparent than now; for, while my men felt an interest in every thing we possessed in common, theirs were rather glad when the oxen refused to cross, for, being obliged to slaughter them on such occasions, the loss to their masters was a welcome feast to themselves.
On the eastern side of the Quango we passed on, without visiting our friend of the conical head-dress, to the residence of some Ambakistas who had crossed the river in order to secure the first chances of trade in wax. I have before remarked on the knowledge of reading and writing that these Ambakistas possess; they are famed for their love of all sorts of learning within their reach, a knowledge of the history of Portugal, Portuguese law, etc., etc. They are remarkably keen in trade, and are sometimes called the Jews of Angola. They are employed as clerks and writers, their feminine delicacy of constitution enabling them to write a fine lady’s hand, a kind of writing much esteemed among the Portuguese. They are not physically equal to the European Portuguese, but possess considerable ability; and it is said that half-castes, in the course of a few generations, return to the black color of the maternal ancestor. The black population of Angola has become much deteriorated. They are not so strongly formed as the independent tribes. A large quantity of aguardiente, an inferior kind of spirit, is imported into the country, which is most injurious in its effects. We saw many parties carrying casks of this baneful liquor to the independent chiefs beyond; and were informed that it is difficult for any trader to convey it far, carriers being in the habit of helping themselves by means of a straw, and then injecting an equal amount of water when near the point of delivery. To prevent this, it is common to see large demijohns with padlocks on the corks. These are frequently stolen. In fact, the carriers are much addicted to both lying and thieving, as might be expected from the lowest class of a people on whom the debasing slave system has acted for two centuries.
The Bashinje, in whose country we now are, seem to possess more of the low negro character and physiognomy than either the Balonda or Basongo; their color is generally dirty black, foreheads low and compressed, noses flat and much expanded laterally, though this is partly owing to the alae spreading over the cheeks, by the custom of inserting bits of sticks or reeds in the septum; their teeth are deformed by being filed to points; their lips are large. They make a nearer approach to a general negro appearance than any tribes I met; but I did not notice this on my way down. They cultivate pretty largely, and rely upon their agricultural products for their supplies of salt, flesh, tobacco, etc., from Bangalas. Their clothing consists of pieces of skin, hung loosely from the girdle in front and behind. They plait their hair fantastically. We saw some women coming with their hair woven into the form of a European hat, and it was only by a closer inspection that its nature was detected. Others had it arranged in tufts, with a threefold cord along the ridge of each tuft; while others, again, follow the ancient Egyptian fashion, having the whole mass of wool plaited into cords, all hanging down as far as the shoulders. This mode, with the somewhat Egyptian cast of countenance in other parts of Londa, reminded me strongly of the paintings of that nation in the British Museum.
We had now rain every day, and the sky seldom presented that cloudless aspect and clear blue so common in the dry lands of the south. The heavens are often overcast by large white motionless masses, which stand for hours in the same position, and the intervening spaces are filled with a milk-and-water-looking haze. Notwithstanding these unfavorable circumstances, I obtained good observations for the longitude of this important point on both sides of the Quango, and found the river running in 9° 50’ S. lat., 18° 33’ E. long.
On proceeding to our former station near Sansawe’s village, he ran to meet us with wonderful urbanity, asking if we had seen Moene Put, king of the white men (or Portuguese); and added, on parting, that he would come to receive his dues in the evening. I replied that, as he had treated us so scurvily, even forbidding his people to sell us any food, if he did not bring us a fowl and some eggs as part of his duty as a chief, he should receive no present from me. When he came, it was in the usual Londa way of showing the exalted position he occupies, mounted on the shoulders of his spokesman, as schoolboys sometimes do in England, and as was represented to have been the case in the southern islands when Captain Cook visited them. My companions, amused at his idea of dignity, greeted him with a hearty laugh. He visited the native traders first, and then came to me with two cocks as a present. I spoke to him about the impolicy of treatment we had received at his hands, and quoted the example of the Bangalas, who had been conquered by the Portuguese, for their extortionate demands of payment for firewood, grass, water, etc., and concluded by denying his right to any payment for simply passing through uncultivated land. To all this he agreed; and then I gave him, as a token of friendship, a pannikin of coarse powder, two iron spoons, and two yards of coarse printed calico. He looked rather saucily at these articles, for he had just received a barrel containing 18 lbs. of powder, 24 yards of calico, and two bottles of brandy, from Senhor Pascoal the Pombeiro. Other presents were added the next day, but we gave nothing more; and the Pombeiros informed me that it was necessary to give largely, because they are accompanied by slaves and carriers who are no great friends to their masters; and if they did not secure the friendship of these petty chiefs, many slaves and their loads might be stolen while passing through the forests. It is thus a sort of black-mail that these insignificant chiefs levy; and the native traders, in paying, do so simply as a bribe to keep them honest. This chief was a man of no power, but in our former ignorance of this he plagued us a whole day in passing.
Finding the progress of Senhor Pascoal and the other Pombeiros excessively slow, I resolved to forego his company to Cabango after I had delivered to him some letters to be sent back to Cassange. I went forward with the intention of finishing my writing, and leaving a packet for him at some village. We ascended the eastern acclivity that bounds the Cassange valley, which has rather a gradual ascent up from the Quango, and we found that the last ascent, though apparently not quite so high as that at Tala Mungongo, is actually much higher. The top is about 5000 feet above the level of the sea, and the bottom 3500 feet; water boiling on the heights at 202°, the thermometer in the air showing 96°; and at the bottom at 205°, the air being 75° We had now gained the summit of the western subtending ridge, and began to descend toward the centre of the country, hoping soon to get out of the Chiboque territory, which, when we ascended from the Cassange valley, we had entered; but, on the 19th of April, the intermittent, which had begun on the 16th of March, was changed into an extremely severe attack of rheumatic fever. This was brought on by being obliged to sleep on an extensive plain covered with water. The rain poured down incessantly, but we formed our beds by dragging up the earth into oblong mounds, somewhat like graves in a country church-yard, and then placing grass upon them. The rain continuing to deluge us, we were unable to leave for two days, but as soon as it became fair we continued our march. The heavy dew upon the high grass was so cold as to cause shivering, and I was forced to lie by for eight days, tossing and groaning with violent pain in the head. This was the most severe attack I had endured. It made me quite unfit to move, or even know what was passing outside my little tent. Senhor Pascoal, who had been detained by the severe rain at a better spot, at last came up, and, knowing that leeches abounded in the rivulets, procured a number, and applied some dozens to the nape of the neck and the loins. This partially relieved the pain. He was then obliged to move forward, in order to purchase food for his large party. After many days I began to recover, and wished to move on, but my men objected to the attempt on account of my weakness. When Senhor Pascoal had been some time at the village in front, as he had received instructions from his employer, Captain Neves, to aid me as much as possible, and being himself a kindly-disposed person, he sent back two messengers to invite me to come on, if practicable.
It happened that the head man of the village where I had lain twenty-two days, while bargaining and quarreling in my camp for a piece of meat, had been struck on the mouth by one of my men. My principal men paid five pieces of cloth and a gun as an atonement; but the more they yielded, the more exorbitant he became, and he sent word to all the surrounding villages to aid him in avenging the affront of a blow on the beard. As their courage usually rises with success, I resolved to yield no more, and departed. In passing through a forest in the country beyond, we were startled by a body of men rushing after us. They began by knocking down the burdens of the hindermost of my men, and several shots were fired, each party spreading out on both sides of the path. I fortunately had a six-barreled revolver, which my friend Captain Henry Need, of her majesty’s brig “Linnet”, had considerately sent to Golungo Alto after my departure from Loanda. Taking this in my hand, and forgetting fever, I staggered quickly along the path with two or three of my men, and fortunately encountered the chief. The sight of the six barrels gaping into his stomach, with my own ghastly visage looking daggers at his face, seemed to produce an instant revolution in his martial feelings, for he cried out, “Oh! I have only come to speak to you, and wish peace only.” Mashauana had hold of him by the hand, and found him shaking. We examined his gun, and found that it had been discharged. Both parties crowded up to their chiefs. One of the opposite party coming too near, one of mine drove him back with a battle-axe. The enemy protested their amicable intentions, and my men asserted the fact of having the goods knocked down as evidence of the contrary. Without waiting long, I requested all to sit down, and Pitsane, placing his hand upon the revolver, somewhat allayed their fears. I then said to the chief, “If you have come with peaceable intentions, we have no other; go away home to your village.” He replied, “I am afraid lest you shoot me in the back.” I rejoined, “If I wanted to kill you, I could shoot you in the face as well.” Mosantu called out to me, “That’s only a Makalaka trick; don’t give him your back.” But I said, “Tell him to observe that I am not afraid of him;” and, turning, mounted my ox. There was not much danger in the fire that was opened at first, there being so many trees. The enemy probably expected that the sudden attack would make us forsake our goods, and allow them to plunder with ease. The villagers were no doubt pleased with being allowed to retire unscathed, and we were also glad to get away without having shed a drop of blood, or having compromised ourselves for any future visit. My men were delighted with their own bravery, and made the woods ring with telling each other how “brilliant their conduct before the enemy” would have been, had hostilities not been brought to a sudden close.
I do not mention this little skirmish as a very frightful affair. The negro character in these parts, and in Angola, is essentially cowardly, except when influenced by success. A partial triumph over any body of men would induce the whole country to rise in arms, and this is the chief danger to be feared. These petty chiefs have individually but little power, and with my men, now armed with guns, I could have easily beaten them off singly; but, being of the same family, they would readily unite in vast numbers if incited by prospects of successful plunder. They are by no means equal to the Cape Caffres in any respect whatever.
In the evening we came to Moena Kikanje, and found him a sensible man. He is the last of the Chiboque chiefs in this direction, and is in alliance with Matiamvo, whose territory commences a short distance beyond. His village is placed on the east bank of the Quilo, which is here twenty yards wide, and breast deep.
The country was generally covered with forest, and we slept every night at some village. I was so weak, and had become so deaf from the effects of the fever, that I was glad to avail myself of the company of Senhor Pascoal and the other native traders. Our rate of traveling was only two geographical miles per hour, and the average number of hours three and a half per day, or seven miles. Two thirds of the month was spent in stoppages, there being only ten traveling days in each month. The stoppages were caused by sickness, and the necessity of remaining in different parts to purchase food; and also because, when one carrier was sick, the rest refused to carry his load.
One of the Pombeiros had eight good-looking women in a chain whom he was taking to the country of Matiamvo to sell for ivory. They always looked ashamed when I happened to come near them, and must have felt keenly their forlorn and degraded position. I believe they were captives taken from the rebel Cassanges. The way in which slaves are spoken of in Angola and eastern Africa must sound strangely even to the owners when they first come from Europe. In Angola the common appellation is “o diabo”, or “brutu”; and it is quite usual to hear gentlemen call out, “O diabo! bring fire.” In eastern Africa, on the contrary, they apply the term “bicho” (an animal), and you hear the phrase, “Call the ANIMAL to do this or that.” In fact, slave-owners come to regard their slaves as not human, and will curse them as the “race of a dog”. Most of the carriers of my traveling companions were hired Basongo, and required constant vigilance to prevent them stealing the goods they carried. Salt, which is one of the chief articles conveyed into the country, became considerably lighter as we went along, but the carriers shielded themselves by saying that it had been melted by the rain. Their burdens were taken from them every evening, and placed in security under the guardianship of Senhor Pascoal’s own slaves. It was pitiable to observe the worrying life he led. There was the greatest contrast possible between the conduct of his people and that of my faithful Makololo.
We crossed the Loange, a deep but narrow stream, by a bridge. It becomes much larger, and contains hippopotami, lower down. It is the boundary of Londa on the west. We slept also on the banks of the Pezo, now flooded, and could not but admire their capabilities for easy irrigation. On reaching the River Chikapa (lat. 10° 10’ S., long. 19° 42’ E.), the 25th of March, we found it fifty or sixty yards wide, and flowing E.N.E. into the Kasai. The adjacent country is of the same level nature as that part of Londa formerly described; but, having come farther to the eastward than our previous course, we found that all the rivers had worn for themselves much deeper valleys than at the points we had formerly crossed them.
Surrounded on all sides by large gloomy forests, the people of these parts have a much more indistinct idea of the geography of their country than those who live in hilly regions. It was only after long and patient inquiry that I became fully persuaded that the Quilo runs into the Chikapa. As we now crossed them both considerably farther down, and were greatly to the eastward of our first route, there can be no doubt that these rivers take the same course as the others, into the Kasai, and that I had been led into a mistake in saying that any of them flowed to the westward. Indeed, it was only at this time that I began to perceive that all the western feeders of the Kasai, except the Quango, flow first from the western side toward the centre of the country, then gradually turn, with the Kasai itself, to the north; and, after the confluence of the Kasai with the Quango, an immense body of water, collected from all these branches, finds its way out of the country by means of the River Congo or Zaire on the west coast.
The people living along the path we are now following were quite accustomed to the visits of native traders, and did not feel in any way bound to make presents of food except for the purpose of cheating: thus, a man gave me a fowl and some meal, and, after a short time, returned. I offered him a handsome present of beads; but these he declined, and demanded a cloth instead, which was far more than the value of his gift. They did the same with my men, until we had to refuse presents altogether. Others made high demands because I slept in a “house of cloth”, and must be rich. They seemed to think that they had a perfect right to payment for simply passing through the country.
Beyond the Chikapa we crossed the Kamaue, a small deep stream proceeding from the S.S.W., and flowing into the Chikapa.
On the 30th of April we reached the Loajima, where we had to form a bridge to effect our passage. This was not so difficult an operation as some might imagine; for a tree was growing in a horizontal position across part of the stream, and, there being no want of the tough climbing plants which admit of being knitted like ropes, Senhor P. soon constructed a bridge. The Loajima was here about twenty-five yards wide, but very much deeper than where I had crossed before on the shoulders of Mashauana. The last rain of this season had fallen on the 28th, and had suddenly been followed by a great decrease of the temperature. The people in these parts seemed more slender in form, and their color a lighter olive, than any we had hitherto met. The mode of dressing the great masses of woolly hair which lay upon their shoulders, together with their general features, again reminded me of the ancient Egyptians. Several were seen with the upward inclination of the outer angles of the eye, but this was not general. A few of the ladies adopt a curious custom of attaching the hair to a hoop which encircles the head, giving it somewhat the appearance of the glory round the head of the Virgin (wood-cut No. 136). Some have a small hoop behind that represented in the wood-cut. Others wear an ornament of woven hair and hide adorned with beads. The hair of the tails of buffaloes, which are to be found farther east, is sometimes added. This is represented in No. 2. While others, as in No. 3, weave their own hair on pieces of hide into the form of buffalo horns; or, as in No. 4, make a single horn in front. The features given are frequently met with, but they are by no means universal. Many tattoo their bodies by inserting some black substance beneath the skin, which leaves an elevated cicatrix about half an inch long: these are made in the form of stars, and other figures of no particular beauty.
36 Wood-cuts (not yet included in this web edition). No. 1 appears like a wheel with spokes of hair connecting it to the head. No. 2 appears somewhat like a tiara sloped forward, as the bow of a ship. No. 3 appears like gently curving horns. There is a part in the middle, and the hair, on leather frames, curls outward and upward at the temples. No. 4 is likewise, but the single horn curves outward and upward from the forehead — it is labelled “A Young Man’s Fashion”. Except for No. 1, all are represented as having the rest of their hair hanging in braids around the sides and back. All of the faces, as Livingstone asserts, appear much like paintings of ancient Egyptians, and could easily be European except for the shading and the slanted eyes. They are all handsome.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:10