Kind Reception from the Commandant — His Generosity to my Men — The Village of Tete — The Population — Distilled Spirits — The Fort — Cause of the Decadence of Portuguese Power — Former Trade — Slaves employed in Gold-washing — Slave-trade drained the Country of Laborers — The Rebel Nyaude’s Stockade — He burns Tete — Kisaka’s Revolt and Ravages — Extensive Field of Sugar-cane — The Commandant’s good Reputation among the Natives — Providential Guidance — Seams of Coal — A hot Spring — Picturesque Country — Water-carriage to the Coal-fields — Workmen’s Wages — Exports — Price of Provisions — Visit Gold-washings — The Process of obtaining the precious Metal — Coal within a Gold-field — Present from Major Sicard — Natives raise Wheat, etc. — Liberality of the Commandant — Geographical Information from Senhor Candido — Earthquakes — Native Ideas of a Supreme Being — Also of the Immortality and Transmigration of Souls — Fondness for Display at Funerals — Trade Restrictions — Former Jesuit Establishment — State of Religion and Education at Tete — Inundation of the Zambesi — Cotton cultivated — The fibrous Plants Conge and Buaze — Detained by Fever — The Kumbanzo Bark — Native Medicines — Iron, its Quality — Hear of Famine at Kilimane — Death of a Portuguese Lady — The Funeral — Disinterested Kindness of the Portuguese.
I was most kindly received by the commandant Tito Augusto d’Araujo Sicard, who did every thing in his power to restore me from my emaciated condition; and, as this was still the unhealthy period at Kilimane, he advised me to remain with him until the following month. He also generously presented my men with abundant provisions of millet; and, by giving them lodgings in a house of his own until they could erect their own huts, he preserved them from the bite of the tampans, here named Carapatos.48 We had heard frightful accounts of this insect while among the Banyai, and Major Sicard assured me that to strangers its bite is more especially dangerous, as it sometimes causes fatal fever. It may please our homoeopathic friends to hear that, in curing the bite of the tampan, the natives administer one of the insects bruised in the medicine employed.
48 Another insect, resembling a maggot, burrows into the feet of the natives and sucks their blood. Mr. Westwood says, “The tampan is a large species of mite, closely allied to the poisonous bug (as it is called) of Persia, ‘Argos reflexus’, respecting which such marvelous accounts have been recorded, and which the statement respecting the carapato or tampan would partially confirm.” Mr. W. also thinks that the poison-yielding larva called N’gwa is a “species of chrysomelidae. The larvae of the British species of that family exude a fetid yellow thickish fluid when alarmed, but he has not heard that any of them are at all poisonous.”
The village of Tete is built on a long slope down to the river, the fort being close to the water. The rock beneath is gray sandstone, and has the appearance of being crushed away from the river: the strata have thus a crumpled form. The hollow between each crease is a street, the houses being built upon the projecting fold. The rocks at the top of the slope are much higher than the fort, and of course completely command it. There is then a large valley, and beyond that an oblong hill called Karueira. The whole of the adjacent country is rocky and broken, but every available spot is under cultivation. The stone houses in Tete are cemented with mud instead of lime, and thatched with reeds and grass. The rains, having washed out the mud between the stones, give all the houses a rough, untidy appearance. No lime was known to be found nearer than Mozambique; some used in making seats in the verandas had actually been brought all that distance. The Portuguese evidently knew nothing of the pink and white marbles which I found at the Mbai, and another rivulet, named the Unguesi, near it, and of which I brought home specimens, nor yet of the dolomite which lies so near to Zumbo: they might have burned the marble into lime without going so far as Mozambique. There are about thirty European houses; the rest are native, and of wattle and daub. A wall about ten feet high is intended to inclose the village, but most of the native inhabitants prefer to live on different spots outside. There are about twelve hundred huts in all, which with European households would give a population of about four thousand five hundred souls. Only a small proportion of these, however, live on the spot; the majority are engaged in agricultural operations in the adjacent country. Generally there are not more than two thousand people resident, for, compared with what it was, Tete is now a ruin. The number of Portuguese is very small; if we exclude the military, it is under twenty. Lately, however, one hundred and five soldiers were sent from Portugal to Senna, where in one year twenty-five were cut off by fever. They were then removed to Tete, and here they enjoy much better health, though, from the abundance of spirits distilled from various plants, wild fruits, and grain, in which pernicious beverage they largely indulge, besides partaking chiefly of unwholesome native food, better health could scarcely have been expected. The natives here understand the method of distillation by means of gun-barrels, and a succession of earthen pots filled with water to keep them cool. The general report of the fever here is that, while at Kilimane the fever is continuous, at Tete a man recovers in about three days. The mildest remedies only are used at first, and, if that period be passed, then the more severe.
The fort of Tete has been the salvation of the Portuguese power in this quarter. It is a small square building, with a thatched apartment for the residence of the troops; and, though there are but few guns, they are in a much better state than those of any fort in the interior of Angola. The cause of the decadence of the Portuguese power in this region is simply this: In former times, considerable quantities of grain, as wheat, millet, and maize, were exported; also coffee, sugar, oil, and indigo, besides gold-dust and ivory. The cultivation of grain was carried on by means of slaves, of whom the Portuguese possessed a large number. The gold-dust was procured by washing at various points on the north, south, and west of Tete. A merchant took all his slaves with him to the washings, carrying as much calico and other goods as he could muster. On arriving at the washing-place, he made a present to the chief of the value of about a pound sterling. The slaves were then divided into parties, each headed by a confidential servant, who not only had the supervision of his squad while the washing went on, but bought dust from the inhabitants, and made a weekly return to his master. When several masters united at one spot, it was called a “Bara”, and they then erected a temporary church, in which a priest from one of the missions performed mass. Both chiefs and people were favorable to these visits, because the traders purchased grain for the sustenance of the slaves with the goods they had brought. They continued at this labor until the whole of the goods were expended, and by this means about 130 lbs. of gold were annually produced. Probably more than this was actually obtained, but, as it was an article easily secreted, this alone was submitted to the authorities for taxation. At present the whole amount of gold obtained annually by the Portuguese is from 8 to 10 lbs. only. When the slave-trade began, it seemed to many of the merchants a more speedy mode of becoming rich to sell off the slaves than to pursue the slow mode of gold-washing and agriculture, and they continued to export them until they had neither hands to labor nor to fight for them. It was just the story of the goose and the golden egg. The coffee and sugar plantations and gold-washings were abandoned, because the labor had been exported to the Brazils. Many of the Portuguese then followed their slaves, and the government was obliged to pass a law to prevent further emigration, which, had it gone on, would have depopulated the Portuguese possessions altogether. A clever man of Asiatic (Goa) and Portuguese extraction, called Nyaude, now built a stockade at the confluence of the Luenya and Zambesi; and when the commandant of Tete sent an officer with his company to summon him to his presence, Nyaude asked permission of the officer to dress himself, which being granted, he went into an inner apartment, and the officer ordered his men to pile their arms. A drum of war began to beat a note which is well known to the inhabitants. Some of the soldiers took the alarm on hearing this note, but the officer, disregarding their warning, was, with his whole party, in a few minutes disarmed and bound hand and foot. The commandant of Tete then armed the whole body of slaves and marched against the stockade of Nyaude, but when they came near to it there was the Luenya still to cross. As they did not effect this speedily, Nyaude dispatched a strong party under his son Bonga across the river below the stockade, and up the left bank of the Zambesi until they came near to Tete. They then attacked Tete, which was wholly undefended save by a few soldiers in the fort, plundered and burned the whole town except the house of the commandant and a few others, with the church and fort. The women and children fled into the church; and it is a remarkable fact that none of the natives of this region will ever attack a church. Having rendered Tete a ruin, Bonga carried off all the cattle and plunder to his father. News of this having been brought to the army before the stockade, a sudden panic dispersed the whole; and as the fugitives took roundabout ways in their flight, Katolosa, who had hitherto pretended to be friendly with the Portuguese, sent out his men to capture as many of them as they could. They killed many for the sake of their arms. This is the account which both natives and Portuguese give of the affair.
Another half-caste from Macao, called Kisaka or Choutama, on the opposite bank of the river, likewise rebelled. His father having died, he imagined that he had been bewitched by the Portuguese, and he therefore plundered and burned all the plantations of the rich merchants of Tete on the north bank. As I have before remarked, that bank is the most fertile, and there the Portuguese had their villas and plantations to which they daily retired from Tete. When these were destroyed the Tete people were completely impoverished. An attempt was made to punish this rebel, but it was also unsuccessful, and he has lately been pardoned by the home government. One point in the narrative of this expedition is interesting. They came to a field of sugar-cane so large that 4000 men eating it during two days did not finish the whole. The Portuguese were thus placed between two enemies, Nyaude on the right bank and Kisaka on the left, and not only so, but Nyaude, having placed his stockade on the point of land on the right banks of both the Luenya and Zambesi, and washed by both these rivers, could prevent intercourse with the sea. The Luenya rushes into the Zambesi with great force when the latter is low, and, in coming up the Zambesi, boats must cross it and the Luenya separately, even going a little way up that river, so as not to be driven away by its current in the bed of the Zambesi, and dashed on the rock which stands on the opposite shore. In coming up to the Luenya for this purpose, all boats and canoes came close to the stockade to be robbed. Nyaude kept the Portuguese shut up in their fort at Tete during two years, and they could only get goods sufficient to buy food by sending to Kilimane by an overland route along the north bank of the Zambesi. The mother country did not in these “Caffre wars” pay the bills, so no one either became rich or blamed the missionaries.
The merchants were unable to engage in trade, and commerce, which the slave-trade had rendered stagnant, was now completely obstructed. The present commandant of Tete, Major Sicard, having great influence among the natives, from his good character, put a stop to the war more than once by his mere presence on the spot. We heard of him among the Banyai as a man with whom they would never fight, because “he had a good heart.” Had I come down to this coast instead of going to Loanda in 1853, I should have come among the belligerents while the war was still raging, and should probably have been cut off. My present approach was just at the conclusion of the peace; and when the Portuguese authorities here were informed, through the kind offices of Lord Clarendon and Count de Lavradio, that I was expected to come this way, they all declared that such was the existing state of affairs that no European could possibly pass through the tribes. Some natives at last came down the river to Tete and said, alluding to the sextant and artificial horizon, that “the Son of God had come,” and that he was “able to take the sun down from the heavens and place it under his arm!” Major Sicard then felt sure that this was the man mentioned in Lord Clarendon’s dispatch.
On mentioning to the commandant that I had discovered a small seam of coal, he stated that the Portuguese were already aware of nine such seams, and that five of them were on the opposite bank of the river. As soon as I had recovered from my fatigue I went to examine them. We proceeded in a boat to the mouth of the Lofubu or Revubu, which is about two miles below Tete, and on the opposite or northern bank. Ascending this about four miles against a strong current of beautifully clear water, we landed near a small cataract, and walked about two miles through very fertile gardens to the seam, which we found to be in one of the feeders of the Lofubu, called Muatize or Motize. The seam is in the perpendicular bank, and dips into the rivulet, or in a northerly direction. There is, first of all, a seam 10 inches in diameter, then some shale, below which there is another seam, 58 inches of which are seen, and, as the bottom touches the water of the Muatize, it may be more. This part of the seam is about 30 yards long. There is then a fault. About 100 yards higher up the stream black vesicular trap is seen, penetrating in thin veins the clay shale of the country, converting it into porcellanite, and partially crystallizing the coal with which it came into contact. On the right bank of the Lofubu there is another feeder entering that river near its confluence with the Muatize, which is called the Morongozi, in which there is another and still larger bed of coal exposed. Farther up the Lofubu there are other seams in the rivulets Inyavu and Makare; also several spots in the Maravi country have the coal cropping out. This has evidently been brought to the surface by volcanic action at a later period than the coal formation.
I also went up the Zambesi, and visited a hot spring called Nyamboronda, situated in the bed of a small rivulet named Nyaondo, which shows that igneous action is not yet extinct. We landed at a small rivulet called Mokorozi, then went a mile or two to the eastward, where we found a hot fountain at the bottom of a high hill. A little spring bubbles up on one side of the rivulet Nyaondo, and a great quantity of acrid steam rises up from the ground adjacent, about 12 feet square of which is so hot that my companions could not stand on it with their bare feet. There are several little holes from which the water trickles, but the principal spring is in a hole a foot in diameter, and about the same in depth. Numbers of bubbles are constantly rising. The steam feels acrid in the throat, but is not inflammable, as it did not burn when I held a bunch of lighted grass over the bubbles. The mercury rises to 158° when the thermometer is put into the water in the hole, but after a few seconds it stands steadily at 160° Even when flowing over the stones the water is too hot for the hand. Little fish frequently leap out of the stream in the bed of which the fountain rises, into the hot water, and get scalded to death. We saw a frog which had performed the experiment, and was now cooked. The stones over which the water flows are incrusted with a white salt, and the water has a saline taste. The ground has been dug out near the fountain by the natives, in order to extract the salt it contains. It is situated among rocks of syenitic porphyry in broad dikes, and gneiss tilted on edge, and having a strike to the N.E. There are many specimens of half-formed pumice, with greenstone and lava. Some of the sandstone strata are dislocated by a hornblende rock and by basalt, the sandstone nearest to the basalt being converted into quartz.
The country around, as indeed all the district lying N. and N.W. of Tete, is hilly, and, the hills being covered with trees, the scenery is very picturesque. The soil of the valleys is very fruitful and well cultivated. There would not be much difficulty in working the coal. The Lofubu is about 60 yards broad; it flows perennially, and at its very lowest period, which is after September, there is water about 18 inches deep, which could be navigated in flat-bottomed boats. At the time of my visit it was full, and the current was very strong. If the small cataract referred to were to be avoided, the land-carriage beyond would only be about two miles. The other seams farther up the river may, after passing the cataract, be approached more easily than that in the Muatize; as the seam, however, dips down into the stream, no drainage of the mine would be required, for if water were come to it would run into the stream. I did not visit the others, but I was informed that there are seams in the independent native territory as well as in that of the Portuguese. That in the Nake is in the Banyai country, and, indeed, I have no doubt but that the whole country between Zumbo and Lupata is a coal-field of at least 2–1/2° of latitude in breadth, having many faults, made during the time of the igneous action. The gray sandstone rock having silicified trees lying on it is of these dimensions. The plantation in which the seam of coal exists would be valued among the Portuguese at about $60 or £12, but much more would probably be asked if a wealthy purchaser appeared. They could not, however, raise the price very much higher, because estates containing coal might be had from the native owners at a much cheaper rate. The wages of free laborers, when employed in such work as gold-washing, agriculture, or digging coal, is 2 yards of unbleached calico per day. They might be got to work cheaper if engaged by the moon, or for about 16 yards per month. For masons and carpenters even, the ordinary rate is 2 yards per day. This is called 1 braca. Tradesmen from Kilimane demand 4 bracas, or 8 yards, per day. English or American unbleached calico is the only currency used. The carriage of goods up the river to Tete adds about 10 per cent. to their cost. The usual conveyance is by means of very large canoes and launches built at Senna.
The amount of merchandise brought up during the five months of peace previous to my visit was of the value of $30,000, or about £6000. The annual supply of goods for trade is about £15,000, being calico, thick brass wire, beads, gunpowder, and guns. The quantity of the latter is, however, small, as the government of Mozambique made that article contraband after the commencement of the war. Goods, when traded with in the tribes around the Portuguese, produce a profit of only about 10 per cent., the articles traded in being ivory and gold-dust. A little oil and wheat are exported, but nothing else. Trade with the tribes beyond the exclusive ones is much better. Thirty brass rings cost 10s. at Senna, £1 at Tete, and £2 beyond the tribes in the vicinity of Tete; these are a good price for a penful of gold-dust of the value of £2. The plantations of coffee, which, previous to the commencement of the slave-trade, yielded one material for exportation, are now deserted, and it is difficult to find a single tree. The indigo (‘Indigofera argentea’, the common wild indigo of Africa) is found growing every where, and large quantities of the senna-plant49 grow in the village of Tete and other parts, but neither indigo nor senna is collected. Calumba-root, which is found in abundance in some parts farther down the river, is bought by the Americans, it is said, to use as a dye-stuff. A kind of sarsaparilla, or a plant which is believed by the Portuguese to be such, is found from Londa to Senna, but has never been exported.
49 These appear to belong to ‘Cassia acutifolia’, or true senna of commerce, found in various parts of Africa and India. — Dr. Hooker.
The price of provisions is low, but very much higher than previous to the commencement of the war. Two yards of calico are demanded for six fowls; this is considered very dear, because, before the war, the same quantity of calico was worth 24 fowls. Grain is sold in little bags made from the leaves of the palmyra, like those in which we receive sugar. They are called panjas, and each panja weighs between 30 and 40 lbs. The panja of wheat at Tete is worth a dollar, or 5s.; but the native grain may be obtained among the islands below Lupata at the rate of three panjas for two yards of calico. The highest articles of consumption are tea and coffee, the tea being often as high as 15s. a pound. Food is cheaper down the river below Lupata, and, previous to the war, the islands which stud the Zambesi were all inhabited, and, the soil being exceedingly fertile, grain and fowls could be got to any amount. The inhabitants disappeared before their enemies the Landeens, but are beginning to return since the peace. They have no cattle, the only place where we found no tsetse being the district of Tete itself; and the cattle in the possession of the Portuguese are a mere remnant of what they formerly owned.
When visiting the hot fountain, I examined what were formerly the gold-washings in the rivulet Mokoroze, which is nearly on the 16th parallel of latitude. The banks are covered with large groves of fine mango-trees, among which the Portuguese lived while superintending the washing for the precious metal. The process of washing is very laborious and tedious. A quantity of sand is put into a wooden bowl with water; a half rotatory motion is given to the dish, which causes the coarser particles of sand to collect on one side of the bottom. These are carefully removed with the hand, and the process of rotation renewed until the whole of the sand is taken away, and the gold alone remains. It is found in very minute scales, and, unless I had been assured to the contrary, I should have taken it to be mica, for, knowing the gold to be of greater specific gravity than the sand, I imagined that a stream of water would remove the latter and leave the former; but here the practice is to remove the whole of the sand by the hand. This process was, no doubt, a profitable one to the Portuguese, and it is probable that, with the improved plan by means of mercury, the sands would be lucrative. I had an opportunity of examining the gold-dust from different parts to the east and northeast of Tete. There are six well-known washing-places. These are called Mashinga, Shindundo, Missala, Kapata, Mano, and Jawa. From the description of the rock I received, I suppose gold is found both in clay shale and quartz. At the range Mushinga to the N.N.W. the rock is said to be so soft that the women pound it into powder in wooden mortars previous to washing.
Round toward the westward, the old Portuguese indicate a station which was near to Zumbo on the River Panyame, and called Dambarari, near which much gold was found. Farther west lay the now unknown kingdom of Abutua, which was formerly famous for the metal; and then, coming round toward the east, we have the gold-washings of the Mashona, or Bazizulu, and, farther east, that of Manica, where gold is found much more abundantly than in any other part, and which has been supposed by some to be the Ophir of King Solomon. I saw the gold from this quarter as large as grains of wheat, that found in the rivers which run into the coal-field being in very minute scales. If we place one leg of the compasses at Tete, and extend the other three and a half degrees, bringing it round from the northeast of Tete by west, and then to the southeast, we nearly touch or include all the known gold-producing country. As the gold on this circumference is found in coarser grains than in the streams running toward the centre, or Tete, I imagine that the real gold-field lies round about the coal-field; and, if I am right in the conjecture, then we have coal encircled by a gold-field, and abundance of wood, water, and provisions — a combination not often met with in the world. The inhabitants are not unfavorable to washings, conducted on the principle formerly mentioned. At present they wash only when in want of a little calico. They know the value of gold perfectly well, for they bring it for sale in goose-quills, and demand 24 yards of calico for one penful. When the rivers in the district of Manica and other gold-washing places have been flooded, they leave a coating of mud on the banks. The natives observe the spots which dry soonest, and commence digging there, in firm belief that gold lies beneath. They are said not to dig deeper than their chins, believing that if they did so the ground would fall in and kill them. When they find a ‘piece’ or flake of gold, they bury it again, from the superstitious idea that this is the seed of the gold, and, though they know the value of it well, they prefer losing it rather than the whole future crop. This conduct seemed to me so very unlikely in men who bring the dust in quills, and even put in a few seeds of a certain plant as a charm to prevent their losing any of it on the way, that I doubted the authority of my informant; but I found the report verified by all the Portuguese who knew the native language and mode of thinking, and give the statement for what it is worth. If it is really practiced, the custom may have been introduced by some knowing one who wished to defraud the chiefs of their due; for we are informed in Portuguese history that in former times these pieces or flakes of gold were considered the perquisites of the chiefs.
Major Sicard, the commandant, whose kindness to me and my people was unbounded, presented a rosary made of the gold of the country, the workmanship of a native of Tete, to my little daughter; also specimens of the gold-dust of three different places, which, with the coal of Muatize and Morongoze, are deposited in the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, London.
All the cultivation is carried on with hoes in the native manner, and considerable quantities of ‘Holcus sorghum’, maize, ‘Pennisetum typhoideum’, or lotsa of the Balonda, millet, rice, and wheat are raised, as also several kinds of beans — one of which, called “litloo” by the Bechuanas, yields under ground, as well as the ‘Arachis hypogaea’, or ground-nut; with cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons. The wheat is sown in low-lying places which are annually flooded by the Zambesi. When the waters retire, the women drop a few grains in a hole made with a hoe, then push back the soil with the foot. One weeding alone is required before the grain comes to maturity. This simple process represents all our subsoil plowing, liming, manuring, and harrowing, for in four months after planting a good crop is ready for the sickle, and has been known to yield a hundred-fold. It flourished still more at Zumbo. No irrigation is required, because here there are gentle rains, almost like mist, in winter, which go by the name of “wheat-showers”, and are unknown in the interior, where no winter rain ever falls. The rains at Tete come from the east, though the prevailing winds come from the S.S.E. The finest portion of the flour does not make bread nearly so white as the seconds, and here the boyaloa (pombe), or native beer, is employed to mix with the flour instead of yeast. It makes excellent bread. At Kilimane, where the cocoanut palm abounds, the toddy from it, called “sura”, is used for the same purpose, and makes the bread still lighter.
As it was necessary to leave most of my men at this place, Major Sicard gave them a portion of land on which to cultivate their own food, generously supplying them with corn in the mean time. He also said that my young men might go and hunt elephants in company with his servants, and purchase goods with both the ivory and dried meat, in order that they might have something to take with them on their return to Sekeletu. The men were delighted with his liberality, and soon sixty or seventy of them set off to engage in this enterprise. There was no calico to be had at this time in Tete, but the commandant handsomely furnished my men with clothing. I was in a state of want myself, and, though I pressed him to take payment in ivory for both myself and men, he refused all recompense. I shall ever remember his kindness with deep gratitude. He has written me, since my arrival in England, that my men had killed four elephants in the course of two months after my departure.
On the day of my arrival I was visited by all the gentlemen of the village, both white and colored, including the padre. Not one of them had any idea as to where the source of the Zambesi lay. They sent for the best traveled natives, but none of them knew the river even as far as Kansala. The father of one of the rebels who had been fighting against them had been a great traveler to the southwest, and had even heard of our visit to Lake Ngami; but he was equally ignorant with all the others that the Zambesi flowed in the centre of the country. They had, however, more knowledge of the country to the north of Tete than I had. One man, who had gone to Cazembe with Major Monteiro, stated that he had seen the Luapura or Loapula flowing past the town of that chieftain into the Luameji or Leeambye, but imagined that it found its way, somehow or other, into Angola. The fact that sometimes rivers were seen to flow like this toward the centre of the country, led geographers to the supposition that inner Africa was composed of elevated sandy plains, into which rivers ran and were lost. One of the gentlemen present, Senhor Candido, had visited a lake 45 days to the N.N.W. of Tete, which is probably the Lake Maravi of geographers, as in going thither they pass through the people of that name. The inhabitants of its southern coast are named Shiva; those on the north, Mujao; and they call the lake Nyanja or Nyanje, which simply means a large water, or bed of a large river. A high mountain stands in the middle of it, called Murombo or Murombola, which is inhabited by people who have much cattle. He stated that he crossed the Nyanja at a narrow part, and was 36 hours in the passage. The canoes were punted the whole way, and, if we take the rate about two miles per hour, it may be sixty or seventy miles in breadth. The country all round was composed of level plains covered with grass, and, indeed, in going thither they traveled seven or eight days without wood, and cooked their food with grass and stalks of native corn alone. The people sold their cattle at a very cheap rate. From the southern extremity of the lake two rivers issue forth: one, named after itself, the Nyanja, which passes into the sea on the east coast under another name; and the Shire, which flows into the Zambesi a little below Senna. The Shire is named Shirwa at its point of departure from the lake, and Senhor Candido was informed, when there, that the lake was simply an expansion of the River Nyanja, which comes from the north and encircles the mountain Murombo, the meaning of which is junction or union, in reference to the water having parted at its northern extremity, and united again at its southern. The Shire flows through a low, flat, marshy country, but abounding in population, and they are said to be brave. The Portuguese are unable to navigate the Shire up to the Lake Nyanja, because of the great abundance of a water-plant which requires no soil, and which they name “alfacinya” (‘Pistia stratiotes’), from its resemblance to a lettuce. This completely obstructs the progress of canoes. In confirmation of this I may state that, when I passed the mouth of the Shire, great quantities of this same plant were floating from it into the Zambesi, and many parts of the banks below were covered with the dead plants.
Senhor Candido stated that slight earthquakes have happened several times in the country of the Maravi, and at no great distance from Tete. The motion seems to come from the eastward, and never to have lasted more than a few seconds. They are named in the Maravi tongue “shiwo”, and in that of the people of Tete “shitakoteko”, or “shivering”. This agrees exactly with what has taken place in the coast of Mozambique — a few slight shocks of short duration, and all appearing to come from the east. At Senna, too, a single shock has been felt several times, which shook the doors and windows, and made the glasses jingle. Both Tete and Senna have hot springs in their vicinity, but the shocks seemed to come, not from them, but from the east, and proceed to the west. They are probably connected with the active volcanoes in the island of Bourbon.
As Senhor Candido holds the office of judge in all the disputes of the natives, and knows their language perfectly, his statement may be relied on that all the natives of this region have a clear idea of a Supreme Being, the maker and governor of all things. He is named “Morimo”, “Molungo”, “Reza”, “Mpambe”, in the different dialects spoken. The Barotse name him “Nyampi”, and the Balonda “Zambi”. All promptly acknowledge him as the ruler over all. They also fully believe in the soul’s continued existence apart from the body, and visit the graves of relatives, making offerings of food, beer, etc. When undergoing the ordeal, they hold up their hands to the Ruler of Heaven, as if appealing to him to assert their innocence. When they escape, or recover from sickness, or are delivered from any danger, they offer a sacrifice of a fowl or a sheep, pouring out the blood as a libation to the soul of some departed relative. They believe in the transmigration of souls, and also that while persons are still living they may enter into lions and alligators, and then return again to their own bodies.
While still at Tete the son of Monomotapa paid the commandant a visit. He is named Mozungo, or “White Man”, has a narrow tapering head, and probably none of the ability or energy his father possessed. He was the favorite of his father, who hoped that he would occupy his place. A strong party, however, in the tribe placed Katalosa in the chieftainship, and the son became, as they say, a child of this man. The Portuguese have repeatedly received offers of territory if they would only attend the interment of the departed chief with troops, fire off many rounds of cartridges over the grave, and then give eclat to the installment of the new chief. Their presence would probably influence the election, for many would vote on the side of power, and a candidate might feel it worth while to grant a good piece of land, if thereby he could secure the chieftainship to himself. When the Portuguese traders wish to pass into the country beyond Katalosa, they present him with about thirty-two yards of calico and some other goods, and he then gives them leave to pass in whatever direction they choose to go. They must, however, give certain quantities of cloth to a number of inferior chiefs beside, and they are subject to the game-laws. They have thus a body of exclusive tribes around them, preventing direct intercourse between them and the population beyond. It is strange that, when they had the power, they did not insist on the free navigation of the Zambesi. I can only account for this in the same way in which I accounted for a similar state of things in the west. All the traders have been in the hands of slaves, and have wanted that moral courage which a free man, with free servants on whom he can depend, usually possesses. If the English had been here, they would have insisted on the free navigation of this pathway as an indispensable condition of friendship. The present system is a serious difficulty in the way of developing the resources of the country, and might prove fatal to an unarmed expedition. If this desirable and most fertile field of enterprise is ever to be opened up, men must proceed on a different plan from that which has been followed, and I do not apprehend there would be much difficulty in commencing a new system, if those who undertook it insisted that it is not our custom to pay for a highway which has not been made by man. The natives themselves would not deny that the river is free to those who do not trade in slaves. If, in addition to an open, frank explanation, a small subsidy were given to the paramount chief, the willing consent of all the subordinates would soon be secured.
On the 1st of April I went to see the site of a former establishment of the Jesuits, called Micombo, about ten miles S.E. of Tete. Like all their settlements I have seen, both judgment and taste had been employed in the selection of the site. A little stream of mineral water had been collected in a tank and conducted to their house, before which was a little garden for raising vegetables at times of the year when no rain falls. It is now buried in a deep shady grove of mango-trees. I was accompanied by Captain Nunes, whose great-grandfather, also a captain in the time of the Marquis of Pombal, received sealed orders, to be opened only on a certain day. When that day arrived, he found the command to go with his company, seize all the Jesuits of this establishment, and march them as prisoners to the coast. The riches of the fraternity, which were immense, were taken possession of by the state. Large quantities of gold had often been sent to their superiors at Goa, inclosed in images. The Jesuits here do not seem to have possessed the sympathies of the people as their brethren in Angola did. They were keen traders in ivory and gold-dust. All praise their industry. Whatever they did, they did it with all their might, and probably their successful labors in securing the chief part of the trade to themselves had excited the envy of the laity. None of the natives here can read; and though the Jesuits are said to have translated some of the prayers into the language of the country, I was unable to obtain a copy. The only religious teachers now in this part of the country are two gentlemen of color, natives of Goa. The one who officiates at Tete, named Pedro Antonio d’Araujo, is a graduate in Dogmatic Theology and Moral Philosophy. There is but a single school in Tete, and it is attended only by the native Portuguese children, who are taught to read and write. The black population is totally uncared for. The soldiers are marched every Sunday to hear mass, and but few others attend church. During the period of my stay, a kind of theatrical representation of our Savior’s passion and resurrection was performed. The images and other paraphernalia used were of great value, but the present riches of the Church are nothing to what it once possessed. The commandant is obliged to lock up all the gold and silver in the fort for safety, though not from any apprehension of its being stolen by the people, for they have a dread of sacrilege.
The state of religion and education is, I am sorry to say, as low as that of commerce; but the European Portuguese value education highly, and send their children to Goa and elsewhere for instruction in the higher branches. There is not a single bookseller’s shop, however, in either eastern or western Africa. Even Loanda, with its 12,000 or 14,000 souls, can not boast of one store for the sale of food for the mind.
On the 2d the Zambesi suddenly rose several feet in height. Three such floods are expected annually, but this year there were four. This last was accompanied by discoloration, and must have been caused by another great fall of rain east of the ridge. We had observed a flood of discolored water when we reached the river at the Kafue; it then fell two feet, and from subsequent rains again rose so high that we were obliged to leave it when opposite the hill Pinkwe. About the 10th of March the river rose several feet with comparatively clear water, and it continued to rise until the 21st, with but very slight discoloration. This gradual rise was the greatest, and was probably caused by the water of inundation in the interior. The sudden rise which happened on the 2d, being deeply discolored, showed again the effect of rains at a comparatively short distance. The fact of the river rising three or four times annually, and the one flood of inundation being mixed with the others, may account for the Portuguese not recognizing the phenomenon of the periodical inundation, so well known in the central country.
The independent natives cultivate a little cotton, but it is not at all equal, either in quantity or quality, to what we found in Angola. The pile is short, and it clings to the seed so much that they use an iron roller to detach it. The soil, however, is equal to the production of any tropical plant or fruit. The natives have never been encouraged to cultivate cotton for sale, nor has any new variety been introduced. We saw no palm-oil-trees, the oil which is occasionally exported being from the ground-nut. One of the merchants of Tete had a mill of the rudest construction for grinding this nut, which was driven by donkeys. It was the only specimen of a machine I could exhibit to my men. A very superior kind of salad oil is obtained from the seeds of cucumbers, and is much used in native cookery.
An offer, said to have been made by the “Times”, having excited attention even in this distant part, I asked the commandant if he knew of any plant fit for the production of paper. He procured specimens of the fibrous tissue of a species of aloe, named Conge, and some also from the root of a wild date, and, lastly, of a plant named Buaze, the fibres of which, though useless for the manufacture of paper, are probably a suitable substitute for flax. I submitted a small quantity of these fibres to Messrs. Pye, Brothers, of London, who have invented a superior mode for the preparation of such tissues for the manufacturer. They most politely undertook the examination, and have given a favorable opinion of the Buaze, as may be seen in the note below.50
50 80 Lombard Street, 20th March, 1857.
Dear Sir, — We have the pleasure to return you the specimens of fibrous plants from the Zambesi River, on which you were desirous to see the effects of our treatment; we therefore inclose to you,
No. 1. Buaze, in the state received from you.
1 A. Do. as prepared by us.
1 B. The tow which has come from it in hackling.
No. 2. Conge, as received from you.
2 A. Do. as prepared by us.
With regard to both these fibres, we must state that the VERY MINUTE QUANTITY of each specimen has prevented our subjecting them to any thing like the full treatment of our process, and we can therefore only give you an APPROXIMATE idea of their value.
The Buaze evidently possesses a very strong and fine fibre, assimilating to flax in its character, but we believe, when treated IN QUANTITY by our process, it would show both a stronger and finer fibre than flax; but being unable to apply the rolling or pressing processes with any efficiency to so very small a quantity, the gums are not yet so perfectly extracted as they would be, nor the fibre opened out to so fine a quality as it would then exhibit.
This is even yet more the case with the Conge, which, being naturally a harsh fibre, full of gums, wants exactly that powerful treatment which our process is calculated to give it, but which can not be applied to such miniature specimens. We do not therefore consider this as more than half treated, its fibre consequently remaining yet harsh, and coarse, and stiff, as compared with what it would be if treated IN QUANTITY.
Judging that it would be satisfactory to you to be in possession of the best practical opinion to be obtained on such a subject, we took the liberty of forwarding your little specimens to Messrs. Marshall, of Leeds, who have kindly favored us with the following observations on them:
“We have examined the samples you sent us yesterday, and think the Conge or aloe fibre would be of no use to us, but the Buaze fibre appears to resemble flax, and as prepared by you will be equal to flax worth £50 or £60 per ton, but we could hardly speak positively to the value unless we had 1 cwt. or 2 cwt. to try on our machinery. However, we think the result is promising, and we hope further inquiry will be made as to the probable supply of the material.”
We are, dear sir, your very obedient servants,
The Rev. Dr. Livingstone.
A representation of the plant is given in the annexed woodcut,51 as a help to its identification. I was unable to procure either the flowers or fruit; but, as it is not recognized at sight by that accomplished botanist and eminent traveler, Dr. J. D. Hooker, it may safely be concluded that it is quite unknown to botanists. It is stated by the Portuguese to grow in large quantities in the Maravi country north of the Zambesi, but it is not cultivated, and the only known use it has been put to is in making threads on which the natives string their beads. Elsewhere the split tendons of animals are employed for this purpose. This seems to be of equal strength, for a firm thread of it feels like catgut in the hand, and would rather cut the fingers than break.
51 Woodcut (not yet included in this web edition). Buaze, or bwazi, is ‘Securidaca longipedunculata’.
Having waited a month for the commencement of the healthy season at Kilimane, I would have started at the beginning of April, but tarried a few days in order that the moon might make her appearance, and enable me to take lunar observations on my way down the river. A sudden change of temperature happening on the 4th, simultaneously with the appearance of the new moon, the commandant and myself, with nearly every person in the house, were laid up with a severe attack of fever. I soon recovered by the use of my wonted remedies, but Major Sicard and his little boy were confined much longer. There was a general fall of 4° of temperature from the middle of March, 84° at 9 A.M., and 87° at 9 P.M.; the greatest heat being 90° at midday, and the lowest 81° at sunrise. It afforded me pleasure to attend the invalids in their sickness, though I was unable to show a tithe of the gratitude I felt for the commandant’s increasing kindness. My quinine and other remedies were nearly all expended, and no fresh supply was to be found here, there being no doctors at Tete, and only one apothecary with the troops, whose stock of medicine was also small. The Portuguese, however, informed me that they had the cinchona bark growing in their country — that there was a little of it to be found at Tete — whole forests of it at Senna and near the delta of Kilimane. It seems quite a providential arrangement that the remedy for fever should be found in the greatest abundance where it is most needed. On seeing the leaves, I stated that it was not the ‘Cinchona longifolia’ from which it is supposed the quinine of commerce is extracted, but the name and properties of this bark made me imagine that it was a cinchonaceous tree. I could not get the flower, but when I went to Senna I tried to bring away a few small living trees with earth in a box. They, however, all died when we came to Kilimane. Failing in this mode of testing the point, I submitted a few leaves and seed-vessels to my friend, Dr. Hooker, who kindly informs me that they belong “apparently to an apocyneous plant, very nearly allied to the Malouetia Heudlotii (of Decaisne), a native of Senegambia.” Dr. H. adds, “Various plants of this natural order are reputed powerful febrifuges, and some of them are said to equal the cinchona in their effects.” It is called in the native tongue Kumbanzo.
The flowers are reported to be white. The pods are in pairs, a foot or fifteen inches in length, and contain a groove on their inner sides. The thick soft bark of the root is the part used by the natives; the Portuguese use that of the tree itself. I immediately began to use a decoction of the bark of the root, and my men found it so efficacious that they collected small quantities of it for themselves, and kept it in little bags for future use. Some of them said that they knew it in their own country, but I never happened to observe it. The decoction is given after the first paroxysm of the complaint is over. The Portuguese believe it to have the same effects as the quinine, and it may prove a substitute for that invaluable medicine.
There are numbers of other medicines in use among the natives, but I have always been obliged to regret want of time to ascertain which were useful and which of no value. We find a medicine in use by a tribe in one part of the country, and the same plant employed by a tribe a thousand miles distant. This surely must arise from some inherent virtue in the plant. The Boers under Potgeiter visited Delgoa Bay for the first time about ten years ago, in order to secure a port on the east coast for their republic. They had come from a part of the interior where the disease called croup occasionally prevails. There was no appearance of the disease among them at the period of their visit, but the Portuguese inhabitants of that bay found that they had left it among them, and several adults were cut off by a form of the complaint called ‘Laryngismus stridulus’, the disease of which the great Washington died. Similar cases have occurred in the South Sea Islands. Ships have left diseases from which no one on board was suffering at the time of their visit. Many of the inhabitants here were cut down, usually in three days from their first attack, until a native doctor adopted the plan of scratching the root of the tongue freely with a certain root, and giving a piece of it to be chewed. The cure may have been effected by the scarification only, but the Portuguese have the strongest faith in the virtues of the root, and always keep some of it within reach.
There are also other plants which the natives use in the treatment of fever, and some of them produce ‘diaphoresis’ in a short space of time. It is certain that we have got the knowledge of the most potent febrifuge in our pharmacopoeia from the natives of another country. We have no cure for cholera and some other diseases. It might be worth the investigation of those who visit Africa to try and find other remedies in a somewhat similar way to that in which we found the quinine.52
52 I add the native names of a few of their remedies in order to assist the inquirer: Mupanda panda: this is used in fever for producing perspiration; the leaves are named Chirussa; the roots dye red, and are very astringent. Goho or Go-o: this is the ordeal medicine; it is both purgative and emetic. Mutuva or Mutumbue: this plant contains so much oil that it serves as lights in Londa; it is an emollient drink for the cure of coughs, and the pounded leaves answer as soap to wash the head. Nyamucu ucu has a curious softening effect on old dry grain. Mussakasi is believed to remove the effects of the Go-o. Mudama is a stringent vermifuge. Mapubuza dyes a red color. Musikizi yields an oil. Shinkondo: a virulent poison; the Maravi use it in their ordeal, and it is very fatal. Kanunka utare is said to expel serpents and rats by its pungent smell, which is not at all disagreeable to man; this is probably a kind of ‘Zanthoxylon’, perhaps the Z. melancantha of Western Africa, as it is used to expel rats and serpents there. Mussonzoa dyes cloth black. Mussio: the beans of this also dye black. Kangome, with flowers and fruit like Mocha coffee; the leaves are much like those of the sloe, and the seeds are used as coffee or eaten as beans. Kanembe-embe: the pounded leaves used as an extemporaneous glue for mending broken vessels. Katunguru is used for killing fish. Mutavea Nyerere: an active caustic. Mudiacoro: also an external caustic, and used internally. Kapande: another ordeal plant, but used to produce ‘diaphoresis’. Karumgasura: also diaphoretic. Munyazi yields an oil, and is one of the ingredients for curing the wounds of poisoned arrows. Uombue: a large root employed in killing fish. Kakumate: used in intermittents. Musheteko: applied to ulcers, and the infusion also internally in amenorrhoea. Inyakanyanya: this is seen in small, dark-colored, crooked roots of pleasant aromatic smell and slightly bitter taste, and is highly extolled in the treatment of fever; it is found in Manica. Eskinencia: used in croup and sore-throat. Itaca or Itaka: for diaphoresis in fever; this root is brought as an article of barter by the Arabs to Kilimane; the natives purchase it eagerly. Mukundukundu: a decoction used as a febrifuge in the same way as quinine; it grows plentifully at Shupanga, and the wood is used as masts for launches. I may here add the recipe of Brother Pedro of Zumbo for the cure of poisoned wounds, in order to show the similarity of practice among the natives of the Zambesi, from whom, in all probability, he acquired his knowledge, and the Bushmen of the Kalahari. It consists of equal parts of the roots of the Calumba, Musheteko, Abutua, Batatinya, Paregekanto, Itaka, or Kapande, put into a bottle and covered with common castor-oil. As I have before observed, I believe the oily ingredient is the effectual one, and ought to be tried by any one who has the misfortune to get wounded by a Bushman’s or Banyai arrow.
The only other metal, besides gold, we have in abundance in this region, is iron, and that is of excellent quality. In some places it is obtained from what is called the specular iron ore, and also from black oxide. The latter has been well roasted in the operations of nature, and contains a large proportion of the metal. It occurs generally in tears or rounded lumps, and is but slightly magnetic. When found in the beds of rivers, the natives know of its existence by the quantity of oxide on the surface, and they find no difficulty in digging it with pointed sticks. They consider English iron as “rotten”; and I have seen, when a javelin of their own iron lighted on the cranium of a hippopotamus, it curled up like the proboscis of a butterfly, and the owner would prepare it for future use by straightening it COLD with two stones. I brought home some of the hoes which Sekeletu gave me to purchase a canoe, also some others obtained in Kilimane, and they have been found of such good quality that a friend of mine in Birmingham has made an Enfield rifle of them.53
53 The following remarks are by a practical blacksmith, one of the most experienced men in the gun-trade. In this trade various qualities of iron are used, and close attention is required to secure for each purpose the quality of iron peculiarly adapted to it:
The iron in the two spades strongly resembles Swedish or Russian; it is highly carbonized.
The same qualities are found in both spades.
When chilled in water it has all the properties of steel: see the piece marked I, chilled at one end, and left soft at the other.
When worked hot, it is very malleable: but cold, it breaks quite short and brittle.
The great irregularity found in the working of the iron affords evidence that it has been prepared by inexperienced hands.
This is shown in the bending of the small spade; the thick portion retains its crystallized nature, while the thin part has been changed by the hammering it has undergone.
The large spade shows a very brittle fracture.
The iron is too brittle for gun-work; it would be liable to break.
This iron, if REPEATEDLY heated and hammered, would become decarbonized, and would then possess the qualities found in the spear-head, which, after being curled up by being struck against a hard substance, was restored, by hammering, to its original form without injury.
The piece of iron marked II is a piece of gun-iron of fibrous quality, such as will bend without breaking.
The piece marked III is of crystalline quality; it has been submitted to a process which has changed it to IIII; III and IIII are cut from the same bar. The spade-iron has been submitted to the same process, but no corresponding effect can be produced.
The iron ore exists in great abundance, but I did not find any limestone in its immediate vicinity. So far as I could learn, there is neither copper nor silver. Malachite is worked by the people of Cazembe, but, as I did not see it, nor any other metal, I can say nothing about it. A few precious stones are met with, and some parts are quite covered with agates. The mineralogy of the district, however, has not been explored by any one competent to the task.
When my friend the commandant was fairly recovered, and I myself felt strong again, I prepared to descend the Zambesi. A number of my men were out elephant-hunting, and others had established a brisk trade in firewood, as their countrymen did at Loanda. I chose sixteen of those who could manage canoes to convey me down the river. Many more would have come, but we were informed that there had been a failure of the crops at Kilimane from the rains not coming at the proper time, and thousands had died of hunger. I did not hear of a single effort having been made to relieve the famishing by sending them food down the river. Those who perished were mostly slaves, and others seemed to think that their masters ought to pay for their relief. The sufferers were chiefly among those natives who inhabit the delta, and who are subject to the Portuguese. They are in a state of slavery, but are kept on farms and mildly treated. Many yield a certain rental of grain only to their owners, and are otherwise free. Eight thousand are said to have perished. Major Sicard lent me a boat which had been built on the river, and sent also Lieutenant Miranda to conduct me to the coast.
A Portuguese lady who had come with her brother from Lisbon, having been suffering for some days from a severe attack of fever, died about three o’clock in the morning of the 20th of April. The heat of the body having continued unabated till six o’clock, I was called in, and found her bosom quite as warm as I ever did in a living case of fever. This continued for three hours more. As I had never seen a case in which fever-heat continued so long after death, I delayed the funeral until unmistakable symptoms of dissolution occurred. She was a widow, only twenty-two years of age, and had been ten years in Africa. I attended the funeral in the evening, and was struck by the custom of the country. A number of slaves preceded us, and fired off many rounds of gunpowder in front of the body. When a person of much popularity is buried, all the surrounding chiefs send deputations to fire over the grave. On one occasion at Tete, more than thirty barrels of gunpowder were expended. Early in the morning of the 21st the slaves of the deceased lady’s brother went round the village making a lamentation, and drums were beaten all day, as they are at such times among the heathen.
The commandant provided for the journey most abundantly, and gave orders to Lieutenant Miranda that I should not be allowed to pay for any thing all the way to the coast, and sent messages to his friends Senhors Ferrao, Isidore, Asevedo, and Nunes, to treat me as they would himself. From every one of these gentlemen I am happy to acknowledge that I received most disinterested kindness, and I ought to speak well forever of Portuguese hospitality. I have noted each little act of civility received, because somehow or other we have come to hold the Portuguese character in rather a low estimation. This may have arisen partly from the pertinacity with which some of them have pursued the slave-trade, and partly from the contrast which they now offer to their illustrious ancestors — the foremost navigators of the world. If my specification of their kindnesses will tend to engender a more respectful feeling to the nation, I shall consider myself well rewarded. We had three large canoes in the company which had lately come up with goods from Senna. They are made very large and strong, much larger than any we ever saw in the interior, and might strike with great force against a rock and not be broken. The men sit at the stern when paddling, and there is usually a little shed made over a part of the canoe to shade the passengers from the sun. The boat in which I went was furnished with such a covering, so I sat quite comfortably.
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