The Ceremonies of the New Moon — Kamrasi’s Rule and Discipline — An Embassy from Uganda, and its Results — The Rebellious Brothers — An African Sorcerer and his Incantations — The Kamraviona of Unyoro — Burial Customs — Ethiopian Legends — Complicated Diplomacy for our Detention — Proposal to send Princes to England — We get away.
26th. — We found that the palace was shut up in consequence of the new moon, seen for the first time last evening; and incessant drumming was the order of the day. Still, private interviews might be granted, and I sent to inquire after the state of the king’s health. The reply was, that the medicine had not taken, and the king was very angry because nothing was given him when he took the trouble to call on us. He never called at a big man’s house and left it mwiko (empty-handed) before; if there was nothing else to dispose of, could Bana not have given him a bag of beads?
To save us from this kind of incessant annoyance, I now thought it would be our best policy to mount the high horse and bully him. Accordingly, we tied up a bag of the commonest mixed beads, added the king’s chronometer, and sent them to Kamrasi with a violent message that we were thoroughly disgusted with all that had happened; the beads were for the poor beggar who came to our house yesterday, not to see us, but to beg; and as we did not desire the acquaintance of beggars, we had made up our minds never to call again, nor receive any more bread or wine from the king.
This appeared to be a hit. Kamrasi, evidently taken aback, said, if he thought he should have offended us by begging, he would not have begged. He was not a poor man, for he had many cows, but he was a beggar, of course, when beads were in the question; and, having unwittingly offended, as he desired our friendship, he trusted his offence would be forgiven. On opening the chronometer, he again wrenched back the seconds-hand, and sent it for repair, together with two pots of pombe as a peace-offering. Frij, who accompanied the deputation, overheard the counsellors tell their king that the Waganda were on their way back to Unyoro to snatch us away; on hearing which the king asked his men if they would ever permit it; and, handling his spear as if for battle, said at the same time he would lose his own head before they should touch his guests. Then, turning to Frij, he said, “What would you do if they came? — go back with them?” To which Frij said, “No, never, when Gani is so near; they might cut our heads off, but that is all they could do.” The watch being by this time repaired, it gave me the opportunity of sending Kidgwiga back to the palace to say we trusted Kamrasi would allow Budja to come here, if only with one woman to carry his pombe, else Mtesa would take offence, form an alliance with Rionga, and surround the place with warriors, for it was not becoming in great kings to treat civil messengers like dogs.
The reply to this was, that Kamrasi was very much pleased with my fatherly wisdom and advice, and would act up to it, allowing Budja only to approach with one woman; we need, however, be under no apprehensions, for Kamrasi’s power was infinite; the Gani road should be opened even at the spear’s point; he had been beating the big drum in honour of us the whole day; he would not allow any beggars to come and see us, for he wanted us all to himself, and for this reason had ordered a fence to be built all round our house; but he had got no present from Grant yet, though all he wanted was his mosquito-curtains, whilst he wished my picture-books to show his women, and he returned. We sent a picture of Mtesa as a gift, the two books to look at and an acknowledgement that the mosquito-curtains were his, only he must have patience until Bombay arrived; but his proposition about the fence we rejected with scorn. The king had been raising an army to fight Rionga — the true reason, we suspect, for the beating of the drums.
27th and 28th. — There was drumming and music all day and night, and the army was being increased to a thousand men, but we poor prisoners could see nothing of it. Frij was therefore sent to inspect the armament and brings us all the news. Some of N’yamyonjo’s men, seeing mine armed with carbines, became very inquisitive about them, and asked if they were the instruments which shot at their men on the Nile — one in the arm, who died; the other on the top of the shoulder, who was recovering. The drums were kept in private rooms, to which a select few only were admitted. Kamrasi conducts all business himself, awarding punishments and seeing them carried out. The most severe instrument of chastisement is a knob-stick, sharpened at the back, like that used in Uganda, for breaking a man’s neck before he is thrown into the N’yanza; but this severity is seldom resorted to, Kamrasi being of a mild disposition compared with Mtesa, whom he invariably alludes to when ordering men to be flogged, telling them that were they in Uganda, their heads would suffer instead of their backs. In the day’s work at the palace, army collecting, ten officers were bound because they failed to bring a sufficient number of fighting men, but were afterwards released on their promising to bring more.
Nothing could be more filthy than the state of the palace and all the lanes leading up to it: it was well, perhaps, that we were never expected to go there, for without stilts and respirators it would have been impracticable, such is the dirty nature of the people. The king’s cows, even, are kept in the palace enclosure, the calves actually entering the hut, where, like a farmer, Kamrasi walks amongst them up to his ankles in filth, and, inspecting them, issues his orders concerning them. What has to be selected for his guests he singles out himself.
Dr K’yengo’s men, who had been sent three times into action against the refractory brothers, asked leave to return to Karague; but the king, who did not fear for their lives when his work was to be done, would not give them leave, lest accident should befall them on the way. We found no prejudice against eating butter amongst these Wahuma, for they not only sold us some, but mixed it with porridge and ate it themselves.
29th. — The king has appointed a special officer to keep our table supplied with sweet potatoes, and sent us a pot of pombe, with his excuses for not seeing us, as business was so pressing, and would continue to be so until the army marched. Budja and Kasoro were again reported to be near with a force of fifty Waganda, prepared to snatch us away; and the king, fearing the consequences, had sent to inform Budja, that if he dared attempt to approach, he would slip us off in boats to Gani, and then fight it out with the Waganda; for his guests, since they had been handed over to him, had been treated with every possible respect.
To keep Kamrasi to his promise, as we particularly wished to hear the Uganda news, Frij was sent to inform him on my behalf that Mtesa only wished to make friends with all the great kings surrounding his country before his coronation took place, when his brothers would be burnt, and he would cease to take advice from his mother. To treat his messengers disrespectfully could do no good, and might provoke a war, when we should see my deserters joined with the Waganda really coming in force against us; whereas, if we saw Budja, we could satisfy him, and Mtesa too, and obviate any such calamity. The reply was, that Kamrasi would arrange for our having a meeting with Budja alone if we wished it; he did not fear my deserters siding with king Mtesa, but he detested the Waganda, and could not bear to see them in his country.
30th. — At breakfast-time we heard that my old friend Kasoro had come to our camp without permission, to the surprise of everybody, attended by all his boys, leaving Budja and his children, on account of sickness, at the camp assigned to the Waganda, five miles off. Kasoro wished to speak to us, and we invited him into the hut; but the interview could not be permitted until Kamrasi’s wishes on the subject had been ascertained. In a little while the Kamraviona, having seen Kamrasi, said we might converse with one another whilst his officers were present listening, and sent a cow as a present for the Waganda. Kasoro with his children now came before us in their usual merry manner and, after saluting, told us how the deserters, on reaching Uganda, begged for leave to proceed to Karague; but Mtesa, who would only allow two of them to approach him, abused them, saying, “Did I not command you to take Bana to Gani at all risks? If there was no road by land, you were to go by water; or, if that failed, to go under-ground, or in the air above, and if he died, you were to die with him: what, then, do you mean by deserting him and flying here? You shall not move a yard from this until I receive a messenger from him to hear what he has got to say on the matter.” Mtesa would not take their arms, even at the desire of Budja, on my behalf; for as no messenger on my behalf came to him, he would not believe what Budja said, and feared to touch any of our property. The chief item of court news was, that Mtesa had shot a buffalo which was attacking him behind the palace, and made his Wakungu carry the animal bodily, whilst life was in it, into his court. The ammunition I wrote for to Rumanika had been brought by Maula.
As Kasoro still remained silent with regard to Mtesa’s message, I told him we shot two of N’yamyonjo’s men on our retreat up the Nile, and that Kamrasi turned us back because some miscreant Waganda had forged lies and told him we were terrible monsters, who ate hills and human flesh, and drank up all the water of the lake. He laughed, but still was silent; so I said, “What message have you brought from Mtesa?” To which, in a timid, modest kind of manner, he said, “Bana knows — what more need I say? Has he forgotten Mtesa, who loves him so?” I said, “No, indeed, I have not forgotten Mtesa; and, moreover, as I expected you back again, I have sent Bombay to bring the stimulants and all the things I promised Mtesa from Gani; in two or three days he will return.” “No,” said Kasoro, “that is not it; we must go to Gani with you; for Mtesa says he loves you so much he will never allow you to part from his hand until his servants have seen you safely at your homes.”
I replied, “If Mtesa wishes you to see my vessels and all the wonders they contain, as far as I am concerned you may do so, and I shall be only too happy to show you a little English hospitality; but the road is in Kamrasi’s hands, and his wishes must now be heard.” The commander-in-chief, now content with all he had heard, went to Kamrasi to receive his orders, whilst I gave Kasoro a feast of porridge and salt, with pombe to wash it down, and a cow to take home with him; for the poor creatures said they were all starving as the Wanyoro would not allow them to take a single plantain from the field until Kamrasi’s permission had been given.
Kamrasi’s reply now arrived; it was to the following effect:—“Tell my children, the Waganda, they were never turned out of Unyoro by my orders: if they wish to go to Gani, they can do so; but, first of all, they must return to Mtesa, and ask him to deliver up all of Bana’s men.” I answered, “No; if any one of those scoundrels who has deserted me ever dares show his face to me again, I will shoot him like a dog. Moreover, I want Mtesa to take their guns from them, and, without taking life, to transport them all to an island on the N’yanza, where they can spend their days in growing plantains; for it is such men who prevent our travelling in the country and visiting kings.” Kasoro on this said, “Mtesa will do so in a minute if you send a servant to him, but he won’t if we only say you wish it.”
The commander-in-chief then added, as to Kasoro’s wish to accompany me, “If Mtesa will send another time one of his people whose life he wishes sacrificed on the journey, or tells, Here is a man whom I wish you to send to Gani at all hazards, and without responsibility for his life on our part, we will be very glad to send him; but as we are at war with the Gani people continually, there will be no security for a Mganda’s life there.” To this I added, “Now, Kasoro, you see how it is; Kamrasi does not wish you to do to Gani, so if you take my advice you will return to Mtesa. Give this tin cartridge-box, which first came from him, back to him again, to show him you have seen me, and say, This is Bana’s letter; he wishes you to transport the deserters and seize their guns. The guns, of course, I shall want again at some other time, when I will send one of my English children to visit him; for now Kamrasi has opened his country to us, and given us leave to come and purchase ivory, I never shall be very far away.” I gave them three pills for Budja, blistered two of the pages, and started the whole merrily off, Kasoro asking me to send Mtesa some pretty things from England such as he never saw.
1st. — Kamrasi sent his commander-in-chief to inquire after my health, and to say Budja had left in fear and trembling lest Mtesa should cut all their heads off for failing in the mission; but he had sent Kidgwiga’s brother with a pot of pombe to escort the Waganda beyond his frontier, and cheer them on the way; for the tin cartridge-box, he thought, would save their lives by satisfying Mtesa they had seen me. The commander-in-chief then told me Kamrasi did not wish them to accompany me through Kidi for the Kidi people don’t like the Waganda, and, discovering their nationality by the fullness of their teeth, would bring trouble on us whilst trying to kill them. I said I thanked Kamrasi for his having treated the Waganda with such marked respect, in allowing them to see me, and sending them back with an escort; but I thought it would have been better if he had spoken the truth plainly out, for then I could have told them I feared to have them in company with me. In return for my civilities, the king then send one of his chopi officers to see me, who went four stages with Bombay, and he also sent some rich beads which he wished me to look at. They were nicely kept in a neat though very large casing of rush pith, and were those sent as a letter from Gani, to inform him that we were expected to come via Karague. After this, to keep us in good-humour, Kamrasi sent to inform us that some Gani men, twenty-five in number, had just arrived, and had given him a lion-skin, several tippet monkey-skins, and some giraffe hair, as well as a stick of copper or brass wire. Bombay was met by them on the confines of Gani.
2d. — The king sent me a pot of pombe to-day, inquiring after my health, and saying he would like to take the medicine I gave him if I would send Frij over to administer it, but he would be ashamed to swallow pills before me. Hitherto he had not been able to take the medicine from press of business in collecting an army to fight his brothers; but as his troops would all leave for war to-day, he expected to have leisure.
In plying the Kamraviona to try if we could get rid of the annoying restraints which made our residence here a sort of imprisonment, I discovered that the whole affair was not one of blunder or accident, but that we actually were prisoners thus be design. It appeared that Kamrasi’s brothers, when they heard we were coming into Unyoro, murmured, and said to the king, “Why are you bringing such guests amongst us, who will practise all kinds of diabolical sorcery, and bring evil on us?” To which Kamrasi replied, “I have invited them to come, and they shall come; and if they bring evil with them, let that all fall on my shoulders, for you shall not see them.” He then built a palaver-house on the banks of the Kafu to receive us in privately; and when we were to go to Gani, it was his intention to slip us off privately down the Kafu. The brothers were so thoroughly frightened, that when Kamrasi opened his chronometer before them to show them the works in motion, they turned their heads away. The large block-tin box I gave Kamrasi, as part of his hongo, was, I heard, called Mzungu, or the white man, by him.
In the evening the beads recently brought from Gani were sent for my inspection, with an intimation that Kamrasi highly approved of them, and would like me to give him a few like them. Some of Kamrasi’s spies, whom he had sent to the refractory allies of Rionga his brother, returned bringing a spear and some grass from the thatch of the hut of a Chopi chief. The removal of the grass was a piece of state policy. It was stolen by Kamrasi’s orders, in order that he might spread a charm on the Chopi people, and gain such an influence over them that their spears could not prevail against the Wanyoro; but it was thought we might possess some still superior magic powder, as we had come from such a long distance, and Kamrasi would prefer to have ours. These Chopi people were leagued with the brothers, and thus kept the highroad to Gani, though the other half of Chopi remained loyal; and though Kamrasi continually sent armies against the refractory half which aided his brothers, they never retaliated by attacking this place.
We found, by the way, that certain drumming and harmonious accompaniments which we had been accustomed to hear all day and night were to continue for four moons, in celebration of twins born to Kamrasi since we came here.
3d. — Kamrasi’s political department was active again to-day. Some Gani officials arrived to inform him that there were two white men in the vessel spoken of as at Gani; a second vessel was coming in there, and several others were on their way. A carnelian was shown me which the Gani people gave to Kamrasi many years ago. Kamrasi expressed a wish that I would exchange magic powders with him. He had a very large variety, and would load a horn for me with all those I desired most. He wanted also medicines for longevity and perpetual strength. Those I had given him had, he said, deprived him of strength, and he felt much reduced by their effects. He would like me to go with him and attack the island his three brothers, Rionga, Wahitu, and Pohuka, are in possession of. When I said I never fought with black men, he wished to know if I would not shoot them if they attacked me. My replay was, alluding to our fight in the river, “How did N’yamyonjo’s men fare?” I found that Kamrasi had thirty brothers and as many sisters.
4th. — I gave Kamrasi a bottle of quinine, which we call “strong back,” and asked him in return for a horn containing all the powders necessary to give me the gift of tongues, so that I should be able to converse with any black men whom I might meet with. We heard that Kamrasi has called all his Gani guests to play before him, and a double shot from his Blissett rifle announced to our ears that he in turn was amusing them. This was the first time the gun had been discharged since he received it, and, fearing to fire it himself, he called one of my men to do it for him.
5th. — At 9 a.m., the time for measuring the fall of rain for the last twenty-four hours, we found the rain-gauge and the bottle had been removed, so we sent Kidgwiga to inform the king we wished his magicians to come at once and institute a search for it. Kidgwiga immediately returned with the necessary adept, an old man, nearly blind, dressed in strips of old leather fastened to the waist, and carrying in one hand a cow’s horn primed with magic powder, carefully covered on the mouth with leather, from which dangled an iron bell. The old creature jingled the bell, entered our hut, squatted on his hams, looked first at one, then at the other — inquired what the missing things were like, grunted, moved his skinny arm round his head, as if desirous of catching air from all four sides of the hut, then dashed the accumulated air on the head of his horn, smelt it to see if all was going right, jingled the bell again close to his ear, and grunted his satisfaction; the missing articles must be found.
To carry out the incantation more effectually, however, all my men were sent for to sit in the open before the hut, when the old doctor rose, shaking the horn and tinkling the bell close to his ear. He then, confronting one of the men, dashed the horn forward as if intending to strike him on the face, then smelt the head, then dashed at another, and so on, till he became satisfied that my men were not the thieves. He then walked into Grant’s hut, inspected that, and finally went to the place where the bottle had been kept. There he walked about the grass with his arm up, and jingling the bell to his ear, first on one side, then on the other, till the track of a hyena gave him the clue, and in two or three more steps he found it. A hyena had carried it into the grass and dropped it. Bravo, for the infallible horn! and well done the king for his honesty in sending it! So I gave the king the bottle and gauge, which delighted him amazingly; and the old doctor who begged for pombe, got a goat for his trouble. My men now, recollecting the powder robbery at Uganda, said king Mtesa would not send his horn when I asked for it, because he was the culprit himself.
6th. — Kidgwiga told us to-day that king Kamrasi’s sisters are not allowed to wed; they live and die virgins in his palace. Their only occupation in life consisted of drinking milk, of which each one consumes the produce daily of from ten to twenty cows, and hence they become so inordinately fat that they cannot walk. Should they wish to see a relative, or go outside the hut for any purpose, it requires eight men to lift any of them on a litter. The brothers, too, are not allowed to go out of his reach. This confinement of the palace family is considered a state necessity, as a preventive to civil wars, in the same way as the destruction of the Uganda princes, after a certain season, is thought necessary for the preservation of peace there.
7th. — In the morning the Kamraviona called, on the king’s behalf, to inquire after my health, and also to make some important communications. First he was to request a supply of bullets, that the king might fire a salute when Bombay returned from Gani; next, to ask for stimulative medicine, now that he had consumed all I gave him, and gone through the preliminary course; further, to request I would spread a charm over all his subjects, so that their hearts might be inclined towards him, and they would come without calling and bow down at his feet; finally, he wished me to exchange my blood with him, that we might be brothers till death. I sent the bullets, advised him to wait a day or two for the medicine, and said there was only one charm by which he could gain the influence he required over his subjects — this was, knowledge and the power of the pen. Should he desire some of my children (meaning missionaries) to come here and instruct his, the thing would be done; but not in one year, nor even ten, for it takes many years to educate children.
As to exchanging by blood with a black man’s, it was a thing quite beyond my comprehension; though Rumanika, I must confess, had asked me to do the same thing. The way the English make lasting friendships is done either by the expressions of their hearts, or by the exchange of some trifles, as keepsakes; and now, as I had given Kamrasi some specimens of English manufacture, he might give me a horn, or anything else he chose, which I could show to my friends, so as to keep him in recollection all my life.
The Kamraviona, before leaving, said, for our information, that a robbery had occurred in the palace last night; for this morning, when Kamrasi went to inspect his Mzungu (the block-tin box), which he had forgotten to lock, he found all his beads had been stolen. After sniffing round among the various wives, he smelt the biggest one to be the culprit, and turned the beads out of her possession. Deputies came in the evening with a pot of pombe and small screw of butter, to tell me some Gani people had just arrived, bringing information that the vessel at Gani had left to go down the river; but when intelligence reached the vessel of the approach of my men they turned and came back again. Bombay was well feasted on the road by Kamrasi’s people, receiving eight cows from one and two cows from another.
8th and 9th. — We had a summons to attend at the Kafu palace with the medicine-chest, a few select persons only to be present. It rained so much on the 8th as to stop the visit, but we went next day. After arriving there, and going through the usual salutations, Kamrasi asked us from what stock of people we came, explaining his meaning by saying, “As we, Rumanika, Mtesa, and the rest of us (enumerating the kings), are Wawitu (or princes), Uwitu (or the country of princes) being to the east.” This interesting announcement made me quite forget to answer his question, and induced me to say, “Omwita, indeed, as the ancient names for Mombas, if you came from that place: I know all about your race for two thousand years or more. Omwita, you mean, was the last country you resided in before you came here, but originally you came from Abyssinia, the sultan of which, our great friend, is Sahela Selassie.”
He pronounced this name laughing, and said, “Formerly our stock was half-white and half-black, with one side of our heads covered with straight hair, and the other side frizzly: you certainly do know everything.” The subject then turned upon medicine, and after inspecting the chest, and inquiring into all its contents, it ended by his begging for the half of everything. The mosquito-curtains were again asked for, and refused until I should leave this. As Kamrasi was anxious I should take two of his children to England to be instructed, I agreed to do so, but said I thought it would be better if he invited missionaries to come here and educate all his family. His cattle were much troubled with sickness, dying in great numbers — could I cure them? As he again began to persecute us with begging, wanting knives and forks, etc., I advised his using ivory as money, and purchasing what he wanted from Gani. This brought out the interesting fact, the truth of which we had never reached before, that when Petherick’s servant brought him one necklace of beads, and asked after us, he gave in return fourteen ivories, thirteen women, and seven mbugu cloths. One of his men accompanied the visitors back to the boats, and saw Petherick, who took the ivory and rejected the women.
10th. — At 2 p.m. we were called by Kamrasi to visit him at the Kafu palace again, and requested to bring a lot of medicines tied up in various coloured cloths, so that he might know what to select for different ailments. We repaired there as before, putting the medicines into the sextand-stand box, and found him lying at full length on the platform of his throne, with a glass-bead necklace of various colours, and a charm tied on his left arm. Nobody was allowed to be present at our interview. The medicines, four varieties, were weighed out into ten doses each, and their uses and effects explained. He begged for four bottles to put them in, till he was laughed out of it by our saying he required forty bottles; for if the powders were mixed, how could he separate them again? And to keep his mind from the begging tack, which he was getting alarmingly near, I said, “Now I have given you these things because you would insist on having them. I must also tell you they are dangerous in your hands, in consequence of your being ignorant of their properties. If you take my advice you won’t meddle with them until the two children you wish educated have learnt the use of them in England; and if I have to take boys from this, I hope they will be of your family.” He said, “You speak like a father to us, and we very much approve. Here is a pot of pombe; I did not give you one yesterday.”
11th. — To-day, the king having graciously granted permission, we went out shooting, but saw only a few buffalo tracks.
12th. — The Kamraviona was sent to inquire after our health, and to ascertain from me all I knew respecting the origin of Kamrasi’s tribe, the distribution of countries, and the seat of the government. I sent the king a diagram, painted in various colours, with full explanations of everything, and asked permission to send two more of my men in search of Bombay, who had now been absent twenty days. The reply was, that if Bombay did not return within four days, Kamrasi would send other men after him on the fifth day; and, in the meantime, he sent one pot of pombe as a token of his kind regard.
13th. — The Kamraviona was sent to inquire after our health, to ask for medicine for himself, and to inquire more into the origin of his race. I, on the other hand, wishing to make myself as disagreeable as possible, in order that Kamrasi might get tired of us, sent Frij to ask for fresh butter, eggs, tobacco, coffee, and fowls, every day, saying, I will pay their price when I reach Gani, for we were suffering from want of proper food. Kamrasi was surprised at this clamour for food, and inquired what we ate at home that we were so different from everybody else.
We heard to-day a strange story, involving the tragic fate of Budja. On coming here, he had been bewitched by Kamrasi’s frontier officer, who put the charm into a pot of pombe. From the moment Budja drank it he was seized with sickness, and remained so until he reached the first station in Uganda, when he died. The facts of the bewitchment had been found out by means of the perpetrator’s wives, who, from the moment the pombe was drunk, took to precipitate flight, well knowing what effects would follow, and dreading the chastisement Mtesa would bring upon their household. We heard, too, that the deserters had returned to the place they deserted from, with thirty Waganda, and a present of some cows for me.
14th. —— Kamrasi sent me four parcels of coffee, very neatly enclosed in rush pith.
15th. — Getting more impatient, and desirous to move on at any sacrifice, I proposed giving up all claims to my muskets, as well as the present of cows from Mtesa, if Kamrasi would give us boats to Gani at once; but the reply was simply, Why be in such a hurry?
16th. — The Kamraviona was sent to us with a load of coffee, which Kamrasi had purchased with cowries, and to inquire how we had slept. Very badly, was the reply, because we knew Bombay would have been back long ago if Kamrasi was not concealing him somewhere, and we did not know what he was doing with deserters and Waganda. Kamrasi then wanted us to paint his mbugu cloths in different patterns and colours; but we sent him instead six packages of red-ink powder, and got abused for sauciness. He then wanted black ink, else how could he put on the red with taste; but we had none to give him. Next, he asked leave for my men to shoot cows, before his Kidi visitors, which they did to his satisfaction, instructing him at the same time to fire powder with his own rifle; when, triumphant with his success, he protested he would never use anything but guns again, and threw away his spear as useless. Bombay, we learned, had reached Gani, and ought to return in eight days.
17th and 18th. — A large party of Chopi people arrived, by Kamrasi’s orders, to tell the reason which induced them to apply for guns to the white men at Gani, as it appeared evident they must have wished to fight their king. The Kidi visitors got broken heads for helping themselves from the Wanyoro’s fields, and when they cried out against such treatment, were told they should rob the king, if they wished to rob at all.
19th. — Nothing was done because Kamrasi was dismissing his Kidi guests, 200, with presents of cows and women.
20th. — Having asked Kamrasi to return my pictures, he sent the book of birds, but not of animals; and said he could not see us until a new hut was built, because the old one was flooded by the Kafu, which had been rising several days. We must not, he said, talk about Bombay any more, because everybody said he was detained by the N’yanswenge (Petherick’s party), and would return here with the new moon. I would not accept the lie, saying, How can my “children” at Gani detain my messengers, when they have received strict orders from me by letter to send an answer quickly? It was all Kamrasi’s doing, for he had either hidden Bombay, or ordered his officers to take him slowly, as he did us, stopping four days at each stage.
Frij again told me he was present when Said Said, the Sultan of Zanzibar, sent an army to assist the Wagunya at Amu, on the coast, against the incursions of the Masai. These Amu people have the same Wahuma features as Kamrasi, whom they also resemble both in general physical appearance, and in many of them having circular marks, as if made by cautery, on the forehead and temples. These marks I took not to be tatooing or decorative, but as a cure for disease — cautery being a favourite remedy with both races.
The battle lasted only two days, though the Masai brought a thousand spears against the Arabs’ cannon. But this was not the only battle Said Said had to fight on those grounds; for some years previously he had to subdue the Waziwa, who live on very marshy land, into respect for his sovereignty, when the battle lasted years, in consequence of the bad nature of the ground, and the trick the Waziwa had of staking the ground with spikes. The Wasuahili, or coast-people, by his description, are the bastards or mixed breeds who live on the east coast of Africa, extending from the Somali country to Zanzibar. Their language is Kisuahili; but there is no land Usuahili, though people talk of going to the Suahili in the same vague sense as they do of going to the Mashenzi, or amongst the savages. The common story amongst the Wasuahili at Zanzibar, in regard to the government of that island, was, that the Wakhadim, or aborigines of Zanzibar, did not like the oppressions of the Portuguese, and therefore allied themselves to the Arabs of Muscat — even compromising their natural birthright of freedom in government, provided the Arabs, by their superior power, would secure to them perpetual equity, peace and justice. The senior chief, Sheikh Muhadim, was the mediator on their side, and without his sanction no radial changes compromising the welfare of the land could take place; the system of arbitration being, that the governing Arab on the one side, and the deputy of the Wakhadim on the other, should hold conference with a screen placed between them, to obviate all attempts at favour, corruption, or bribery.
The former report of the approach of my men, with as many Waganda and cows for me, turned out partly false, inasmuch as only one of my men was with 102 Waganda, whilst the whole of the deserters were left behind in Uganda with cows; and Kamrasi hearing this, ordered all to go back again until the whole of my men should arrive.
21st. — I was told how a Myoro woman, who bore twins that died, now keeps two small pots in her house, as effigies of the children, into which she milks herself every evening, and will continue to do so five months, fulfilling the time appointed by nature for suckling children, lest the spirits of the dead should persecute her. The twins were not buried, as ordinary people are buried, under ground, but placed in an earthenware pot, such as the Wanyoro use for holding pombe. They were taken to the jungle and placed by a tree, with the pot turned mouth downwards. Manua, one of my men, who is a twin, said, in Nguru, one of the sister provinces to Unyanyembe, twins are ordered to be killed and thrown into water the moment they are born, lest droughts and famines or floods should oppress the land. Should any one attempt to conceal twins, the whole family would be murdered by the chief; but, though a great traveller, this is the only instance of such brutality Manua had ever witnessed in any country.
In the province of Unyanyembe, if a twin or twins die, they are thrown into water for the same reason as in Nguru; but as their numbers increase the size of the family, their birth is hailed with delight. Still there is a source of fear there in connection with twins, as I have seen myself; for when one dies, the mother ties a little gourd to her neck as a proxy, and puts into it a trifle of everything which she gives the living child, lest the jealousy of the dead spirit should torment her. Further, on the death of the child, she smears herself with butter and ashes, and runs frantically about, tearing her hair and bewailing piteously; whilst the men of the place use towards her the foulest language, apparently as if in abuse of her person, but in reality to frighten away the demons who have robbed her nest.
22d. — I sent Frij to Kamrasi to find out what he was doing with the Waganda and my deserters, as I wished to speak with their two head representatives. I also wanted some men to seek for and to fetch Bombay, as I said I believed him to be tied by the leg behind one of the visible hills in Kidi. The reply was, 102 Waganda, with one of my men only, had been stationed at the village my men deserted from since the date (13th) we heard of them last. They had no cows for me, but each of the Waganda bore a log of firewood, which Mtesa had ordered them to carry until they either returned with me or brought back a box of gunpowder, in default of which they were to be all burnt in a heap with the logs they carried. Kamrasi, still acting on his passive policy, would not admit them here, but wished them to return with a message, to the effect that Mtesa had no right to hold me as his guest now I had once gone into another’s hands. We were all three kings to do with our subjects as we liked, and for this reason the deserters ought to be sent on here; but if I wished to speak to the Waganda, he would call their officer. There was no fear, he said, about Bombay; he was on his way; but the men who were escorting him were spinning out the time, stopping at every place, and feasting every day. To-morrow, he added, some more Gani people would arrive here, when we should know more about it. I still advised Kamrasi to give the road to Mtesa provided he gave up plundering the Wanyoro of women and cattle; but if my counsel was listened to, I could get no acknowledgment that it was so.
23d and 24th. — I sent to inquire what news there was of Bombay’s coming, and what measures Kamrasi had taken to call the Waganda’s chief officer and my deserters here; as also to beg he would send us specimens of all the various tribes that visit him, in order that me might draw them. He sent four loads of dried fish, with a request for my book of birds again, as it contains a portrait of king Mtesa, and proposed seeing us at the newly-constructed Kafu palace to-morrow, when all requests would be attended to. In the meanwhile, we were told that Bombay had been seen on his way returning from Gani; and the Waganda had all run away frightened, because they were told the Kidi and Chopi visitors, who had been calling on Kamrasi lately, were merely the nucleus of an army forming to drive them away, and to subdue Uganda. Mtesa was undergoing the coronation formalities, and for this reason had sent the deserters to Kari’s hill, giving them cows and a garden to live on, as no visitors can remain near the court while the solemnities of the coronation were going on. The thirty-odd brothers will be burnt to death, saving two or three, of which one will be sent into this country — as was the case with one of the late king Sunna’s brothers, who is still in Unyoro — and the others will remain in the court with Mtesa as playfellows until the king dies, when, like Sunna’s two brothers still living in Uganda, one at N’yama Goma and one at Ngambezi, they will be pensioned off. After the coronation is concluded, it is expected Mtesa will go into Kittari, on the west of Uganda, to fight first, and then, turning east, will fight with the Wasoga; but we think if he fights anywhere, it will be with Kamrasi.
25th and 26th. — I sent Frij to the palace to inquire after Bombay, and got the usual reply: “Why is Bana in such a hurry? He is always for doing things quickly. Tell my ‘brother’ to keep his mind at rest; Bombay is now on the boundary of Gani coming here, and will in due course arrive.” Both Rumanika’s men and those belonging to Dr K’yengo asked Kamrasi’s leave to return to their homes, but were refused, because the road was unsafe. “Had they not,” it was said, “heard of Budja’s telling Mtesa that K’yengo’s children prevented the white men from returning to Uganda? and since then Mtesa had killed his frontier officer for being chicken-hearted, afraid to carry out his orders, and had appointed another in his stead, giving him strict orders to make prisoners of all foreigners who might pass that way; and, further, when some twenty Wanyoro were going to Karague, they were hunted down by Mtesa’s orders, and three of their number killed; for he was determined to cut off all intercourse between this country and Karague. They must therefore wait till the road is safe.”
Hearing this, Dr K’yengo’s men, who happened to be as well off here as anywhere, accepted the advice; but Rumanika’s men said, “We are starving; we have been here too long already doing nothing, and must go, let what will happen to us.” Kamrasi said, “What will be the use of your going empty-handed? I cannot send cows and slaves to Rumanika when the road is so unsafe; you must wait a bit.” But they still urged as before, and so forced the king reluctantly to acquiesce, but only on the condition that two of their head men should remain behind until some more of Rumanika’s men came to fetch them away — in fact, as we had been accredited to him by Rumanika, he wanted to keep some of that king’s people as a security until we were out of his hands.
27th. — I sent Frij to the palace to ask once more for leave to visit the Luta Nzige river-lake to the westward, and to request Kamrasi would send men to fetch my property from Karague. He sent four loads of small fish and one pot of pombe, to say he would see me on the morrow, when every arrangement would be made. Late at night orders came announcing that I might write my despatches, as sixty men were ready to start for Karague.
28th. — I sent one of my men with despatches to Kamrasi, who detained him half the day, and then ordered him to call to-morrow. This being the fifteenth or twentieth time Kamrasi had disappointed me, after promising an interview, that we might have a proper understanding about everything, and when no begging on his party was to interrupt our conversation, I sent him a threatening message, to see what effect that would have. The purport of it was, that I was afraid to send men to Karague, now I had seen his disposition to make prisoners of all who visit him. Here had I been kept six weeks waiting for Bombay’s return from Gani, where I only permitted him to go because I was told the journey to and fro would only occupy from eight to ten days at most. Then Rumanika’s men, who came here with Baraka, though daily crying to get away, were still imprisoned here, without any hope before them. If I sent Msalima, he would be kept ten years on the road. If I went to the lake Luta Nzige, God only knows when he would let me come back; and now, for once and for all, I wished to sacrifice my property, and leave the countries of black kings; for what Kamrasi had done, Mtesa had done likewise, detaining the two men I detached on a friendly mission, which made me fear to send any more and inquire after my guns, lest he should seize them likewise. I would stay no longer among such people.
Kamrasi, in answer, begged I would not be afraid; there was no occasion for alarm; Bombay would be here shortly. I had promised to wait patiently for his return, and as soon as he did return, I would be sent off without one day’s delay, for I was not his slave, that he should use violence upon me. Rumanika’s men, too, would be allowed to go, only that the road was unsafe, and he feared Rumanika would abuse him if any harm befell them.
29th. — To-day I met Kamrasi at his new reception-palace on this side the Kafu — taking a Bible to explain all I fancied I knew about the origin and present condition of the Wahuma branch of the Ethiopians, beginning with Adam, to show how it was the king had heard by tradition that at one time the people of his race were half white and half black. Then, proceeding with the Flood, I pointed out that the Europeans remained white, retaining Japhet’s blood; whilst the Arabs are tawny, after Shem; and the African’s black, after Ham. And, finally, to show the greatness of the tribe, I read the 14th chapter of 2d Chronicles, in which it is written how Zerah, the Ethiopian, with a host of a thousand thousand, met the Jew Asa with a large army, in the valley of Zephathah, near Mareshah; adding to it that again, at a much later date, we find the Ethiopians battling with the Arabs in the Somali country, and with the Arabs and Portuguese at Omwita (Mombas)— in all of which places they have taken possession of certain tracts of land, and left their sons to people it.
To explain the way in which the type or physical features of people undergo great changes by interbreeding, Mtesa was instanced as having lost nearly every feature of his Mhuma blood, but the kings of Uganda having been produced, probably for several generations running, of Waganda mothers. This amused Kamrasi greatly, and induced me to inquire how his purity of blood was maintained —“Was the king of Unyoro chosen, as in Uganda, haphazard by the chief men — or did the eldest son sit by succession on the throne?” The reply was, “The brothers fought for it, and the best man gained the crown.”
Kamrasi then began counting the leaves of the Bible, an amusement that every negro that gets hold of a book indulges in; and, concluding in his mind that each page or leaf represented one year of time since the beginning of creation, continued his labour till one quarter of the way through the book, and then only shut it up on being told, if he desired to ascertain the number more closely, he had better count the words.
I begged for my picture-books, which were only lent him at his request for a few days; and then began a badgering verbal conflict: he would not return them until I drew others like them; he would not allow me to go to the Little Luta Nzige, west of this, until Bombay returned, when he would send me with an army of spears to lead the way, and my men with their guns behind to protect the rear. This was for the purpose of making us his tools in his conflict with his brothers. I complained that he had, without consulting me, ordered away the men who had been sent, either to fetch me back to Uganda, or else get powder from me, although they had orders to carry out their king’s desire, under the threat of being burnt with the fire logs they carried; and all this Kamrasi had professed to do merely out of respect for my dignity, as I was no slave, that Mtesa should order me about. I argued, founding on each particular in succession, that his conduct throughout was most unjustifiable, and anything but friendly. He then produced an officer, who was to escort my man Msalima to Karague, giving him orders to collect the sixty men required on the way; five of Rumanika’s men could go with him, but five must stop, until other Karague men came to say the road was safe, when he would send by them the present he had prepared for Rumanika.
Then, turning to us, he said, “Why have you not brought the medicine-chest and the saw? We wish to see everything you have got, though we do not wish to rob you.” When these things came for inspection, he coveted the saw, and discovered there were more varieties of medicine in the chest than had been given him. This he was told was not the case, because the papers given him contained mixed medicines — a little being taken from every bottle. “But there are no pills; why won’t you give us pills? We have men, women, and children who require pills as well as you do.” We were much annoyed by this dogged begging; and as he said, “Well, if you won’t give my anything, I will go,” we at once rose, hat in hand; when, regretting the hastiness of his speech, he begged us to be seated again, and renewed his demands. We told him the road to Gani was the only condition on which we would part with any more medicine; we had asked leave to go a hundred times, and that was all we now desired. At last he rose and walked off in a huff; but, repenting before he reached home, he sent us a pot of pombe, when, in return, I finished the farce by sending him a box of pills.
30th. — I gave Msalima a letter in the Kisuahili or coast language to convey to Rumanika, ordering all my property to be sent here, his account of the things as they left him to be given to Msalima to convey to the coast, while I sent him one pound of gunpowder as a sort of agency fee. Msalima also took a map of all the countries we had passed, with lunar observations, and a letter to Rigby, by which he, Baraka, and Uledi would be able to draw their pay on arrival.
31st. — I sent Frij with a letter to the king, containing an acknowledgment that, on the arrival of the rear property from Karague, he would be entitled to half of everything, reserving the other half for any person I might in future send to take them from him. He accepted the letter, and put it into his mzungu — the tin box I had given him. He said he would take every care of the kit from the time it arrived, and would not touch his share of it till my deputy arrived. An inhabitant of Chopi reported that he heard Bombay’s gun fire the evening before he left home, and was rewarded with the present of a cow.
1st. — I purchased a small kitten, Felis serval, from an Unyoro man, who requested me to give it back to him to eat if it was likely to die, for it is considered very good food in Unyoro.
Bombay at last arrived with Mabruki in high glee, dressed in cotton jumpers and drawers, presents given them by Petherick’s outpost. Petherick himself was not there. The journey to and fro was performed in fourteen days’ actual travelling, the rest of the time being frittered away by the guides. The jemadar of the guard said he commanded two hundred Turks, and had orders to wait for me, without any limit as to time, until I should arrive, when Petherick’s name would be pointed out to me cut on a tree; but as no one in camp could read my letter, they were doubtful whether we were the party they were looking out for.
They were all armed with elephant-guns, and had killed sixteen elephants. Petherick had gone down the river eight days’ journey, but was expected to return shortly. Kamrasi would not see Bombay immediately on his return, but sent him some pombe, and desired an interview the following day.
2d. — I sent Bombay with a farewell present to Kamrasi, consisting of one tent, one mosquito-curtain, one roll of bindera or red cotton cloth, one digester pot, one saw, six copper wires, one box of beads, containing six varieties of the best sort, and a request to leave his country. Much pleased with the things, Kamrasi ordered the tent to be pitched before all his court, pointed out to them what clever people the white people are, making iron pots instead of earthen ones. Covetous and never satisfied, however, instead of returning thanks, he said he was sure I must have more beads than those I sent him; and, instead of granting the leave asked for, said he would think about it, and send the Kamraviona in the evening with his answer. This, when it came, was anything but satisfactory; for we were required to stop here until the king should have prepared the people on the road for our coming, so that they might not be surprised, or try to molest us on the way. Kamrasi, however, returned the books of birds and animals, requesting a picture of the king of Uganda to be drawn for him, and gave us one pot of pombe.
3d. — I sent the picture required, and an angry message to Kamrasi for breaking his word, as he promised us we should go without a day’s delay; and go we must, for I could neither eat nor sleep from thinking of my home. His only reply to this was, Bana is always in a preposterous hurry. He answered, that for our gratification he had directed a dwarf called Kimenya to be sent to us, and the Kamraviona should follow after. Kimenya, a little old man, less than a yard high, called on us with a walking-stick higher than himself, made his salaam, and sat down very composedly. He then rose and danced, singing without invitation, and following it up with queer antics. Lastly, he performed the tambura, or charging-march, in imitation of Wakugnu, repeating the same words they use, and ending by a demand for simbi, or cowrie-shells, modestly saying, “I am a beggar, and want simbi; if you have not 500 to spare, you must at any rate give me 400.”
He then narrated his fortune in life. Born in Chopi, he was sent for by Kamrasi, who first gave him two women, who died; then another, who ran away; and, finally, a distorted dwarf like himself, whom he rejected, because he thought the propagation of his pigmy breed would not be advantageous to society. Bombay then marched him back to the palace, with 500 simbi strung in necklaces round his neck. When these two had gone, the Kamraviona arrived with two spears, one load of flour, and a pot of pombe, which he requested me to accept, adding that the spears were given as it was observed I had accepted some from the king of Uganda; a shield was still in reserve for me, and spears would be sent for Grant. Then with regard to my going, Kamrasi must beg us to have patience until he had sent messengers into Kidi, requesting the natives there not to molest me on the way, for they had threatened they would do so, and if they persisted, he would send us with a force by another route via Ugungu — another attempt to draw us off to fight against his brothers.
I stormed at this announcement as a breach of faith; said I had given the king my only tent, my only digester, my only saw, my only wire, my only mosquito-curtains, and my last of everything, because he had assured me I should have to pay no more chiefs, and he would give me the road at once. If he did not intend now to fulfil his promise, I begged he would take back his spears, for I would only accept them as a farewell present. The Kamraviona finding me rather warm, with the usual pertinacious duplicity of a negro, then said, “Well, let that subject drop, and consider the present Kamrasi promised you when you gave him the Uganga” (meaning the watch); “Kamrasi’s horn is not ready yet.” This second prevarication completely set my dander up. If I did not believe in his dangers of the way before, it quite settled my opinion of the worth of his words now. I therefore tendered him what might be called the ultimatum to this effect. There was no sincerity in such haggling; I would not submit to being told lies by kings or anybody else. He must take back the spears, or give us the road to-morrow; and unless the Kamraviona would tell him this and bring me an answer at once, the spears should not remain in my house during the night. Evidently in alarm, the Kamraviona, with Kidgwiga and Frij in company to bear him witness, returned to the palace, telling Kamrasi that he saw we were in thorough earnest. He extracted a promise that Kamrasi would have a farewell meeting with us either to-morrow or the next day, when we should have a large escort to Petherick’s boats, and the men would be able to bring back anything that he wanted; but he could not let us go without a parting interview, such as we had at Uganda with Mtesa.
The deputation, delighted with their success and the manner in which it was effected, hurried back to me at once, and said they were so frightened themselves that they would have skulked away to their homes and not come near me if they could not have arranged matters to my satisfaction. Kamrasi would not believe I had threatened to turn out his spears until Frij testified to their statements; and he then said, “Let Bana keep the spears and drink the pombe, for I would not wish him to be a prisoner against his will.” Bombay, after taking back the dwarf, met one of N’yamasore’s officers, just arrived from Uganda on some important business, and upbraided Mtesa for not having carried out my instructions. The officer in turn tried to defend Mtesa’s conduct by saying he had given the deserters seventy cows and four women, as well as orders to join us quickly; but they had been delayed on the road, because wherever they went they plundered, and no one liked their company. Had we returned to Uganda, Mtesa would have given us the road through Masai, which, in my opinion, is nearer for us than this one.
This officer had been wishing to see us as much as we had been to see him; but Kamrasi would not allow him to get access to us, for fear, it was said, lest the Waganda should know where we were hidden, and enable Mtesa to send an army to come and snatch us away. As the officer said he would deliver any message I might wish to send to Uganda, I folded a visiting-card as a letter to the queen-dowager, intimating that I wished the two men whom I sent back to Mtesa to be forwarded on to Karague; but desired that the remainder, who deserted their master in difficulty, should be placed on an island of the N’yanza to live in exile until some other Englishman should come to release them; that their arms should be taken from them and kept in the palace. I said further, that should Mtesa act up to my desires, I would then know he was my friend, and other white men would not fear to enter Uganda; but if he acted otherwise, they would fear lest he should imprison them, or seize their property of their men. If these deserters escaped punishment, no white men would ever dare trust their lives with such men again. The officer said he should be afraid to deliver such a message to Mtesa direct; but he certainly would tell the queen every word of it, which would be even more efficacious.
4th. — I bullied Kamrasi by telling him we must go with this moon, for the benefit of its light whilst crossing the Kidi wilderness; as if we did not reach the vessels in time for seasonable departure down the Nile, we should have to wait another year for their return from Khartum. “What!” said Kamrasi, “does Bana forget my promised appointment that I would either see him to-day or to-morrow? I cannot do so to-day, and therefore to-morrow we will certainly meet and bid good-bye.” The Gani men, who came with Bombay, said they would escort us to their country, although, as a rule, they never cross the Kidi wilderness above once in two years, from fear of the hunting natives, who make gave of everybody and everything they see; in other words, they seize strangers, plunder them, and sell them as slaves. To cross that tract, the dry season is the best, when all the grass is burnt down, or from the middle of December to the end of March. I gave them a cow, and they at once killed it, and, sitting down, commenced eating her flesh raw, out of choice.
5th. — The Kamraviona came to inform us that the king was ready for the great interview, where we could both speak what we had at heart, for as yet he had only heard what our servants had to say; and there was a supplement to the message, of the usual kind, that he would like a present of a pencil. The pencil was sent in the first place, because we did not like talking about trifles when we visited great kings.
The interview followed. It was opened on our side by our saying we had enjoyed his hospitality a great number of days, and wished to go to our homes; should he have any message to send to the great Queen of England, we should be happy to convey it. A long yarn then emanated from the throne. He defended his over-cautiousness when admitting us into Unyoro. It was caused at first by wicked men who did not wish us to visit him; he subsequently saw through their representations, and now was very pleased with us as he found us. Of course he could not tie us down to stopping here against our wish, but, for safety’s sake, he would like us to stop a little longer, until he could send messengers ahead, requesting the wild men in Kidi not to molest us. That state trick failing to frighten and stop us, he tried another, by saying, when we departed, he hoped we would leave two men with guns behind, to occupy our present camp, and so delude the people into the belief that merely a party of their followers, and not the white men themselves, had left his house, for the purpose of spreading terror in the minds of the people we might meet, who, not knowing the number of men behind, would naturally conclude there was a large reserve force ready to release us in case of necessity.
This foxy speech was too transparent to require one moment’s reflection. In a country where men were property, the fate of one or two left behind was obvious; and had we doubted that his object was to get possession of them, his next words would have sufficiently revealed it. He said, “As you gave men to Mtesa, why would you refuse them to me?” but was checkmated on being told, “Should any of those men who deserted us in this country ever reach their homes, they will all be hung for breaking their allegiance or oath.” “Well,” says the king, “I have acceded to everything you have to say; and the day after to-morrow, when I shall have had time to collect men to go with you, and selected the two princes you have promised to educate, we will meet again and say good-bye; but you must give me a gun and some more medicine, as well as the powder and ball you promised after reaching the vessels.” This was all acquiesced in, and we wished to take his portrait, but he would not have it done on any consideration. The Kamraviona and Kidgwiga followed us home, and told Bombay the king did not wish us to leave till next moon, and then he would like us to fight his brothers on the way. This message, sent in such an underhand manner after the meeting, Bombay failed to deliver, telling them he should be afraid to do so.
6th. — The Kamraviona was sent to us with four loads of fish and a request for ammunition, notwithstanding everything asked for yesterday had been refused until we reached the vessels. “Confound Kamrasi!” was the reply; “does he think we came here to trick kings that he doubts our words? We came to open the road; and, as sure as we wish it, we will send him everything that has been promised. Why should he doubt our word more than anybody else? We are not accustomed to be treated in this manner, and must beg he won’t insult us any more. Then about fighting his brothers, we have already given answer that we never fight with black men; and should the king persist in it, we will never take another thing from his hands. The boys shall not go to England, neither will any other white men come this way.” The Kamraviona made the following answer:—“But there are two more things the king wishes to know about: he has asked the question before, but forgotten the answers. Is there any medicine for women or children which will prevent the offspring from dying shortly after birth? — for it is a common infirmity in this country with some women, that all their children die before they are able to walk, whilst others never lose a child. The other matter of inquiry was, What medicine will attach all subjects to their king? — for Kamrasi wants some of that most particularly.” I answered, “Knowledge of good government, attended with wisdom and justice, is all the medicine we know of; and this his boys can best learn in England, and instruct him in when they return.”
7th. — We went to meet Kamrasi at his Kafu palace to bid good-bye. After all the huckstering and begging with which he had tormented us, the state he chose to assume on this occasion was very ludicrous. He sat with an air of the most solemn dignity, upon his throne of skins, regarding us like mere slaves, and asking what things we intended to send to him. On being told we did not like being repeatedly reminded of our promises, he came down a little from his dignity, saying, “And what answer have you about the business on the island?”— meaning the request to fight his brothers. That, of course, could not be listened to, as it was against the principle of our country. Grant’s rings were then espied, and begged for, but without success. We told him it was highly improper to beg for everything he saw, and if he persisted in it, no one would ever dare to come near him again.
Then, to change the subject, we begged K’yengo’s men might be allowed to go as far as Gani with us; but no reply was given, until the question was put again, with a request that the reason might be told us for his not wishing it, as we saw great benefit would be derived to Unyoro, as the Wanyamuezi instead of trading merely with Karague and Zanzibar, would bring their ivory through this country and barter it, thus converting Unyoro into a great commercial country; when Kamrasi said, “We don’t want any more ivory in Unyoro; for the tusks are already as numerous as grass.” Kidgwiga was then appointed to receive all the things we were to send back from Gani; our departure was fixed for the 9th; and the king walked away as coldly as he came, whilst we felt as jolly as birds released from a cage.
Floating islands of grass were seen going down the Kafu, reminding us of the stories told at Kaze by Musa Mzuri, of the violent manner in which, at certain season, the N’yanza was said to rise and rush with such velocity that islands were uprooted and carried away. In the evening a pot of pombe was brought, when the man in charge, half-drunk, amused us with frantic charges, as if he were fighting with his spear; and after settling the supposed enemy, he delighted in tramping him under foot, spearing him repeatedly through and through, then wiping the blade of the spear in the grass, and finally polishing it on this tufty head, when, with a grunt of satisfaction, he shouldered arms and walked away a hero.
8th. — As the king seemed entirely to disregard our comfort on the journey, we made a request for cows, butter, and coffee, in answer to which we only got ten cows, the other things not being procurable without delay. Twenty-four men were appointed us to escort us and bring back our presents from Gani, which were to be — six carbines, with a magazine of ammunition, a large brass or iron water-pot, a hair-brush, lucifers, a dinner-knife, and any other things procurable that had never been seen in Unyoro.
Two orphan boys, seized by the king as slaves, were brought for education in England; but as they were both of the common negro breed, with nothing attractive about them, and such as no one could love but their mothers, we rejected them, fearing lest no English boys would care to play with them, and told Kamrasi that his offspring only could play with our children, and unless I got some princes of that interesting breed, no one would ever undertake to teach children brought from this country. The king was very much disappointed at this announcement; said they were his adopted children, and the only ones he could part with, for his own boys were mere balls of fat, and too small to leave home.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00