The Politics of Uzinza — The Wahuma —“The Pig’s” Trick — First Taste of Usui Taxation — Pillaged by Mfumbi — Pillaged by Makaka — Pillaged by Lumeresi — Grant Stripped by M’Yonga — Stripped Again by Ruhe — Terrors and Defections in the Camp — Driven back to Kaze with new Tribulations and Impediments.
Uzinza, which we now entered, is ruled by two Wahuma chieftains of foreign blood, descended from the Abyssinian stock, of whom we saw specimens scattered all over Unyamuezi, and who extended even down south as far as Fipa. Travellers see very little, however, of these Wahuma, because, being pastorals, they roam about with their flocks and build huts as far away as they can from cultivation. Most of the small district chiefs, too, are the descendants of those who ruled in the same places before the country was invaded, and with them travellers put up and have their dealings. The dress of the Wahuma is very simple, composed chiefly of cow-hide tanned black — a few magic ornaments and charms, brass or copper bracelets, and immense number of sambo for stockings, which looked very awkward on their long legs. They smear themselves with rancid butter instead of macassar, and are, in consequence, very offensive to all but the negro, who seems, rather than otherwise, to enjoy a good sharp nose tickler. For arms they carry both bow and spear; more generally the latter. The Wazinza in the southern parts are so much like the Wanyamuezi, as not to require any especial notice; but in the north, where the country is more hilly, they are much more energetic and actively built. All alike live in grass-hut villages, fenced round by bomas in the south, but open in the north. Their country rises in high rolls, increasing in altitude as it approaches the Mountains of the Moon, and is generally well cultivated, being subjected to more of the periodical rains than the regions we have left, though springs are not so abundant, I believe, as they are in the Land of the Moon, where they ooze out by the flanks of the little granitic hills.
After tracking through several miles of low bush-jungle, we came to the sites of some old bomas that had been destroyed by the Watuta not long since. Farther on, as we wished to enter a newly-constructed boma, the chief of which was Mafumbu Wantu (a Mr Balls), we felt the effects of those ruthless marauders; for the villagers, thinking us Watuta in disguise, would not let us in; for those savages, they said, had once tricked them by entering their village, pretending to be traders carrying ivory and merchandise, whilst they were actually spies. This was fortunate for me, however, as Mr Balls, like M’yonga, was noted for his extortions on travellers. We then went on and put up in the first village of Bogue, where I wished to get porters and return for Grant, as the place seemed to be populous. Finding, however, that I could not get a sufficient number for that purpose, I directed those who wished for employment to go off at once and take service with Grant.
I found many people assembled here from all parts of the district, for the purpose of fighting M’yonga; but the chief Ruhe, having heard of my arrival, called me to his palace, which, he said, was on my way, that he might see me, for he never in all his life had a white man for his guest, and was so glad to hear of my arrival that he would give orders for the dispersing of his forces. I wished to push past him, as I might be subjected to such calls every day; but Ungurue, in the most piggish manner — for he was related to Ruhe — insisted that neither himself nor any of his children would advance one step farther with me unless I complied with their wish, which was a simple conformity with the laws of their country, and therefore absolute. At length giving in, I entered Ruhe’s boma, the poles of which were decked with the skulls of his enemies stuck upon them. Instead, however, of seeing him myself, as he feared my evil eye, I conducted the arrangements for the hongo through Baraka, in the same way as I did at M’yonga’s, directing that it should be limited to the small sum of one barsati and four yards kiniki.
The drum was beaten, as the public intimation of the payment of the hongo, and consequently of our release, and we went on to Mihambo, on the west border of the eastern division of Uzinza, which is called Ukhanga. It overlooks the small district of Sorombo, belonging to the great western division, known as Usui, and is presided over by a Sorombo chief, named Makaka, whose extortions had been so notorious that no Arabs now ever went near him. I did not wish to do so either, though his palace lay in the direct route. It was therefore agreed we should skirt round by the east of this district, and I even promised the Pig I would give him ten necklaces a-day in addition to his wages, if he would avoid all the chiefs, and march steadily ten miles every day. By doing so, we should have avoided the wandering Watuta, whose depredations had laid waste nearly all of this country; but the designing blackguard, in opposition to my wishes, to accomplish some object of his own, chose to mislead us all, and quietly took us straight into Sorombo to Kague, the boma of a sub-chief, called Mfumbi, where we no sooner arrived than the inhospitable brute forbade any one of his subjects to sell us food until the hongo was paid, for he was not sure that we were not allied with the Watuta to rob his country. After receiving what he called his dues — one barsati, two yards merikani, and two yards kiniki — the drums beat, and all was settled with him; but I was told the head chief Makaka, who lived ten miles to the west, and so much out of my road, had sent expressly to invite me to see him. He said it was his right I should go to him as the principal chief of the district. Moreover he longed for a sight of a white man; for though he had travelled all across Uganda and Usoga into Masawa, or the Masai country, as well as to the coast, where he had seen both Arabs and Indians, he had never yet seen an Englishman. If I would oblige him, he said he would give me guides to Suwarora, who was his mkama or king. Of course I knew well what all this meant; and at the same time that I said I could not comply, I promised to send him a present of friendship by the hands of Baraka.
This caused a halt. Makaka would not hear of such an arrangement. A present, he said, was due to him of course, but of more importance than the present was his wish to see me. Baraka and all the men begged I would give in, as they were sure he must be a good man to send such a kind message. I strove in vain, for no one would lift a load unless I complied; so, perforce, I went there, in company, however, with Mfumbi, who now pretended to be great friends; but what was the result? On entering the palace we were shown into a cowyard without a tree in it, or any shade; and no one was allowed to sell us food until a present of friendship was paid, after which the hongo would be discussed.
The price of friendship was not settled that day, however, and my men had to go supperless to bed. Baraka offered him one common cloth, and then another — all of which he rejected with such impetuosity that Baraka said his head was all on a whirl. Makaka insisted he would have a deole, or nothing at all. I protested I had no deoles I could give him; for all the expensive cloths which I had brought from the coast had been stolen in Mgunda Mkhali. I had three, however, concealed at the time — which I had bought from Musa, at forty dollars each — intended for the kings of Karague and Uganda.
Incessant badgering went on for hours and hours, until at last Baraka, clean done with the incessant worry of this hot-headed young chief, told him, most unfortunately, he would see again if he could find a deole, as he had one of his own. Baraka then brought one to my tent, and told me of his having bought it for eight dollars at the coast; and as I now saw I was let in for it, I told him to give it. It was given, but Makaka no sooner saw it than he said he must have another one; for it was all nonsense saying a white man had no rich cloths. Whenever he met Arabs, they all said they were poor men, who obtained all their merchandise from the white men on credit, which they refunded afterwards, by levying a heavy percentage on the sale of their ivory.
I would not give way that night; but next day, after fearful battling, the present of friendship was paid by Baraka’s giving first a dubuani, then one sahari, then one barsati, then one kisutu, and then eight yards of merikani — all of which were contested in the most sickening manner — when Baraka, fairly done up, was relieved by Makaka’s saying, “That will do for friendship; if you had given the deole quietly, all this trouble would have been saved; for I am not a bad man, as you will see.” My men then had their first dinner here, after which the hongo had to be paid. This for the time was, however, more easily settled; because Makaki at once said he would never be satisfied until he had received, if I had really not got a deole, exactly double in equivalents of all I had given him. This was a fearful drain on my store; but the Pig, seeing my concern, merely laughed at it, and said, “Oh, these savage chiefs are all alike here; you will have one of these taxes to pay every stage to Uyofu, and then the heavy work will begin; for all these men, although they assume the dignity of chief to themselves, are mere officers, who have to pay tribute to Suwarora, and he would be angry if they were shortcoming.”
The drums as yet had not beaten, for Makaka said he would not be satisfied until we had exchanged presents, to prove that we were the best of friends. To do this last act properly, I was to get ready whatever I wished to give him, whilst he would come and visit me with a bullock; but I was to give him a royal salute, or the drums would not beat. I never felt so degraded as when I complied, and gave orders to my men to fire a volley as he approached my tent; but I ate the dirt with a good grace, and met the young chief as if nothing had happened. My men, however, could not fire the salute fast enough for him; for he was one of those excitable impulsive creatures who expect others to do everything in as great a hurry as their minds wander. The moment the first volley was fired, he said, “Now, fire again, fire again; be quick, be quick! What’s the use of those things?” (meaning the guns). “We could spear you all whilst you are loading: be quick, be quick, I tell you.” But Baraka, to give himself law, said: “No; I must ask Bana” (master) “first, as we do everything by order; this is not fighting at all.”
The men being ready, file-firing was ordered, and then the young chief came into my tent. I motioned him to take my chair, which, after he sat down upon it, I was very sorry for, as he stained the seat all black with the running colour of one of the new barsati cloths he had got from me, which, to improve its appearance, he had saturated with stinking butter, and had tied round his loins. A fine-looking man of about thirty, he wore the butt-end of a large sea-shell cut in a circle, and tied on his forehead, for a coronet, and sundry small saltiana antelope horns, stuffed with magic powder, to keep off the evil eye. His attendants all fawned on him, and snapped their fingers whenever he sneezed. After passing the first compliment, I gave him a barsati, as my token of friendship, and asked him what he saw when he went to the Masai country. He assured me “that there were two lakes, and not one”; for, on going from Usoga to the Masai country, he crossed over a broad strait, which connected the big N’yanza with another one at its north-east corner. Fearfully impetuous, as soon as this answer was given, he said, “Now I have replied to your questions, do you show me all the things you have got, for I want to see everything, and be very good friends. I did not see you the first day, because you being a stranger, it was necessary I should first look into the magic horn to see if all was right and safe; and now I can assure you that, whilst I saw I was safe, I also saw that your road would be prosperous. I am indeed delighted to see you, for neither my father, nor any of my forefathers, ever were honoured with the company of a white man in all their lives.”
My guns, clothes, and everything were then inspected, and begged for in the most importunate manner. He asked for the picture-books, examined the birds with intense delight — even trying to insert under their feathers his long royal fingernails, which are grown like a Chinaman’s by these chiefs, to show they have a privilege to live on meat. Then turning to the animals, he roared over each one in turn as he examined them, and called out their names. My bull’s-eye lantern he coveted so much, I had to pretend exceeding anger to stop his further importunities. He then began again begging for lucifers, which charmed him so intensely I thought I should never get rid of him. He would have one box of them. I swore I could not part with them. He continued to beg, and I to resist. I offered a knife instead, but this he would not have, because the lucifers would be so valuable for his magical observances. On went the storm, till at last I drove him off with a pair of my slippers, which he had stuck his dirty feet into without my leave. I then refused to take his bullock, because he had annoyed me. On his part he was resolved not to beat the drum; but he graciously said he would think about it if I paid another lot of cloth equal to the second deole I ought to have given him.
I began seriously to consider whether I should have this chief shot, as a reward for his oppressive treachery, and a warning to others; but the Pig said it was just what the Arabs were subjected to in Ubena, and they found it best to pay down at once, and do all they were ordered. If I acted rightly, I would take the bullock, and then give the cloth; whilst Baraka said, “We will shoot him if you give the order, only remember Grant is behind, and if you commence a row you will have to fight the whole way, for every chief in the country will oppose you.”
I then told the Pig and Baraka to settle at once. They no sooner did so than the drums beat, and Makaka, in the best humour possible, came over to say I had permission to go when I liked, but he hoped I would give him a gun and a box of lucifers. This was too provoking. The perpetual worry had given Baraka a fever, and had made me feel quite sick; so I said, if he ever mentioned a gun or lucifers again, I would fight the matter out with him, for I had not come there to be bullied. He then gave way, and begged I would allow my men to fire a volley outside his boma, as the Watuta were living behind a small line of granitic hills flanking the west of his district, and he wished to show them what a powerful force he had got with him. This was permitted; but his wisdom in showing off was turned into ridicule; for the same evening the Watuta made and attack on his villages and killed three of his subjects, but were deterred from committing further damage by coming in contact with my men, who, as soon as they saw the Watuta fighting, fired their muskets off in the air and drove them away, they themselves at the same time bolting into my camp, and as usual vaunting their prowess.
I then ordered a march for the next morning, and went out in the fields to take my regular observations for latitude. Whilst engaged in this operation, Baraka, accompanied by Wadimoyo (Heart’s-stream), another of my freeman, approached me in great consternation, whispering to themselves. They said they had some fearful news to communicate, which, when I heard it, they knew would deter our progress: it was of such great moment and magnitude, they thought they could not deliver it then. I said, “What nonsense! out with it at once. Are we such chickens that we cannot speak about matters like men? out with it at once.”
Then Baraka said, “I have just heard from Makaka, that a man who arrived from Usui only a few minutes ago has said Suwarora is so angry with the Arabs that he has detained one caravan of theirs in his country, and, separating the whole of their men, has placed each of them in different bomas, with orders to his village officers that, in case the Watuta came into his country, without further ceremony they were to be all put to death.” I said, “Oh, Baraka, how can you be such a fool? Do you not see through this humbug? Makaka only wishes to keep us here to frighten away the Watuta; for Godsake be a man, and don’t be alarmed at such phantoms as these. You always are nagging at me that Bombay is the ‘big’ and you are the ‘small’ man. Bombay would never be frightened in this silly way. Now, do you reflect that I have selected you for this journey, as it would, if you succeed with me in carrying out our object, stamp you for ever as a man of great fame. Pray, don’t give way, but do your best to encourage the men, and let us march in the morning.” On this, as on other occasions of the same kind, I tried to impart confidence, by explaining, in allusion to Petherick’s expedition, that I had arranged to meet white men coming up from the north. Baraka at last said, “All right — I am not afraid; I will do as you desire.” But as the two were walking off, I heard Wadimoyo say to Baraka, “Is he not afraid now? won’t he go back?”— which, if anything, alarmed me more than the first intelligence; for I began to think that they, and not Makaka, had got up the story.
All night Makaka’s men patrolled the village, drumming and shouting to keep off the Watuta, and the next morning, instead of a march, after striking my tent I found that the whole of my porters, the Pig’s children, were not to be found. They had gone off and hidden themselves, saying that they were not such fools as to go any farther, as the Watuta were out, and would cut us up on the road. This was sickening indeed.
I knew the porters had not gone far, so I told the Pig to bring them to me, that we might talk the matter over; but say what I would, they all swore they would not advance a step farther. Most of them were formerly men of Utambara. The Watuta had invaded their country and totally destroyed it, killing all their wives and children, and despoiling everything they held dear to them. They did not wish to rob me, and would give up their hire, but not one step more would they advance. Makaka then came forward and said, “Just stop here with me until this ill wind blows over”; but Baraka, more in a fright at Makaka than at any one else, said, No — he would do anything rather than that; for Makaka’s bullying had made him quite ill. I then said to my men, “If nothing else will suit you, the best plan I can think of is to return to Mihambo in Bogue, and there form a depot, where, having stored my property, I shall give the Pig a whole load, or 63 lb., of Mzizima beads if he will take Baraka in disguise on to Suwarora, and ask him to send me eighty men, whilst I go back to Unyanyembe to see what men I can get from the late Musa’s establishment, and then we might bring on Grant, and move in a body together.” At first Baraka said, “Do you wish to have us killed? Do you think if we went to Suwarora’s you would ever see us back again? You would wait and wait for us, but we should never return.” To which I replied, “Oh, Baraka, do not think so! Bombay, if he were here, would go in a minute. Suwarora by this time knows I am coming, and you may depend on it he will be just as anxious to have us in Usui as Makaka is to keep us here, and he cannot hurt us, as Rumanika is over him, and also expects us.” Baraka then, in the most doleful manner, said he would go if the Pig would. The Pig, however, did not like it either, but said the matter was so important he would look into the magic horn all night, and give his answer next morning as soon as we arrived at Mihambo.
On arrival at Mihambo next day, all the porters brought their pay to me, and said they would not go, for nothing would induce them to advance a step farther. I said nothing; but, with “my heart in my shoes,” I gave what I thought their due for coming so far, and motioned them to be off; then calling on the Pig for his decision, I tried to argue again, though I saw it was no use, for there was not one of my own men who wished to go on. They were unanimous in saying Usui was a “fire,” and I had no right to sacrifice them. The Pig then finally refused, saying three loads even would not tempt him, for all were opposed to it. Of what value, he observed, would the beads be to him if his life was lost? This was crushing; the whole camp was unanimous in opposing me. I then made Baraka place all my kit in the middle of the boma, which was a very strong one, keeping out only such beads as I wished him to use for the men’s rations daily, and ordered him to select a few men who would return with me to Kaze; when I said, if I could not get all the men I wanted, I would try and induce some one, who would not fear, to go on to Usui; failing which, I would even walk back to Zanzibar for men, as nothing in the world would ever induce me to give up the journey.
This appeal did not move him; but, without a reply, he sullenly commenced collecting some men to accompany me back to Kaze. At first no one would go; they then mutinied for more beads, announcing all sorts of grievances, which they said they were always talking over to themselves, though I did not hear them. The greatest, however, that they could get up was, that I always paid the Wanyamuezi “temporaries” more than they got, though “permanents.” “They were the flesh, and I was the knife”; I cut and did with them just as I liked, and they could not stand it any longer. However, they had to stand it; and next day, when I had brought them to reason, I gave over the charge of my tent and property to Baraka, and commenced the return with a bad hitching cough, caused by those cold easterly winds that blow over the plateau during the six dry months of the years, and which are, I suppose, the Harmattan peculiar to Africa.
Next day I joined Grant once more, and found he had collected a few Sorombo men, hoping to follow after me. I then told him all my mishaps in Sorombo, as well as of the “blue-devil” frights that had seized all my men. I felt greatly alarmed about the prospects of the expedition, scarcely knowing what I should do. I resolved at last, if everything else failed, to make up a raft at the southern end of the N’yanza, and try to go up to the Nile in that way. My cough daily grew worse. I could not lie or sleep on either side. Still my mind was so excited and anxious that, after remaining one day here to enjoy Grant’s society, I pushed ahead again, taking Bombay with me, and had breakfast at Mchimeka’s.
There I found the Pig, who now said he wished he had taken my offer of beads, for he had spoken with his chief, and saw that I was right. Baraka and the Wanguana were humbugs, and had they not opposed his going, he would have gone then; even now, he said, he wished I would take him again with Bombay. Though half inclined to accept his offer, which would have saved a long trudge to Kaze, yet as he had tricked me so often, I felt there would be no security unless I could get some coast interpreters, who would not side with the chiefs against me as he had done. From this I went on to Sirboko’s, and spent the next day with him talking over my plans. The rafting up the lake he thought a good scheme; but he did not think I should ever get through Usui until all the Kaze merchants went north in a body, for it was no use trying to force my men against their inclinations; and if I did not take care how I handled them, he thought they would all desert.
My cough still grew worse, and became so bad that, whilst mounting a hill on entering Ungugu’s the second day after, I blew and grunted like a broken-winded horse, and it became so distressing I had to halt a day. In two more marches, however, I reached Kaze, and put up with Musa’s eldest son, Abdalla, on the 2nd July, who now was transformed from a drunken slovenly boy into the appearance of a grand swell, squatting all day as his old father used to do. The house, however, did not feel the same — no men respected him as they had done his father. Sheikh Said was his clerk and constant companion, and the Tots were well fed on his goats — at my expense, however. On hearing my fix, Abdalla said I should have men; and, what’s more, he would go with me as his father had promised to do; but he had a large caravan detained in Ugogo, and for that he must wait.
At that moment Manua Sera was in a boma at Kigue, in alliance with the chief of that place; but there was no hope for him now, as all the Arabs had allied themselves with the surrounding chiefs, including Kitambi; and had invested his position by forming a line, in concentric circles, four deep, cutting off his supplies of water within it, so that they daily expected to hear of his surrendering. The last news that had reached them brought intelligence of one man killed and two Arabs wounded; whilst, on the other side, Manua Sera had lost many men, and was put to such straits that he had called out if it was the Arabs’ determination to kill him he would bolt again; to which the Arabs replied it was all the same; if he ran up to the top of the highest mountain or down into hell, they would follow after and put him to death.
3d. — After much bother and many disappointments, as I was assured I could get no men to help me until after the war was over, and the Arabs had been to Ugogo, and had brought up their property, which was still lying there, I accepted two men as guides — one named Bui, a very small creature, with very high pretensions, who was given me by Abdalla — the other, a steady old traveller, named Nasib (or Fortune), who was given me by Fundi Sangoro. These two slaves, both of whom knew all the chiefs and languages up to and including Uganda, promised me faithfully they would go with Bombay on to Usui, and bring back porters in sufficient number for Grant and myself to go on together. They laughed at the stories I told them of the terror that had seized Baraka and all the Wanguana, and told me, as old Musa had often done before, that those men, especially Baraka, had from their first leaving Kaze made up their minds they would not enter Usui, or go anywhere very far north.
I placed those men on the same pay as Bombay, and then tried to buy some beads from the Arabs, as I saw it was absolutely necessary I should increase my fast-ebbing store if I ever hoped to reach Gondokoro. The attempt failed, as the Arabs would not sell at a rate under 2000 per cent.; and I wrote a letter to Colonel Rigby, ordering up fifty armed men laden with beads and pretty cloths — which would, I knew, cost me £1000 at the least — and left once more for the north on the 5th.
Marching slowly, as my men kept falling sick, I did not reach Grant again until the 11th. His health had greatly improved, and he had been dancing with Ukulima, as may be seen by the accompanying woodcut. So, as I was obliged to wait for a short time to get a native guide for Bui, Nasib and Bombay, who would show them a jungle-path to Usui, we enjoyed our leisure hours in shooting guinea-fowls for the pot. A report then came to us that Suwarora had heard with displeasure that I had been endeavouring to see him, but was deterred because evil reports concerning him had been spread. This unexpected good news delighted me exceedingly; confirmed my belief that Baraka, after all, was a coward, and induced me to recommend Bombay to make his cowardice more indisputable by going on and doing what he had feared to do. To which Bombay replied, “Of course I will. It is all folly pulling up for every ill wind that blows, because, until one actually SEES there is something in it, you never can tell amongst these savages —‘shaves’ are so common in Africa. Besides, a man has but one life, and God is the director of everything.” “Bravo!” said I, “we will get on as long as you keep to that way of thinking.”
At length a guide was obtained, and with him came some of those men of the Pig’s who returned before; for they had a great desire to go with me, but had been deterred, they said, by Baraka and the rest of my men. Seeing all this, I changed my plans again, intending, on arrival at Baraka’s camp, to prevail on the whole of the party to go with me direct, which I thought they could not now refuse, since Suwarora had sent us an invitation. Moreover, I did not like the idea of remaining still whilst the three men went forwards, as it would be losing time.
These separations from Grant were most annoying, but they could not be helped; so, when all was settled here, I bade him adieu — both of us saying we would do our best — and set out on my journey, thinking what a terrible thing it was I could not prevail on my men to view things as I did. Neither my experience with native chiefs, nor my money and guns, were of any use to me, simply because my men were such incomprehensible fools, though many of them who had travelled before ought to have known better.
More reports came to us about Suwarora, all of the most inviting nature; but nothing else worth mentioning occurred until we reached the border of Msalala, where an officer of M’yonga’s, who said he was a bigger man than his chief, demanded a tax, which I refused, and the dispute ended in his snatching Nasib’s gun out of his hands. I thought little of this affair myself, beyond regretting the delay which it might occasion, as M’yonga, I knew, would not permit such usage, if I chose to go round by his palace and make a complaint. Both Bui and Nasib, however, were so greatly alarmed, that before I could say a word they got the gun back again by paying four yards merikani. We had continued bickering again, for Bui had taken such fright at this kind of rough handling, and the “push-ahead” manner in which I persisted “riding over the lords of the soil,” that I could hardly drag the party along.
However, on the 18th, after breakfasting at Ruhe’s, we walked into Mihambo, and took all the camp by surprise. I found the Union Jack hoisted upon a flag-staff, high above all the trees, in the boma. Baraka said he had done this to show the Watuta that the place was occupied by men with guns — a necessary precaution, as all the villages in the neighbourhood had, since my departure, been visited and plundered by them. Lumeresi, the chief of the district, who lived ten miles to the eastward, had been constantly pressing him to leave this post and come to his palace, as he felt greatly affronted at our having shunned him and put up with Ruhe. He did not want property, he said, but he could not bear that the strangers had lived with his mtoto, or child, which Ruhe was, and yet would not live with him. He thought Baraka’s determined obstinacy on this could only be caused by the influence of the head man of the village, and threatened that if Baraka did not come to visit him at once, he would have the head man beheaded. Then, shifting round a bit, he thought of ordering his subjects to starve the visitors into submission, and said he must have a hongo equal to Ruhe’s. To all this Baraka replied, that he was merely a servant, and as he had orders to stop where he was, he could not leave it until I came; but to show there was no ill-feeling towards him, he sent the chief a cloth.
These first explanations over, I entered my tent, in which Baraka had been living, and there I found a lot of my brass wires on the ground, lying scattered about. I did not like the look of this, so ordered Bombay to resume his position of factotum, and count over the kit. Whilst this was going on, a villager came to me with a wire, and asked me to change it for a cloth. I saw at once what the game was; so I asked my friend where he got it, on which he at once pointed to Baraka. I then heard the men who were standing round us say one to another in under-tones, giggling with the fun of it, “Oh, what a shame of him! Did you hear what Bana said, and that fool’s reply to it? What a shame of him to tell in that way.” Without appearing to know, or rather to hear, the by-play that was going on, I now said to Baraka, “How is it this man has got one of my wires, for I told you not to touch or unpack them during my absence?” To which he coolly replied, in face of such evidence, “It is not one of your wires; I never gave away one of yours; there are lots more wires besides yours in the country. The man tells a falsehood; he had the wire before, but now, seeing your cloth open, wants to exchange it.” “If that is the case,” I said, taking things easy, “how is it you have opened my loads and scattered the wires about in the tent?” “Oh, that was to take care of them; for I thought, if they were left outside all night with the rest of the property, some one would steal them, and I should get the blame of it.”
Further parley was useless; for, though both my wires and cloths were short, still it was better not to kick up a row, when I had so much to do to keep all my men in good temper for the journey. Baraka then, wishing to beguile me, as he thought he could do, into believing him a wonderful man for both pluck and honesty, said he had had many battles to fight with the men since I had been gone to Kaze, for there were two strong parties in the camp; those who, during the late rebellion at Zanzibar, had belonged to the Arabs that sided with Sultan Majid, and were royalists, and those who, having belonged to the rebellious Arabs, were on the opposite side. The battle commenced, he stated, by the one side abusing the other for their deeds during that rebellion, the rebels in this sort of contest proving themselves the stronger. But he, heading the royalist party, soon reduced them to order, though only for a short while, as from that point they turned round to open mutiny for more rations; and some of the rebels tried to kill him, which, he said, they would have done had he not settled the matter by buying some cows for them. It was on this account he had been obliged to open my loads. And now he had told me the case, he hoped I would forgive him if he had done wrong. Now, the real facts of the case were these — though I did not find them out at the time:— Baraka had bought some slaves with my effects, and he had had a fight with some of my men because they tampered with his temporary wife — a princess he had picked up in Phunze. To obtain her hand he had given ten necklaces of MY beads to her mother, and had agreed to the condition that he should keep the girl during the journey; and after it was over, and he took her home, he would, if his wife pleased him, give her mother ten necklaces more.
Next day Baraka told me his heart shrank to the dimensions of a very small berry when he saw whom I had brought with me yesterday — meaning Bombay, and the same porters whom he had prevented going on with me before. I said, “Pooh, nonsense; have done with such excuses, and let us get away out of this as fast as we can. Now, like a good man, just use your influence with the chief of the village, and try and get from him five or six men to complete the number we want, and then we will work round the east of Sorombo up to Usui, for Suwarora has invited us to him.” This, however, was not so easy; for Lumeresi, having heard of my arrival, sent his Wanyapara, or grey-beards, to beg I would visit him. He had never seen a white man in all his life, neither had his father, nor any of his forefathers, although he had often been down to the coast; I must come and see him, as I had seen his mtoto Ruhe. He did not want property; it was only the pleasure of my company that he wanted, to enable him to tell all his friends what a great man had lived in his house.
This was terrible: I saw at once that all my difficulties in Sorombo would have to be gone through again if I went there, and groaned when I thought what a trick the Pig had played me when I first of all came to this place; for if I had gone on then, as I wished, I should have slipped past Lumeresi without his knowing it.
I had to get up a storm at the grey-beards, and said I could not stand going out of my road to see any one now, for I had already lost so much time by Makaka’s trickery in Sorombo. Bui then, quaking with fright at my obstinacy, said, “You must — indeed you must — give in and do with these savage chiefs as the Arabs when they travel, for I will not be a party to riding rough-shod over them.” Still I stuck out, and the grey-beards departed to tell their chief of it. Next morning he sent them back to say he would not be cheated out of his rights as the chief of the district. Still I would not give in, and the whole day kept “jawing” without effect, for I could get no man to go with me until the chief gave his sanction. I then tried to send Bombay off with Bui, Nasib, and their guide, by night; but though Bombay was willing, the other two hung back on the old plea. In this state of perplexity, Bui begged I would allow him to go over to Lumeresi and see what he could do with a present. Bui really now was my only stand-by, so I sent him off, and next had the mortification to find that he had been humbugged by honeyed words, as Baraka had been with Makaka, into believing that Lumeresi was a good man, who really had no other desire at heart than the love of seeing me. His boma, he said, did not lie much out of my line, and he did not wish a stitch of my cloth. So far from detaining me, he would give me as many men as I wanted; and, as an earnest of his good intentions, he sent his copper hatchet, the badge of office as chief of the district, as a guarantee for me.
To wait there any longer after this, I knew, would be a mere waste of time, so I ordered my men to pack up that moment, and we all marched over at once to Lumeresi’s, when we put up in his boma. Lumeresi was not in then, but, on his arrival at night, he beat all his drums to celebrate the event, and fired a musket, in reply to which I fired three shots. The same night, whilst sitting out to make astronomical observations, I became deadly cold — so much so, that the instant I had taken the star, to fix my position, I turned into bed, but could not get up again; for the cough that had stuck to me for a month then became so violent, heightened by fever succeeding the cold fit, that before the next morning I was so reduced that I could not stand. For the last month, too, I had not been able to sleep on either side, as interior pressure, caused by doing so, provoked the cough; but now I had, in addition, to be propped in position to get any repose whatever. The symptoms, altogether, were rather alarming, for the heart felt inflamed and ready to burst, pricking and twingeing with every breath, which was exceedingly aggravated by constant coughing, when streams of phlegm and bile were ejected. The left arm felt half-paralysed, the left nostril was choked with mucus, and on the centre of the left shoulder blade I felt a pain as if some one was branding me with a hot iron. All this was constant; and, in addition, I repeatedly felt severe pains — rather paroxysms of fearful twinges — in the spleen, liver, and lungs; whilst during my sleep I had all sorts of absurd dreams: for instance — I planned a march across Africa with Sir Roderick Murchison; and I fancied some curious creatures, half-men and half-monkeys, came into my camp to inform me that Petherick was waiting in boats at the south-west corner of the N’yanza, etc., etc.
Though my mind was so weak and excited when I woke up from these trances, I thought of nothing but the march, and how I could get out of Lumeresi’s hands. He, with the most benign countenance, came in to see me, the very first thing in the morning, as he said, to inquire after my health; when, to please him as much as I could, I had a guard of honour drawn up at the tent door to fire a salute as he entered; then giving him my iron camp-chair to sit upon, which tickled him much — for he was very corpulent, and he thought its legs would break down with his weight — we had a long talk, though it was as much as I could do to remember anything, my brain was so excited and weak. Kind as he looked and spoke, he forgot all his promises about coveting my property, and scarcely got over the first salutation before he began begging for many things that he saw, and more especially for a deole, in order that he might wear it on all great occasions, to show his contemporaries what a magnanimous man his white visitor was. I soon lost my temper whilst striving to settle the hongo. Lumeresi would have a deole, and I would not admit that I had one.
23d to 31st. — Next morning I was too weak to speak moderately, and roared more like a madman than a rational being, as, breaking his faith, he persisted in bullying me. The day after, I took pills and blistered my chest all over, still Lumeresi would not let me alone, nor come to any kind of terms until the 25th, when he said he would take a certain number of pretty common cloths for his children if I would throw in a red blanket for himself. I jumped at this concession with the greatest eagerness, paid down my cloths on the spot; and, thinking I was free at last, ordered a hammock to be slung on a pole, that I might leave the next day. Next morning, however, on seeing me actually preparing to start, Lumeresi found he could not let me go until I increased the tax by three more cloths, as some of his family complained that they had got nothing. After some badgering, I paid what he asked for, and ordered the men to carry me out of the palace before anything else was done, for I would not sleep another night where I was. Lumeresi then stood in my way, and said he would never allow a man of his country to give me any assistance until I was well, for he could not bear the idea of hearing it said that, after taking so many cloths from me, he had allowed me to die in the jungles — and dissuaded my men from obeying my orders.
In vain I appealed to his mercy, declaring that the only chance left me of saving my life would be from the change of air in the hammock as I marched along. He would not listen, professing humanity, whilst he meant plunder; and I now found that he was determined not to beat the drum until I had paid him some more, which he was to think over and settle next day. When the next day came, he would not come near me, as he said I must possess a deole, otherwise I would not venture on to Karague; for nobody ever yet “saw” Rumanika without one. This suspension of business was worse than the rows; I felt very miserable, and became worse. At last, on my offering him anything that he might consider an equivalent for the deole if he would but beat the drums of satisfaction, he said I might consider myself his prisoner instead of his guest if I persisted in my obstinacy in not giving him Rumanika’s deole; and then again peremptorily ordered all of his subjects not to assist me in moving a load. After this, veering round for a moment on the generous tack, he offered me a cow, which I declined.
1st to 4th. — Still I rejected the offered cow, until the 2nd, when, finding him as dogged as ever, at the advice of my men I accepted it, hoping thus to please him; but it was no use, for he now said he must have two deoles, or he would never allow me to leave his palace. Every day matters got worse and worse. Mfumbi, the small chief of Sorombo, came over, in an Oily–Gammon kind of manner, to say Makaka had sent him over to present his compliments to me, and express his sorrow on hearing that I had fallen sick here. He further informed me that the road was closed between this and Usui, for he had just been fighting there, and had killed the chief Gomba, burnt down all his villages, and dispersed all the men in the jungle, where they now resided, plundering every man who passed that way. This gratuitous, wicked, humbugging terrifier helped to cause another defeat. It was all nonsense, I knew, but both Bui and Nasib, taking fright, begged for their discharges. In fearful alarm and anxiety, I begged them to have patience and see the hongo settled first, for there was no necessity, at any rate, for immediate hurry; I wished them to go on ahead with Bombay, as in four days they could reach Suwarora’s. But they said they could not hear of it — they would not go a step beyond this. All the chiefs on ahead would do the same as Lumeresi; the whole country was roused. I had not even half enough cloths to satisfy the Wasui; and my faithful followers would never consent to be witness to my being “torn to pieces.”
5th and 6th. — The whole day and half of the next went in discussions. At last, able for the first time to sit up a little, I succeeded in prevailing on Bui to promise he would go to Usui as soon as the hongo was settled, provided, as he said, I took on myself all responsibilities of the result. This cheered me so greatly, I had my chair placed under a tree and smoked my first pipe. On seeing this, all my men struck up a dance, to the sound of the drums, which they carried on throughout the whole night, never ceasing until the evening of the next day. These protracted caperings were to be considered as their congratulation for my improvement in health; for, until I got into my chair, they always thought I was going to die. They then told me, with great mirth and good mimicry, of many absurd scenes which, owing to the inflamed state of my brain, had taken place during my interviews with Lumeresi. Bombay at this time very foolishly told Lumeresi, if he “really wanted a deole,” he must send to Grant for one. This set the chief raving. He knew there was one in my box, he said, and unless I gave it, the one with Grant must be brought; for under no circumstances would he allow of my proceeding northwards until that was given him. Bui and Nasib then gave me the slip, and slept that night in a neighbouring boma without my knowledge.
7th to 9th. — As things had now gone so far, I gave Lumeresi the deole I had stored away for Rumanika, telling him, at the same time as he took it, that he was robbing Rumanika, and not myself; but I hoped, now I had given it, he would beat the drums. The scoundrel only laughed as he wrapped my beautiful silk over his great broad shoulders, and said, “Yes, this will complete our present of friendship; now then for the hongo — I must have exactly double of all you have given.” This Sorombo trick I attributed to the instigation of Makaka, for these savages never fail to take their revenge when they can. I had doubled back from his country, and now he was cutting me off in front. I expected as much when the oily blackguard Mfumbi came over from his chief to ask after my health; so, judging from my experience with Makaka, I told Lumeresi at once to tell me what he considered his due, for this fearful haggling was killing me by inches. I had no more deoles, but would make that up in brass wire. He then fixed the hongo at fifteen masango or brass wire bracelets, sixteen cloths of sorts, and a hundred necklaces of samisami or red coral beads, which was to pay for Grant as well as myself. I paid it down on the spot; the drums beat the “satisfaction,” and I ordered the march with the greatest relief of mind possible.
But Bui and Nasib were not to be found; they had bolted. The shock nearly killed me. I had walked all the way to Kaze and back again for these men, to show mine a good example — had given them pay and treble rations, the same as Bombay and Baraka — and yet they chose to desert. I knew not what to do, for it appeared to me that, do what I would, we would never succeed; and in my weakness of body and mind I actually cried like a child over the whole affair. I would rather have died than have failed in my journey, and yet failure seemed at this juncture inevitable.
8th. — As I had no interpreters, and could not go forward myself, I made up my mind at once to send back all my men with Bombay, to Grant; after joining whom, Bombay would go back to Kaze again for other interpreters, and on his return would pick up Grant, and bring him on here. This sudden decision set all my men up in a flame; they swore it was no use my trying to go on to Karague; they would not go with me; they did not come here to be killed. If I chose to lose my life, it was no business of theirs, but they would not be witness to it. They all wanted their discharge at once; they would not run away, but must have a letter of satisfaction, and then they would go back to their homes at Zanzibar. But when they found they lost all their arguments and could not move me, they said they would go back for Grant, but when they had done that duty, then they would take their leave.
10th to 15th. — This business being at last settled, I wrote to Grant on the subject, and sent all the men off who were not sick. Thinking then how I could best cure the disease that was keeping me down, as I found the blister of no use, I tried to stick a packing needle, used as a seton, into my side; but finding it was not sharp enough, in such weak hands a mine, to go through my skin, I got Baraka to try; and he failing too, I then made him fire me, for the coughing was so incessant I could get no sleep at night. I had now nothing whatever to think of but making dodges for lying easy, and for relieving my pains, or else for cooking strong broths to give me strength, for my legs were reduced to the appearance of pipe-sticks, until the 15th, when Baraka, in the same doleful manner as in Sorombo, came to me and said he had something to communicate, which was so terrible, if I heard it I should give up the march. Lumeresi was his authority, but he would not tell it until Grant arrive. I said to him, “Let us wait till Grant arrives; we shall then have some one with us who won’t shrink from whispers”— meaning Bombay; and so I let the matter drop for the time being. But when Grant came, we had it out of him, and found this terrible mystery all hung on Lumeresi’s prognostications that we never should get through Usui with so little cloth.
16th to 19th. — At night, I had such a terrible air-catching fit, and made such a noise whilst trying to fill my lungs, that it alarmed all the camp, so much so that my men rushed into my tent to see if I was dying. Lumeresi, in the morning, then went on a visiting excursion into the district, but no sooner left than the chief of Isamiro, whose place lies close to the N’yanza, came here to visit him (17th); but after waiting a day to make friends with me, he departed (18th), as I heard afterwards, to tell his great Mhuma chief, Rohinda, the ruler of Ukhanga, to which district this state of Bogue belongs, what sort of presents I had given to Lumeresi. He was, in fact, a spy whom Rohinda had sent to ascertain what exactions had been made from me, as he, being the great chief, was entitled to the most of them himself. On Lumeresi’s return, all the men of the village, as well as mine, set up a dance, beating the drums all day and all night.
20th to 21st. — Next night they had to beat their drums for a very different purpose, as the Watuta, after lifting all of Makaka’s cattle in Sorombo, came hovering about, and declared they would never cease fighting until they had lifted all those that Lumeresi harboured round his boma; for it so happened that Lumeresi allowed a large party of Watosi, alias Wahuma, to keep their cattle in large stalls all round his boma, and these the Watuta had now set their hearts upon. After a little reflection, however, they thought better of it, as they were afraid to come in at once on account of my guns.
Most gladdening news this day came in to cheer me. A large mixed caravan of Arabs and coast-men, arriving from Karague, announced that both Rumanika and Suwarora were anxiously looking out for us, wondering why we did not come. So great, indeed, was Suwarora’s desire to see us, that he had sent four men to invite us, and they would have been here now, only that one of them fell sick on the way, and the rest had to stop for him. I cannot say what pleasure this gave me; my fortune, I thought, was made; and so I told Baraka, and pretended he did not believe the news to be true. Without loss of time I wrote off to Grant, and got these men to carry the letter.
Next day (22d) the Wasui from Suwarora arrived. They were a very gentle, nice-dispositioned-looking set of men — small, but well knit together. They advanced to my tent with much seeming grace; then knelt at my feet, and began clapping their hands together, saying, at the same time, “My great chief, my great chief, I hope you are well; for Suwarora, having heard of your detention here, has sent us over to assure you that all those reports that have been circulated regarding his ill-treatment of caravans are without foundation; he is sorry for what has happened to deter your march, and hopes you will at once come to visit him.” I then told them all that had happened — how Grant and myself were situated — and begged them to assist me by going off to Grant’s camp to inspire all the men there with confidence, and bring my rear property to me — saying, as they agreed to do so, “Here are some cloths and some beads for your expenses, and when you return I will give you more.” Baraka at once, seeing this, told me they were not trustworthy, for at Mihambo an old man had come there and tried to inveigle him in the same manner, but he kicked him out of the camp, because he knew he was a touter, who wished merely to allure him with sweet words to fleece him afterwards. I then wrote to Grant another letter to be delivered by these men.
Lumeresi no sooner heard of the presents I had given them, than he flew into a passion, called them imposters, abused them for not speaking to him before they came to me, and said he would not allow them to go. High words then ensued. I said the business was mine, and not his; he had no right to interfere, and they should go. Still Lumeresi was obstinate, and determined they should not, for I was his guest; he would not allow any one to defraud me. It was a great insult to himself, if true, that Suwarora should attempt to snatch me out of his house; and he could not bear to see me take these strangers by the hand, when, as we have seen, it took him so long to entice me to his den, and he could not prevail over me until he actually sent his copper hatchet.
When this breeze blew over, by Lumeresi’s walking away, I told the Wasui not to mind him, but to do just as I bid them. They said they had their orders to bring me, and if Lumeresi would not allow them to go for Grant, they would stop where they were, for they knew that if Suwarora found them delaying long, he would send more men to look after them. There was no peace yet, however; for Lumeresi, finding them quietly settled down eating with my men, ordered them out of his district, threatening force if they did not comply at once. I tried my best for them, but the Wasui, fearing to stop any longer, said they would take leave to see Suwarora, and in eight days more they would come back again, bringing something with them, the sight of which would make Lumeresi quake. Further words were now useless, so I gave them more cloth to keep them up to the mark, and sent them off. Baraka, who seemed to think this generosity a bit of insanity, grumbled that if I had cloths to throw away it would have been better had I disposed of them to my own men.
Next day (26th), as I was still unwell, I sent four men to Grant with inquiries how he was getting on, and a request for medicines. The messengers took four days to bring back the information that Bombay had not returned from Kaze, but that Grant, having got assistance, hoped to break ground about the 5th of next month. They brought me at the same time information that the Watuta had invested Ruhe’s, after clearing off all the cattle in the surrounding villages, and had proclaimed their intention of serving out Lumeresi next. In consequence of this, Lumeresi daily assembled his grey-beards and had councils of war in his drum-house; but though his subjects sent to him constantly for troops, he would not assist them.
Another caravan then arrived (31st) from Karague, in which I found an old friend, of half Arab breed, called Saim, who whilst I was residing with Sheikh Snay at Kaze on my former expedition, taught me the way to make plantain-wine. He, like the rest of the porters in the caravan, wore a shirt of fig-tree bark called mbugu. As I shall have frequently to use this word in the course of the Journal, I may here give an explanation of its meaning. The porter here mentioned told me that the people about the equator all wore this kind of covering, and made it up of numerous pieces of bark sewn together, which they stripped from the trees after cutting once round the trunk above and below, and then once more down the tree from the upper to the lower circular cutting. This operation did not kill the trees, because, if they covered the wound, whilst it was fresh, well over with plaintain-leaves, shoots grew down from above, and a new bark came all over it. The way they softened the bark, to make it like cloth, was by immersion in water, and a good strong application of a mill-headed mallet, which ribbed it like corduroy. 10 Saim told me he had lived ten years in Uganda, had crossed the Nile, and had traded eastward as far as the Masai country. He thought the N’yanza was the sources of the Ruvuma river; as the river which drained the N’yanza, after passing between Uganda and Usoga, went through Unyoro, and then all round the Tanganyika lake into the Indian Ocean, south of Zanzibar. Kiganda, he also said, he knew as well as his own tongue; and as I wanted an interpreter, he would gladly take service with me. This was just what I wanted — a heaven-born stroke of luck. I seized at his offer with avidity, gave him a new suit of clothes, which made him look quite a gentleman, and arranged to send him next day with a letter to Grant.
10 If one asked the name of a tree, and it happened to be the kind from which this cloth was made, the answer would be “mbugu.” If, again, the question was as to the bark, the same answer; and the same if one saw the shirt, and asked what it was. Hence I could not determine whether the word had been originally the name of the tree, of its bark, or of the article made from the bark, though I am inclined to think it is the bark, as there are many varieties of these trees, which, being besides being called mbugu, had their own particular names.
1st and 2d. — A great hubbub and confusion now seized all the place, for the Watuta were out, and had killed a woman of the place who had formerly been seized by them in war, but had since escaped and resided here. To avenge this, Lumeresi headed his host, and was accompanied by my men; but they succeeded in nothing save in frightening off their enemies, and regaining possession of the body of the dead woman. Then another hubbub arose, for it was discovered that three Wahuma women were missing (2d); and, as they did not turn up again, Lumeresi suspected the men of the caravan, which left with Saim, must have taken them off as slaves. He sent for the chief of the caravan, and had him brought back to account for this business. Of course the man swore he knew nothing about the matter, whilst Lumeresi swore he should stop there a prisoner until the women were freed, as it was not the first time his women had been stolen in this manner. About the same time a man of this place, who had been to Sorombo to purchase cows, came in with a herd, and was at once seized by Lumeresi; for, during his absence, one of Lumeresi’s daughters had been discovered to be with child, and she, on being asked who was the cause of it, pointed out that man. To compensate for damage done to himself, as his daughter by this means had become reduced to half her market-value, Lumeresi seized all the cattle this man had brought with him.
3d to 10th. — When two days had elapsed, one of the three missing Wahuma women was discovered in a village close by. As she said she had absconded because her husband had ill-treated her, she was flogged, to teach her better conduct. It was reported they had been seen in M’yonga’s establishment; and I was at the same time informed that the husbands who were out in search of them would return, as M’yonga was likely to demand a price for them if they were claimed, in virtue of their being his rightful property under the acknowledged law of buni, or findings-keepings.
For the next four days nothing but wars and rumours of wars could be heard. The Watuta were out in all directions plundering cattle and burning villages, and the Wahuma of this place had taken such fright, they made a stealthy march with all their herds to a neighbouring chief, to whom it happened that one of Lumeresi’s grey-beards was on a visit. They thus caught a Tartar; for the grey-beard no sooner saw them than he went and flogged them all back again, rebuking them on the way for their ingratitude to their chief, who had taken them in when they sought his shelter, and was now deserted by them on the first alarm of war.
10th. — Wishing now to gain further intelligence of Grant, I ordered some of my men to carry a letter to him; but they all feared the Watuta meeting them on the way, and would not. Just then a report came in that one of Lumeresi’s sons, who had gone near the capital of Ukhanga to purchase cows, was seized by Rohinda in consequence of the Isamiro chief telling him that Lumeresi had taken untold wealth from me, and he was to be detained there a prisoner until Lumeresi either disgorged, or sent me on to be fleeced again. Lumeresi, of course, was greatly perplexed at this, and sought my advice, but could get nothing out of me, for I laughed in my sleeve, and told him such was the consequence of his having been too greedy.
11th to 15th. — Masudi with his caravan arrived from Mchimeka — Ungurue “the Pig,” who had led me astray, was, by the way, his kirangozi or caravan-leader. Masudi told us he had suffered most severely from losses by his men running away, one after the other, as soon as they received their pay. He thought Grant would soon join me, as, the harvest being all in, the men about Rungua would naturally be anxious for service. He had had fearful work with M’yonga, having paid him a gun, some gunpowder, and a great quantity of cloth; and he had to give the same to Ruhe, with the addition of twenty brass wires, one load of mzizima, and one load of red coral beads. This was startling, and induced me to send all the men I could prudently spare off to Grant at once, cautioning him to avoid Ruhe’s, as Lumeresi had promised me he would not allow one other thing to be taken from me. Lumeresi by this time was improving, from lessons on the policy of moderation which I had been teaching him; for when he tried to squeeze as much more out of Masudi as Ruhe had taken, he gave way, and let him off cheaply at my intercession. He had seen enough to be persuaded that this unlimited taxation or plunder system would turn out a losing game, such as Unyamyembe and Ugogo were at that time suffering from. Moreover, he was rather put to shame by my saying, “Pray, who now is biggest — Ruhe or yourself? for any one entering this country would suspect that he was, as he levies the first tax, and gives people to understand that, by their paying it, the whole district will be free to them; such at any rate he told me, and so it appears he told Masudi. If you are the sultan, and will take my advice, I would strongly recommend your teaching Ruhe a lesson, by taking from him what the Arabs paid, and giving it back to Masudi.
At midnight (16th) I was startled in my sleep by the hurried tramp of several men, who rushed in to say they were Grant’s porters — Bogue men who had deserted him. Grant, they said, in incoherent, short, rapid, and excited sentences, was left by them standing under a tree, with nothing but his gun in his hand. All the Wanguana had been either killed or driven away by M’yonga’s men, who all turned out and fell upon the caravan, shooting, spearing, and plundering, until nothing was left. The porters then, seeing Grant all alone, unable to help him, bolted off to inform me and Lumeresi, as the best thing they could do. Though disbelieving the story in all its minutiae, I felt that something serious must have happened; so, without a moment’s delay, I sent off the last of my men strong enough to walk to succour Grant, carrying with them a bag of beads. Baraka then stepped outside my tent, and said in a loud voice, purposely for my edification, “There, now, what is the use of thinking any more about going to Karague? I said all along it was impossible”; upon hearing which I had him up before all the remaining men, and gave him a lecture, saying, happen what would, I must die or go on with the journey, for shame would not allow me to give way as Baraka was doing. Baraka replied, he was not afraid — he only meant to imply that men could not act against impossibilities. “Impossibilities!” I said; “what is impossible? Could I not go on as a servant with the first caravan, or buy up a whole caravan if I liked? What is impossible? For Godsake don’t try any more to frighten my men, for you have nearly killed me already in doing so.”
Next day (17th) I received a letter from Grant, narrating the whole of his catastrophes:—
“In the Jungles, near M’yonga’s, 16th Sept. 1861.
“My dear Speke — The caravan was attacked, plundered, and the men driven to the winds, while marching this morning into M’yonga’s country.
“Awaking at cock-crow, I roused the camp, all anxious to rejoin you; and while the loads were being packed, my attention was drawn to an angry discussion between the head men and seven or eight armed fellows sent by Sultan M’yonga, to insist upon my putting up for the day in his village. They were summarily told that as YOU had already made him a present, he need not expect a visit from ME. Adhering, I doubt not, to their master’s instructions, they officiously constituted themselves our guides till we chose to strike off their path, when, quickly heading our party, they stopped the way, planted their spears, and DARED our advance!
“This menace made us firmer in our determination, and we swept past the spears. After we had marched unmolested for some seven miles, a loud yelping from the woods excited our attention, and a sudden rush was made upon us by, say two hundred men, who came down seemingly in great glee. In an instant, at the caravan’s centre, they fastened upon the poor porters. The struggle was short; and with the threat of an arrow or spear at their breasts, men were robbed of their cloths and ornaments, loads were yielded and run away with before resistance could be organised; only three men of a hundred stood by me, the others, whose only thought was their lives, fled into the woods, where I went shouting for them. One man, little Rahan — rip as he is — stood with cocked gun, defending his load, against five savages with uplifted spears. No one else could be seen. Two or three were reported killed; some were wounded. Beads, boxes, cloths, etc., lay strewed about the woods. In fact, I felt wrecked. My attempt to go and demand redress from the sultan was resisted, and, in utter despair, I seated myself among a mass of rascals jeering round me, and insolent after the success of the day. Several were dressed in the very cloths, etc., they had stolen from my men.
“In the afternoon, about fifteen men and loads were brought me, with a message from the sultan, that the attack had been a mistake of his subjects — that one man had had a hand cut off for it, and that all the property would be restored!
“Yours sincerely, J. W. Grant.”
Now, judging from the message sent to Grant by M’yonga, it appeared to me that his men had mistaken their chief’s orders, and had gone one step beyond his intentions. It was obvious that the chief merely intended to prevent Grant from passing through or evading his district without paying a hongo, else he would not have sent his men to invite him to his palace, doubtless with instructions, if necessary, to use force. This appears the more evident from the fact of his subsequent contrition, and finding it necessary to send excuses when the property was in his hands; for these chiefs, grasping as they are, know they must conform to some kind of system, to save themselves from a general war, or the avoidance of their territories by all travellers in future. To assist Grant, I begged Lumeresi to send him some aid in men at once; but he refused, on the plea that M’yonga was at war with him, and would kill them if they went. This was all the more provoking, as Grant, in a letter next evening, told me he could not get all his men together again, and wished to know what should be done. He had recovered all the property except six loads of beads, eighty yards of American sheeting, and many minor articles, besides what had been rifled more or less from every load. In the same letter he asked me to deliver up a Mhuma woman to a man who came with the bearers of his missive, as she had made love to Saim at Ukulima’s, and had bolted with my men to escape from her husband.
On inquiring into this matter, she told me her face had been her misfortune, for the man who now claimed her stole her from her parents at Ujiji, and forcibly made her his wife, but ever since had ill-treated her, often thrashing her, and never giving her proper food or clothing. It was on this account she fell in love with Saim; for he, taking compassion on her doleful stories, had promised to keep her as long as he travelled with me, and in the end to send her back to her parents at Ujiji. She was a beautiful woman, with gazelle eyes, oval face, high thin nose, and fine lips, and would have made a good match for Saim, who had a good deal of Arab blood in him, and was therefore, in my opinion, much of the same mixed Shem–Hamitic breed. But as I did not want more women in my camp, I have her some beads, and sent her off with the messenger who claimed her, much against my own feelings. I had proposed to Grant that, as Lumeresi’s territories extended to within eight miles of M’yonga’s, he should try to move over the Msalala border by relays, when I would send some Bogue men to meet him; for though Lumeresi would not risk sending his men into the clutches of M’yonga, he was most anxious to have another white visitor.
20th and 21st. — I again urged Lumeresi to help on Grant, saying it was incumbent on him to call M’yonga to account for maltreating Grant’s porters, who were his own subjects, else the road would be shut up — he would lose all the hongos he laid on caravans — and he would not be able to send his own ivory down to the coast. This appeal had its effect: he called on his men to volunteer, and twelve porters came forward, who no sooner left, than in came another letter from Grant, informing me that he had collected almost enough men to march with, and that M’yonga had returned on of the six missing loads, and promised to right him in everything.
Next day, however, I had from Grant two very opposite accounts — one, in the morning, full of exultation, in which he said he hoped to reach Ruhe’s this very day, as his complement of porters was then completed; while by the other, which came in the evening, I was shocked to hear that M’yonga, after returning all the loads, much reduced by rifling, had demanded as a hongo two guns, two boxed ammunition, forty brass wires, and 160 yards of American sheeting, in default of which he, Grant, must lend M’yonga ten Wanguana to build a boma on the west of his district, to enable him to fight some Wasona who were invading his territory, otherwise he would not allow Grant to move from his palace. Grant knew not what to do. He dared not part with the guns, because he knew it was against my principle, and therefore deferred the answer until he heard from me, although all his already collected porters were getting fidgety, and two had bolted. In this fearful fix I sent Baraka off with strict orders to bring Grant away at any price, except the threatened sacrifice of men, guns, and ammunition, which I would not listen to, as one more day’s delay might end in further exactions; at the same time, I cautioned him to save my property as far as he could, for it was to him that M’yonga had formerly said that what I paid him should do for all.
Some of M’yonga’s men who had plundered Grant now “caught a Tartar.” After rifling his loads of a kilyndo, or bark box of beads, they, it appeared, received orders from M’yonga to sell a lot of female slaves, amongst whom were the two Wahuma women who had absconded from this. The men in charge, not knowing their history, brought them for sale into this district, where they were instantly recognised by some of Lumeresi’s men, and brought in to him. The case was not examined at once, Lumeresi happening to be absent; so, to make good their time, the men in charge brought their beads to me to be exchanged for something else, not knowing that both camps were mine, and that they held my beads and not Grant’s. Of course I took them from them, but did not give them a flogging, as I knew if I did so they would at once retaliate upon Grant. The poor Wahuma women, as soon as Lumeresi arrived, were put to death by their husbands, because, by becoming slaves, they had broken the laws of their race.
22d to 24th. — At last I began to recover. All this exciting news, with the prospect of soon seeing Grant, did me a world of good — so much so, that I began shooting small birds for specimens — watching the blacksmiths as they made tools, spears, ad bracelets — and doctoring some of the Wahuma women who came to be treated for ophthalmia, in return for which they gave me milk. The milk, however, I could not boil excepting in secrecy, else they would have stopped their donations on the plea that this process would be an incantation or bewitchment, from which their cattle would fall sick and dry up. I now succeeded in getting Lumeresi to send his Wanyapara to go and threaten M’yonga, that if he did not release Grant at once, we would combine to force him to do so. They, however, left too late, for the hongo had been settled, as I was informed by a letter from Grant next day, brought to my by Bombay, who had just returned from Kaze after six weeks’ absence. He brought with him old Nasib and another man, and told me both Bui and Nasib had hidden themselves in a Boma close to Lumeresi’s the day when my hongo was settled; but they bolted the instant the drums beat, and my men fired guns to celebrate the event, supposing that the noise was occasioned by our fighting with Lumeresi. These cowards then made straight for Kaze, when Fundi Sangoro gave Nasib a flogging for deserting me, and made him so ashamed of his conduct that he said he would never do it again. Bui also was flogged, but, admitting himself to be a coward, was set to the “right-about.” With him Bombay also brought three new deoles, for which I had to pay 160 dollars, and news that the war with Manua Sera was not then over. He had effected his escape in the usual manner, and was leading the Arabs another long march after him.
Expecting to meet Grant this morning (25th), I strolled as far as my strength and wind would allow me towards Ruhe’s; but I was sold, for Ruhe had detained him for a hongo. Lumeresi also having heard of it, tried to interpose, according to a plan arranged between us in case of such a thing happening, by sending his officers to Ruhe, with an order not to check my “brother’s” march, as I had settled accounts for all. Later in the day, however, I heard from Grant that Ruhe would not let him go until he had paid sixteen pretty cloths, six wires, one gun, one box of ammunition, and one load of mzizima beads, coolly saying that I had only given him a trifle, under the condition that, when the big caravan arrived, Grant would make good the rest. I immediately read this letter to Lumeresi, and asked him how I should answer it, as Grant refused to pay anything until I gave the order.
To which Lumeresi replied, Ruhe, “my child,” could not dare to interfere with Grant after his officers arrived, and advised me to wait until the evening. At all events, if there were any further impediments, he himself would go over there with a force and release Grant. In the evening another messenger arrived from Grant, giving a list of his losses and expenses at M’yonga’s. They amounted to an equivalent of eight loads, and were as follows:— 100 yards cloth, and 4600 necklaces of beads (these had been set aside as the wages paid to the porters, but being in my custody, I had to make them good); 300 necklaces of beads stolen from the loads; one brass wire stolen; one sword-bayonet stolen; Grant’s looking-glass stolen; one saw stolen; one box ammunition stolen. Then paid in hongo, 160 yards cloth; 150 necklaces; one scarlet blanket, double; one case ammunition; ten brass wires. Lastly, there was one donkey beaten to death by the savages. This was the worst of all; for this poor brute carried me on the former journey to the southern end of the N’yanza, and in consequence was a great pet.
As nothing further transpired, and I was all in the dark (26th), I wrote to Grant telling him of my interviews with Lumeresi, and requesting him to pay nothing; but it was too late, for Grant, to my inexpressible delight, was the next person I saw; he walked into camp, and then he was a good laugh over all our misfortunes. Poor Grant, he had indeed had a most troublesome time of it. The scoundrel Ruhe, who only laughed at Lumeresi’s orders, had stopped his getting supplies of food for himself and his men; told him it was lucky that he came direct to the palace, for full preparations had been made for stopping him had he attempted to avoid it; would not listen to any reference being made to avoid myself; badgered and bullied over every article that he extracted; and, finally, when he found compliance with his extortionate requests was not readily granted, he beat the wardrums to frighten the porters, and ordered the caravan out of his palace, to where he said they would find his men ready to fight it out with them. It happened that Grant had just given Ruhe a gun when my note arrived, on which they made an agreement, that it was to be restored, provided that, after the full knowledge of all these transactions had reached us, it was both Lumeresi’s and my desire that it should be so.
I called Lumeresi (27th), and begged he would show whether he was the chief or not, by requiring Ruhe to disgorge the property he had taken from me. His Wanyapara had been despised, and I had been most unjustly treated. Upon this the old chief hung down his head, and said it touched his heart more than words could tell to hear my complaint, for until I came that way no one had come, and I had paid him handsomely. He fully appreciated the good service I had done to him and his country by opening a road which all caravans for the future would follow if property dealt with. Having two heads in a country was a most dangerous thing, but it could not be helped for the present, as his hands were too completely occupied already. There were Rohinda, the Watuta, and M’yonga, whom he must settle with before he could attend to Ruhe; but when he was free, then Ruhe should know who was the chief. To bring the matter to a climax, Mrs. Lumeresi then said she ought to have something, because Ruhe was her son, whilst Lumeresi was only her second husband and consort, for Ruhe was born to her by her former husband. She therefore was queen.
Difficulties now commenced again (28th). All the Wanguana struck, and said they would go no further. I argued — they argued; they wanted more pay — I would not give more. Bombay, who appeared the only one of my men anxious to go on with Grant and myself, advised me to give in, else they would all run away, he said. I still stuck out, saying that if they did go, they should be seized on the coast and cast into jail for desertion. I had sent for fifty more men on the same terms as themselves, and nothing in the world would make me alter what had been established at the British Consulate. There all their engagements were written down in the office-book, and the Consul was our judge.
29th to 4th. — This shut them up, but at night two of them deserted; the Wanyamuezi porters also deserted, and I had to find more. Whilst this was going on, I wrote letters and packed up my specimens, and sent them back by my late valet, Rahan, who also got orders to direct Sheikh Said to seize the two men who deserted, and take them down chained to the coast when he went there. On the 4th, Lumeresi was again greatly perplexed by his sovereign Rohinda calling on him for some cloths; he must have thirty at least, else he would not give up Lumeresi’s son. Further, he commanded in a bullying tone that all the Wahuma who were with Lumeresi should be sent to him at once, adding, at the same time, if his royal mandate was not complied with as soon as he expected, he would at once send a force to seize Lumeresi, and place another man in his stead to rule over the district.
Lumeresi, on hearing this, first consulted me, saying his chief was displeased with him, accusing him of being too proud, in having at once two such distinguished guests, and meant by these acts only to humble him. I replied, if that was the case, the sooner he allowed us to go, the better it would be for him; and, reminding him of his original promise to give me assistance on to Usui, said he could do so now with a very good grace.
Quite approving himself of this suggestion, Lumeresi then gave me one of his officers to be my guide — his name was Sangizo. This man no sooner received his orders than, proud of his office as the guide of such a distinguished caravan, he set to work to find us porters. Meanwhile my Wasui friends, who left on the 25th of August, returned, bearing what might be called Suwarora’s mace — a long rod of brass bound up in stick charms, and called Kaquenzingiriri, “the commander of all things.” This they said was their chief’s invitation to see us, and sent this Kaquenzingiriri, to command us respect wherever we went.
5th. — Without seeing us again, Lumeresi, evidently ashamed of the power held over him by this rod of Suwarora’s, walked off in the night, leaving word that he was on his way to Ruhe’s, to get back my gun and all the other things that had been taken from Grant. The same night a large herd of cattle was stolen from the boma without any one knowing it; so next morning, when the loss was discovered, all the Wahuma set off on the spoor to track them down; but with what effect I never knew.
As I had now men enough to remove half our property, I made a start of it, leaving Grant to bring up the rest. I believe I was a most miserable spectre in appearance, puffing and blowing at each step I took, with shoulder drooping, and left arm hanging like a dead leg, which I was unable ever to swing. Grant, remarking this, told me then, although fro a friendly delicacy he had abstained from saying so earlier, that my condition, when he first saw me on rejoining, gave him a sickening shock. Next day (7th) he came up with the rest of the property, carried by men who had taken service for that one march only.
Before us now lay a wilderness of five marches’ duration, as the few villages that once lined it had all been depopulated by the Sorombo people and the Watuta. We therefore had to lay in rations for those days, and as no men could be found who would take service to Karague, we filled up our complement with men at exorbitant wages to carry our things on to Usui. At this place, to our intense joy, three of Sheikh Said’s boys came to us with a letter from Rigby; but, on opening it, our spirits at once fell far below zero, for it only informed us that he had sent us all kinds of nice things, and letters from home, which were packed up in boxes, and despatched from the coast on the 30th October 1860.
The boys then told me that a merchant, nickname Msopora, had left the boxes in Ugogo, in charge of some of those Arabs who were detained there, whilst he went rapidly round by the south, following up the Ruaha river to Usanga and Usenga, whence he struck across to Kaze. Sheikh Said, they said, sent his particular respects to me; he had heard of Grant’s disasters with great alarm. If he could be of service, he would readily come to me; but he had dreamed three times that he saw me marching into Cairo, which, as three times were lucky, he was sure would prove good, and he begged I would still keep my nose well to the front, and push boldly on. Manua Sera was still in the field, and all was uncertain. Bombay then told me — he had forgotten to do so before — that when he was last at Kaze, Sheikh said told him he was sure we would succeed if both he and myself pulled together, although it was well known no one else of my party wished to go northwards.
With at last a sufficiency of porters, we all set out together, walking over a new style of country. Instead of the constantly-recurring outcrops of granite, as in Unyamuezi, with valleys between, there were only two lines of little hills visible, one right and one left of us, a good way off; whilst the ground over which we were travelling, instead of being confined like a valley, rose in long high swells of sandstone formation, covered with small forest-trees, among which flowers like primroses, only very much larger, and mostly of a pink colour, were frequently met with. Indeed, we ought all to have been happy together, for all my men were paid and rationed trebly — far better than they would have been if they had been travelling with any one else; but I had not paid all, as they thought, proportionably, and therefore there were constant heartburnings, with strikes and rows every day. It was useless to tell them that they were all paid according to their own agreements — that all short-service men had a right to expect more in proportion to their work than long-service ones; they called it all love and partiality, and in their envy would think themselves ill-used.
At night the kirangozi would harangue the camp, cautioning all hands to keep together on the line of march, as the Watuta were constantly hovering about, and the men should not squabble and fight with their master, else no more white men would come this way again. On the 11th we were out of Bogue, in the district of Ugomba, and next march brought us into Ugombe (12th), where we crossed the Ukongo nullah, draining westwards to the Malagarai river. Here some of the porters, attempting to bolt, were intercepted by my coast-men and had a fight of it, for they fired arrows, and in return the coast-men cut their bows. The whole camp, of course, was in a blaze at this; their tribe was insulted, and they would not stand it, until Bombay put down their pride with a few strings of beads, as the best means of restoring peace in the camp.
At this place we were visited by the chief of the district, Pongo (Bush-boc), who had left his palace to see us and invite us his way, for he feared we might give him the slip by going west into Uyofu. He sent us a cow, and said he should like some return; for Masudi, who had gone ahead, only gave him a trifle, professing to be our vanguard, and telling him that as soon as we came with the large caravan we would satisfy him to his heart’s content. We wished for an interview, but he would not see us, as he was engaged looking into his magic horn, with an endeavour to see what sort of men we were, as none of our sort had ever come that way before.
The old sort of thing occurred again. I sent him one kitambi and eight yards kiniki, explaining how fearfully I was reduced from theft and desertions, and begging he would have mercy; but instead of doing so he sent the things back in a huff, after a whole day’s delay, and said he required, besides, one sahari, one kitambi, and eight yards kiniki. In a moment I sent them over, and begged he would beat the drums; but no, he thought he was entitled to ten brass wires, in addition, and would accept them at his palace the next day, as he could not think of allowing us to leave his country until we had done him that honour, else all the surrounding chiefs would call him inhospitable.
Too knowing now to be caught with such chaff, I told him, through Bombay, if he would consider the ten brass wires final, I would give them, and then go to his palace, not otherwise. He acceded to this, but no sooner got them, than he broke his faith, and said he must either have more pretty cloths, or five more brass wires, and then, without doubt, he would beat the drums. A long badgering bargain ensued, at which I made all my men be present as witnesses, and we finally concluded the hongo with four more brass wires.
The drums then no sooner beat the satisfaction, than the Wasui mace-bearers, in the most feeling and good-mannered possible manner, dropped down on their knees before me, and congratulated me on the cessation of this tormenting business. Feeling much freer, we now went over and put up in Pong’s palace, for we had to halt there a day to collect more porters, as half my men had just bolted. This was by no means an easy job, for all my American sheeting was out, and so was the kiniki. Pongo then for the first time showed himself, sneaking about with an escort, hiding his head in a cloth lest our “evil eyes” might bewitch him. Still he did us a good turn; for on the 16th he persuaded his men to take service with us at the enormous hire of ten necklaces of beads per man for every day’s march — nearly ten times what an Arab pays. Fowls were as plentiful here as elsewhere, though the people only kept them to sell to travellers, or else for cutting them open for diving purposes, by inspection of their blood and bones.
From the frying pan we went into the fire in crossing from Ugombe into the district of Wanga, where we beat up the chief, N’yaruwamba, and at once went into the hongo business. He offered a cow to commence with, which I would not accept until the tax was paid, and then I made my offering of two wires, one kitambi, and one kisutu. Badgering then commenced: I must add two wires, and six makete or necklaces of mzizima beads, the latter being due to the chief for negotiating the tax. When this addition was paid, we should be freed by beat of drum.
I complied at once, by way of offering a special mark of respect And friendship, and on the reliance that he would keep his word. The scoundrel, however, no sooner got the articles, than he said a man had just come there to inform hi that I gave Pongo ten wires and ten cloths; he, therefore, could not be satisfied until I added one more wire, when, without fail, he would beat the drums. It was given, after many angry words; but it was the old story over again — he would have one more wire and a cloth, or else he would not allow us to proceed on the morrow. My men, this time really provoked, said they would fight it out; — a king breaking his word in that way! But in the end the demand had to be paid; and at last, at 9 P.M., the drums beat the satisfaction.
From this we went on to the north end of Wanga, in front of which was a wilderness, separating the possessions of Rohinda from those of Suwarora. We put up in a boma, but were not long ensconced there when the villagers got up a pretext for a quarrel, thinking they could plunder us of all our goods, and began pitching into my men. We, however, proved more than a match for them. Our show of guns frightened them all out of the place; my men then gave chase, firing off in the air, which sent them flying over the fields, and left us to do there as we liked until night, when a few of the villagers came back and took up their abode with us quietly. Next, after dark, the little village was on the alert again. The Watuta were out marching, and it was rumoured that they were bound for M’yaruwamba’s. The porters who were engaged at Pongo’s now gave us the slip: we were consequently detained here next day (19th), when, after engaging a fresh set, we crossed the wilderness, and in Usui put up with Suwarora’s border officer of this post, N’yamanira.
Here we were again brought to a standstill.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00