Relief from Protectors and Pillagers — The Scenery and Geology — Meeting with the Friendly King Rumanika — His Hospitalities and Attention — His Services to the Expedition — Philosophical and Theological Inquiries — The Royal Family of Karague — The M-Fumbiro Mountain — Navigation of “The Little Windermere”— The New–Moon Levee — Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus Hunting — Measurement of a Fattened Queen — Political Polygamy — Christmas — Rumours of Petherick’s Expedition — Arrangements to meet it — March to Uganda.
This was a day of relief and happiness. A load was removed from us in seeing the Wasui “protectors” depart, with the truly cheering information that we now had nothing but wild animals to contend with before reaching Karague. This land is “neutral,” by which is meant that it is untenanted by human beings; and we might now hope to bid adieu for a time to the scourging system of taxation to which we had been subjected.
Gradually descending from the spur which separates the Lohugati valley from the bed of the Lueru lo Urigi, or Lake of Urigi, the track led us first through a meadow of much pleasing beauty, and then through a passage between the “saddle-back” domes we had seen from the heights above Lohugati, where a new geological formation especially attracted my notice. From the green slopes of the hills, set up at a slant, as if the central line of pressure on the dome top had weighed on the inside plates, protruded soft slabs of argillaceous sandstone, whose laminae presented a beef-sandwich appearance, puce or purple alternating with creamy-white. Quartz and other igneous rocks were also scattered about, lying like superficial accumulations in the dips at the foot of the hills, and red sandstone conglomerates clearly indicated the presence of iron. The soil itself looked rich and red, not unlike our own fine country of Devon.
On arriving in camp we pitched under some trees, and at once were greeted by an officer sent by Rumanika to help us out of Usui. This was Kachuchu, an old friend of Nasib’s, who no sooner saw him than, beaming with delight, he said to us, “Now, was I not right when I told you the birds flying about on Lohugati hill were a good omen? Look here what this man says: Rumanika has ordered him to bring you on to his palace at once, and wherever you stop a day, the village officers are instructed to supply you with food at the king’s expenses, for there are no taxes gathered from strangers in the kingdom of Karague. Presents may be exchanged, but the name of tax is ignored.” Grant here shot a rhinoceros, which came well into play to mix with the day’s flour we had carried on from Vihembe.
Deluded yesterday by the sight of the broad waters of the Lueru lo Urigi, espied in the distance from the top of a hill, into the belief that we were in view of the N’yanza itself, we walked triumphantly along, thinking how well the Arabs at Kaze had described this to be a creek of the great lake; but on arrival in camp we heard from the village officer that we had been misinformed, and that it was a detached lake, but connected with the Victoria N’yanza by a passage in the hills and the Kitangule river. Formerly, he said, the Urigi valley was covered with water, extending up to Uhha, when all the low lands we had crossed from Usui had to be ferried, and the saddle-back hills were a mere chain of islands in the water. But the country had dried up, and the lake of Urigi became a small swamp. He further informed us, that even in the late king Dagara’s time it was a large sheet of water; but the instant he ceased to exist, the lake shrank to what we now saw.
Our day’s march had been novel and very amusing. The hilly country surrounding us, together with the valley, brought back to recollection many happy days I had once spent with the Tartars in the Thibetian valley of the Indus — only this was more picturesque; for though both countries are wild, and very thinly inhabited, this was greened over with grass, and dotted here and there on the higher slopes with thick bush of acacias, the haunts of rhinoceros, both white and black; whilst in the flat of the valley, herds of hartebeests and fine cattle roamed about like the kiyang and tame yak of Thibet. Then, to enhance all these pleasure, so different from our former experiences, we were treated like guests by the chief of the place, who, obeying the orders of his king, Rumanika, brought me presents, as soon as we arrived, of sheep, fowls, and sweet potatoes, and was very thankful for a few yards of red blanketing as a return, without begging for more.
The farther we went in this country the better we liked it, as the people were all kept in good order; and the village chiefs were so civil, that we could do as we liked. After following down the left side of the valley and entering the village, the customary presents and returns were made. Wishing then to obtain a better view of the country, I strolled over the nearest hills, and found the less exposed slopes well covered with trees. Small antelopes occasionally sprang up from the grass. I shot a florikan for the pot; and as I had never before seen white rhinoceros, killed one now; though, as no one would eat him, I felt sorry rather than otherwise for what I had done. When I returned in the evening, small boys brought me sparrows for sale; and then I remembered the stories I had heard from Musa Mzuri — that in the whole of Karague the small birds were so numerous, the people, to save themselves from starvation were obliged to grow a bitter corn which the birds disliked; and so I found it. At night, whilst observing for latitude, I was struck by surprise to see a long noisy procession pass by where I sat, led by some men who carried on their shoulders a woman covered up in a blackened skin. On inquiry, however, I heard she was being taken to the hut of her espoused, where, “bundling fashion,” she would be put in bed; but it was only with virgins they took so much trouble.
A strange but characteristic story now reached my ears. Masudi, the merchant who took up Insangez, had been trying his best to deter Rumanika from allowing us to enter his country, by saying we were addicted to sorcery; and had it not been for Insangez’s remonstrances, who said we were sent up by Musa, our fate would have been doubtful. Rumanika, it appeared, as I always had heard, considered old Musa his saviour, for having eight years before quelled a rebellion, when his younger brother, Rogero, aspired to the throne; whilst Musa’s honour and honesty were quite unimpeachable. But more of this hereafter.
Khonze, the next place, lying in the bending concave of this swamp lake, and facing Hangiro, was commanded by a fine elderly man called Muzegi, who was chief officer during Dagara’s time. He told me with the greatest possible gravity, that he remembered well the time when a boat could have gone from this to Vigura; as also when fish and crocodiles came up from the Kitangule; but the old king no sooner died than the waters dried up; which showed as plainly as words could tell, that the king had designed it, to make men remember him with sorrow in all future ages. Our presents after this having been exchanged, the good old man, at my desire, explained the position of all the surrounding countries, in his own peculiar manner, by laying a long stick on the ground pointing due north and south, to which he attached shorter ones pointing to the centre of each distant country. He thus assisted me in the protractions of the map, to the countries which lie east and west of the route.
Shortly after starting this morning, we were summoned by the last officer on the Urigi to take breakfast with him, as he could not allow us to pass by without paying his respects to the king’s guests. He was a man of most affable manners, and loth we should part company without one night’s entertainment at least; but as it was a matter of necessity, he gave us provisions to eat on the way, adding, at the same time, he was sorry he could not give more, as a famine was then oppressing the land. We parted with reiterated compliments on both sides; and shortly after, diving into the old bed of the Urigi, were constantly amused with the variety of game which met our view. On several occasions the rhinoceros were so numerous and impudent as to contest the right of the road with us, and the greatest sport was occasioned by our bold Wanguana going at them in parties of threes and fours, when, taking good care of themselves at considerable distances, they fired their carbines all together, and whilst the rhinoceros ran one way, they ran the other. Whilst we were pitching our tents after sunset by some pools on the plain, Dr K’yengo arrived with the hongo of brass and copper wires sent by Suwarora for the great king Mtesa, in lieu of his daughter who died; so next morning we all marched together on to Uthenga.
Rising out of the bed of the Urigi, we passed over a low spur of beef-sandwich clay sandstones, and descended into the close, rich valley of Uthenga, bound in by steep hills hanging over us more than a thousand feet high, as prettily clothed as the mountains of Scotland; whilst in the valley there were not only magnificent trees of extraordinary height, but also a surprising amount of the richest cultivation, amongst which the banana may be said to prevail. Notwithstanding this apparent richness in the land, the Wanyambo, living in their small squalid huts, seem poor. The tobacco they smoke is imported from the coffee-growing country of Uhaiya. After arrival in the village, who should we see but the Uganda officer, Irungu! The scoundrel, instead of going on to Uganda, as he had promised to do, conveying my present to Mtesa, had stopped here plundering the Wanyambo, and getting drunk on their pombe, called, in their language, marwa — a delicious kind of wine made from the banana. He, or course, begged for more beads; but, not able to trick me again, set his drummers and fifers at work, in hopes that he would get over our feelings in that way.
Henceforth, as we marched, Irungu’s drummers and fifers kept us alive on the way. This we heard was a privilege that Uganda Wakungu enjoyed both at home and abroad, although in all other countries the sound of the drum is considered a notice of war, unless where it happens to accompany a dance or festival. Leaving the valley of Uthenga, we rose over the spur of N’yamwara, where we found we had attained the delightful altitude of 5000 odd feet. Oh, how we enjoyed it! every one feeling so happy at the prospect of meeting so soon the good king Rumanika. Tripping down the greensward, we now worked our way to the Rozoka valley, and pitched our tents in the village.
Kachuchu here told us he had orders to precede us, and prepare Rumanika for our coming, as his king wished to know what place we would prefer to live at — the Arab depot at kufro, on the direct line to Uganda, in his palace with himself, or outside his enclosures. Such politeness rather took us aback; so, giving our friend a coil of copper wire to keep him in good spirits, I said all our pleasure rested in seeing the king; whatever honours he liked to confer on us we should take with good grace, but one thing he must understand, we came not to trade, but to see him and great kings and therefore the Arabs had no relations with us. This little point settled, off started Kachuchu in his usual merry manner, whilst I took a look at the hills, to see their geological formation, and found them much as before, based on streaky clay sandstones, with the slight addition of pure blue shales, and above sections of quartzose sandstone lying in flags, as well as other metamorphic and igneous rocks scattered about.
Moving on the next morning over hill and dale, we came to the junction of two roads, where Irungu, with his drummers, fifers and amazon followers, took one way to Kufro, followed by the men carrying Suwarora’s hongo, and we led off on the other, directed to the palace. The hill-tops in many places were breasted with dykes of pure white quartz, just as we had seen in Usui, only that here their direction tended more to the north. It was most curious to contemplate, seeing that the chief substance of the hills was a pure blue, or otherwise streaky clay sandstone, which must have been formed when the land was low, but has now been elevated, making these hills the axis of the centre of the continent, and therefore probably the oldest of all.
When within a few miles of the palace we were ordered to stop and wait for Kachuchu’s return; but no sooner put up in a plaintain grove, where pombe was brewing, and our men were all taking a suck at it, than the worthy arrived to call us on the same instant, as the king was most anxious to see us. The love of good beer of course made our men all too tired to march again; so I sent off Bombay with Nasib to make our excuses, and in the evening found them returning with a huge pot of pombe and some royal tobacco, which Rumanika sent with a notice that he intended it exclusively for our own use, for though there was abundance for my men, there was nothing so good as what came from the palace; the royal tobacco was as sweet and strong as honey-dew, and the beer so strong it required a strong man to drink it.
After breakfast next morning, we crossed the hill-spur called Waeranhanje, the grassy tops of which were 5500 feet above the sea. Descending a little, we came suddenly in view of what appeared to us a rich clump of trees, in S. lat. 1° 42’ 42”, and E. long. 31° 1’ 49”; and, 500 feet below it, we saw a beautiful sheet of water lying snugly within the folds of the hills. We were not altogether unprepared for it, as Musa of old had described it, and Bombay, on his return yesterday, told us he had seen a great pond. The clump, indeed, was the palace enclosure. As to the lake, for want of a native name, I christened it the Little Winderemere, because Grant thought it so like our own English lake of that name. It was one of many others which, like that of Urigi, drains the moisture of the overhanging hills, and gets drained into the Victoria N’yanza through the Kitangule river.
To do royal honours to the king of this charming land, I ordered my men to put down their loads and fire a volley. This was no sooner done than, as we went to the palace gate, we received an invitation to come in at once, for the king wished to see us before attending to anything else. Now, leaving our traps outside, both Grant and myself, attended by Bombay and a few of the seniors of my Wanguana, entered the vestibule, and, walking through extensive enclosures studded with huts of kingly dimensions, were escorted to a pent-roofed baraza, which the Arabs had built as a sort of government office where the king might conduct his state affairs.
Here, as we entered, we saw sitting cross-legged on the ground Rumanika the king, and his brother Nnanaji, both of them men of noble appearance and size. The king was plainly dressed in an Arab’s black choga, and wore, for ornament, dress-stockings of rich-coloured beads, and neatly-worked wristlets of copper. Nnanaji, being a doctor of very high pretensions, in addition to a check cloth wrapped round him, was covered with charms. At their sides lay huge pipes of black clay. In their rear, squatting quiet as mice, were all the king’s sons, some six or seven lads, who wore leather middle-coverings, and little dream-charms tied under their chins. The first greetings of the king, delivered in good Kisuahili, were warm and affecting, and in an instant we both felt and saw we were in the company of men who were as unlike as they could be to the common order of the natives of the surrounding districts. They had fine oval faces, large eyes, and high noses, denoting the best blood of Abyssinia. Having shaken hands in true English style, which is the peculiar custom of the men of this country, the ever-smiling Rumanika begged us to be seated on the ground opposite to him, and at once wished to know what we thought of Karague, for it had struck him his mountains were the finest in the world; and the lake, too, did we not admire it? Then laughing, he inquired — for he knew all the story — what we thought of Suwarora, and the reception we had met with in Usui. When this was explained to him, I showed him that it was for the interest of his own kingdom to keep a check on Suwarora, whose exorbitant taxations prevented the Arabs from coming to see him and bringing things from all parts of the world. He made inquiries for the purpose of knowing how we found our way all over the world; for on the former expedition a letter had come to him for Musa, who no sooner read it than he said I had called him and he must leave, as I was bound for Ujiji.
This of course led to a long story, describing the world, the proportions of land and water, and the power of ships, which conveyed even elephants and rhinoceros — in fact, all the animals in the world — to fill our menageries at home — etc., etc.; as well as the strange announcement that we lived to the northward, and had only come this way because his friend Musa had assured me without doubt that he would give us the road on through Uganda. Time flew like magic, the king’s mind was so quick and enquiring; but as the day was wasting away, he generously gave us our option to choose a place for our residence in or out of his palace, and allowed us time to select one. We found the view overlooking the lake to be so charming, that we preferred camping outside, and set our men at once to work cutting sticks and long grass to erect themselves sheds.
One of the young princes — for the king ordered them all to be constantly in attendance on us — happening to see me sit on an iron chair, rushed back to his father and told him about it. This set all the royals in the palace in a state of high wonder, and ended by my getting a summons to show off the white man sitting on his throne; for of course I could only be, as all of them called me, a king of great dignity, to indulge in such state. Rather reluctantly I did as I was bid, and allowed myself once more to be dragged into court. Rumanika, as gentle as ever, then burst into a fresh fit of merriment, and after making sundry enlightened remarks of enquire, which of course were responded to with the greatest satisfaction, finished off by saying, with a very expressive shake of the head, “Oh, these Wazungu, these Wazungu! they know and do everything.”
I then put in a word for myself. Since we had entered Karague we never could get one drop of milk either for love or for money, and I wished to know what motive the Wahuma had for withholding it. We had heard they held superstitious dreads; that any one who ate the flesh of pigs, fish, or fowls, or the bean called Maharague, if he tasted the products of their cows, would destroy their cattle — and I hoped he did not labour under any such absurd delusions. To which he replied, It was only the poor who thought so; and as he now saw we were in want, he would set apart one of his cows expressly for our use. On bidding adieu, the usual formalities of handshaking were gone through; and on entering camp, I found the good thoughtful king had sent us some more of his excellent beer.
The Wanguana were now all in the highest of good-honour; for time after time goats and fowls were brought into camp by the officers of the king, who had received orders from all parts of the country to bring in supplies for his guests; and this kind of treatment went on for a month, though it did not diminish my daily expenditures of beads, as grain and plantains were not enough thought of. The cold winds, however, made the coast-men all shiver, and suspect, in their ignorance, we must be drawing close to England, the only cold place they had heard of.
16th. — Hearing it would be considered indecent haste to present my tributary offering at once, I paid my morning’s visit, only taking my revolving-pistol, as I knew Rumanika had expressed a strong wish to see it. The impression it made was surprising — he had never seen such a thing in his life; so, in return for his great generosity, as well as to show I placed no value on property, not being a merchant, I begged him to accept it. We then adjourned to his private hut, which rather surprised me by the neatness with which it was kept. The roof was supported by numerous clean poles, to which he had fastened a large assortment of spears — brass-headed with iron handles, and iron-headed with wooden ones — of excellent workmanship. A large standing-screen, of fine straw-plait work, in elegant devices, partitioned off one part of the room; and on the opposite side, as mere ornaments, were placed a number of brass grapnels and small models of cows, made in iron for his amusement by the Arabs at Kufro. A little later in the day, as soon as we had done breakfast, both Rumanika and Nnanaji came over to pay us a visit; for they thought, as we could find our way all over the world, so we should not find much difficulty in prescribing some magic charms to kill his brother, Rogero, who lived on a hill overlooking the Kitangule. Seating them both on our chairs, which amused them intensely, I asked Rumanika, although I had heard before the whole facts of the case, what motives now induced him to wish the committal of such a terrible act, and brought out the whole story afresh.
Before their old father Dagara died, he had unwittingly said to the mother of Rogero, although he was the youngest born, what a fine king he would make; and the mother, in consequence, tutored her son to expect the command of the country, although the law of the land in the royal family is the primogeniture system, extending, however, only to those sons who are born after the accession of the king to the throne.
As soon, therefore, as Dagara died, leaving the three sons alluded to, all by different mothers, a contest took place with the brothers, which, as Nnanaji held by Rumanika, ended in the two elder driving Rogero away. It happened, however, that half the men of the country, either from fear or love, attached themselves to Rogero. Feeling his power, he raised an army and attempted to fight for the crown, which it is generally admitted would have succeeded, had not Musa, with unparalleled magnanimity, employed all the ivory merchandise at his command to engage the services of all the Arabs’ slaves residing at Kufro, to bring muskets against him. Rogero was thus frightened away; but he went away swearing that he would carry out his intentions at some future date, when the Arabs had withdrawn from the country.
Magic charms, of course, we had none; but the king would not believe it, and, to wheedle some out of us, said they would not kill their brother even if they caught him — for fratricide was considered an unnatural crime in their country — but they would merely gouge out his eyes and set him at large again; for without the power of sight he could do them no harm.
I then recommended, as the best advice I could give him for the time being, to take some strong measures against Suwarora and the system of taxation carried on in Usui. These would have the effect of bringing men with superior knowledge into the country — for it was only through the power of knowledge that good government could be obtained. Suwarora at present stopped eight-tenths of the ivory-merchants who might be inclined to trade here from coming into the country, by the foolish system of excessive taxation he had established. Next I told him, if he would give me one or two of his children, I would have them instructed in England; for I admired his race, and believed them to have sprung from our old friends the Abyssinians, whose king, Sahela Selassie, had received rich presents from our Queen. They were Christians like ourselves, and had the Wahuma not lost their knowledge of God they would be so also. A long theological and historical discussion ensued, which so pleased the king, that he said he would be delighted if I would take two of his sons to England, that they might bring him a knowledge of everything. Then turning again to the old point, his utter amazement that we should spend so much property in travelling, he wished to know what we did it for; when men had such means they would surely sit down and enjoy it. “Oh no,” was the reply; “we have had our fill of the luxuries of life; eating, drinking, or sleeping have no charms for us now; we are above trade, therefore require no profits, and seek for enjoyment the run of the world. To observe and admire the beauties of creation are worth much more than beads to us. But what led us this way we have told you before; it was to see your majesty in particular, and the great kings of Africa — and at the same time to open another road to the north, whereby the best manufactures or Europe would find their way to Karague, and you would get so many more guests.” In the highest good-humour the king said, “As you have come to see me and see sights, I will order some boats and show you over the lake, with musicians to play before you, or anything else that you like.” Then, after looking over our pictures with intensest delight, and admiring our beds, boxes, and outfit in general, he left for the day.
In the afternoon, as I had heard from Musa that the wives of the king and princes were fattened to such an extent that they could not stand upright, I paid my respects to Wazezeru, the king’s eldest brother — who, having been born before his father ascended the throne, did not come in the line of succession — with the hope of being able to see for myself the truth of the story. There was no mistake about it. On entering the hut I found the old man and his chief wife sitting side by side on a bench of earth strewed over with grass, and partitioned like stalls for sleeping apartments, whilst in front of them were placed numerous wooden pots of milk, and hanging from the poles that supported the beehive-shaped hut, a large collection of bows six feet in length, whilst below them were tied an even larger collection of spears, intermixed with a goodly assortment of heavy-headed assages. I was struck with no small surprise at the way he received me, as well as with the extraordinary dimensions, yet pleasing beauty, of the immoderately fat fair one his wife. She could not rise; and so large were her arms that, between the joints, the flesh hung down like large, loose-stuffed puddings. Then in came their children, all models of the Abyssinian type of beauty, and as polite in their manners as thorough-bred gentlemen. They had heard of my picture-books from the king, and all wished to see them; which they no sooner did, to their infinite delight, especially when they recognised any of the animals, then the subject was turned by my inquiring what they did with so many milk-pots. This was easily explained by Wazezeru himself, who, pointing to his wife, said, “This is all the product of those pots: from early youth upwards we keep those pots to their mouths, as it is the fashion at court to have very fat wives.”
27th. — Ever anxious to push on with the journey, as I felt every day’s delay only tended to diminish my means — that is, my beads and copper wire — I instructed Bombay to take the under-mentioned articles to Rumanika as a small sample of the products of my country; 11 to say I felt quite ashamed of their being so few and so poor, but I hoped he would forgive my shortcomings, as he knew I had been so often robbed on the way to him; and I trusted, in recollection of Musa, he would give me leave to go on to Uganda, for every day’s delay was consuming my supplies. Nnanaji, however, it was said, should get something; so, in addition to the king’s present, I apportioned one out for him, and Bombay took both up to the palace. 12 Everybody, I was pleased to hear, was surprised with both the quantity and quality of what I had been able to find for them; for, after the plundering in Ugogo, the immense consumption caused by such long delays on the road, the fearful prices I had had to pay for my porters’ wages, the enormous taxes I had been forced to give both in Msalala and Uzinza, besides the constant thievings in camp, all of which was made public by the constantly-recurring tales of my men, nobody thought I had got anything left.
11 Rumanika’s present. — One block-tin box, one Raglan coat, five yards scarlet broadcloth, two coils copper wire, a hundred large blue egg-beads, five bundles best variegated beads, three bundles minute beads — pink, blue, and white.
12 Nnanaji’s present. — One deole or gold-embroidered silk, two coils copper wire, fifty large blue egg-beads, five bundles best variegated beads, three bundles minute beads — pink, blue and white.
Rumanika, above all, was as delighted as if he had come in for a fortune, and sent to say the Raglan coat was a marvel, and the scarlet broadcloth the finest thing he had ever seen. Nobody but Musa had ever given him such beautiful beads before, and none ever gave with such free liberality. Whatever I wanted I should have in return for it, as it was evident to him I had really done him a great honour in visiting him. Neither his father nor any of his forefathers had had such a great favour shown them. He was alarmed, he confessed, when he heard we were coming to visit him, thinking we might prove some fearful monsters that were not quite human, but now he was delighted beyond all measure with what he saw of us. A messenger should be sent at once to the king of Uganda to inform him of our intention to visit him, with his own favourable report of us. This was necessary according to the etiquette of the country. Without such a recommendation our progress would be stopped by the people, whilst with one word from him all would go straight; for was he not the gatekeeper, enjoying the full confidence of Uganda? A month, however, must elapse, as the distance to the palace of Uganda was great; but, in the meantime, he would give me leave to go about in his country to do and see what I liked, Nnanaji and his sons escorting me everywhere. Moreover, when the time came for my going on to Uganda, if I had not enough presents to give the king, he would fill up the complement from his own stores, and either go with me himself, or send Nnanaji to conduct me as far as the boundary of Uganda, in order that Rogero might not molest us on the way. In the evening, Masudi, with Sangoro and several other merchants, came up from Kufro to pay us a visit of respect.
28th and 29th. — A gentle hint having come to us that the king’s brother, Wazezeru, expected a trifle in virtue of his rank, I sent him a blanket and seventy-five blue egg-beads. These were accepted with the usual good grace of these people. The king then, ever attentive to our position as guests, sent his royal musicians to give us a tune. The men composing the band were a mixture of Waganda and Wanyambo, who played on reed instruments made telescope fashion, marking time by hand-drums. At first they marched up and down, playing tunes exactly like the regimental bands of the Turks, and then commenced dancing a species of “hornpipe,” blowing furiously all the while. When dismissed with some beads, Nnanaji dropped in and invited me to accompany him out shooting on the slopes of the hills overlooking the lake. He had in attendance all the king’s sons, as well as a large number of beaters, with three or four dogs. Tripping down the greensward of the hills together, these tall, athletic princes every now and then stopped to see who could shoot furthest, and I must say I never witnessed better feats in my life. With powerful six-feet-long bows they pulled their arrows’ heads up to the wood, and made wonderful shots in the distance. They then placed me in position, and arranging the field, drove the covers like men well accustomed to sport — indeed, it struck me they indulged too much in that pleasure, for we saw nothing but two or three montana and some diminutive antelopes, about the size of mouse deer, and so exceedingly shy that not one was bagged.
Returning home to the tents as the evening sky was illumined with the red glare of the sun, my attention was attracted by observing in the distance some bold sky-scraping cones situated in the country Ruanda, which at once brought back to recollection the ill-defined story I had heard from the Arabs of a wonderful hill always covered with clouds, on which snow or hail was constantly falling. This was a valuable discovery, for I found these hills to be the great turn-point of the Central African watershed. Without loss of time I set to work, and, gathering all the travellers I could in the country, protracted, from their descriptions, all the distance topographical features set down in the map, as far north as 3° of north latitude, as far east as 36°, and as far west as 26° of east longitude; only afterwards slightly corrected, as I was better able to connect and clear up some trifling but doubtful points.
Indeed, I was not only surprised at the amount of information about distant places I was enabled to get here from these men, but also at the correctness of their vast and varied knowledge, as I afterwards tested it by observation and the statements of others. I rely so far on the geographical information I thus received, that I would advise no one to doubt the accuracy of these protractions until he has been on the spot to test them by actual inspection. About the size only of the minor lakes do I feel doubtful, more especially the Little Luta Nzige, which on the former journey I heard was a salt lake, because salt was found on its shores and in one of its islands. Now, without going into any lengthy details, and giving Rumanika due credit for everything — for had he not ordered his men to give me every information that lay in their power, they would not have done so — I will merely say for the present that, whilst they conceived the Victoria N’yanza would take a whole month for a canoe to cross it, they thought the Little Luta Nzige might be crossed in a week. The Mfumbiro cones in Ruanda, which I believe reach 10,000 feet, are said to be the highest of the “Mountains of the Moon.” At their base are both salt and copper mines, as well as hot springs. There are also hot springs in Mpororo, and one in Karague near where Rogero lived.
30th. — The important business of announcing our approach to Uganda was completed by Rumanika appointing Kachuchu to go to king Mtesa as quickly as possible, to say we were coming to visit him. He was told that we were very great men, who only travelled to see great kings and great countries; and, as such, Rumanika trusted we should be received with courteous respect, and allowed to roam all over the country wherever we liked, he holding himself responsible for our actions for the time being. In the end, however, we were to be restored to him, as he considered himself our father, and therefore must see that no accident befell us.
To put the royal message in proper shape, I was now requested to send some trifle by way of a letter or visiting card; but, on taking out a Colt’s revolving rifle for the purpose, Rumanika advised me not to send it, as Mtesa might take fright, and, considering it a charm of evil quality, reject us as bad magicians, and close his gates on us. Three bits of cotton cloth were then selected as the best thing for the purpose; and, relying implicitly on the advice of Rumanika, who declared his only object was to further our views, I arranged accordingly, and off went Kachuchu.
To keep my friend in good-humour, and show him how well the English can appreciate a kindness, I presented him with a hammer, a sailor’s knife, a Rodger’s three-bladed penknife, a gilt letter-slip with paper and envelopes, some gilt pens, an ivory holder, and a variety of other small articles. Of each of these he asked the use, and then in high glee put it into the big block-tin box, in which he kept his other curiosities, and which I think he felt more proud of than any other possession. After this, on adjourning to his baraza, Ungurue the Pig, who had floored my march in Sorombo, and Makinga, our persecutor in Usui, came in to report that the Watuta had been fighting in Usui, and taken six bomas, upon which Rumanika asked me what I thought of it, and if I knew where the Watuta came from. I said I was not surprised to hear Usui had attracted the Watuta’s cupidity, for every one knew of the plundering propensities of the inhabitants, and as they became rich by their robberies, they must in turn expect to be robbed. Where the Watuta came from, nobody could tell; they were dressed something like the Zulu Kaffirs of the South, but appeared to be now gradually migrating from the regions of N’yazza. To this Dr K’yengo, who was now living with Rumanika as his head magician, added that, whilst he was living in Utambara, the Watuta invested his boma six months; and finally, when all their cows and stores were exhausted, they killed all the inhabitants but himself, and he only escaped by the power of the charms which he carried about him. These were so powerful, that although he lay on the ground, and the Watuta struck at him with their spears, not one could penetrate his body.
In the evening after this, as the king wished to see all my scientific instruments, we walked down to the camp; and as he did not beg for anything, I gave him some gold and mother-of-pearl shirt studs to swell up his trinket-box. The same evening I made up my mind, if possible, to purchase a stock of beads from the Arabs, and sent Baraka off to Kufro, to see what kind of a bargain he could make with them; for, whilst I trembled to think what those “blood-suckers” would have the impudence to demand when they found me at their mercy, I felt that the beads must be bought, or the expedition would certainly come to grief.
1st and 2d. — Two days after this the merchants came in a body to see me, and said their worst beads would stand me 80 dollars per frasala, as they would realise that value in ivory on arrival at the coast. Of course no business was done, for the thing was preposterous by all calculation, being close on 2500 per cent. above Zanzibar valuation. I was “game” to give 50 dollars, but as they would not take this, I thought of dealing with Rumanika instead. I then gave Nnanaji, who had been constantly throwing out hints that I ought to give him a gun as he was a great sportsman, a lappet of beadwork to keep his tongue quiet, and he in return sent me a bullock and sundry pots of pombe, which, in addition to the daily allowance sent by Rumanika, made all my people drunk, and so affected Baraka that one of the women — also drunk — having given him some sharp abuse, he beat her in so violent a manner that the whole drunken camp set upon him, and turned the place into a pandemonium. A row amongst the negroes means a general rising of arms, legs, and voices; all are in a state of the greatest excitement; and each individual thinks he is doing the best to mend matters, but is actually doing his best to create confusion.
By dint of perseverance, I now succeeded in having Baraka separated from the crowd and dragged before me for justice. I found that the woman, who fully understood the jealous hatred which existed in Baraka’s heart against Bombay, flirted with both of them; and, pretending to show a preference for Bombay, set Baraka against her, when from high words they came to blows, and set the place in a blaze. It was useless to remonstrate — Baraka insisted he would beat the woman if she abused him, no matter whether I thought it cowardly or not; he did not come with me expecting to be bullied in this way — the whole fault lay with Bombay — I did not do him justice — when he proved Bombay a thief at Usui, I did not turn him off, but now, instead, I showed the preference to Bombay by always taking him when I went to Rumanika. It was useless to argue with such a passionate man, so I told him to go away and cool himself before morning.
When he was gone, Bombay said there was not one man in the camp, besides his own set, who wished to go on to Egypt — for they had constant arguments amongst themselves about it; and whilst Bombay always said he would follow me wherever I led, Baraka and those who held by him abused him and his set for having tricked them away from Zanzibar, under the false hopes that the road was quite safe. Bombay said his arguments were, that Bana knew better than anybody else what he was about, and he would follow him, trusting to luck, as God was the disposer of all things, and men could die but once. Whilst Baraka’s arguments all rested the other way; — that no one could tell what was ahead of him — Bana had sold himself to luck and the devil — but though he did not care for his own safety, he ought not to sacrifice the lives of others — Bombay and his lot were fools for their pains in trusting to him.
3d. — At daybreak Rumanika sent us word he was off to Moga–Namarinzi, a spur of a hill beyond “the Little Windermere,” overlooking the Ingezi Kagera, or river which separates Kishakka from Karague, to show me how the Kiangule river was fed by small lakes and marshes, in accordance with my expressed wish to have a better comprehension of the drainage system of the Mountains of the Moon. He hoped we would follow him, not by the land route he intended to take, but in canoes which he had ordered at the ferry below. Starting off shortly afterwards, I made for the lake, and found the canoes all ready, but so small that, besides two paddlers, only two men could sit down in each. After pushing through the tall reeds with which the end of the lake is covered, we emerged in the clear open, and skirted the further side of the water until a small strait was gained, which led us into another lake, drained at the northern end with a vast swampy plain, covered entirely with tall rushes, excepting only in a few places where bald patches expose the surface of the water, or where the main streams of the Ingezi and Luchoro valleys cut a clear drain for themselves.
The whole scenery was most beautiful. Green and fresh, the slopes of the hills were covered with grass, with small clumps of soft cloudy-looking acacias growing at a few feet only above the water, and above them, facing over the hills, fine detached trees, and here and there the gigantic medicinal aloe. Arrived near the end of the Moga–Namirinzi hill in the second lake, the paddlers splashed into shore, where a large concourse of people, headed by Nnanaji, were drawn up to receive me. I landed with all the dignity of a prince, when the royal band struck up a march, and we all moved on to Rumanika’s frontier palace, talking away in a very complimentary manner, not unlike the very polite and flowery fashion of educated Orientals.
Rumanika we found sitting dressed in a wrapper made of an nzoe antelope’s skin, smiling blandly as we approached him. In the warmest manner possible he pressed me to sit by his side, asked how I had enjoyed myself, what I thought of his country, and if I did not feel hungry; when a pic-nic dinner was spread, and we all set to at cooked plantains and pombe, ending with a pipe of his best tobacco. Bit by bit Rumanika became more interested in geography, and seemed highly ambitious of gaining a world-wide reputation through the medium of my pen. At his invitation we now crossed over the spur to the Ingezi Kagera side, when, to surprise me, the canoes I had come up the lake in appeared before us. They had gone out of the lake at its northern end, paddled into, and then up the Kagera to where we stood, showing, by actual navigation, the connection of these highland lakes with the rivers which drain the various spurs of the Mountains of the Moon. The Kagera was deep and dark, of itself a very fine stream, and, considering it was only one — and that, too, a minor one — of the various affluents which drain the mountain valleys into the Victoria N’yanza through the medium of the Kitangule river, I saw at once there must be water sufficient to make the Kitangule a very powerful tributary to the lake.
On leaving this interesting place, with the widespread information of all the surrounding countries I had gained, my mind was so impressed with the topographical features of all this part of Africa, that in my heart I resolved I would make Rumanika as happy as he had made me, and asked K’yengo his doctor, of all things I possessed what the king would like best. To my surprise I then learnt that Rumanika had set his heart on the revolving rifle I had brought for Mtesa — the one, in fact, which he had prevented my sending on to Uganda in the hands of Kachuchu, and he would have begged me for it before had his high-minded dignity, and the principle he had established of never begging for anything, not interfered. I then said he should certainly have it; for as strongly as I had withheld from giving anything to those begging scoundrels who wished to rob me of all I possessed in the lower countries, so strongly now did I feel inclined to be generous with this exceptional man Rumanika. We then had another pic-nic together, and whilst I went home to join Grant, Rumanika spent the night doing homage and sacrificing a bullock at the tomb of his father Dagara.
Instead of paddling all down the lake again, I walked over the hill, and, on crossing at its northern end, whished to shoot ducks; but the superstitious boatmen put a stop to my intended amusement by imploring me not to do so, lest the spirit of the lake should be roused to dry up the waters.
4th. — Rumanika returned in the morning, walking up the hill, followed by a long train of his officers, and a party of men carrying on their shoulders his state carriage, which consisted of a large open basket laid on the top of two very long poles. After entering his palace, I immediately called on him to thank him for the great treat he had given me, and presented him, as an earnest of what I thought, with the Colt’s revolving rifle and a fair allowance of ammunition. His delight knew no bounds on becoming the proprietor of such an extraordinary weapon, and induced him to dwell on his advantages over his brother Rogero, whose antipathy to him was ever preying on his mind. He urged me again to devise some plan for overcoming him; and, becoming more and more confidential, favoured me with the following narrative, by way of evidence how the spirits were inclined to show all the world that he was the rightful successor to the throne:— When Dagara died, and he, Nnanaji, and Rogero, were the only three sons left in line of succession to the crown, a small mystic drum of diminutive size was placed before them by the officers of state. It was only feather weight in reality, but, being loaded with charms, became so heavy to those who were not entitled to the crown, that no one could lift it but the one person whom the spirits were inclined towards as the rightful successor. Now, of all the three brothers, he, Rumanika, alone could raise it from the ground; and whilst his brothers laboured hard, in vain attempting to move it, he with his little finger held it up without any exertion.
This little disclosure in the history of Karague led us on to further particulars of Dagara’s death and burial, when it transpired that the old king’s body, after the fashion of his predecessors, was sewn up in a cow-skin, and placed in a boat floating on the lake, where it remained for three days, until decomposition set in and maggots were engendered, of which three were taken into the palace and given in charge to the heir-elect; but instead of remaining as they were, one worm was transformed into a lion, another into a leopard, and the third into a stick. After this the body of the king was taken up and deposited on the hill Moga–Namirinzi, where, instead of putting him underground, the people erected a hut over him, and, thrusting in five maidens and fifty cows, enclosed the doorway in such a manner that the whole of them subsequently died from starvation.
This, as may naturally be supposed, led into further genealogical disclosures of a similar nature, and I was told by Rumanika that his grandfather was a most wonderful man; indeed, Karague was blessed with more supernatural agencies than any other country. Rohinda the Sixth, who was his grandfather, numbered so many years that people thought he would never die; and he even became so concerned himself about it, reflecting that his son Dagara would never enjoy the benefit of his position as successor to the crown of Karague, that he took some magic powders and charmed away his life. His remains were then taken to Moga–Namirinzi, in the same manner as were those of Dagara; but, as an improvement on the maggot story, a young lion emerged from the heart of the corpse and kept guard over the hill, from whom other lions came into existence, until the whole place has become infested by them, and has since made Karague a power and dread to all other nations; for these lions became subject to the will of Dagara, who, when attacked by the countries to the northward, instead of assembling an army of men, assembled his lion force, and so swept all before him.
Another test was then advanced at the instigation of K’yengo, who thought Rumanika not quite impressive enough of his right to the throne; and this was, that each heir in succession, even after the drum dodge, was required to sit on the ground in a certain place of the country, where, if he had courage to plant himself, the land would gradually rise up, telescope fashion, until it reached the skies, when, if the aspirant was considered by the spirits the proper person to inherit Karague, he would gradually be lowered again without any harm happening; but, otherwise, the elastic hill would suddenly collapse, and he would be dashed to pieces. Now, Rumanika, by his own confession, had gone through this ordeal with marked success; so I asked him if he found the atmosphere cold when so far up aloft, and as he said he did so, laughing at the quaintness of the question, I told him I saw he had learnt a good practical lesson on the structure of the universe, which I wished he would explain to me. In a state of perplexity, K’yengo and the rest, on seeing me laughing, thought something was wrong; so, turning about, they thought again, and said, “No, it must have been hot, because the higher one ascended the nearer he got to the sun.”
This led on to one argument after another, on geology, geography, and all the natural sciences, and ended by Rumanika showing me an iron much the shape and size of a carrot. This he said was found by one of his villagers whilst tilling the ground, buried some way down below the surface; but dig as he would, he could not remove it, and therefore called some men to his help. Still the whole of them united could not lift the iron, which induced them, considering there must be some magic in it, to inform the king. “Now,” says Rumanika, “I no sooner went there and saw the iron, and brought it here as you see it. What can such a sign mean?” “Of course that you are the rightful king,” said his flatterers. “Then,” said Rumanika, in exuberant spirits, “during Dagara’s time, as the king was sitting with many other men outside his hut, a fearful storm of thunder and lightning arose, and a thunderbolt struck the ground in the midst of them, which dispersed all the men but Dagara, who calmly took up the thunderbolt and places it in the palace. I, however, no sooner came into possession, and Rogero began to contend with me, than the thunderbolt vanished. How would you account for this?” The flatterers said, “It is as clear as possible; God gave the thunderbolt to Dagaro as a sign he was pleased with him and his rule; but when he found two brothers contending, he withdrew it to show their conduct was wicked.”
5th. — Rumanika in the morning sent me a young male nzoe (water-boc) 13 which his canoe-men had caught in the high rushes at the head of the lake, by the king’s order, to please me; for I had heard this peculiar animal described in such strange ways at Kaze, both by Musa and the Arabs, I was desirous of having a look at one. It proved to be closely allied to a water-boc found by Livingstone on the Ngami Lake; but, instead of being striped, was very faintly spotted, and so long were its toes, it could hardly walk on the dry ground; whilst its coat, also well adapted to the moist element it lived in, was long, and of such excellent quality that the natives prize it for wearing almost more than any other of the antelope tribe. The only food it would eat were the tops of the tall papyrus rushes; but though it ate and drank freely, and lay down very quietly, it always charged with ferocity any person who went near it.
13 Since named by Dr P. L. Sclater “Tragelaphus Spekii.” These nzoe have been drawn by Mr Wolf, from specimens brought home by myself.
In the afternoon Rumanika invited both Grant and myself to witness his New Moon Levee, a ceremony which takes place every month with a view of ascertaining how many of his subjects are loyal. On entering his palace enclosure, the first thing we saw was a blaue boc’s horn stuffed full of magic powder, with very imposing effect, by K’yengo, and stuck in the ground, with its mouth pointing in the direction of Rogero. In the second court, we found thirty-five drums ranged on the ground, with as many drummers standing behind them, and a knot of young princes and officers of high dignity waiting to escort us into the third enclosure, where, in his principal hut, we found Rumanika squatting on the ground, half-concealed by the portal, but showing his smiling face to welcome us in. His head was got up with a tiara of beads, from the centre of which, directly over the forehead, stood a plume of red feathers, and encircling the lower face with a fine large white beard set in a stock or band of beads. We were beckoned to squat alongside Nnanaji, the master of ceremonies, and a large group of high officials outside the porch. Then the thirty-five drums all struck up together in very good harmony; and when their deafening noise was over, a smaller band of hand-drums and reed instruments was ordered in to amuse us.
This second performance over, from want of breath only, district officers, one by one, came advancing on tip-toe, then pausing, contorting and quivering their bodies, advancing again with a springing gait and outspread arms, which they moved as if they wished to force them out of their joints, in all of which actions they held drum-sticks or twigs in their hands, swore with a maniacal voice an oath of their loyalty and devotion to their king, backed by the expression of a hope that he would cut off their heads if they ever turned from his enemies, and then, kneeling before him, they held out their sticks that he might touch them. With a constant reiteration of these scenes — the saluting at one time, the music at another — interrupted only once by a number of girls dancing something like a good rough Highland fling whilst the little band played, the day’s ceremonies ended.
6th and 7th. — During the next two days, as my men had all worn out their clothes, I gave them each thirty necklaces of beads to purchase a suit of the bark cloth called mbugu, already described. Finding the flour of the country too bitter to eat by itself, we sweetened it with ripe plantains, and made a good cake of it. The king now, finding me disinclined to fight his brother Rogero, either with guns or magic horns, asked me to give him a “doctor” or charm to create longevity and to promote the increase of his family, as his was not large enough to maintain the dignity of so great a man as himself. I gave him a blister, and, changing the subject, told him the history of the creation of man. After listening to it attentively, he asked what thing in creation I considered the greatest of all things in the world; for whilst a man at most could only live one hundred years, a tree lived many; but the earth ought to be biggest, for it never died.
I then told him again I wished one of his sons would accompany me to England, that he might learn the history of Moses, wherein he would find that men had souls which live for ever, but that the earth would come to an end in the fullness of time. This conversation, diversified by numerous shrewd remarks on the part of Rumanika, led to his asking how I could account for the decline of countries, instancing the dismemberment of the Wahuma in Kittara, and remarking that formerly Karague included Urundi, Ruanda, and Kishakka, which collectively were known as the kingdom of Meru, governed by one man. Christian principles, I said, made us what we are, and feeling a sympathy for him made me desirous of taking one of his children to learn in the same school with us, who, on returning to him, could impart what he knew, and, extending the same by course of instruction, would doubtless end by elevating his country to a higher position than it ever knew before — etc., etc. The policy and government of the vast possessions of Great Britain were then duly discussed, and Rumanika acknowledged that the pen was superior to that of the sword, and the electric telegraph and steam engine the most wonderful powers he had ever heard of.
Before breaking up, Rumanika wished to give me any number of ivories I might like to mention, even three or four hundred, as a lasting remembrance that I had done him the honour of visiting Karague in his lifetime, for though Dagara had given to coloured merchants, he would be the first who had given to a white man. Of course this royal offer was declined with politeness; he must understand that it was not the custom of big men in my country to accept presents of value when we made visits of pleasure. I had enjoyed my residence in Karague, his intellectual conversations and his kind hospitality, all of which I should record in my books to hand down to posterity; but if he would give me a cow’s horn, I would keep it as a trophy of the happy days I had spent in his country. He gave me one, measuring 3 feet 5 inches in length, and 18 3/4 inches in circumference at the base. He then offered me a large sheet, made up of a patchwork of very small N’yera antelope skins, most exquisitely cured and sewn. This I rejected, as he told me it had been given to himself, explaining that we prided ourselves on never parting with the gifts of a friend; and this speech tickled his fancy so much, that he said he never would part with anything I gave him.
8th and 9th. — The 8th went off much in the usual way, by my calling on the king, when I gave him a pack of playing-cards, which he put into his curiosity-box. He explained to me, at my request, what sort of things he would like any future visitors to bring him — a piece of gold and silver embroidery; but, before anything else, I found he would like to have toys — such as Yankee clocks with the face in a man’s stomach, to wind up behind, his eyes rolling with every beat of the pendulum; or a china-cow milk-pot, a jack-in-the-box, models of men, carriages, and horses — all animals in fact, and railways in particular.
On the 9th I went out shooting, as Rumanika, with his usual politeness, on hearing my desire to kill some rhinoceros, ordered his sons to conduct the filed for me. Off we started by sunrise to the bottom of the hills overlooking the head of the Little Windermere lake. On arrival at the scene of action — a thicket or acacia shrubs — all the men in the neighbourhood were assembled to beat. Taking post myself, by direction, in the most likely place to catch a sight of the animals, the day’s work began by the beaters driving the covers in my direction. In a very short time, a fine male was discovered making towards me, but not exactly knowing where he should bolt to. While he was in this perplexity, I stole along between the bushes, and caught sight of him standing as if anchored by the side of a tree and gave him a broadsider with Blissett, which, too much for his constitution to stand, sent him off trotting, till exhausted by bleeding he lay down to die, and allowed me to give him a settler.
In a minute or two afterwards, the good young princes, attracted by the sound of the gun, came to see what was done. Their surprise knew no bounds; they could scarcely believe what they saw; and then, on recovering, with the spirit of true gentlemen, they seized both my hands, congratulating me on the magnitude of my success, and pointed out, as an example of it, a bystander who showed fearful scars, both on his abdomen and at the blade of his shoulder, who they declared had been run through by one of these animals. It was, therefore, wonderful to them, they observed, with what calmness I went up to such formidable beasts.
Just at this time a distant cry was heard that another rhinoceros was concealed in a thicket, and off we set to pursue her. Arriving at the place mentioned, I settled at once I would enter with only two spare men carrying guns, for the acacia thorns were so thick that the only tracks into the thicket were runs made by these animals. Leading myself, bending down to steal in, I tracked up a run till half-way through cover, when suddenly before me, like a pig from a hole, a large female, with her young one behind her, came straight down whoof-whoofing upon me. In this awkward fix I forced myself to one side, though pricked all over with thorns in doing so, and gave her one on the head which knocked her out of my path, and induced her for safety to make for the open, where I followed her down and gave her another. She then took to the hills and crossed over a spur, when, following after her, in another dense thicket, near the head of a glen, I came upon three, who no sooner sighted me, than all in line they charged down my way. Fortunately at the time my gun-bearers were with me; so, jumping to one side, I struck them all three in turn. One of them dropped dead a little way on; but the others only pulled up when they arrived at the bottom. To please myself now I had done quite enough; but as the princes would have it, I went on with the chase. As one of the two, I could see, had one of his fore-legs broken, I went at the sounder one, and gave him another shot, which simply induced him to walk over the lower end of the hill. Then turning to the last one, which could not escape, I asked the Wanyambo to polish him off with their spears and arrows, that I might see their mode of sport. As we moved up to the animal, he kept charging with such impetuous fury, they could not go into him; so I gave him a second ball, which brought him to anchor. In this helpless state the men set at him in earnest, and a more barbarous finale I never did witness. Every man sent his spear, assage, or arrow, into his sides, until, completely exhausted, he sank like a porcupine covered with quills. The day’s sport was now ended, so I went home to breakfast, leaving instructions that the heads should be cut off and sent to the king as a trophy of what the white man could do.
10th and 11th. — The next day, when I called on Rumanika, the spoils were brought into court, and in utter astonishment he said, “Well, this must have been done with something more potent than powder, for neither the Arabs nor Nnanaji, although they talk of their shooting powers, could have accomplished such a great feat as this. It is no wonder the English are the greatest men in the world.”
Neither the Wanyambo nor the Wahuma would eat the rhinoceros, so I was not sorry to find all the Wanyamuezi porters of the Arabs at Kufro, on hearing of the sport, come over and carry away all the flesh. They passed by our camp half borne down with their burdens of sliced flesh, suspended from poles which they carried on their shoulders; but the following day I was disgusted by hearing that their masters had forbidden their eating “the carrion,” as the throats of the animals had not been cut; and, moreover, had thrashed them soundly because they complained they were half starved, which was perfectly true, by the poor food that they got as their pay.
12th. — On visiting Rumanika again, and going through my geographical lessons, he told me, in confirmation of Musa’s old stories, that in Ruanda there existed pigmies who lived in trees, but occasionally came down at night, and, listening at the hut doors of the men, would wait until they heard the name of one of its inmates, when they would call him out, and, firing an arrow into his heart, disappear again in the same way as they came. But, more formidable even than these little men, there were monsters who could not converse with me, and never showed themselves unless they saw women pass by; then, in voluptuous excitement, they squeezed them to death. Many other similar stories were then told, when I, wishing to go, was asked if I could kill hippopotami. Having answered that I could, the king graciously said he would order some canoes for me the next morning; and as I declined because Grant could not accompany me, as a terrible disease had broken out in his leg, he ordered a pig-shooting party. Agreeably with this, the next day I went out with his sons, numerously attended; but although we beat the covers all day, the rain was so frequent that the pigs would not bolt.
14th. — After a long and amusing conversation with Rumanika in the morning, I called on one of his sisters-in-law, married to an elder brother who was born before Dagara ascended the throne. She was another of those wonders of obesity, unable to stand excepting on all fours. I was desirous to obtain a good view of her, and actually to measure her, and induced her to give me facilities for doing so, by offering in return to show her a bit of my naked legs and arms. The bait took as I wished it, and after getting her to sidle and wriggle into the middle of the hut, I did as I promised, and then took her dimensions as noted below. 14 All of these are exact except the height, and I believe I could have obtained this more accurately if I could have her laid on the floor. Not knowing what difficulties I should have to contend with in such a piece of engineering, I tried to get her height by raising her up. This, after infinite exertions on the part of us both, was accomplished, when she sank down again, fainting, for her blood had rushed to her head. Meanwhile, the daughter, a lass of sixteen, sat stark-naked before us, sucking at a milk-pot, on which the father kept her at work by holding a rod in his hand, for as fattening is the first duty of fashionable female life, it must be duly enforced by the rod if necessary. I got up a bit of flirtation with missy, and induced her to rise and shake hands with me. Her features were lovely, but her body was as round as a ball.
14 Round arm, 1 ft. 11 in.; chest, 4 ft. 4 in.; thigh, 2 ft. 7 in.; calf, 1 ft. 8 in.; height, 5 ft. 8 in.
In the evening we had another row with my head men — Baraka having accused Bombay of trying to kill him with magic. Bombay, who was so incessantly bullied by Baraka’s officious attempts to form party cliques opposed to the interests of the journey, and get him turned out of the camp, indiscreetly went to one of K’yengo’s men, and asked him if he knew of any medicine that would affect the hearts of the Wanguana so as to incline them towards him; and on the sub-doctor saying Yes, Bombay gave him some beads, and bought the medicine required, which, put into a pot of pombe, was placed by Baraka’s side. Baraka in the meanwhile got wind of the matter through K’yengo, who, misunderstanding the true facts of the case, said it was a charm to deprive Baraka of his life. A court of inquiry having been convened, with all the parties concerned in attendance, K’yengo’s mistake was discovered, and Bombay was lectured for his folly, as he had a thousand times before abjured his belief in such magical follies; moreover, to punish him for the future, I took Baraka, whenever I could, with me to visit the king, which, little as it may appear to others, was of the greatest consequence to the hostile parties.
15th and 16th. — When I next called on Rumanika I gave him a Vautier’s binocular and prismatic compass; on which he politely remarked he was afraid he was robbing me of everything. More compliments went round, and then he asked if it was true we could open a man’s skull, look at his brains, and close it up again; also if it was true we sailed all round the world into regions where there was no difference between night and day, and how, when he ploughed the seas in such enormous vessels as would carry at once 20,000 men, we could explain to the sailors what they ought to do; for, although he had heard of these things, no one was able to explain them to him.
After all the explanations were given, he promised me a boat-hunt after the nzoe in the morning; but when the time came, as difficulties were raised, I asked him to allow us to anticipate the arrival of Kachuchu, and march on to Kitangule. He answered, with his usual courtesy, That he would be very glad to oblige us in any way that we liked; but he feared that, as the Waganda were such superstitious people, some difficulties would arise, and he must decline to comply with our request. “You must not,” he added, “expect ever to find again a reasonable man like myself.” I then gave him a book on “Kafir laws,” which he said he would keep for my sake, with all the rest of the presents, which he was determined never to give away, though it was usual for him to send novelties of this sort to Mtesa, king of Uganda, and Kamrasi, king of Unyoro, as a friendly recognition of their superior positions in the world of great monarchies.
17th. — Rumanika next introduced me to an old woman who came from the island of Gasi, situated in the little Luta Nzige. Both her upper and lower incisors had been extracted, and her upper lip perforated by a number of small holes, extending in an arch from one corner to the other. This interesting but ugly old lady narrated the circumstances by which she had been enslaved, and then sent by Kamrasi as a curiosity to Rumanika, who had ever since kept her as a servant in his palace. A man from Ruanda then told us of the Wilyanwantu (men-eaters), who disdained all food but human flesh; and Rumanika confirmed the statement. Though I felt very sceptical about it, I could not help thinking it a curious coincidence that the position they were said to occupy agreed with Petherick’s Nyam Nyams (men-eaters).
Of far more interest were the results of a conversation which I had with another of Kamrasi’s servants, a man of Amara, as it threw some light upon certain statements made by Mr Leon of the people of Amara being Christians. He said they bore single holes in the centres both of their upper and lower lips, as well as in the lobes of both of their ears, in which they wear small brass rings. They live near the N’yanza — where it is connected by a strait with a salt lake, and drained by a river to the northward — in comfortable houses, built like the tembes of Unyamuezi. When killing a cow, they kneel down in an attitude of prayer, with both hands together, held palm upwards, and utter Zu, a word the meaning of which he did not know. I questioned him to try if the word had any trace of a Christian meaning — for instance, a corruption of Jesu — but without success. Circumcision is not known amongst them, neither have they any knowledge of God or a soul. A tribe called Wakuavi, who are white, and described as not unlike myself, often came over the water and made raids on their cattle, using the double-edged sime as their chief weapon of war. These attacks were as often resented, and sometimes led the Wamara in pursuit a long way into their enemy’s country, where, at a place called Kisiguisi, they found men robed in red cloths. Beads were imported, he thought, both from the east and from Ukidi. Associated with the countries Masau or Masai, and Usamburu, which he knew, there was a large mountain, the exact position of which he could not describe.
I took down many words of his language, and found they corresponded with the North African dialects, as spoken by the people of Kidi, Gani, and Madi. The southerners, speaking of these, would call them Wakidi, Wagani, and Wamadi, but among themselves the syllable was is not prefixed, as in the southern dialects, to signify people. Rumanika, who appeared immensely delighted as he assisted me in putting the questions I wanted, and saw me note them down in my book, was more confirmed than ever in the truth of my stories that I came from the north, and thought as the beads came to Amara, so should I be able to open the road and bring him more visitors. This he knew was his only chance of ever seeing me more, for I swore I would never go back through Usui, so greatly did I feel the indignities imposed on me by Suwarora.
18th. — To keep the king in good-humour, I now took a table-knife, spoon, and fork to the palace, which, after their several uses were explained, were consigned to his curiosity-box. Still Rumanika could not understand how it was I spent so much and travelled so far, or how it happened such a great country as ours could be ruled by a woman. He asked the Queen’s name, how many children she had, and the mode of succession; then, when fully satisfied, led the way to show me what his father Dagara had done when wishing to know of what the centre of the earth was composed. At the back of the palace a deep ditch was cut, several yards long, the end of which was carried by a subterranean passage into the palace, where it was ended off with a cavern led into by a very small aperture. It then appeared that Dagara, having failed, in his own opinion, to arrive any nearer to the object in view, gave the excavating up as a bad job, and turned the cave into a mysterious abode, where it was confidently asserted he spent many days without eating or drinking, and turned sometimes into a young man, and then an old one, alternately, as the humour seized him.
19th to 22d. — On the 19th I went fishing, but without success, for they said the fish would not take in the lake; and on the following day, as Grant’s recovery seemed hopeless, for a long time at least, I went with all the young princes to se what I could do with the hippopotami in the lake, said to inhabit the small island of Conty. The part was an exceedingly merry one. We went off to the island in several canoes, and at once found an immense number of crocodiles basking in the sun, but not a single hippopotamus was in sight. The princes then, thinking me “green” at this kind of sport, said the place was enchanted, but I need not fear, for they would bring them out to my feet by simply calling out certain names, and this was no sooner done than four old and one young one came immediately in font of us. It seemed quite a sin to touch them, they looked all so innocent; but as the king wanted to try me again, I gave one a ball on the head which sent him under, never again to be seen, for on the 22nd, by which time I supposed he ought to have risen inflated with gases, the king sent out his men to look out for him; but they returned to say, that whilst all the rest were in the old place, that one, in particular, could not be found.
On this K’yengo, who happened to be present whilst our interview lasted, explained that the demons of the deep were annoyed with me for intruding on their preserves, without having the courtesy to commemorate the event by the sacrifice of a goat or a cow. Rumanika then, at my suggestions, gave Nnanaji the revolving pistol I first gave him, but not without a sharp rebuke for his having had the audacity to beg a gun of me in consideration of his being a sportsman. We then went into a discourse on astrology, when the intelligent Rumanika asked me if the same sun we saw one day appeared again, or whether fresh suns came every day, and whether or not the moon made different faces, to laugh at us mortals on earth.
23d and 24th. — This day was spent by the king introducing me to his five fat wives, to show with what esteem he was held by all the different kings of the countries surrounding. From Mpororo — which, by the by, is a republic — he was wedded to Kaogez, the daughter of Kahaya, who is the greatest chief in the country; from Unyoro he received Kauyangi, Kamrasi’s daughter; from Nkole, Kambiri, the late Kasiyonga’s daughter; from Utumbi, Kirangu, the late Kiteimbua’s daughter; and lastly, the daughter of Chiuarungi, his head cook.
After presenting Rumanika with an india-rubber band — which, as usual, amused him immensely — for the honour he had done me in showing me his wives, a party of Waziwa, who had brought some ivory from Kidi, came to pay their respects to him. On being questioned by me, they said that they once saw some men like my Wanguana there; they had come from the north to trade, but, though they carried firearms, they were all killed by the people of Kidi. This was famous; it corroborated what I knew, but could not convince others of — that traders could find their way up to Kidi by the Nile. It in a manner explained also how it was that Kamrasi, some years before, had obtained some pink beads, of a variety the Zanzibar merchants had never thought of bringing into the country. Bombay was now quite convinced, and we all became transported with joy, until Rumanika, reflecting on the sad state of Grant’s leg, turned that joy into grief by saying that the rules of Uganda are so strict, that no one who is sick could enter the country. “To show,” he said, “how absurd they are, your donkey would not be permitted because he has no trousers; and you even will have to put on a gown, as your unmentionables will be considered indecorous.” I now asked Rumanika if he would assist me in replenishing my fast-ebbing store of beads, by selling tusks to the Arabs at Kufro, when for every 35lb. weight I would give him 50 dollars by orders on Zanzibar, and would insure him from being cheated, by sending a letter of advice to our Consul residing there. At first he demurred, on the high-toned principle that he could not have any commercial dealings with myself; but, at the instigation of Bombay and Baraka, who viewed it in its true character, as tending merely to assist my journey in the best manner he could, without any sacrifice to dignity, he eventually yielded, and, to prove his earnestness, sent me a large tusk, with a notice that his ivory was not kept in the palace, but with his officers, and as soon as they could collect it, so soon I should get it.
Rumanika, on hearing that it was our custom to celebrate the birth of our Saviour with a good feast of beef, sent us an ox. I immediately paid him a visit to offer the compliments of the season, and at the same time regretted, much to his amusement, that he, as one of the old stock of Abyssinians, who are the oldest Christians on record, should have forgotten this rite; but I hoped the time would come when, by making it known that his tribe had lapsed into a state of heathenism, white teachers would be induced to set it all to rights again. At this time some Wahaiya traders (who had been invited at my request by Rumanika) arrived. Like the Waziwa, they had traded with Kidi, and they not only confirmed what the Waziwa had said, but added that, when trading in those distant parts, they heard of Wanguana coming in vessels to trade to the north of Unyoro; but the natives there were so savage, they only fought with these foreign traders. A man of Ruanda now informed us that the cowrie-shells, so plentiful in that country, come there from the other or western side, but he could not tell whence they were originally obtained. Rumanika then told me Suwarora had been so frightened by the Watuta, and their boastful threats to demolish Usui bit by bit, reserving him only as a tit-bit for the end, that he wanted a plot of ground in Karague to preserve his property in.
26th, 27th, and 28th. — Some other travellers from the north again informed us that they had heard of Wanguana who attempted to trade in Gani and Chopi, but were killed by the natives. I now assured Rumanika that in two or three years he would have a greater trade with Egypt than he ever could have with Zanzibar; for when I opened the road, all those men he heard of would swarm up here to visit him. He, however, only laughed at my folly in proposing to go to a place of which all I heard was merely that every stranger who went there was killed. He began to show a disinclination to allow my going there, and though from the most friendly intention, this view was alarming, for one word from him could have ruined my projects. As it was, I feared my followers might take fright and refuse to advance with me. I thought it good policy to talk of there being many roads leading through Africa, so that Rumanika might see he had not got, as he thought, the sole key to the interior. I told him again of certain views I once held of coming to see him from the north up the Nile, and from the east through the Masai. He observed that, “To open either of those routes, you would require at least two hundred guns.” He would, however, do something when we returned from Uganda; for as Mtesa followed his advice in everything, so did Kamrasi, for both held the highest opinion of him.
The conversation then turning on London, and the way men and carriages moved up the streets like strings of ants on their migrations, Rumanika said the villages in Ruanda were of enormous extent, and the people great sportsmen, for they turned out in multitudes, with small dogs on whose necks were tied bells, and blowing horns themselves, to hunt leopards. They were, however, highly superstitious, and would not allow any strangers to enter their country; for some years ago, when Arabs went there, a great drought and famine set in, which they attributed to evil influences brought by them, and, turning them out of their country, said they would never admit any of their like amongst them again. I said, in return, I thought his Wanyambo just as superstitious, for I observed, whilst walking one day, that they had placed a gourd on the path, and on inquiry found they had done so to gain the sympathy of all passers-by to their crop close at hand, which was blighted, imagining that the voice of the sympathiser heard by the spirits would induce them to relent, and restore a healthy tone to the crop.
During this time an interesting case was brought before us for judgment. Two men having married one woman, laid claim to her child, which, as it was a male one, belonged to the father. Baraka was appointed the umpire, and immediately comparing the infant’s face with those of its claimants, gave a decision which all approved of but the loser. It was pronounced amidst peals of laughter from my men; for whenever any little excitement is going forward, the Wanguana all rush to the scene of action to give their opinions, and joke over it afterwards.
29th and 30th. — On telling Rumanika this story next morning, he said, “Many funny things happen in Karague”; and related some domestic incidents, concluding with the moral that “Marriage in Karague was a mere matter of money.” Cows, sheep, and slaves have to be given to the father for the value of his daughter; but if she finds she has made a mistake, she can return the dowry-money, and gain her release. The Wahuma, although they keep slaves and marry with pure negroes, do not allow their daughters to taint their blood by marrying out of their clan. In warfare it is the rule that the Wahinda, or princes, head their own soldiers, and set them the example of courage, when, after firing a few arrows, they throw their bows away, and close at once with their spears and assages. Life is never taken in Karague, either for murder or cowardice, as they value so much their Wahuma breed; but, for all offences, fines of cows are exacted according to the extent of the crime.
31st. — Ever proud of his history since I had traced his descent from Abyssinia and King David, whose hair was as straight as my own, Rumanika dwelt on my theological disclosures with the greatest delight, and wished to know what difference existed between the Arabs and ourselves; to which Baraka replied, as the best means of making him understand, that whilst the Arabs had only one Book, we had two; to which I added, Yes, that is true in a sense; but the real merits lie in the fact that we have got the better BOOK, as may be inferred from the obvious fact that we are more prosperous, and their superiors in all things, as I would prove to him if he would allow me to take one of his sons home to learn that BOOK; for then he would find his tribe, after a while, better off than the Arabs are. Much delighted, he said he would be very glad to give me two boys for that purpose.
Then, changing the subject, I pressed Rumanika, as he said he had no idea of a God or future state, to tell me what advantage he expected from sacrificing a cow yearly at his father’s grave. He laughingly replied he did not know, but he hoped he might be favoured with better crops if he did so. He also place pombe and grain, he said, for the same reason, before a large stone on the hillside, although it could not eat, or make any use of it; but the coast-men were of the same belief as himself, and so were all the natives. No one in Africa, as far as he knew, doubted the power of magic and spells; and if a fox barked when he was leading an army to battle, he would retire at once, knowing that this prognosticated evil. There were many other animals, and lucky and unlucky birds, which all believed in.
I then told him it was fortunate he had no disbelievers like us to contend with in battle, for we, instead of trusting to luck and such omens, put our faith only in skill and pluck, which Baraka elucidated from his military experience in the wars in British India. Lastly, I explained to him how England formerly was as unenlightened as Africa, and believing in the same sort of superstitions, and the inhabitants were all as naked as his skin-wearing Wanyambo; but now, since they had grown wiser, and saw through such impostures, they were the greatest men in the world. He said, for the future he would disregard what the Arabs said, and trust to my doctrines, for without doubt he had never seen such a wise man as myself; and the Arabs themselves confirmed this when they told him that all their beads and cloths came from the land of the Wazungu, or white men.
1st, 2d, and 3d. — The new year was ushered in by the most exciting intelligence, which drove us half wild with delight, for we fully believed Mr Petherick was indeed on his road up the Nile, endeavouring to meet us. It was this:— An officer of Rumanika’s, who had been sent four years before on a mission to Kamrasi, had just then returned with a party of Kamrasi’s who brought ivory for sale to the Arabs at Kufro, along with a vaunting commission to inform Rumanika that Kamrasi had foreign visitors as well as himself. They had not actually come into Unyoro, but were in his dependency, the country of Gani, coming up the Nile in vessels. They had been attacked by the Gani people, and driven back with considerable loss both of men and property, although they were in sailing vessels, and fired guns which even broke down the trees on the banks. Some of their property had been brought to him, and he in return had ordered his subjects not to molest them, but allow them to come on to him. Rumanika enjoyed this news as much as myself, especially when I told him of Petherick’s promise to meet us, just as these men said he was trying to do; and more especially so, when I told him that if he would assist me in trying to communicate with Petherick, the latter would either come here himself, or send one of his men, conveying a suitable present, whilst I was away in Uganda; and then in the end we would all go off to Kamrasi’s together.
4th. — Entering warmly into the spirit of this important intelligence, Rumanika inquired into its truth; and, finding no reason to doubt it, said he would send some men back with Kamrasi’s men, if I could have patience until they were ready to go. There would be no danger, as Kamrasi was his brother-in-law, and would do all that he told him.
I now proposed to send Baraka, who, ashamed to cry off, said he would go with Rumanika’s officers if I allowed him a companion of his own choosing, who would take care of him if he got sick on the way, otherwise he should be afraid they would leave him to die, like a dog, in the jungles. We consoled him by assenting to the companion he wished, and making Rumanika responsible that no harm should come to him from any of the risks which his imagination conjured up. Rumanika then gave him and Uledi, his selected companion, some sheets of mbugu, in order that they might disguise themselves as his officers whilst crossing the territories of the king of Uganda. On inquiring as to the reason of this, it transpired that, to reach Unyoro, the party would have to cross a portion of Uddu, which the late king Sunna, on annexing that country to Uganda, had divided, not in halves, but by alternate bands running transversely from Nkole to the Victoria N’yanza.
5th and 6th. — To keep Rumanika up to the mark, I introduced to him Saidi, one of my men, who was formerly a slave, captured in Walamo, on the borders of Abyssinia, to show him, by his similarity to the Wahuma, how it was I had come to the conclusion that he was of the same race. Saidi told him his tribe kept cattle with the same stupendous horns as those of the Wahuma; and also that, in the same manner, they all mixed blood and milk for their dinners, which, to his mind, confirmed my statement. At night, as there was a partial eclipse of the moon, all the Wanguana marched up and down from Rumanika’s to Nnanaji’s huts, singing and beating our tin cooking-pots to frighten off the spirit of the sun from consuming entirely the chief object of reverence, the moon.
7th. — Our spirits were now further raised by the arrival of a semi-Hindu–Suahili, named Juma, who had just returned from a visit to the king of Uganda, bringing back with him a large present of ivory and slaves; for he said he had heard from the king of our intention to visit him, and that he had despatched officers to call us immediately. This intelligence delighted Rumanika as much as it did us, and he no sooner heard it than he said, with ecstasies, “I will open Africa, since the white men desire it; for did not Dagara command us to show deference to strangers?” Then, turning to me, he added, “My only regret is, you will not take something as a return for the great expenses you have been put to in coming to visit me.” The expense was admitted, for I had now been obliged to purchase from the Arabs upwards of £400 worth of beads, to keep such a store in reserve for my return from Uganda as would enable me to push on to Gondokoro. I thought this necessary, as every report that arrived from Unyamuezi only told us of further disasters with the merchants in that country. Sheikh Said was there even then, with my poor Hottentots, unable to convey my post to the coast.
8th to 10th. — At last we heard the familiar sound of the Uganda drum. Maula, a royal officer, with a large escort of smartly-dressed men, women, and boys, leading their dogs and playing their reeds, announced to our straining ears the welcome intelligence that their king had sent them to call us. N’yamgundu, who had seen us in Usui, had marched on to inform the king of our advance and desire to see him; and he, intensely delighted at the prospect of having white men for his guests, desired no time should be lost in our coming on. Maula told us that his officers had orders to supply us with everything we wanted whilst passing through his country, and that there would be nothing to pay.
One thing only now embarrassed me — Grant was worse, without hope of recovery for at least one or two months. This large body of Waganda could not be kept waiting. To get on as fast as possible was the only chance of ever bringing the journey to a successful issue; so, unable to help myself, with great remorse at another separation, on the following day I consigned my companion, with several Wanguana, to the care of my friend Rumanika. I then separated ten loads of beads and thirty copper wires for my expenses in Uganda; wrote a letter to Petherick, which I gave to Baraka; and gave him and his companion beads to last as money for six months, and also a present both for Kamrasi and the Gani chief. To Nsangez I gave charge of my collections in natural history, and the reports of my progress, addressed to the Geographical Society, which he was to convey to Sheikh Said at Kaze, for conveyance as far as Zanzibar.
This business concluded in camp, I started my men and went to the palace to bid adieu to Rumanika, who appointed Rozaro, one of his officers, to accompany me wherever I went in Uganda, and to bring me back safely again. At Rumanika’s request I then gave Mtesa’s pages some ammunition to hurry on with to the great king of Uganda, as his majesty had ordered them to bring him, as quickly as possible, some strengthening powder, and also some powder for his gun. Then, finally, to Maula, also under Rumanika’s instructions, I gave two copper wires and five bundles of beads; and, when all was completed, set out on the march, perfectly sure in my mind that before very long I should settle the great Nile problem for ever; and, with this consciousness, only hoping that Grant would be able to join me before I should have to return again, for it was never supposed for a moment that it was possible I ever could go north from Uganda. Rumanika was the most resolute in this belief, as the kings of Uganda, ever since that country was detached from Unyoro, had been making constant raids, seizing cattle and slaves from the surrounding communities.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55