Departure from Unyanyembe. — The expedition reorganized.-Bombay. — Mr. Shaw returns sick to Unyanyembe. — A noble forest.-The fever described. — Happiness of the camp. — A park-land. — Herds of game and noble sport. — A mutiny. — Punishment of the ringleaders. Elephants. — Arrival at Mrera
The 20th of September had arrived. This was the day I had decided to cut loose from those who tormented me with their doubts, their fears, and beliefs, and commence the march to Ujiji by a southern route. I was very weak from the fever that had attacked me the day before, and it was a most injudicious act to commence a march under such circumstances. But I had boasted to Sheikh bin Nasib that a white man never breaks his word, and my reputation as a white man would have been ruined had I stayed behind, or postponed the march, in consequence of feebleness.
I mustered the entire caravan outside the tembe, our flags and streamers were unfurled, the men had their loads resting on the walls, there was considerable shouting, and laughing, and negroidal fanfaronnade. The Arabs had collected from curiosity’s sake to see us off — all except Sheikh bin Nasib, whom I had offended by my asinine opposition to his wishes. The old Sheikh took to his bed, but sent his son to bear me a last morsel of Philosophic sentimentality, which I was to treasure up as the last words of the patriarchal Sheikh, the son of Nasib, the son of Ali, the son of Sayf. Poor Sheikh! if thou hadst only known what was at the bottom of this stubbornness — this ass-like determination to proceed the wrong way — what wouldst thou then have said, 0 Sheikh? But the Sheikh comforted himself with the thought that I might know what I was about better than he did, which is most likely, only neither he nor any other Arab will ever know exactly the motive that induced me to march at all westward — when the road to the east was ever so much easier.
My braves whom I had enlisted for a rapid march somewhere, out of Unyanyembe, were named as follows:—
1. John William Shaw, London, England.
2. Selim Heshmy, Arab.
3. Seedy Mbarak Mombay, Zanzibar.
4. Mabruki Spoke, ditto.
5. Ulimengo, ditto
6. Ambari, ditto.
7. Uledi, ditto.
8. Asmani, ditto.
9. Sarmean, ditto.
10. Kamna, ditto.
11. Zaidi, ditto.
12. Khamisi, ditto.
13. Chowpereh, Bagamoyo.
14. Kingaru, ditto.
15. Belali, ditto.
16. Ferous, Unyanyembe.
17. Rojab, Bagamoyo.
18. Mabruk Unyanyembe, Unyanyembe.
19. Mtamani, ditto.
20. Chanda, Maroro.
21. Sadala, Zanzibar.
22. Kombo, ditto.
23. Saburi the Great, Maroro.
24. Saburi the Little, ditto.
25. Marora, ditto.
26. Ferajji (the cook), Zanzibar.
27. Mabruk Saleem, Zanzibar.
28. Baraka, ditto.
29. Ibrahim, Maroro.
30. Mabruk Ferous, ditto.
31. Baruti, Bagamoyo.
32. Umgareza, Zanzibar.
33. Hamadi (the guide), ditto.
34. Asmani, ditto, ditto.
35. Mabruk, ditto ditto.
36. Hamdallah (the guide), Tabora.
37. Jumah, Zanzibar.
38. Maganga, Mkwenkwe.
39. Muccadum, Tabora.
40. Dasturi, ditto.
41. Tumayona, Ujiji.
42. Mparamoto, Ujiji.
43. Wakiri, ditto.
44. Mufu, ditto.
45. Mpepo, ditto.
46. Kapingu, Ujiji.
47. Mashishanga, ditto.
48. Muheruka, ditto.
49. Missossi, ditto.
50. Tufum Byah, ditto.
51. Majwara (boy), Uganda.
52. Belali (boy), Uemba.
53. Kalulu (boy), Lunda.
54. Abdul Kader (tailor), Malabar.
These are the men and boys whom I had chosen to be my companions on the apparently useless mission of seeking for the lost traveller, David Livingstone. The goods with which I had burdened them, consisted of 1,000 doti, or 4,000 yds. of cloth, six bags of beads, four loads of ammunition, one tent, one bed and clothes, one box of medicine, sextant and books, two loads of tea, coffee, and sugar, one load of flour and candles, one load of canned meats, sardines, and miscellaneous necessaries, and one load of cooking utensils.
The men were all in their places except Bombay. Bombay had gone; he could not be found. I despatched a man to hunt him up. He was found weeping in the arms of his Delilah.
“Why did you go away, Bombay, when you knew I intended to go, and was waiting?”
“Oh, master, I was saying good-bye to my missis.”
“ Oh, indeed?”
“Yes, master; you no do it, when you go away?
“Oh! all right.”
“What is the matter with you, Bombay?”
As I saw he was in a humour to pick a quarrel with me before those Arabs who had congregated outside of my tembe to witness my departure; and as I was not in a humour to be balked by anything that might turn up, the consequence was, that I was obliged to thrash Bombay, an operation which soon cooled his hot choler, but brought down on my head a loud chorus of remonstrances from my pretended Arab friends — “Now, master, don’t, don’t — stop it, master: the poor man knows better than you what he and you may expect on the road you are now taking.”
If anything was better calculated to put me in a rage than Bombay’s insolence before a crowd it was this gratuitous interference with what I considered my own especial business; but I restrained myself, though I told them, in a loud voice, that I did not choose to be interfered with, unless they wished to quarrel with me.
“No, no, bana,” they all exclaimed; “we do not wish to quarrel with you. In the name of God! go on your way in peace.”
“Fare you well, then,” said I, shaking hands with them.
“Farewell, master, farewell. We wish you, we are sure, all success, and God be with you, and guide you!”
A parting salute was fired; the flags were raised up by the guides, each pagazi rushed for his load, and in a short time, with songs and shouts, the head of the Expedition had filed round the western end of my tembe along the road to Ugunda.
“Now, Mr. Shaw, I am waiting, sir. Mount your donkey, if you cannot walk.”
“Please, Mr. Stanley, I am afraid I cannot go.”
“I don’t know, I am sure. I feel very weak.”
“So am I weak. It was but late last night, as you know, that the fever left me. Don’t back out before these Arabs; remember you are a white man. Here, Selim, Mabruki, Bombay, help Mr. Shaw on his donkey, and walk by him.”
“Oh, bana, bans,” said the Arabs, “don’t take him. Do you not see he is sick? ”
“ You keep away; nothing will prevent me from taking him. He shall go.”
“Go on, Bombay.”
The last of my party had gone. The tembe, so lately a busy scene, had already assumed a naked, desolate appearance. I turned towards the Arabs, lifted my hat, and said again, “Farewell,” then faced about for the south, followed by my four young gun-bearers, Selim, Kalulu, Majwara, and Belali.
After half an hour’s march the scenery became more animated. Shaw began to be amused. Bombay had forgotten our quarrel, and assured me, if I could pass Mirambo’s country, I should “catch the Tanganika;” Mabruki Burton also believed we should. Selim was glad to leave Unyanyembe, where he had suffered so much from fever; and there was a something in the bold aspect of the hills which cropped upward — above fair valleys, that enlivened and encouraged me to proceed.
In an hour and a half, we arrived at our camp in the Kinyamwezi village of Mkwenkwe, the birthplace — of our famous chanter Maganga.
My tent was pitched, the goods were stored in one of the tembes; but one-half the men had returned to Kwihara, to take one more embrace of their wives and concubines.
Towards night I was attacked once again with the intermittent fever. Before morning it had departed, leaving me terribly prostrated with weakness. I had heard the men conversing with each other over their camp-fires upon the probable prospects of the next day. It was a question with them whether I should continue the march. Mostly all were of opinion that, since the master was sick, there would be no march. A superlative obstinacy, however, impelled me on, merely to spite their supine souls; but when I sallied out of my tent to call them to get ready, I found that at least twenty were missing; and Livingstone’s letter-carrier, “Kaif–Halek” — or, How-do-ye-do? — had not arrived with Dr. Livingstone’s letter-bag.
Selecting twenty of the strongest and faithfulest men I despatched them back to Unyanyembe in search of the missing men; and Selim was sent to Sheikh bin Nasib to borrow, or buy, a long slave-chain.
Towards night my twenty detectives returned with nine of the missing men. The Wajiji had deserted in a body, and they could not be found. Selim also returned with a strong chain, capable of imprisoning within the collars attached to it at least ten men. Kaif–Halek also appeared with the letter-bag which he was to convey to Livingstone under my escort. The men were then addressed, and the slave-chain exhibited to them. I told them that I was the first white man who had taken a slave-chain with him on his travels; but, as they were all so frightened of accompanying me, I was obliged to make use of it, as it was the only means of keeping them together. The good need never fear being chained by me — only the deserters, the thieves, who received their hire and presents, guns and ammunition, and then ran away.
I would not put any one this time in chains; but whoever deserted after this day, I should halt, and not continue the march till I found him, after which he should march to Ujiji with the slave-chain round his neck. “Do you hear?” — “Yes,” was the answer. “Do you understand?” — ” Yes.”
We broke up camp at 6 P.M., and took the road for Inesuka, at which place we arrived at 8 P.M.
When we were about commencing the march the next morning, it was discovered that two more had deserted. Baraka and Bombay were at once despatched to Unyanyembe to bring back the two missing men — Asmani and Kingaru — with orders not to return without them. This was the third time that the latter had deserted, as the reader may remember. While the pursuit was being effected we halted at the village of Inesuka, more for the sake of Shaw than any one else.
In the evening the incorrigible deserters were brought back, and, as I had threatened, were well flogged and chained, to secure them against further temptation. Bombay and Baraka had a picturesque story to relate of the capture; and, as I was in an exceedingly good humour, their services were rewarded with a fine cloth each.
On the following morning another carrier had absconded, taking with him his hire of fifteen new cloths and a gun but to halt anywhere near Unyanyembe any longer was a danger that could be avoided only by travelling without stoppages towards the southern jungle-lands. It will be remembered I had in my train the redoubtable Abdul Kader, the tailor, he who had started from Bagamoyo with such bright anticipations of the wealth of ivory to be obtained in the great interior of Africa. On this morning, daunted by the reports of the dangers ahead, Abdul Kader craved to be discharged. He vowed he was sick, and unable to proceed any further. As I was pretty well tired of him, I paid him off in cloth, and permitted him to go.
About half way to Kasegera Mabruk Saleem was suddenly taken sick. I treated him with a grain of calomel, and a couple of ounces of brandy. As he was unable to walk, I furnished him with a donkey. Another man named Zaidi was ill with a rheumatic fever; and Shaw tumbled twice off the animal he was riding, and required an infinite amount of coaxing to mount again. Verily, my expedition was pursued by adverse fortunes, and it seemed as if the Fates had determined upon our return. It really appeared as if everything was going to wreck and ruin. If I were only fifteen days from Unyanyembe, thought I, I should be saved!
Kasegera was a scene of rejoicing the afternoon and evening of our arrival. Absentees had just returned from the coast, and the youths were brave in their gaudy bedizenment, their new barsatis, their soharis, and long cloths of bright new kaniki, with which they had adorned themselves behind some bush before they had suddenly appeared dressed in all this finery. The women “Hi-hi’ed” like maenads, and the “Lu-lu-lu’ing” was loud, frequent, and fervent the whole of that afternoon. Sylphlike damsels looked up to the youthful heroes with intensest admiration on their features; old women coddled and fondled them; staff-using, stooping-backed patriarchs blessed them. This is fame in Unyamwezi! All the fortunate youths had to use their tongues until the wee hours of next morning had arrived, relating all the wonders they had seen near the Great Sea, and in the “Unguja,” the island of Zanzibar; of how they saw great white men’s ships, and numbers of white men, of their perils and trials during their journey through the land of the fierce Wagogo, and divers other facts, with which the reader and I are by this time well acquainted.
On the 24th we struck camp, and marched through a forest of imbiti wood in a S.S.W. direction, and in about three hours came to Kigandu.
On arriving before this village, which is governed by a daughter of Mkasiwa, we were informed we could not enter unless we paid toll. As we would not pay toll, we were compelled to camp in a ruined, rat-infested boma, situated a mile to the left of Kigandu, being well scolded by the cowardly natives for deserting Mkasiwa in his hour of extremity. We were accused of running away from the war.
Almost on the threshold of our camp Shaw, in endeavouring to dismount, lost his stirrups, and fell prone on his face. The foolish fellow actually, laid on the ground in the hot sun a full hour; and when I coldly asked him if he did not feel rather uncomfortable, he sat up, and wept like a child.
“Do you wish to go back, Mr. Shaw?”
“If you please. I do not believe I can go any farther; and if you would only be kind enough, I should like to return very much.”
“Well, Mr. Shaw, I have come to the conclusion that it is best, you should return. My patience is worn out. I have endeavoured faithfully to lift you above these petty miseries which you nourish so devotedly. You are simply suffering from hypochondria. You imagine yourself sick, and nothing, evidently, will persuade you that you are not. Mark my words — to return to Unyanyembe, is to die! Should you happen to fall sick in Kwihara who knows how to administer medicine to you? Supposing you are delirious, how can any of the soldiers know what you want, or what is beneficial and necessary for you? Once again, I repeat, if you return, you die!”
“Ah, dear me; I wish I had never ventured to come! I thought life in Africa was so different from this. I would rather go back if you will permit me.”
The next day was a halt, and arrangements were made for the transportation of Shaw back to Kwihara. A strong litter was made, and four stout pagazis were hired at Kigandu to carry him. Bread was baked, a canteen was filled with cold tea, and a leg of a kid was roasted for his sustenance while on the road.
The night before we parted we spent together. Shaw played some tunes on an accordion which I had purchased for him at Zanzibar; but, though it was only a miserable ten-dollar affair, I thought the homely tunes evoked from the instrument that night were divine melodies. The last tune played before retiring was “Home, sweet Home.”
The morning of the 27th we were all up early: There was considerable vis in our movements. A long, long march lay before us that day; but then I was to leave behind all the sick and ailing. Only those who were healthy, and could march fast and long, were to accompany me. Mabruk Saleem I left in charge of a native doctor, who was to medicate him for a gift of cloth which I gave him in advance.
The horn sounded to get ready. Shaw was lifted in his litter on the shoulders of his carriers. My men formed two ranks; the flags were lifted; and between these two living rows, and under those bright streamers, which were to float over the waters of the Tanganika before he should see them again, Shaw was borne away towards the north; while we filed off to the south, with quicker and more elastic steps, as if we felt an incubus had been taken from us.
We ascended a ridge bristling with syenite boulders of massive size, appearing above a forest of dwarf trees. The view which we saw was similar to that we had often seen elsewhere. An illimitable forest stretching in grand waves far beyond the ken of vision — ridges, forest-clad, rising gently one above another until they receded in the dim purple-blue distance — with a warm haze floating above them, which, though clear enough in our neighbourhood, became impenetrably blue in the far distance. Woods, woods, woods, leafy branches, foliage globes, or parachutes, green, brown, or sere in colour, forests one above another, rising, falling, and receding — a very leafy ocean. The horizon, at all points, presents the same view, there may be an indistinct outline of a hill far away, or here and there a tall tree higher than the rest conspicuous in its outlines against the translucent sky — with this exception it is the same — the same clear sky dropping into the depths of the forest, the same outlines, the same forest, the same horizon, day after day, week after week; we hurry to the summit of a ridge, expectant of a change, but the wearied eyes, after wandering over the vast expanse, return to the immediate surroundings, satiated with the eversameness of such scenes. Carlyle, somewhere in his writings, says, that though the Vatican is great, it is but the chip of an eggshell compared to the star-fretted dome where Arcturus and Orion glance for ever; and I say that, though the grove of Central Park, New York, is grand compared to the thin groves seen in other great cities, that though the Windsor and the New Forests may be very fine and noble in England, yet they are but fagots of sticks compared to these eternal forests of Unyamwezi.
We marched three hours, and then halted for refreshments. I perceived that the people were very tired, not yet inured to a series of long marches, or rather, not in proper trim for earnest, hard work after our long rest in Kwihara. When we resumed our march again there were several manifestations of bad temper and weariness. But a few good-natured remarks about their laziness put them on their mettle, and we reached Ugunda at 2 P.M. after another four hours’ spurt.
Ugunda is a very large village in the district of Ugunda, which adjoins the southern frontier of Unyanyembe. The village probably numbers four hundred families, or two thousand souls. It is well protected by a tall and strong palisade of three-inch timber. Stages have been erected at intervals above the palisades with miniature embrasures in the timber, for the muskets of the sharpshooters, who take refuge within these box-like stages to pick out the chiefs of an attacking force. An inner ditch, with the sand or soil thrown up three or four feet high against the palings, serves as protection for the main body of the defenders, who kneel in the ditch, and are thus enabled to withstand a very large force. For a mile or two outside the village all obstructions are cleared, and the besieged are thus warned by sharp-eyed watchers to be prepared for the defence before the enemy approaches within musket range. Mirambo withdrew his force of robbers from before this strongly-defended village after two or three ineffectual attempts to storm it, and the Wagunda have been congratulating themselves ever since, upon having driven away the boldest marauder that Unyamwezi has seen for generations.
The Wagunda have about three thousand acres under cultivation around their principal village, and this area suffices to produce sufficient grain not only for their own consumption, but also for the many caravans which pass by this way for Ufipa and Marungu.
However brave the Wagunda may be within the strong enclosure with which they have surrounded their principal village, they are not exempt from the feeling of insecurity which fills the soul of a Mnyamwezi during war-time. At this place the caravans are accustomed to recruit their numbers from the swarms of pagazis who volunteer to accompany them to the distant ivory regions south; but I could not induce a soul to follow me, so great was their fear of Mirambo and his Ruga–Raga. They were also full of rumors of wars ahead. It was asserted that Mbogo was advancing towards Ugunda with a thousand Wakonongo, that the Wazavira had attacked a caravan four months previously, that Simba was scouring the country with a band of ferocious mercenaries, and much more of the same nature and to the same intent.
On the 28th we arrived at a small snug village embosomed within the forest called Benta, three hours and a quarter from Ugunda. The road led through the cornfields of the Wagunda, and then entered the clearings around the villages of Kisari, within one of which we found the proprietor of a caravan who was drumming up carriers for Ufipa. He had been halted here two months, and he made strenuous exertions to induce my men to join his caravan, a proceeding that did not tend to promote harmony between us. A few days afterwards I found, on my return, that he had given up the idea of proceeding south. Leaving Kisari, we marched through a thin jungle of black jack, over sun-cracked ground with here and there a dried-up pool, the bottom of which was well tramped by elephant and rhinoceros. Buffalo and zebra tracks were now frequent, and we were buoyed up with the hope that before long we should meet game.
Benta was well supplied with Indian corn and a grain which the natives called choroko, which I take to be vetches. I purchased a large supply of choroko for my own personal use, as I found it to be a most healthy food. The corn was stored on the flat roofs of the tembes in huge boxes made out of the bark of the mtundu-tree. The largest box I have ever seen in Africa was seen here. It might be taken for a Titan’s hat-box; it was seven feet in diameter, and ten feet in height.
On the 29th, after travelling in a S.W. by S. direction, we reached Kikuru. The march lasted for five hours over sun-cracked plains, growing the black jack, and ebony, and dwarf shrubs, above which numerous ant-hills of light chalky-coloured earth appeared like sand dunes.
The mukunguru, a Kisawahili term for fever, is frequent in this region of extensive forests and flat plains, owing to the imperfect drainage provided by nature for them. In the dry season there is nothing very offensive in the view of the country. The burnt grass gives rather a sombre aspect to the country, covered with the hard-baked tracks of animals which haunt these plains during the latter part of the rainy season. In the forest numbers of trees lie about in the last stages of decay, and working away with might and main on the prostrate trunks may be seen numberless insects of various species. Impalpably, however, the poison of the dead and decaying vegetation is inhaled into the system with a result sometimes as fatal as that which is said to arise from the vicinity of the Upas-tree.
The first evil results experienced from the presence of malaria are confined bowels and an oppressive languor, excessive drowsiness, and a constant disposition to yawn. The tongue assumes a yellowish, sickly hue, coloured almost to blackness; even the teeth become yellow, and are coated with an offensive matter. The eyes of the patient sparkle lustrously, and become suffused with water. These are sure symptoms of the incipient fever which shortly will rage through the system.
Sometimes this fever is preceded by a violent shaking fit, during which period blankets may be heaped on the patient’s form, with but little amelioration of the deadly chill he feels. It is then succeeded by an unusuall/y/ severe headache, with excessive pains about the loins and spinal column, which presently will spread over the shoulder-blades, and, running up the neck, find a final lodgment in the back and front of the head. Usually, however, the fever is not preceded by a chill, but after languor and torpitude have seized him, with excessive heat and throbbing temples, the loin and spinal column ache, and raging thirst soon possesses him. The brain becomes crowded with strange fancies, which sometimes assume most hideous shapes. Before the darkened vision of the suffering man, float in a seething atmosphere, figures of created and uncreated reptiles, which are metamorphosed every instant into stranger shapes and designs, growing every moment more confused, more complicated, more hideous and terrible. Unable to bear longer the distracting scene, he makes an effort and opens, his eyes, and dissolves the delirious dream, only, however, to glide again unconsciously into another dream-land where another unreal inferno is dioramically revealed, and new agonies suffered. Oh! the many many hours, that I have groaned under the terrible incubi which the fits of real delirium evoke. Oh! the racking anguish of body that a traveller in Africa must undergo! Oh! the spite, the fretfulness, the vexation which the horrible phantasmagoria of diabolisms induce! The utmost patience fails to appease, the most industrious attendance fails to gratify, the deepest humility displeases. During these terrible transitions, which induce fierce distraction, Job himself would become irritable, insanely furious, and choleric. A man in such a state regards himself as the focus of all miseries. When recovered, he feels chastened, becomes urbane and ludicrously amiable, he conjures up fictitious delights from all things which, but yesterday, possessed for him such awful portentous aspects. His men he regards with love and friendship; whatever is trite he views with ecstasy. Nature appears charming; in the dead woods and monotonous forest his mind becomes overwhelmed with delight. I speak for myself, as a careful analysation of the attack, in all its severe, plaintive, and silly phases, appeared to me. I used to amuse myself with taking notes of the humorous and the terrible, the fantastic and exaggerated pictures that were presented to me — even while suffering the paroxysms induced by fever.
We arrived at a large pool, known as the Ziwani, after a four hours’ march in a S.S.W. direction, the 1st of October. We discovered an old half-burnt khambi, sheltered by a magnificent mkuyu (sycamore), the giant of the forests of Unyamwezi, which after an hour we transformed into a splendid camp.
If I recollect rightly, the stem of the tree measured thirty-eight feet in circumference. It is the finest tree of its kind I have seen in Africa. A regiment might with perfect ease have reposed under this enormous dome of foliage during a noon halt. The diameter of the shadow it cast on the ground was one hundred and twenty feet. The healthful vigor that I was enjoying about this time enabled me to regard my surroundings admiringly. A feeling of comfort and perfect contentment took possession of me, such as I knew not while fretting at Unyanyembe, wearing my life away in inactivity. I talked with my people as to my friends and equals. We argued with each other about our prospects in quite a companionable, sociable vein.
When daylight was dying, and the sun was sinking down rapidly over the western horizon, vividly painting the sky with the colours of gold and silver, saffron, and opal, when its rays and gorgeous tints were reflected upon the tops of the everlasting forest, with the quiet and holy calm of heaven resting upon all around, and infusing even into the untutored minds of those about me the exquisite enjoyments of such a life as we were now leading in the depths of a great expanse of forest, the only and sole human occupants of it — this was the time, after our day’s work was ended, and the camp was in a state of perfect security, when we all would produce our pipes, and could best enjoy the labors which we had performed, and the contentment which follows a work well done.
Outside nothing is heard beyond the cry of a stray florican, or guinea-fowl, which has lost her mate, or the hoarse croaking of the frogs in the pool hard by, or the song of the crickets which seems to lull the day to rest; inside our camp are heard the gurgles of the gourd pipes as the men inhale the blue ether, which I also love. I am contented and happy, stretched on my carpet under the dome of living foliage, smoking my short meerschaum, indulging in thoughts — despite the beauty of the still grey light of the sky; and of the air of serenity which prevails around — of home and friends in distant America, and these thoughts soon change to my work — yet incomplete — to the man who to me is yet a myth, who, for all I know, may be dead, or may be near or far from me tramping through just such a forest, whose tops I see bound the view outside my camp. We are both on the same soil, perhaps in the same forest — who knows? — yet is he to me so far removed that he might as well be in his own little cottage of Ulva. Though I am even now ignorant of his very existence, yet I feel a certain complacency, a certain satisfaction which would be difficult to describe. Why is man so feeble, and weak, that he must tramp, tramp hundreds of miles to satisfy the doubts his impatient and uncurbed mind feels? Why cannot my form accompany the bold flights of my mind and satisfy the craving I feel to resolve the vexed question that ever rises to my lips — “Is he alive?” O soul of mine, be patient, thou hast a felicitous tranquillity, which other men might envy thee! Sufficient for the hour is the consciousness thou hast that thy mission is a holy one! Onward, and be hopeful!
Monday, the 2nd of October, found us traversing the forest and plain that extends from the Ziwani to Manyara, which occupied us six and a half hours. The sun was intensely hot; but the mtundu and miombo trees grew at intervals, just enough to admit free growth to each tree, while the blended foliage formed a grateful shade. The path was clear and easy, the tamped and firm red soil offered no obstructions. The only provocation we suffered was from the attacks of the tsetse, or panga (sword) fly, which swarmed here. We knew we were approaching an extensive habitat of game, and we were constantly on the alert for any specimens that might be inhabiting these forests.
While we were striding onward, at the rate of nearly three miles an hour, the caravan I perceived sheered off from the road, resuming it about fifty yards ahead of something on the road, to which the attention of the men was directed. On coming up, I found the object to be the dead body of a man, who had fallen a victim to that fearful scourge of Africa, the small-pox. He was one of Oseto’s gang of marauders, or guerillas, in the service of Mkasiwa of Unyanyembe, who were hunting these forests for the guerillas of Mirambo. They had been returning from Ukonongo from a raid they had instituted against the Sultan of Mbogo, and they had left their comrade to perish in the road. He had apparently been only one day dead.
Apropos of this, it was a frequent thing with us to discover a skeleton or a skull on the roadside. Almost every day we saw one, sometimes two, of these relics of dead, and forgotten humanity.
Shortly after this we emerged from the forest, and entered a mbuga, or plain, in which we saw a couple of giraffes, whose long necks were seen towering above a bush they had been nibbling at. This sight was greeted with a shout; for we now knew we had entered the game country, and that near the Gombe creek, or river, where we intended to halt, we should see plenty of these animals.
A walk of three hours over this hot plain brought us to the cultivated fields of Manyara. Arriving before the village-gate, we were forbidden to enter, as the country was throughout in a state of war, and it behoved them to be very careful of admitting any party, lest the villagers might be compromised. We were, however, directed to a khambi to the right of the village, near some pools of clear water, where we discovered some half dozen ruined huts, which looked very uncomfortable to tired people.
After we had built our camp, the kirangozi was furnished with some cloths to purchase food from the village for the transit of a wilderness in front of us, which was said to extend nine marches, or 135 miles. He was informed that the Mtemi had strictly prohibited his people from selling any grain whatever.
This evidently was a case wherein the exercise of a little diplomacy could only be effective; because it would detain us several days here, if we were compelled to send men back to Kikuru for provisions. Opening a bale of choice goods, I selected two royal cloths, and told Bombay to carry them to him, with the compliments and friendship of the white man. The Sultan sulkily refused them, and bade him return to the white man and tell him not to bother him. Entreaties were of no avail, he would not relent; and the men, in exceedingly bad temper, and hungry, were obliged to go to bed supperless. The words of Njara, a slave-trader, and parasite of the great Sheikh bin Nasib, recurred to me. “Ah, master, master, you will find the people will be too much for you, and that you will have to return. The Wa-manyara are bad, the Wakonongo are very bad, the Wazavira are the worst of all. You have come to this country at a bad time. It is war everywhere.” And, indeed, judging from the tenor of the conversations around our camp-fires, it seemed but too evident. There was every prospect of a general decamp of all my people. However, I told them not to be discouraged; that I would get food for them in the morning.
The bale of choice cloths was opened again next morning, and four royal cloths were this time selected, and two dotis of Merikani, and Bombay was again despatched, burdened with compliments, and polite words.
It was necessary to be very politic with a man who was so surly, and too powerful to make an enemy of. What if he made up his mind to imitate the redoubtable Mirambo, King of Uyoweh! The effect of my munificent liberality was soon seen in the abundance of provender which came to my camp. Before an hour went by, there came boxes full of choroko, beans, rice, matama or dourra, and Indian corn, carried on the heads of a dozen villagers, and shortly after the Mtemi himself came, followed by about thirty musketeers and twenty spearmen, to visit the first white man ever seen on this road. Behind these warriors came a liberal gift, fully equal in value to that sent to him, of several large gourds of honey, fowls, goats, and enough vetches and beans to supply my men with four days’ food.
I met the chief at the gate of my camp, and bowing profoundly, invited him to my tent, which I had arranged as well as my circumstances would permit, for this reception. My Persian carpet and bear skin were spread out, and a broad piece of bran-new crimson cloth covered my kitanda, or bedstead.
The chief, a tall robust man, and his chieftains, were invited to seat themselves. They cast a look of such gratified surprise at myself, at my face, my clothes, and guns, as is almost impossible to describe. They looked at me intently for a few seconds, and then at each other, which ended in an uncontrollable burst of laughter, and repeated snappings of the fingers. They spoke the Kinyamwezi language, and my interpreter Maganga was requested to inform the chief of the great delight I felt in seeing them. After a short period expended in interchanging compliments, and a competitive excellence at laughing at one another, their chief desired me to show him my guns. The “sixteen-shooter,” the Winchester rifle, elicited a thousand flattering observations from the excited man; and the tiny deadly revolvers, whose beauty and workmanship they thought were superhuman, evoked such gratified eloquence that I was fain to try something else. The double-barrelled guns fired with heavy charges of power, caused them to jump up in affected alarm, and then to subside into their seats convulsed with laughter. As the enthusiasm of my guests increased, they seized each other’s index fingers, screwed them, and pulled at them until I feared they would end in their dislocation. After having explained to them the difference between white men and Arabs, I pulled out my medicine chest, which evoked another burst of rapturous sighs at the cunning neatness of the array of vials. He asked what they meant.
“Dowa,” I replied sententiously, a word which may be interpreted — medicine.
“Oh-h, oh-h,” they murmured admiringly. I succeeded, before long, in winning unqualified admiration, and my superiority, compared to the best of the Arabs they had seen, was but too evident. “Dowa, dowa,” they added.
“Here,” said I, uncorking a vial of medicinal brandy, “is the Kisungu pombe “ (white man’s beer); “take a spoonful and try it,” at the same time handing it.
“Hacht, hacht, oh, hacht,! what! eh! what strong beer the white men have! Oh, how my throat burns!”
“Ah, but it is good,” said I, “a little of it makes men feel strong, and good; but too much of it makes men bad, and they die.”
“Let me have some,” said one of the chiefs; “and me,” “ and me,” “and me,” as soon as each had tasted.
“I next produced a bottle of concentrated ammonia, which as I explained was for snake bites, and head-aches; the Sultan immediately complained he had a head-ache, and must have a little. Telling him to close his eyes, I suddenly uncorked the bottle, and presented it to His Majesty’s nose. The effect was magical, for he fell back as if shot, and such contortions as his features underwent are indescribable. His chiefs roared with laughter, and clapped their hands, pinched each other, snapped their fingers, and committed many other ludicrous things. I verily believe if such a scene were presented on any stage in the world the effect of it would be visible instantaneously on the audience; that had they seen it as I saw it, they would have laughed themselves to hysteria and madness. Finally the Sultan recovered himself, great tears rolling down his cheeks, and his features quivering with laughter, then he slowly uttered the word “kali,” — hot, strong, quick, or ardent medicine. He required no more, but the other chiefs pushed forward to get one wee sniff, which they no sooner had, than all went into paroxysms of uncontrollable laughter. The entire morning was passed in this state visit, to the mutual satisfaction of all concerned. “Oh,” said the Sultan at parting, “these white men know everything, the Arabs are dirt compared to them!”
That night Hamdallah, one of the guides, deserted, carrying with him his hire (27 doti), and a gun. It was useless to follow him in the morning, as it would have detained me many more days than I could afford; but I mentally vowed that Mr. Hamdallah should work out those 27 doti of cloths before I reached the coast.
Wednesday, October 4th, saw us travelling to the Gombe River, which is 4 h. 15 m. march from Manyara.
We had barely left the waving cornfields of my friend Ma-manyara before we came in sight of a herd of noble zebra; two hours afterwards we had entered a grand and noble expanse of park land, whose glorious magnificence and vastness of prospect, with a far-stretching carpet of verdure darkly flecked here and there by miniature clumps of jungle, with spreading trees growing here and there, was certainly one of the finest scenes to be seen in Africa. Added to which, as I surmounted one of the numerous small knolls, I saw herds after herds of buffalo and zebra, giraffe and antelope, which sent the blood coursing through my veins in the excitement of the moment, as when I first landed on African soil. We crept along the plain noiselessly to our camp on the banks of the sluggish waters of the Gombe. ’
Here at last was the hunter’s Paradise! How petty and insignificant appeared my hunts after small antelope and wild boar what a foolish waste of energies those long walks through damp grasses and through thorny jungles! Did I not well remember ’ my first bitter experience in African jungles when in the maritime region! But this — where is the nobleman’s park that can match this scene? Here is a soft, velvety expanse of young grass, grateful shade under those spreading clumps; herds of large and varied game browsing within easy rifle range. Surely I must feel amply compensated now for the long southern detour I have made, when such a prospect as this opens to the view! No thorny jungles and rank smelling swamps are here to daunt the hunter, and to sicken his aspirations after true sport! No hunter could aspire after a nobler field to display his prowess.
Having settled the position of the camp, which overlooked one of the pools found in the depression of the Gombe creek, I took my double-barrelled smooth-bore, and sauntered off to the park-land. Emerging from behind a clump, three fine plump spring-bok were seen browsing on the young grass just within one hundred yards. I knelt down and fired; one unfortunate antelope bounded upward instinctively, and fell dead. Its companions sprang high into the air, taking leaps about twelve feet in length, as if they were quadrupeds practising gymnastics, and away they vanished, rising up like India-rubber balls; until a knoll hid them from view. My success was hailed with loud shouts by the soldiers; who came running out from the camp as soon as they heard the reverberation of the gun, and my gun-bearer had his knife at the beast’s throat, uttering a fervent “Bismillah!” as he almost severed the head from the body.
Hunters were now directed to proceed east and north to procure meat, because in each caravan it generally happens that there are fundi, whose special trade it is to hunt for meat for the camp. Some of these are experts in stalking, but often find themselves in dangerous positions, owing to the near approach necessary, before they can fire their most inaccurate weapons with any certainty.
After luncheon, consisting of spring-bok steak, hot corn-cake, and a cup of delicious Mocha coffee, I strolled towards the south-west, accompanied by Kalulu and Majwara, two boy gun-bearers. The tiny perpusilla started up like rabbits from me as I stole along through the underbrush; the honey-bird hopped from tree to tree chirping its call, as if it thought I was seeking the little sweet treasure, the hiding-place of which it only knew; but no! I neither desired perpusilla nor the honey. I was on the search for something great this day. Keen-eyed fish-eagles and bustards poised on trees above the sinuous Gombe thought, and probably with good reason that I was after them; judging by the ready flight with which both species disappeared as they sighted my approach. Ah, no! nothing but hartebeest, zebra, giraffe, eland, and buffalo this day! After following the Gombe’s course for about a mile, delighting my eyes with long looks at the broad and lengthy reaches of water to which I was so long a stranger, I came upon a scene which delighted the innermost recesses of my soul; five, six, seven, eight, ten zebras switching their beautiful striped bodies, and biting one another, within about one hundred and fifty yards. The scene was so pretty, so romantic, never did I so thoroughly realize that I was in Central Africa. I felt momentarily proud that I owned such a vast domain, inhabited with such noble beasts. Here I possessed, within reach of a leaden ball, any one I chose of the beautiful animals, the pride of the African forests! It was at my option to shoot any of them! Mine they were without money or without price; yet, knowing this, twice I dropped my rifle, loth to wound the royal beasts, but — crack! and a royal one was on his back battling the air with his legs. Ah, it was such a pity! but, hasten, draw the keen sharp-edged knife across the beautiful stripes which fold around the throat; and — what an ugly gash! it is done, and 1 have a superb animal at my feet. Hurrah! I shall taste of Ukonongo zebra to-night.
I thought a spring-bok and zebra enough for one day’s sport, especially after a long march. The Gombe, a long stretch of deep water, winding in and out of green groves, calm, placid, with lotus leaves lightly resting on its: surface, all pretty, picturesque, peaceful as a summer’s dream, looked very inviting for a bath. I sought out the most shady spot under a wide-spreading mimosa, from which the ground sloped smooth as a lawn, to the still, clear water. I ventured to undress, and had already stepped in to my ancles in the water, and had brought my hands together for a glorious dive, when my attention was attracted by an enormously long body which shot into view, occupying the spot beneath the surface that I was about to explore by a “header.” Great heavens, it was a crocodile! I sprang backward instinctively, and this proved my salvation, for the monster turned away with the most disappointed look, and I was left to congratulate myself upon my narrow escape from his jaws, and to register a vow never to be tempted again by the treacherous calm of an African river.
As soon as I had dressed I turned away from the now repulsive aspect of the stream. In strolling through the jungle, towards my camp, I detected the forms of two natives looking sharply about them, and, after bidding my young attendants to preserve perfect quiet, I crept on towards them, and, by the aid of a thick clump of underbush, managed to arrive within a few feet of the natives undetected. Their mere presence in the immense forest, unexplained, was a cause of uneasiness in the then disturbed state of the country, and my intention was to show myself suddenly to them, and note its effect, which, if it betokened anything hostile to the Expedition, could without difficulty be settled at once, with the aid of my double-barrelled smooth-bore.
As I arrived on one side of this bush, the two suspicious-looking natives arrived on the other side, and we were separated by only a few feet. I made a bound, and we were face to face. The natives cast a glance at the sudden figure of a white man, and seemed petrified for a moment, but then, recovering themselves, they shrieked out, “Bana, bana, you don’t know us. We are Wakonongo, who came to your camp to accompany you to Mrera, and we are looking for honey.”
“Oh, to be sure, you are the Wakonongo. Yes — Yes. Ah, it is all right now, I thought you might be Ruga–Ruga.”
So the two parties, instead of being on hostile terms with each other, burst out laughing. The Wakonongo enjoyed it very much, and laughed heartily as they proceeded on their way to search for the wild honey. On a piece of bark they carried a little fire with which they smoked the bees out from their nest in the great mtundu-trees.
The adventures of the day were over; the azure of the sky had changed to a dead grey; the moon was appearing just over the trees; the water of the Gombe was like a silver belt; hoarse frogs bellowed their notes loudly by the margin of the creek; the fish-eagles uttered their dirge-like cries as they were perched high on the tallest tree; elands snorted their warning to the herds in the forest; stealthy forms of the carnivora stole through the dark woods outside of our camp. Within the high inclosure of bush and thorn, which we had raised around our camp, all was jollity, laughter, and radiant, genial comfort. Around every camp-fire dark forms of men were seen squatted: one man gnawed at a luscious bone; another sucked the rich marrow in a zebra’s leg-bone; another turned the stick, garnished with huge kabobs, to the bright blaze; another held a large rib over a flame; there were others busy stirring industriously great black potfuls of ugali, and watching anxiously the meat simmering, and the soup bubbling, while the fire-light flickered and danced bravely, and cast a bright glow over the naked forms of the men, and gave a crimson tinge to the tall tent that rose in the centre of the camp, like a temple sacred to some mysterious god; the fires cast their reflections upon the massive arms of the trees, as they branched over our camp, and, in the dark gloom of their foliage, the most fantastic shadows were visible. Altogether it was a wild, romantic, and impressive scene. But little recked my men for shadows and moonlight, for crimson tints, and temple-like tents — they were all busy relating their various experiences, and gorging themselves with the rich meats our guns had obtained for us. One was telling how he had stalked a wild boar, and the furious onset the wounded animal made on him, causing him to drop his gun, and climb a tree, and the terrible grunt of the beast he well remembered, and the whole welkin rang with the peals of laughter which his mimic powers evoked. Another had shot a buffalo-calf, and another had bagged a hartebeest; the Wakonongo related their laughable rencontre with me in the woods, and were lavish in their description of the stores of honey to be found in the woods; and all this time Selim and his youthful subs were trying their sharp teeth on the meat of a young pig which one of the hunters had shot, but which nobody else would eat, because of the Mohammedan aversion to pig, which they had acquired during their transformation from negro savagery to the useful docility of the Zanzibar freed-man.
We halted the two following days, and made frequent raids on the herds of this fine country. The first day I was fairly successful again in the sport. I bagged a couple of antelopes, a kudu (A. strepsiceros) with fine twisting horns, and a pallah-buck (A. melampus), a reddish-brown animal, standing about three and a half feet, with broad posteriors. I might have succeeded in getting dozens of animals had I any of those accurate, heavy rifles manufactured by Lancaster, Reilly, or Blissett, whose every shot tells. But my weapons, save my light smoothbore, were unfit for African game. My weapons were more for men. With the Winchester rifle, and the Starr’s carbine, I was able to hit anything within two hundred yards, but the animals, though wounded, invariably managed to escape the knife, until I was disgusted with the pea-bullets. What is wanted for this country is a heavy bore — No. 10 or 12 is the real bone-crusher — that will drop every animal shot in its tracks, by which all fatigue and disappointment are avoided. Several times during these two days was I disappointed after most laborious stalking and creeping along the ground. Once I came suddenly upon an eland while I had a Winchester rifle in my hand — the eland and myself mutually astonished — at not more than twenty-five yards apart. I fired at its chest, and bullet, true to its aim, sped far into the internal parts, and the blood spouted from the wound: in a few minutes he was far away, and I was too much disappointed to follow him. All love of the chase seemed to be dying away before these several mishaps. What were two antelopes for one day’s sport to the thousands that browsed over the plain?
The animals taken to camp during our three days’ sport were two buffaloes, two wild boar, three hartebeest, one zebra, and one pallah; besides which, were shot eight guinea-fowls, three florican, two fish-eagles, one pelican, and one of the men caught a couple of large silurus fish. In the meantime the people had cut, sliced, and dried this bounteous store of meat for our transit through the long wilderness before us.
Saturday the 7th day of October, we broke up camp, to the great regret of the meat-loving, gormandizing Wangwana. They delegated Bombay early in the morning to speak to me, and entreat of me to stop one day longer. It was ever the case; they had always an unconquerable aversion to work, when in presence of meat. Bombay was well scolded for bearing any such request to me after two days’ rest, during which time they had been filled to repletion with meat. And Bombay was by no means in the best of humour; flesh-pots full of meat were more to his taste than a constant tramping, and its consequent fatigues. I saw his face settle into sulky ugliness, and his great nether lip hanging down limp, which meant as if expressed in so many words, “Well, get them to move yourself, you wicked hard man! I shall not help you.”
An ominous silence followed my order to the kirangozi to sound the horn, and the usual singing and chanting were not heard. The men turned sullenly to their bales, and Asmani, the gigantic guide, our fundi, was heard grumblingly to say he was sorry he had engaged to guide me to the Tanganika. However, they started, though reluctantly. I stayed behind with my gunbearers, to drive the stragglers on. In about half an hour I sighted the caravan at a dead stop, with the bales thrown on the ground, and the men standing in groups conversing angrily and excitedly.
Taking my double-barrelled gun from Selim’s shoulder, I selected a dozen charges of buck-shot, and slipping two of them into the barrels, and adjusting my revolvers in order for handy work, I walked on towards them. I noticed that the men seized their guns, as I advanced. When within thirty yards of the groups, I discovered the heads of two men appear above an anthill on my left, with the barrels of their guns carelessly pointed toward the road.
I halted, threw the barrel of my gun into the hollow of the left hand, and then, taking a deliberate aim at them, threatened to blow their heads off if they did not come forward to talk to me. These two men were, gigantic Asmani and his sworn companion Mabruki, the guides of Sheikh bin Nasib. As it was dangerous not to comply with such an order, they presently came, but, keeping my eye on Asmani, I saw him move his fingers to the trigger of his gun, and bring his gun to a “ready.” Again I lifted my gun, and threatened him with instant death, if he did not drop his gun.
Asmani came on in a sidelong way with a smirking smile on his face, but in his eyes shone the lurid light of murder, as plainly as ever it shone in a villain’s eyes. Mabruki sneaked to my rear, deliberately putting powder in the pan of his musket, but sweeping the gun sharply round, I planted the muzzle of it at about two feet from his wicked-looking face, and ordered him to drop his gun instantly. He let it fall from his hand quickly, and giving him a vigorous poke in the breast with my gun, which sent him reeling away a few feet from me, I faced round to Asmani, and ordered him to put his gun down, accompanying it with a nervous movement of my gun, pressing gently on the trigger at the same time. Never was a man nearer his death than was Asmani during those few moments. I was reluctant to shed his blood, and I was willing to try all possible means to avoid doing so; but if I did not succeed in cowing this ruffian, authority was at an end. The truth was, they feared to proceed further on the road, and the only possible way of inducing them to move was by an overpowering force, and exercise of my power and will in this instance, even though he might pay the penalty of his disobedience with death. As I was beginning to feel that Asmani had passed his last moment on earth, as he was lifting his gun to his shoulder, a form came up from behind him, and swept his gun aside with an impatient, nervous movement, and I heard Mabruki Burton say in horror-struck accents:
“Man, how dare you point your gun, at the master?” Mabruki then threw himself at my feet, and endeavoured to kiss them and entreated me not to punish him. “It was all over now,” he said; “there would be no more quarreling, they would all go as far as the Tanganika, without any more noise; and Inshallah!” said he, “we shall find the old Musungu7 at Ujiji.”
“Speak, men, freedmen, shall we not? — shall we not go to the Tanganika without any more trouble? tell the master with one voice.”
“Ay Wallah! Ay Wallah! Bana yango! Hamuna manneno mgini!” which literally translated means, “Yes by God! Yes by God! my master! There are no other words,” said each man loudly.
“Ask the master’s pardon, man, or go thy way,” said Mabruki peremptorily, to Asmani: which Asmani did, to the gratification of us all.
It remained for me only to extend a general pardon to all except to Bombay and Ambari, the instigators of the mutiny, which was now happily quelled. For Bombay could have by a word, as my captain, nipped all manifestation of bad temper at the outset, had he been so disposed. But no, Bombay was more averse to marching than the cowardliest of his fellows, not because he was cowardly, but because he loved indolence.
Again the word was given to march, and each man, with astonishing alacrity, seized his load, and filed off quickly out of sight.
While on this subject, I may as well give here a sketch of each of the principal men whose names must often appear in the following chapters. According to rank, they consist of Bombay, Mabruki Burton, Asmani the guide, Chowpereh, Ulimengo, Khamisi, Ambari, Jumah, Ferajji the cook, Maganga the Mnyamwezi, Selim the Arab boy, and youthful Kalulu a gunbearer.
Bombay has received an excellent character from Burton and Speke. “Incarnation of honesty” Burton grandly terms him. The truth is, Bombay was neither very honest nor very dishonest, i.e., he did not venture to steal much. He sometimes contrived cunningly, as he distributed the meat, to hide a very large share for his own use. This peccadillo of his did not disturb me much; he deserved as captain a larger share than the others. He required to be closely watched, and when aware that this was the case, he seldom ventured to appropriate more cloth than I would have freely given him, had he asked for it. As a personal servant, or valet, he would have been unexceptionable, but as a captain or jemadar over his fellows, he was out of his proper sphere. It was too much brain-work, and was too productive of anxiety to keep him in order. At times he was helplessly imbecile in his movements, forgot every order the moment it was given him, consistently broke or lost some valuable article, was fond of argument, and addicted to bluster. He thinks Hajji Abdullah one of the wickedest white men born, because he saw him pick up men’s skulls and put them in sacks, as if he was about to prepare a horrible medicine with them. He wanted to know whether his former master had written down all he himself did, and when told that Burton had not said anything, in his books upon the Lake Regions, upon collecting skulls at Kilwa, thought I would be doing a good work if I published this important fact.8 Bombay intends to make a pilgrimage to visit Speke’s grave some day.
8 I find upon returning to England, that Capt. Burton has informed the world of this “wicked and abominable deed,” in his book upon Zanzibar, and that the interesting collection may be seen at the Royal College of Surgeons, London.
Mabruki, “Ras-bukra Mabruki,” Bull-headed Mabruki, as Burton calls him, is a sadly abused man in my opinion. Mabruki, though stupid, is faithful. He is entirely out of his element as valet, he might as well be clerk. As a watchman he is invaluable, as a second captain or fundi, whose duty it is to bring up stragglers, he is superexcellent. He is ugly and vain, but he is no coward.
Asmani the guide is a large fellow, standing over six feet, with the neck and shoulders of a Hercules. Besides being guide, he is a fundi, sometimes called Fundi Asmani, or hunter. A very superstitious man, who takes great care of his gun, and talismanic plaited cord, which he has dipped in the blood of all the animals he has ever shot. He is afraid of lions, and will never venture out where lions are known to be. All other animals he regards as game, and is indefatigable in their pursuit. He is seldom seen without an apologetic or a treacherous smile on his face. He could draw a knife across a man’s throat and still smile.
Chowpereh is a sturdy short man of thirty or thereabouts; very good-natured, and humorous. When Chowpereh speaks in his dry Mark Twain style, the whole camp laughs. I never quarrel with Chowpereh, never did quarrel with him. A kind word given to Chowpereh is sure to be reciprocated with a good deed. He is the strongest, the healthiest, the amiablest, the faithfulest of all. He is the embodiment of a good follower.
Khamisi is a neat, cleanly boy of twenty, or thereabouts, active, loud-voiced, a boaster, and the cowardliest of the cowardly. He will steal at every opportunity. He clings to his gun most affectionately; is always excessively anxious if a screw gets loose, or if a flint will not strike fire, yet I doubt that he would be able to fire his gun at an enemy from excessive trembling. Khamisi would rather trust his safety to his feet, which are small, and well shaped.
Ambari is a man of about forty. He is one of the “Faithfuls” of Speke, and one of my Faithfuls. He would not run away from me except when in the presence of an enemy, and imminent personal danger. He is clever in his way, but is not sufficiently clever to enact the part of captain — could take charge of a small party, and give a very good account of them. Is lazy, and an admirer of good living — abhors marching, unless he has nothing to carry but his gun.
Jumah is the best abused man of the party, because he has old-womanish ways with him, yet in his old-womanish ways he is disposed to do the best he can for me, though he will not carry a pound in weight without groaning terribly at his hard fate. To me he is sentimental and pathetic; to the unimportant members of the caravan he is stern and uncompromising. But the truth is, that I could well dispense with Jumah’s presence: he was one of the incorrigible inutiles, eating far more than he was worth; besides being an excessively grumbling and querulous fool.
Ulimengo, a strong stalwart fellow of thirty, was the maddest and most hare-brained of my party. Though an arrant coward, he was a consummate boaster. But though a devotee of pleasure and fun, he was not averse from work. With one hundred men such as he, I could travel through Africa provided there was no fighting to do. It will be remembered that he was the martial coryphaeus who led my little army to war against Mirambo, chanting the battle-song of the Wangwana; and that I stated, that when the retreat was determined upon, he was the first of my party to reach the stronghold of Mfuto. He is a swift runner, and a fair hunter. I have been indebted to him on several occasions for a welcome addition to my larder.
Ferajji, a former dish-washer to Speke, was my cook. He was promoted to this office upon the defection of Bunder Salaam, and the extreme non-fitness of Abdul Kader. For cleaning dishes, the first corn-cob, green twig, a bunch of leaves or grass, answered Ferajji’s purposes in the absence of a cloth. If I ordered a plate, and I pointed out a black, greasy, sooty thumbmark to him, a rub of a finger Ferajji thought sufficient to remove all objections. If I hinted that a spoon was rather dirty, Ferajji fancied that with a little saliva, and a rub of his loin cloth, the most fastidious ought to be satisfied. Every pound of meat, and every three spoonfuls of musk or porridge I ate in Africa, contained at least ten grains of sand. Ferajji was considerably exercised at a threat I made to him that on arrival at Zanzibar, I would get the great English doctor there to open my stomach, and count every grain of sand found in it, for each grain of which Ferajji should be charged one dollar. The consciousness that my stomach must contain a large number, for which the forfeits would be heavy, made him feel very sad at times. Otherwise, Ferajji was a good cook, most industrious, if not accomplished. He could produce a cup of tea, and three or four hot pancakes, within ten minutes after a halt was ordered, for which I was most grateful, as I was almost always hungry after a long march. Ferajji sided with Baraka against Bombay in Unyoro, and when Speke took Bombay’s side of the question, Ferajji, out of love for Baraka, left Speke’s service, and so forfeited his pay.
Maganga was a Mnyamwezi, a native of Mkwenkwe, a strong, faithful servant, an excellent pagazi, with an irreproachable temper. He it was who at all times, on the march, started the wildly exuberant song of the Wanyamwezi porters, which, no matter how hot the sun, or how long the march, was sure to produce gaiety and animation among the people. At such times all hands sang, sang with voices that could be heard miles away, which made the great forests ring with the sounds, which startled every animal big or little, for miles around. On approaching a village the temper of whose people might be hostile to us, Maganga would commence his song, with the entire party joining in the chorus, by which mode we knew whether the natives were disposed to be friendly or hostile. If hostile, or timid, the gates would at once be closed, and dark faces would scowl at us from the interior; if friendly, they rushed outside of their gates to welcome us, or to exchange friendly remarks.
An important member of the Expedition was Selim, the young Arab. Without some one who spoke good Arabic, I could not have obtained the friendship of the chief Arabs in Unyanyembe; neither could I have well communicated with them, for though I understood Arabic, I could not speak it.
I have already related how Kalulu came to be in my service, and how he came to bear his present name. I soon found how apt and quick he was to learn, in consequence of which, he was promoted to the rank of personal attendant. Even Selim could not vie with Kalulu in promptness and celerity, or in guessing my wants at the table. His little black eyes were constantly roving over the dishes, studying out the problem of what was further necessary, or had become unnecessary.
We arrived at the Ziwani, in about 4 h. 30 m. from the time of our quitting the scene which had well-nigh witnessed a sanguinary conflict. The Ziwani, or pool, contained no water, not a drop, until the parched tongues of my people warned them that they must proceed and excavate for water. This excavation was performed (by means of strong hard sticks sharply pointed) in the dry hard-caked bottom. After digging to a depth of six feet their labours were rewarded with the sight of a few drops of muddy liquid percolating through the sides, which were eagerly swallowed to relieve their raging thirst. Some voluntarily started with buckets, gourds, and canteens south to a deserted clearing called the “Tongoni” in Ukamba, and in about three hours returned with a plentiful supply for immediate use, of good and clear water.
In 1 h. 30 m. we arrived at this Tongoni, or deserted clearing of the Wakamba. Here were three or four villages burnt, and an extensive clearing desolate, the work of the Wa–Ruga-Raga of Mirambo. Those of the inhabitants who were left, after the spoliation and complete destruction of the flourishing settlement, emigrated westerly to Ugara. A large herd of buffalo now slake their thirst at the pool which supplied the villages of Ukamba with water.
Great masses of iron haematite cropped up above the surfaces in these forests. Wild fruit began to be abundant; the wood-apple and tamarind and a small plum-like fruit, furnished us with many an agreeable repast.
The honey-bird is very frequent in these forests of Ukonongo. Its cry is a loud, quick chirrup. The Wakonongo understand how to avail themselves of its guidance to the sweet treasure of honey which the wild bees have stored in the cleft of some great tree. Daily, the Wakonongo who had joined our caravan brought me immense cakes of honey-comb, containing delicious white and red honey. The red honey-comb generally contains large numbers of dead bees, but our exceedingly gluttonous people thought little of these. They not only ate the honey-bees, but they also ate a good deal of the wax.
As soon as the honey-bird descries the traveller, he immediately utters a series of wild, excited cries, hops about from twig to twig, and from branch to branch, then hops to another tree, incessantly repeating his chirruping call. The native, understanding the nature of the little bird, unhesitatingly follows him; but perhaps his steps are too slow for the impatient caller, upon which he flies back, urging him louder, more impatient cries, to hasten, and then darts swiftly forward, as if he would show how quickly he could go to the honey-store, until at last the treasure is reached, the native has applied fire to the bees’ nest, and secured the honey, while the little bird preens himself, and chirrups in triumphant notes, as if he were informing the biped that without his aid he never could have found the honey.
Buffalo gnats and tsetse were very troublesome on this march, owing to the numerous herds of game in the vicinity.
On the 9th of October we made a long march in a southerly direction, and formed our camp in the centre of a splendid grove of trees. The water was very scarce on the road. The Wamrima and Wanyamwezi are not long able to withstand thirst. When water is plentiful they slake their thirst at every stream and pool; when it is scarce, as it is here and in the deserts of Marenga and Magunda Mkali, long afternoon-marches are made; the men previously, however, filling their gourds, so as to enable them to reach the water early next morning. Selim was never able to endure thirst. It mattered not how much of the precious liquid he carried, he generally drank it all before reaching camp, and he consequently suffered during the night. Besides this, he endangered his life by quaffing from every muddy pool; and on this day he began to complain that he discharged blood, which I took to be an incipient stage of dysentery.
During these marches, ever since quitting Ugunda, a favourite topic at the camp-fires were the Wa–Ruga-Ruga, and their atrocities, and a possible encounter that we might have with these bold rovers of the forest. I verily believe that a sudden onset of half a dozen of Mirambo’s people would have set the whole caravan arunning.
We reached Marefu the next day, after a short three hours’ march. We there found an embassy sent by the Arabs of Unyanyembe, to the Southern Watuta, bearing presents of several bales, in charge of Hassan the Mseguhha. This valiant leader and diplomatist had halted here some ten days because of wars and rumours of wars in his front. It was said that Mbogo, Sultan of Mboga in Ukonongo, was at war with the brother of Manwa Sera, and as Mbogo was a large district of Ukonongo only two days’ march from Marefu; fear of being involved in it was deterring old Hassan from proceeding. He advised me also not to proceed, as it was impossible to be able to do so without being embroiled in the conflict. I informed him that I intended to proceed on my way, and take my chances, and graciously offered him my escort as far as the frontier of Ufipa, from which he could easily and safely continue on his way to the Watuta, but he declined it.
We had now been travelling fourteen days in a south-westerly direction, having made a little more than one degree of latitude. I had intended to have gone a little further south, because it was such a good road, also since by going further south we should have labored under no fear of meeting Mirambo; but the report of this war in our front, only two days off, compelled me, in the interest of the Expedition, to strike across towards the Tanganika, an a west-by-north course through the forest, travelling, when it was advantageous, along elephant tracks and local paths. This new plan was adopted after consulting with Asmani, the guide. We were now in Ukonongo, having entered this district when we crossed the Gombe creek. The next day after arriving at Marefu we plunged westward, in view of the villagers, and the Arab ambassador, who kept repeating until the last moment that we should “certainly catch it.”
We marched eight hours through a forest, where the forest peach, or the “mbembu,” is abundant. The tree that bears this fruit is very like a pear-tree, and is very productive. I saw one tree, upon which I estimated there were at least six or seven bushels. I ate numbers of the peaches on this day. So long as this fruit can be produced, a traveller in these regions need not fear starvation.
At the base of a graceful hilly cone we found a village called Utende, the inhabitants of which were in a state of great alarm, as we suddenly appeared on the ridge above them. Diplomacy urged me to send forward a present of one doti to the Sultan, who, however, would not accept it, because he happened to be drunk with pombe, and was therefore disposed to be insolent. Upon being informed that he would refuse any present, unless he received four more cloths, I immediately ordered a strong boma to be constructed on the summits of a little hill, near enough to a plentiful supply of water, and quietly again packed up the present in the bale. I occupied a strategically chosen position, as I could have swept the face of the hill, and the entire space between its base and the village of Watende. Watchmen were kept on the look-out all night; but we were fortunately not troubled until the morning; when a delegation of the principal men came to ask if I intended to depart without having made a present to the chief. I replied to them that I did not intend passing through any country without making friends with the chief; and if their chief would accept a good cloth from me, I would freely give it to him. Though they demurred at the amount of the present at first, the difference between us was finally ended by my adding a fundo of red beads — sami-sami — for the chief’s wife.
From the hill and ridge of Utende sloped a forest for miles and miles westerly, which was terminated by a grand and smooth-topped ridge rising 500 or 600 feet above the plain.
A four hours’ march, on the 12th of October, brought us to a nullah similar to the Gombe, which, during the wet season, flows to the Gombe River, and thence into the Malagarazi River.
A little before camping we saw a herd of nimba, or pallah; I had the good fortune to shoot one, which was a welcome addition to our fast diminishing store of dried meats, prepared in our camp on the Gombe. By the quantity of bois de vaches, we judged buffaloes were plentiful here, as well as elephant and rhinoceros. The feathered species were well represented by ibis, fish-eagles, pelicans, storks, cranes, several snowy spoon-bills, and flamingoes.
From the nullah, or mtoni, we proceeded to Mwaru, the principal village of the district of Mwaru, the chief of which is Ka-mirambo. Our march lay over desolated clearings once occupied by Ka-mirambo’s people, but who were driven away by Mkasiwa some ten years ago, during his warfare against Manwa Sera. Niongo, the brother of the latter, now waging war against Mbogo, had passed through Mwaru the day before we arrived, after being defeated by his enemy.
The hilly ridge that bounded the westward horizon, visible from Utende, was surmounted on this day. The western slope trends south-west, and is drained by the River Mrera, which empties into the Malagarazi River. We perceived the influence of the Tanganika, even here, though we were yet twelve or fifteen marches from the lake. The jungles increased in density, and the grasses became enormously tall; these points reminded us of the maritime districts of Ukwere and Ukami.
We heard from a caravan at this place, just come from Ufipa, that a white man was reported to be in “Urua,” whom I supposed to mean Livingstone.
Upon leaving Mwaru we entered the district of Mrera, a chief who once possessed great power and influence over this region. Wars, however, have limited his possessions to three or four villages snugly embosomed within a jungle, whose outer rim is so dense that it serves like a stone wall to repel invaders. There were nine bleached skulls, stuck on the top of as many poles, before the principal gate of entrance, which told us of existing feuds between the Wakonongo and the Wazavira. This latter tribe dwelt in a country a few marches west of us; whose territory we should have to avoid, unless we sought another opportunity to distinguish ourselves in battle with the natives. The Wazavira, we were told by the Wakonongo of Mrera, were enemies to all Wangwana.
In a narrow strip of marsh between Mwaru and Mrera, we saw a small herd of wild elephants. It was the first time I had ever seen these animals in their native wildness, and my first impressions of them I shall not readily forget. I am induced to think that the elephant deserves the title of “king of beasts.” His huge form, the lordly way in which he stares at an intruder on his domain, and his whole appearance indicative of conscious might, afford good grounds for his claim to that title. This herd, as we passed it at the distance of a mile, stopped to survey the caravan as it passed: and, after having satisfied their curiosity, the elephants trooped into the forest which bounded the marshy plain southward, as if caravans were every-day things to them, whilst they — the free and unconquerable lords of the forest and the marsh — had nothing in common with the cowardly bipeds, who never found courage to face them in fair combat. The destruction which a herd makes in a forest is simply tremendous. When the trees are young whole swathes may be found uprooted and prostrate, which mark the track of the elephants as they “trampled their path through wood and brake.”
The boy Selim was so ill at this place that I was compelled to halt the caravan for him for two days. He seemed to be affected with a disease in the limbs, which caused him to sprawl, and tremble most painfully, besides suffering from an attack of acute dysentery. But constant attendance and care soon brought him round again; and on the third day he was able to endure the fatigue of riding.
I was able to shoot several animals during our stay at Mrera. The forest outside of the cultivation teems with noble animals. Zebra, giraffe, elephant, and rhinoceros are most common; ptarmigan and guinea-fowl were also plentiful.
The warriors of Mrera are almost all armed with muskets, of which they take great care. They were very importunate in their demands for flints, bullets, and powder, which I always made it a point to refuse, lest at any moment a fracas occurring they might use the ammunition thus supplied to my own disadvantage. The men of this village were an idle set, doing little but hunting, gaping, gossiping, and playing like great boys. During the interval of my stay at Mrera I employed a large portion of my time in mending my shoes, and patching up the great rents in my clothes, which the thorn species, during the late marches, had almost destroyed. Westward, beyond Mrera, was a wilderness, the transit of which we were warned would occupy nine days hence arose the necessity to purchase a large supply of grain, which, ere attempting the great uninhabited void in our front, was to be ground and sifted.
Last updated Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 21:30