Our cruise on the Lake Tanganika — Exploration of the north end of the lake — The Rusizi is discovered to enter into the lake — Return to Ujiji.
“I distinctly deny that ‘any misleading by my instructions from the Royal Geographical Society as to the position of the White Nile’ made me unconscious of the vast importance of ascertaining the direction of the Rusizi River. The fact is, we did our best to reach it, and we failed.” — Burton’s Zanzibar.
“The universal testimony of the natives to the Rusizi River being an influent is the most conclusive argument that it does run out of the lake.” — Speke.
“I therefore claim for Lake Tanganika the honour of being the southernmost reservoir of the Nile, until some more positive evidence, by actual observation, shall otherwise determine it.” — Findlay, R.G.S.
Had Livingstone and myself, after making up our minds to visit the northern head of the Lake Tanganika, been compelled by the absurd demands or fears of a crew of Wajiji to return to Unyanyembe without having resolved the problem of the Rusizi River, we had surely deserved to be greeted by everybody at home with a universal giggling and cackling. But Capt. Burton’s failure to settle it, by engaging Wajiji, and that ridiculous savage chief Kannena, had warned us of the negative assistance we could expect from such people for the solution of a geographical problem. We had enough good sailors with us, who were entirely under our commands. Could we but procure the loan of a canoe, we thought all might be well.
Upon application to Sayd bin Majid, he at once generously permitted us to use his canoe for any service for which we might require it. After engaging two Wajiji guides at two doti each, we prepared to sail from the port of Ujiji, in about a week or so after my entrance into Ujiji.
I have already stated how it was that the Doctor and I undertook the exploration of the northern half of the Tanganika and the River Rusizi, about which so much had been said and written.
Before embarking on this enterprise, Dr. Livingstone had not definitely made up his mind which course he should take, as his position was truly deplorable. His servants consisted of Susi, Chumah, Hamoydah, Gardner, and Halimah, the female cook and wife of Hamoydah; to these was added Kaif–Halek, the man whom I compelled to follow me from Unyanyembe to deliver the Livingstone letters to his master.
Whither could Dr. Livingstone march with these few men, and the few table-cloths and beads that remained to him from the store squandered by the imbecile Sherif? This was a puzzling question. Had Dr. Livingstone been in good health, his usual hardihood and indomitable spirit had answered it in a summary way. He might have borrowed some cloth from Sayd bin Majid at an exorbitant price, sufficient to bring him to Unyanyembe and the sea-coast. But how long would he have been compelled to sit down at Ujiji, waiting and waiting for the goods that were said to be at Unyanyembe, a prey to high expectations, hoping day after day that the war would end — hoping week after week to hear that his goods were coming? Who knows how long his weak health had borne up against the several disappointments to which he would be subjected?
Though it was with all due deference to Dr. Livingstone’s vast experience as a traveller, I made bold to suggest the following courses to him, either of which he could adopt:
Ist. To go home, and take the rest he so well deserved and, as he appeared then, to be so much in need of.
2nd. To proceed to Unyanyembe, receive his goods, and enlist pagazis sufficient to enable him to travel anywhere, either to Manyuema or Rua, and settle the Nile problem, which he said he was in a fair way of doing.
3rd. To proceed to Unyanyembe, receive his caravan, enlist men, and try to join Sir Samuel Baker, either by going to Muanza, and sailing through Ukerewe or Victoria N’Yanza in my boats — which I should put up — to Mtesa’s palace at Uganda, thus passing by Mirambo and Swaruru of Usui, who would rob him if he took the usual caravan road to Uganda; thence from Mtesa to Kamrasi, King of Unyoro, where he would of course hear of the great white man who was said to be with a large force of men at Gondokoro.
4th. To proceed to Unyanyembe, receive his caravan, enlist men, and return to Ujiji, and back to Manyuema by way of Uguhha.
5th. To proceed by way of the Rusizi through Ruanda, and so on to Itara, Unyoro, and Baker.
For either course, whichever he thought most expedient, I and my men would assist him as escort and carriers, to the best of our ability. If he should elect to go home, I informed him I should be proud to escort him, and consider myself subject to his commands — travelling only when he desired, and camping only when he gave the word.
6th. The last course which I suggested to him, was to permit me to escort him to Unyanyembe, where he could receive his own goods, and where I could deliver up to him a large supply of first-class cloth and beads, guns and ammunition, cooking utensils, clothing, boats, tents, &c., and where he could rest in a comfortable house, while I would hurry down to the coast, organise a new expedition composed of fifty or sixty faithful men, well armed, by whom I could send an additional supply of needful luxuries in the shape of creature comforts.
After long consideration, he resolved to adopt the last course, as it appeared to him to be the most feasible one, and the best, though he did not hesitate to comment upon the unaccountable apathy of his agent at Zanzibar, which had caused him so much trouble and vexation, and weary marching of hundreds of miles.
Our ship — though nothing more than a cranky canoe hollowed out of a noble mvule tree of Ugoma — was an African Argo bound on a nobler enterprise than its famous Grecian prototype. We were bound upon no mercenary errand, after no Golden Fleece, but perhaps to discover a highway for commerce which should bring the ships of the Nile up to Ujiji, Usowa, and far Marungu. We did not know what we might discover on our voyage to the northern head of the Tanganika; we supposed that we should find the Rusizi to be an effluent of the Tanganika, flowing down to the Albert or the Victoria N’Yanza. We were told by natives and Arabs that the Rusizi ran out of the lake.
Sayd bin Majid had stated that his canoe would carry twenty-five men, and 3,500 lbs. of ivory. Acting upon this information, we embarked twenty-five men, several of whom had stored away bags of salt for the purposes of trade with the natives; but upon pushing off from the shore near Ujiji, we discovered the boat was too heavily laden, and was down to the gunwale. Returning inshore, we disembarked six men, and unloaded the bags of salt, which left us with sixteen rowers, Selim, Ferajji the cook, and the two Wajiji guides.
Having thus properly trimmed our boat we again pushed off, and steered her head for Bangwe Island, which was distant four or five miles from the Bunder of Ujiji. While passing this island the guides informed us that the Arabs and Wajiji took shelter on it during an incursion of the Watuta — which took place some years ago — when they came and invaded Ujiji, and massacred several of the inhabitants. Those who took refuge on the island were the only persons who escaped the fire and sword with which the Watuta had visited Ujiji.
After passing the island and following the various bends and indentations of the shore, we came in sight of the magnificent bay of Kigoma, which strikes one at once as being an excellent harbor from the variable winds which blow over the Tanganika. About 10 A.M. we drew in towards the village of Kigoma, as the east wind was then rising, and threatened to drive us to sea. With those travelling parties who are not in much hurry Kigoma is always the first port for canoes bound north from Ujiji. The next morning at dawn we struck tent, stowed baggage, cooked, and drank coffee, and set off northward again.
The lake was quite calm; its waters, of a dark-green colour, reflected the serene blue sky above. The hippopotami came up to breathe in alarmingly close proximity to our canoe, and then plunged their heads again, as if they were playing hide-and-seek with us. Arriving opposite the high wooded hills of Bemba, and being a mile from shore, we thought it a good opportunity to sound the depth of the water, whose colour seemed to indicate great depth. We found thirty-five fathoms at this place.
Our canoeing of this day was made close inshore, with a range of hills, beautifully wooded and clothed with green grass, sloping abruptly, almost precipitously, into the depths of the fresh-water sea, towering immediately above us, and as we rounded the several capes or points, roused high expectations of some new wonder, or some exquisite picture being revealed as the deep folds disclosed themselves to us. Nor were we disappointed. The wooded hills with a wealth of boscage of beautiful trees, many of which were in bloom, and crowned with floral glory, exhaling an indescribably sweet fragrance, lifting their heads in varied contour — one pyramidal, another a truncated cone; one table-topped, another ridgy, like the steep roof of a church; one a glorious heave with an even outline, another jagged and savage-interested us considerably; and the pretty pictures, exquisitely pretty, at the head of the several bays, evoked many an exclamation of admiration. It was the most natural thing in the world that I should feel deepest admiration for these successive pictures of quiet scenic beauty, but the Doctor had quite as much to say about them as I had myself, though, as one might imagine, satiated with pictures of this kind far more beautiful — far more wonderful — he should long ago have expended all his powers of admiring scenes in nature.
From Bagamoyo to Ujiji I had seen nothing to compare to them — none of these fishing settlements under the shade of a grove of palms and plantains, banians and mimosa, with cassava gardens to the right and left of palmy forests, and patches of luxuriant grain looking down upon a quiet bay, whose calm waters at the early morn reflected the beauties of the hills which sheltered them from the rough and boisterous tempests that so often blew without.
The fishermen evidently think themselves comfortably situated. The lake affords them all the fish they require, more than enough to eat, and the industrious a great deal to sell. The steep slopes of the hills, cultivated by the housewives, contribute plenty of grain, such as dourra and Indian corn, besides cassava, ground-nuts or peanuts, and sweet potatoes. The palm trees afford oil, and the plantains an abundance of delicious fruit. The ravines and deep gullies supply them with the tall shapely trees from which they cut out their canoes. Nature has supplied them bountifully with all that a man’s heart or stomach can desire. It is while looking at what seems both externally and internally complete and perfect happiness that the thought occurs — how must these people sigh, when driven across the dreary wilderness that intervenes between the lake country and the sea-coast, for such homes as these! — those unfortunates who, bought by the Arabs for a couple of doti, are taken away to Zanzibar to pick cloves, or do hamal work!
As we drew near Niasanga, our second camp, the comparison between the noble array of picturesque hills and receding coves, with their pastoral and agricultural scenes, and the shores of old Pontus, was very great. A few minutes before we hauled our canoe ashore, two little incidents occurred. I shot an enormous dog-faced monkey, which measured from nose to end of tail 4 feet 9 inches; the face was 8 1/2 inches long, its body weighed about 100 lbs. It had no mane or tuft at end of tail, but the body was covered with long wiry hair. Numbers of these specimens were seen, as well as of the active cat-headed and long-tailed smaller ones. The other was the sight of a large lizard, about 2 ft. 6 in. long, which waddled into cover before we had well noticed it. The Doctor thought it to be the Monitor terrestris.
We encamped under a banian tree; our surroundings were the now light-grey waters of the Tanganika, an amphitheatral range of hills, and the village of Niasanga, situated at the mouth of the rivulet Niasanga, with its grove of palms, thicket of plantains, and plots of grain and cassava fields. Near our tent were about half-a-dozen canoes, large and small, belonging to the villagers. Our tent door fronted the glorious expanse of fresh water, inviting the breeze, and the views of distant Ugoma and Ukaramba, and the Island of Muzimu, whose ridges appeared of a deep-blue colour. At our feet were the clean and well-washed pebbles, borne upward into tiny lines and heaps by the restless surf. A search amongst these would reveal to us the material of the mountain heaps which rose behind and on our right and left; there was schist, conglomerate sandstone, a hard white clay, an ochreish clay containing much iron, polished quartz, &c. Looking out of our tent, we could see a line on each side of us of thick tall reeds, which form something like a hedge between the beach and the cultivated area around Niasanga. Among birds seen here, the most noted were the merry wagtails, which are regarded as good omens and messengers of peace by the natives, and any harm done unto them is quickly resented, and is fineable. Except to the mischievously inclined, they offer no inducement to commit violence. On landing, they flew to meet us, balancing themselves in the air in front, within easy reach of our hands. The other birds were crows, turtle-doves, fish-hawks, kingfishers, ibis nigra and ibis religiosa, flocks of whydah birds, geese, darters, paddy birds, kites, and eagles.
At this place the Doctor suffered from dysentery — it is his only weak point, he says; and, as I afterwards found, it is a frequent complaint with him. Whatever disturbed his mind, or any irregularity in eating, was sure to end in an attack of dysentery, which had lately become of a chronic character.
The third day of our journey on the Tanganika brought us to Zassi River and village, after a four hours’ pull. Along the line of road the mountains rose 2,000 and 2,500 feet above the waters of the lake. I imagined the scenery getting more picturesque and animated at every step, and thought it by far lovelier than anything seen near Lake George or on the Hudson. The cosy nooks at the head of the many small bays constitute most admirable pictures, filled in as they are with the ever-beautiful feathery palms and broad green plantain fronds. These nooks have all been taken possession of by fishermen, and their conically beehive-shaped huts always peep from under the frondage. The shores are thus extremely populous; every terrace, small plateau, and bit of level ground is occupied.
Zassi is easily known by a group of conical hills which rise near by, and are called Kirassa. Opposite to these, at the distance of about a mile from shore, we sounded, and obtained 35 fathoms, as on the previous day. Getting out a mile further, I let go the whole length of my line, 115 fathoms, and obtained no bottom. In drawing it up again the line parted, and I lost the lead, with three-fourths of the line. The Doctor stated, apropos of this, that he had sounded opposite the lofty Kabogo, south of Ujiji, and obtained the great depth of 300 fathoms. He also lost his lead and 100 fathoms of his line, but he had nearly 900 fathoms left, and this was in the canoes. We hope to use this long sounding line in going across from the eastern to the western shore.
On the fourth day we arrived at Nyabigma, a sandy island in Urundi. We had passed the boundary line between Ujiji and Urundi half-an-hour before arriving at Nyabigma. The Mshala River is considered by both nations to be the proper divisional line; though there are parties of Warundi who have emigrated beyond the frontier into Ujiji; for instance, the Mutware and villagers of populous Kagunga, distant an hour north from Zassi. There are also several small parties of Wajiji, who have taken advantage of the fine lands in the deltas of the Kasokwe, Namusinga, and Luaba Rivers, the two first of which enter the Tanganika in this bay, near the head of which Nyabigma is situated.
From Nyabigma, a pretty good view of the deep curve in the great mountain range which stretches from Cape Kazinga and terminates at Cape Kasofu, may be obtained — a distance of twenty or twenty-five miles. It is a most imposing scene, this great humpy, ridgy, and irregular line of mountains. Deep ravines and chasms afford outlets to the numerous streams and rivers which take their rise in the background; the pale fleecy ether almost always shrouds its summit. From its base extends a broad alluvial plain, rich beyond description, teeming with palms and plantains, and umbrageous trees. Villages are seen in clusters everywhere. Into this alluvial plain run the Luaba, or Ruaba River, on the north side of Cape Kitunda, and the Kasokwe, Namusinga, and Mshala Rivers, on the south side of the cape. All the deltas of rivers emptying into the Tanganika are hedged in on all sides with a thick growth of matete, a gigantic species of grass, and papyrus. In some deltas, as that of Luaba and Kasokwe, morasses have been formed, in which the matete and papyrus jungle is impenetrable. In the depths of them are quiet and deep pools, frequented by various aquatic birds, such as geese, ducks, snipes, widgeons, kingfishers and ibis, cranes and storks, and pelicans. To reach their haunts is, however, a work of great difficulty to the sportsman in quest of game; a work often attended with great danger, from the treacherous nature of these morasses, as well as from the dreadful attacks of fever which, in these regions, invariably follow wet feet and wet clothes.
At Nyabigma we prepared, by distributing ten rounds of ammunition to each of our men, for a tussle with the Warundi of two stages ahead, should they invite it by a too forward exhibition of their prejudice to strangers.
At dawn of the fifth day we quitted the haven of Nyabigma Island, and in less than an hour had arrived off Cape Kitunda. This cape is a low platform of conglomerate sandstone, extending for about eight miles from the base of the great mountain curve which gives birth to the Luaba and its sister streams. Crossing the deep bay, at the head of which is the delta of the Luaba, we came to Cape Kasofu. Villages are numerous in this vicinity. From hence we obtained a view of a series of points or capes, Kigongo, Katunga, and Buguluka, all of which we passed before coming to a halt at the pretty position of Mukungu.
At Mukungu, where we stopped on the fifth day, we were asked for honga, or tribute. The cloth and beads upon which we subsisted during our lake voyage were mine, but the Doctor, being the elder of the two, more experienced, and the “big man” of the party, had the charge of satisfying all such demands. Many and many a time had I gone through the tedious and soul-wearying task of settling the honga, and I was quite curious to see how the great traveller would perform the work.
The Mateko (a man inferior to a Mutware) of Mukungu asked for two and a half doti. This was the extent of the demand, which he made known to us a little after dark. The Doctor asked if nothing had been brought to us. He was answered, “No, it was too late to get anything now; but, if we paid the honga, the Mateko would be ready to give us something when we came back.” Livingstone, upon hearing this, smiled, and the Mateko being then and there in front of him, he said to him. “Well, if you can’t get us anything now, and intend to give something when we return, we had better keep the honga until then.” The Mateko was rather taken aback at this, and demurred to any such proposition. Seeing that he was dissatisfied, we urged him to bring one sheep — one little sheep — for our stomachs were nearly empty, having been waiting more than half a day for it. The appeal was successful, for the old man hastened, and brought us a lamb and a three-gallon pot of sweet but strong zogga, or palm toddy, and in return the Doctor gave him two and a half doti of cloth. The lamb was killed, and, our digestions being good, its flesh agreed with us; but, alas, for the effects of zogga, or palm toddy! Susi, the invaluable adjunct of Dr. Livingstone, and Bombay, the headman of my caravan, were the two charged with watching the canoe; but, having imbibed too freely of this intoxicating toddy, they slept heavily, and in the morning the Doctor and I had to regret the loss of several valuable and indispensable things; among which may be mentioned the Doctor’s 900-fathom sounding-line, 500 rounds of pin, rim, and central-fire cartridges for my arms, and ninety musket bullets, also belonging to me. Besides these, which were indispensable in hostile Warundi, a large bag of flour and the Doctor’s entire stock of white sugar were stolen. This was the third time that my reliance in Bombay’s trustworthiness resulted in a great loss to me, and for the ninety-ninth time I had to regret bitterly having placed such entire confidence in Speke’s loud commendation of him. It was only the natural cowardice of ignorant thieves that prevented the savages from taking the boat and its entire contents, together with Bombay and Susi as slaves. I can well imagine the joyful surprise which must have been called forth at the sight and exquisite taste of the Doctor’s sugar, and the wonder with which they must have regarded the strange ammunition of the Wasungu. It is to be sincerely hoped that they did not hurt themselves with the explosive bullets and rim cartridges through any ignorance of the nature of the deadly contents; in which ease the box and its contents would prove a very Pandora’s casket.
Much grieved at our loss, we set off on the sixth day at the usual hour on our watery journey. We coasted close to the several low headlands formed by the rivers Kigwena, Kikuma, and Kisunwe; and when any bay promised to be interesting, steered the canoe according to its indentations. While travelling on the water — each day brought forth similar scenes — on our right rose the mountains of Urundi, now and then disclosing the ravines through which the several rivers and streams issued into the great lake; at their base were the alluvial plains, where flourished the oil-palm and grateful plantain, while scores of villages were grouped under their shade. Now and then we passed long narrow strips of pebbly or sandy beach, whereon markets were improvised for selling fish, and the staple products of the respective communities. Then we passed broad swampy morasses, formed by the numerous streams which the mountains discharged, where the matete and papyrus flourished. Now the mountains approached to the water, their sides descending abruptly to the water’s edge; then they receded into deep folds, at the base of which was sure to be seen an alluvial plain from one to eight miles broad. Almost constantly we observed canoes being punted vigorously close to the surf, in fearless defiance of a catastrophe, such as a capsize and gobbling-up by voracious crocodiles. Sometimes we sighted a canoe a short distance ahead of us; whereupon our men, with song and chorus, would exert themselves to the utmost to overtake it. Upon observing our efforts, the natives would bend themselves to their tasks, and paddling standing and stark naked, give us ample opportunities for studying at our leisure comparative anatomy. Or we saw a group of fishermen lazily reclining in puris naturalibus on the beach, regarding with curious eye the canoes as they passed their neighbourhood; then we passed a flotilla of canoes, their owners sitting quietly in their huts, busily plying the rod and hook, or casting their nets, or a couple of men arranging their long drag nets close in shore for a haul; or children sporting fearlessly in the water, with their mothers looking on approvingly from under the shade of a tree, from which I infer that there are not many crocodiles in the lake, except in the neighbourhood of the large rivers.
After passing the low headland of Kisunwe, formed by the Kisunwe River, we came in view of Murembwe Cape, distant about four or five miles: the intervening ground being low land, a sandy and pebbly beach. Close to the beach are scores of villages, while the crowded shore indicates the populousness of the place beyond. About half way between Cape Kisunwe and Murembwe, is a cluster of villages called Bikari, which has a mutware who is in the habit of taking honga. As we were rendered unable to cope for any length of time with any mischievously inclined community, all villages having a bad reputation with the Wajiji were avoided by us. But even the Wajiji guides were sometimes mistaken, and led us more than once into dangerous places. The guides evidently had no objections to halt at Bikari, as it was the second camp from Mukungu; because with them a halt in the cool shade of plaintains was infinitely preferable to sitting like carved pieces of wood in a cranky canoe. But before they stated their objections and preferences, the Bikari people called to us in a loud voice to come ashore, threatening us with the vengeance of the great Wami if we did not halt. As the voices were anything but siren-like, we obstinately refused to accede to the request. Finding threats of no avail, they had recourse to stones, and, accordingly, flung them at us in a most hearty manner. As one came within a foot of my arm, I suggested that a bullet be sent in return in close proximity to their feet; but Livingstone, though he said nothing, yet showed plainly enough that he did not quite approve of this. As these demonstrations of hostility were anything but welcome, and as we saw signs of it almost every time we came opposite a village, we kept on our way until we came to Murembwe Point, which, being a delta of a river of the same name, was well protected by a breadth of thorny jungle, spiky cane, and a thick growth of reed and papyrus, from which the boldest Mrundi might well shrink, especially if he called to mind that beyond this inhospitable swamp were the guns of the strangers his like had so rudely challenged. We drew our canoe ashore here, and, on a limited area of clean sand, Ferajji, our rough-and-ready cook, lit his fire, and manufactured for us a supply of most delicious Mocha coffee. Despite the dangers which still beset us, we were quite happy, and seasoned our meal with a little moral philosophy, which lifted us unconsciously into infinitely superior beings to the pagans by whom we were surrounded — upon whom we now looked down, under the influence of Mocha coffee and moral philosophy, with calm contempt, not unmixed with a certain amount of compassion. The Doctor related some experiences he had had among people of similar disposition, but did not fail to ascribe them, with the wisdom of a man of ripe experiences, to the unwise conduct of the Arabs and half-castes; in this opinion I unreservedly concur.
From Murembwe Point, having finished our coffee and ended our discourse on ethics, we proceeded on our voyage, steering for Cape Sentakeyi, which, though it was eight or ten miles away, we hoped to make before dark. The Wangwana pulled with right good will, but ten hours went by, and night was drawing near, and we were still far from Sentakeyi. As it was a fine moonlight night, and we were fully alive to the dangerous position in which we might find ourselves, they consented to pull an hour or two more. About 1 P.M., we pulled in shore for a deserted spot — a clean shelf of sand, about thirty feet long by ten deep, from which a clay bank rose about ten or twelve feet above, while on each side there were masses of disintegrated rock. Here we thought, that by preserving some degree of silence, we might escape observation, and consequent annoyance, for a few hours, when, being rested, we might continue our journey. Our kettle was boiling for tea, and the men had built a little fire for themselves, and had filled their black earthen pot with water for porridge, when our look-outs perceived dark forms creeping towards our bivouac. Being hailed, they at once came forward, and saluted us with the native “Wake.” Our guides explained that we were Wangwana, and intended to camp until morning, when, if they had anything to sell, we should be glad to trade with them. They said they were rejoiced to hear this, and after they had exchanged a few words more — during which time we observed that they were taking mental notes of the camp — they went away. Upon leaving, they promised to return in the morning with food, and make friends with us. While drinking our tea, the look-outs warned us of the approach of a second party, which went through the same process of saluting and observing as the first had done. These also went away, over-exuberant, as I thought, and were shortly succeeded by a third party, who came and went as the others had. From all this we inferred that the news was spreading rapidly through the villages about, and we had noticed two canoes passing backwards and forwards with rather more haste than we deemed usual or necessary. We had good cause to be suspicious; it is not customary for people (at least, between Ujiji and Zanzibar) to be about visiting and saluting after dark, under any pretence; it is not permitted to persons to prowl about camp after dark without being shot at; and this going backward and forward, this ostentatious exuberance of joy at the arrival of a small party of Wangwana, which in many parts of Urundi would be regarded as a very common event, was altogether very suspicious. While the Doctor and I were arriving at the conclusion that these movements were preliminary to or significant of hostility, a fourth body, very boisterous and loud, came and visited us. Our supper had been by this time despatched, and we thought it high time to act. The fourth party having gone with extravagant manifestations of delight, the men were hurried into the canoe, and, when all were seated, and the look-outs embarked, we quietly pushed off, but not a moment too soon. As the canoe was gliding from the darkened light that surrounded us, I called the Doctor’s attention to several dark forms; some of whom were crouching behind the rocks on our right, and others scrambling over them to obtain good or better positions; at the same time people were approaching from the left of our position, in the same suspicious way; and directly a voice hailed us from the top of the clay bank overhanging the sandy shelf where we had lately been resting. “Neatly done,” cried the Doctor, as we were shooting through the water, leaving the discomfited would-be robbers behind us. Here, again, my hand was stayed from planting a couple of good shots, as a warning to them in future from molesting strangers, by the more presence of the Doctor, who, as I thought, if it were actually necessary, would not hesitate to give the word.
After pulling six hours more, during which we had rounded Cape Sentakeyi, we stopped at the small fishing village of Mugeyo, where we were permitted to sleep unmolested. At dawn we continued our journey, and about 8 A.M. arrived at the village of the friendly Mutware of Magala. We had pulled for eighteen hours at a stretch, which, at the rate of two miles and a half per hour, would make forty-five miles. Taking bearings from our camp at Cape Magala, one of the most prominent points in travelling north from Ujiji, we found that the large island of Muzimu, which had been in sight ever since rounding Cape Bangwe, near Ujiji Bunder, bore about south-south-west, and that the western shore had considerably approached to the eastern; the breadth of the lake being at this point about eight or ten miles. We had a good view of the western highlands, which seemed to be of an average height, about 3,000 feet above the lake. Luhanga Peak, rising a little to the north of west from Magala, might be about 500 feet higher; and Sumburizi, a little north of Luhanga, where lived Mruta, Sultan of Uvira, the country opposite to this part of Urundi, about 300 feet higher than the neighbouring heights. Northward from Magala Cape the lake streamed away between two chains of mountains; both meeting in a point about thirty miles north of us.
The Warundi of Magala were very civil, and profound starers. They flocked around the tent door, and most pertinaciously gazed on us, as if we were subjects of most intense interest, but liable to sudden and eternal departure. The Mutware came to see us late in the afternoon, dressed with great pomp. He turned out to be a boy whom I had noticed in the crowd of gazers for his good looks and fine teeth, which he showed, being addicted to laughing continually. There was no mistaking him, though he was now decorated with many ivory ornaments, with necklaces, and with heavy brass bracelets and iron wire anklets. Our admiration of him was reciprocated; and, in return for our two doti of cloth and a fundo of samsam, he gave a fine fat and broad-tailed sheep, and a pot of milk. In our condition both were extremely acceptable.
At Magala we heard of a war raging between Mukamba, for whose country we were bound, and Warumashanya, a Sultan of an adjoining district; and we were advised that, unless we intended to assist one of these chiefs against the other, it would be better for us to return. But, as we had started to solve the problem of the Rusizi River, such considerations had no weight with us.
On the eighth morning from leaving Ujiji we bade farewell to the hospitable people of Magala, and set off for Mukamba’s country, which was in view. Soon after passing the boundary between Urundi proper, and what is known as Usige, a storm from the south-west arose; and the fearful yawing of our canoe into the wave trough warned us from proceeding further; so we turned her head for Kisuka village, about four miles north, where Mugere, in Usige, begins.
At Kisuka a Mgwana living with Mukamba came to see us, and gave us details of the war between Mukamba and Warumashanya, from which it seemed that these two chiefs were continually at loggerheads. It is a tame way of fighting, after all. One chief makes a raid into the other’s country, and succeeds in making off with a herd of cattle, killing one or two men who have been surprised. Weeks, or perhaps months elapse before the other retaliates, and effects a capture in a similar way, and then a balance is struck in which neither is the gainer. Seldom do they attack each other with courage and hearty goodwill, the constitution of the African being decidedly against any such energetic warfare.
This Mgwana, further, upon being questioned, gave us information far more interesting, viz., about the Rusizi. He told us positively, with the air of a man who knew all about it, and as if anybody who doubted him might well be set down as an egregious ass, that the Rusizi River flowed out of the lake, away to Suna’s (Mtesa’s) country. “Where else could it flow to?” he asked. The Doctor was inclined to believe it, or, perhaps he was more inclined to let it rest as stated until our own eyes should confirm it. I was more inclined to doubt, as I told the Doctor; first, it was too good to be true; second, the fellow was too enthusiastic upon a subject that could not possibly interest him. His “Barikallahs” and “Inshallahs” were far too fervid; his answers too much in accordance with our wishes. The Doctor laid great stress on the report of a Mgwana he met far south, who stated that the grandfather or father of Rumanika, present King of Karagwah, had thought of excavating the bed of the Kitangule River, in order that his canoes might go to Ujiji to open a trade. From this, I imagine, coinciding as it did with his often-expressed and present firm belief that the waters of the Tanganika had an outlet somewhere, the Doctor was partial to the report of the Mgwana; but as we proceed we shall see how all this will end.
On the ninth morning from Ujiji, about two hours after sunrise, we passed the broad delta of the Mugere, a river which gives its name also to the district on the eastern shore ruled over by Mukamba. We had come directly opposite the most southern of its three mouths, when we found quite a difference in the colour of the water. An almost straight line, drawn east and west from the mouth would serve well to mark off the difference that existed between the waters. On the south side was pure water of a light green, on the north side it was muddy, and the current could be distinctly seen flowing north. Soon after passing the first mouth we came to a second, and then a third mouth, each only a few yards broad, but each discharging sufficient water to permit our following the line of the currents several rods north beyond the respective mouths.
Beyond the third mouth of the Mugere a bend disclosed itself, with groups of villages beyond on its bank. These were Mukamba’s, and in one of them lived Mukamba, the chief. The natives had yet never seen a white man, and, of course, as soon as we landed we were surrounded by a large concourse, all armed with long spears — the only weapon visible amongst them save a club-stick, and here and there a hatchet.
We were shown into a hut, which the Doctor and I shared between us. What followed on that day I have but a dim recollection, having been struck down by fever — the first since leaving Unyanyembe. I dimly recollect trying to make out what age Mukamba might be, and noting that he was good-looking withal, and kindly-disposed towards us. And during the intervals of agony and unconsciousness, I saw, or fancied I saw, Livingstone’s form moving towards me, and felt, or fancied I felt, Livingstone’s hand tenderly feeling my hot head and limbs. I had suffered several fevers between Bagamoyo and Unyanyembe, without anything or anybody to relieve me of the tedious racking headache and pain, or to illumine the dark and gloomy prospect which must necessarily surround the bedside of the sick and solitary traveller. But though this fever, having enjoyed immunity from it for three months, was more severe than usual, I did not much regret its occurrence, since I became the recipient of the very tender and fatherly kindness of the good man whose companion I now found myself.
The next morning, having recovered slightly from the fever, when Mukamba came with a present of an ox, a sheep, and a goat, I was able to attend to the answers which he gave to the questions about the Rusizi River and the head of the lake. The ever cheerful and enthusiastic Mgwana was there also, and he was not a whit abashed, when, through him, the chief told us that the Rusizi, joined by the Ruanda, or Luanda, at a distance of two days’ journey by water, or one day by land from the head of the lake, flowed into the lake.
Thus our hopes, excited somewhat by the positive and repeated assurances that the river flowed out away towards Karagwah, collapsed as speedily as they were raised.
We paid Mukamba the honga, consisting of nine doti and nine fundo of samsam, lunghio, muzurio n’zige. The printed handkerchiefs, which I had in abundance at Unyanyembe, would have gone well here. After receiving his present, the chief introduced his son, a tall youth of eighteen or thereabouts, to the Doctor, as a would-be son of the Doctor; but, with a good-natured laugh, the Doctor scouted all such relationship with him, as it was instituted only for the purpose of drawing more cloth out of him. Mukamba took it in good part, and did not insist on getting more.
Our second evening at Mukamba’s, Susi, the Doctor’s servant, got gloriously drunk, through the chief’s liberal and profuse gifts of pombe. Just at dawn neat morning I was awakened by hearing several sharp, crack-like sounds. I listened, and I found the noise was in our hut. It was caused by the Doctor, who, towards midnight, had felt some one come and lie down by his side on the same bed, and, thinking it was me, he had kindly made room, and laid down on the edge of the bed. But in the morning, feeling rather cold, he had been thoroughly awakened, and, on rising on his elbow to see who his bed-fellow was, he discovered, to his great astonishment, that it was no other than his black servant, Susi, who taking possession of his blankets, and folding them about himself most selfishly, was occupying almost the whole bed. The Doctor, with that gentleness characteristic of him, instead of taking a rod, had contented himself with slapping Susi on the back, saying, “Get up, Susi, will you? You are in my bed. How dare you, sir, get drunk in this way, after I have told you so often not to. Get up. You won’t? Take that, and that, and that.” Still Susi slept and grunted; so the slapping continued, until even Susi’s thick hide began to feel it, and he was thoroughly awakened to the sense of his want of devotion and sympathy for his master in the usurping of even his master’s bed. Susi looked very much crestfallen after this exposé of his infirmity before the “little master,” as I was called.
The next day at dusk — Mukamba having come to bid us good-bye, and requested that as soon as we reached his brother Ruhinga, whose country was at the head of the lake, we would send our canoe back for him, and that in the meanwhile we should leave two of our men with him, with their guns, to help defend him in case Warumashanya should attack him as soon as we were gone — we embarked and pulled across. In nine hours we had arrived at the head of the lake in Mugihewa, the country of Ruhinga; Mukamba’s elder brother. In looking back to where we had come from we perceived that we had made a diagonal cut across from south-east to north-west, instead of having made a direct east and west course; or, in other words, from Mugere — which was at least ten miles from the northernmost point of the eastern shore — we had come to Mugihewa, situated at the northernmost point of the western shore. Had we continued along the eastern shore, and so round the northern side of the lake, we should have passed by Mukanigi, the country of Warumashanya, and Usumbura of Simveh, his ally and friend. But by making a diagonal course, as just described, we had arrived at the extreme head of the lake without any difficulty.
The country in which we now found ourselves, Mugihewa, is situated in the delta of the Rusizi River. It is an extremely flat country, the highest part of which is not ten feet above the lake, with numerous depressions in it overgrown with the rankest of matete-grass and the tallest of papyrus, and pond-like hollows, filled with stagnant water, which emit malaria wholesale. Large herds of cattle are reared on it; for where the ground is not covered with marshy plants it produces rich, sweet grass. The sheep and goats, especially the former, are always in good condition; and though they are not to be compared with English or American sheep, they are the finest I have seen in Africa. Numerous villages are seen on this land because the intervening spaces are not occupied with the rank and luxuriant jungle common in other parts of Africa. Were it not for the Euphorbia kolquall of Abyssinia — which some chief has caused to be planted as a defence round the villages — one might see from one end of Mugihewa to the other. The waters along the head of the lake, from the western to the eastern shores, swarm with crocodiles. From the banks, I counted ten heads of crocodiles, and the Rusizi, we were told, was full of them.
Ruhinga, who came to see us soon after we had taken up our quarters in his village, was a most amiable man, who always contrived to see something that excited his risibility; though older by five or six years perhaps — he said he was a hundred years old — than Mukamba, he was not half so dignified, nor regarded with so much admiration by his people as his younger brother. Ruhinga had a better knowledge, however, of the country than Mukamba, and an admirable memory, and was able to impart his knowledge of the country intelligently. After he had done the honours as chief to us — presented us with an ox and a sheep, milk and honey — we were not backward in endeavouring to elicit as much information as possible out of him.
The summary of the information derived from Ruhinga may be stated as follows:
The country bordering the head of the lake from Urundi proper, on the eastern shore, to Uvira on the western, is divided into the following districts: 1st. Mugere, governed by Mukamba, through which issued into the lake the small rivers of Mugere and Mpanda. 2nd. Mukanigi, governed by Warumashanya, which occupied the whole of the north-eastern head of the lake, through which issued into the lake the small rivers of Karindwa and Mugera wa Kanigi. 3rd. On the eastern half of the district, at the head of the lake, was Usumbura, governed by Simveh, ally and friend of Warumashanya, extending to the eastern bank of the Rusizi. 4th. Commencing from the western bank of the Rusizi, to the extreme north-western head of the lake, was Mugihewa — Ruhinga’s country. 5th. From Uvira on the west, running north past Mugihewa, and overlapping it on the north side as far as the hills of Chamati, was Ruwenga, also a country governed by Mukamba. Beyond Ruwenga, from the hills of Chamati to the Ruanda River, was the country of Chamati. West of Ruwenga, comprising all the mountains for two days’ journey in that direction, was Uashi. These are the smaller sub-divisions of what is commonly known as Ruwenga and Usige. Ruwenga comprises the countries of Ruwenga and Mugihewa; Usige, the countries of Usumbura, Mukanigi, and Mugere. But all these countries are only part and parcel of Urundi, which comprises all that country bordering the lake from Mshala River, on the eastern shore, to Uvira, on the western, extending over ten days’ journey direct north from the head of the lake, and one month in a northeastern direction to Murukuko, the capital of Mwezi, Sultan of all Urundi. Direct north of Urundi is Ruanda; also a very large country.
The Rusizi River — according to Ruhinga — rose near a lake called Kivo, which he said is as long as from Mugihawa to Mugere, and as broad as from Mugihewa to Warumashanya’s country, or, say eighteen miles in length by about eight in breadth. The lake is surrounded by mountains on the western and northern sides: on the south-western side of one of these mountains issues the Rusizi — at first a small rapid stream; but as it proceeds towards the lake it receives the rivers Kagunissi, Kaburan, Mohira, Nyamagana, Nyakagunda, Ruviro, Rofubu, Kavimvira, Myove, Ruhuha, Mukindu, Sange, Rubirizi, Kiriba, and, lastly, the Ruanda River, which seems to be the largest of them all. Kivo Lake is so called from the country in which it is situated. On one side is Mutumbi (probably the Utumbi of Speke and Baker), on the west is Ruanda; on the east is Urundi. The name of the chief of Kivo is Kwansibura.
After so many minute details about the River Rusizi, it only remained for us to see it. On the second morning of our arrival at Mugihewa we mustered ten strong paddlers, and set out to explore the head of the lake and the mouth of the Rusizi. We found that the northern head of the lake was indented with seven broad bays, each from one and a half to three miles broad; that long broad spits of sand, overgrown with matete, separated each bay from the other. The first, starting from west to east, at the broadest part, to the extreme southern point of Mugihewa, was about three miles broad, and served as a line of demarcation between Mukamba’s district of Ruwenga and Mugihewa of Ruhinga; it was also two miles deep. The second bay was a mile from the southern extremity of Mugihewa to Ruhinga’s village at the head of the bay, and it was a mile across to another spit of sand which was terminated by a small island. The third bay stretched for nearly a mile to a long spit, at the end of which was another island, one and a quarter mile in length, and was the western side of the fourth bay, at the head of which was the delta of the Rusizi. This fourth bay, at its base, was about three miles in depth, and penetrated half a mile further inland than any other. Soundings indicated six feet deep, and the same depth was kept to within a few hundred yards of the principal mouth of the Rusizi. The current was very sluggish; not more than a mile an hour. Though we constantly kept our binocular searching for the river, we could not see the main channel until within 200 yards of it, and then only by watching by what outlet the fishing; canoes came out. The bay at this point had narrowed from two miles to about 200 yards in breadth. Inviting a canoe to show us the way, a small flotilla of canoes preceded us, from the sheer curiosity of their owners. We followed, and in a few minutes were ascending the stream, which was very rapid, though but about ten yards wide, and very shallow; not more than two feet deep. We ascended about half a mile, the current being very strong, from six to eight miles an hour, and quite far enough to observe the nature of the stream at its embouchure. We could see that it widened and spread out in a myriad of channels, rushing by isolated clumps of sedge and matete grass; and that it had the appearance of a swamp. We had ascended the central, or main channel. The western channel was about eight yards broad. We observed, after we had returned to the bay, that the easternmost channel was about six yards broad, and about ten feet deep, but very sluggish. We had thus examined each of its three mouths, and settled all doubts as to the Rusizi being an effluent or influent. It was not necessary to ascend higher, there being nothing about the river itself to repay exploration of it.
The question, “Was the Rusizi an effluent or an influent?” was answered for ever. There was now no doubt any more on that point. In size it was not to be compared with the Malagarazi River, neither is it, or can it be, navigable for anything but the smallest canoes. The only thing remarkable about it is that it abounds in crocodiles, but not one hippopotamus was seen; which may be taken as another evidence of its shallowness. The bays to the east of the Rusizi are of the same conformation as those on the west. Carefully judging from the width of the several bays from point to point, and of the several spits which separate them, the breadth of the lake may be said to be about twelve or fourteen miles. Had we contented ourselves with simply looking at the conformation, and the meeting of the eastern and western ranges, we should have said that the lake ended in a point, as Captain Speke has sketched it on his map. But its exploration dissolved that idea. Chamati Hill is the extreme northern termination of the western range, and seems, upon a superficial examination, to abut against the Ramata mountains of the eastern range, which are opposite Chamati; but a valley about a mile in breadth separates the two ranges, and through this valley the Rusizi flows towards the lake.13 Though Chamati terminates the western range, the eastern range continues for miles beyond, north-westerly. After its issue from this broad gorge, the Rusizi runs seemingly in a broad and mighty stream, through a wide alluvial plain, its own formation, in a hundred channels, until, approaching the lake, it flows into it by three channels only, as above described.
13 After the patient investigation of the North end of the Lake, and satisfying ourselves by personal observation that the Rusizi ran into the Lake, the native rumor which Sir Samuel Baker brought home that the Tanganika and the Albert N’Yanza have a water connection still finds many believers!
I should not omit to state here, that though the Doctor and I have had to contend against the strong current of the Rusizi River, as it flowed swift and strong into the Tanganika, the Doctor still adheres to the conviction that, whatever part the Rusizi plays, there must be an outlet to the Tanganika somewhere, from the fact that all fresh-water lakes have outlets, The Doctor is able to state his opinions and reasons far better than I can find for him; and, lest I misconstrue the subject, I shall leave it until he has an opportunity to explain them himself; which his great knowledge of Africa will enable him to do with advantage.
One thing is evident to me, and I believe to the Doctor, that Sir Samuel Baker will have to curtail the Albert N’Yanza by one, if not two degrees of latitude. That well-known traveller has drawn his lake far into the territory of the Warundi, while Ruanda has been placed on the eastern side; whereas a large portion of it, if not all, should be placed north of what he has designated on his map as Usige. The information of such an intelligent man as Ruhinga is not to be despised; for, if Lake Albert came within a hundred miles of the Tanganika, he would surely have heard of its existence, even if he had not seen it himself. Originally he came from Mutumbi, and he has travelled from that country into Mugihewa, the district he now governs. He has seen Mwezi, the great King of Urundi, and describes him as a man about forty years old, and as a very good man.
Our work was now done; there was nothing more to detain us at Mugihewa. Ruhinga had been exceedingly kind, and given us one ox after another to butcher and eat. Mukamba had done the same. Their women had supplied us with an abundance of milk and butter, and we had now bounteous supplies of both.
The Doctor had taken a series of observations for latitude and longitude; and Mugihewa was made out to be in 3 degrees 19 minutes S. latitude.
On the 7th December, early in the morning, we left Mugihewa, and rowing past the southern extremity of the Katangara Islands, we approached the highlands of Uashi near the boundary line between Mukamba’s country and Uvira. The boundary line is supposed to be a wide ravine, in the depths of which is a grove of tall, beautiful, and straight-stemmed trees, out of which the natives make their canoes.
Passing Kanyamabengu River, which issues into the lake close to the market-ground of Kirabula, the extreme point of Burton and Speke’s explorations of the Tanganika, we steered south along the western shore of the lake for half an hour longer to Kavimba, where we halted to cook breakfast.
The village where lived Mruta, the King of Uvira, was in sight of our encampment, and as we observed parties of men ascending and descending the mountains much more often than we thought augured good to ourselves, we determined to continue on our course south. Besides, there was a party of disconsolate-looking Wajiji here, who had been plundered only a few days before our arrival, for attempting, as the Wavira believed, to evade the honga payment. Such facts as these, and our knowledge of the general state of insecurity in the country, resulting from the many wars in which the districts of the Tanganika were engaged, determined us not to halt at Kavimba.
We embarked quickly in our boat before the Wavira had collected themselves, and headed south against a strong gale, which came driving down on us from the south-west. After a hard pull of about two hours in the teeth of the storm, which was rapidly rising, we pointed the head of the boat into a little quiet cove, almost hidden in tall reeds, and disembarked for the night.
Cognizant of the dangers which surrounded us, knowing, that savage and implacable man was the worst enemy we had to fear, we employed our utmost energies in the construction of a stout fence of thorn bushes, and then sat down to supper after our work was done, and turned in to sleep; but not before we had posted watchmen to guard our canoe, lest the daring thieves of Uvira might abstract it, in which case we should have been in a pretty plight, and in most unenviable distress.
At daybreak, leaving Kukumba Point after our humble breakfast of coffee, cheese, and dourra cakes was despatched, we steered south once more. Our fires had attracted the notice of the sharp-eyed and suspicious fishermen of Kukumba; but our precautions and the vigilant watch we had set before retiring, had proved an effectual safeguard against the Kivira thieves.
The western shores of the lake as we proceeded were loftier, and more bold than the wooded heights of Urundi and bearded knolls of Ujiji. A back ridge — the vanguard of the mountains which rise beyond — disclosed itself between the serrated tops of the front line of mountains, which rose to a height of from 2,500 to 3,000 feet above the lake. Within the folds of the front line of mountains rise isolated hills of considerable magnitude, precipitous and abrupt, but scenically very picturesque. The greater part of these hills have the rounded and smooth top, or are tabularly summited. The ridge enfolding these hills shoots out, at intervals, promontorial projections of gradual sloping outlines, which on the map I have designated capes, or points. When rounding these points, up went our compasses for the taking of bearings, and observing the directions of all prominent objects of interest. Often these capes are formed by the alluvial plains, through which we may be sure a river will be found flowing. These pretty alluvial plains, enfolded on the south, the west, and the north by a grand mountain arc, present most luxurious and enchanting scenery. The vegetation seems to be of spontaneous growth. Groups of the Elaeis Guineansis palm embowering some dun-brown village; an array of majestic, superb growth of mvule trees; a broad extent covered with vivid green sorghum stalks; parachute-like tops of mimosa; a line of white sand, on which native canoes are drawn far above the reach of the plangent, uneasy surf; fishermen idly reclining in the shade of a tree; — these are the scenes which reveal themselves to us as we voyage in our canoe on the Tanganika. When wearied with the romance of wild tropic scenes such as these, we have but to lift our eyes to the great mountain tops looming darkly and grandly on our right; to watch the light pencilling of the cirrus, brushing their summits, as it is drifted toward the north by the rising wind: to watch the changing forms which the clouds assume, from the fleecy horizontal bars of the cirrus, to the denser, gloomier cumulus, prognosticator of storm and rain, which soon settles into a portentous group — Alps above Alps, one above another — and we know the storm which was brewing is at hand, and that it is time to seek shelter.
Passing Muikamba, we saw several groves of the tall mvule tree. As far as Bemba the Wabembe occupy the mountain summits, while the Wavira cultivate the alluvial plains along the base and lower slopes of the mountain. At Bemba we halted to take in pieces of pipe-clay, in accordance with the superstition of the Wajiji, who thought us certain of safe passage and good fortune if we complied with the ancient custom.
Passing Ngovi, we came to a deep bend, which curved off to Cape Kabogi at the distance of ten miles. About two-thirds of the way we arrived at a group of islets, three in number, all very steep and rocky; the largest about 300 feet in length at the base, and about 200 feet in breadth. Here we made preparations to halt for the night. The inhabitants of the island were a gorgeously-feathered old cock, which was kept as a propitiatory offering to the spirit of the island, a sickly yellow-looking thrush, a hammer-headed stork, and two fish-hawks, who, finding we had taken possession of what had been religiously reserved for them, took flight to the most western island, where from their perches they continued to eye us most solemnly. As these islands were with difficulty pronounced by us as Kavunvweh, the Doctor, seeing that they were the only objects we were likely to discover, named them the “‘New York Herald’ Islets;” and, in confirmation of the new designation given them, shook hands with me upon it. Careful dead-reckoning settled them to be in lat. 3 degrees 41 minutes S.
The summit of the largest island was well adapted to take bearings, and we improved the opportunity, as most extensive views of the broad and lengthy lake and surrounding lines of imposing mountains were attainable. The Ramata Hills were clearly visible, and bore N.N.E. from it; Katanga Cape, S.E. by S.; Sentakeyi, E.S.E.; Magala, E. by N.; south-western point of Muzimu bore S., northern point of Muzimu island, S.S.E.
At dawn on the 9th December we prepared to resume our voyage. Once or twice in the night we had been visited by fishermen, but our anxious watchfulness prevented any marauding. It seemed to me, however, that the people of the opposite shore, who were our visitors, were eagerly watching an opportunity to pounce upon our canoe, or take us bodily for a prey; and our men were considerably affected by these thoughts, if we may judge from the hearty good-will with which they rowed away from our late encampment.
Arriving at Cape Kabogi, we came to the territory of the Wasansi. We knew we were abreast of a different tribe by the greeting “Moholo,” which a group of fishermen gave us; as that of the Wavira was “Wake,” like that of Urundi, Usige, and Uhha.
We soon sighted Cape Luvumba — a sloping projection of a mountain ridge which shot far into the lake. As a storm was brewing, we steered for a snug little cove that appeared before a village; and, drawing our canoe from the water, began to set the tent, and make other preparations for passing the night.
As the natives appeared quiet and civil enough, we saw no reason to suspect that they entertained any hostility to Arabs and Wangwana. Accordingly we had our breakfast cooked, and as usual laid down for an afternoon nap. I soon fell asleep, and was dreaming away in my tent, in happy oblivion of the strife and contention that had risen since I had gone to sleep, when I heard a voice hailing me with, “Master, master! get up, quick. Here is a fight going to begin!” I sprang up, and snatching my revolver belt from the gun-stand, walked outside. Surely, there appeared to be considerable animus between the several factions; between a noisy, vindictive-looking set of natives of the one part, and our people of the other part. Seven or eight of our people had taken refuge behind the canoe, and had their loaded guns half pointing at the passionate mob, which was momentarily increasing in numbers, but I could not see the Doctor anywhere.
“Where is the Doctor?” I asked.
“He has gone over that hill, sir, with his compass,” said Selim.
“Anybody with him?”
“Susi and Chumah.”
“You, Bombay, send two men off to warn the Doctor, and tell him to hurry up here.”
But just at this period the Doctor and his two men appeared on the brow of the hill, looking down in a most complacent manner upon the serio-comic scene that the little basin wherein we were encamped presented. For, indeed, despite the serious aspect of it, there was much that was comical blended with it — in a naked young man who — perfectly drunk, barely able to stand on his feet — was beating the ground with his only loin-cloth, screaming and storming away like a madman; declaring by this, and by that, in his own choice language, that no Mgwana or Arab should halt one moment on the sacred soil of Usansi. His father, the Sultan, was as inebriated as himself, though not quite so violent in his behaviour. In the meantime the Doctor arrived upon the scene, and Selim had slipped my Winchester rifle, with the magazine full of cartridges, into my hand. The Doctor calmly asked what was the matter, and was answered by the Wajiji guides that the people wished us to leave, as they were on hostile terms with the Arabs, because the eldest son of the Sultan of Muzimu, the large island nearly opposite, had been beaten to death by a Baluch, named Khamis, at Ujiji, because the young fellow had dared look into his harem, and ever since peace had been broken between the Wasansi and Arabs.
After consulting with the guides, the Doctor and I came to the conclusion that it were better that we should endeavour to pacify the Sultan by a present, rather than take offence at a drunken boy’s extravagant freak. In his insane fury he had attempted to slash at one of my men with a billhook he carried. This had been taken as a declaration of hostilities, and the soldiers were ready enough to engage in war; but there was no necessity to commence fighting with a drunken mob, who could have been cleared off the ground with our revolvers alone had we desired it.
The Doctor, baring his arm, said to them that he was not a Mgwana, or an Arab; but a white man; that Arabs and Wangwana had no such colour as we had. We were white men, different people altogether from those whom they were accustomed to see: that no black men had ever suffered injury from white men. This seemed to produce great effect, for after a little gentle persuasion the drunken youth, and his no less inebriate sire, were induced to sit down to talk quietly. In their conversation with us, they frequently referred to Mombo, the son of Kisesa, Sultan of Muzimu, who was brutally murdered. “Yes, brutally murdered!” they exclaimed several times, in their own tongue; illustrating, by a faithful pantomime, how the unfortunate youth had died.
Livingstone continued talking with them in a mild, paternal way, and their loud protestations against Arab cruelty were about to subside, when the old Sultan suddenly rose up and began to pace about in an excited manner, and in one of his perambulations deliberately slashed his leg with the sharp blade of his spear, and then exclaimed that the Wangwana had wounded him!
At this cry one half of the mob hastily took to flight, but one old woman, who carried a strong staff with a carved lizard’s body on its top, commenced to abuse the chief with all the power of her voluble tongue, charging him with a desire to have them all killed, and other women joined in with her in advising him to be quiet, and accept the present we were willing to give.
But it is evident that there was little needed to cause all men present in that little hollow to begin a most sanguinary strife. The gentle, patient bearing of the Doctor had more effect than anything else in making all forbear bloodshed, while there was left the least chance of an amicable settlement, and in the end it prevailed. The Sultan and his son were both sent on their way rejoicing.
While the Doctor conversed with them, and endeavoured to calm their fierce passions, I had the tent struck, and the canoes launched, and the baggage stowed, and when the negotiations had concluded amicably, I begged the Doctor to jump into the boat, as this apparent peace was simply a lull before a storm; besides, said I, there are two or three cowardly creatures in the boat, who, in case of another disturbance, would not scruple to leave both of us here.
From Cape Luvumba, about 4.30 P.M. we commenced pulling across; at 8 P.M. we were abreast of Cape Panza, the northern extremity of the island of Muzimu; at 6 A.M. we were southward of Bikari, and pulling for Mukungu, in Urundi, at which place we arrived at 10 A.M., having been seventeen hours and a half in crossing the lake, which, computing at two miles an hour, may be said to be thirty-five miles direct breadth, and a little more than forty-three miles from Cape Luvumba.
On the 11th of December, after seven hours’ pulling, we arrived at picturesque Zassi again; on the 12th, at the pretty cove of Niasanga; and at 11 A.M. we had rounded past Bangwe, and Ujiji was before us.
We entered the port very quietly, without the usual firing of guns, as we were short of powder and ball. As we landed, our soldiers and the Arab magnates came to the water’s edge to greet us.
Mabruki had a rich budget to relate to us, of what had occurred during our absence. This faithful man, left behind in charge of Livingstone’s house, had done most excellently. Kalulu had scalded himself, and had a frightful raw sore on his chest in consequence. Mabruki had locked up Marora in chains for wounding one of the asses. Bilali, the stuttering coward, a bully of women, had caused a tumult in the market-place, and had been sharply belaboured with the stick by Mabruki. And, above all most welcome, was a letter I received from the American Consul at Zanzibar, dated June 11th, containing telegrams from Paris as late as April 22nd of the same year! Poor Livingstone exclaimed, “And I have none. What a pleasant thing it is to have a real and good friend!”
Our voyage on the Tanganika had lasted twenty-eight days, during which time we had traversed over 300 miles of water.
Last updated Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 21:30