Leaving Bagamoyo for the interior. — Constructing a Bridge. — Our first troubles. — Shooting Hippopotami. — A first view of the Game Land. — Anticipating trouble with the Wagogo. — The dreadful poison-flies. — Unlucky adventures while hunting. — The cunning chief of Kingaru. — Sudden death of my two horses. — A terrible experience. — The city of the “Lion Lord.”
On the 21st of March, exactly seventy-three days after my arrival at Zanzibar, the fifth caravan, led by myself, left the town of Bagamoyo for our first journey westward, with “Forward!” for its mot du guet. As the kirangozi unrolled the American flag, and put himself at the head of the caravan, and the pagazis, animals, soldiers, and idlers were lined for the march, we bade a long farewell to the dolce far niente of civilised life, to the blue ocean, and to its open road to home, to the hundreds of dusky spectators who were there to celebrate our departure with repeated salvoes of musketry.
Our caravan is composed of twenty-eight pagazis, including the kirangozi, or guide; twelve soldiers under Capt. Mbarak Bombay, in charge of seventeen donkeys and their loads; Selim, my interpreter, in charge of the donkey and cart and its load; one cook and sub, who is also to be tailor and ready hand for all, and leads the grey horse; Shaw, once mate of a ship, now transformed into rearguard and overseer for the caravan, who is mounted on a good riding-donkey, and wearing a canoe-like tepee and sea-boots; and lastly, on, the splendid bay horse presented to me by Mr. Goodhue, myself, called Bana Mkuba, “the “big master,” by my people — the vanguard, the reporter, the thinker, and leader of the Expedition.
Altogether the Expedition numbers on the day of departure three white men, twenty-three soldiers, four supernumeraries, four chiefs, and one hundred and fifty-three pagazis, twenty-seven donkeys, and one cart, conveying cloth, beads, and wire, boat-fixings, tents, cooking utensils and dishes, medicine, powder, small shot, musket-balls, and metallic cartridges; instruments and small necessaries, such as soap, sugar, tea, coffee, Liebig’s extract of meat, pemmican, candles, &c., which make a total of 153 loads. The weapons of defence which the Expedition possesses consist of one double-barrel breech-loading gun, smooth bore; one American Winchester rifle, or “sixteen-shooter;” one Henry rifle, or “sixteen-shooter;” two Starr’s breech-loaders, one Jocelyn breech-loader, one elephant rifle, carrying balls eight to the pound; two breech-loading revolvers, twenty-four muskets (flint locks), six single-barrelled pistols, one battle-axe, two swords, two daggers (Persian kummers, purchased at Shiraz by myself), one boar-spear, two American axes 4 lbs. each, twenty-four hatchets, and twenty-four butcher-knives.
The Expedition has been fitted with care; whatever it needed was not stinted; everything was provided. Nothing was done too hurriedly, yet everything was purchased, manufactured, collected, and compounded with the utmost despatch consistent with efficiency and means. Should it fail of success in its errand of rapid transit to Ujiji and back, it must simply happen from an accident which could not be controlled. So much for the personnel of the Expedition and its purpose, until its point de mire be reached.
We left Bagamoyo the attraction of all the curious, with much eclat, and defiled up a narrow lane shaded almost to twilight by the dense umbrage of two parallel hedges of mimosas. We were all in the highest spirits. The soldiers sang, the kirangozi lifted his voice into a loud bellowing note, and fluttered the American flag, which told all on-lookers, “Lo, a Musungu’s caravan!” and my heart, I thought, palpitated much too quickly for the sober face of a leader. But I could not check it; the enthusiasm of youth still clung to me — despite my travels; my pulses bounded with the full glow of staple health; behind me were the troubles which had harassed me for over two months. With that dishonest son of a Hindi, Soor Hadji Palloo, I had said my last word; of the blatant rabble, of Arabs, Banyans, and Baluches I had taken my last look; with the Jesuits of the French Mission I had exchanged farewells, and before me beamed the sun of promise as he sped towards the Occident. Loveliness glowed around me. I saw fertile fields, riant vegetation, strange trees — I heard the cry of cricket and pee-wit, and sibilant sound of many insects, all of which seemed to tell me, “At last you are started.” What could I do but lift my face toward the pure-glowing sky, and cry, “God be thanked!”
The first camp, Shamba Gonera, we arrived at in 1 hour 30 minutes, equal to 3 1/4 miles. This first, or “little journey,” was performed very well, “considering,” as the Irishman says. The boy Selim upset the cart not more than three times. Zaidi, the soldier, only once let his donkey, which carried one bag of my clothes and a box of ammunition, lie in a puddle of black water. The clothes have to be re-washed; the ammunition-box, thanks to my provision, was waterproof. Kamna perhaps knew the art of donkey-driving, but, overjoyful at the departure, had sung himself into oblivion of the difficulties with which an animal of the pure asinine breed has naturally to contend against, such as not knowing the right road, and inability to resist the temptation of straying into the depths of a manioc field; and the donkey, ignorant of the custom in vogue amongst ass-drivers of flourishing sticks before an animal’s nose, and misunderstanding the direction in which he was required to go, ran off at full speed along an opposite road, until his pack got unbalanced, and he was fain to come to the earth. But these incidents were trivial, of no importance, and natural to the first “little journey” in East Africa.
The soldiers’ point of character leaked out just a little. Bombay turned out to be honest and trusty, but slightly disposed to be dilatory. Uledi did more talking than work; while the runaway Ferajji and the useless-handed Mabruki Burton turned out to be true men and staunch, carrying loads the sight of which would have caused the strong-limbed hamals of Stamboul to sigh.
The saddles were excellent, surpassing expectation. The strong hemp canvas bore its one hundred and fifty-pounds’ burden with the strength of bull hide, and the loading and unloading of miscellaneous baggage was performed with systematic despatch. In brief, there was nothing to regret — the success of the journey proved our departure to be anything but premature.
The next three days were employed in putting the finishing touches to our preparations for the long land journey and our precautions against the Masika, which was now ominously near, and in settling accounts.
Shamba Gonera means Gonera’s Field. Gonera is a wealthy Indian widow, well disposed towards the Wasungu (whites). She exports much cloth, beads, and wire into the far interior, and imports in return much ivory. Her house is after the model of the town houses, with long sloping roof and projecting eaves, affording a cool shade, under which the pagazis love to loiter. On its southern and eastern side stretch the cultivated fields which supply Bagamoyo with the staple grain, matama, of East Africa; on the left grow Indian corn, and muhogo, a yam-like root of whitish colour, called by some manioc; when dry, it is ground and compounded into cakes similar to army slapjacks. On the north, just behind the house, winds a black quagmire, a sinuous hollow, which in its deepest parts always contains water — the muddy home of the brake-and-rush-loving “kiboko” or hippopotamus. Its banks, crowded with dwarf fan-palm, tall water-reeds, acacias, and tiger-grass, afford shelter to numerous aquatic birds, pelicans, &c. After following a course north-easterly, it conflows with the Kingani, which, at distance of four miles from Gonera’s country-house; bends eastward into the sea. To the west, after a mile of cultivation, fall and recede in succession the sea-beach of old in lengthy parallel waves, overgrown densely with forest grass and marsh reeds. On the spines of these land-swells flourish ebony, calabash, and mango.
“Sofari — sofari leo! Pakia, pakia!” — ” A journey — a journey to day! Set out! — set out!” rang the cheery voice of the kirangozi, echoed by that of my servant Selim, on the morning of the fourth day, which was fixed for our departure in earnest. As I hurried my men to their work, and lent a hand with energy to drop the tents, I mentally resolved that, if my caravans a should give me clear space, Unyanyembe should be our resting-place before three months expired. By 6 A.M. our early breakfast was despatched, and the donkeys and pagazis were defiling from Camp Gonera. Even at this early hour, and in this country place, there was quite a collection of curious natives, to whom we gave the parting “Kwaheri “ with sincerity. My bay horse was found to be invaluable for the service of a quarter-master of a transport-train; for to such was I compelled to compare myself. I could stay behind until the last donkey had quitted the camp, and, by a few minutes’ gallop, I could put myself at the head, leaving Shaw to bring up the rear.
The road was a mere footpath, and led over a soil which, though sandy, was of surprising fertility, producing grain and vegetables a hundredfold, the sowing and planting of which was done in the most unskilful manner. In their fields, at heedless labor, were men and women in the scantiest costumes, compared to which Adam and Eve, in their fig-tree apparel, must have been en grande tenue. We passed them with serious faces, while they laughed and giggled, and pointed their index fingers at this and that, which to them seemed so strange and bizarre.
In about half an hour we had left the tall matama and fields of water-melons, cucumbers, and manioc; and, crossing a reedy slough, were in an open forest of ebony and calabash. In its depths are deer in plentiful numbers, and at night it is visited by the hippopotami of the Kingani for the sake of its grass. In another hour we had emerged from the woods, and were looking down upon the broad valley of the Kingani, and a scene presented itself so utterly different from what my foolish imagination had drawn, that I felt quite relieved by the pleasing disappointment. Here was a valley stretching four miles east and west, and about eight miles north and south, left with the richest soil to its own wild growth of grass — which in civilization would have been a most valuable meadow for the rearing of cattle — invested as it was by dense forests, darkening the horizon at all points of the compass, and folded in by tree-clad ridges.
At the sound of our caravan the red antelope bounded away to our right and the left, and frogs hushed their croak. The sun shone hot, and while traversing the valley we experienced a little of its real African fervour. About half way across we came to a sluice of stagnant water which, directly in the road of the caravan, had settled down into an oozy pond. The pagazis crossed a hastily-constructed bridge, thrown up a long time ago by some Washensi Samaritans. It was an extraordinary affair; rugged tree limbs resting on very unsteady forked piles, and it had evidently tested the patience of many a loaded Mnyamwezi, as it did those porters of our caravan. Our weaker animals were unloaded, the puddle between Bagamoyo and Genera having taught us prudence. But this did not occasion much delay; the men worked smartly under Shaw’s supervision.
The turbid Kingani, famous for its hippopotami, was reached in a short time, and we began to thread the jungle along its right bank until we were halted point-blank by a narrow sluice having an immeasurable depth of black mud. The difficulty presented by this was very grave, though its breadth was barely eight feet; the donkeys, and least of all the horses, could not be made to traverse two poles like our biped carriers, neither could they be driven into the sluice, where they would quickly founder. The only available way of crossing it in safety was by means of a bridge, to endure in this conservative land for generations as the handiwork of the Wasungu. So we set to work, there being no help for it, with American axes — the first of their kind the strokes of which ever rang in this part of the world — to build a bridge. Be sure it was made quickly, for where the civilized white is found, a difficulty must vanish. The bridge was composed of six stout trees thrown across, over these were laid crosswise fifteen pack saddles, covered again with a thick layer of grass. All the animals crossed it safely, and then for a third time that morning the process of wading was performed. The Kingani flowed northerly here, and our course lay down its right bank. A half mile in that direction through a jungle of giant reeds and extravagant climbers brought us to the ferry, where the animals had to be again unloaded — verily, I wished when I saw its deep muddy waters that I possessed the power of Moses with his magic rod, or what would have answered my purpose as well, Aladdin’s ring, for then I could have found myself and party on the opposite side without further trouble; but not having either of these gifts I issued orders for an immediate crossing, for it was ill wishing sublime things before this most mundane prospect.
Kingwere, the canoe paddler, espying us from his brake covert, on the opposite side, civilly responded to our halloos, and brought his huge hollowed tree skilfully over the whirling eddies of the river to where we stood waiting for him. While one party loaded the canoe with our goods, others got ready a long rape to fasten around the animals’ necks, wherewith to haul them through the river to the other bank. After seeing the work properly commenced, I sat down on a condemned canoe to amuse myself with the hippopotami by peppering their thick skulls with my No. 12 smooth-bore. The Winchester rifle (calibre 44), a present from the Hon. Edward Joy Morris — our minister at Constantinople — did no more than slightly tap them, causing about as much injury as a boy’s sling; it was perfect in its accuracy of fire, for ten times in succession I struck the tops of their heads between the ears. One old fellow, with the look of a sage, was tapped close to the right ear by one of these bullets. Instead of submerging himself as others had done he coolly turned round his head as if to ask, “Why this waste of valuable cartridges on us?” The response to the mute inquiry of his sageship was an ounce-and-a-quarter bullet from the smooth-bore, which made him bellow with pain, and in a few moments he rose up again, tumbling in his death agonies. As his groans were so piteous, I refrained from a useless sacrifice of life, and left the amphibious horde in peace.
A little knowledge concerning these uncouth inmates of the African waters was gained even during the few minutes we were delayed at the ferry. When undisturbed by foreign sounds, they congregate in shallow water on the sand bars, with the fore half of their bodies exposed to the warm sunshine, and are in appearance, when thus somnolently reposing, very like a herd of enormous swine. When startled by the noise of an intruder, they plunge hastily into the depths, lashing the waters into a yellowish foam, and scatter themselves below the surface, when presently the heads of a few reappear, snorting the water from their nostrils, to take a fresh breath and a cautious scrutiny around them; when thus, we see but their ears, forehead, eyes and nostrils, and as they hastily submerge again it requires a steady wrist and a quick hand to shoot them. I have heard several comparisons made of their appearance while floating in this manner: some Arabs told me before I had seen them that they looked like dead trees carried down the river; others, who in some country had seen hogs, thought they resembled them, but to my mind they look more like horses when swimming their curved necks and pointed ears, their wide eyes and expanded nostrils, favor greatly this comparison.
At night they seek the shore, and wander several miles over the country, luxuriating among its rank grasses. To within four miles of the town of Bagamoyo (the Kingani is eight miles distant) their wide tracks are seen. Frequently, if not disturbed by the startling human voice, they make a raid on the rich corn-stalks of the native cultivators, and a dozen of them will in a few minutes make a frightful havoc in a large field of this plant. Consequently, we were not surprised, while delayed at the ferry, to hear the owners of the corn venting loud halloos, like the rosy-cheeked farmer boys in England when scaring the crows away from the young wheat.
The caravan in the meanwhile had crossed safely — bales, baggage, donkeys, and men. I had thought to have camped on the bank, so as to amuse myself with shooting antelope, and also for the sake of procuring their meat, in order to save my goats, of which I had a number constituting my live stock of provisions; but, thanks to the awe and dread which my men entertained of the hippopotami, I was hurried on to the outpost of the Baluch garrison at Bagamoyo, a small village called Kikoka, distant four miles from the river.
The western side of the river was a considerable improvement upon the eastern. The plain, slowly heaving upwards, as smoothly as the beach of a watering-place, for the distance of a mile, until it culminated in a gentle and rounded ridge, presented none of those difficulties which troubled us on the other side. There were none of those cataclysms of mire and sloughs of black mud and over-tall grasses, none of that miasmatic jungle with its noxious emissions; it was just such a scene as one may find before an English mansion — a noble expanse of lawn and sward, with boscage sufficient to agreeably diversify it. After traversing the open plain, the road led through a grove of young ebony trees, where guinea-fowls and a hartebeest were seen; it then wound, with all the characteristic eccentric curves of a goat-path, up and down a succession of land-waves crested by the dark green foliage of the mango, and the scantier and lighter-coloured leaves of the enormous calabash. The depressions were filled with jungle of more or less density, while here and there opened glades, shadowed even during noon by thin groves of towering trees. At our approach fled in terror flocks of green pigeons, jays, ibis, turtledoves, golden pheasants, quails and moorhens, with crows and hawks, while now and then a solitary pelican winged its way to the distance.
Nor was this enlivening prospect without its pairs of antelope, and monkeys which hopped away like Australian kangaroos; these latter were of good size, with round bullet heads, white breasts, and long tails tufted at the end.
We arrived at Kikoka by 5 P.m., having loaded and unloaded our pack animals four times, crossing one deep puddle, a mud sluice, and a river, and performed a journey of eleven miles.
The settlement of Kikoka is a collection of straw huts; not built after any architectural style, but after a bastard form, invented by indolent settlers from the Mrima and Zanzibar for the purpose of excluding as much sunshine as possible from the eaves and interior. A sluice and some wells provide them with water, which though sweet is not particularly wholesome or appetizing, owing to the large quantities of decayed matter which is washed into it by the rains, and is then left to corrupt in it. A weak effort has been made to clear the neighbourhood for providing a place for cultivation, but to the dire task of wood-chopping and jungle-clearing the settlers prefer occupying an open glade, which they clear of grass, so as to be able to hoe up two or three inches of soil, into which they cast their seed, confident of return.
The next day was a halt at Kikoka; the fourth caravan, consisting solely of Wanyamwezi, proving a sore obstacle to a rapid advance. Maganga, its chief, devised several methods of extorting more cloth and presents from me, he having cost already more than any three chiefs together; but his efforts were of no avail further than obtaining promises of reward if he would hurry on to Unyanyembe so that I might find my road clear.
On the 2(7?)th, the Wanyamwezi having started, we broke camp soon after at 7 am. The country was of the same nature as that lying between the Kingani and Kikokaa park land, attractive and beautiful in every feature.
I rode in advance to secure meat should a chance present itself, but not the shadow of vert or venison did I see. Ever in our front — westerly — rolled the land-waves, now rising, now subsiding, parallel one with the other, like a ploughed field many times magnified. Each ridge had its knot of jungle or its thin combing of heavily foliaged trees, until we arrived close to Rosako, our next halting place, when the monotonous wavure of the land underwent a change, breaking into independent hummocks clad with dense jungle. On one of these, veiled by an impenetrable jungle of thorny acacia, rested Rosako; girt round by its natural fortification, neighbouring another village to the north of it similarly protected. Between them sank a valley extremely fertile and bountiful in its productions, bisected by a small stream, which serves as a drain to the valley or low hills surrounding it.
Rosako is the frontier village of Ukwere, while Kikoka is the north-western extremity of Uzaramo. We entered this village, and occupied its central portion with our tents and animals. A kitanda, or square light bedstead, without valance, fringe, or any superfluity whatever, but nevertheless quite as comfortable as with them, was brought to my tent for my use by the village chief. The animals were, immediately after being unloaded, driven out to feed, and the soldiers to a man set to work to pile the baggage up, lest the rain, which during the Masika season always appears imminent, might cause irreparable damage.
Among other experiments which I was about to try in Africa was that of a good watch-dog on any unmannerly people who would insist upon coming into my tent at untimely hours and endangering valuables. Especially did I wish to try the effect of its bark on the mighty Wagogo, who, I was told by certain Arabs, would lift the door of the tent and enter whether you wished them or not; who would chuckle at the fear they inspired, and say to you, “Hi, hi, white man, I never saw the like of you before; are there many more like you? where do you come from?” Also would they take hold of your watch and ask you with a cheerful curiosity, “What is this for, white man?” to which you of course would reply that it was to tell you the hour and minute. But the Mgogo, proud of his prowess, and more unmannerly than a brute, would answer you with a snort of insult. I thought of a watch-dog, and procured a good one at Bombay not only as a faithful companion, but to threaten the heels of just such gentry.
But soon after our arrival at Rosako it was found that the dog, whose name was “Omar,” given him from his Turkish origin, was missing; he had strayed away from the soldiers during a rain-squall and had got lost. I despatched Mabruki Burton back to Kikoka to search for him. On the following morning, just as we were about to leave Rosako, the faithful fellow returned with the lost dog, having found him at Kikoka.
Previous to our departure on the morning after this, Maganga, chief of the fourth caravan, brought me the unhappy report that three of his pagazis were sick, and he would like to have some “dowa” — medicine. Though not a doctor, or in any way connected with the profession, I had a well-supplied medicine chest — without which no traveller in Africa could live — for just such a contingency as was now present. On visiting Maganga’s sick men, I found one suffering from inflammation of the lungs, another from the mukunguru (African intermittent). They all imagined themselves about to die, and called loudly for “Mama!” “Mama!” though they were all grown men. It was evident that the fourth caravan could not stir that day, so leaving word with Magauga to hurry after me as soon as possible, I issued orders for the march of my own.
Excepting in the neighbourhood of the villages which we have passed there were no traces of cultivation. The country extending between the several stations is as much a wilderness as the desert of Sahara, though it possesses a far more pleasing aspect. Indeed, had the first man at the time of the Creation gazed at his world and perceived it of the beauty which belongs to this part of Africa, he would have had no cause of complaint. In the deep thickets, set like islets amid a sea of grassy verdure, he would have found shelter from the noonday heat, and a safe retirement for himself and spouse during the awesome darkness. In the morning he could have walked forth on the sloping sward, enjoyed its freshness, and performed his ablutions in one of the many small streams flowing at its foot. His garden of fruit-trees is all that is required; the noble forests, deep and cool, are round about him, and in their shade walk as many animals as one can desire. For days and days let a man walk in any direction, north, south, east, and west, and he will behold the same scene.
Earnestly as I wished to hurry on to Unyanyembe, still a heart-felt anxiety about the arrival of my goods carried by the fourth caravan, served as a drag upon me and before my caravan had marched nine miles my anxiety had risen to the highest pitch, and caused me to order a camp there and then. The place selected for it was near a long straggling sluice, having an abundance of water during the rainy season, draining as it does two extensive slopes. No sooner had we pitched our camp, built a boma of thorny acacia, and other tree branches, by stacking them round our camp, and driven our animals to grass; than we were made aware of the formidable number and variety of the insect tribe, which for a time was another source of anxiety, until a diligent examination of the several species dispelled it.
As it was a most interesting hunt which I instituted for the several specimens of the insects, I here append the record of it for what it is worth. My object in obtaining these specimens was to determine whether the genus Glossina morsitans of the naturalist, or the tsetse (sometimes called setse) of Livingstone, Vardon, and Gumming, said to be deadly to horses, was amongst them. Up to this date I had been nearly two months in East Africa, and had as yet seen no tsetse; and my horses, instead of becoming emaciated — for such is one of the symptoms of a tsetse bite — had considerably improved in condition. There were three different species of flies which sought shelter in my tent, which, unitedly, kept up a continual chorus of sounds — one performed the basso profondo, another a tenor, and the third a weak contralto. The first emanated from a voracious and fierce fly, an inch long, having a ventral capacity for blood quite astonishing.
This larger fly was the one chosen for the first inspection, which was of the intensest. I permitted one to alight on my flannel pyjamas, which I wore while en deshabille in camp. No sooner had he alighted than his posterior was raised, his head lowered, and his weapons, consisting of four hair-like styles, unsheathed from the proboscis-like bag which concealed them, and immediately I felt pain like that caused by a dexterous lancet-cut or the probe of a fine needle. I permitted him to gorge himself, though my patience and naturalistic interest were sorely tried. I saw his abdominal parts distend with the plenitude of the repast until it had swollen to three times its former shrunken girth, when he flew away of his own accord laden with blood. On rolling up my flannel pyjamas to see the fountain whence the fly had drawn the fluid, I discovered it to be a little above the left knee, by a crimson bead resting over the incision. After wiping the blood the wound was similar to that caused by a deep thrust of a fine needle, but all pain had vanished with the departure of the fly.
Having caught a specimen of this fly, I next proceeded to institute a comparison between it and the tsetse, as described by Dr. Livingstone on pp. 56–57, ‘Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa’ (Murray’s edition of 1868). The points of disagreement are many, and such as to make it entirely improbable that this fly is the true tsetse, though my men unanimously stated that its bite was fatal to horses as well as to donkeys. A descriptive abstract of the tsetse would read thus: “Not much larger than a common house-fly, nearly of the same brown colour as the honey-bee. After-part of the body has yellow bars across it. It has a peculiar buzz, and its bite is death to the horse, ox, and dog. On man the bite has no effect, neither has it on wild animals. When allowed to feed on the hand, it inserts the middle prong of three portions into which the proboscis divides, it then draws the prong out a little way, and it assumes a crimson colour as the mandibles come into brisk operation; a slight itching irritation follows the bite.”
The fly which I had under inspection is called mabunga by the natives. It is much larger than the common housefly, fully a third larger than the common honey-bee, and its colour more distinctly marked; its head is black, with a greenish gloss to it; the after-part of the body is marked by a white line running lengthwise from its junction with the trunk, and on each side of this white line are two other lines, one of a crimson colour, the other of a light brown. As for its buzz, there is no peculiarity in it, it might be mistaken for that of a honey-bee. When caught it made desperate efforts to get away, but never attempted to bite. This fly, along with a score of others, attacked my grey horse, and bit it so sorely in the legs that they appeared as if bathed in blood. Hence, I might have been a little vengeful if, with more than the zeal of an entomologist, I caused it to disclose whatever peculiarities its biting parts possessed.
In order to bring this fly as life-like as possible before my readers, I may compare its head to most tiny miniature of an elephant’s, because it has a black proboscis and a pair of horny antennae, which in colour and curve resemble tusks. The black proboscis, however, the simply a hollow sheath, which encloses, when not in the act of biting, four reddish and sharp lancets. Under the microscope these four lancets differ in thickness, two are very thick, the third is slender, but the fourth, of an opal colour and almost transparent, is exceedingly fine. This last must be the sucker. When the fly is about to wound, the two horny antennae are made to embrace the part, the lancets are unsheathed, and on the instant the incision is performed. This I consider to be the African “horse-fly.’
The second fly, which sang the tenor notes more nearly resembled in size and description the tsetse. It was exceedingly nimble, and it occupied three soldiers nearly an hour to capture a specimen; and, when it was finally caught, it stung most ravenously the hand, and never ceased its efforts to attack until it was pinned through. It had three or four white marks across the after-part of its body; but the biting parts of this fly consisted of two black antennae and an opal coloured style, which folded away under the neck. When about to bite, this style was shot out straight, and the antennae embraced it closely. After death the fly lost its distinctive white marks. Only one of this species did we see at this camp. The third fly, called “chufwa,” pitched a weak alto-crescendo note, was a third larger than the house fly, and had long wings. If this insect sang the feeblest note, it certainly did the most work, and inflicted the most injury. Horses and donkeys streamed with blood, and reared and kicked through the pain. So determined was it not to be driven before it obtained its fill, that it was easily despatched; but this dreadful enemy to cattle constantly increased in numbers. The three species above named are, according to natives, fatal to cattle; and this may perhaps be the reason why such a vast expanse of first-class pasture is without domestic cattle of any kind, a few goats only being kept by the villagers. This fly I subsequently found to be the “tsetse.”
On the second morning, instead of proceeding, I deemed it more prudent to await the fourth caravan. Burton experimented sufficiently for me on the promised word of the Banyans of Kaole and Zanzibar, and waited eleven months before he received the promised articles. As I did not expect to be much over that time on my errand altogether, it would be ruin, absolute and irremediable, should I be detained at Unyanyembe so long a time by my caravan. Pending its arrival, I sought the pleasures of the chase. I was but a tyro in hunting, I confess, though I had shot a little on the plains of America and Persia; yet I considered myself a fair shot, and on game ground, and within a reasonable proximity to game, I doubted not but I could bring some to camp.
After a march of a mile through the tall grass of the open, we gained the glades between the jungles. Unsuccessful here, after ever so much prying into fine hiding-places and lurking corners, I struck a trail well traversed by small antelope and hartebeest, which we followed. It led me into a jungle, and down a watercourse bisecting it; but, after following it for an hour, I lost it, and, in endeavouring to retrace it, lost my way. However, my pocket-compass stood me in good stead; and by it I steered for the open plain, in the centre of which stood the camp. But it was terribly hard work — this of plunging through an African jungle, ruinous to clothes, and trying to the cuticle. In order to travel quickly, I had donned a pair of flannel pyjamas, and my feet were encased in canvas shoes. As might be expected, before I had gone a few paces a branch of the acacia horrida — only one of a hundred such annoyances — caught the right leg of my pyjamas at the knee, and ripped it almost clean off; succeeding which a stumpy kolquall caught me by the shoulder, and another rip was the inevitable consequence. A few yards farther on, a prickly aloetic plant disfigured by a wide tear the other leg of my pyjamas, and almost immediately I tripped against a convolvulus strong as ratline, and was made to measure my length on a bed of thorns. It was on all fours, like a hound on a scent, that I was compelled to travel; my solar topee getting the worse for wear every minute; my skin getting more and more wounded; my clothes at each step becoming more and more tattered. Besides these discomforts, there was a pungent, acrid plant which, apart from its strong odorous emissions, struck me smartly on the face, leaving a burning effect similar to cayenne; and the atmosphere, pent in by the density of the jungle, was hot and stifling, and the perspiration transuded through every pore, making my flannel tatters feel as if I had been through a shower. When I had finally regained the plain, and could breathe free, I mentally vowed that the penetralia of an African jungle should not be visited by me again, save under most urgent necessity.
The second and third day passed without any news of Maganga. Accordingly, Shaw and Bombay were sent to hurry him up by all means. On the fourth morning Shaw and Bombay returned, followed by the procrastinating Maganga and his laggard people. Questions only elicited an excuse that his men had been too sick, and he had feared to tax their strength before they were quite equal to stand the fatigue. Moreover he suggested that as they would be compelled to stay one day more at the camp, I might push on to Kingaru and camp there, until his arrival. Acting upon which suggestion I broke camp and started for Kingaru, distant five miles.
On this march the land was more broken, and the caravan first encountered jungle, which gave considerable trouble to our cart. Pisolitic limestone cropped out in boulders and sheets, and we began to imagine ourselves approaching healthy highlands, and as if to give confirmation to the thought, to the north and north-west loomed the purple cones of Udoe, and topmost of all Dilima Peak, about 1,500 feet in height above the sea level. But soon after sinking into a bowl-like valley, green with tall corn, the road slightly deviated from north-west to west, the country still rolling before us in wavy undulations.
In one of the depressions between these lengthy land-swells stood the village of Kingaru, with surroundings significant in their aspect of ague and fever. Perhaps the clouds surcharged with rain, and the overhanging ridges and their dense forests dulled by the gloom, made the place more than usually disagreeable, but my first impressions of the sodden hollow, pent in by those dull woods, with the deep gully close by containing pools of stagnant water, were by no means agreeable.
Before we could arrange our camp and set the tents up, down poured the furious harbinger of the Masika season in torrents sufficient to damp the ardor and newborn love for East Africa I had lately manifested. However, despite rain, we worked on until our camp was finished and the property was safely stored from weather and thieves, and we could regard with resignation the raindrops beating the soil into mud of a very tenacious kind, and forming lakelets and rivers of our camp-ground.
Towards night, the scene having reached its acme of unpleasantness, the rain ceased, and the natives poured into camp from the villages in the woods with their vendibles. Foremost among these, as if in duty bound, came the village sultan — lord, chief, or head — bearing three measures of matama and half a measure of rice, of which he begged, with paternal smiles, my acceptance. But under his smiling mask, bleared eyes, and wrinkled front was visible the soul of trickery, which was of the cunningest kind. Responding under the same mask adopted by this knavish elder, I said, “The chief of Kingaru has called me a rich sultan. If I am a rich sultan why comes not the chief with a rich present to me, that he might get a rich return?” Said he, with another leer of his wrinkled visage, “Kingaru is poor, there is no matama in the village.” To which I replied that since there was no matama in the village I would pay him half a shukka, or a yard of cloth, which would be exactly equivalent to his present; that if he preferred to call his small basketful a present, I should be content to call my yard of cloth a present. With which logic he was fain to be satisfied.
April 1st. — To-day the Expedition suffered a loss in the death of the grey Arab horse presented by Seyd Burghash, Sultan of Zanzibar. The night previous I had noticed that the horse was suffering. Bearing in mind what has been so frequently asserted, namely, that no horses could live in the interior of Africa because of the tsetse, I had him opened, and the stomach, which I believed to be diseased, examined. Besides much undigested matama and grass there were found twenty-five short, thick, white worms, sticking like leeches into the coating of the stomach, while the intestines were almost alive with the numbers of long white worms. I was satisfied that neither man nor beast could long exist with such a mass of corrupting life within him.
In order that the dead carcase might not taint the valley, I had it buried deep in the ground, about a score of yards from the encampment. From such a slight cause ensued a tremendous uproar from Kingaru — chief of the village — who, with his brother-chiefs of neighbouring villages, numbering in the aggregate two dozen wattled huts, had taken counsel upon the best means of mulcting the Musungu of a full doti or two of Merikani, and finally had arrived at the conviction that the act of burying a dead horse in their soil without “By your leave, sir,” was a grievous and fineable fault. Affecting great indignation at the unpardonable omission, he, Kingaru, concluded to send to the Musungu four of his young men to say to him that “since you have buried your horse in my ground, it is well; let him remain there; but you must pay me two doti of Merikani.” For reply the messengers were told to say to the chief that I would prefer talking the matter over with himself face to face, if he would condescend to visit me in my tent once again. As the village was but a stone’s throw from our encampment, before many minutes had elapsed the wrinkled elder made his appearance at the door of my tent with about half the village behind him.
The following dialogue which took place will serve to illustrate the tempers of the people with whom I was about to have a year’s trading intercourse:
White Man. — “Are you the great chief of Kingaru?”
Kingaru. — “Huh-uh. Yes.”
W. M. — “The great, great chief?”
Kingaru. — “Huh-uh. Yes.”
W. M. — ” How many soldiers have you?”
Kingaru. — ” Why?”
W. M. — “How many fighting men have you?”
Kingaru. — “None.”
W. M. — “Oh! I thought you might have a thousand men with you, by your going to fine a strong white man, who has plenty of guns and soldiers, two doti for burying a dead horse.”
Kingaru (rather perplexed). — ” No; I have no soldiers. I have only a few young men,”
W. M. — “Why do you come and make trouble, then?”
Kingaru. — “It was not I; it was my brothers who said to me, ‘Come here, come here, Kingaru, see what the white man has done! Has he not taken possession of your soil, in that he has put his horse into your ground without your permission? Come, go to him and see by what right.’ Therefore have I come to ask you, who gave you permission to use my soil for a burying-ground?”
W. M. “I want no man’s permission to do what is right. My horse died; had I left him to fester and stink in your valley, sickness would visit your village, your water would become unwholesome, and caravans would not stop here for trade; for they would say, ‘This is an unlucky spot, let us go away.’ But enough said: I understand you to say that you do not want him buried in your ground; the error I have fallen into is easily put right. This minute my soldiers shall dig him out again, and cover up the soil as it was before; and the horse shall be left where he died.” (Then shouting to Bombay.) “Ho! Bombay, take soldiers with jembes to dig my horse out of the ground, drag him to where he died, and make everything ready for a march tomorrow morning.”
Kingaru, his voice considerably higher, and his head moving to and fro with emotion, cries out, “Akuna, akuna, bana!” — “No, no, master! Let not the white man get angry. The horse is dead, and now lies buried; let him remain so, since he is already there, and let us be friends again.”
The Sheikh of Kingaru being thus brought to his senses, we bid each other the friendly “Kwaheri,” and I was left alone to ruminate over my loss. Barely half an hour had elapsed, it was 9 P.M., the camp was in a semi-doze, when I heard deep groans issuing from one of the animals. Upon inquiry as to what animal was suffering, I was surprised to hear that it was my bay horse. With a bull’s-eye lantern, I visited him, and perceived that the pain was located in the stomach, but whether it was from some poisonous plant he had eaten while out grazing, or from some equine disease, I did not know. He discharged copious quantities of loose matter, but there was nothing peculiar in its colour. The pain was evidently very great, for his struggles were very violent. I was up all night, hoping that it was but a temporary effect of some strange and noxious plant; but at 6 o’clock the next morning, after a short period of great agony, he also died; exactly fifteen hours after his companion. When the stomach was opened, it was found that death was caused by the internal rupture of a large cancer, which had affected the larger half of the coating of his stomach, and had extended an inch or two up the larynx. The contents of the stomach and intestines were deluged with the yellow viscous efflux from the cancer.
I was thus deprived of both my horses, and that within the short space of fifteen hours. With my limited knowledge of veterinary science, however, strengthened by the actual and positive proofs obtained by the dissection of the two stomachs, I can scarcely state that horses can live to reach Unyanyembe, or that they can travel with ease through this part of East Africa. But should I have occasion at some future day, I should not hesitate to take four horses with me, though I should certainly endeavour to ascertain previous to purchase whether they, were perfectly sound and healthy, and to those travellers who cherish a good horse I would say, “Try one,” and be not discouraged by my unfortunate experiences.
The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of April passed, and nothing had we heard or seen of the ever-lagging fourth caravan. In the meanwhile the list of casualties was being augmented. Besides the loss of this precious time, through the perverseness of the chief of the other caravan, and the loss of my two horses, a pagazi carrying boat-fixtures improved the opportunity, and deserted. Selim was struck down with a severe attack of ague and fever, and was soon after followed by the cook, then by the assistant cook and tailor, Abdul Kader. Finally, before the third day was over, Bombay had rheumatism, Uledi (Grant’s old valet) had a swollen throat, Zaidi had the flux, Kingaru had the mukunguru; Khamisi, a pagazi, suffered from a weakness of the loins; Farjalla had a bilious fever; and before night closed Makoviga was very ill. Out of a force of twenty-five men one had deserted, and ten were on the sick list, and the presentiment that the ill-looking neighbourhood of Kingaru would prove calamitous to me was verified.
On the 4th April Maganga and his people appeared, after being heralded by musketry-shots and horn-blowing, the usual signs of an approaching caravan in this land. His sick men were considerably improved, but they required one more day of rest at Kingaru. In the afternoon he came to lay siege to my generosity, by giving details of Soor Hadji Palloo’s heartless cheats upon him; but I informed him, that since I had left Bagamoyo, I could no longer be generous; we were now in a land where cloth was at a high premium; that I had no more cloth than I should need to furnish food for myself and men; that he and his caravan had cost me more money and trouble than any three caravans I had, as indeed was the case. With this counter-statement he was obliged to be content. But I again solved his pecuniary doubts by promising that, if he hurried his caravan on to Unyanyembe, be should have no cause of complaint.
The 5th of April saw the fourth caravan vanish for once in our front, with a fair promise that, however fast we should follow, we should not see them the hither side of Sinbamwenni.
The following morning, in order to rouse my people from the sickened torpitude they had lapsed into, I beat an exhilarating alarum on a tin pan with an iron ladle, intimating that a sofari was about to be undertaken. This had a very good effect, judging from the extraordinary alacrity with which it was responded to. Before the sun rose we started. The Kingaru villagers were out with the velocity of hawks for any rags or refuse left behind us.
The long march to Imbiki, fifteen miles, proved that our protracted stay at Kingaru had completely demoralized my soldiers and pagazis. Only a few of them had strength enough to reach Imbiki before night. The others, attending the laden donkeys, put in an appearance next morning, in a lamentable state of mind and body. Khamisi — the pagazi with the weak loins — had deserted, taking with him two goats, the property tent, and the whole of Uledi’s personal wealth, consisting of his visiting dish-dasheh — a long shirt of the Arabic pattern, 10 lbs. of beads, and a few fine cloths, which Uledi, in a generous fit, had intrusted to him, while he carried the pagazi’s load, 70 lbs. of Bubu beads. This defalcation was not to be overlooked, nor should Khamisi be permitted to return without an effort to apprehend him. Accordingly Uledi and Ferajji were despatched in pursuit while we rested at Imbiki, in order to give the dilapidated soldiers and animals time to recruit.
On the 8th we continued our journey, and arrived at Msuwa. This march will be remembered by our caravan as the most fatiguing of all, though the distance was but ten miles. It was one continuous jungle, except three interjacent glades of narrow limits, which gave us three breathing pauses in the dire task of jungle travelling. The odour emitted from its fell plants was so rank, so pungently acrid, and the miasma from its decayed vegetation so dense, that I expected every moment to see myself and men drop down in paroxysms of acute fever. Happily this evil was not added to that of loading and unloading the frequently falling packs. Seven soldiers to attend seventeen laden donkeys were entirely too small a number while passing through a jungle; for while the path is but a foot wide, with a wall of thorny plants and creepers bristling on each side, and projecting branches darting across it, with knots of spikey twigs stiff as spike-nails, ready to catch and hold anything above four feet in height, it is but reasonable to suppose that donkeys standing four feet high, with loads measuring across from bale to bale four feet, would come to grief. This grief was of frequent recurrence here, causing us to pause every few minutes for re-arrangements. So often had this task to be performed, that the men got perfectly discouraged, and had to bespoken to sharply before they set to work. By the time I reached Msuwa there was nobody with me and the ten donkeys I drove but Mabruk the Little, who, though generally stolid, stood to his work like a man. Bombay and Uledi were far behind, with the most jaded donkeys. Shaw was in charge of the cart, and his experiences were most bitter, as he informed me he had expended a whole vocabulary of stormy abuse known to sailors, and a new one which he had invented ex tempore. He did not arrive until two o’clock next morning, and was completely worn out.
Another halt was fixed at Msuwa, that we and our animals might recuperate. The chief of the village, a white man in everything but colour, sent me and mine the fattest broad-tailed sheep of his flock, with five measures of matama grain. The mutton was excellent, unapproachable. For his timely and needful present I gave him two doti, and amused him with an exhibition of the wonderful mechanism of the Winchester rifle, and my breechloading revolvers.
He and his people were intelligent enough to comprehend the utility of these weapons at an emergency, and illustrated in expressive pantomime the powers they possessed against numbers of people armed only with spears and bows, by extending their arms with an imaginary gun and describing a clear circle. “Verily,” said they, “the Wasungu are far wiser than the Washensi. What heads they have! What wonderful things they make! Look at their tents, their guns, their time-pieces, their clothes, and that little rolling thing (the cart) which carries more than five men, — que!”
On the 10th, recovered from the excessive strain of the last march, the caravan marched out of Msuwa, accompanied by the hospitable villagers as far as their stake defence, receiving their unanimous “Kwaheris.” Outside the village the march promised to be less arduous than between Imbiki and Msuwa. After crossing a beautiful little plain intersected by a dry gully or mtoni, the route led by a few cultivated fields, where the tillers greeted us with one grand unwinking stare, as if fascinated.
Soon after we met one of those sights common in part of the world, to wit a chain slave-gang, bound east. The slaves did not appear to be in any way down-hearted on the contrary, they seemed imbued with the philosophic jollity of the jolly servant of Martin Chuzzlewit. Were it not for their chains, it would have been difficult to discover master from slave; the physiognomic traits were alike — the mild benignity with which we were regarded was equally visible on all faces. The chains were ponderous — they might have held elephants captive; but as the slaves carried nothing but themselves, their weight could not have been insupportable.
The jungle was scant on this march, and though in some places the packs met with accidents, they were not such as seriously to retard progress. By 10 A.M. we were in camp in the midst of an imposing view of green sward and forest domed by a cloudless sky. We had again pitched our camp in the wilderness, and, as is the custom of caravans, fired two shots to warn any Washensi having grain to sell, that we were willing to trade.
Our next halting-place was Kisemo, distant but eleven miles from Msuwa, a village situated in a populous district, having in its vicinity no less than five other villages, each fortified by stakes and thorny abattis, with as much fierce independence as if their petty lords were so many Percys and Douglasses. Each topped a ridge, or a low hummock, with an assumption of defiance of the cock-on-its-own-dunghill type. Between these humble eminences and low ridges of land wind narrow vales which are favored with the cultivation of matama and Indian corn. Behind the village flows the Ungerengeri River, an impetuous stream during the Masika season, capable of overflowing its steep banks, but in the dry season it subsides into its proper status, which is that of a small stream of very clear sweet water. Its course from Kisemo is south-west, then easterly; it is the main feeder of the Kingani River.
The belles of Kisemo are noted for their vanity in brass wire, which is wound in spiral rings round their wrists and ankles, and the varieties of style which their hispid heads exhibit; while their poor lords, obliged to be contented with dingy torn clouts and split ears, show what wide sway Asmodeus holds over this terrestrial sphere — for it must have been an unhappy time when the hard-besieged husbands finally gave way before their spouses. Besides these brassy ornaments on their extremities, and the various hair-dressing styles, the women of Kisemo frequently wear lengthy necklaces, which run in rivers of colours down their bodies.
A more comical picture is seldom presented than that of one of these highly-dressed females engaged in the homely and necessary task of grinding corn for herself and family. The grinding apparatus consists of two portions: one, a thick pole of hard wood about six feet long, answering for a pestle; the other, a capacious wooden mortar, three feet in height.
While engaged in setting his tent, Shaw was obliged to move a small flat stone, to drive a peg into the ground. The village chief, who saw him do it, rushed up in a breathless fashion, and replaced the stone instantly, then stood on it in an impressive manner, indicative of the great importance attached to that stone and location. Bombay, seeing Shaw standing in silent wonder at the act, volunteered to ask the chief what was the matter. The Sheikh solemnly answered, with a finger pointing downward, “Uganga!” Whereupon I implored him to let me see what was under the stone. With a graciousness quite affecting he complied. My curiosity was gratified with the sight of a small whittled stick, which pinned fast to the ground an insect, the cause of a miscarriage to a young female of the village.
During the afternoon, Uledi and Ferajji, who had been despatched after the truant Khamisi, returned with him and all the missing articles. Khamisi, soon after leaving the road and plunging into the jungle, where he was mentally triumphing in his booty, was met by some of the plundering Washensi, who are always on the qui vive for stragglers, and unceremoniously taken to their village in the woods, and bound to a tree preparatory, to being killed. Khamisi said that he asked them why they tied him up, to which they answered, that they were about to kill him, because he was a Mgwana, whom they were accustomed to kill as soon as they were caught. But Uledi and Ferajji shortly after coming upon the scene, both well armed, put an end to the debates upon Khamisi’s fate, by claiming him as an absconding pagazi from the Musungu’s camp, as well as all the articles he possessed at the time of capture. The robbers did not dispute the claim for the pagazi, goats, tent, or any other valuable found with him, but intimated that they deserved a reward for apprehending him. The demand being considered just, a reward to the extent of two doti and a fundo, or ten necklaces of beads, was given.
Khamisi, for his desertion and attempted robbery, could not be pardoned without first suffering punishment. He had asked at Bagamoyo, before enlisting in my service, an advance of $5 in money, and had received it, and a load of Bubu beads, no heavier than a pagazis load, had been given him to carry; he had, therefore, no excuse for desertion. Lest I should overstep prudence, however, in punishing him, I convened a court of eight pagazis and four soldiers to sit in judgment, and asked them to give me their decision as to what should be done. Their unanimous verdict was that he was guilty of a crime almost unknown among the Wanyamwezi pagazis, and as it was likely to give bad repute to the Wanyamwezi carriers, they therefore sentenced him to be flogged with the “Great Master’s” donkey whip, which was accordingly carried out, to poor Khamisi’s crying sorrow.
On the 12th the caravan reached Mussoudi, on the Ungerengeri river. Happily for our patient donkeys this march was free from all the annoying troubles of the jungle. Happily for ourselves also, for we had no more the care of the packs and the anxiety about arriving at camp before night. The packs once put firmly on the backs of our good donkeys, they marched into camp — the road being excellent — without a single displacement or cause for one impatient word, soon after leaving Kisemo. A beautiful prospect, glorious in its wild nature, fragrant with its numerous flowers and variety of sweetly-smelling shrubs, among which I recognised the wild sage, the indigo plant, &c., terminated only at the foot of Kira Peak and sister cones, which mark the boundaries between Udoe and Ukami, yet distant twenty miles. Those distant mountains formed a not unfit background to this magnificent picture of open plain, forest patches, and sloping lawns — there was enough of picturesqueness and sublimity in the blue mountains to render it one complete whole. Suppose a Byron saw some of these scenes, he would be inclined to poetize in this manner:
Morn dawns, and with it stern Udoe’s hills, Dark Urrugum’s rocks, and Kira’s peak, Robed half in mist, bedewed with various rills, Arrayed in many a dun and purple streak.
When drawing near the valley of Ungerengeri, granite knobs and protuberances of dazzling quartz showed their heads above the reddish soil. Descending the ridge where these rocks were prominent, we found ourselves in the sable loam deposit of the Ungerengeri, and in the midst of teeming fields of sugar-cane and matama, Indian corn, muhogo, and gardens of curry, egg, and cucumber plants. On the banks of the Ungerengeri flourished the banana, and overtopping it by seventy feet and more, shot up the stately mparamusi, the rival in beauty of the Persian chenar and Abyssinian plane. Its trunk is straight and comely enough for the mainmast of a first, class frigate, while its expanding crown of leafage is distinguished from all others by its density and vivid greenness. There were a score of varieties of the larger kind of trees, whose far-extending branches embraced across the narrow but swift river. The depressions of the valley and the immediate neighbourhood of the river were choked with young forests of tiger-grass and stiff reeds.
Mussoudi is situated on a higher elevation than the average level of the village, and consequently looks down upon its neighbours, which number a hundred and more. It is the western extremity of Ukwere. On the western bank of the Ungerengeri the territory of the Wakami commences. We had to halt one day at Mussoudi because the poverty of the people prevented us from procuring the needful amount of grain. The cause of this scantiness in such a fertile and populous valley was, that the numerous caravans which had preceded us had drawn heavily for their stores for the upmarches.
On the 14th we crossed the Ungerengeri, which here flows southerly to the southern extremity of the valley, where it bends easterly as far as Kisemo. After crossing the river here, fordable at all times and only twenty yards in breadth, we had another mile of the valley with its excessively moist soil and rank growth of grass. It then ascended into a higher elevation, and led through a forest of mparamusi, tamarind, tamarisk, acacia, and the blooming mimosa. This ascent was continued for two hours, when we stood upon the spine of the largest ridge, where we could obtain free views of the wooded plain below and the distant ridges of Kisemo, which we had but lately left. A descent of a few hundred feet terminated in a deep but dry mtoni with a sandy bed, on the other side of which we had to regain the elevation we had lost, and a similar country opened into view until we found a newly-made boma with well-built huts of grass rear a pool of water, which we at once occupied as a halting-place for the night. The cart gave us considerable trouble; not even our strongest donkey, though it carried with ease on its back 196 lbs., could draw the cart with a load of only 225 lbs. weight.
Early on the morning of the 15th we broke camp and started for Mikeseh. By 8.30 A.M. we were ascending the southern face of the Kira Peak. When we had gained the height of two hundred feet above the level of the surrounding country, we were gratified with a magnificent view of a land whose soil knows no Sabbath.
After travelling the spine of a ridge abutting against the southern slope of Kira we again descended into the little valley of Kiwrima, the first settlement we meet in Udoe, where there is always an abundant supply of water. Two miles west of Kiwrima is Mikiseh.
On the 16th we reached Ulagalla after a few hours’ march. Ulagalla is the name of a district, or a portion of a district, lying between the mountains of Uruguru, which bound it southerly, and the mountains of Udoe, lying northerly and parallel with them, and but ten miles apart. The principal part of the basin thus formed is called Ulagalla.
Muhalleh is the next settlement, and here we found ourselves in the territory of the Waseguhha. On this march we were hemmed in by mountains — on our left by those of Uruguru, on our right by those of Udoe and Useguhha — a most agreeable and welcome change to us after the long miles of monotonous level we had hitherto seen. When tired of looking into the depths of the forest that still ran on either side of the road, we had but to look up to the mountain’s base, to note its strange trees, its plants and vari-coloured flowers, we had but to raise our heads to vary this pleasant occupation by observing the lengthy and sinuous spine of the mountains, and mentally report upon their outline, their spurs, their projections and ravines, their bulging rocks and deep clefts, and, above all, the dark green woods clothing them from summit to base. And when our attention was not required for the mundane task of regarding the donkeys’ packs, or the pace of the cautious-stepping pagazis, it was gratifying to watch the vapours play about the mountain summits — to see them fold into fleecy crowns and fantastic clusters, dissolve, gather together into a pall that threatened rain, and sail away again before the brightening sun.
At Muhalleh was the fourth caravan under Maganga with three more sick men, who turned with eager eyes to myself, “the dispenser of medicine,” as I approached. Salvos of small arms greeted me, and a present of rice and ears of Indian corn for roasting were awaiting my acceptance; but, as I told Maganga, I would have preferred to hear that his party were eight or ten marches ahead. At this camp, also, we met Salim bin Rashid, bound eastward, with a huge caravan carrying three hundred ivory tusks. This good Arab, besides welcoming the new comer with a present of rice, gave me news of Livingstone. He had met the old traveller at Ujiji, had lived in the next but to him for two weeks, described him as looking old, with long grey moustaches and beard, just recovered from severe illness, looking very wan; when fully recovered Livingstone intended to visit a country called Manyema by way of Marungu.
The valley of the Ungerengeri with Muhalleh exhibits wonderful fertility. Its crops of matama were of the tallest, and its Indian corn would rival the best crops ever seen in the Arkansas bottoms. The numerous mountain-fed streams rendered the great depth of loam very sloppy, in consequence of which several accidents occurred before we reached the camp, such as wetting cloth, mildewing tea, watering sugar, and rusting tools; but prompt attention to these necessary things saved us from considerable loss.
There was a slight difference noticed in the demeanour and bearing of the Waseguhha compared with the Wadoe, Wakami, and Wakwere heretofore seen. There was none of that civility we had been until now pleased to note: their express desire to barter was accompanied with insolent hints that we ought to take their produce at their own prices. If we remonstrated they became angry; retorting fiercely, impatient of opposition, they flew into a passion, and were glib in threats. This strange conduct, so opposite to that of the calm and gentle Wakwere, may be excellently illustrated by comparing the manner of the hot-headed Greek with that of the cool and collected German. Necessity compelled us to purchase eatables of them, and, to the credit of the country and its productions, be it said, their honey had the peculiar flavour of that of famed Hymettus.
Following the latitudinal valley of the Ungerengeri, within two hours on the following morning we passed close under the wall of the capital of Useguhha — Simbamwenni. The first view of the walled town at the western foot of the Uruguru mountains, with its fine valley abundantly beautiful, watered by two rivers, and several pellucid streams of water distilled by the dew and cloud-enriched heights around, was one that we did not anticipate to meet in Eastern Africa. In Mazanderan, Persia, such a scene would have answered our expectations, but here it was totally unexpected. The town may contain a population of 3,000, having about 1,000 houses; being so densely crowded, perhaps 5,000 would more closely approximate. The houses in the town are eminently African, but of the best type of construction. The fortifications are on an Arabic Persic model — combining Arab neatness with Persian plan. Through a ride of 950 miles in Persia I never met a town outside of the great cities better fortified than Simbamwenni. In Persia the fortifications were of mud, even those of Kasvin, Teheran, Ispahan, and Shiraz; those of Simbamwenni are of stone, pierced with two rows of loopholes for musketry. The area of the town is about half a square mile, its plan being quadrangular. Well-built towers of stone guard each corner; four gates, one facing each cardinal point, and set half way between the several towers, permit ingress and egress for its inhabitants. The gates are closed with solid square doors made of African teak, and carved with the infinitesimally fine and complicated devices of the Arabs, from which I suspect that the doors were made either at Zanzibar or on the coast, and conveyed to Simbamwenni plank by plank; yet as there is much communication between Bagamoyo and Simbamwenni, it is just possible that native artisans are the authors of this ornate workmanship, as several doors chiselled and carved in the same manner, though not quite so elaborately, were visible in the largest houses. The palace of the Sultan is after the style of those on the coast, with long sloping roof, wide eaves, and veranda in front.
The Sultana is the eldest daughter of the famous Kisabengo, a name infamous throughout the neighbouring countries of Udoe, Ukami, Ukwere, Kingaru, Ukwenni, and Kiranga–Wanna, for his kidnapping propensities. Kisabengo was another Theodore on a small scale. Sprung from humble ancestry, he acquired distinction for his personal strength, his powers of harangue, and his amusing and versatile address, by which he gained great ascendency over fugitive slaves, and was chosen a leader among them. Fleeing from justice, which awaited him at the hands of the Zanzibar Sultan, he arrived in Ukami, which extended at that time from Ukwere to Usagara, and here he commenced a career of conquest, the result of which was the cession by the Wakami of an immense tract of fertile country, in the valley of the Ungerengeri. On its most desirable site, with the river flowing close under the walls, he built his capital, and called it Simbamwenni, which means “The Lion,” or the strongest, City. In old age the successful robber and kidnapper changed his name of Kisabengo, which had gained such a notoriety, to Simbamwenni, after his town; and when dying, after desiring that his eldest daughter should succeed him, he bestowed the name of the town upon her also, which name of Simbamwenni the Sultana now retains and is known by.
While crossing a rapid stream, which, as I said before flowed close to the walls, the inhabitants of Simbamwenni had a fine chance of gratifying their curiosity of seeing the “Great Musungu,” whose several caravans had preceded him, and who unpardonably, because unlicensed, had spread a report of his great wealth and power. I was thus the object of a universal stare. At one time on the banks there were considerably over a thousand natives going through the several tenses and moods of the verb “to stare,” or exhibiting every phase of the substantive, viz. — the stare peremptory, insolent, sly, cunning, modest, and casual. The warriors of the Sultana, holding in one hand the spear, the bow, and sheaf or musket, embraced with the other their respective friends, like so many models of Nisus and Euryalus, Theseus and Pirithous, Damon and Pythias, or Achilles and Patroclus, to whom they confidentially related their divers opinions upon my dress and colour. The words “Musungu kuba” had as much charm for these people as the music of the Pied Piper had for the rats of Hamelin, since they served to draw from within the walls across their stream so large a portion of the population; and when I continued the journey to the Ungerengeri, distant four miles, I feared that the Hamelin catastrophe might have to be repeated before I could rid myself of them. But fortunately for my peace of mind, they finally proved vincible under the hot sun, and the distance we had to go to camp.
As we were obliged to overhaul the luggage, and repair saddles, as well as to doctor a few of the animals, whose backs had by this time become very sore, I determined to halt here two days. Provisions were very plentiful also at Simbamwenni, though comparatively dear.
On the second day I was, for the first time, made aware that my acclimatization in the ague-breeding swamps of Arkansas was powerless against the mukunguru of East Africa. The premonitory symptoms of the African type were felt in my system at 10 A.M. First, general lassitude prevailed, with a disposition to drowsiness; secondly, came the spinal ache which, commencing from the loins, ascended the vertebrae, and extended around the ribs, until it reached the shoulders, where it settled into a weary pain; thirdly came a chilliness over the whole body, which was quickly followed by a heavy head, swimming eyes, and throbbing temples, with vague vision, which distorted and transformed all objects of sight. This lasted until 10 P.M., and the mukunguru left me, much prostrated in strength.
The remedy, applied for three mornings in succession after the attack, was such as my experience in Arkansas had taught me was the most powerful corrective, viz., a quantum of fifteen grains of quinine, taken in three doses of five grains each, every other hour from dawn to meridian — the first dose to be taken immediately after the first effect of the purging medicine taken at bedtime the night previous. I may add that this treatment was perfectly successful in my case, and in all others which occurred in my camp. After the mukunguru had declared itself, there was no fear, with such a treatment of it, of a second attack, until at least some days afterwards.
On the third day the camp was visited by the ambassadors of Her Highness the Sultana of Simbamwenni, who came as her representatives to receive the tribute which she regards herself as powerful enough to enforce. But they, as well as Madame Simbamwenni, were informed, that as we knew it was their custom to charge owners of caravans but one tribute, and as they remembered the Musungu (Farquhar) had paid already, it was not fair that I should have to pay again. The ambassadors replied with a “Ngema” (very well), and promised to carry my answer back to their mistress. Though it was by no means “very well “ in fact, as it will be seen in a subsequent chapter how the female Simbamwenni took advantage of an adverse fortune which befell me to pay herself. With this I close the chapter of incidents experienced during our transit across the maritime region.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59