Mortality amongst the baggage animals. — The contumacious Wagogo — Mobs of Maenads. — Tribute paying. — Necessity of prudence. — Oration of the guide. — The genuine “Ugogians.” — Vituperative power. — A surprised chief. — The famous Mizanza. — Killing hyaenas. — The Greeks and Romans of Africa. — A critical moment. — The “elephant’s back.” — The wilderness of Ukimbu. — End of the first stage of the search. — Arrival at Unyanyembe.
The 22nd of May saw Thani and Hamed’s caravans united with my own at Chunyo, three and a half hours’ march from Mpwapwa. The road from the latter place ran along the skirts of the Mpwapwa range; at three or four places it crossed outlying spurs that stood isolated from the main body of the range. The last of these hill spurs, joined by an elevated cross ridge to the Mpwapwa, shelters the tembe of Chunyo, situated on the western face, from the stormy gusts that come roaring down the steep slopes. The water of Chunyo is eminently bad, in fact it is its saline-nitrous nature which has given the name Marenga Mkali — bitter water — to the wilderness which separates Usagara from Ugogo. Though extremely offensive to the palate, Arabs and the natives drink it without fear, and without any bad results; but they are careful to withhold their baggage animals from the pits. Being ignorant of its nature, and not exactly understanding what precise location was meant by Marenga Mkali, I permitted the donkeys to be taken to water, as usual after a march; and the consequence was calamitous in the extreme. What the fearful swamp of Makata had spared, the waters of Marenga Mkali destroyed. In less than five days after our departure from Chunyo or Marenga Mali, five out of the nine donkeys left to me at the time — the five healthiest animals — fell victims.
We formed quite an imposing caravan as we emerged from inhospitable Chunyo, in number amounting to about four hundred souls. We were strong in guns, flags, horns, sounding drums and noise. To Sheikh Hamed, by permission of Sheikh Thani, and myself was allotted the task of guiding and leading this great caravan through dreaded Ugogo; which was a most unhappy selection, as will be seen hereafter.
Marenga Mali, over thirty miles across, was at last before us. This distance had to be traversed within thirty-six hours, so that the fatigue of the ordinary march would be more than doubled by this. From Chunyo to Ugogo not one drop of water was to be found. As a large caravan, say over two hundred souls, seldom travels over one and three-quarter miles per hour, a march of thirty miles would require seventeen hours of endurance without water and but little rest. East Africa generally possessing unlimited quantities of water, caravans have not been compelled for lack of the element to have recourse to the mushok of India and the khirbeh of Egypt. Being able to cross the waterless districts by a couple of long marches, they content themselves for the time with a small gourdful, and with keeping their imaginations dwelling upon the copious quantities they will drink upon arrival at the watering-place.
The march through this waterless district was most monotonous, and a dangerous fever attacked me, which seemed to eat into my very vitals. The wonders of Africa that bodied themselves forth in the shape of flocks of zebras, giraffes, elands, or antelopes, galloping over the jungleless plain, had no charm for me; nor could they serve to draw my attention from the severe fit of sickness which possessed me. Towards the end of the first march I was not able to sit upon the donkey’s back; nor would it do, when but a third of the way across the wilderness, to halt until the next day; soldiers were therefore detailed to carry me in a hammock, and, when the terekeza was performed in the afternoon, I lay in a lethargic state, unconscious of all things. With the night passed the fever, and, at 3 o’clock in the morning, when the march was resumed, I was booted and spurred, and the recognized mtongi of my caravan once more. At 8 A.M. we had performed the thirty-two miles. The wilderness of Marenga Mkali had been passed and we had entered Ugogo, which was at once a dreaded land to my caravan, and a Land of Promise to myself.
The transition from the wilderness into this Promised Land was very gradual and easy. Very slowly the jungle thinned, the cleared land was a long time appearing, and when it had finally appeared, there were no signs of cultivation until we could clearly make out the herbage and vegetation on some hill slopes to our right running parallel with our route, then we saw timber on the hills, and broad acreage under cultivation — and, lo! as we ascended a wave of reddish earth covered with tall weeds and cane, but a few feet from us, and directly across our path, were the fields of matama and grain we had been looking for, and Ugogo had been entered an hour before.
The view was not such as I expected. I had imagined a plateau several hundred feet higher than Marenga Mkali, and an expansive view which should reveal Ugogo and its characteristics at once. But instead, while travelling from the tall weeds which covered the clearing which had preceded the cultivated parts, we had entered into the depths of the taller matama stalks, and, excepting some distant hills near Mvumi, where the Great Sultan lived — the first of the tribe to whom we should pay tribute — the view was extremely limited.
However, in the neighbourhood of the first village a glimpse at some of the peculiar features of Ugogo was obtained, and there was a vast plain — now flat, now heaving upwards, here level as a table, there tilted up into rugged knolls bristling with scores of rough boulders of immense size, which lay piled one above another as if the children of a Titanic race had been playing at house-building. Indeed, these piles of rounded, angular, and riven rock formed miniature hills of themselves; and appeared as if each body had been ejected upwards by some violent agency beneath. There was one of these in particular, near Mvumi, which was so large, and being slightly obscured from view by the outspreading branches of a gigantic baobab, bore such a strong resemblance to a square tower of massive dimensions, that for a long time I cherished the idea that I had discovered something most interesting which had strangely escaped the notice of my predecessors in East Africa. A nearer view dispelled the illusion, and proved it to be a huge cube of rock, measuring about forty feet each way. The baobabs were also particularly conspicuous on this scene, no other kind of tree being visible in the cultivated parts. These had probably been left for two reasons: first, want of proper axes for felling trees of such enormous growth; secondly, because during a famine the fruit of the baobab furnishes a flour which, in the absence of anything better, is said to be eatable and nourishing.
The first words I heard in Ugogo were from a Wagogo elder, of sturdy form, who in an indolent way tended the flocks, but showed a marked interest in the stranger clad in white flannels, with a Hawkes’ patent cork solar topee on his head, a most unusual thing in Ugogo, who came walking past him, and there were “Yambo, Musungu, Yambo, bana, bana,” delivered with a voice loud enough to make itself heard a full mile away. No sooner had the greeting been delivered than the word “Musungu” seemed to electrify his entire village; and the people of other villages, situated at intervals near the road, noting the excitement that reigned at the first, also participated in the general frenzy which seemed suddenly to have possessed them. I consider my progress from the first village to Mvumi to have been most triumphant; for I was accompanied by a furious mob of men, women, and children, all almost as naked as Mother Eve when the world first dawned upon her in the garden of Eden, fighting, quarrelling, jostling, staggering against each other for the best view of the white man, the like of whom was now seen for the first time in this part of Ugogo. The cries of admiration, such as “Hi-le!” which broke often and in confused uproar upon my ear, were not gratefully accepted, inasmuch as I deemed many of them impertinent. A respectful silence and more reserved behaviour would have won my esteem; but, ye powers, who cause etiquette to be observed in Usungu,2 respectful silence, reserved behaviour, and esteem are terms unknown in savage Ugogo. Hitherto I had compared myself to a merchant of Bagdad travelling among the Kurds of Kurdistan, selling his wares of Damascus silk, kefiyehs, &c.; but now I was compelled to lower my standard, and thought myself not much better than a monkey in a zoological collection. One of my soldiers requested them to lessen their vociferous noise; but the evil-minded race ordered him to shut up, as a thing unworthy to speak to the Wagogo! When I imploringly turned to the Arabs for counsel in this strait, old Sheikh Thani, always worldly wise, said, “Heed them not; they are dogs who bite besides barking.”
2 White man’s land.
At 9 A.M. we were in our boma, near Mvumi village; but here also crowds of Wagogo came to catch a glimpse of the Musungu, whose presence was soon made known throughout the district of Mvumi. But two hours later I was oblivious of their endeavours to see me; for, despite repeated doses of quinine, the mukunguru had sure hold of me.
The next day was a march of eight miles, from East Mvumi to West Mvumi, where lived the Sultan of the district. The quantity and variety of provisions which arrived at our boma did not belie the reports respecting the productions of Ugogo. Milk, sour and sweet, honey, beans, matama, maweri, Indian corn, ghee, pea-nuts, and a species of bean-nut very like a large pistachio or an almond, water-melons, pumpkins, mush-melons, and cucumbers were brought, and readily exchanged for Merikani, Kaniki, and for the white Merikani beads and Sami–Sami, or Sam–Sam. The trade and barter which progressed in the camp from morning till night reminded me of the customs existing among the Gallas and Abyssinians. Eastward, caravans were obliged to despatch men with cloth, to purchase from the villagers. This was unnecessary in Ugogo, where the people voluntarily brought every vendible they possessed to the camp. The smallest breadth of white or blue cloth became saleable and useful in purchasing provisions — even a loin-cloth worn threadbare.
The day after our march was a halt. We had fixed this day for bearing the tribute to the Great Sultan of Mvumi. Prudent and cautious Sheikh Thani early began this important duty, the omission of which would have been a signal for war. Hamed and Thani sent two faithful slaves, well up to the eccentricities of the Wagogo sultans — well spoken, having glib tongues and the real instinct for trade as carried on amongst Orientals. They bore six doti of cloths, viz., one doti of Dabwani Ulyah contributed by myself, also one doti of Barsati from me, two doti Merikani Satine from Sheikh Thani, and two doti of Kaniki from Sheikh Hamed, as a first instalment of the tribute. The slaves were absent a full hour, but having wasted their powers of pleading, in vain, they returned with the demand for more, which Sheikh Thani communicated to me in this wise:
“Auf! this Sultan is a very bad man — a very bad man indeed; he says, the Musungu is a great man, I call him a sultan; the Musungu is very rich, for he has several caravans already gone past; the Musungu must pay forty doti, and the Arabs must pay twelve doti each, for they have rich caravans. It is of no use for you to tell me you are all one caravan, otherwise why so many flags and tents? Go and bring me sixty doti, with less I will not be satisfied.”
I suggested to Sheikh Thani, upon hearing this exorbitant demand, that had I twenty Wasungu3 armed with Winchester repeating rifles, the Sultan might be obliged to pay tribute to me; but Thani prayed and begged me to be cautious lest angry words might irritate the Sultan and cause him to demand a double tribute, as he was quite capable of doing so; “and if you preferred war,” said he, “your pagazis would all desert, and leave you and your cloth to the small mercy of the Wagogo.” But I hastened to allay his fears by telling Bombay, in his presence, that I had foreseen such demands on the part of the Wagogo, and that having set aside one hundred and twenty doti of honga cloths, I should not consider myself a sufferer if the Sultan demanded and I paid forty cloths to him; that he must therefore open the honga bale, and permit Sheikh Thani to extract such cloths as the Sultan might like.
Sheikh Thani, having put on the cap of consideration and joined heads with Hamed and the faithful serviles, thought if I paid twelve doti, out of which three should be of Ulyah4 quality, that the Sultan might possibly condescend to accept our tribute; supposing he was persuaded by the oratorical words of the “Faithfuls,” that the Musungu had nothing with him but the mashiwa (boat), which would be of no use to him, come what might, — with which prudent suggestion the Musungu concurred, seeing its wisdom.
3 White men.
4 Best, or superior.
The slaves departed, bearing this time from our boma thirty doti, with our best wishes for their success. In an hour they returned with empty hands, but yet unsuccessful. The Sultan demanded six doti of Merikani, and a fundo of bubu, from the Musungu; and from the Arabs and other caravans, twelve doti more. For the third time the slaves departed for the Sultan’s tembe, carrying with them six doti Merikani and a fundo of bubu from myself, and ten doti from the Arabs. Again they returned to us with the Sultan’s words, “That, as the doti of the Musungu were short measure, and the cloths of the Arabs of miserable quality, the Musungu must send three doti full measure, and the Arabs five doti of Kaniki.” My three doti were at once measured out with the longest fore-arm — according to Kigogo measure — and sent off by Bombay; but the Arabs, almost in despair, declared they would be ruined if they gave way to such demands, and out of the five doti demanded sent only two, with a pleading to the Sultan that he would consider what was paid as just and fair Muhongo, and not ask any more. But the Sultan of Mvumi was by no means disposed to consider any such proposition, but declared he must have three doti, and these to be two of Ulyah cloth, and one Kitambi Barsati, which, as he was determined to obtain, were sent to him heavy with the deep maledictions of Sheikh Hamed and the despairing sighs of sheikh Thani.
Altogether the sultanship of a district in Ugogo must be very remunerative, besides being a delightful sinecure, so long as the Sultan has to deal with timid Arab merchants who fear to exhibit anything approaching to independence and self-reliance, lest they might be mulcted in cloth. In one day from one camp the sultan received forty-seven doti, consisting of Merikani, Kaniki, Barsati, and Dabwani, equal to $35.25, besides seven doti of superior cloths, consisting of Rehani, Sohari, and Daobwani Ulyah, and one fundo of Bubu, equal to $14.00, making a total of $49.25 — a most handsome revenue for a Mgogo chief.
On the 27th May we gladly shook the dust of Mvumi from our feet, and continued on our route — ever westward. Five of my donkeys had died the night before, from the effects of the water of Marenga Mkali. Before leaving the camp of Mvumi, I went to look at their carcases; but found them to have been clean picked by the hyaenas, and the bones taken possession of by an army of white-necked crows.
As we passed the numerous villages, and perceived the entire face of the land to be one vast field of grain, and counted the people halted by scores on the roadside to feast their eyes with a greedy stare on the Musungu, I no longer wondered at the extortionate demands of the Wagogo. For it was manifest that they had but to stretch out their hands to possess whatever the wealth of a caravan consisted of; and I began to think better of the people who, knowing well their strength, did not use it — of people who were intellectual enough to comprehend that their interest lay in permitting the caravans to pass on without attempting any outrage.
Between Mvumi and the nest Sultan’s district, that of Matamburu, I counted no less than twenty-five villages, scattered over the clayey, coloured plain. Despite the inhospitable nature of the plain, it was better cultivated than any part of any other country we had seen since leaving Bagamoyo.
When we had at last arrived at our boma of Matamburu, the same groups of curious people, the same eager looks, the same exclamations of surprise, the same, peals of laughter, at something they deemed ludicrous in the Musungu’s dress or manner, awaited us, as at Mvumi. The Arabs being “Wakonongo” travellers, whom they saw every day, enjoyed a complete immunity from the vexations which we had to endure.
The Sultan of Matamburu, a man of herculean form, and massive head well set on shoulders that might vie with those of Milo, proved to be a very reasonable person. Not quite so powerful as the Sultan of Mvumi, he yet owned a fair share of Ugogo and about forty villages, and could, if he chose, have oppressed the mercantile souls of my Arab companions, in the same way as he of Mvumi. Four doti of cloth were taken to him as a preliminary offering to his greatness, which he said he would accept, if the Arabs and Musungu would send him four more. As his demands were so reasonable, this little affair was soon terminated to everybody’s satisfaction; and soon after, the kirangozi of Sheikh Hamed sounded the signal for the morrow’s march.
At the orders of the same Sheikh, the kirangozi stood up to speak before the assembled caravans. “Words, words, from the Bana,” he shouted. “Give ear, kirangozis! Listen, children of Unyamwezi! The journey is for tomorrow! The road is crooked and bad, bad! The jungle is there, and many Wagogo lie hidden within it! Wagogo spear the pagazis, and cut the throats of those who carry mutumba (bales) and ushanga (beads)! The Wagogo have been to our camp, they have seen your bales; to-night they seek the jungle: tomorrow watch well, O Wanyamwezi! Keep close together, lag not behind! Kirangozis walk slow, that the weak, the sick, and the young may keep up with the strong! Take two rests on the journey! These are the words of the Bana (master). Do you hear them, Wanyamwezi? (A loud shout in the affirmative from all.) Do you understand them well? (another chorus); then Bas;” having said which, the eloquent kirangozi retired into the dark night, and his straw hut.
The march to Bihawana, our next camp, was rugged and long, through a continuous jungle of gums and thorns, up steep hills and finally over a fervid plain, while the sun waxed hotter and hotter as it drew near the meridian, until it seemed to scorch all vitality from inanimate nature, while the view was one white blaze, unbearable to the pained sight, which sought relief from the glare in vain. Several sandy watercourses, on which were impressed many a trail of elephants, were also passed on this march. The slope of these stream-beds trended south-east and south.
In the middle of this scorching plain stood the villages of Bihawana, almost undistinguishable, from the extreme lowness of the huts, which did not reach the height of the tall bleached grass which stood smoking in the untempered heat.
Our camp was in a large boma, about a quarter of a mile from the Sultan’s tembe. Soon after arriving at the camp, I was visited by three Wagogo, who asked me if I had seen a Mgogo on the road with a woman and child. I was about to answer, very innocently, “Yes,” when Mabruki — cautious and watchful always for the interests of the master — requested me not to answer, as the Wagogo, as customary, would charge me with having done away with them, and would require their price from me. Indignant at the imposition they were about to practise upon me, I was about to raise my whip to flog them out of the camp, when again Mabruki, with a roaring voice, bade me beware, for every blow would cost me three or four doti of cloth. As I did not care to gratify my anger at such an expense, I was compelled to swallow my wrath, and consequently the Wagogo escaped chastisement.
We halted for one day at this place, which was a great relief to me, as I was suffering severely from intermittent fever, which lasted in this case two weeks, and entirely prevented my posting my diary in full, as was my custom every evening after a march.
The Sultan of Bihawana, though his subjects were evil-disposed, and ready-handed at theft and murder, contented himself with three doti as honga. From this chief I received news of my fourth caravan, which had distinguished itself in a fight with some outlawed subjects of his; my soldiers had killed two who had attempted, after waylaying a couple of my pagazis, to carry away a bale of cloth and a bag of beads; coming up in time, the soldiers decisively frustrated the attempt. The Sultan thought that if all caravans were as well guarded as mine were, there would be less depredations committed on them while on the road; with which I heartily agreed.
The next sultan’s tembe through whose territory we marched, this being on the 30th May, was at Kididimo, but four miles from Bihawna. The road led through a flat elongated plain, lying between two lengthy hilly ridges, thickly dotted with the giant forms of the baobab. Kididimo is exceedingly bleak in aspect. Even the faces of the Wagogo seemed to have contracted a bleak hue from the general bleakness around. The water of the pits obtained in the neighbourhood had an execrable flavor, and two donkeys sickened and died in less than an hour from its effects. Man suffered nausea and a general irritability of the system, and accordingly revenged himself by cursing the country and its imbecile ruler most heartily. The climax came, however, when Bombay reported, after an attempt to settle the Muhongo, that the chief’s head had grown big since he heard that the Musungu had come, and that its “bigness” could not be reduced unless he could extract ten doti as tribute. Though the demand was large, I was not in a humour — being feeble, and almost nerveless, from repeated attacks of the Mukunguru — to dispute the sum: consequently it was paid without many words. But the Arabs continued the whole afternoon negotiating, and at the end had to pay eight doti each.
Between Kididimo and Nyambwa, the district of the Sultan Pembera Pereh, was a broad and lengthy forest and jungle inhabited by the elephant, rhinoceros, zebra, deer, antelope, and giraffe. Starting at dawn of the 31st; we entered the jungle, whose dark lines and bosky banks were clearly visible from our bower at Kididimo; and, travelling for two hours, halted for rest and breakfast, at pools of sweet water surrounded by tracts of vivid green verdure, which were a great resort for the wild animals of the jungle, whose tracks were numerous and recent. A narrow nullah, shaded deeply with foliage, afforded excellent retreats from the glaring sunshine. At meridian, our thirst quenched, our hunger satisfied, our gourds refilled, we set out from the shade into the heated blaze of hot noon. The path serpentined in and out of jungle, and thin forest, into open tracts of grass bleached white as stubble, into thickets of gums and thorns, which emitted an odour as rank as a stable; through clumps of wide-spreading mimosa and colonies of baobab, through a country teeming with noble game, which, though we saw them frequently, were yet as safe from our rifles as if we had been on the Indian Ocean. A terekeza, such as we were now making, admits of no delay. Water we had left behind at noon: until noon of the next day not a drop was to be obtained; and unless we marched fast and long on this day, raging thirst would demoralize everybody. So for six long weary hours we toiled bravely; and at sunset we camped, and still a march of two hours, to be done before the sun was an hour high, intervened between us and our camp at Nyambwa. That night the men bivouacked under the trees, surrounded by many miles of dense forest, enjoying the cool night unprotected by hat or tent, while I groaned and tossed throughout the night in a paroxysm of fever.
The morn came; and, while it was yet young, the long caravan, or string of caravans, was under way. It was the same forest, admitting, on the narrow line which we threaded, but one man at a time. Its view was as limited. To our right and left the forest was dark and deep. Above was a riband of glassy sky flecked by the floating nimbus. We heard nothing save a few stray notes from a flying bird, or the din of the caravans as the men sang, or hummed, or conversed, or shouted, as the thought struck them that we were nearing water. One of my pagazis, wearied and sick, fell, and never rose again. The last of the caravan passed him before he died.
At 7 A.M. we were encamped at Nyambwa, drinking the excellent water found here with the avidity of thirsty camels. Extensive fields of grain had heralded the neighbourhood of the villages, at the sight of which we were conscious that the caravan was quickening its pace, as approaching its halting-place. As the Wasungu drew within the populated area, crowds of Wagogo used their utmost haste to see them before they passed by. Young and old of both genders pressed about us in a multitude — a very howling mob. This excessive demonstrativeness elicited from my sailor overseer the characteristic remark, “ Well, I declare, these must be the genuine Ugogians, for they stare! stare — there is no end to their staring. I’m almost tempted to slap ’em in the face!” In fact, the conduct of the Wagogo of Nyambwa was an exaggeration of the general conduct of Wagogo. Hitherto, those we had met had contented themselves with staring and shouting; but these outstepped all bounds, and my growing anger at their excessive insolence vented itself in gripping the rowdiest of them by the neck, and before he could recover from his astonishment administering a sound thrashing with my dog-whip, which he little relished. This proceeding educed from the tribe of starers all their native power of vituperation and abuse, in expressing which they were peculiar. Approaching in manner to angry tom-cats, they jerked their words with something of a splitting hiss and a half bark. The ejaculation, as near as I can spell it phonetically, was “hahcht” uttered in a shrill crescendo tone. They paced backwards and forwards, asking themselves, “Are the Wagoga to be beaten like slaves by this Musungu? A Mgogo is a Mgwana (a free man); he is not used to be beaten, — hahcht.” But whenever I made motion, flourishing my whip, towards them, these mighty braggarts found it convenient to move to respectable distances from the irritated Musungu.
Perceiving that a little manliness and show of power was something which the Wagogo long needed, and that in this instance it relieved me from annoyance, I had recourse to my whip, whose long lash cracked like a pistol shot, whenever they overstepped moderation. So long as they continued to confine their obtrusiveness to staring, and communicating to each other their opinions respecting my complexion, and dress, and accoutrements, I philosophically resigned myself in silence for their amusement; but when they pressed on me, barely allowing me to proceed, a few vigorous and rapid slashes right and left with my serviceable thong, soon cleared the track.
Pembera Pereh is a queer old man, very small, and would be very insignificant were he not the greatest sultan in Ugogo; and enjoying a sort of dimediate power over many other tribes. Though such an important chief, he is the meanest dressed of his subjects, — is always filthy, — ever greasy — eternally foul about the mouth; but these are mere eccentricities: as a wise judge, he is without parallel, always has a dodge ever ready for the abstraction of cloth from the spiritless Arab merchants, who trade with Unyanyembe every year; and disposes with ease of a judicial case which would overtask ordinary men.
Sheikh Hamed, who was elected guider of the united caravans now travelling through Ugogo, was of such a fragile and small make, that he might be taken for an imitation of his famous prototype “Dapper.” Being of such dimensions, what he lacked for weight and size he made up by activity. No sooner had he arrived in camp than his trim dapper form was seen frisking about from side to side of the great boma, fidgeting, arranging, disturbing everything and everybody. He permitted no bales or packs to be intermingled, or to come into too close proximity to his own; he had a favourite mode of stacking his goods, which he would see carried out; he had a special eye for the best place for his tent, and no one else must trespass on that ground. One would imagine that walking ten or fifteen miles a day, he would leave such trivialities to his servants, but no, nothing could be right unless he had personally superintended it; in which work he was tireless and knew no fatigue.
Another not uncommon peculiarity pertained to Sheikh Hamed; as he was not a rich man, he laboured hard to make the most of every shukka and doti expended, and each fresh expenditure seemed to gnaw his very vitals: he was ready to weep, as he himself expressed it, at the high prices of Ugogo, and the extortionate demands of its sultans. For this reason, being the leader of the caravans, so far as he was able we were very sure not to be delayed in Ugogo, where food was so dear.
The day we arrived at Nyambwa will be remembered by Hamed as long as he lives, for the trouble and vexation which he suffered. His misfortunes arose from the fact that, being too busily engaged in fidgeting about the camp, he permitted his donkeys to stray into the matama fields of Pembera Pereh, the Sultan. For hours he and his servants sought for the stray donkeys, returning towards evening utterly unsuccessful, Hamed bewailing, as only an Oriental can do, when hard fate visits him with its inflictions, the loss of a hundred do dollars worth of Muscat donkeys. Sheikh Thani, older, more experienced, and wiser, suggested to him that he should notify the Sultan of his loss. Acting upon the sagacious advice, Hamed sent an embassy of two slaves, and the information they brought back was, that Pembera Pereh’s servants had found the two donkeys eating the unripened matama, and that unless the Arab who owned them would pay nine doti of first-class cloths, he, Pembera Pereh, would surely keep them to remunerate him for the matama they had eaten. Hamed was in despair. Nine doti of first-class cloths, worth $25 in Unyanyembe, for half a chukka’s worth of grain, was, as he thought, an absurd demand; but then if he did not pay it, what would become of the hundred dollars’ worth of donkeys? He proceeded to the Sultan to show him the absurdity of the damage claim, and to endeavour to make him accept one chukka, which would be more than double the worth of what grain the donkeys had consumed. But the Sultan was sitting on pombe; he was drunk, which I believe to be his normal state — too drunk to attend to business, consequently his deputy, a renegade Mnyamwezi, gave ear to the business. With most of the Wagogo chiefs lives a Mnyamwezi, as their right-hand man, prime minister, counsellor, executioner, ready man at all things save the general good; a sort of harlequin Unyamwezi, who is such an intriguing, restless, unsatisfied person, that as soon as one hears that this kind of man forms one of and the chief of a Mgogo sultan’s council, one feels very much tempted to do damage to his person. Most of the extortions practised upon the Arabs are suggested by these crafty renegades. Sheikh Hamed found that the Mnyamwezi was far more obdurate than the Sultan — nothing under nine doti first-class cloths would redeem the donkeys. The business that day remained unsettled, and the night following was, as one may imagine, a very sleepless one to Hamed. As it turned out, however, the loss of the donkeys, the after heavy fine, and the sleepless night, proved to be blessings in disguise; for, towards midnight, a robber Mgogo visited his camp, and while attempting to steal a bale of cloth, was detected in the act by the wide-awake and irritated Arab, and was made to vanish instantly with a bullet whistling in close proximity to his ear.
From each of the principals of the caravans, the Mnyamwezi had received as tribute for his drunken master fifteen doti, and from the other six caravans six doti each, altogether fifty-one doti, yet on the next morning when we took the road he was not a whit disposed to deduct a single cloth from the fine imposed on Hamed, and the unfortunate Sheikh was therefore obliged to liquidate the claim, or leave his donkeys behind.
After travelling through the corn-fields of Pembera Pereh we emerged upon a broad flat plain, as level as the still surface of a pond, whence the salt of the Wagogo is obtained. From Kanyenyi on the southern road, to beyond the confines of Uhumba and Ubanarama, this saline field extends, containing many large ponds of salt bitter water whose low banks are covered with an effervescence partaking of the nature of nitrate. Subsequently, two days afterwards, having ascended the elevated ridge which separates Ugogo from Uyanzi, I obtained a view of this immense saline plain, embracing over a hundred square miles. I may have been deceived, but I imagined I saw large expanses of greyish-blue water, which causes me to believe that this salina is but a corner of a great salt lake. The Wahumba, who are numerous, from Nyambwa to the Uyanzi border, informed my soldiers that there was a “Maji Kuba” away to the north.
Mizanza, our next camp after Nyambwa, is situated in a grove of palms, about thirteen miles from the latter place. Soon after arriving I had to bury myself under blankets, plagued with the same intermittent fever which first attacked me during the transit of Marenga Mkali. Feeling certain that one day’s halt, which would enable me to take regular doses of the invaluable sulphate of quinine, would cure me, I requested Sheikh Thani to tell Hamed to halt on the morrow, as I should be utterly unable to continue thus long, under repeated attacks of a virulent disease which was fast reducing me into a mere frame of skin and bone. Hamed, in a hurry to arrive at Unyanyembe in order to dispose of his cloth before other caravans appeared in the market, replied at first that he would not, that he could not, stop for the Musungu. Upon Thani’s reporting his answer to me, I requested him to inform Hamed that, as the Musungu did not wish to detain him, or any other caravan, it was his express wish that Hamed would march and leave him, as he was quite strong enough in guns to march through Ugogo alone. Whatever cause modified the Sheikh’s resolution and his anxiety to depart, Hamed’s horn signal for the march was not heard that night, and on the morrow he had not gone.
Early in the morning I commenced on my quinine doses; at 6 A.M. I took a second dose; before noon I had taken four more — altogether, fifty measured grains-the effect of which was manifest in the copious perspiration which drenched flannels, linen, and blankets. After noon I arose, devoutly thankful that the disease which had clung to me for the last fourteen days had at last succumbed to quinine.
On this day the lofty tent, and the American flag which ever flew from the centre pole, attracted the Sultan of Mizanza towards it, and was the cause of a visit with which he honoured me. As he was notorious among the Arabs for having assisted Manwa Sera in his war against Sheikh Sny bin Amer, high eulogies upon whom have been written by Burton, and subsequently by Speke, and as he was the second most powerful chief in Ugogo, of course he was quite a curiosity to me. As the tent-door was uplifted that he might enter, the ancient gentleman was so struck with astonishment at the lofty apex, and internal arrangements, that the greasy Barsati cloth which formed his sole and only protection against the chills of night and the heat of noon, in a fit of abstraction was permitted to fall down to his feet, exposing to the Musungu’s unhallowed gaze the sad and aged wreck of what must once have been a towering form. His son, a youth of about fifteen, attentive to the infirmities of his father, hastened with filial duty to remind him of his condition, upon which, with an idiotic titter at the incident, he resumed his scanty apparel and sat down to wonder and gibber out his admiration at the tent and the strange things which formed the Musungu’s personal baggage and furniture. After gazing in stupid wonder at the table, on which was placed some crockery and the few books I carried with me; at the slung hammock, which he believed was suspended by some magical contrivance; at the portmanteaus which contained my stock of clothes, he ejaculated, “Hi-le! the Musungu is a great sultan, who has come from his country to see Ugogo.” He then noticed me, and was again wonder-struck at my pale complexion and straight hair, and the question now propounded was, “How on earth was I white when the sun had burned his people’s skins into blackness?” Whereupon he was shown my cork topee, which he tried on his woolly head, much to his own and to our amusement. The guns were next shown to him; the wonderful repeating rifle of the Winchester Company, which was fired thirteen times in rapid succession to demonstrate its remarkable murderous powers. If he was astonished before he was a thousand times more so now, and expressed his belief that the Wagogo could not stand before the Musungu in battle, for wherever a Mgogo was seen such a gun would surely kill him. Then the other firearms were brought forth, each with its peculiar mechanism explained, until, in, a burst of enthusiasm at my riches and power, he said he would send me a sheep or goat, and that he would be my brother. I thanked him for the honour, and promised to accept whatever he was pleased to send me. At the instigation of Sheikh Thani, who acted as interpreter, who said that Wagogo chiefs must not depart with empty hands, I cut off a shukka of Kaniki and presented it to him, which, after being examined and measured, was refused upon the ground that, the Musungu being a great sultan should not demean himself so much as to give him only a shukka. This, after the twelve doti received as muhongo from the caravans, I thought, was rather sore; but as he was about to present me with a sheep or goat another shukka would not matter much.
Shortly after he departed, and true to his promise, I received a large, fine sheep, with a broad tail, heavy with fat; but with the words,:“That being now his brother, I must send him three doti of good cloth.” As the price of a sheep is but a doti and a half, I refused the sheep and the fraternal honour, upon the ground that the gifts were all on one side; and that, as I had paid muhongo, and given him a doti of Kaniki as a present, I could not, afford to part with any more cloth without an adequate return.
During the afternoon one more of my donkeys died, and at night the hyaenas came in great numbers to feast upon the carcase. Ulimengo, the chasseur, and best shot of my Wangwana, stole out and succeeded in shooting two, which turned out to be some of the largest of their kind.. One of them measured six feet from the tip of the nose to the extremity of the tail, and three feet around the girth.
On the 4th. June we struck camp, and after travelling westward for about three miles, passing several ponds of salt water, we headed north by west, skirting the range of low hills which separates Ugogo from Uyanzi.
After a three hours’ march, we halted for a short time at Little Mukondoku, to settle tribute with the brother of him who rules at Mukondoku Proper. Three doti satisfied the Sultan, whose district contains but two villages, mostly occupied by pastoral Wahumba and renegade Wahehe. The Wahumba live in plastered (cow-dung) cone huts, shaped like the tartar tents of Turkestan.
The Wahumba, so far as I have seen them, are a fine and well-formed race. The men are positively handsome, tall, with small heads, the posterior parts of which project considerably. One will look in vain for a thick lip or a flat nose amongst them; on the contrary, the mouth is exceedingly well cut, delicately small; the nose is that of the Greeks, and so universal was the peculiar feature, that I at once named them the Greeks of Africa. Their lower limbs have not the heaviness of the Wagogo and other tribes, but are long and shapely, clean as those of an antelope. Their necks are long and slender, on which their small heads are poised most gracefully. Athletes from their youth, shepherd bred, and intermarrying among themselves, thus keeping the race pure, any of them would form a fit subject for the sculptor who would wish to immortalize in marble an Antinous, a Hylas, a Daphnis, or an Apollo. The women are as beautiful as the men are handsome. They have clear ebon skins, not coal-black, but of an inky hue. Their ornaments consist of spiral rings of brass pendent from the ears, brass ring collars about the necks, and a spiral cincture of brass wire about their loins for the purpose of retaining their calf and goat skins, which are folded about their bodies, and, depending from the shoulder, shade one half of the bosom, and fall to the knees.
The Wahehe may be styled the Romans of Africa. Resuming our march, after a halt of an hour, in foul hours more we arrived at Mukondoku Proper. This extremity of Ugogo is most populous, The villages which surround the central tembe, where the Sultan Swaruru lives, amount to thirty-six. The people who flocked from these to see the wonderful men whose faces were white, who wore the most wonderful things on their persons, and possessed the most wonderful weapons; guns which “bum-bummed” as fast as you could count on your fingers, formed such a mob of howling savages, that I for an instant thought there was something besides mere curiosity which caused such commotion, and attracted such numbers to the roadside. Halting, I asked what was the matter, and what they wanted, and why they made such noise? One burly rascal, taking my words for a declaration of hostilities, promptly drew his bow, but as prompt as he had fixed his arrow my faithful Winchester with thirteen shots in the magazine was ready and at the shoulder, and but waited to see the arrow fly to pour the leaden messengers of death into the crowd. But the crowd vanished as quickly as they had come, leaving the burly Thersites, and two or three irresolute fellows of his tribe, standing within pistol range of my levelled rifle. Such a sudden dispersion of the mob which, but a moment before, was overwhelming in numbers, caused me to lower my rifle, and to indulge in a hearty laugh at the disgraceful flight of the men-destroyers. The Arabs, who were as much alarmed at their boisterous obtrusiveness, now came up to patch a truce, in which they succeeded to everybody’s satisfaction. A few words of explanation, and the mob came back in greater numbers than before; and the Thersites who had been the cause of the momentary disturbance was obliged to retire abashed before the pressure of public opinion. A chief now came up, whom I afterwards learned was the second man to Swaruru, and lectured the people upon their treatment of the “White Stranger.”
“Know ye not, Wagogo,” shouted he, “that this Musungu is a sultan (mtemi — a most high title). He has not come to Ugogo like the Wakonongo (Arabs), to trade in ivory, but to see us, and give presents. Why do you molest him and his people? Let them pass in peace. If you wish to see him, draw near, but do not mock him. The first of you who creates a disturbance, let him beware; our great mtemi shall know how you treat his friends.” This little bit of oratorical effort on the part of the chief was translated to me there and then by the old Sheik Thani; which having understood, I bade the Sheikh inform the chief that, after I had rested, I should like him to visit me in my tent.
Having arrived at the khambi, which always surrounds some great baobab in Ugogo, at the distance of about half a mile from the tembe of the Sultan, the Wagogo pressed in such great numbers to the camp that Sheikh Thani resolved to make an effort to stop or mitigate the nuisance. Dressing himself in his best clothes, he went to appeal to the Sultan for protection against his people. The Sultan was very much inebriated, and was pleased to say, “What is it you want, you thief? You have come to steal my ivory or my cloth. Go away, thief!” But the sensible chief, whose voice had just been heard reproaching the people for their treatment of the Wasungu, beckoned to Thani to come out of the tembe, and then proceeded with him towards the khambi.
The camp was in a great uproar; the curious Wagogo monopolized almost every foot of ground; there was no room to turn anywhere. The Wanyamwezi were quarreling with the Wagogo, the Wasawahili servants were clamoring loud that the Wagogo pressed down their tents, and that the property of the masters was in danger; while I, busy on my diary within my tent, cared not how great was the noise and confusion outside as long as it confined itself to the Wagogo, Wanyamwezi, and Wangwana.
The presence of the chief in the camp was followed by a deep silence that I was prevailed upon to go outside to see what had caused it. The chief’s words were few, and to the point. He said, “To your tembes, Wagogo — to your tembes! Why, do you come to trouble the Wakonongo: What have you to do with them? To your tembes: go! Each Mgogo found in the khambi without meal, without cattle to sell, shall pay to the mtemi cloth or cows. Away with you!” Saying which, he snatched up a stick and drove the hundreds out of the khambi, who were as obedient to him as so many children. During the two days we halted at Mukondoku we saw no more of the mob, and there was peace.
The muhongo of the Sultan Swaruru was settled with few words. The chief who acted for the Sultan as his prime minister having been “made glad” with a doti of Rehani Ulyah from me, accepted the usual tribute of six doti, only one of which was of first-class cloth.
There remained but one more sultan to whom muhongo must be paid after Mukondoku, and this was the Sultan of Kiwyeh, whose reputation was so bad that owners of property who had control over their pagazis seldom passed by Kiwyeh, preferring the hardships of long marches through the wilderness to the rudeness and exorbitant demands of the chief of Kiwyeh. But the pagazis, on whom no burden or responsibility fell save that of carrying their loads, who could use their legs and show clean heels in the case of a hostile outbreak, preferred the march to Kiwyeh to enduring thirst and the fatigue of a terekeza. Often the preference of the pagazis won the day, when their employers were timid, irresolute men, like Sheikh Hamed.
The 7th of June was the day fixed for our departure from Mukondoku, so the day before, the Arabs came to my tent to counsel with me as to the route we should adopt. On calling together the kirangozis of the respective caravans and veteran Wanyamwezi pagazis, we learned there were three roads leading from Mukondoku to Uyanzi. The first was the southern road, and the one generally adopted, for the reasons already stated, and led by Kiwyeh. To this Hamed raised objections. “The Sultan was bad,” he said; “he sometimes charged a caravan twenty doti; our caravan would have to pay about sixty doti. The Kiwyeh road would not do at all. Besides,” he added, “we have to make a terekeza to reach Kiwyeh, and then we will not reach it before the day after tomorrow.” The second was the central road. We should arrive at Munieka on the morrow; the day after would be a terekeza from Mabunguru Nullah to a camp near Unyambogi; two hours the next day would bring us to Kiti, where there was plenty of water and food. As neither of the kirangozis or Arabs knew this road, and its description came from one of my ancient pagazis, Hamed said he did not like to trust the guidance of such a large caravan in the hands of an old Mnyamwezi, and would therefore prefer to hear about the third road, before rendering his decision. The third road was the northern. It led past numerous villages of the Wagogo for the first two hours; then we should strike a jungle; and a three hours’ march would then bring us to Simbo, where there was water, but no village. Starting early next morning, we would travel six hours when we would arrive at a pool of water. Here taking a short rest, an afternoon march of five hours would bring us within three hours of another village. As this last road was known to many, Hamed said, “Sheikh Thani, tell the Sahib that I think this is the best road.” Sheikh Thani was told, after he had informed me that, as I had marched with them through Ugogo, if they decided upon going by Simbo, my caravan would follow.
Immediately after the discussion among the principals respecting the merits of the several routes, arose a discussion among the pagazis which resulted in an obstinate clamor against the Simbo road, for its long terekeza and scant prospects of water, the dislike to the Simbo road communicated itself to all the caravans, and soon it was magnified by reports of a wilderness reaching from Simbo to Kusuri, where there was neither food nor water to be obtained. Hamed’s pagazis, and those of the Arab servants, rose in a body and declared they could not go on that march, and if Hamed insisted upon adopting it they would put their packs down and leave him to carry them himself.
Hamed Kimiani, as he was styled by the Arabs, rushed up to Sheikh Thani, and declared that he must take the Kiwyeh road, otherwise his pagazis would all desert. Thani replied that all the roads were the same to him, that wherever Hamed chose to go, he would follow. They then came to my tent, and informed me of the determination at which the Wanyamwezi had arrived. Calling my veteran Mnyamwezi, who had given me the favourable report once more to my tent, I bade him give a correct account of the Kiti road. It was so favourable that my reply to Hamed was, that I was the master of my caravan, that it was to go wherever I told the kirangozi, not where the pagazis chose; that when I told them to halt they must halt, and when I commanded a march, a march should be made; and that as I fed them well and did not overwork them, I should like to see the pagazi or soldier that disobeyed me. “You made up your mind just now that you would take the Simbo road, and we were agreed upon it, now your pagazis say they will take, the Kiwyeh road, or desert. Go on the Kiwyeh road and pay twenty doti muhongo. I and my caravan tomorrow morning will take the Kiti road, and when you find me in Unyanyembe one day ahead of you, you will be sorry you did not take the same road.”
This resolution of mine had the effect of again changing the current of Hamed’s thoughts, for he instantly said, “That is the best road after all, and as the Sahib is determined to go on it, and we have all travelled together through the bad land of the Wagogo, Inshallah! let us all go the same way,” and Thani=-good old man — not objecting, and Hamed having decided, they both joyfully went out of the tent to communicate the news.
On the 7th the caravans — apparently unanimous that the Kiti road was to be taken — were led as usual by Hamed’s kirangozi. We had barely gone a mile before I perceived that we had left the Simbo road, had taken the direction of Kiti, and, by a cunning detour, were now fast approaching the defile of the mountain ridge before us, which admitted access to the higher plateau of Kiwyeh. Instantly halting my caravan, I summoned the veteran who had travelled by Kiti, and asked him whether we were not going towards Kiwyeh. He replied that we were. Calling my pagazis together, I bade Bombay tell them that the Musuugu never changed his mind; that as I had said my caravan should march by Kiti; to Kiti it must go whether the Arabs followed or not. I then ordered the veteran to take up his load and show the kirangozi the proper road to Kiti. The Wanyamwezi pagazis put down their bales, and then there was every indication of a mutiny. The Wangwana soldiers were next ordered to load their guns and to flank the caravan, and shoot the first pagazis who made an attempt to run away. Dismounting, I seized my whip, and, advancing towards the first pagazi who had put down his load, I motioned to him to take up his load and march. It was unnecessary to proceed further; without an exception, all marched away obediently after the kirangozi. I was about bidding farewell to Thani, and Hamed, when Thani said, “Stop a bit, Sahib; I have had enough of this child’s play; I come with you,” and his caravan was turned after mine. Hamed’s caravan was by this time close to the defile, and he himself was a full mile behind it, weeping like a child at what he was pleased to call our desertion of him. Pitying his strait — for he was almost beside himself as thoughts of Kiwyeh’s sultan, his extortion and rudeness, swept across his mind — I advised him to run after his caravan, and tell it, as all the rest had taken the other road, to think of the Sultan of Kiwyeh. Before reaching the Kiti defile I was aware that Hamed’s caravan was following us.
The ascent of the ridge was rugged and steep, thorns of the prickliest nature punished us severely, the acacia horrida was here more horrid than usual, the gums stretched out their branches, and entangled the loads, the mimosa with its umbrella-like top served to shade us from the sun, but impeded a rapid advance. Steep outcrops of syenite and granite, worn smooth by many feet, had to be climbed over, rugged terraces of earth and rock had to be ascended, and distant shots resounding through the forest added to the alarm and general discontent, and had I not been immediately behind my caravan, watchful of every manoeuvre, my Wanyamwezi had deserted to a man. Though the height we ascended was barely 800 feet above the salina we had just left, the ascent occupied two hours.
Having surmounted the plateau and the worst difficulties, we had a fair road comparatively, which ran through jungle, forest, and small open tracts, which in three hours more brought us to Munieka, a small village, surrounded by a clearing richly cultivated by a colony of subjects of Swaruru of Mukondoku.
By the time we had arrived at camp everybody had recovered his good humour and content except Hamed. Thani’s men happened to set his tent too close to Hamed’s tree, around which his bales were stacked. Whether the little Sheikh imagined honest old Thani capable of stealing one is not known, but it is certain that he stormed and raved about the near neighbourhood of his best friend’s tent, until Thani ordered its removal a hundred yards off. This proceeding even, it seems, did not satisfy Hamed, for it was quite midnight — as Thani said — when Hamed came, and kissing his hands and feet, on his knees implored forgiveness, which of course Thani, being the soul of good-nature, and as large-hearted as any man, willingly gave. Hamed was not satisfied, however, until, with the aid of his slaves, he had transported his friend’s tent to where it had at first been pitched.
The water at Munieka was obtained from a deep depression in a hump of syenite, and was as clear as crystal, and’ cold as ice-water — a luxury we had not experienced since leaving Simbamwenni.
We were now on the borders of Uyanzi, or, as it is better known, “Magunda Mkali “ — the Hot-ground, or Hot-field. We had passed the village populated by Wagogo, and were about to shake the dust of Ugogo from our feet. We had entered Ugogo full of hopes, believing it a most pleasant land — a land flowing with milk and honey. We had been grievously disappointed; it proved to be a land of gall and bitterness, full of trouble and vexation of spirit, where danger was imminent at every step — where we were exposed to the caprice of inebriated sultans. Is it a wonder, then, that all felt happy at such a moment? With the prospect before us of what was believed by many to be a real wilderness, our ardor was not abated, but was rather strengthened. The wilderness in Africa proves to be, in many instances, more friendly than the populated country. The kirangozi blew his kudu horn much more merrily on this morning than he was accustomed to do while in Ugogo. We were about to enter Magunda Mkali. At 9 A.M., three hours after leaving Munieka, and two hours since we had left the extreme limits of Ugogo, we were halted at Mabunguru Nullah. The Nullah runs southwesterly after leaving its source in the chain of hills dividing Ugogo from Magunda Mkali. During the rainy season it must be nearly impassable, owing to the excessive slope of its bed. Traces of the force of the torrent are seen in the syenite and basalt boulders which encumber the course. Their rugged angles are worn smooth, and deep basins are excavated where the bed is of the rock, which in the dry season serve as reservoirs. Though the water contained in them has a slimy and greenish appearance, and is well populated with frogs, it is by no means unpalatable.
At noon we resumed our march, the Wanyamwezi cheering, shouting, and singing, the Wangwana soldiers, servants, and pagazis vieing with them in volume of voice and noise-making the dim forest through which we were now passing resonant with their voices.
The scenery was much more picturesque than any we had yet seen since leaving Bagamoyo. The ground rose into grander waves — hills cropped out here and there — great castles of syenite appeared, giving a strange and weird appearance to the forest. From a distance it would almost seem as if we were approaching a bit of England as it must have appeared during feudalism; the rocks assumed such strange fantastic shapes. Now they were round boulders raised one above another, apparently susceptible to every breath of wind; anon, they towered like blunt-pointed obelisks, taller than the tallest trees; again they assumed the shape of mighty waves, vitrified; here, they were a small heap of fractured and riven rock; there, they rose to the grandeur of hills.
By 5 P.M. we had travelled twenty miles, and the signal was sounded for a halt. At 1 A.M., the moon being up, Hamed’s horn and voice were heard throughout the silent camp awaking his pagazis for the march. Evidently Sheikh Hamed was gone stark mad, otherwise why should he be so frantic for the march at such an early hour? The dew was falling heavily, and chilled one like frost; and an ominous murmur of deep discontent responded to the early call on all sides. Presuming, however, that he had obtained better information than we had, Sheikh Thani and I resolved to be governed as the events proved him to be right or wrong.
As all were discontented, this night, march was performed in deep silence. The thermometer was at 53°, we being about 4,500 feet above the level of the sea. The pagazis, almost naked, walked quickly in order to keep warm, and by so doing many a sore foot was made by stumbling against obtrusive roots and rocks, and treading on thorns. At 3 A.M. we arrived at the village of Unyambogi, where we threw ourselves down to rest and sleep until dawn should reveal what else was in store for the hard-dealt-with caravans.
It was broad daylight when I awoke; the sun was flaring his hot beams in my face. Sheikh Thani came soon after to inform me that Hamed had gone to Kiti two hours since; but he, when asked to accompany him, positively refused, exclaiming against it as folly, and utterly unnecessary. When my advice was asked by Thani, I voted the whole thing as sheer nonsense; and, in turn, asked him what a terekeza was for? Was it not an afternoon march to enable caravans to reach water and food? Thani replied than it was. I then asked him if there was no water or food to be obtained in Unyambogi. Thani replied that he had not taken pains to inquire, but was told by the villagers that there was an abundance of matamia, hindi, maweri, sheep; goats, and chickens in their village at cheap prices, such as were not known in Ugogo.
“Well, then,” said I, “if Hamed wants to be a fool, and kill his pagazis, why should we? I have as much cause for haste as Sheikh Hamed; but Unyanyembe is far yet, and I am not going to endanger my property by playing the madman.”
As Thani had reported, we found an abundance of provisions at the village, and good sweet water from some pits close by. A sheep cost one chukka; six chickens were also purchased at that price; six measures of matama, maweri, or hindi, were procurable for the same sum; in short, we were coming, at last, into the land of plenty.
On the 10th June we arrived at Kiti after a journey of four hours and a half, where we found the irrepressible Hamed halted in sore trouble. He who would be a Caesar, proved to be an irresolute Antony. He had to sorrow over the death of a favourite slave girl, the loss of five dish-dashes (Arab shirts), silvered-sleeve and gold-embroidered jackets, with which he had thought to enter Unyanyembe in state, as became a merchant of his standing, which had disappeared with three absconding servants, besides copper trays, rice, and pilau dishes, and two bales of cloth with runaway Wangwana pagazis. Selim, my Arab servant, asked him, “What are you doing here, Sheikh Hamed? I thought you were well on the road to Unyanyembe.” Said he, “Could I leave Thani, my friend, behind?”
Kiti abounded in cattle and grain, and we were able to obtain food at easy rates. The Wakimbu, emigrants from Ukimbu, near Urori, are a quiet race, preferring the peaceful arts of agriculture to war; of tending their flocks to conquest. At the least rumor of war they remove their property and family, and emigrate to the distant wilderness, where they begin to clear the land, and to hunt the elephant for his ivory. Yet we found them to be a fine race, and well armed, and seemingly capable, by their numbers and arms, to compete with any tribe. But here, as elsewhere, disunion makes them weak. They are mere small colonies, each colony ruled by its own chief; whereas, were they united, they might make a very respectable front before an enemy.
Our next destination was Msalalo, distant fifteen miles from Kiti. Hamed, after vainly searching for his runaways and the valuable property he had lost, followed us, and tried once more, when he saw us encamped at Msalalo, to pass us; but his pagazis failed him, the march having been so long.
Welled Ngaraiso was reached on the 15th, after a three and a half hours’ march. It is a flourishing little place, where provisions were almost twice as cheap as they were at Unyambogi. Two hours’ march south is Jiweh la Mkoa, on the old road, towards which the road which we have been travelling since leaving Bagamoyo was now rapidly leading.
Unyanyembe being near, the pagazis and soldiers having behaved excellently during the lengthy marches we had lately made, I purchased a bullock for three doti, and had it slaughtered for their special benefit. I also gave each a khete of red beads to indulge his appetite for whatever little luxury the country afforded. Milk and honey were plentiful, and three frasilah of sweet potatoes were bought for a shukka, equal to about 40 cents of our money.
The 13th June brought us to the last village of Magunda Mkali, in the district of Jiweh la Singa, after a short march of eight miles and three-quarters. Kusuri — so called by the Arabs — is called Konsuli by the Wakimbu who inhabit it. This is, however, but one instance out of many where the Arabs have misnamed or corrupted the native names of villages and districts.
Between Ngaraiso and Kusuri we passed the village of Kirurumo, now a thriving place, with many a thriving village near it. As we passed it, the people came out to greet the Musungu, whose advent had been so long heralded by his loud-mouthed caravans, and whose soldiers had helped them win the day in a battle against their fractious brothers of Jiweh la Mkoa.
A little further on we came across a large khambi, occupied by Sultan bin Mohammed, an Omani Arab of high descent, who, as soon as he was notified of my approach, came out to welcome me, and invite me to his khambi. As his harem lodged in his tent, of course I was not invited thither; but a carpet outside was ready for his visitor. After the usual questions had been asked about my health, the news of the road, the latest from Zanzibar and Oman, he asked me if I had much cloth with me. This was a question often asked by owners of down caravans, and the reason of it is that the Arabs, in their anxiety to make as much as possible of their cloth at the ivory ports on the Tanganika and elsewhere, are liable to forget that they should retain a portion for the down marches. As, indeed, I had but a bale left of the quantity of cloth retained for provisioning my party on the road, when outfitting my caravans on the coast, I could unblushingly reply in the negative.
I halted a day at Kusuri to give my caravan a rest, after its long series of marches, before venturing on the two days’ march through the uninhabited wilderness that separates the district of Jiweh la Singa Uyanzi from the district of Tura in Unyanyembe. Hamed preceded, promising to give Sayd bin Salim notice of my coming, and to request him to provide a tembe for me.
On the 15th, having ascertained that Sheikh Thani would be detained several days at Kusuri, owing to the excessive number of his people who were laid up with that dreadful plague of East Africa, the small-pox, I bade him farewell, and my caravan struck out of Kusuri once more for the wilderness and the jungle. A little before noon we halted at the Khambi of Mgongo Tembo, or the Elephant’s Back — so called from a wave of rock whose back, stained into dark brownness by atmospheric influences, is supposed by the natives to resemble the blue-brown back of this monster of the forest. My caravan had quite an argument with me here, as to whether we should make the terekeza on this day or on the next. The majority was of the opinion that the next day would be the best for a terekeza; but I, being the “bana,” consulting my own interests, insisted, not without a flourish or two of my whip, that the terekeza should be made on this day.
Mgongo Tembo, when Burton and Speke passed by, was a promising settlement, cultivating many a fair acre of ground. But two years ago war broke out, for some bold act of its people upon caravans, and the Arabs came from Unyanyembe with their Wangwana servants, attacked them, burnt the villages, and laid waste the work of years. Since that time Mgongo Tembo has been but blackened wrecks of houses, and the fields a sprouting jungle.
A cluster of date palm-trees, overtopping a dense grove close to the mtoni of Mgongo Tembo, revived my recollections of Egypt. The banks of the stream, with their verdant foliage, presented a strange contrast to the brown and dry appearance of the jungle which lay on either side.
At 1 P.M. we resumed our loads and walking staffs, and in a short time were en route for the Ngwhalah Mtoni, distant eight and three-quarter miles from the khambi. The sun was hot; like a globe of living, seething flame, it flared its heat full on our heads; then as it descended towards the west, scorched the air before it was inhaled by the lungs which craved it. Gourds of water were emptied speedily to quench the fierce heat that burned the throat and lungs. One pagazi, stricken heavily with the small-pox, succumbed, and threw himself down on the roadside to die. We never saw him afterwards, for the progress of a caravan on a terekeza, is something like that of a ship in a hurricane. The caravan must proceed — woe befall him who lags behind, for hunger and thirst will overtake him — so must a ship drive before the fierce gale to escape foundering — woe befall him who falls overboard!
An abundance of water, good, sweet, and cool, was found in the bed of the mtoni in deep stony reservoirs. Here also the traces of furious torrents were clearly visible as at Mabunguru.
The Nghwhalah commences in Ubanarama to the north — a country famous for its fine breed of donkeys — and after running south, south-south-west, crosses the Unyanyembe road, from which point it has more of a westerly turn.
On the 16th we arrived at Madedita, so called from a village which was, but is now no more. Madedita is twelve and a half miles from the Nghwhalah Mtoni. A pool of good water a few hundred yards from the roadside is the only supply caravans can obtain, nearer than Tura in Unyamwezi. The tsetse or chufwa-fly, as called by the Wasawahili, stung us dreadfully, which is a sign that large game visit the pool sometimes, but must not be mistaken for an indication that there is any in the immediate neighbourhood of the water. A single pool so often frequented by passing caravans, which must of necessity halt here, could not be often visited by the animals of the forest, who are shy in this part of Africa of the haunts of man.
At dawn the neat day we were on the road striding at a quicker pace than on most days, since we were about to quit Magunda Mali for the more populated and better land of Unyamwezi. The forest held its own for a wearisomely long time, but at the end of two hours it thinned, then dwarfed into low jungle, and finally vanished altogether, and we had arrived on the soil of Unyamwezi, with a broad plain, swelling, subsiding, and receding in lengthy and grand undulations in our front to one indefinite horizontal line which purpled in the far distance. The view consisted of fields of grain ripening, which followed the contour of the plain, and which rustled merrily before the morning breeze that came laden with the chills of Usagara.
At 8 A.M. we had arrived at the frontier village of Unyamwezi, Eastern Tura, which we invaded without any regard to the disposition of the few inhabitants who lived there. Here we found Nondo, a runaway of Speke’s, one of those who had sided with Baraka against Bombay, who, desiring to engage himself with me, was engaging enough to furnish honey and sherbet to his former companions, and lastly to the pagazis. It was only a short breathing pause we made here, having another hour’s march to reach Central Tura.
The road from Eastern Tura led through vast fields of millet, Indian corn, holcus sorghum, maweri, or panicum, or bajri, as called by the Arabs; gardens of sweet potatoes, large tracts of cucumbers, water-melons, mush-melons, and pea-nuts which grew in the deep furrows between the ridges of the holcus.
Some broad-leafed plantain plants were also seen in the neighbourhood of the villages, which as we advanced became very numerous. The villages of the Wakimbu are like those of the Wagogo, square, flat-roofed, enclosing an open area, which is sometimes divided into three or four parts by fences or matama stalks.
At central Tura, where we encamped, we had evidence enough of the rascality of the Wakimbu of Tura. Hamed, who, despite his efforts to reach Unyanyembe in time to sell his cloths before other Arabs came with cloth supplies, was unable to compel his pagazis to the double march every day, was also encamped at Central Tura, together with the Arab servants who preferred Hamed’s imbecile haste to Thani’s cautious advance. Our first night in Unyamwezi was very exciting indeed. The Musungu’s camp was visited by two crawling thieves, but they were soon made aware by the portentous click of a trigger that the white man’s camp was well guarded.
Hamed’s camp was next visited; but here also the restlessness of the owner frustrated their attempts, for he was pacing backwards and forwards through his camp, with a loaded gun in his hand; and the thieves were obliged to relinquish the chance of stealing any of his bales. From Hamed’s they proceeded to Hassan’s camp (one of the Arab servants), where they were successful enough to reach and lay hold of a couple of bales; but, unfortunately, they made a noise, which awoke the vigilant and quick-eared slave, who snatched his loaded musket, and in a moment had shot one of them through the heart. Such were our experiences of the Wakimbu of Tura.
On the 18th the three caravans, Hamed’s, Hassan’s, and my own, left Tura by a road which zig-zagged towards all points through the tall matama fields. In an hour’s time we had passed Tura Perro, or Western Tura, and had entered the forest again, whence the Wakimbu of Tura obtain their honey, and where they excavate deep traps for the elephants with which the forest is said to abound. An hour’s march from Western Tura brought us to a ziwa, or pond. There were two, situated in the midst of a small open mbuga, or plain, which, even at this late season, was yet soft from the water which overflows it during the rainy season. After resting three hours, we started on the terekeza, or afternoon march.
It was one and the same forest that we had entered soon after leaving Western Tura, that we travelled through until we reached the Kwala Mtoni, or, as Burton has misnamed it on his map, “Kwale.” The water of this mtoni is contained in large ponds, or deep depressions in the wide and crooked gully of Kwala. In these ponds a species of mud-fish, was found, off one of which I made a meal, by no means to be despised by one who had not tasted fish since leaving Bagamoyo. Probably, if I had my choice, being, when occasion demands it, rather fastidious in my tastes, I would not select the mud-fish.
From Tura to the Kwala Mtoni is seventeen and a half miles, a distance which, however easy it may be traversed once a fortnight, assumes a prodigious length when one has to travel it almost every other day, at least, so my pagazis, soldiers, and followers found it, and their murmurs were very loud when I ordered the signal to be sounded on the march. Abdul Kader, the tailor who had attached himself to me, as a man ready-handed at all things, from mending a pair of pants, making a delicate entremets, or shooting an elephant, but whom the interior proved to be the weakliest of the weakly, unfit for anything except eating and drinking — almost succumbed on this march.
Long ago the little stock of goods which Abdul had brought from Zanzibar folded in a pocket-handkerchief, and with which he was about to buy ivory and slaves, and make his fortune in the famed land of Unyamwezi, had disappeared with the great eminent hopes he had built on them, like those of Alnaschar the unfortunate owner of crockery in the Arabian tale. He came to me as we prepared for the march, with a most dolorous tale about his approaching death, which he felt in his bones, and weary back: his legs would barely hold him up; in short, he had utterly collapsed — would I take mercy on him, and let him depart? The cause of this extraordinary request, so unlike the spirit with which he had left Zanzibar, eager to possess the ivory and slaves of Unyamwezi, was that on the last long march, two of my donkeys being dead, I had ordered that the two saddles which they had carried should be Abdul Kader’s load to Unyanyembe. The weight of the saddles was 16 lbs., as the spring balance-scale indicated, yet Abdul Kader became weary of life, as, he counted the long marches that intervened between the mtoni and Unyanyembe. On the ground he fell prone, to kiss my feet, begging me in the name of God to permit him to depart.
As I had had some experience of Hindoos, Malabarese, and coolies in Abyssinia, I knew exactly how to deal with a case like this. Unhesitatingly I granted the request as soon as asked, for as much tired as Abdul Kader said he was of life, I was with Abdul Kader’s worthlessness. But the Hindi did not want to be left in the jungle, he said, but, after arriving in Unyanyembe. “Oh,” said I, “then you must reach Unyanyembe first; in the meanwhile you will carry those saddles there for the food which you must eat.”
As the march to Rubuga was eighteen and three-quarter miles, the pagazis walked fast and long without resting.
Rubuga, in the days of Burton, according to his book, was a prosperous district. Even when we passed, the evidences of wealth and prosperity which it possessed formerly, were plain enough in the wide extent of its grain fields, which stretched to the right and left of the Unyanyembe road for many a mile. But they were only evidences of what once were numerous villages, a well-cultivated and populous district, rich in herds of cattle and stores of grain. All the villages are burnt down, the people have been driven north three or four days from Rubuga, the cattle were taken by force, the grain fields were left standing, to be overgrown with jungle and rank weeds. We passed village after village that had been burnt, and were mere blackened heaps of charred timber and smoked clay; field after field of grain ripe years ago was yet standing in the midst of a crop of gums and thorns, mimosa and kolquall.
We arrived at the village, occupied by about sixty Wangwana, who have settled here to make a living by buying and selling ivory. Food is provided for them in the deserted fields of the people of Rubuga. We were very tired and heated from the long march, but the pagazis had all arrived by 3 p.m.
At the Wangwana village we met Amer bin Sultan, the very type of an old Arab sheikh, such as we read of in books, with a snowy beard, and a clean reverend face, who was returning to Zanzibar after a ten years’ residence in Unyanyembe. He presented me with a goat; and a goatskin full of rice; a most acceptable gift in a place where a goat costs five cloths.
After a day’s halt at Rubuga, during which I despatched soldiers to notify Sheikh Sayd bin Salim and Sheikh bin Nasib, the two chief dignitaries of Unyanyembe, of my coming, on the 21st of June we resumed the march for Kigwa, distant five hours. The road ran through another forest similar to that which separated Tura from Rubuga, the country rapidly sloping as we proceeded westward. Kigwa we found to have been visited by the same vengeance which rendered Rubuga such a waste.
The next day, after a three and a half hours’ rapid march, we crossed the mtoni — which was no mtoni — separating Kigwa from Unyanyembe district, and after a short halt to quench our thirst, in three and a half hours more arrived at Shiza. It was a most delightful march, though a long one, for its picturesqueness of scenery which every few minutes was revealed, and the proofs we everywhere saw of the peaceable and industrious disposition of the people. A short half hour from Shiza we beheld the undulating plain wherein the Arabs have chosen to situate the central depot which commands such wide and extensive field of trade. The lowing of cattle and the bleating of the goats and sheep were everywhere heard, giving the country a happy, pastoral aspect.
The Sultan of Shiza desired me to celebrate my arrival in Unyanyembe, with a five-gallon jar of pombe, which he brought for that purpose.
As the pombe was but stale ale in taste, and milk and water in colour, after drinking a small glassful I passed it to the delighted soldiers and pagazis. At my request the Sultan brought a fine fat bullock, for which he accepted four and a half doti of Merikani. The bullock was immediately slaughtered and served out to the caravan as a farewell feast.
No one slept much that night, and long before the dawn the fires were lit, and great steaks were broiling, that their stomachs might rejoice before parting with the Musungu, whose bounty they had so often tasted. Six rounds of powder were served to each soldier and pagazi who owned a gun, to fire away when we should be near the Arab houses. The meanest pagazi had his best cloth about his loins, and some were exceedingly brave in gorgeous Ulyah “Coombeesa Poonga” and crimson “Jawah,” the glossy “Rehani,” and the neat “Dabwani.” The soldiers were mustered in new tarbooshes, and the long white shirts of the Mrima and the Island. For this was the great and happy day which had been on our tongues ever since quitting the coast, for which we had made those noted marches latterly — one hundred and seventy-eight and a half miles in sixteen days, including pauses — something over eleven miles a day
The signal sounded and the caravan was joyfully off with banners flying, and trumpets and horns blaring. A short two and a half hours’ march brought us within sight of Kwikuru, which is about two miles south of Tabora, the main Arab town; on the outside of which we saw a long line of men in clean shirts, whereat we opened our charged batteries, and fired a volley of small arms such
as Kwikuru seldom heard before. The pagazis closed up and adopted the swagger of veterans: the soldiers blazed away uninterruptedly, while I, seeing that the Arabs were advancing towards me, left the ranks, and held out my hand, which was immediately grasped by Sheikh Sayd bin Salim, and then by about two dozen people, and thus our entrée into Unyanyembe was effected.
Last updated Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 21:30