My life and troubles during my residence in Unyas Nyembe. I become engaged in a war.
I received a noiseless ovation as I walked side by side with the governor, Sayd bin Salim, towards his tembe in Kwikuru, or the capital. The Wanyamwezi pagazis were out by hundreds, the warriors of Mkasiwa, the sultan, hovered around their chief, the children were seen between the legs of their parents, even infants, a few months old, slung over their mothers’ backs, all paid the tribute due to my colour, with one grand concentrated stare. The only persons who talked with me were the Arabs, and aged Mkasiwa, ruler of Unyanyembe.
Sayd bin Salim’s house was at the north-western corner of the inclosure, a stockaded boma of Kwikuru. We had tea made in a silver tea-pot, and a bountiful supply of “dampers” were smoking under a silver cover; and to this repast I was invited. When a man has walked eight miles or so without any breakfast, and a hot tropical sun has been shining on him for three or four hours, he is apt to do justice to a meal, especially if his appetite is healthy. I think I astonished the governor by the dexterous way in which I managed to consume eleven cups of his aromatic concoction of an Assam herb, and the easy effortless style with which I demolished his high tower of “slap jacks,” that but a minute or so smoked hotly under their silver cover.
For the meal, I thanked the Sheikh, as only an earnest and sincerely hungry man, now satisfied, could thank him. Even if I had not spoken, my gratified looks had well informed him, under what obligations I had been laid to him.
Out came my pipe and tobacco-pouch.
“My friendly Sheikh, wilt thou smoke?”
“No, thanks! Arabs never smoke.”
“Oh, if you don’t, perhaps you would not object to me smoking, in order to assist digestion?”
“Ngema — good — go on, master.”
Then began the questions, the gossipy, curious, serious, light questions:
“How came the master?
“By the Mpwapwa road.”
“It is good. Was the Makata bad?”
“What news from Zanzibar?”
“Good; Syed Toorkee has possession of Muscat, and Azim bin Ghis was slain in the streets.”
“Is this true, Wallahi?” (by God.)
“It is true.”
“Heh-heh-h! This is news!” — stroking his beard.
“Have you heard, master, of Suleiman bin Ali?”
“Yes, the Bombay governor sent him to Zanzibar, in a man-of-war, and Suleiman bin Ali now lies in the gurayza (fort).”
“Heh, that is very good.”
“Did you have to pay much tribute to the Wagogo?”
“Eight times; Hamed Kimiani wished me to go by Kiwyeh, but I declined, and struck through the forest to Munieka. Hamed and Thani thought it better to follow me, than brave Kiwyeh by themselves.”
“Where is that Hajji Abdullah (Captain Burton) that came here, and Spiki?” (Speke.)
“Hajji Abdullah! What Hajji Abdullah? Ah! Sheikh Burton we call him. Oh, he is a great man now; a balyuz (a consul) at El Scham” (Damascus.)
“Heh-heh; balyuz! Heh, at El Scham! Is not that near Betlem el Kuds?” (Jerusalem.)
“Yes, about four days. Spiki is dead. He shot himself by accident.”
“Ah, ah, Wallah (by God), but this is bad news. Spiki dead? Mash–Allah! Ough, he was a good man — a good man! Dead!”
“But where is this Kazeh, Sheikh Sayd?”
Kazeh? Kazeh? I never heard the name before.”
“But you were with Burton, and Speke, at Kazeh; you lived there several months, when you were all stopping in Unyanyembe; it must be close here; somewhere. Where did Hajji Abdullah and Spiki live when they were in Unyanyembe? Was it not in Musa Mzuri’s house?”
“That was in Tabora.”
“Well, then, where is Kazeh? I have never seen the man yet who could tell me where that place is, and yet the three white men have that word down, as the name of the place they lived at when you were with them. You must know where it is.”
“Wallahi, bana, I never heard the name; but stop, Kazeh, in Kinyamwezi, means ‘kingdom.’ Perhaps they gave that name to the place they stopped at. But then, I used to call the first house Sny bin Amer’s house, and Speke lived at Musa Mzuri’s house, but both houses, as well as all the rest, are in Tabora.”
“Thank you, sheikh. I should like to go and look after my people; they must all be wanting food.”
“I shall go with you to show you your house. The tembe is in Kwihara, only an hour’s walk from Tabora.”
On leaving Kwikuru we crossed a low ridge, and soon saw Kwihara lying between two low ranges of hills, the northernmost of which was terminated westward by the round fortress-like hill of Zimbili. There was a cold glare of intense sunshine over the valley, probably the effect of an universal bleakness or an autumnal ripeness of the grass, unrelieved by any depth of colour to vary the universal sameness. The hills were bleached, or seemed to be, under that dazzling sunshine, and clearest atmosphere. The corn had long been cut, and there lay the stubble, and fields, — a browny-white expanse; the houses were of mud, and their fiat roofs were of mud, and the mud was of a browny-whiteness; the huts were thatched, and the stockades around them of barked timber, and these were of a browny whiteness. The cold, fierce, sickly wind from the mountains of Usagara sent a deadly chill to our very marrows, yet the intense sunshiny glare never changed, a black cow or two, or a tall tree here and there, caught the eye for a moment, but they never made one forget that the first impression of Kwihara was as of a picture without colour, or of food without taste; and if one looked up, there was a sky of a pale blue, spotless, and of an awful serenity.
As I approached the tembe of Sayd bin Salim, Sheikh bin Nasib and other great Arabs joined us. Before the great door of the tembe the men had stacked the bales, and piled the boxes, and were using their tongues at a furious rate, relating to the chiefs and soldiers of the first, second, and fourth caravans the many events which had befallen them, and which seemed to them the only things worth relating. Outside of their own limited circles they evidently cared for nothing. Then the several chiefs of the other caravans had in turn to relate their experiences of the road; and the noise of tongues was loud and furious. But as we approached, all this loud-sounding gabble ceased, and my caravan chiefs and guides rushed to me to hail me as “master,” and to salute me as their friend. One fellow, faithful Baruti, threw himself at my feet, the others fired their guns and acted like madmen suddenly become frenzied, and a general cry of “welcome” was heard on all sides.
“Walk in, master, this is your house, now; here are your men’s quarters; here you will receive the great Arabs, here is the cook-house; here is the store-house; here is the prison for the refractory; here are your white man’s apartments; and these are your own: see, here is the bedroom, here is the gun-room, bath-room, &c.;” so Sheikh Sayd talked, as he showed me the several places.
On my honour, it was a most comfortable place, this, in Central Africa. One could almost wax poetic, but we will keep such ambitious ideas for a future day. Just now, however, we must have the goods stored, and the little army of carriers paid off and disbanded.
Bombay was ordered to unlock the strong store-room, to pile the bales in regular tiers, the beads in rows one above another, and the wire in a separate place. The boats, canvas, &c., were to be placed high above reach of white ants, and the boxes of ammunition and powder kegs were to be stored in the gun-room, out of reach of danger. Then a bale of cloth was opened, and each carrier was rewarded according to his merits, that each of them might proceed home to his friends and neighbours, and tell them how much better the white man behaved than the Arabs.
The reports of the leaders of the first, second, and fourth caravans were then received, their separate stores inspected, and the details and events of their marches heard. The first caravan had been engaged in a war at Kirurumo, and had come out of the fight successful, and had reached Unyanyembe without loss of anything. The second had shot a thief in the forest between Pembera Pereh and Kididimo; the fourth had lost a bale in the jungle of Marenga Mkali, and the porter who carried it had received a “very sore head” from a knob stick wielded by one of the thieves, who prowl about the jungle near the frontier of Ugogo. I was delighted to find that their misfortunes were no more, and each leader was then and there rewarded with one handsome cloth, and five doti of Merikani.
Just as I began to feel hungry again, came several slaves in succession, bearing trays full of good things from the Arabs; first an enormous dish of rice, with a bowlful of curried chicken, another with a dozen huge wheaten cakes, another with a plateful of smoking hot crullers, another with papaws, another with pomegranates and lemons; after these came men driving five fat hump backed oxen, eight sheep, and ten goats, and another man with a dozen chickens, and a dozen fresh eggs. This was real, practical, noble courtesy, munificent hospitality, which quite took my gratitude by storm.
My people, now reduced to twenty-five, were as delighted at the prodigal plenitude visible on my tables and in my yard, as I was myself. And as I saw their eyes light up at the unctuous anticipations presented to them by their riotous fancies, I ordered a bullock to be slaughtered and distributed.
The second day of the arrival of the Expedition in the country which I now looked upon as classic ground, since Capts. Burton, Speke, and Grant years ago had visited it, and described it, came the Arab magnates from Tabora to congratulate me.
Tabora5 is the principal Arab settlement in Central Africa. It contains over a thousand huts and tembes, and one may safely estimate the population, Arabs, Wangwana, and natives, at five thousand people. Between Tabora and the next settlement, Kwihara, rise two rugged hill ridges, separated from each other by a low saddle, over the top of which Tabora is always visible from Kwihara.
5 There is no such recognised place as Kazeh.
They were a fine, handsome body of men, these Arabs. They mostly hailed from Oman: others were Wasawahili; and each of my visitors had quite a retinue with him. At Tabora they live quite luxuriously. The plain on which the settlement is situated is exceedingly fertile, though naked of trees; the rich pasturage it furnishes permits them to keep large herds of cattle and goats, from which they have an ample supply of milk, cream, butter, and ghee. Rice is grown everywhere; sweet potatoes, yams, muhogo, holcus sorghum, maize, or Indian corn, sesame, millet, field-peas, or vetches, called choroko, are cheap, and always procurable. Around their tembes the Arabs cultivate a little wheat for their own purposes, and have planted orange, lemon, papaw, and mangoes, which thrive here fairly well. Onions and garlic, chilies, cucumbers, tomatoes, and brinjalls, may be procured by the white visitor from the more important Arabs, who are undoubted epicureans in their way. Their slaves convey to them from the coast, once a year at least, their stores of tea, coffee sugar, spices, jellies, curries, wine, brandy, biscuits, sardines, salmon, and such fine cloths and articles as they require for their own personal use. Almost every Arab of any eminence is able to show a wealth of Persian carpets, and most luxurious bedding, complete tea and coffee-services, and magnificently carved dishes of tinned copper and brass lavers. Several of them sport gold watches and chains, mostly all a watch and chain of some kind. And, as in Persia, Afghanistan, and Turkey, the harems form an essential feature of every Arab’s household; the sensualism of the Mohammedans is as prominent here as in the Orient.
The Arabs who now stood before the front door of my tembe were the donors of the good things received the day before. As in duty bound, of course, I greeted Sheikh Sayd first, then Sheikh bin Nasib, his Highness of Zanzibar’s consul at Karagwa, then I greeted the noblest Trojan amongst the Arab population, noblest in bearing, noblest in courage and manly worth — Sheikh Khamis bin Abdullah; then young Amram bin Mussoud, who is now making war on the king of Urori and his fractious people; then handsome, courageous Soud, the son of Sayd bin Majid; then dandified Thani bin Abdullah; then Mussoud bin Abdullah and his cousin Abdullah bin Mussoud, who own the houses where formerly lived Burton and Speke; then old Suliman Dowa, Sayd bin Sayf, and the old Hetman of Tabora — Sheikh Sultan bin Ali.
As the visit of these magnates, under whose loving protection white travellers must needs submit themselves, was only a formal one, such as Arab etiquette, ever of the stateliest and truest, impelled them to, it is unnecessary to relate the discourse on my health, and their wealth, my thanks, and their professions of loyalty, and attachment to me. After having expended our mutual stock of congratulations and nonsense, they departed, having stated their wish that I should visit them at Tabora and partake of a feast which they were about to prepare for me.
Three days afterwards I sallied out of my tembe, escorted by eighteen bravely dressed men of my escort, to pay Tabora a visit. On surmounting the saddle over which the road from the valley of Kwihara leads to Tabora, the plain on which the Arab settlement is situated lay before us, one expanse of dun pasture land, stretching from the base bf the hill on our left as far as the banks of the northern Gombe, which a few miles beyond Tabora heave into purple-coloured hills and blue cones.
Within three-quarters of an hour we were seated on the mud veranda of the tembe of Sultan bin Ali, who, because of his age, his wealth, and position — being a colonel in Seyd Burghash’s unlovely army — is looked upon by his countrymen, high and low, as referee and counsellor. His boma or enclosure contains quite a village of hive-shaped huts and square tembes. From here, after being presented with a cup of Mocha coffee, and some sherbet, we directed our steps towards Khamis bin Abdullah’s house, who had, in anticipation of my coming, prepared a feast to which he had invited his friends and neighbours. The group of stately Arabs in their long white dresses, and jaunty caps, also of a snowy white, who stood ready to welcome me to Tabora, produced quite an effect on my mind. I was in time for a council of war they were holding — and I was,requested to attend.
Khamis bin Abdullah, a bold and brave man, ever ready to stand up for the privileges of the Arabs, and their rights to pass through any countries for legitimate trade, is the man who, in Speke’s ‘Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile,’ is reported to have shot Maula, an old chief who sided with Manwa Sera during the wars of 1860; and who subsequently, after chasing his relentless enemy for five years through Ugogo and Unyamwezi as far as Ukonongo, had the satisfaction of beheading him, was now urging the Arabs to assert their rights against a chief called Mirambo of Uyoweh, in a crisis which was advancing.
This Mirambo of Uyoweh, it seems, had for the last few years been in a state of chronic discontent with the policies of the neighbouring chiefs. Formerly a pagazi for an Arab, he had now assumed regal power, with the usual knack of unconscionable rascals who care not by what means they step into power. When the chief of Uyoweh died, Mirambo, who was head of a gang of robbers infesting the forests of Wilyankuru, suddenly entered Uyoweh, and constituted himself lord paramount by force. Some feats of enterprise, which he performed to the enrichment of all those who recognised his authority, established him firmly in his position. This was but a beginning; he carried war through Ugara to Ukonongo, through Usagozi to the borders of Uvinza, and after destroying the populations over three degrees of latitude, he conceived a grievance against Mkasiwa, and against the Arabs, because they would not sustain him in his ambitious projects against their ally and friend, with whom they were living in peace.
The first outrage which this audacious man committed against the Arabs was the halting of an Ujiji-bound caravan, and the demand for five kegs of gunpowder, five guns, and five bales of cloth. This extraordinary demand, after expending more than a day in fierce controversy, was paid; but the Arabs, if they were surprised at the exorbitant black-mail demanded of them, were more than ever surprised when they were told to return the way they came; and that no Arab caravan should pass through his country to Ujiji except over his dead body.
On the return of the unfortunate Arabs to Unyanyembe, they reported the facts to Sheikh Sayd bin Salim, the governor of the Arab colony. This old man, being averse to war, of course tried every means to induce Mirambo as of old to be satisfied with presents; but Mirambo this time was obdurate, and sternly determined on war unless the Arabs aided him in the warfare he was about to wage against old Mkasiwa, sultan of the Wanyamwezi of Unyanyembe.
“This is the status of affairs,” said Khamis bin Abdullah. “Mirambo says that for years he has been engaged in war against the neighbouring Washensi and has come out of it victorious; he says this is a great year with him; that he is going to fight the Arabs, and the Wanyamwezi of Unyanyembe, and that he shall not stop until every Arab is driven from Unyanyembe, and he rules over this country in place of Mkasiwa. Children of Oman, shall it be so? Speak, Salim, son of Sayf, shall we go to meet this Mshensi (pagan) or shall we return to our island?”
A murmur of approbation followed the speech of Khamis bin Abdullah, the majority of those present being young men eager to punish the audacious Mirambo. Salim, the son of Sayf, an old patriarch, slow of speech, tried to appease the passions of the young men, scions of the aristocracy of Muscat and Muttrah, and Bedaweens of the Desert, but Khamis’s bold words had made too deep an impression on their minds.
Soud, the handsome Arab whom I have noticed already as the son of Sayd the son of Majid, spoke: “My father used to tell me that he remembered the days when the Arabs could go through the country from Bagamoyo to Ujiji, and from Kilwa to Lunda, and from Usenga to Uganda armed with canes. Those days are gone by. We have stood the insolence of the Wagogo long enough. Swaruru of Usui just takes from us whatever he wants; and now, here is Mirambo, who says, after taking more than five bales of cloth as tribute from one man, that no Arab caravan shall go to Ujiji, but over his body. Are we prepared to give up the ivory of Ujiji, of Urundi, of Karagwah, of Uganda, because of this one man? I say war — war until we have got his beard under our feet — war until the whole of Uyoweh and Wilyankuru is destroyed — war until we can again travel through any part of the country with only our walking canes in our hands!”
The universal assent that followed Send’s speech proved beyond a doubt that we were about to have a war. I thought of Livingstone. What if he were marching to Unyanyembe directly into the war country?
Having found from the Arabs that they intended to finish the war quickly — at most within fifteen days, as Uyoweh was only four marches distant — I volunteered to accompany them, take my loaded caravan with me as far as Mfuto, and there leave it in charge of a few guards, and with the rest march on with the Arab army. And my hope was, that it might be possible, after the defeat of Mirambo, and his forest banditti — the Ruga–Ruga — to take my Expedition direct to Ujiji by the road now closed. The Arabs were sanguine of victory, and I partook of their enthusiasm.
The council of war broke up. A great dishful of rice and curry, in which almonds, citron, raisins, and currants were plentifully mixed, was brought in, and it was wonderful how soon we forgot our warlike fervor after our attention had been drawn to this royal dish. I, of course, not being a Mohammedan, had a dish of my own, of a similar composition, strengthened by platters containing roast chicken, and kabobs, crullers, cakes, sweetbread, fruit, glasses of sherbet and lemonade, dishes of gum-drops and Muscat sweetmeats, dry raisins, prunes, and nuts. Certainly Khamis bin Abdullah proved to me that if he had a warlike soul in him, he could also attend to the cultivated tastes acquired under the shade of the mangoes on his father’s estates in Zanzibar — the island.
After gorging ourselves on these uncommon dainties some of the chief Arabs escorted me to other tembes of Tabora. When we went to visit Mussoud bin Abdullah, he showed me the very ground where Burton and Speke’s house stood — now pulled down and replaced by his office — Sny bin Amer’s house was also torn down, and the fashionable tembe of Unyanyembe, now in vogue, built over it, — finely-carved rafters — huge carved doors, brass knockers, and lofty airy rooms — a house built for defence and comfort.
The finest house in Unyanyembe belongs to Amram bin Mussoud, who paid sixty frasilah of ivory — over $3,000 — for it. Very fair houses can be purchased for from twenty to thirty frasilah of ivory. Amram’s house is called the “Two Seas” — “Baherein.” It is one hundred feet in length, and twenty feet high, with walls four feet thick, neatly plastered over with mud mortar. The great door is a marvel of carving-work for Unyanyembe artisans. Each rafter within is also carved with fine designs. Before the front of the house is a young plantation of pomegranate trees, which flourish here as if they were indigenous to the soil. A shadoof, such as may be seen on the Nile, serves to draw water to irrigate the gardens.
Towards evening we walked back to our own finely situated tembe in Kwihara, well satisfied with what we had seen at Tabora. My men drove a couple of oxen, and carried three sacks of native rice — a most superior kind — the day’s presents of hospitality from Khamis bin Abdullah.
In Unyanyembe I found the Livingstone caravan, which started off in a fright from Bagamoyo upon the rumour that the English Consul was coming. As all the caravans were now halted at Unyanyembe because of the now approaching war, I suggested to Sayd bin Salim, that it were better that the men of the Livingstone caravan should live with mine in my tembe, that I might watch over the white man’s goods. Sayd bin Salim agreed with me, and the men and goods were at once brought to my tembe.
One day Asmani, who was now chief of Livingstone’s caravan, the other having died of small-pox, two or three days before, brought out a tent to the veranda where, I was sitting writing, and shewed me a packet of letters, which to my surprise was marked:
“To Dr. Livingstone, “ Ujiji, “November 1st, 1870.
“ Registered letters.”
From November 1st, 1870, to February 10, 1871, just one hundred days, at Bagamoyo! A miserable small caravan of thirty-three men halting one hundred days at Bagamoyo, only twenty-five miles by water from Zanzibar! Poor Livingstone! Who knows but he maybe suffering for want of these very supplies that were detained so long near the sea. The caravan arrived in Unyanyembe some time about the middle of May. About the latter part of May the first disturbances took place. Had this caravan arrived here in the middle of March, or even the middle of April, they might have travelled on to Ujiji without trouble.
On the 7th of July, about 2 P.M., I was sitting on the burzani as usual; I felt listless and languid, and a drowsiness came over me; I did not fall asleep, but the power of my limbs seemed to fail me. Yet the brain was busy; all my life seemed passing in review before me; when these retrospective scenes became serious, I looked serious; when they were sorrowful, I wept hysterically; when they were joyous, I laughed loudly. Reminiscences of yet a young life’s battles and hard struggles came surging into the mind in quick succession: events of boyhood, of youth, and manhood; perils, travels, scenes, joys, and sorrows; loves and hates; friendships and indifferences. My mind followed the various and rapid transition of my life’s passages; it drew the lengthy, erratic, sinuous lines of travel my footsteps had passed over. If I had drawn them on the sandy floor, what enigmatical problems they had been to those around me, and what plain, readable, intelligent histories they had been to me!
The loveliest feature of all to me was the form of a noble, and true man, who called me son. Of my life in the great pine forests of Arkansas, and in Missouri, I retained the most vivid impressions. The dreaming days I passed under the sighing pines on the Ouachita’s shores; the new clearing, the block-house, our faithful black servant, the forest deer, and the exuberant life I led, were all well remembered. And I remembered how one day, after we had come to live near the Mississipi, I floated down, down, hundreds of miles, with a wild fraternity of knurly giants, the boatmen of the Mississipi, and how a dear old man welcomed me back, as if from the grave. I remembered also my travels on foot through sunny Spain, and France, with numberless adventures in Asia Minor, among Kurdish nomads. I remembered the battle-fields of America and the stormy scenes of rampant war. I remembered gold mines, and broad prairies, Indian councils, and much experience in the new western lands. I remembered the shock it gave me to hear after my return from a barbarous country of the calamity that had overtaken the fond man whom I called father, and the hot fitful life that followed it. Stop! . . .
Dear me; is it the 21st of July? Yes, Shaw informed me that it was the 21st of July after I recovered from my terrible attack of fever; the true date was the 14th of July, but I was not aware that I had jumped a week, until I met Dr. Livingstone. We two together examined the Nautical Almanack, which I brought with me. We found that the Doctor was three weeks out of his reckoning, and to my great surprise I was also one week out, or one week ahead of the actual date. The mistake was made by my being informed that I had been two weeks sick, and as the day I recovered my senses was Friday, and Shaw and the people were morally sure that I was in bed two weeks, I dated it on my Diary the 21st of July. However, on the tenth day after the first of my illness, I was in excellent trim again, only, however, to see and attend to Shaw, who was in turn taken sick. By the 22nd July Shaw was recovered, then Selim was prostrated, and groaned in his delirium for four days, but by the 28th we were all recovered, and were beginning to brighten up at the prospect of a diversion in the shape of a march upon Mirambo’s stronghold.
The morning of the 29th I had fifty men loaded with bales, beads, and wire, for Ujiji. When they were mustered for the march outside the tembe, the only man absent was Bombay. While men were sent to search for him, others departed to get one more look, and one more embrace with their black Delilahs. Bombay was found some time about 2 P.M., his face faithfully depicting the contending passions under which he was labouring — sorrow at parting from the fleshpots of Unyanyembe — regret at parting from his Dulcinea of Tabora — to be, bereft of all enjoyment now, nothing but marches — hard, long marches — to go to the war — to be killed, perhaps, Oh! Inspired by such feelings, no wonder Bombay was inclined to be pugnacious when I ordered him to his place, and I was in a shocking bad temper for having been kept waiting from 8 A.M. to 2 P.M. for him. There was simply a word and a savage look, and my cane was flying around Bombay’s shoulders, as if he were to be annihilated. I fancy that the eager fury of my onslaught broke his stubbornness more than anything else; for before I had struck him a dozen times he was crying for “pardon.” At that word I ceased belaboring him, for this was the first time he had ever uttered that word. Bombay was conquered at last.
“March!” and the guide led off, followed in solemn order by forty-nine of his fellows, every man carrying a heavy load of African moneys, besides his gun, hatchet, and stock of ammunition, and his ugali-pot. We presented quite an imposing sight while thus marching on in silence and order, with our flags flying, and the red blanket robes of the men streaming behind them as the furious north-easter blew right on our flank.
The men seemed to feel they were worth seeing, for I noticed that several assumed a more martial tread as they felt their royal Joho cloth tugging at their necks, as it was swept streaming behind by the wind. Maganga, a tall Mnyamwezi, stalked along like a very Goliah about to give battle alone, to Mirambo and his thousand warriors. Frisky Khamisi paced on under his load, imitating a lion and there was the rude jester — the incorrigible Ulimengo — with a stealthy pace like a cat. But their silence could not last long. Their, vanity was so much gratified, the red cloaks danced so incessantly before their eyes, that it would have been a wonder if they could have maintained such serious gravity or discontent one half hour longer.
Ulimengo was the first who broke it. He had constituted himself the kirangozi or guide, and was the standard-bearer, bearing the American flag, which the men thought would certainly strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. Growing confident first, then valorous, then exultant, he suddenly faced the army he was leading, and shouted
Chorus. — Hoy! Hoy!
Chorus. — Hoy! Hoy!
Chorus. — Hoy! Hoy!
Where are ye going?
Chorus. — Going to war.
Chorus. — Against Mirambo.
Who is your master?
Chorus. — The White Man.
Chorus. — Ough! Ough!
Chorus. — Hyah. Hyah!”
This was the ridiculous song they kept up all day without intermission.
We camped the first day at Bomboma’s village, situated a mile to the south-west of the natural hill fortress of Zimbili. Bombay was quite recovered from his thrashing, and had banished the sullen thoughts that had aroused my ire, and the men having behaved themselves so well, a five-gallon pot of pombe was brought to further nourish the valour, which they one and all thought they possessed.
The second day we arrived at Masangi. I was visited soon afterwards by Soud, the son of Sayd bin Majid, who told me the Arabs were waiting for me; that they would not march from Mfuto until I had arrived.
Eastern Mfuto, after a six hours’ march, was reached on the third day from Unyanyembe. Shaw gave in, laid down in the road, and declared he was dying. This news was brought to me about 4 P.M. by one of the last stragglers. I was bound to despatch men to carry him to me, into my camp, though every man was well tired after the long march. A reward stimulated half-a-dozen to venture into the forest just at dusk to find Shaw, who was supposed to be at least three hours away from camp.
About two o’clock in the morning my men returned, having carried Shaw on their backs the entire distance. I was roused up, and had him conveyed to my tent. I examined him, and I assured myself he was not suffering from fever of any kind; and in reply to my inquiries as to how he felt, he said he could neither walk nor ride, that he felt such extreme weakness and lassitude that he was incapable of moving further. After administering a glass of port wine to him in a bowlful of sago gruel, we both fell asleep.
We arrived early the following morning at Mfuto, the rendezvous of the Arab army. A halt was ordered the next day, in order to make ourselves strong by eating the beeves, which we freely slaughtered.
The personnel of our army was as follows:
Sheikh Sayd bin Salim . . . . . . 25 half caste
“ Khamis bin Abdullah . . . . 250 slaves
“ Thani bin Abdullah . . . . 80 ”
“ Mussoud bin Abdullah . . . . 75 ”
“ Abdullah bin Mussoud . . . . 80 ”
“ Ali bin Sayd bin Nasib . . . 250 ”
“ Nasir bin Mussoud . . . . . 50 ”
“ Hamed Kimiami . . . . . . 70 ”
“ Hamdam . . . . . . . . 30 ”
“ Sayd bin Habib . . . . . . 50 ”
“ Salim bin Sayf . . . . . 100 ”
“ Sunguru . . . . . . . . 25 ”
“ Sarboko . . . . . . . . 25 ”
“ Soud bin Sayd bin Majid . . . 50 ”
“ Mohammed bin Mussoud . . . . 30 ”
“ Sayd bin Hamed . . . . . . 90 ”
“ The ‘Herald’ Expedition . . . 50 soldiers
“ Mkasiwa’s Wanyamwezi . . . 800 ”
“ Half-castes and Wangwana . . 125 ”
“ Independent chiefs and their
followers . . . . . . . 300 ”
These made a total of 2,255, according to numbers given me by Thani bin Abdullah, and corroborated by a Baluch in the pay of Sheikh bin Nasib. Of these men 1,500 were armed with guns — flint-lock muskets, German and French double-barrels, some English Enfields, and American Springfields — besides these muskets, they were mostly armed with spears and long knives for the purpose of decapitating, and inflicting vengeful gashes in the dead bodies. Powder and ball were plentiful: some men were served a hundred rounds each, my people received each man sixty rounds.
As we filed out of the stronghold of Mfuto, with waving banners denoting the various commanders, with booming horns, and the roar of fifty bass drums, called gomas — with blessings showered on us by the mollahs, and happiest predications from the soothsayers, astrologers, and the diviners of the Koran — who could have foretold that this grand force, before a week passed over its head, would be hurrying into that same stronghold of Mfuto, with each man’s heart in his mouth from fear?
The date of our leaving Mfuto for battle with Mirambo was the 3rd of August. All my goods were stored in Mfuto, ready for the march to Ujiji, should we be victorious over the African chief, but at least for safety, whatever befel us.
Long before we reached Umanda, I was in my hammock in the paroxysms of a fierce attack of intermittent fever, which did not leave me until late that night.
At Umanda, six hours from Mfuto, our warriors bedaubed themselves with the medicine which the wise men had manufactured for them — a compound of matama flour mixed with the juices of a herb whose virtues were only known to the Waganga of the Wanyamwezi.
At 6 A.M. on the 4th of August we were once more prepared for the road, but before we were marched out of the village, the “manneno,” or speech, was delivered by the orator of the Wanyamwezi:
“Words! words! words! Listen, sons of Mkasiwa, children of Unyamwezi! the journey is before you, the thieves of the forest are waiting; yes, they are thieves, they cut up your caravans, they steal your ivory, they murder your women. Behold, the Arabs are with you, El Wali of the Arab sultan, and the white man are with you. Go, the son of Mkasiwa is with you; fight; kill, take slaves, take cloth, take cattle, kill, eat, and fill yourselves! Go!”
“A loud, wild shout followed this bold harangue, the gates of the village were thrown open, and blue, red, and white-robed soldiers were bounding upward like so many gymnasts; firing their guns incessantly, in order to encourage themselves with noise, or to strike terror into the hearts of those who awaited us within the strong enclosure of Zimbizo, Sultan Kolongo’s place.
As Zimbizo was distant only five hours from Umanda, at 11 A.M. we came in view of it. We halted on the verge of the cultivated area around it and its neighbours within the shadow of the forest. Strict orders had been given by the several chiefs to their respective commands not to fire, until they were within shooting distance of the boma.
Khamis bin Abdullah crept through the forest to the west of the village. The Wanyamwezi took their position before the main gateway, aided by the forces of Soud the son of Sayd on the right, and the son of Habib on the left, Abdullah, Mussoud, myself, and others made ready to attack the eastern gates, which arrangement effectually shut them in, with the exception of the northern side.
Suddenly, a volley opened on us as we emerged from the forest along the Unyanyembe road, in the direction they had been anticipating the sight of an enemy, and immediately the attacking forces began their firing in most splendid style. There were some ludicrous scenes of men pretending to fire, then jumping off to one side, then forward, then backward, with the agility of hopping frogs, but the battle was none the less in earnest. The breech-loaders of my men swallowed my metallic cartridges much faster than I liked to see; but happily there was a lull in the firing, and we were rushing into the village from the west, the south, the north, through the gates and over the tall palings that surrounded the village, like so many Merry Andrews; and the poor villagers were flying from the enclosure towards the mountains, through the northern gate, pursued by the fleetest runners of our force, and pelted in the back by bullets from breech-loaders and shot-guns.
The village was strongly defended, and not more than twenty dead bodies were found in it, the strong thick wooden paling having afforded excellent protection against our bullets.
From Zimbizo, after having left a sufficient force within, we sallied out, and in an hour had cleared the neighbourhood of the enemy, having captured two other villages, which we committed to the flames, after gutting them of all valuables. A few tusks of ivory, and about fifty slaves, besides an abundance of grain, composed the “loot,” which fell to the lot of the Arabs.
On the 5th, a detachment of Arabs and slaves, seven hundred strong, scoured the surrounding country, and carried fire and devastation up to the boma of Wilyankuru.
On the 6th, Soud bin Sayd and about twenty other young Arabs led a force of five hundred men against Wilyankuru itself, where it was supposed Mirambo was living. Another party went out towards the low wooded hills, a short distance north of Zimbizo, near which place they surprised a youthful forest thief asleep, whose head they stretched backwards, and cut it off as though he were a goat or a sheep. Another party sallied out southward, and defeated a party of Mirambo’s “bush-whackers,” news of which came to our ears at noon.
In the morning I had gone to Sayd bin Salim’s tembe, to represent to him how necessary it was to burn the long grass in the forest of Zimbizo, lest it might hide any of the enemy; but soon afterwards I had been struck down with another attack of intermittent fever, and was obliged to turn in and cover myself with blankets to produce perspiration; but not, however, till I had ordered Shaw and Bombay not to permit any of my men to leave the camp. But I was told soon afterwards by Selim that more than one half had gone to the attack on Wilyankuru with Soud bin Sayd.
About 6 P.M. the entire camp of Zimbizo was electrified with the news that all the Arabs who had accompanied Soud bin Sayd had been killed; and that more than one-half of his party had been slain. Some of my own men returned, and from them I learned that Uledi, Grant’s former valet, Mabruki Khatalabu (Killer of his father), Mabruki (the Little), Baruti of Useguhha, and Ferahan had been killed. I learned also that they had succeeded in capturing Wilyankuru in a very short time, that Mirambo and his son were there, that as they succeeded in effecting an entrance, Mirambo had collected his men, and after leaving the village, had formed an ambush in the grass, on each side of the road, between Wilyankuru and Zimbizo, and that as the attacking party were returning home laden with over a hundred tusks of ivory, and sixty bales of cloth, and two or three hundred slaves, Mirambo’s men suddenly rose up on each side of them, and stabbed them with their spears. The brave Soud had fired his double-barrelled gun and shot two men, and was in the act of loading again when a spear was launched, which penetrated through and through him: all the other Arabs shared the same fate. This sudden attack from an enemy they believed to be conquered so demoralized the party that, dropping their spoil, each man took to his heels, and after making a wide detour through the woods, returned to Zimbizo to repeat the dolorous tale.
The effect of this defeat is indescribable. It was impossible to sleep, from the shrieks of the women whose husbands had fallen. All night they howled their lamentations, and sometimes might be heard the groans of the wounded who had contrived to crawl through the grass unperceived by the enemy. Fugitives were continually coming in throughout the night, but none of my men who were reported to be dead, were ever heard of again.
The 7th was a day of distrust, sorrow, and retreat; the Arabs accused one another for urging war without expending all peaceful means first. There were stormy councils of war held, wherein were some who proposed to return at once to Unyanyembe, and keep within their own houses; and Khamis bin Abdullah raved, like an insulted monarch, against the abject cowardice of his compatriots. These stormy meetings and propositions to retreat were soon known throughout the camp, and assisted more than anything else to demoralize completely the combined forces of Wanyamwezi and slaves. I sent Bombay to Sayd bin Salim to advise him not to think of retreat, as it would only be inviting Mirambo to carry the war to Unyanyembe.
After, despatching Bombay with this message, I fell asleep, but about 1.30 P.M. I was awakened by Selim saying, “Master, get up, they are all running away, and Khamis bin Abdullah is himself going.”
With the aid of Selim I dressed myself, and staggered towards the door. My first view was of Thani bin Abdullah being dragged away, who, when he caught sight of me, shouted out “Bana — quick — Mirambo is coming.” He was then turning to run, and putting on his jacket, with his eyes almost starting out of their sockets with terror. Khamis bin Abdullah was also about departing, he being the last Arab to leave. Two of my men were following him; these Selim was ordered to force back with a revolver. Shaw was saddling his donkey with my own saddle, preparatory to giving me the slip, and leaving me in the lurch to the tender mercies of Mirambo. There were only Bombay, Mabruki Speke, Chanda who was coolly eating his dinner, Mabruk Unyauyembe, Mtamani, Juma, and Sarmean — only seven out of fifty. All the others had deserted, and were by this time far away, except Uledi (Manwa Sera) and Zaidi, whom Selim brought back at the point of a loaded revolver. Selim was then told to saddle my donkey, and Bombay to assist Shaw to saddle his own. In a few moments we were on the road, the men ever looking back for the coming enemy; they belabored the donkeys to some purpose, for they went at a hard trot, which caused me intense pain. I would gladly have lain down to die, but life was sweet, and I had not yet given up all hope of being able to preserve it to the full and final accomplishment of my mission. My mind was actively at work planning and contriving during the long lonely hours of night, which we employed to reach Mfuto, whither I found the Arabs had retreated. In the night Shaw tumbled off his donkey, and would not rise, though implored to do so. As I did not despair myself, so I did not intend that Shaw should despair. He was lifted on his animal, and a man was placed on each side of him to assist him; thus we rode through the darkness. At midnight we reached Mfuto safely, and were at once admitted into the village, from which we had issued so valiantly, but to which we were now returned so ignominiously.
I found all my men had arrived here before dark. Ulimengo, the bold guide who had exulted in his weapons and in our numbers, and was so sanguine of victory, had performed the eleven hours’ march in six hours; sturdy Chowpereh, whom I regarded as the faithfullest of my people, had arrived only half an hour later than Ulimengo; and frisky Khamisi, the dandy — the orator — the rampant demagogue — yes — he had come third; and Speke’s “Faithfuls” had proved as cowardly as any poor “nigger” of them all. Only Selim was faithful.
I asked Selim, “Why did you not also run away, and leave your master to die?”
“Oh, sir,” said the Arab boy, naively, “I was afraid you would whip me.”
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54