Part 7 out of 15
discharging their guns.
18TH. We were awakened during the night by a message from Shinte,
requesting a visit at a very unseasonable hour. As I was just
in the sweating stage of an intermittent, and the path to the town lay through
a wet valley, I declined going. Kolimbota, who knows their customs best,
urged me to go; but, independent of sickness, I hated words of the night
and deeds of darkness. "I was neither a hyaena nor a witch."
Kolimbota thought that we ought to conform to their wishes in every thing:
I thought we ought to have some choice in the matter as well,
which put him into high dudgeon. However, at ten next morning we went,
and were led into the courts of Shinte, the walls of which were woven rods,
all very neat and high. Many trees stood within the inclosure
and afforded a grateful shade. These had been planted, for we saw some
recently put in, with grass wound round the trunk to protect them
from the sun. The otherwise waste corners of the streets were planted
with sugar-cane and bananas, which spread their large light leaves
over the walls.
The Ficus Indica tree, under which we now sat, had very large leaves,
but showed its relationship to the Indian banian by sending down shoots
toward the ground. Shinte soon came, and appeared a man
of upward of fifty-five years of age, of frank and open countenance,
and about the middle height. He seemed in good humor, and said
he had expected yesterday "that a man who came from the gods would have
approached and talked to him." That had been my own intention in going
to the reception; but when we came and saw the formidable preparations,
and all his own men keeping at least forty yards off from him,
I yielded to the solicitations of my men, and remained by the tree
opposite to that under which he sat. His remark confirmed
my previous belief that a frank, open, fearless manner is the most winning
with all these Africans. I stated the object of my journey and mission,
and to all I advanced the old gentleman clapped his hands in approbation.
He replied through a spokesman; then all the company joined in the response
by clapping of hands too.
After the more serious business was over, I asked if he had ever seen
a white man before. He replied, "Never; you are the very first I have seen
with a white skin and straight hair; your clothing, too,
is different from any we have ever seen." They had been visited
by native Portuguese and Mambari only.
On learning from some of the people that "Shinte's mouth was bitter
for want of tasting ox-flesh," I presented him with an ox,
to his great delight; and, as his country is so well adapted for cattle,
I advised him to begin a trade in cows with the Makololo.
He was pleased with the idea, and when we returned from Loanda,
we found that he had profited by the hint, for he had got three,
and one of them justified my opinion of the country, for it was more
like a prize heifer for fatness than any we had seen in Africa.
He soon afterward sent us a basket of green maize boiled,
another of manioc-meal, and a small fowl. The maize shows by its size
the fertility of the black soil of all the valleys here,
and so does the manioc, though no manure is ever applied.
We saw manioc attain a height of six feet and upward, and this is a plant
which requires the very best soil.
During this time Manenko had been extremely busy with all her people
in getting up a very pretty hut and court-yard, to be, as she said,
her residence always when white men were brought by her along the same path.
When she heard that we had given an ox to her uncle, she came forward to us
with the air of one wronged, and explained that "this white man
belonged to her; she had brought him here, and therefore the ox was hers,
not Shinte's." She ordered her men to bring it, got it slaughtered by them,
and presented her uncle with a leg only. Shinte did not seem at all annoyed
at the occurrence.
19TH. I was awakened at an early hour by a messenger from Shinte;
but the thirst of a raging fever being just assuaged by the bursting forth
of a copious perspiration, I declined going for a few hours.
Violent action of the heart all the way to the town did not predispose me
to be patient with the delay which then occurred, probably on account of
the divination being unfavorable: "They could not find Shinte."
When I returned to bed, another message was received, "Shinte wished
to say all he had to tell me at once." This was too tempting an offer,
so we went, and he had a fowl ready in his hand to present,
also a basket of manioc-meal, and a calabash of mead.
Referring to the constantly-recurring attacks of fever,
he remarked that it was the only thing which would prevent a successful issue
to my journey, for he had men to guide me who knew all the paths
which led to the white men. He had himself traveled far when a young man.
On asking what he would recommend for the fever, "Drink plenty of the mead,
and as it gets in, it will drive the fever out." It was rather strong,
and I suspect he liked the remedy pretty well, even though he had no fever.
He had always been a friend to Sebituane, and, now that his son Sekeletu
was in his place, Shinte was not merely a friend, but a father to him;
and if a son asks a favor, the father must give it. He was highly pleased
with the large calabashes of clarified butter and fat which Sekeletu
had sent him, and wished to detain Kolimbota, that he might send a present
back to Sekeletu by his hands. This proposition we afterward discovered
was Kolimbota's own, as he had heard so much about the ferocity of the tribes
through which we were to pass that he wished to save his skin.
It will be seen farther on that he was the only one of our party
who returned with a wound.
We were particularly struck, in passing through the village,
with the punctiliousness of manners shown by the Balonda.
The inferiors, on meeting their superiors in the street,
at once drop on their knees and rub dust on their arms and chest;
they continue the salutation of clapping the hands until
the great ones have passed. Sambanza knelt down in this manner
till the son of Shinte had passed him.
We several times saw the woman who occupies the office of drawer of water
for Shinte; she rings a bell as she passes along to give warning to all
to keep out of her way; it would be a grave offense for any one
to come near her, and exercise an evil influence by his presence
on the drink of the chief. I suspect that offenses of the slightest character
among the poor are made the pretext for selling them or their children
to the Mambari. A young man of Lobale had fled into the country of Shinte,
and located himself without showing himself to the chief. This was considered
an offense sufficient to warrant his being seized and offered for sale
while we were there. He had not reported himself, so they did not know
the reason of his running away from his own chief, and that chief
might accuse them of receiving a criminal. It was curious to notice
the effect of the slave-trade in blunting the moral susceptibility:
no chief in the south would treat a fugitive in this way.
My men were horrified at the act, even though old Shinte and his council
had some show of reason on their side; and both the Barotse and the Makololo
declared that, if the Balonda only knew of the policy pursued by them
to fugitives, but few of the discontented would remain long with Shinte.
My men excited the wonder of his people by stating that every one of them
had one cow at least in his possession.
Another incident, which occurred while we were here, may be mentioned,
as of a character totally unknown in the south. Two children,
of seven and eight years old, went out to collect firewood a short distance
from their parents' home, which was a quarter of a mile from the village,
and were kidnapped; the distracted parents could not find a trace of them.
This happened so close to the town, where there are no beasts of prey,
that we suspect some of the high men of Shinte's court
were the guilty parties: they can sell them by night.
The Mambari erect large huts of a square shape to stow these stolen ones in;
they are well fed, but aired by night only. The frequent kidnapping
from outlying hamlets explains the stockades we saw around them;
the parents have no redress, for even Shinte himself seems fond of working
in the dark. One night he sent for me, though I always stated
I liked all my dealings to be aboveboard. When I came he presented me
with a slave girl about ten years old; he said he had always been
in the habit of presenting his visitors with a child. On my thanking him,
and saying that I thought it wrong to take away children from their parents,
that I wished him to give up this system altogether, and trade in cattle,
ivory, and bees'-wax, he urged that she was "to be a child" to bring me water,
and that a great man ought to have a child for the purpose, yet I had none.
As I replied that I had four children, and should be very sorry if my chief
were to take my little girl and give her away, and that I would prefer
this child to remain and carry water for her own mother,
he thought I was dissatisfied with her size, and sent for one a head taller;
after many explanations of our abhorrence of slavery, and how displeasing
it must be to God to see his children selling one another,
and giving each other so much grief as this child's mother must feel,
I declined her also. If I could have taken her into my family
for the purpose of instruction, and then returned her as a free woman,
according to a promise I should have made to the parents,
I might have done so; but to take her away, and probably never be able
to secure her return, would have produced no good effect
on the minds of the Balonda; they would not then have seen evidence
of our hatred to slavery, and the kind attentions of my friends would,
as it almost always does in similar cases, have turned the poor thing's head.
The difference in position between them and us is as great as between
the lowest and highest in England, and we know the effects of sudden elevation
on wiser heads than hers, whose owners had not been born to it.
Shinte was most anxious to see the pictures of the magic lantern; but fever
had so weakening an effect, and I had such violent action of the heart,
with buzzing in the ears, that I could not go for several days; when I did go
for the purpose, he had his principal men and the same crowd of court beauties
near him as at the reception. The first picture exhibited was Abraham
about to slaughter his son Isaac; it was shown as large as life,
and the uplifted knife was in the act of striking the lad;
the Balonda men remarked that the picture was much more like a god
than the things of wood or clay they worshiped. I explained that this man
was the first of a race to whom God had given the Bible we now held,
and that among his children our Savior appeared. The ladies listened
with silent awe; but, when I moved the slide, the uplifted dagger
moving toward them, they thought it was to be sheathed in their bodies
instead of Isaac's. "Mother! mother!" all shouted at once,
and off they rushed helter-skelter, tumbling pell-mell over each other,
and over the little idol-huts and tobacco-bushes: we could not get
one of them back again. Shinte, however, sat bravely through the whole,
and afterward examined the instrument with interest. An explanation
was always added after each time of showing its powers,
so that no one should imagine there was aught supernatural in it;
and had Mr. Murray, who kindly brought it from England, seen its popularity
among both Makololo and Balonda, he would have been gratified with
the direction his generosity then took. It was the only mode of instruction
I was ever pressed to repeat. The people came long distances
for the express purpose of seeing the objects and hearing the explanations.
One can not get away quickly from these chiefs; they like to have
the honor of strangers residing in their villages. Here we had
an additional cause of delay in frequent rains; twenty-four hours
never elapsed without heavy showers; every thing is affected by the dampness;
surgical instruments become all rusty, clothing mildewed, and shoes mouldy;
my little tent was now so rotten and so full of small holes
that every smart shower caused a fine mist to descend on my blanket,
and made me fain to cover the head with it. Heavy dews lay on every thing
in the morning, even inside the tent; there is only a short time of sunshine
in the afternoon, and even that is so interrupted by thunder-showers
that we can not dry our bedding.
The winds coming from the north always bring heavy clouds and rain;
in the south, the only heavy rains noticed are those which come
from the northeast or east. The thermometer falls as low as 72 Degrees
when there is no sunshine, though, when the weather is fair,
the protected thermometer generally rises as high as 82 Degrees,
even in the mornings and evenings.
24TH. We expected to have started to-day, but Sambanza, who had been
sent off early in the morning for guides, returned at midday without them,
and drunk. This was the first case of real babbling intoxication
we had seen in this region. The boyaloa, or beer of the country,
has more of a stupefying than exciting nature; hence the beer-bibbers
are great sleepers; they may frequently be seen lying on their faces
sound asleep. This peculiarity of posture was ascribed,
by no less an authority than Aristotle, to wine, while those
who were sent asleep by beer were believed "to lie upon their backs."
Sambanza had got into a state of inebriation from indulging in mead,
similar to that which Shinte presented to us, which is much more powerful
than boyaloa. As far as we could collect from his incoherent sentences,
Shinte had said the rain was too heavy for our departure,
and the guides still required time for preparation. Shinte himself was busy
getting some meal ready for my use in the journey. As it rained
nearly all day, it was no sacrifice to submit to his advice and remain.
Sambanza staggered to Manenko's hut; she, however, who had never promised
"to love, honor, and obey him," had not been "nursing her wrath
to keep it warm," so she coolly bundled him into the hut, and put him to bed.
As the last proof of friendship, Shinte came into my tent,
though it could scarcely contain more than one person,
looked at all the curiosities, the quicksilver, the looking-glass,
books, hair-brushes, comb, watch, etc., etc., with the greatest interest;
then closing the tent, so that none of his own people might see
the extravagance of which he was about to be guilty, he drew out
from his clothing a string of beads, and the end of a conical shell,
which is considered, in regions far from the sea, of as great value
as the Lord Mayor's badge is in London. He hung it round my neck, and said,
"There, now you HAVE a proof of my friendship."
My men informed me that these shells are so highly valued in this quarter,
as evidences of distinction, that for two of them a slave might be bought,
and five would be considered a handsome price for an elephant's tusk
worth ten pounds. At our last interview old Shinte pointed out
our principal guide, Intemese, a man about fifty, who was,
he said, ordered to remain by us till we should reach the sea;
that I had now left Sekeletu far behind, and must henceforth look
to Shinte alone for aid, and that it would always be most cheerfully rendered.
This was only a polite way of expressing his wishes for my success.
It was the good words only of the guides which were to aid me
from the next chief, Katema, on to the sea; they were to turn back
on reaching him; but he gave a good supply of food for the journey before us,
and, after mentioning as a reason for letting us go even now
that no one could say we had been driven away from the town,
since we had been several days with him, he gave a most hearty salutation,
and we parted with the wish that God might bless him.
Leave Shinte -- Manioc Gardens -- Mode of preparing the poisonous kind --
Its general Use -- Presents of Food -- Punctiliousness of the Balonda --
Their Idols and Superstition -- Dress of the Balonda --
Villages beyond Lonaje -- Cazembe -- Our Guides and the Makololo --
Night Rains -- Inquiries for English cotton Goods -- Intemese's Fiction --
Visit from an old Man -- Theft -- Industry of our Guide --
Loss of Pontoon -- Plains covered with Water -- Affection of the Balonda
for their Mothers -- A Night on an Island -- The Grass on the Plains --
Source of the Rivers -- Loan of the Roofs of Huts -- A Halt --
Fertility of the Country through which the Lokalueje flows --
Omnivorous Fish -- Natives' Mode of catching them --
The Village of a Half-brother of Katema, his Speech and Present --
Our Guide's Perversity -- Mozenkwa's pleasant Home and Family --
Clear Water of the flooded Rivers -- A Messenger from Katema --
Quendende's Village: his Kindness -- Crop of Wool --
Meet People from the Town of Matiamvo -- Fireside Talk --
Matiamvo's Character and Conduct -- Presentation at Katema's Court:
his Present, good Sense, and Appearance -- Interview on the following Day --
Cattle -- A Feast and a Makololo Dance -- Arrest of a Fugitive --
Dignified old Courtier -- Katema's lax Government --
Cold Wind from the North -- Canaries and other singing Birds --
Spiders, their Nests and Webs -- Lake Dilolo -- Tradition --
Sagacity of Ants.
26TH. Leaving Shinte, with eight of his men to aid in carrying our luggage,
we passed, in a northerly direction, down the lovely valley
on which the town stands, then went a little to the west
through pretty open forest, and slept at a village of Balonda.
In the morning we had a fine range of green hills, called Saloisho,
on our right, and were informed that they were rather thickly inhabited
by the people of Shinte, who worked in iron, the ore of which abounds
in these hills.
The country through which we passed possessed the same general character
of flatness and forest that we noticed before. The soil is dark,
with a tinge of red -- in some places it might be called red -- and appeared
very fertile. Every valley contained villages of twenty or thirty huts,
with gardens of manioc, which here is looked upon as the staff of life.
Very little labor is required for its cultivation. The earth is drawn up
into oblong beds, about three feet broad and one in height,
and in these are planted pieces of the manioc stalk, at four feet apart.
A crop of beans or ground-nuts is sown between them,
and when these are reaped the land around the manioc is cleared of weeds.
In from ten to eighteen months after planting, according to
the quality of the soil, the roots are fit for food. There is no necessity
for reaping soon, as the roots do not become bitter and dry
until after three years. When a woman takes up the roots,
she thrusts a piece or two of the upper stalks into the hole she has made,
draws back the soil, and a new crop is thereby begun. The plant grows
to a height of six feet, and every part of it is useful: the leaves
may be cooked as a vegetable. The roots are from three to four inches
in diameter, and from twelve to eighteen inches long.
There are two varieties of the manioc or cassava -- one sweet and wholesome,
the other bitter and containing poison, but much more speedy in its growth
than the former. This last property causes its perpetuation.
When we reached the village of Kapende, on the banks of the rivulet Lonaje,
we were presented with so much of the poisonous kind that we were obliged
to leave it. To get rid of the poison, the people place it four days
in a pool of water. It then becomes partially decomposed, and is taken out,
stripped of its skin, and exposed to the sun. When dried,
it is easily pounded into a fine white meal, closely resembling starch,
which has either a little of the peculiar taste arising from decomposition,
or no more flavor than starch. When intended to be used as food, this meal
is stirred into boiling water: they put in as much as can be moistened,
one man holding the vessel and the other stirring the porridge
with all his might. This is the common mess of the country. Though hungry,
we could just manage to swallow it with the aid of a little honey,
which I shared with my men as long as it lasted. It is very unsavory
(Scottice: wersh); and no matter how much one may eat, two hours afterward
he is as hungry as ever. When less meal is employed, the mess is exactly like
a basin of starch in the hands of a laundress; and if the starch were made
from diseased potatoes, some idea might be formed of the Balonda porridge,
which hunger alone forced us to eat. Santuru forbade his nobles to eat it,
as it caused coughing and expectoration.
Our chief guide, Intemese, sent orders to all the villages around our route
that Shinte's friends must have abundance of provisions. Our progress
was impeded by the time requisite for communicating the chief's desire
and consequent preparation of meal. We received far more food
from Shinte's people than from himself. Kapende, for instance,
presented two large baskets of meal, three of manioc roots
steeped and dried in the sun and ready to be converted into flour,
three fowls, and seven eggs, with three smoke-dried fishes;
and others gave with similar liberality. I gave to the head men
small bunches of my stock of beads, with an apology that we were now
on our way to the market for these goods. The present was always
We had an opportunity of observing that our guides had much more etiquette
than any of the tribes farther south. They gave us food, but would not
partake of it when we had cooked it, nor would they eat their own food
in our presence. When it was cooked they retired into a thicket
and ate their porridge; then all stood up, and clapped their hands,
and praised Intemese for it. The Makololo, who are accustomed
to the most free and easy manners, held out handfuls of what they had cooked
to any of the Balonda near, but they refused to taste. They are
very punctilious in their manners to each other. Each hut has its own fire,
and when it goes out they make it afresh for themselves rather than take it
from a neighbor. I believe much of this arises from superstitious fears.
In the deep, dark forests near each village, as already mentioned,
you see idols intended to represent the human head or a lion,
or a crooked stick smeared with medicine, or simply a small pot of medicine
in a little shed, or miniature huts with little mounds of earth in them.
But in the darker recesses we meet with human faces cut in the bark of trees,
the outlines of which, with the beards, closely resemble those seen
on Egyptian monuments. Frequent cuts are made on the trees along
all the paths, and offerings of small pieces of manioc roots or ears of maize
are placed on branches. There are also to be seen every few miles
heaps of sticks, which are treated in cairn fashion, by every one throwing
a small branch to the heap in passing; or a few sticks are placed on the path,
and each passer-by turns from his course, and forms a sudden bend in the road
to one side. It seems as if their minds were ever in doubt and dread
in these gloomy recesses of the forest, and that they were striving
to propitiate, by their offerings, some superior beings residing there.
The dress of the Balonda men consists of the softened skins of small animals,
as the jackal or wild cat, hung before and behind from a girdle
round the loins. The dress of the women is of a nondescript character;
but they were not immodest. They stood before us as perfectly
unconscious of any indecorum as we could be with our clothes on.
But, while ignorant of their own deficiency, they could not
maintain their gravity at the sight of the nudity of my men behind.
Much to the annoyance of my companions, the young girls laughed outright
whenever their backs were turned to them.
After crossing the Lonaje, we came to some pretty villages,
embowered, as the negro villages usually are, in bananas, shrubs, and manioc,
and near the banks of the Leeba we formed our encampment
in a nest of serpents, one of which bit one of our men,
but the wound was harmless. The people of the surrounding villages
presented us with large quantities of food, in obedience to
the mandate of Shinte, without expecting any equivalent.
One village had lately been transferred hither from the country of Matiamvo.
They, of course, continue to acknowledge him as paramount chief;
but the frequent instances which occur of people changing
from one part of the country to another, show that the great chiefs possess
only a limited power. The only peculiarity we observed in these people
is the habit of plaiting the beard into a three-fold cord.
The town of the Balonda chief Cazembe was pointed out to us
as lying to the N.E. and by E. from the town of Shinte,
and great numbers of people in this quarter have gone thither
for the purpose of purchasing copper anklets, made at Cazembe's,
and report the distance to be about five days' journey.
I made inquiries of some of the oldest inhabitants of the villages
at which we were staying respecting the visit of Pereira and Lacerda
to that town. An old gray-headed man replied that they had often
heard of white men before, but never had seen one, and added that one
had come to Cazembe when our informant was young, and returned again
without entering this part of the country. The people of Cazembe
are Balonda or Baloi, and his country has been termed Londa, Lunda, or Lui,
by the Portuguese.
It was always difficult to get our guides to move away from a place.
With the authority of the chief, they felt as comfortable
as king's messengers could, and were not disposed to forego
the pleasure of living at free quarters. My Makololo friends
were but ill drilled as yet; and since they had never left
their own country before, except for purposes of plunder,
they did not take readily to the peaceful system we now meant to follow.
They either spoke too imperiously to strangers, or, when reproved for that,
were disposed to follow the dictation of every one we met.
When Intemese, our guide, refused to stir toward the Leeba
on the 31st of January, they would make no effort to induce him to go;
but, having ordered them to get ready, Intemese saw the preparations,
and soon followed the example. It took us about four hours
to cross the Leeba, which is considerably smaller here
than where we left it -- indeed, only about a hundred yards wide.
It has the same dark mossy hue. The villagers lent us canoes
to effect our passage; and, having gone to a village about two miles
beyond the river, I had the satisfaction of getting observations
for both longitude and latitude -- for the former, the distance between
Saturn and the Moon, and for the latter a meridian altitude of Canopus.
Long. 22d 57' E., lat. 12d 6' 6" S.
These were the only opportunities I had of ascertaining my whereabouts
in this part of Londa. Again and again did I take out the instruments,
and, just as all was right, the stars would be suddenly obscured by clouds.
I had never observed so great an amount of cloudiness
in any part of the south country; and as for the rains, I believe
that years at Kolobeng would not have made my little tent so rotten and thin
as one month had done in Londa. I never observed in the south
the heavy night and early morning rains we had in this country.
They often continued all night, then became heavier about an hour before dawn.
Or if fair during the night, as day drew nigh, an extremely heavy,
still, pouring rain set in without warning. Five out of every six days
we had this pouring rain, at or near break of day, for months together;
and it soon beat my tent so thin, that a mist fell through on my face
and made every thing damp. The rains were occasionally, but not always,
accompanied with very loud thunder.
FEBRUARY 1ST. This day we had a fine view of two hills called Piri (Peeri),
meaning "two", on the side of the river we had left. The country there
is named Mokwankwa. And there Intemese informed us one of Shinte's children
was born, when he was in his progress southward from the country of Matiamvo.
This part of the country would thus seem not to have been inhabited
by the people of Shinte at any very remote period. He told me himself
that he had come into his present country by command of Matiamvo.
Here we were surprised to hear English cotton cloth much more eagerly
inquired after than beads and ornaments. They are more in need of clothing
than the Bechuana tribes living adjacent to the Kalahari Desert,
who have plenty of skins for the purpose. Animals of all kinds are rare here,
and a very small piece of calico is of great value.
In the midst of the heavy rain, which continued all the morning,
Intemese sent to say he was laid up with pains in the stomach,
and must not be disturbed; but when it cleared up, about eleven,
I saw our friend walking off to the village, and talking
with a very loud voice. On reproaching him for telling an untruth,
he turned it off with a laugh by saying he really had a complaint
in his stomach, which I might cure by slaughtering one of the oxen
and allowing him to eat beef. He was evidently reveling
in the abundance of good food the chief's orders brought us;
and he did not feel the shame I did when I gave a few beads only
in return for large baskets of meal.
A very old man visited us here with a present of maize: like the others,
he had never before seen a white man, and, when conversing with him,
some of the young men remarked that they were the true ancients,
for they had now seen more wonderful things than their forefathers.
One of Intemese's men stole a fowl given me by a lady of the village.
When charged with the theft, every one of Intemese's party
vociferated his innocence and indignation at being suspected,
continuing their loud asseverations and gesticulations for some minutes.
One of my men, Loyanke, went off to the village, brought the lady
who had presented the fowl to identify it, and then pointed to the hut
in which it was hidden. The Balonda collected round him,
evincing great wrath; but Loyanke seized his battle-axe
in the proper manner for striking, and, placing himself on a little hillock,
soon made them moderate their tones. Intemese then called on me
to send one of my people to search the huts if I suspected his people.
The man sent soon found it, and brought it out, to the confusion of Intemese
and the laughter of our party. This incident is mentioned
to show that the greater superstition which exists here
does not lead to the practice of the virtues. We never met
an instance like this of theft from a white man among the Makololo,
though they complain of the Makalaka as addicted to pilfering.
The honesty of the Bakwains has been already noticed. Probably the estimation
in which I was held as a public benefactor, in which character
I was not yet known to the Balonda, may account for the sacredness
with which my property was always treated before. But other incidents
which happened subsequently showed, as well as this, that idolaters
are not so virtuous as those who have no idols.
As the people on the banks of the Leeba were the last of Shinte's tribe
over which Intemese had power, he was naturally anxious to remain as long
as possible. He was not idle, but made a large wooden mortar and pestle for
his wife during our journey. He also carved many wooden spoons and a bowl;
then commenced a basket; but as what he considered good living
was any thing but agreeable to us, who had been accustomed to milk and maize,
we went forward on the 2d without him. He soon followed, but left
our pontoon, saying it would be brought by the head man of the village.
This was a great loss, as we afterward found; it remained at this village
more than a year, and when we returned a mouse had eaten a hole in it.
We entered on an extensive plain beyond the Leeba, at least twenty
miles broad, and covered with water, ankle deep in the shallowest parts.
We deviated somewhat from our N.W. course by the direction of Intemese,
and kept the hills Piri nearly on our right during a great part
of the first day, in order to avoid the still more deeply flooded plains
of Lobale (Luval?) on the west. These, according to Intemese,
are at present impassable on account of being thigh deep.
The plains are so perfectly level that rain-water, which this was,
stands upon them for months together. They were not flooded by the Leeba,
for that was still far within its banks. Here and there,
dotted over the surface, are little islands, on which grow
stunted date-bushes and scraggy trees. The plains themselves are covered
with a thick sward of grass, which conceals the water, and makes the flats
appear like great pale yellow-colored prairie-lands, with a clear horizon,
except where interrupted here and there by trees. The clear rain-water
must have stood some time among the grass, for great numbers of lotus-flowers
were seen in full blow; and the runs of water tortoises and crabs
were observed; other animals also, which prey on the fish that find their way
to the plains.
The continual splashing of the oxen keeps the feet of the rider
constantly wet, and my men complain of the perpetual moisture of the paths
by which we have traveled in Londa as softening their horny soles.
The only information we can glean is from Intemese, who points out
the different localities as we pass along, and among the rest
"Mokala a Mama", his "mamma's home". It was interesting
to hear this tall gray-headed man recall the memories of boyhood.
All the Makalaka children cleave to the mother in cases of separation,
or removal from one part of the country to another. This love for mothers
does not argue superior morality in other respects, or else Intemese
has forgotten any injunctions his mamma may have given him not to tell lies.
The respect, however, with which he spoke of her was quite
characteristic of his race. The Bechuanas, on the contrary,
care nothing for their mothers, but cling to their fathers,
especially if they have any expectation of becoming heirs to their cattle.
Our Bakwain guide to the lake, Rachosi, told me that his mother lived
in the country of Sebituane, but, though a good specimen of the Bechuanas,
he laughed at the idea of going so far as from the Lake Ngami to the Chobe
merely for the purpose of seeing her. Had he been one of the Makalaka,
he never would have parted from her.
We made our beds on one of the islands, and were wretchedly supplied
with firewood. The booths constructed by the men were but sorry shelter,
for the rain poured down without intermission till midday.
There is no drainage for the prodigious masses of water on these plains,
except slow percolation into the different feeders of the Leeba,
and into that river itself. The quantity of vegetation has prevented
the country from becoming furrowed by many rivulets or "nullahs".
Were it not so remarkably flat, the drainage must have been effected
by torrents, even in spite of the matted vegetation.
That these extensive plains are covered with grasses only,
and the little islands with but scraggy trees, may be accounted for
by the fact, observable every where in this country, that,
where water stands for any length of time, trees can not live.
The want of speedy drainage destroys them, and injures the growth of those
that are planted on the islands, for they have no depth of earth
not subjected to the souring influence of the stagnant water.
The plains of Lobale, to the west of these, are said to be much more extensive
than any we saw, and their vegetation possesses similar peculiarities.
When the stagnant rain-water has all soaked in, as must happen
during the months in which there is no rain, travelers are even put to straits
for want of water. This is stated on native testimony; but I can very well
believe that level plains, in which neither wells nor gullies are met with,
may, after the dry season, present the opposite extreme to what we witnessed.
Water, however, could always be got by digging, a proof of which we had
on our return when brought to a stand on this very plain by severe fever:
about twelve miles from the Kasai my men dug down a few feet,
and found an abundant supply; and we saw on one of the islands
the garden of a man who, in the dry season, had drunk water from a well
in like manner. Plains like these can not be inhabited
while the present system of cultivation lasts. The population is not yet
so very large as to need them. They find garden-ground enough
on the gentle slopes at the sides of the rivulets, and possess no cattle
to eat off the millions of acres of fine hay we were now wading through.
Any one who has visited the Cape Colony will understand me
when I say that these immense crops resemble sown grasses
more than the tufty vegetation of the south.
I would here request the particular attention of the reader to the phenomena
these periodically deluged plains present, because they have a most important
bearing on the physical geography of a very large portion of this country.
The plains of Lobale, to the west of this, give rise to a great many streams,
which unite, and form the deep, never-failing Chobe. Similar extensive flats
give birth to the Loeti and Kasai, and, as we shall see further on,
all the rivers of an extensive region owe their origin to oozing bogs,
and not to fountains.
When released from our island by the rain ceasing, we marched on
till we came to a ridge of dry inhabited land in the N.W.
The inhabitants, according to custom, lent us the roofs of some huts
to save the men the trouble of booth-making. I suspect that the story
in Park's "Travels", of the men lifting up the hut to place it on the lion,
referred to the roof only. We leave them for the villagers to replace
at their leisure. No payment is expected for the use of them.
By night it rained so copiously that all our beds were flooded from below;
and from this time forth we always made a furrow round each booth,
and used the earth to raise our sleeping-places. My men turned out
to work in the wet most willingly; indeed, they always did.
I could not but contrast their conduct with that of Intemese.
He was thoroughly imbued with the slave spirit, and lied on all occasions
without compunction. Untruthfulness is a sort of refuge
for the weak and oppressed. We expected to move on the 4th,
but he declared that we were so near Katema's, if we did not send forward
to apprise that chief of our approach, he would certainly impose a fine.
It rained the whole day, so we were reconciled to the delay; but on Sunday,
the 5th, he let us know that we were still two days distant from Katema.
We unfortunately could not manage without him, for the country was so deluged,
we should have been brought to a halt before we went many miles
by some deep valley, every one of which was full of water.
Intemese continued to plait his basket with all his might, and would not come
to our religious service. He seemed to be afraid of our incantations,
but was always merry and jocular.
6TH. Soon after starting we crossed a branch of the Lokalueje
by means of a canoe, and in the afternoon passed over the main stream
by a like conveyance. The former, as is the case with all branches of rivers
in this country, is called nyuana Kalueje (child of the Kalueje).
Hippopotami exist in the Lokalueje, so it may be inferred to be perennial,
as the inhabitants asserted. We can not judge of the size of the stream
from what we now saw. It had about forty yards of deep, fast-flowing water,
but probably not more than half that amount in the dry season.
Besides these, we crossed numerous feeders in our N.N.W. course,
and, there being no canoes, got frequently wet in the course of the day.
The oxen in some places had their heads only above water, and the stream,
flowing over their backs, wetted our blankets, which we used as saddles.
The arm-pit was the only safe spot for carrying the watch,
for there it was preserved from rains above and waters below.
The men on foot crossed these gullies holding up their burdens
at arms' length.
The Lokalueje winds from northeast to southwest into the Leeba.
The country adjacent to its banks is extremely fine and fertile,
with here and there patches of forest or clumps of magnificent trees.
The villagers through whose gardens we passed continue to sow and reap
all the year round. The grains, as maize, lotsa (`Pennisetum typhoideum'),
lokesh or millet, are to be seen at all stages of their growth --
some just ripe, while at this time the Makololo crops are not half grown.
My companions, who have a good idea of the different qualities of soils,
expressed the greatest admiration of the agricultural capabilities of
the whole of Londa, and here they were loud in their praises of the pasturage.
They have an accurate idea of the varieties of grasses best adapted
for different kinds of stock, and lament because here there are no cows
to feed off the rich green crop, which at this time imparts special beauty
to the landscape.
Great numbers of the omnivorous feeding fish, `Glanis siluris', or mosala,
spread themselves over the flooded plains, and, as the waters retire,
try to find their way back again to the rivers. The Balonda make
earthen dikes and hedges across the outlets of the retreating waters,
leaving only small spaces through which the chief part of the water flows.
In these open spaces they plant creels, similar in shape to our own,
into which the fish can enter, but can not return. They secure
large quantities of fish in this way, which, when smoke-dried,
make a good relish for their otherwise insipid food. They use also
a weir of mats made of reeds sewed together, with but half an inch
between each. Open spaces are left for the insertion of the creels as before.
In still water, a fish-trap is employed of the same shape and plan
as the common round wire mouse-trap, which has an opening surrounded
with wires pointing inward. This is made of reeds and supple wands,
and food is placed inside to attract the fish.
Besides these means of catching fish, they use a hook of iron without a barb;
the point is bent inward instead, so as not to allow the fish to escape.
Nets are not so common as in the Zouga and Leeambye, but they kill
large quantities of fishes by means of the bruised leaves of a shrub,
which may be seen planted beside every village in the country.
On the 7th we came to the village of Soana Molopo, a half-brother
of Katema, a few miles beyond the Lokalueje. When we went to visit him,
we found him sitting with about one hundred men. He called on Intemese
to give some account of us, though no doubt it had been done
in private before. He then pronounced the following sentences:
"The journey of the white man is very proper, but Shinte has disturbed us
by showing the path to the Makololo who accompany him. He ought to have
taken them through the country without showing them the towns.
We are afraid of the Makololo." He then gave us a handsome present of food,
and seemed perplexed by my sitting down familiarly, and giving him
a few of our ideas. When we left, Intemese continued busily imparting
an account of all we had given to Shinte and Masiko, and instilling the hope
that Soana Molopo might obtain as much as they had received.
Accordingly, when we expected to move on the morning of the 8th,
we got some hints about the ox which Soana Molopo expected to eat,
but we recommended him to get the breed of cattle for himself,
seeing his country was so well adapted for rearing stock.
Intemese also refused to move; he, moreover, tried to frighten us into
parting with an ox by saying that Soana Molopo would send forward a message
that we were a marauding party; but we packed up and went on without him.
We did not absolutely need him, but he was useful in preventing
the inhabitants of secluded villages from betaking themselves to flight.
We wished to be on good terms with all, and therefore put up
with our guide's peccadilloes. His good word respecting us
had considerable influence, and he was always asked if we had
behaved ourselves like men on the way. The Makololo are viewed
as great savages, but Intemese could not justly look with scorn on them,
for he has the mark of a large gash on his arm, got in fighting;
and he would never tell the cause of battle, but boasted of his powers
as the Makololo do, till asked about a scar on his back,
betokening any thing but bravery.
Intemese was useful in cases like that of Monday, when we came upon
a whole village in a forest enjoying their noonday nap. Our sudden appearance
in their midst so terrified them that one woman nearly went into convulsions
from fear. When they saw and heard Intemese, their terror subsided.
As usual, we were caught by rains after leaving Soana Molopo's, and made
our booths at the house of Mozinkwa, a most intelligent and friendly man
belonging to Katema. He had a fine large garden in cultivation,
and well hedged round. He had made the walls of his compound, or court-yard,
of branches of the banian, which, taking root, had grown to be
a live hedge of that tree. Mozinkwa's wife had cotton growing
all round her premises, and several plants used as relishes
to the insipid porridge of the country. She cultivated also
the common castor-oil plant, and a larger shrub (`Jatropha curcas'),
which also yields a purgative oil. Here, however, the oil is used
for anointing the heads and bodies alone. We saw in her garden likewise
the Indian bringalls, yams, and sweet potatoes. Several trees were planted
in the middle of the yard, and in the deep shade they gave
stood the huts of his fine family. His children, all by one mother,
very black, but comely to view, were the finest negro family I ever saw.
We were much pleased with the frank friendship and liberality of this man
and his wife. She asked me to bring her a cloth from the white man's country;
but, when we returned, poor Mozinkwa's wife was in her grave,
and he, as is the custom, had abandoned trees, garden, and huts to ruin.
They can not live on a spot where a favorite wife has died, probably because
unable to bear the remembrance of the happy times they have spent there,
or afraid to remain in a spot where death has once visited the establishment.
If ever the place is revisited, it is to pray to her, or make some offering.
This feeling renders any permanent village in the country impossible.
We learned from Mozinkwa that Soana Molopo was the elder brother of Katema,
but that he was wanting in wisdom; and Katema, by purchasing cattle
and receiving in a kind manner all the fugitives who came to him, had secured
the birthright to himself, so far as influence in the country is concerned.
Soana's first address to us did not savor much of African wisdom.
FRIDAY, 10TH. On leaving Mozinkwa's hospitable mansion
we crossed another stream, about forty yards wide, in canoes.
While this tedious process was going on, I was informed
that it is called the Mona-Kalueje, or brother of Kalueje,
as it flows into that river; that both the Kalueje and Livoa
flow into the Leeba; and that the Chifumadze, swollen by the Lotembwa,
is a feeder of that river also, below the point where we lately crossed it.
It may be remarked here that these rivers were now in flood,
and that the water was all perfectly clear. The vegetation on the banks
is so thickly planted that the surface of the earth is not abraded
by the torrents. The grass is laid flat, and forms a protection to the banks,
which are generally a stiff black loam. The fact of canoes being upon them
shows that, though not large, they are not like the southern rivulets,
which dry up during most of the year, and render canoes unnecessary.
As we were crossing the river we were joined by a messenger from Katema,
called Shakatwala. This person was a sort of steward or factotum
to his chief. Every chief has one attached to his person,
and, though generally poor, they are invariably men of great shrewdness
and ability. They act the part of messengers on all important occasions,
and possess considerable authority in the chief's household.
Shakatwala informed us that Katema had not received precise information
about us, but if we were peaceably disposed, as he loved strangers,
we were to come to his town. We proceeded forthwith, but were turned aside,
by the strategy of our friend Intemese, to the village of Quendende,
the father-in-law of Katema. This fine old man was so very polite
that we did not regret being obliged to spend Sunday at his village.
He expressed his pleasure at having a share in the honor of a visit
as well as Katema, though it seemed to me that the conferring that pleasure
required something like a pretty good stock of impudence, in leading
twenty-seven men through the country without the means of purchasing food.
My men did a little business for themselves in the begging line;
they generally commenced every interview with new villagers
by saying "I have come from afar; give me something to eat."
I forbade this at first, believing that, as the Makololo had a bad name,
the villagers gave food from fear. But, after some time, it was evident
that in many cases maize and manioc were given from pure generosity.
The first time I came to this conclusion was at the house of Mozinkwa;
scarcely any one of my men returned from it without something in his hand;
and as they protested they had not begged, I asked himself,
and found that it was the case, and that he had given spontaneously.
In other parts the chiefs attended to my wants, and the common people
gave liberally to my men. I presented some of my razors and iron spoons
to different head men, but my men had nothing to give; yet every one tried
to appropriate an individual in each village as "Molekane", or comrade,
and the villagers often assented; so, if the reader remembers
the molekane system of the Mopato, he may perceive that those
who presented food freely would expect the Makololo to treat them
in like manner, should they ever be placed in similar circumstances.
Their country is so fertile that they are in no want of food themselves;
however, their generosity was remarkable; only one woman refused
to give some of my men food, but her husband calling out to her
to be more liberal, she obeyed, scolding all the while.
In this part of the country, buffaloes, elands, koodoos, and various antelopes
are to be found, but we did not get any, as they are exceedingly wary
from being much hunted. We had the same woodland and meadow as before,
with here and there pleasant negro villages; and being all in good health,
could enjoy the fine green scenery.
Quendende's head was a good specimen of the greater crop of wool with which
the negroes of Londa are furnished. The front was parted in the middle,
and plaited into two thick rolls, which, falling down behind the ears,
reached the shoulders; the rest was collected into a large knot,
which lay on the nape of the neck. As he was an intelligent man,
we had much conversation together: he had just come
from attending the funeral of one of his people, and I found
that the great amount of drum-beating which takes place on these occasions
was with the idea that the Barimo, or spirits, could be drummed to sleep.
There is a drum in every village, and we often hear it going
from sunset to sunrise. They seem to look upon the departed
as vindictive beings, and, I suspect, are more influenced by fear
than by love. In beginning to speak on religious subjects with those
who have never heard of Christianity, the great fact of the Son of God
having come down from heaven to die for us is the prominent theme.
No fact more striking can be mentioned. "He actually came to men.
He himself told us about his Father, and the dwelling-place
whither he has gone. We have his words in this book, and he really
endured punishment in our stead from pure love," etc. If this fails
to interest them, nothing else will succeed.
We here met with some people just arrived from the town of Matiamvo
(Muata yanvo), who had been sent to announce the death
of the late chieftain of that name. Matiamvo is the hereditary title,
muata meaning lord or chief. The late Matiamvo seems,
from the report of these men, to have become insane, for he is said
to have sometimes indulged the whim of running a muck in the town
and beheading whomsoever he met, until he had quite a heap of human heads.
Matiamvo explained this conduct by saying that his people were too many,
and he wanted to diminish them. He had absolute power of life and death.
On inquiring whether human sacrifices were still made, as in the time
of Pereira, at Cazembe's, we were informed that these had never been so common
as was represented to Pereira, but that it occasionally happened,
when certain charms were needed by the chief, that a man was slaughtered
for the sake of some part of his body. He added that he hoped
the present chief would not act like his (mad) predecessor,
but kill only those who were guilty of witchcraft or theft.
These men were very much astonished at the liberty enjoyed by the Makololo;
and when they found that all my people held cattle, we were told
that Matiamvo alone had a herd. One very intelligent man among them asked,
"If he should make a canoe, and take it down the river to the Makololo,
would he get a cow for it?" This question, which my men answered
in the affirmative, was important, as showing the knowledge
of a water communication from the country of Matiamvo to the Makololo;
and the river runs through a fertile country abounding in large timber.
If the tribes have intercourse with each other, it exerts a good influence
on their chiefs to hear what other tribes think of their deeds.
The Makololo have such a bad name, on account of their perpetual forays,
that they have not been known in Londa except as ruthless destroyers.
The people in Matiamvo's country submit to much wrong from their chiefs,
and no voice can be raised against cruelty, because they are afraid
to flee elsewhere.
We left Quendende's village in company with Quendende himself,
and the principal man of the embassadors of Matiamvo, and after
two or three miles' march to the N.W., came to the ford of the Lotembwa,
which flows southward. A canoe was waiting to ferry us over,
but it was very tedious work; for, though the river itself
was only eighty yards wide, the whole valley was flooded, and we were obliged
to paddle more than half a mile to get free of the water. A fire was lit
to warm old Quendende, and enable him to dry his tobacco-leaves.
The leaves are taken from the plant, and spread close to the fire
until they are quite dry and crisp; they are then put into a snuff-box,
which, with a little pestle, serves the purpose of a mill
to grind them into powder; it is then used as snuff.
As we sat by the fire, the embassadors communicated their thoughts freely
respecting the customs of their race. When a chief dies, a number of servants
are slaughtered with him to form his company in the other world.
The Barotse followed the same custom, and this and other usages
show them to be genuine negroes, though neither they nor the Balonda
resemble closely the typical form of that people. Quendende said
if he were present on these occasions he would hide his people,
so that they might not be slaughtered. As we go north, the people become
more bloodily superstitious.
We were assured that if the late Matiamvo took a fancy to any thing,
such, for instance, as my watch-chain, which was of silver wire,
and was a great curiosity, as they had never seen metal plaited before,
he would order a whole village to be brought up to buy it from a stranger.
When a slave-trader visited him, he took possession of all his goods;
then, after ten days or a fortnight, he would send out a party of men
to pounce upon some considerable village, and, having killed the head man,
would pay for all the goods by selling the inhabitants. This has frequently
been the case, and nearly all the visitants he ever had were men of color.
On asking if Matiamvo did not know he was a man, and would be judged,
in company with those he destroyed, by a Lord who is no respector of persons?
the embassador replied, "We do not go up to God, as you do;
we are put into the ground." I could not ascertain that even those who have
such a distinct perception of the continued existence of departed spirits
had any notion of heaven; they appear to imagine the souls
to be always near the place of sepulture.
After crossing the River Lotembwa we traveled about eight miles,
and came to Katema's straggling town (lat. 11d 35' 49" S., long. 22d 27' E.).
It is more a collection of villages than a town. We were led out
about half a mile from the houses, that we might make for ourselves
the best lodging we could of the trees and grass, while Intemese
was taken to Katema to undergo the usual process of pumping
as to our past conduct and professions. Katema soon afterward
sent a handsome present of food.
Next morning we had a formal presentation, and found Katema seated
on a sort of throne, with about three hundred men on the ground around,
and thirty women, who were said to be his wives, close behind him.
The main body of the people were seated in a semicircle,
at a distance of fifty yards. Each party had its own head man
stationed at a little distance in front, and, when beckoned by the chief,
came near him as councilors. Intemese gave our history,
and Katema placed sixteen large baskets of meal before us, half a dozen fowls,
and a dozen eggs, and expressed regret that we had slept hungry:
he did not like any stranger to suffer want in his town; and added,
"Go home, and cook and eat, and you will then be in a fit state to speak to me
at an audience I will give you to-morrow." He was busily engaged
in hearing the statements of a large body of fine young men who had fled
from Kangenke, chief of Lobale, on account of his selling their relatives
to the native Portuguese who frequent his country. Katema is a tall man,
about forty years of age, and his head was ornamented
with a helmet of beads and feathers. He had on a snuff-brown coat,
with a broad band of tinsel down the arms, and carried in his hand
a large tail made of the caudal extremities of a number of gnus.
This has charms attached to it, and he continued waving it in front of himself
all the time we were there. He seemed in good spirits, laughing heartily
several times. This is a good sign, for a man who shakes his sides with mirth
is seldom difficult to deal with. When we rose to take leave,
all rose with us, as at Shinte's.
Returning next morning, Katema addressed me thus: "I am the great Moene
(lord) Katema, the fellow of Matiamvo. There is no one in the country
equal to Matiamvo and me. I have always lived here, and my forefathers too.
There is the house in which my father lived. You found no human skulls
near the place where you are encamped. I never killed any of the traders;
they all come to me. I am the great Moene Katema, of whom you have heard."
He looked as if he had fallen asleep tipsy, and dreamed of his greatness.
On explaining my objects to him, he promptly pointed out three men
who would be our guides, and explained that the northwest path
was the most direct, and that by which all traders came,
but that the water at present standing on the plains would reach
up to the loins; he would therefore send us by a more northerly route,
which no trader had yet traversed. This was more suited to our wishes,
for we never found a path safe that had been trodden by slave-traders.
We presented a few articles, which pleased him highly: a small shawl,
a razor, three bunches of beads, some buttons, and a powder-horn.
Apologizing for the insignificance of the gift, I wished to know
what I could bring him from Loanda, saying, not a large thing,
but something small. He laughed heartily at the limitation, and replied,
"Every thing of the white people would be acceptable, and he would receive
any thing thankfully; but the coat he then had on was old,
and he would like another." I introduced the subject of the Bible,
but one of the old councilors broke in, told all he had picked up
from the Mambari, and glided off into several other subjects.
It is a misery to speak through an interpreter, as I was now forced to do.
With a body of men like mine, composed as they were of six different tribes,
and all speaking the language of the Bechuanas, there was no difficulty
in communicating on common subjects with any tribe we came to;
but doling out a story in which they felt no interest, and which I understood
only sufficiently well to perceive that a mere abridgment was given,
was uncommonly slow work. Neither could Katema's attention be arrested,
except by compliments, of which they have always plenty to bestow
as well as receive. We were strangers, and knew that, as Makololo,
we had not the best of characters, yet his treatment of us
was wonderfully good and liberal.
I complimented him on the possession of cattle, and pleased him by telling him
how he might milk the cows. He has a herd of about thirty,
really splendid animals, all reared from two which he bought from the Balobale
when he was young. They are generally of a white color, and are quite wild,
running off with graceful ease like a herd of elands on the approach
of a stranger. They excited the unbounded admiration of the Makololo,
and clearly proved that the country was well adapted for them.
When Katema wishes to slaughter one, he is obliged to shoot it
as if it were a buffalo. Matiamvo is said to possess a herd of cattle
in a similar state. I never could feel certain as to the reason
why they do not all possess cattle in a country containing
such splendid pasturage.
As Katema did not offer an ox, as would have been done
by a Makololo or Caffre chief, we slaughtered one of our own,
and all of us were delighted to get a meal of meat, after subsisting so long
on the light porridge and green maize of Londa. On occasions
of slaughtering an animal, some pieces of it are in the fire before the skin
is all removed from the body. A frying-pan full of these pieces
having been got quickly ready, my men crowded about their father,
and I handed some all round. It was a strange sight to the Balonda,
who were looking on, wondering. I offered portions to them too, but these
were declined, though they are excessively fond of a little animal food
to eat with their vegetable diet. They would not eat with us,
but they would take the meat and cook it in their own way, and then use it.
I thought at one time that they had imported something from the Mohammedans,
and the more especially as an exclamation of surprise, "Allah",
sounds like the Illah of the Arabs; but we found, a little farther on,
another form of salutation, of Christian (?) origin, "Ave-rie" (Ave Marie).
The salutations probably travel farther than the faith. My people,
when satisfied with a meal like that which they enjoy so often at home,
amused themselves by an uproarious dance. Katema sent to ask
what I had given them to produce so much excitement.
Intemese replied it was their custom, and they meant no harm.
The companion of the ox we slaughtered refused food for two days, and went
lowing about for him continually. He seemed inconsolable for his loss,
and tried again and again to escape back to the Makololo country.
My men remarked, "He thinks they will kill me as well as my friend."
Katema thought it the result of art, and had fears of my skill in medicine,
and of course witchcraft. He refused to see the magic lantern.
One of the affairs which had been intrusted by Shinte to Intemese
was the rescue of a wife who had eloped with a young man belonging to Katema.
As this was the only case I have met with in the interior
in which a fugitive was sent back to a chief against his own will,
I am anxious to mention it. On Intemese claiming her as his master's wife,
she protested loudly against it, saying "she knew she was not going back
to be a wife again; she was going back to be sold to the Mambari."
My men formed many friendships with the people of Katema,
and some of the poorer classes said in confidence, "We wish our children
could go back with you to the Makololo country; here we are all
in danger of being sold." My men were of opinion that it was only
the want of knowledge of the southern country which prevented
an exodus of all the lower portions of Londa population thither.
It is remarkable how little people living in a flat forest country like this
know of distant tribes. An old man, who said he had been born
about the same time as the late Matiamvo, and had been his constant companion
through life, visited us; and as I was sitting on some grass
in front of the little gipsy tent mending my camp stool, I invited him
to take a seat on the grass beside me. This was peremptorily refused:
"he had never sat on the ground during the late chief's reign,
and he was not going to degrade himself now." One of my men handed him
a log of wood taken from the fire, and helped him out of the difficulty.
When I offered him some cooked meat on a plate, he would not
touch that either, but would take it home. So I humored him
by sending a servant to bear a few ounces of meat to the town behind him.
He mentioned the Lolo (Lulua) as the branch of the Leeambye
which flows southward or S.S.E.; but the people of Matiamvo had never gone
far down it, as their chief had always been afraid of encountering
a tribe whom, from the description given, I could recognize as the Makololo.
He described five rivers as falling into the Lolo, viz.,
the Lishish, Liss or Lise, Kalileme, Ishidish, and Molong.
None of these are large, but when they are united in the Lolo
they form a considerable stream. The country through which the Lolo flows
is said to be flat, fertile, well peopled, and there are
large patches of forest. In this report he agreed perfectly
with the people of Matiamvo, whom we had met at Quendende's village.
But we never could get him, or any one in this quarter, to draw a map
on the ground, as people may readily be got to do in the south.
Katema promised us the aid of some of his people as carriers,
but his rule is not very stringent or efficient, for they refused to turn out
for the work. They were Balobale; and he remarked on their disobedience that,
though he received them as fugitives, they did not feel grateful enough
to obey, and if they continued rebellious he must drive them back
whence they came; but there is little fear of that, as all the chiefs
are excessively anxious to collect men in great numbers around them.
These Balobale would not go, though our guide Shakatwala
ran after some of them with a drawn sword. This degree of liberty to rebel
was very striking to us, as it occurred in a country where people may be sold,
and often are so disposed of when guilty of any crime;
and we well knew that open disobedience like this among the Makololo
would be punished with death without much ceremony.
On Sunday, the 19th, both I and several of our party were seized with fever,
and I could do nothing but toss about in my little tent,
with the thermometer above 90 Deg., though this was the beginning of winter,
and my men made as much shade as possible by planting branches of trees
all round and over it. We have, for the first time in my experience
in Africa, had a cold wind from the north. All the winds from that quarter
are hot, and those from the south are cold, but they seldom blow
from either direction.
20TH. We were glad to get away, though not on account of
any scarcity of food; for my men, by giving small presents of meat
as an earnest of their sincerity, formed many friendships
with the people of Katema. We went about four or five miles
in a N.N.W. direction, then two in a westerly one, and came round
the small end of Lake Dilolo. It seemed, as far as we could
at this time discern, to be like a river a quarter of a mile wide.
It is abundantly supplied with fish and hippopotami; the broad part,
which we did not this time see, is about three miles wide,
and the lake is almost seven or eight long. If it be thought strange
that I did not go a few miles to see the broad part, which,
according to Katema, had never been visited by any of the traders,
it must be remembered that in consequence of fever I had eaten nothing
for two entire days, and, instead of sleep, the whole of the nights
were employed in incessant drinking of water, and I was now so glad to get on
in the journey and see some of my fellow fever-patients crawling along,
that I could not brook the delay, which astronomical observations for
accurately determining the geographical position of this most interesting spot
would have occasioned.
We observed among the people of Katema a love for singing-birds.
One pretty little songster, named "cabazo", a species of canary,
is kept in very neatly made cages, having traps on the top to entice
its still free companions. On asking why they kept them in confinement,
"Because they sing sweetly," was the answer. They feed them
on the lotsa (`Pennisetum typhoideum'), of which great quantities
are cultivated as food for man, and these canaries plague the gardeners here,
very much in the same way as our sparrows do at home.
I was pleased to hear the long-forgotten cry of alarm of the canaries
in the woods, and observed one warbling forth its song, and keeping in motion
from side to side, as these birds do in the cage. We saw also tame pigeons;
and the Barotse, who always take care to exalt Santuru, reminded us
that this chief had many doves, and kept canaries which had reddish heads
when the birds attained maturity. Those we now see have the real canary color
on the breast, with a tinge of green; the back, yellowish green,
with darker longitudinal bands meeting in the centre; a narrow dark band
passes from the bill over the eye and back to the bill again.
The birds of song here set up quite a merry chorus in the mornings,
and abound most near the villages. Some sing as loudly as our thrushes,
and the king-hunter (`Halcyon Senegalensis') makes a clear whirring sound
like that of a whistle with a pea in it. During the heat of the day
all remain silent, and take their siesta in the shadiest parts of the trees,
but in the cool of the evening they again exert themselves
in the production of pleasant melody. It is remarkable that so many songbirds
abound where there is a general paucity of other animal life.
As we went forward we were struck by the comparative absence of game
and the larger kind of fowls. The rivers contain very few fish.
Common flies are not troublesome, as they are wherever milk is abundant;
they are seen in company with others of the same size and shape,
but whose tiny feet do not tickle the skin, as is the case
with their companions. Mosquitoes are seldom so numerous as to disturb
the slumbers of a weary man.
But, though this region is free from common insect plagues, and from tsetse,
it has others. Feeling something running across my forehead
as I was falling asleep, I put up the hand to wipe it off,
and was sharply stung both on the hand and head; the pain was very acute.
On obtaining a light, we found that it had been inflicted
by a light-colored spider, about half an inch in length,
and, one of the men having crushed it with his fingers,
I had no opportunity of examining whether the pain had been produced
by poison from a sting or from its mandibles. No remedy was applied,
and the pain ceased in about two hours. The Bechuanas believe
that there is a small black spider in the country whose bite is fatal.
I have not met with an instance in which death could be traced to this insect,
though a very large black, hairy spider, an inch and a quarter long
and three quarters of an inch broad, is frequently seen,
having a process at the end of its front claws similar to that
at the end of the scorpion's tail, and when the bulbous portion of it
is pressed, the poison may be seen oozing out from the point.
We have also spiders in the south which seize their prey by leaping upon it
from a distance of several inches. When alarmed, they can spring
about a foot away from the object of their own fear. Of this kind
there are several varieties.
A large reddish spider (`Mygale') obtains its food in a different manner
than either patiently waiting in ambush or by catching it with a bound.
It runs about with great velocity in and out, behind and around every object,
searching for what it may devour, and, from its size and rapid motions,
excites the horror of every stranger. I never knew it to do any harm
except frightening the nervous, and I believe few could look upon it
for the first time without feeling himself in danger. It is named
by the natives "selali", and is believed to be the maker of a hinged cover
for its nest. You see a door, about the size of a shilling, lying beside
a deep hole of nearly similar diameter. The inside of the door lying upward,
and which attracts your notice, is of a pure white silky substance,
like paper. The outer side is coated over with earth, precisely like that
in which the hole is made. If you try to lift it, you find it is fastened
by a hinge on one side, and, if it is turned over upon the hole,
it fits it exactly, and the earthy side being then uppermost,
it is quite impossible to detect the situation of the nest. Unfortunately,
this cavity for breeding is never seen except when the owner is out,
and has left the door open behind her.
In some parts of the country there are great numbers of a large,
beautiful yellow-spotted spider, the webs of which are about a yard
in diameter. The lines on which these webs are spun are suspended
from one tree to another, and are as thick as coarse thread.
The fibres radiate from a central point, where the insect waits for its prey.
The webs are placed perpendicularly, and a common occurrence in walking
is to get the face enveloped in them as a lady is in a veil.
Another kind of spider lives in society, and forms so great
a collection of webs placed at every angle, that the trunk of a tree
surrounded by them can not be seen. A piece of hedge is often
so hidden by this spider that the branches are invisible.
Another is seen on the inside of the walls of huts among the Makololo
in great abundance. It is round in shape, spotted, brown in color,
and the body half an inch in diameter; the spread of the legs
is an inch and a half. It makes a smooth spot for itself on the wall,
covered with the above-mentioned white silky substance. There it is seen
standing the whole day, and I never could ascertain how it fed.
It has no web, but a carpet, and is a harmless, though an ugly neighbor.
Immediately beyond Dilolo there is a large flat about twenty miles in breadth.
Here Shakatwala insisted on our remaining to get supplies of food
from Katema's subjects, before entering the uninhabited watery plains.
When asked the meaning of the name Dilolo, Shakatwala gave
the following account of the formation of the lake. A female chief,
called Moene (lord) Monenga, came one evening to the village of Mosogo,
a man who lived in the vicinity, but who had gone to hunt with his dogs.
She asked for a supply of food, and Mosogo's wife gave her
a sufficient quantity. Proceeding to another village standing on the spot
now occupied by the water, she preferred the same demand,
and was not only refused, but, when she uttered a threat
for their niggardliness, was taunted with the question, "What could she do
though she were thus treated?" In order to show what she could do,
she began a song, in slow time, and uttered her own name, Monenga-wo-o.
As she prolonged the last note, the village, people, fowls, and dogs
sank into the space now called Dilolo. When Kasimakate,
the head man of this village, came home and found out the catastrophe,
he cast himself into the lake, and is supposed to be in it still.
The name is derived from "ilolo", despair, because this man gave up all hope
when his family was destroyed. Monenga was put to death.
This may be a faint tradition of the Deluge, and it is remarkable
as the only one I have met with in this country.
Heavy rains prevented us from crossing the plain in front (N.N.W.) in one day,
and the constant wading among the grass hurt the feet of the men.
There is a footpath all the way across, but as this is worn down
beneath the level of the rest of the plain, it is necessarily
the deepest portion, and the men, avoiding it, make a new walk by its side.
A path, however narrow, is a great convenience, as any one
who has traveled on foot in Africa will admit. The virtual want of it here
caused us to make slow and painful progress.
Ants surely are wiser than some men, for they learn by experience.
They have established themselves even on these plains,
where water stands so long annually as to allow the lotus,
and other aqueous plants, to come to maturity. When all the ant horizon
is submerged a foot deep, they manage to exist by ascending to little houses
built of black tenacious loam on stalks of grass, and placed higher
than the line of inundation. This must have been the result of experience;
for, if they had waited till the water actually invaded
their terrestrial habitations, they would not have been able to procure
materials for their aerial quarters, unless they dived down to the bottom
for every mouthful of clay. Some of these upper chambers
are about the size of a bean, and others as large as a man's thumb.
They must have built in anticipation, and if so, let us humbly hope
that the sufferers by the late inundations in France may be possessed
of as much common sense as the little black ants of the Dilolo plains.
The Watershed between the northern and southern Rivers -- A deep Valley --
Rustic Bridge -- Fountains on the Slopes of the Valleys --
Village of Kabinje -- Good Effects of the Belief in the Power of Charms --
Demand for Gunpowder and English Calico -- The Kasai -- Vexatious Trick --
Want of Food -- No Game -- Katende's unreasonable Demand --
A grave Offense -- Toll-bridge Keeper -- Greedy Guides --
Flooded Valleys -- Swim the Nyuana Loke -- Prompt Kindness of my Men --
Makololo Remarks on the rich uncultivated Valleys --
Difference in the Color of Africans -- Reach a Village of the Chiboque --
The Head Man's impudent Message -- Surrounds our Encampment
with his Warriors -- The Pretense -- Their Demand -- Prospect of a Fight --
Way in which it was averted -- Change our Path -- Summer --
Fever -- Beehives and the Honey-guide -- Instinct of Trees --
Climbers -- The Ox Sinbad -- Absence of Thorns in the Forests --
Plant peculiar to a forsaken Garden -- Bad Guides --
Insubordination suppressed -- Beset by Enemies -- A Robber Party --
More Troubles -- Detained by Ionga Panza -- His Village --
Annoyed by Bangala Traders -- My Men discouraged --
Their Determination and Precaution.
24TH OF FEBRUARY. On reaching unflooded lands beyond the plain, we found
the villages there acknowledged the authority of the chief named Katende,
and we discovered, also, to our surprise, that the almost level plain
we had passed forms the watershed between the southern and northern rivers,
for we had now entered a district in which the rivers flowed
in a northerly direction into the Kasai or Loke, near to which we now were,
while the rivers we had hitherto crossed were all running southward.
Having met with kind treatment and aid at the first village,
Katema's guides returned, and we were led to the N.N.W. by the inhabitants,
and descended into the very first really deep valley we had seen
since leaving Kolobeng. A stream ran along the bottom of a slope
of three or four hundred yards from the plains above.
We crossed this by a rustic bridge at present submerged thigh-deep
by the rains. The trees growing along the stream of this lovely valley
were thickly planted and very high. Many had sixty or eighty feet of
clean straight trunk, and beautiful flowers adorned the ground beneath them.
Ascending the opposite side, we came, in two hours' time,
to another valley, equally beautiful, and with a stream also in its centre.
It may seem mere trifling to note such an unimportant thing
as the occurrence of a valley, there being so many in every country
under the sun; but as these were branches of that in which
the Kasai or Loke flows, and both that river and its feeders
derive their water in a singular manner from the valley sides,
I may be excused for calling particular attention to the more furrowed nature
of the country.
At different points on the slopes of these valleys which
we now for the first time entered, there are oozing fountains,
surrounded by clumps of the same evergreen, straight, large-leaved trees
we have noticed along the streams. These spots are generally covered
with a mat of grassy vegetation, and possess more the character of bogs
than of fountains. They slowly discharge into the stream below,
and are so numerous along both banks as to give a peculiar character
to the landscape. These groups of sylvan vegetation are generally
of a rounded form, and the trunks of the trees are tall and straight,
while those on the level plains above are low and scraggy in their growth.
There can be little doubt but that the water, which stands for months
on the plains, soaks in, and finds its way into the rivers and rivulets
by percolating through the soil, and out by these oozing bogs;
and the difference between the growth of these trees, though they be of
different species, may be a proof that the stuntedness of those on the plains
is owing to being, in the course of each year, more subjected to drought
Reaching the village of Kabinje, in the evening he sent us
a present of tobacco, Mutokuane or "bang" (`Cannabis sativa'), and maize,
by the man who went forward to announce our arrival, and a message
expressing satisfaction at the prospect of having trade with the coast.
The westing we were making brought us among people who are frequently
visited by the Mambari as slave-dealers. This trade causes bloodshed;
for when a poor family is selected as the victims, it is necessary
to get rid of the older members of it, because they are supposed
to be able to give annoyance to the chief afterward by means of enchantments.
The belief in the power of charms for good or evil produces not only honesty,
but a great amount of gentle dealing. The powerful are often
restrained in their despotism from a fear that the weak and helpless
may injure them by their medical knowledge. They have many fears.
A man at one of the villages we came to showed us the grave of his child,
and, with much apparent feeling, told us she had been burned to death
in her hut. He had come with all his family, and built huts around it
in order to weep for her. He thought, if the grave were left unwatched,
the witches would come and bewitch them by putting medicines on the body.
They have a more decided belief in the continued existence of departed spirits
than any of the more southerly tribes. Even the Barotse possess it
in a strong degree, for one of my men of that tribe, on experiencing headache,
said, with a sad and thoughtful countenance, "My father is scolding me because
I do not give him any of the food I eat." I asked where his father was.
"Among the Barimo," was the reply.
When we wished to move on, Kabinje refused a guide to the next village
because he was at war with it; but, after much persuasion, he consented,
provided that the guide should be allowed to return as soon as he came
in sight of the enemy's village. This we felt to be a misfortune,
as the people all suspect a man who comes telling his own tale;
but there being no help for it, we went on, and found the head man
of a village on the rivulet Kalomba, called Kangenke,
a very different man from what his enemy represented. We found, too,
that the idea of buying and selling took the place of giving for friendship.
As I had nothing with which to purchase food except a parcel of beads
which were preserved for worse times, I began to fear that we should soon
be compelled to suffer more from hunger than we had done.
The people demanded gunpowder for every thing. If we had possessed
any quantity of that article, we should have got on well,
for here it is of great value. On our return, near this spot
we found a good-sized fowl was sold for a single charge of gunpowder.
Next to that, English calico was in great demand, and so were beads;
but money was of no value whatever. Gold is quite unknown;
it is thought to be brass; trade is carried on by barter alone.
The people know nothing of money. A purse-proud person would here feel
the ground move from beneath his feet. Occasionally a large piece of copper,
in the shape of a St. Andrew's cross, is offered for sale.
FEBRUARY 27TH. Kangenke promptly furnished guides this morning,
so we went briskly on a short distance, and came to a part of the Kasye,
Kasai, or Loke, where he had appointed two canoes to convey us across.
This is a most beautiful river, and very much like the Clyde in Scotland.
The slope of the valley down to the stream is about five hundred yards,
and finely wooded. It is, perhaps, one hundred yards broad,
and was winding slowly from side to side in the beautiful green glen,
in a course to the north and northeast. In both the directions
from which it came and to which it went it seemed to be alternately
embowered in sylvan vegetation, or rich meadows covered with tall grass.
The men pointed out its course, and said, "Though you sail along it
for months, you will turn without seeing the end of it."
While at the ford of the Kasai we were subjected to a trick, of which
we had been forewarned by the people of Shinte. A knife had been dropped
by one of Kangenke's people in order to entrap my men; it was put down
near our encampment, as if lost, the owner in the mean time watching
till one of my men picked it up. Nothing was said until our party
was divided, one half on this, and the other on that bank of the river.
Then the charge was made to me that one of my men had stolen a knife.
Certain of my people's honesty, I desired the man, who was making
a great noise, to search the luggage for it; the unlucky lad
who had taken the bait then came forward and confessed that he had the knife
in a basket, which was already taken over the river. When it was returned,
the owner would not receive it back unless accompanied with a fine.
The lad offered beads, but these were refused with scorn.
A shell hanging round his neck, similar to that which Shinte had given me,
was the object demanded, and the victim of the trick, as we all knew it to be,
was obliged to part with his costly ornament. I could not save him
from the loss, as all had been forewarned; and it is the universal custom
among the Makololo and many other tribes to show whatever they may find
to the chief person of their company, and make a sort of offer of it to him.
This lad ought to have done so to me; the rest of the party
always observed this custom. I felt annoyed at the imposition,
but the order we invariably followed in crossing a river forced me to submit.
The head of the party remained to be ferried over last;
so, if I had not come to terms, I would have been, as I always was in crossing
rivers which we could not swim, completely in the power of the enemy.
It was but rarely we could get a head man so witless as to cross a river
with us, and remain on the opposite bank in a convenient position
to be seized as a hostage in case of my being caught.
This trick is but one of a number equally dishonorable which are practiced
by tribes that lie adjacent to the more civilized settlements.
The Balonda farther east told us, by way of warning, that many parties
of the more central tribes had at various periods set out, in order
to trade with the white men themselves, instead of through the Mambari,
but had always been obliged to return without reaching their destination,
in consequence of so many pretexts being invented by the tribes
encountered in the way for fining them of their ivory.
This ford was in 11d 15' 47" S. latitude, but the weather
was so excessively cloudy we got no observation for longitude.
We were now in want of food, for, to the great surprise of my companions,
the people of Kangenke gave nothing except by way of sale, and charged
the most exorbitant prices for the little meal and manioc they brought.
The only article of barter my men had was a little fat saved from the ox
we slaughtered at Katema's, so I was obliged to give them
a portion of the stock of beads. One day (29th) of westing
brought us from the Kasai to near the village of Katende,
and we saw that we were in a land where no hope could be entertained
of getting supplies of animal food, for one of our guides
caught a light-blue colored mole and two mice for his supper.
The care with which he wrapped them up in a leaf and slung them on his spear
told that we could not hope to enjoy any larger game. We saw no evidence
of any animals besides; and, on coming to the villages beyond this,
we often saw boys and girls engaged in digging up these tiny quadrupeds.
Katende sent for me on the day following our arrival,
and, being quite willing to visit him, I walked, for this purpose,
about three miles from our encampment. When we approached the village
we were desired to enter a hut, and, as it was raining at the time, we did so.
After a long time spent in giving and receiving messages from the great man,
we were told that he wanted either a man, a tusk, beads, copper rings,
or a shell, as payment for leave to pass through his country.
No one, we were assured, was allowed that liberty, or even to behold him,
without something of the sort being presented. Having humbly
explained our circumstances, and that he could not expect to
"catch a humble cow by the horns" -- a proverb similar to ours that
"you can't draw milk out of a stone" -- we were told to go home,
and he would speak again to us next day. I could not avoid a hearty laugh
at the cool impudence of the savage, and made the best of my way home
in the still pouring rain. My men were rather nettled
at this want of hospitality, but, after talking over the matter
with one of Katende's servants, he proposed that some small article
should be given, and an attempt made to please Katende.
I turned out my shirts, and selected the worst one as a sop for him,
and invited Katende to come and choose any thing else I had,
but added that, when I should reach my own chief naked,
and was asked what I had done with my clothes, I should be obliged to confess
that I had left them with Katende. The shirt was dispatched to him,
and some of my people went along with the servant; they soon returned,
saying that the shirt had been accepted, and guides and food too
would be sent to us next day. The chief had, moreover, expressed a hope
to see me on my return. He is reported to be very corpulent.
The traders who have come here seem to have been very timid,
yielding to every demand made on the most frivolous pretenses.
One of my men, seeing another much like an acquaintance at home,
addressed him by the name of the latter in sport, telling him,
at the same time, why he did so; this was pronounced to be a grave offense,
and a large fine demanded; when the case came before me I could see no harm
in what had been done, and told my people not to answer the young fellow.
The latter felt himself disarmed, for it is chiefly in a brawl
they have power; then words are spoken in anger which rouse the passions
of the complainant's friends. In this case, after vociferating some time,
the would-be offended party came and said to my man that, if they exchanged
some small gift, all would be right, but, my man taking no notice of him,
he went off rather crestfallen.
My men were as much astonished as myself at the demand for payment
for leave to pass, and the almost entire neglect of the rules of hospitality.
Katende gave us only a little meal and manioc, and a fowl.
Being detained two days by heavy rains, we felt that a good stock of patience
was necessary in traveling through this country in the rainy season.
Passing onward without seeing Katende, we crossed a small rivulet,
the Sengko, by which we had encamped, and after two hours came to another,
the Totelo, which was somewhat larger, and had a bridge over it.
At the farther end of this structure stood a negro, who demanded fees.
He said the bridge was his; the path his; the guides were his children;
and if we did not pay him he would prevent farther progress.
This piece of civilization I was not prepared to meet,
and stood a few seconds looking at our bold toll-keeper,
when one of my men took off three copper bracelets, which paid
for the whole party. The negro was a better man than he at first seemed,
for he immediately went to his garden and brought us some leaves of tobacco
as a present.
When we had got fairly away from the villages, the guides from Kangenke
sat down and told us that there were three paths in front,
and, if we did not at once present them with a cloth, they would leave us
to take whichever we might like best. As I had pointed out
the direction in which Loanda lay, and had only employed them
for the sake of knowing the paths between villages which lay along our route,
and always objected when they led us in any other than the Loanda direction,
I wished my men now to go on without the guides, trusting to ourselves
to choose the path which would seem to lead us in the direction
we had always followed. But Mashauana, fearing lest we might wander,
asked leave to give his own cloth, and when the guides saw that,
they came forward shouting "Averie, Averie!"
In the afternoon of this day we came to a valley about a mile wide,
filled with clear, fast-flowing water. The men on foot were chin deep
in crossing, and we three on ox-back got wet to the middle,
the weight of the animals preventing them from swimming.
A thunder-shower descending completed the partial drenching of the plain,
and gave a cold, uncomfortable "packing in a wet blanket" that night.
Next day we found another flooded valley about half a mile wide,
with a small and now deep rivulet in its middle, flowing rapidly
to the S.S.E., or toward the Kasai. The middle part of this flood,
being the bed of what at other times is the rivulet, was so rapid
that we crossed by holding on to the oxen, and the current soon dashed them
to the opposite bank; we then jumped off, and, the oxen being
relieved of their burdens, we could pull them on to the shallower part.
The rest of the valley was thigh deep and boggy, but holding on
by the belt which fastened the blanket to the ox, we each floundered
through the nasty slough as well as we could. These boggy parts,
lying parallel to the stream, were the most extensive we had come to:
those mentioned already were mere circumscribed patches; these extended
for miles along each bank; but even here, though the rapidity of the current
was very considerable, the thick sward of grass was "laid" flat
along the sides of the stream, and the soil was not abraded so much
as to discolor the flood. When we came to the opposite side of this valley,
some pieces of the ferruginous conglomerate, which forms the capping
to all other rocks in a large district around and north of this, cropped out,
and the oxen bit at them as if surprised by the appearance of stone as much
as we were; or it may have contained some mineral of which they stood in need.
We had not met with a stone since leaving Shinte's. The country is covered
with deep alluvial soil of a dark color and very fertile.
In the afternoon we came to another stream, nyuana Loke (or child of Loke),
with a bridge over it. The men had to swim off to each end of the bridge,
and when on it were breast deep; some preferred holding on
by the tails of the oxen the whole way across. I intended to do this too;
but, riding to the deep part, before I could dismount and seize the helm
the ox dashed off with his companions, and his body sank so deep
that I failed in my attempt even to catch the blanket belt,
and if I pulled the bridle the ox seemed as if he would come backward upon me,
so I struck out for the opposite bank alone. My poor fellows
were dreadfully alarmed when they saw me parted from the cattle,
and about twenty of them made a simultaneous rush into the water
for my rescue, and just as I reached the opposite bank one seized my arm,
and another threw his around my body. When I stood up, it was most gratifying
to see them all struggling toward me. Some had leaped off the bridge,
and allowed their cloaks to float down the stream. Part of my goods,
abandoned in the hurry, were brought up from the bottom after I was safe.
Great was the pleasure expressed when they found that I could swim,
like themselves, without the aid of a tail, and I did and do feel grateful
to these poor heathens for the promptitude with which they dashed in to save,
as they thought, my life. I found my clothes cumbersome in the water;
they could swim quicker from being naked. They swim like dogs,
not frog-fashion, as we do.
In the evening we crossed the small rivulet Lozeze,
and came to some villages of the Kasabi, from whom we got some manioc
in exchange for beads. They tried to frighten us by telling of
the deep rivers we should have to cross in our way. I was drying my clothes
by turning myself round and round before the fire. My men laughed
at the idea of being frightened by rivers. "We can all swim:
who carried the white man across the river but himself?"
I felt proud of their praise.
SATURDAY, 4TH MARCH. Came to the outskirts of the territory
of the Chiboque. We crossed the Konde and Kaluze rivulets.
The former is a deep, small stream with a bridge, the latter insignificant;
the valleys in which these rivulets run are beautifully fertile.
My companions are continually lamenting over the uncultivated vales
in such words as these: "What a fine country for cattle!
My heart is sore to see such fruitful valleys for corn lying waste."
At the time these words were put down I had come to the belief
that the reason why the inhabitants of this fine country
possess no herds of cattle was owing to the despotic sway of their chiefs,
and that the common people would not be allowed to keep any domestic animals,
even supposing they could acquire them; but on musing on the subject since,
I have been led to the conjecture that the rich, fertile country of Londa
must formerly have been infested by the tsetse, but that, as the people
killed off the game on which, in the absence of man, the tsetse must subsist,
the insect was starved out of the country. It is now found
only where wild animals abound, and the Balonda, by the possession of guns,
having cleared most of the country of all the large game,
we may have happened to come just when it was possible to admit of cattle.
Hence the success of Katema, Shinte, and Matiamvo with their herds.
It would not be surprising, though they know nothing of the circumstance;
a tribe on the Zambesi, which I encountered, whose country
was swarming with tsetse, believed that they could not keep any cattle,
because "no one loved them well enough to give them the medicine of oxen;"
and even the Portuguese at Loanda accounted for the death of the cattle
brought from the interior to the sea-coast by the prejudicial influence
of the sea air! One ox, which I took down to the sea from the interior,
died at Loanda, with all the symptoms of the poison injected by tsetse,
which I saw myself in a district a hundred miles from the coast.
While at the villages of the Kasabi we saw no evidences of want of food
among the people. Our beads were very valuable, but cotton cloth
would have been still more so; as we traveled along, men, women, and children
came running after us, with meal and fowls for sale, which we would gladly
have purchased had we possessed any English manufactures. When they heard
that we had no cloth, they turned back much disappointed.
The amount of population in the central parts of the country
may be called large only as compared with the Cape Colony
or the Bechuana country. The cultivated land is as nothing compared with
what might be brought under the plow. There are flowing streams in abundance,
which, were it necessary, could be turned to the purpose of irrigation
with but little labor. Miles of fruitful country are now lying
absolutely waste, for there is not even game to eat off the fine pasturage,
and to recline under the evergreen, shady groves which we are ever passing
in our progress. The people who inhabit the central region
are not all quite black in color. Many incline to that of bronze,
and others are as light in hue as the Bushmen, who, it may be remembered,
afford a proof that heat alone does not cause blackness,
but that heat and moisture combined do very materially deepen the color.
Wherever we find people who have continued for ages in a hot, humid district,
they are deep black, but to this apparent law there are exceptions,
caused by the migrations of both tribes and individuals;
the Makololo, for instance, among the tribes of the humid central basin,
appear of a sickly sallow hue when compared with the aboriginal inhabitants;
the Batoka also, who lived in an elevated region, are, when seen
in company with the Batoka of the rivers, so much lighter in color,
they might be taken for another tribe; but their language,
and the very marked custom of knocking out the upper front teeth,
leave no room for doubt that they are one people.
Apart from the influences of elevation, heat, humidity, and degradation,
I have imagined that the lighter and darker colors observed
in the native population run in five longitudinal bands
along the southern portion of the continent. Those on the seaboard
of both the east and west are very dark; then two bands of lighter color
lie about three hundred miles from each coast, of which the westerly one,
bending round, embraces the Kalahari Desert and Bechuana countries;
and then the central basin is very dark again. This opinion is not given
with any degree of positiveness. It is stated just as it struck my mind
in passing across the country, and if incorrect, it is singular that
the dialects spoken by the different tribes have arranged themselves
in a fashion which seems to indicate migration along the lines of color.
The dialects spoken in the extreme south, whether Hottentot or Caffre,
bear a close affinity to those of the tribes living immediately on
their northern borders; one glides into the other, and their affinities
are so easily detected that they are at once recognized
to be cognate. If the dialects of extreme points are compared,
as that of the Caffres and the tribes near the equator,
it is more difficult to recognize the fact, which is really the case,
that all the dialects belong to but two families of languages.
Examination of the roots of the words of the dialects, arranged in
geographical order, shows that they merge into each other, and there is
not nearly so much difference between the extremes of east and west
as between those of north and south, the dialect spoken at Tete
resembling closely that in Angola.
Having, on the afore-mentioned date, reached the village of Njambi,
one of the chiefs of the Chiboque, we intended to pass a quiet Sunday;
and our provisions being quite spent, I ordered a tired riding-ox
to be slaughtered. As we wished to be on good terms with all,
we sent the hump and ribs to Njambi, with the explanation that this
was the customary tribute to chiefs in the part from which we had come,
and that we always honored men in his position. He returned thanks,
and promised to send food. Next morning he sent an impudent message,
with a very small present of meal; scorning the meat he had accepted,
he demanded either a man, an ox, a gun, powder, cloth, or a shell;
and in the event of refusal to comply with his demand,
he intimated his intention to prevent our further progress. We replied,
we should have thought ourselves fools if we had scorned his small present,
and demanded other food instead; and even supposing we had possessed
the articles named, no black man ought to impose a tribute on a party
that did not trade in slaves. The servants who brought the message said that,
when sent to the Mambari, they had always got a quantity of cloth from them
for their master, and now expected the same, or something else
as an equivalent, from me.
We heard some of the Chiboque remark, "They have only five guns;"
and about midday, Njambi collected all his people, and surrounded
our encampment. Their object was evidently to plunder us of every thing.
My men seized their javelins, and stood on the defensive,
while the young Chiboque had drawn their swords and brandished them
with great fury. Some even pointed their guns at me, and nodded
to each other, as much as to say, "This is the way we shall do with him."
I sat on my camp-stool, with my double-barreled gun across my knees,
and invited the chief to be seated also. When he and his counselors
had sat down on the ground in front of me, I asked what crime we had committed
that he had come armed in that way. He replied that one of my men, Pitsane,
while sitting at the fire that morning, had, in spitting,
allowed a small quantity of the saliva to fall on the leg of one of his men,
and this "guilt" he wanted to be settled by the fine of a man, ox, or gun.
Pitsane admitted the fact of a little saliva having fallen on the Chiboque,
and in proof of its being a pure accident, mentioned that he had given the man
a piece of meat, by way of making friends, just before it happened,
and wiped it off with his hand as soon as it fell. In reference to a man
being given, I declared that we were all ready to die rather than give up
one of our number to be a slave; that my men might as well give me
as I give one of them, for we were all free men. "Then you can give the gun
with which the ox was shot." As we heard some of his people
remarking even now that we had only "five guns", we declined,
on the ground that, as they were intent on plundering us,
giving a gun would be helping them to do so.
This they denied, saying they wanted the customary tribute only.
I asked what right they had to demand payment for leave to tread
on the ground of God, our common Father. If we trod on their gardens,
we would pay, but not for marching on land which was still God's,
and not theirs. They did not attempt to controvert this,
because it is in accordance with their own ideas, but reverted again
to the pretended crime of the saliva.
My men now entreated me to give something; and after asking the chief
if he really thought the affair of the spitting a matter of guilt,
and receiving an answer in the affirmative, I gave him one of my shirts.
The young Chiboque were dissatisfied, and began shouting
and brandishing their swords for a greater fine.
As Pitsane felt that he had been the cause of this disagreeable affair,
he asked me to add something else. I gave a bunch of beads,
but the counselors objected this time, so I added a large handkerchief.
The more I yielded, the more unreasonable their demands became,
and at every fresh demand a shout was raised by the armed party,
and a rush made around us with brandishing of arms. One young man
made a charge at my head from behind, but I quickly brought round
the muzzle of my gun to his mouth, and he retreated. I pointed him out
to the chief, and he ordered him to retire a little. I felt anxious
to avoid the effusion of blood; and though sure of being able,
with my Makololo, who had been drilled by Sebituane, to drive off
twice the number of our assailants, though now a large body,
and well armed with spears, swords, arrows, and guns, I strove to avoid
actual collision. My men were quite unprepared for this exhibition,
but behaved with admirable coolness. The chief and counselors,
by accepting my invitation to be seated, had placed themselves in a trap,
for my men very quietly surrounded them, and made them feel
that there was no chance of escaping their spears. I then said that,
as one thing after another had failed to satisfy them, it was evident
that THEY wanted to fight, while WE only wanted to pass peaceably
through the country; that they must begin first, and bear the guilt
before God: we would not fight till they had struck the first blow.
I then sat silent for some time. It was rather trying for me,
because I knew that the Chiboque would aim at the white man first;
but I was careful not to appear flurried, and, having four barrels
ready for instant action, looked quietly at the savage scene around.
The Chiboque countenance, by no means handsome, is not improved
by the practice which they have adopted of filing the teeth to a point.
The chief and counselors, seeing that they were in more danger than I,
did not choose to follow our decision that they should begin
by striking the first blow, and then see what we could do,
and were perhaps influenced by seeing the air of cool preparation
which some of my men displayed at the prospect of a work of blood.
The Chiboque at last put the matter before us in this way:
"You come among us in a new way, and say you are quite friendly:
how can we know it unless you give us some of your food,
and you take some of ours? If you give us an ox, we will give you
whatever you may wish, and then we shall be friends." In accordance with
the entreaties of my men, I gave an ox; and when asked what I should like
in return, mentioned food as the thing which we most needed.
In the evening Njambi sent us a very small basket of meal,
and two or three pounds of the flesh of our own ox! with the apology
that he had no fowls, and very little of any other food.
It was impossible to avoid a laugh at the coolness of the generous creatures.
I was truly thankful, nevertheless, that, though resolved to die
rather than deliver up one of our number to be a slave,
we had so far gained our point as to be allowed to pass on
without having shed human blood.
In the midst of the commotion, several Chiboque stole pieces of meat
out of the sheds of my people, and Mohorisi, one of the Makololo,
went boldly into the crowd and took back a marrow-bone from one of them.
A few of my Batoka seemed afraid, and would perhaps have fled
had the affray actually begun, but, upon the whole, I thought my men
behaved admirably. They lamented having left their shields at home
by command of Sekeletu, who feared that, if they carried these,
they might be more disposed to be overbearing in their demeanor to the tribes
we should meet. We had proceeded on the principles of peace and conciliation,
and the foregoing treatment shows in what light our conduct was viewed;
in fact, we were taken for interlopers trying to cheat
the revenue of the tribe. They had been accustomed to get a slave or two
from every slave-trader who passed them, and now that we disputed the right,
they viewed the infringement on what they considered lawfully due
with most virtuous indignation.
MARCH 6TH. We were informed that the people on the west
of the Chiboque of Njambi were familiar with the visits of slave-traders;
and it was the opinion of our guides from Kangenke that
so many of my companions would be demanded from me, in the same manner
as the people of Njambi had done, that I should reach the coast
without a single attendant; I therefore resolved to alter our course
and strike away to the N.N.E., in the hope that at some point farther north
I might find an exit to the Portuguese settlement of Cassange.
We proceeded at first due north, with the Kasabi villages on our right,
and the Kasau on our left. During the first twenty miles
we crossed many small, but now swollen streams, having the usual boggy banks,
and wherever the water had stood for any length of time
it was discolored with rust of iron. We saw a "nakong" antelope one day,
a rare sight in this quarter; and many new and pretty flowers
adorned the valleys. We could observe the difference in the seasons in
our northing in company with the sun. Summer was now nearly over at Kuruman,
and far advanced at Linyanti, but here we were in the middle of it;
fruits, which we had eaten ripe on the Leeambye, were here quite green;
but we were coming into the region where the inhabitants are favored
with two rainy seasons and two crops, i.e., when the sun is going south,
and when he comes back on his way to the north, as was the case at present.
On the 8th, one of the men had left an ounce or two of powder
at our sleeping-place, and went back several miles for it.
My clothing being wet from crossing a stream, I was compelled to wait for him;
had I been moving in the sun I should have felt no harm, but the inaction
led to a violent fit of fever. The continuance of this attack
was a source of much regret, for we went on next day to a small rivulet
called Chihune, in a lovely valley, and had, for a wonder,
a clear sky and a clear moon; but such was the confusion
produced in my mind by the state of my body, that I could scarcely manage,
after some hours' trial, to get a lunar observation in which
I could repose confidence. The Chihune flows into the Longe,
and that into the Chihombo, a feeder of the Kasai. Those who know
the difficulties of taking altitudes, times, and distances,
and committing all of them to paper, will sympathize with me
in this and many similar instances. While at Chihune, the men of a village
brought wax for sale, and, on finding that we wished honey,
went off and soon brought a hive. All the bees in the country
are in possession of the natives, for they place hives
sufficient for them all. After having ascertained this,
we never attended the call of the honey-guide, for we were sure
it would only lead us to a hive which we had no right to touch.
The bird continues its habit of inviting attention to the honey,
though its services in this district are never actually needed.
My Makololo lamented that they never knew before that wax could be sold
for any thing of value.
As we traverse a succession of open lawns and deep forests,
it is interesting to observe something like instinct developed even in trees.
One which, when cut, emits a milky juice, if met with on the open lawns,
grows as an ordinary umbrageous tree, and shows no disposition
to be a climber; when planted in a forest it still takes the same form,
then sends out a climbing branch, which twines round another tree
until it rises thirty or forty feet, or to the level of the other trees,
and there spreads out a second crown where it can enjoy
a fair share of the sun's rays. In parts of the forest
still more dense than this, it assumes the form of a climber only,
and at once avails itself of the assistance of a tall neighbor
by winding vigorously round it, without attempting to form a lower head.
It does not succeed so well as parasites proper, but where forced
to contend for space it may be mistaken for one which is invariably a climber.
The paths here were very narrow and very much encumbered
with gigantic creepers, often as thick as a man's leg. There must be
some reason why they prefer, in some districts, to go up trees
in the common form of the thread of a screw rather than in any other.
On the one bank of the Chihune they appeared to a person
standing opposite them to wind up from left to right, on the other bank
from right to left. I imagined this was owing to the sun being
at one season of the year on their north and at another on their south.
But on the Leeambye I observed creepers winding up on opposite sides
of the same reed, and making a figure like the lacings of a sandal.
In passing through these narrow paths I had an opportunity of observing
the peculiarities of my ox "Sinbad". He had a softer back than the others,
but a much more intractable temper. His horns were bent downward
and hung loosely, so he could do no harm with them; but as we wended our way
slowly along the narrow path, he would suddenly dart aside.
A string tied to a stick put through the cartilage of the nose serves
instead of a bridle: if you jerk this back, it makes him run faster on;
if you pull it to one side, he allows the nose and head to go,
but keeps the opposite eye directed to the forbidden spot,
and goes in spite of you. The only way he can be brought to a stand
is by a stroke with a wand across the nose. When Sinbad ran in below
a climber stretched over the path so low that I could not stoop under it,
I was dragged off and came down on the crown of my head; and he never allowed
an opportunity of the kind to pass without trying to inflict a kick,
as if I neither had nor deserved his love.
A remarkable peculiarity in the forests of this country
is the absence of thorns: there are but two exceptions;
one a tree bearing a species of `nux vomica', and a small shrub very like
the plant of the sarsaparilla, bearing, in addition to its hooked thorns,
bunches of yellow berries. The thornlessness of the vegetation
is especially noticeable to those who have been in the south,
where there is so great a variety of thorn-bearing plants and trees.
We have thorns of every size and shape; thorns straight, thin and long,
short and thick, or hooked, and so strong as to be able to cut even leather
like a knife. Seed-vessels are scattered every where by these appendages.
One lies flat as a shilling with two thorns in its centre,
ready to run into the foot of any animal that treads upon it, and stick there
for days together. Another (the `Uncaria procumbens', or Grapple-plant)
has so many hooked thorns as to cling most tenaciously to any animal to which
it may become attached; when it happens to lay hold of the mouth of an ox,
the animal stands and roars with pain and a sense of helplessness.
Whenever a part of the forest has been cleared for a garden,
and afterward abandoned, a species of plant, with leaves like those of ginger,
springs up, and contends for the possession of the soil
with a great crop of ferns. This is the case all the way down to Angola,
and shows the great difference of climate between this
and the Bechuana country, where a fern, except one or two hardy species,
is never seen. The plants above mentioned bear a pretty pink flower
close to the ground, which is succeeded by a scarlet fruit full of seeds,
yielding, as so many fruits in this country do, a pleasant acid juice,
which, like the rest, is probably intended as a corrective
to the fluids of the system in the hot climate.
On leaving the Chihune we crossed the Longe, and, as the day was cloudy,
our guides wandered in a forest away to the west till we came
to the River Chihombo, flowing to the E.N.E. My men depended so much
on the sun for guidance that, having seen nothing of the luminary all day,
they thought we had wandered back to the Chiboque, and, as often happens
when bewildered, they disputed as to the point where the sun should rise
next morning. As soon as the rains would allow next day,
we went off to the N.E. It would have been better to have traveled
by compass alone, for the guides took advantage of any fears
expressed by my people, and threatened to return if presents
were not made at once. But my men had never left their own country before
except for rapine and murder. When they formerly came to a village
they were in the habit of killing numbers of the inhabitants,
and then taking a few young men to serve as guides to the next place.
As this was their first attempt at an opposite line of conduct,
and as they were without their shields, they felt defenseless
among the greedy Chiboque, and some allowance must be made for them
on that account.
SATURDAY, 11TH. Reached a small village on the banks of a narrow stream.
I was too ill to go out of my little covering except to quell a mutiny
which began to show itself among some of the Batoka and Ambonda of our party.
They grumbled, as they often do against their chiefs, when they think them
partial in their gifts, because they supposed that I had shown a preference
in the distribution of the beads; but the beads I had given
to my principal men were only sufficient to purchase a scanty meal,
and I had hastened on to this village in order to slaughter a tired ox,
and give them all a feast as well as a rest on Sunday,
as preparation for the journey before us. I explained this to them,
and thought their grumbling was allayed. I soon sank into a state of stupor,
which the fever sometimes produced, and was oblivious to all their noise
in slaughtering. On Sunday the mutineers were making a terrible din
in preparing a skin they had procured. I requested them twice,
by the man who attended me, to be more quiet, as the noise pained me;
but as they paid no attention to this civil request, I put out my head,
and, repeating it myself, was answered by an impudent laugh.
Knowing that discipline would be at an end if this mutiny were not quelled,
and that our lives depended on vigorously upholding authority,
I seized a double-barreled pistol, and darted forth from the domicile,
looking, I suppose, so savage as to put them to a precipitate flight.
As some remained within hearing, I told them that I must maintain discipline,
though at the expense of some of their limbs; so long as we traveled together
they must remember that I was master, and not they. There being but
little room to doubt my determination, they immediately became very obedient,
and never afterward gave me any trouble, or imagined that they had any right
to my property.
13TH. We went forward some miles, but were brought to a stand
by the severity of my fever on the banks of a branch of the Loajima,
another tributary of the Kasai. I was in a state of partial coma
until late at night, when it became necessary for me to go out;
and I was surprised to find that my men had built a little stockade,
and some of them took their spears and acted as a guard. I found that
we were surrounded by enemies, and a party of Chiboque lay near the gateway,
after having preferred the demand of "a man, an ox, a gun, or a tusk."
My men had prepared for defense in case of a night attack,
and when the Chiboque wished to be shown where I lay sick, they very properly
refused to point me out. In the morning I went out to the Chiboque,
and found that they answered me civilly regarding my intentions
in opening the country, teaching them, etc., etc. They admitted
that their chiefs would be pleased with the prospect of friendship,
and now only wished to exchange tokens of good-will with me,
and offered three pigs, which they hoped I would accept. The people here
are in the habit of making a present, and then demanding whatever they choose
in return. We had been forewarned of this by our guides, so I tried
to decline, by asking if they would eat one of the pigs in company with us.
To this proposition they said that they durst not accede. I then
accepted the present in the hope that the blame of deficient friendly feeling
might not rest with me, and presented a razor, two bunches of beads,
and twelve copper rings, contributed by my men from their arms.
They went off to report to their chief; and as I was quite unable to move
from excessive giddiness, we continued in the same spot on Tuesday evening,
when they returned with a message couched in very plain terms,
that a man, tusk, gun, or even an ox, alone would be acceptable;
that he had every thing else in his possession but oxen, and that,
whatever I should please to demand from him, he would gladly give it.
As this was all said civilly, and there was no help for it if we refused
but bloodshed, I gave a tired riding-ox. My late chief mutineer,
an Ambonda man, was now over-loyal, for he armed himself
and stood at the gateway. He would rather die than see his father imposed on;
but I ordered Mosantu to take him out of the way, which he did promptly,
and allowed the Chiboque to march off well pleased with their booty.
I told my men that I esteemed one of their lives of more value than
all the oxen we had, and that the only cause which could induce me to fight
would be to save the lives and liberties of the majority.
In the propriety of this they all agreed, and said that, if the Chiboque
molested us who behaved so peaceably, the guilt would be on their heads.
This is a favorite mode of expression throughout the whole country.
All are anxious to give explanation of any acts they have performed,
and conclude the narration with, "I have no guilt or blame" ("molatu").
"They have the guilt." I never could be positive whether
the idea in their minds is guilt in the sight of the Deity,
or of mankind only.
Next morning the robber party came with about thirty yards of strong